Another Mini and a few more things. . .

Simply Mini Swap_Jana

This very cute quilt arrived yesterday from Jana, my (secret) Simply Mini Quilt Swap partner.  Boy, was I bowled over–I love it!  I had to take it outside to my back fence photo studio today to get a good shot of it and I love the pinwheels and the colors and that perfect binding. Thank you so much, Jana!

Traveling Threads Marci w my blocks

This too-light, too-washed-out, picture doesn’t do the blocks from the Traveling Threads Bee justice.  They are a collection for Marci, who is making a sampler quilt.  As always, I tried to look at the quilt to see what it needs, not like I’m some quilt-whisperer or something, but just every once in a while, it can just pop into your mind.

TTBee_Marci2TTBee_Marci1

And since she specified she wanted a sampler quilt, I decided it needed some curves, as in a basket block and a Dresden plate block.  I cleared the Dresden with her, and just threw in the basket with that curvy handle.  I set it on some of Marci’s favorite fabric: the clothespins.  I think I only have one more to go until I’ve finished making for my bee-mates.  The regular delivery of these treasures seems to have bunched up somewhere; hopefully it will arrive before Christmas!Merit Badge SewingSome more sewing. . .I had fun sewing on the various badges and rank achievements for four Scouts: my eldest son and his three boys.  It was like deja vu to an earlier time.
Pattern_NYT_2015I clipped this out of the New York Times style magazine this past Sunday, as I loved all the texture shown, both in architecture/design and in fashion.  We who are doing the Millefiore quilts are right on trend!  Which reminds me that I need to get back to that. . .

4-in-art_3

. . . right after I finish up my Four-in-Art quilt, which is posting this coming Sunday, November 1st.  This is the last post of our literature theme, and I look forward to seeing all the creations of those in my group.

from here

I did finish up my Quilt Abecedary project: a way to teach myself how to make quilt letters, in preparation for the 2016 Spelling Bee, a group who will make quilty words for each other.  I hope I’ll improve in my lowercase k skills in the future.  That one was tricky.

fall 2015 garden

We think we are finally turning the corner on summer and finding our way to fall, which means get our fall garden planted: spinach, cabbage, lettuce (2 kinds), a Glacier tomato plant (trying it for the first time), oregano, chard, cauliflower and broccoli.  Some of these are new to me; we’ll see what survives.

Bunnyhenge circle bunnyhenge

Another sign of fall is the scheduling of my Fall Frolic trip to Orange County with my former colleague/now friend, Judy.  We hit the usual: Roger’s Gardens, ‘lette Macaron Shop, Wafu’s Sushi, South Coast Plaza, Din Tai Fung Dumpling House, Crystal Court, and IKEA.  This year we found something new and whimsical: a pocket park of sculpture next to the Newport Beach Civic Center and Fashion Island Mall, from where these bunnies — almost waist-high — were photographed.  They’ve been nicknamed Bunnyhenge by the locals.  I loved them.

Lastly, I have actually filled in some plans on my calendaring book.  This is revolutionary.  I often would rather write down what I did, then cross it off, than make plans that will never be achieved.  You can call me a goal-setting wimp.

halloween 2015

Happy Halloween!

Sing A Song of Sampler Blocks

Two Quilts_again

Sing A Song of Sampler Blocks_front

Sing A Song of Sampler Blocks
Pieced, Appliquéd and Quilted
57″ high by 53 1/2″ wide
No. 146 on my 200 Quilts List

Sing A Song of Sampler Blocks_1I went up to my university’s botanic garden to photograph these two quilts, loving the contrast of the rustic against the brightly colored blocks from my beemates in the Mid-Century Modern Bee.

Sing A Song of Sampler Blocks_detail2

I put out a call for a variety of blocks in 6″ or 9″ or 12″ sizes, and then as they came in, placed them all up on my design wall to see how they played together.  I used some of the ideas from these friends to create a few more blocks, following Carla’s lead when she created hers.  Like Carla, I also worked in the small signature blocks as part of the design.

Sing A Song of Sampler Blocks_front heroic

One day I opened a card from Rhonda, another friend back east, and she’d made me a bird block to be added to my project, as she had read my blog and wanting to contribute to my modern sampler.  So that spurred me on to making a few more birds as well.

Sing A Song of Sampler Blocks_detailThen I had to try some flowery blocks, two different kinds to go with all the other flowers, and a Dresden block, and once I got started, I also added a Road to California block (made four times so it would be big enough to add variety).  It’s kind of fun to try making all different kinds of blocks.  Finally I had enough, and the right size of blocks and I was able to sew it together.  Happily so, thinking about my good friends.

Sing A Song of Sampler Blocks_back

I saved some of the smaller blocks for the back.

Sing A Song of Sampler Blocks_label

Two quilts_2015

Two quilts with flowers

Happy Spring!  Spring into some quilting!

Circles Block #10–EPP Sew-A-Long


Circles EPP Button

Circles Block Ten_OPQuiltDresden Plate, Rainbow Style — Circles Block #10

Here we are again, with block ten of the dozen or so blocks I have planned for this series, and I have to say it’s one of my favorites.

On Kitchen Cupboard

In fact I liked it so well, I taped it to my kitchen cupboard, where I can enjoy it.  My husband says it looks like a winking smiley face.  I just see a rainbow.

Circles Block Ten _Dresden

As I mentioned before, unlike earlier patterns, there are now no hand-drawn designs since I am able to work in a new version of quilt software.  But Please, since this is a free pattern: do attribute the source of this to Elizabeth at OccasionalPiece-Quilt  (or OPQuilt.com) and do not print off copies for your mother or your friends.  Please direct them here to get their free copies.  Many thanks.  

Here’s the pattern in a PDF file for you to download:
EPP #10_OPQuilt_Dresden Plate

Print Settings Ten

Print off four copies and cut out the blades, but cut out only one circle.  Make sure your printer settings are set to 100% scale.

Cut Pieces Laid out

Here’s the blade papers pinned to fabrics and cut out.  I used pins initially as I was checking for a smooth gradation of colors for my rainbow.  Yes, I realized later I’d done the rainbow the reverse of what is normally shown.

Glued pieces laid out

After I liked the arrangement, I used a glue stick and glued them to the papers.  I talk about gluing vs. basting in an earlier circle post, so read back through those to learn about that technique.

Perfect Circles1

The one new thing for this circle is confessing my undying love for Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circle templates.

Perfect Circles2

I have them in two sizes: smaller, and bigger.  It’s what I use for my circles, instead of cutting out the paper pattern. I have learned to punch 2-3 holes in the biggest circles when I take them to my ironing board, in order to let the steam escape.

I choose a circle a little bit bigger than the paper pattern, then lay it down on the wrong side of the fabric, and trace around it.  I then cut about 1/2″ away from the line.  I did talk about the construction of them *here;*  just scroll down to where you see me taking a gathering stitch and pulling it up around the circle, then read on.

Starting at Point

To construct this block, line up the “shoulders” of the upper edges, as shown.  Take a stitch, then loop through it to make it more secure, as shown in the next photo, pulling it snug.

Make an extra loop

EPP Stitching

Then keep going, taking tiny “bites” of fabric of each blade, whip-stitching them together.  It goes really quickly.

Pieces of Dresden

I did mine in sections, depending on which thread matched, then sewed the sections together.

Stitched to backing

Cut a 14 1/2″ square for the background, and crease in the centers on all four sides; if you are not near an iron, just finger-press it.  Now it’s Decision Time: Point up, or valley up?  I went with the valley between the two points, but my friend Lisa, who was sitting beside me at quilt guild, preferred the point up.  I tell you this story to say that there is no right or wrong–just what you like. Applique this to the background using a neutral thread.  There’s a trick to good appliqué, and that’s to not have the thread come all the way to the top of what you are appliquéing, but instead kind of split the fold.  Then don’t pull the thread too tightly.  You want it to float on your background, not be nailed to it.  I have a photo below, when I appliqué the center, showing what I mean about “splitting the fold.” (At least I hope it does.)

Cut away backing

After you appliqué the rainbow Dresden Plate onto the back, trim away the underneath, about 1/4″ away from your stitches.

Loosen papers

Using either a pair of small, sharp scissors or the business end of a stiletto, loosen the glued edges, and pop out the papers.

Backing Cut Away

Like this.

Applique split the fold

Arrange your circle on your Dresden, pin.  Now appliqué on.  I need to start making my circles a wee bit bigger, because it was a close call on some parts, so I sewed with teensy little stitches in a neutral thread (here: a grey-green).  See how the needle is kind of splitting the fold on that left-hand part of the photo?  You want to try to get a good bite of fabric, but not so the needle comes out on the top.  You want it at the “side” of the piece, if you can think about it that way, like if you were looking at a really flat layer cake–you’d want the needle to come out about where the filling is, not on top where the decorations are.  Don’t pull the thread too tightly. . . just snugly.

Circle on back view

Whew.  Some of those seam allowances are barely a quarter-inch, but my stitches are tiny and the center will hold. (Quick! which poem is that from?***)

Circles Block Ten_OPQuilt

Here’s your completed block?  Why a Dresden block?  Doesn’t every circle quilt need one?  I’d been making them for my bee groups.  We used *this tutorial* and sewed them on the sewing machine (although I used my version of the centers, and machine appliquéd them on), but truthfully, sewing them by hand didn’t take that much longer.

dresden plate_Opquilt

First, Rene’ had us make one in blues and greens.

2015 MCM March w0 label

And then Cindy had us make one in bright colors, so how I could I resist?

Ten Circles

And then there were ten!

˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚

***  The poem is from Yeats, and he actually said the “centre cannot hold,” but your lovely hand-stitched center will.  Here’s the first part of his poem, and although I analyzed it to death when teaching it to my students, I still barely get the whole meaning, but it does have to do with the horrors of our twentieth century.  It’s pretty scary out there.  Too bad Yeats didn’t do English Paper Piecing.  He might have felt better about things.

THE SECOND COMING, by William Butler Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold. . . . .

Patchwork Blocks and Ennui

Basket Quilt Block

In a recent email exchange with my father, he mentioned the idea of ennui.  It’s not quite boredom, nor fatigue.  It is more of a lack of interest in what lays before you, a dis-interest, if you will.  The dictionary goes one step further: “a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest.”  We quilters often describe it as “lack of sewjo,” playing off that phrase of “lost my mojo,” which after reading about in Wikipedia, all I can say is I had no idea.

Essay 2 Grading

Of course, having a stack of grading doesn’t help the ennui, but with the students dropping like flies (long story) I had fewer to grade and they actually performed really well, so it went quickly.  (Bad essays take longer to grade.)

Grandsons

And this lovely distraction also came for a couple of days while the family was moving between houses.

Block part 4

But as Susan of PatchworknPlay and I chatted on Instagram, I noted that sometimes just sewing a block or two can help beat the ennui.  Here’s a new one from the ever-talented Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt Company, from her latest magazine BLOCK.

Block Magazines

I get these every couple of months as I signed up for the subscription and I always enjoy reading them.  At QuiltCon they gave us all a copy of MODBLOCK in our swag bags.

Disappearing Hourglass

Here’s how you cut it.  She has the measurements in her magazine.  But when I posted it on IG, Krista of Poppyprint mentioned that at their guild sew day, lots of quilters were making the same thing into a star block.  I found that tutorial online *here.*

More Bird Blocks

Bird blocks which can be maddening, but also fun, once you get the hang of it.  I’m using a tutorial for “free-form” birds from my friend Rhonda, which she gave out to her class.  There’s also a tutorial online, which is much more orderly, and if you are into the cookie-cutter precision of paper-piecing, there’s also one of those.

Basket Quilt Block

The last block I made last night, while listening to my latest Inspector Gamache mystery, was this basket block, also shown at the top of the post.  It was late and I was tired, knowing that I’d lose an extra hour of sleep due to the dreaded Daylight Savings Time switch (I need to live in Arizona where they never switch). I found *this tutorial* and modified it the measurements I needed, plus used extra leaves from the Pineapple Blocks quilt border (yes, still working on that) to fill the basket.  I needed the block to measure 9″ finished.  One detail is those lower snowball corner on the basket: they were 2″ squares that I snowballed on.  The rest was done by cutting as I went, loosely following the tutorial.

All PatchesThis is why I’m making blocks to beat ennui.  My Mid-Century Modern beemates sent me a whole wall of blocks in January, and I’ve been adding to them, having no plan, but only relaxing fun.  I added the Disappearing Hourglass, the Dresden Plate, the basket, the birds and a couple of fillers. I’m still playing, still arranging.  Happily, the ennui is slipping away.