Betsy’s Creation • Quilt Finish

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I found this 1920s vintage park with a grandstand in a small town just to the north of me and took my husband and my most recent finished quilt there, so we could do some photographing.  And some reminiscing.

Fleming Park

It’s a sweet little small-town-built-long-ago park that for some miracle has remained.  Named for an officer of the local cement company at the time, it’s known as the Thomas J. Fleming Memorial Park, built circa 1922-1925. Why is this important?

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I grew up in a small little town (not so little anymore), but it had that feeling of walking downtown on a hot summer’s evening, catching the fireworks on the 4th of July after seeing the parade that morning.  It had the feeling of being able to drop your school bag at the door, change in to your “play clothes,” and head over past the Muehlstein’s home to send this and that sailing down their irrigation canal until you knew it was time to go home for dinner.  (And did I mention that my childhood nickname was Betsy?)

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We’d walk up to Heber’s house and offer to find the eggs in his chicken coop for him.  He’d let us.  We would wind crepe paper in our bicycle spokes and all show up for a local parade.  This was also a place where I was smallminded at times, like when I teased Marlene in fourth grade over something dumb, and then used up all her Scotch tape.  It’s a place where others can also be mean, like when I got beat up by the Mitchell boy, and cried all the way home.  (Later my mother saw him on the road, rolled down her car window and gave him a talking-to like I’d never heard.)

This small town in America was my place, where I learned to behave myself so no neighborhood mother would ever have to lean out her car window and give me a scolding.  And how I wish I could go back in time and find Marlene and tell her how sorry I am.  It was a place to be small, to grow up, and to leave behind.

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But I catch glimpses of it when I think of it as a land of red, white and blue, where we love flags and fireworks and the Fourth of July.  It’s a land of learning to get along with your neighbor because you never know when that person with the different name would give you a lifetime memory.  Like when I needed to learn to ride a bike and Joan Muehlstein gripped the back of the seat, ran alongside me, and hollered, “Turn towards the wobble!”

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It’s mountains and vast plains, it’s small towns and big cities.  And America is where I like to be the most, even though now I’ve traveled and love Berlin and Bologna and other different places with wonderful people who’ve gone themselves through nice and mean, dark and light, thick and thin.  It’s when I return from far away and see that flag on the  wall at the airport with a sign that says “Welcome to the United States,” well, I get a misty-eyed, just like in those movies from the 1940s.

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It’s my home, this America.  And to me, it’s a pretty great place.

American Flag

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Betsy’s Creation • Quilt #225
Pieced by Elizabeth Eastmond • Quilted by Cathy Kreter
72″ wide x 86″ tall

Quilt began on Flag Day: June 14, 2019
Finished August 20, 2019
More info and a free worksheet for making this quilt can be found here.  I also made a companion smaller flag:

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Wonky Hearts Aflutter

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How do I make nearly 60 wonky, improv-y hearts and not go crazy? Now there’s a challenge.

Wonky Heart Illustration

I started here, with a rough pattern of how big I wanted my “improv” wonky heart to be. The free PDF file is available for download.  It finishes roughly at 5 1/2″ wide by 7 1/2″ tall.

Click here: Unfussy Wonky Heart

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I started with the heart pieces. I layered up seven pieces of different pink and red fabrics, pinned on the heart pieces and placing my ruler along their outer edge, I cut around them with a rotary cutter: it wouldn’t really matter if I was hyper-accurate…close enough would do.  I repeated this nine times.

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Then I did the same thing with the background pieces, but was careful with my directional fabrics: I kept the pieces oriented as they would sew into the heart block.

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Everything’s stacked up.

Word Quilt in Process

These photos were taken over two weeks’ time, as I tried to fit all the words together. Words were made in The Spelling Bee, from 2016.

I shuffled the fabrics so no two fabrics would be together, and made a sample heart (at the top of the post). I pinned it next to the quilt of words I’d been working on, closed up the machine, turned off the iron, and enjoyed the sunset:

Sunset July 2019

Word Quilt Mock-up

When I woke up in the morning, I decided to try a digital mock-up of the quilt with the hearts as a border, as I wondered if the hearts were too big.  I sent the photo to my two of my quilting buddies and they gave me two thumbs’ up.  I’ll probably try to sneak in a narrow red/pink border between the quilt center and the outer border of hearts.

 

I’ve become braver about being wonky and improv-like, skewing seams, overlapping, cutting off points, generally going at it easy, instead of pristine.

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I have a few more hearts, now, and while the widths vary from 5 1/4″ to 5 1/2″ (I just trim them where it feels right), I’m forcing them to 7 1/2″ tall (that’s before seaming).  Because I am tired of cutting off the points, I’ll now be cutting about 1/2″ off the bottom heart section before I seam it to the top part.

This is one of two long-term UFOs that haunt me in my dreams.  The other one is Small World, which I keep in parts in a basket in my shelves.  I do have hopes on finishing that one, too.  I signed up for a Jen Kingwell class at Road to California in January; I suppose one goal would be to have it finished so she could sign it?  Right.

July Gridsters Block 2019

In other sewing news, I finished July’s Gridster Bee blocks for my beemate Linda and sent them off.

 

And I’m trying this new type of tomato, developed for scorching temperatures.  This year we were almost chilly and foggy until June, then the temps shot up high.  I haven’t had good luck with my garden in three years, after a stunning first year of beginner’s luck.  But hope is a thing with feathers, said Emily Dickensen, or my case, tomatoes.

 

I’ve also started quilting City Streets, a quilt of my own design.

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I’d picked up this Magnifico-cousin (same type of thread) when I visited Superior Threads last time.  It’s color 101, and it looks like a gold thread, but isn’t a metallic thread:

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I hope I don’t run out before I finish this quilt.

Random Quilter

Finally, in my discussion about how the internet irritated me, I read a ton of blogs, some of which I can’t quite remember.  But I did take a screen shot of this gem, a featured quilter on a truly dedicated quilter’s blog. (Given what he says about his favorite fabric color, I don’t think he would like my gold thread.)  However, I leave you with the hope that you, too, have started quilting several times, as well as the ability to make the quilts in your head.

 

 

Bee Happy QAL Progress • June 2019

BeeHappy_June_1The wheeled devices in the So Very Cute Project I  lost my mind and decided to do are completed.  It’s nice to see it before it goes to a Time Out in my closet, so I can get some Real Quilting Work done.

But before I tell you about the basket of flowers in the back of the truck, you need this chart from Whip Stitch:

WhipStitch Bias Tape Cutting Guide

Head to her website to read all about it, or download it here.  Trust me, you’ll want this, as the weensy little instructions with the Clover bias tape makers will drive you batty.

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This is Lori Holt’s logo for this delightful project.  Notice the dog in the back of the truck.

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Notice how the people who live in my quilt realized that they needed the space in the back of the truck for hauling baskets of flowers.

Make 1/2″ mini-hexies for the flowers, fussy-cutting a couple. Cover some triangles, sized in relation to the flowers, then give each a pleat in the lower edge before sewing them on.  I used three “leaves” and five flowers.  I used the lower edge of piece D8 as a pattern for the basket, then turned it upside-down to get the wider edge at the top.

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It is really dense in that section, with the layering of fabric.  I’m one who cuts away from the back whatever I can to lighten it up for quilting:

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one more wheel to cut out

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Here’s the Guidesheet for this week: Bee Happy Sew Along Week 4
See you later, Bee Happy-Sew-Along-gator!

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I’m still working on this quilt, which I call Ladybird, because it reminds me of a ladybird beetle (sometimes called a Ladybug).

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I finished the first book (long, but good) and am now onto another:

SAVE ME THE PLUMS -- cover

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And this happened. Yes, no more PT. Now I’m getting ready for my project for tomorrow, Flag Day, the day when we find our rolled up flags in the front hall closet, and hang them out front, a prelude to the month of July, when it’s all red-white-blue all the time.

Betsys Creation Wallhanging

Okay, my wannabe flag quilt morphed into this flag-like wall hanging.  I say flag-like, because I read one Instagrammer say that she had to make another less flag-looking quilt because her family didn’t want to lay hers on the ground for picnics.

Flag wall hanging

Another version

I opened up my QuiltPro program, guessed out the proportions and figured it out.  There is no pattern in my worksheet, because I do assume that you’ll figure out how to make this, if you really want to.  Again, if either of my arrangements bother you, make one that you like.  I was inspired by a lot of what I saw on this post from Quilt Inspiration, where you can find lots of free flag and flag-like quilts for your patriotric needs.

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Here’s my worksheet, with all the dimensions, in a downloadable PDF file:
Betsy’s Creation_OPQuilt I named it after the original creator of the flag: Betsy Ross.

Happy Flag Day!!

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Scrappy Radiant Star

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Mary, of NeedledMom, chose this block for her June turn as Queen Bee of the Gridsters.  Originally found on Wombat Quilts website as a free illustration, I redrew the block to Mary’s specified 6-inch (finished) size.  Four of these blocks are put together to make Mary’s larger 12-inch block.

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Scrappy Radiant Star Illustration

Click on the download PDF file here:

Scrappy Radiant Star

You’ll need four copies to make one 12-inch block, as shown below:

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sketch I made to keep the colors organized

Notice there are FIVE colors per Mary’s larger block.  Four corners have the same color, which when sewn together make that center star.  But in looking at the way she designed it, the colors are to be distributed throughout the quilt.  You can see her initial thinking about this version on this blog post (where you’ll also get a glimpse into her gardens and cooking.  I love reading her blog).

Peek Marys Chart

Just a peek–download below.

Mary gave me permission to post the chart she drew up to keep her ideas straight.  You can download this as a PDF:Mary’s Chart_ June Gridster Bee

You can see that she’s diagrammed the main stars (in the center), and the secondary stars in the corners.  We Gridsters each chose two blocks, identifying our choices using her coding on the sides and are now sending them to her.

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To further my tributes to Mary today, I’m making her bread recipe to go with my version of Italian Wedding Soup.

Have fun making these blocks!

EPPing again with French General

Sometime ago, I glimpsed this quilt in an Instagram feed:

The description says it’s from the North Country of England, so I’ve taken to calling it the North Country Patchwork Quilt.  The more I looked at it, the more I liked how those red squares just kind of blended into the background on the outer rings, but floated over the foreground in the middle.

I tried to convince my husband to buy it.  That was funny, as he made some comment about didn’t we have enough quilts?  Seriously, he’s nearly perfect, but in the end, I decided to go ahead and make it.

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Because I sure need another project.

But the project I need is a hand project, really–one that can be toted around in the car.  I finished my hexies project, and I finished (thankfully) my millefiore quilt, so now what am I going to do on long car rides?  Just sit there?

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So I drew up the block, working between two different pieces of software: QuiltPro and Affinity Designer, and have created this pattern (click on the following link for free PDF file): North Country Patchwork Quilt

This quilt has 624 pieces in it, and if you divide that by four, you’d have to print out gazillions of the pattern page. So here are my tips for making that go more quickly:

Print off several of the free North Country Patchwork Quilt page.  Like 10.

Stack each printed page with about 4-5 plain pieces of paper.  Staple them together inside the pieces, as shown on the left.

Cut them apart in chunks, like the image on the right, using an old rotary cutter that you’ve dedicated to paper; or, a guillotine paper cutter; or, your paper scissors.

Then further cut them into the individual shapes: a honeycomb and a square.  Remove the staples.

That ought to get you started. No, I didn’t use cardstock, but I had some 24 lb printing paper that I used.  And yes, I’m gluing the fabric to these pieces of paper.   I used this paper when I did my Shine EPP quilt (most blocks are free on this blog) and it worked out just fine.  Repeat this process as you need to.

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I’m going to vary from the fabrics in the original quilt, as I fell in love with this Vive La France line of fabrics from French General.  I’m over the moon for those dusky blues and strong reds.

I worked out some variations of this quilt in QuiltPro software, and they vary by how much of a border is around the central rectangle.  Here they are:

I also had some fun with putting the blocks in more contemporary colors (lower left), but decided I didn’t like that version.  The top three are sort of in the colors of the original quilt and it looks like to me, it was someone who was making do with cast-offs from her household clothing, as well as men’s shirtings.  But I’m anxious to get going and trying this out in the Vive La France fabrics.

I have no idea how I’m going to sew this together, but I will be concentrating on those arms that come into an X, and somehow I’ll do the red square.

Lastly, a reminder to pre-wash your fabrics: working with reds can be tricky.

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See you in a couple years!

Flowers! (and Rules)

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My nephew’s wife, Grace, wrote to me and asked for help.  She is a young quilter, who makes awesome gooseberry jam (she shared a jar with me), so I wanted to help. The quilt was for someone close to her who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer, and she thought a quilt was needed.  I agree.

She sent me the screen shot you see above, and since it was on Pinterest…and you know how much I LOVE their search engines (NOT), I thought it was easier to draft it on my computer using QuiltPro than try to find the original design (I tried…and failed…but kudos to whoever dreamed it up).  Besides, that was one of those “barn” quilts, painted on wood, not a cloth quilt.

This is what I came up with.  But I knew Grace wanted to move quickly, and yeah–all those pieces?

I thought about my Home Sweet Home mini quilt, and how she could make fewer blocks, but bigger blocks, and I modified it as on the left.  Nope.  Those middle petals look like cookies or fingers or something.  I left the pattern in the same, but just colored it differently, and came up with the one on the right.  I sent it over.

Grace wrote back.  She loved what I’d done, but now they were thinking poppies. She sent me a sample of a quilt she’d seen.  I drafted it up in my QuiltPro program, drew up a quilt.  But I thought I should test out my own pattern, so I made a Poppy Block:

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trimming snowball corners

Poppy for Grace

I think it will be cute quilt.  This is a 10-inch block and I thought you’d like to have the pattern, too.  Each is a PDF file which you can download.

Here’s the Poppy Block:  Poppies for Grace

And here’s the quilt instructions: Poppies for Grace Quilt

It can be made in reds and greens and be thought of as poinsettias for Christmas.  Or made to commemorate Anzac Day in April, for the Australians.  Or red and white for a bouquet of posies for Valentine’s Day.  Have fun, but please don’t print off dozens for a class or for your friends–send them here to get their own free pattern.  Thanks.

About QuiltPro: they do not pay me or give me free stuff.  I started using that quilt program eons ago, and they are still going strong.  If you are struggling with the current software (I know, I have it and love/hate it too), consider trying this software, as it’s based on making shapes, not connecting lines.  I find it pretty intuitive, but as with anything, there is a learning curve–it’s just that theirs is not quite as steep.

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Making that block added to my collection of red and white triangles (ignore the interlopers in the upper right corner).  I trim them to whatever measurement’s closest, without it being a weird number, and save them.redwhite triangles2

Every once in a while, I sew them into four-patches.

I haven’t decided yet what to do with them, but a couple of questions arise: do I include the Christmas prints?  Or do they get their own collection? (I think so.)

Do you ever quilt with “rules”?  It’s about all I remember from my beginning art classes, ages ago in college.  The assignments laid out rules to create by — an edge to the sandbox — if you will, and went something like this:

  • Take an old piece of clothing, adhere it to a canvas and paint it like something else.
  • Use three shapes only.
  • Create a composition by taking a square of black paper, cutting out some shape and using the negative and positive pieces.
  • This assignment will use only two colors, but you may use any range of those colors.

And so on.  There are many books out there in the marketplace for guided creativity, but they all start with a rule.

Sometimes I find little bags of treasures in my sewing room, with pieces inside that have been collected according to some rule.  Like the red and white triangle rule.  Or the 3-inch square rule, but I kind of think that last one’s a bit of a cheat.

About seven years ago, I saw this on Jan Burgwinkle’s blog, Be*mused, and fell in love with it.  Maybe that’s why I started making little HSTs.  (While she doesn’t seem to update her blog much these days, it’s still amazing to read through the archives.)

So that’s my rule and I’m sticking with it: red and white triangles, although seeing this quilt again does make me wonder if I should break it.

PS.  I did adhere that old piece of clothing to a canvas and paint it.  It was a maternity shirt, which I stuffed and painted it like a landscape: three mountains and a river.  Somewhere I have a photo of it, but the original was mercifully carted off to a dump somewhere.