creative block

(Yes.  Lower case title, just to reclaim some of my quirkiness.)

I recently posted about taking a break from the creative world, from the quilty world, from whatever and while I was gone, I had some to time to think about how I’d gotten to that non-creative place.

irons in a fire

I’d say, for me it was a factor of four: Time, Health, and Mental/Physical Fatigue, as well as a Too Much to Do.  My Dad used to say “Too many irons in the fire put out the flame.”  While a reference to the bars of iron that blacksmiths use, I did have too much going on.

creative block_99U

from here

I was intrigued with the idea of Creative Block, and one article “7 Types of Creative Block and What to Do About Them,” from my favorite place online (99U) discussed this issue, that apparently is a very-much-real thing.  In that piece, I liked the sub-topic of  Work habits that don’t work, as I have been struggling to (re)learn three new computer programs: EQ7 (I learn it, then forget it, and there’s so many hurdles with the design of this software…but then that’s another post), Affinity Photo (to replace Photoshop) and Affinity Designer (to replace Illustrator).  Three more irons in that proverbial fire.

99U’s advice to “[s]tep back and take a good look at how you’re working, and where the pain points are….If you don’t have enough energy, are you working at the right time of day? If you feel paralyzed by freedom, introduce more structure and order into your day. If you feel constrained by routine, find room for improvisation” felt like it was just for me.

I always love the Brain Pickings articles, and the review on a book from Danielle Krysa (Creative Block: Get Unstuck, Discover New Ideas. Advice & Projects from 50 Successful Artists) seems to hit some of those stuck spots:

Creative Block_Alex Cornell

Jessica Bell noted that “When I can’t make progress, it is often because I am mentally scattered; this happens when I am overcommitted or have a schedule without any breathing room in it. I have to have a lot of space and quiet in my head to think my best thoughts. An artist I admire told me a few years ago that “you can’t make art in the cracks.” Carving out a block of time devoted to nothing else but the pursuit of new work has never steered me wrong.”

So,  Miss Gasoline Station stepped aside and made space for some creative time.  I’ll be posting a few projects in the next post, but since it’s summer and it’s time to play, it’s good to keep a balance between working and quilting and cooking and playing and family and friends…

Family Reunion_stone house

Eastmond Family Reunion, atop Brian Head Peak (11,000+ feet)

Thanks to all of you who wrote and left comments on my last post.  We headed out that day for a family reunion and I left the keyboard behind, but I read them all and appreciated your encouragement.  I’m slipping back into the creative life, one stitch at a time.

7 Magic MountainsThe block of granite which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak becomes a stepping stone in the pathway of the strong. –Thomas Carlyle

Each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass and a book of rules;
And each must make, ere life is flown,
A stumbling block or a stepping stone.

–R. L. Sharpe

Giveaway Banner

Because who knows what might spur your creativity, I’ve got some books to give away.  If what I’m giving away (this will go on, erratically, for several posts) tickles your fancy or appeals to you in some way, if you leave a comment, please let me know you’d like to enter the giveaway.  Some of the books are ones I’ve purchased and read, and no longer need; others were publisher giveaways at Quilt Market, and it’s time to pass them on.

Grifka Book1

The first one is Lines by Design by Debbie Grifka, a lovely book on how to make elegant modern quilts.  Good luck!  Giveaway will close in a few days and I’ll contact the winner by email and get it sent out.

 

Red, White, and Blue Star

Welcome to Day 4 of the Patriotic Palette Blog Hop, hosted by Paintbrush Studios and Painter’s Palette Solids!

Red, White, and Blue Star • Quilt #183
25″ square, made from Painter’s Palette Solids

A couple of weeks ago, the fine people who make Painter’s Palette Solids sent me some fabric and asked if I would make something. At the end of this post, there is a giveaway so you can win your own stack of red, white and blue fabrics.

I’m part of a series of posts showing items you can make with just three reds, three blues and some white.  Here is the complete list and the days that they are presenting:

6/23: Jayne of TwiggyandOpal (@twiggyandopal)
6/26: Elizabeth of OPQuilt (@occasionalpiecequilt)
6/30: Cindy Wiens of Live a Colorful Life (@liveacolorfullife)
7/3: Stephanie of Peas in a Pod (@stephiepeterson)

The project I chose was a quick and easy mini-quilt, which finishes at 25″ square, and is perfect for a table top when you want to give a little patriotic flare to the kitchen.  I’ve written up a free pattern, available in my Craftsy shop for download (see button to the right), but the instructions are here if you need any tips and help with construction.

RedWhiteBlueStar_9

RedWhiteBlueStar_2

I was sent fat quarters in three shades of red, three shades of blue and a fat quarter of white.  The white needs special cutting: cut the long borders first (see chart on pattern), then the squares for the half-square triangles.  You may have enough the other way, but do it this way to be safe.  I also was tight on the medium blue, as I used it for the binding, too.  You’ll need to provide your own backing (about 3/4 yard, or pieced scraps).

RedWhiteBlueStar_3

I basically constructed this as a nine-patch, a favorite thing of mine to do with minis. I started by sewing four bright red triangles on the edges of the blue square, then pressed them all away from the center.  I squared this unit to 7 1/2″.  (This quilt is forgiving if yours is slightly smaller.)  I squared all my nine units to the same 7 1/2″ as then I wouldn’t have to square up (or true up, depending on how you refer to it) the finished quilt top.RedWhiteBlueStar_2a

Next was the construction on this corner, sewing the medium and dark red triangles together to make a square, then sewing on the dark blue triangles to make a larger triangle.

RedWhiteBlueStar_2a1

Sew on the medium blue triangle to make it a square; true it up to 7-1/2″ inches.RedWhiteBlueStar_2b

Now make the rest of the blocks: sew the triangles together as shown, then seam those together to make a square.  I always press to the side, if you are wondering.  Only rarely do I press open, so avoid that.

Lay out all your squares (as shown above, left), then sew them together like a nine-patch (upper right).  Measure the square; the sides should measure 21-1/2″.  Trim your long white border rectangles to measure.  Sew the darkest red blocks on each of two of the white rectangle borders.

Sew two white borders: one on top of the quilt and one of the bottom.  Press.  Then sew on the borders with the squares attached; press.  Admire your quilt top.

Let’s get quilting!

Here’s a picture of the quilt in the sunshine, showing my quilting stitches.  I always have the hardest time coming up with what to quilt where; yours may vary.  The “bandstand swag” arcs on the outside were a happy accident.

RedWhiteBlueStar_6

This was all done on my Sweet Sixteen machine, but that functions like a domestic sewing machine. I did do ruler work (which is probably easier on my machine than a domestic) but it can be done on your regular sewing machine.  Just make sure you have a thick enough hopping foot and thick rulers designed for this task (not your cutting rulers!); put grippy stuff on the bottom of your rulers, as you’ll use them to help you move the fabric under your needle.

Happy Fourth of July!

If you haven’t heard me tell you about Painter’s Palette Solids, made by Paintbrush Studio, you must be a new reader.  It is my FAVORITE solid: it’s easy to work with, has a nice hand, deals well when I need to unpick and re-stitch (I had to do that with the quilting, but you can’t see it, right?).  It’s a fairly new fabric to the market, but many brick-and-mortar shops, as well as online shops, are starting to carry it.

Giveaway Banner

Patriotic Bundle June 2017

from here

As is my custom when sewing for Painter’s Palette, I give away my scraps when I finish a project, so that some fortunate quilter can give this fabric a try.  BUT!  Paintbrush Studios has generously offered up a stack of the fabrics I used in this quilt — seven fat quarters — so you can make your own (giveaway is for domestic/US only).

To enter, leave me a comment telling me if you like fireworks, and why (or your most memorable).  I’m not talking the little things that are lit up down on street level, but those glorious bursting displays of color and light.  It will get us all in the mood for Independence Day.

Giveaway picking a winnerI’ll activate the Husband Random Number Generator and pick a winner, to be contacted by email.

Giveaway closed.  
Winner has been notified and will be announced in next post.  Thank you all!

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Oh Christmas Tree QAL • STEP 6 and Giveaway

6XmasTreeJune

Today is Step 6 of our Oh Christmas Tree Quilt-a-Long (#ohchristmastreeqal), following a pattern by Wendy of FlyingFishKits and which was published in Simply Moderne issue #3, by QuiltMania. As always, we have an assist from Wendy of  Wendy’s Quilts and More (blog) and wendyquiltsandmore (IG).  Our hashtag on Instagram is #ohchristmastreeqal so look there for more ideas.

I’ve been keeping a log of the steps in the tab above, Oh Christmas Tree Quilt-A-Long, so consult that page when you need to find a post.

And yes, there is a giveaway at the end of this post, so have fun reading through the maze of red triangles.

great wall of china1

Today is the Dreaded Border Problem. No, not that kind of border problem, but a QUILT border problem. To guide you through all the blather this longish post, I’ve broken it into 5 parts: 1) The Pattern and the Problem, 2) The Fix, 3) Construction, 4) Fitting it to the Tree, and 5) More Ideas.

The Pattern and the Problem

As SuggestedThese were the inner red/background fabric border blocks, drawn to the measurements listed on the pattern in Simply Moderne.  You can see the troubles already, right?  None of them can play nicely together (that last shape is the dimension of the half-triangle, minus its diagonal line).

MetricImperial Stormtrooper(from here)

Maybe the Metric vs. Imperial measuring system may have something to do with it?  but I don’t know (and to be truthful, I just really wanted to use that image).

As Re-drawn

When I tried to subtract the seam allowances, and create the wedge piece for use at each end of the borders, it just got messier.

But never fear!  Wendy informed me that the seam allowances were left off the triangle and the wedge piece, EVEN THOUGH IT SAYS THE SEAM ALLOWANCES ARE INCLUDED.  She sent me photos showing a difference in the base of about 3/4″ across.

Which explains. . . a lot.  Like a lot of you have gone ahead and cut out the triangles then got to a place like where Gwen did, when she noticed that they were too small!  She eventually made more triangles to fit across the area needed.  Leslie, another friend who was trying to make this at a retreat, emailed me with the same problem; she decided to stop until I figured it out.

The Fix

But before I knew about the news from Wendy,  I had scrapped their templates entirely and made my own, which work fine (free templates for download are below). I compared my triangles to the revised pattern (now including) seam allowances, and mine are slightly larger by about 1/4″ total on the large triangle (1/8″ each side), but interestingly enough, perfect for the wedge triangle.  So you have a choice: do theirs in their imperfections — first adding seam allowances — or, forget theirs and go with mine.  You should know, however, using my templates will change the number of wonky stars you’ll make for the border, if that matters to you.  The finished quilt photo is at the very end of this post, if you want to compare how mine turned out with the magazine’s photo.  And Simpy Moderne’s  link for the errata; it simply says “add seam allowances.” Okey, dokey.

I figured out my templates by starting with their lower border measurement, which just happened to be one that I could evenly divide by 3.  So I redrew my triangles to measure 3″ across the bottom. Then I had to change the side border measurement to also allow division by 3.  Here’s my working snapshots from my QuiltPro software.

OCT6_Side border1

These images show the measurements without seam allowances.  The templates that you’ll print off (at 100%) include those pesky seam allowances.  OCT6_TopBorder

So here is that link to a PDF file that has templates for the new triangles and corner block: OCT New Border Templates.  To make sure you are printing it out correctly, the inside measurement of the cornerstone (w/o seam allowances) is 3.5 inches (or the entire square is 4″).  Please print out only one copy for yourself.  If your mother or friend want the pattern, please send them here to get it.  Many thanks.  

Construction

OhChristmasTree6_1 cutting triangles

I cut three 4″ strips WOF: as you can see, the strips were big enough to accommodate the triangle pattern.  I did flip it back and forth so was able to get about 10-12 triangles out of that folded cut per strip (I forgot to count).  So, from three strips I had plenty.  You’ll need 11 red triangles each for the top/bottom border, and 13 red triangles each for the side borders.  Cut 12 whole background triangles and 2 smaller wedge triangles for each side border; top/bottom borders require 10 full background triangles and 2 smaller wedge triangles.  [NOTE: I do show you two different ways to think about your placement; read all the way to the end before cutting.]OhChristmasTree6_2

I put a double loop of painter’s tape on the back of my template so it wouldn’t shift while I was cutting.OhChristmasTree6_2a

I also don’t really worry about the outside edge of the template so much, instead focusing on lining up my ruler with the actual dimensions of the triangle.  That way, if I accidentally trim off a bit of the template while cutting, the world doesn’t end.  I’m paying more attention to the inside “actual triangle” shape when I cut, than to the triangle’s outer seam allowance line.OhChristmasTree6_2b OhChristmasTree6_3 cutting arrangement

I’ve also learned to shift the fabric going up away from me (north-south direction) when I cut angles, shifting it slightly left or right as needed, so it’s easier cutting with less stress on my hands.

OhChristmasTree6_4 sewing

All lined up, ready to sew. OhChristmasTree6_4a

Since I cut three strips at once, I work with a stack of six red triangles and six background triangles, laying them out like this.

OhChristmasTree6_4bb

Line up the tip like this, then sew along the top edge with an accurate 1/4″ seam, shown here by the dotted line.  Do your best to get that seam as accurate as you can, as you are working with a ton of seams here, and a little scoonch off at this point can yield big differences later.  Having said that, I wouldn’t worry about it too much, as there are lots of ways to adjust these borders.OhChristmasTree6_5 pressing

I stitched them in pairs, then pressed to the dark side.OhChristmasTree6_6

Then I seamed two together, pressed again to the dark side, then built out my four different borders by combining these sets.  Watch out–you will have an odd number so you’ll need to sew on just one red triangle at the end of each border, then sew on the smaller half-triangle shapes to make your borders.  To reiterate, you should then have:
•  two borders with 11 red triangles
•  two borders with 13 red triangles

This is different than the pattern in the magazine.  Sew a corner block on the ends of the 13-triangle (side) borders and iron all the seams to the dark side, as before.

Fitting It to the Tree

Find yourself a nice big flat surface, preferably with a grid.

OhChristmasTree6_7 squaring quiltLike a cutting board, or something (Why yes, I do work on my guest bed all the time).  I smoothed out my tree, aligning the tree trunk on one of the lines (north-south) but quickly realized that even though I thought I had sewn the tree on straight on my background, it was slightly off (see the slope of the lower edge).  You’ll cut the background 33 1/2″ by 39 1/2″ if you are using my templates.  Please follow the measurements in the magazine if you are using theirs.

OhChristmasTree6_7 squaring quilt1

I was more concerned that the tree be upright and straight, so I continued lining up the tree trunk and the limbs with the grid underneath, then putting pins to anchor them straight.
OhChristmasTree6_7 squaring quilt2

Since I want the background to be cut to 33 1/2″ inches wide, I put the 16-3/4″ inch line in the middle of my tree.OhChristmasTree6_7 squaring quilt2b

If you have one of these hanging around the house, that’s even better.  They are nifty rulers that allow you to find the center easily.  Just line up the similar measurements on the outside (in this case, the 1-inch marks on the top edge of the Center-Finding Rule) and you’ll instantly find the center.  OhChristmasTree6_7 squaring quilt3

Mark the outside edges.OhChristmasTree6_7 squaring quilt4

Now connect the marks.  I also used the grid underneath to aid me, deferring to those lines, if I thought my marks were a little wonky.  I measured the height of this rectangle (39-1/2″) and it turned out to be almost exactly two inches above the big circle at the top of the tree and the lower edge of my manger in my scene.  (Lucky me!)  I then used the grid underneath and the right angles of my big ruler to draw the top and bottom lines.

The idea is to draw yourself a squared-up rectangle.  If you draw the lines at 33 1/2″ and 39 1/2″ then you can align the raw edges of your borders with those lines as you pin them on.  BUT DON’T TRIM THE BACKGROUND YET!!OhChristmasTree6_8 sewing borders1

Of course, the best-laid plans often go awry.  I’m a bit short here, but instead of stretching the border to fit (which I could do, since it’s mostly on the bias), I let it be a bit short.  I’ll adjust the outside wonky star borders as needed.  Sew on the top and bottom borders first.OhChristmasTree6_8 sewing borders2

While ironing this seam, I just realized that the red triangles should be pointing TOWARDS the Christmas Tree. I un-sewed, then re-sewed, all the while listening to this (30 hour!) book:

Alexander Hamilton

In this season of political intrigues, constitutional fights and jockeying for power, it’s been interesting to revisit the original story of political intrigue, constitutional fights and jockeying for power.  Okay, back to the triangles.

OhChristmasTree6_8 sewing borders3

Sew on the top/bottom borders first.  Then sew the two sides, leaving the corner block seam areas unsewn.  Press, then check them, THEN TRIM THE BACKGROUND FABRIC.  After that, stitch the corner block seams.OhChristmasTree6_first border on

Ta-Done!!  It changes the look of everything to have this first border on, and now I can’t wait until I can get sewing the Wonky Blocks for the outside.  I’ll cover that on our last installment of the QAL, including how to adjust in case your borders aren’t quite what you thought.

Betty, another friend who is doing this, was working parallel with me that day, and we talked back and forth as we worked. The big take-away is that I think this quilt is jinxed, has a spell on it.  Or maybe it was because it was too hot:
113 degrees_toohot

At one point, nearly in tears, I called my husband and told him this pattern had gotten the better of me, and I wanted to chuck it through the window.  So if you have this reaction, you are not alone.  But carry on, it gets better.  Betty’s quilt turned out like this:

BettyOCT_redborders

(Isn’t that background fabulous?)

Here’s the kicker: she had to eliminate the wedge triangles from the two sides at the lower edge, where it joins the square.  In fact, she had to cut those triangles in half.  Her measurements are only 1/2″ different than mine, so that’s when I decided that with this pattern you have to:

Go Zen Quilter

Go Zen.

Oh yeah, that’s totally me up there, but only after I got the red borders on.  Just let go of trying to make this pattern be a precise, precision-cut and sewn quilt, and just work with it.  And by the way, Wendy from NZ was working with the “good measurements” from the original pattern and she still had a hard time getting the red border sewn.  But like me and Betty — and soon, you — she did it.

Wendy OCT with first border

Yes, she reversed her triangles, but when I commented on it, told me that she was all finished so they were staying that direction.  I mention this to fit in with the theme of Go Zen.  There are many ways to complete this pattern, and they are all charming.  Keep reading for another.

Once you get here, you’re going to want to keep going and get the whole dang quilt finished off.  So, instead of waiting a month for the next installment, I’ll give you roughly a week to get it on (and to get the cursing out of your system) and then I’ll pop up with the the final installment, where we Finish This Thing.

tiny nine patches

More Ideas

OhChristmasTree alternateborder

I first saw this on IG.  She did it all in Kaffe Fasset fabrics (apparently, no wools anywhere), with a red/white checkerboard border and that she plans to hang it up all year long.  This photo is from the IG feed from Linderella’s Quilt Works in North Carolina.  (This is the advantage of tagging your photos!)

SusanHolmanOCT

And then Janice of french75too (and a huge EPP enthusiast) sent me this picture that was posted on the Kaffe Fasset FB group.  The quilt is by Susan Holman, who gave me permission to post it here.  She also mentioned that she “had to cut the inner section a bit smaller” and also “re-drafted the stars to finish at 7.5,” as the depth of the border changed the dimensions.

Just to torture myself further for fun, I decided to think about how the quilt top would look if I used different end wedge triangle colors. Here are two pictures to illustrate what I mean.

OCT6_beigetriangles

This is how the pattern goes: small half-triangles made of the background fabric sit next to the corner blocks.  The center triangle, in the top and bottom borders, is pointing exactly at the tree trunk.
OCT6_RedTriangles

In this one, the small wedge-shaped triangles are red, which means that the numbers are slightly inverted (10 full red triangles, instead of 11) and the points of the center triangles are on either side of the tree trunk.  You get to choose.  And because I promised you, here’s a look at my completed top:

OhChristmasTreeFinalToplabeled

This photo is showing number of triangles and the number of wonky stars (which we’ll do next time).

ChristmasTreeLogoSM

Here’s our updated schedule (can you believe we’ve been working on this since January??):

January 2nd, Step “prepare”: buy the magazine, books, gather your fabrics, buy the felt/wool, buy/find the pearl cotton.
February 2nd, Step 1: Make the tree on the background and stitch it down.
March 2nd, Step 2: Make 21 flowers.
April 2nd, Step 3: Make 10 birds and all the leaves.
May 2nd, Step 4: Appliqué down the flowers and birds.
June 2nd, Step 5:  Scene at bottom of tree–make, then appliqué onto background.
July 2nd, Step 6: Sawtooth border (reds); sew together and attach. 

July (sometime mid-month), Step 7: (finish up Quilt-A-Long): Make wonky star blocks, sew them together and attach border #2.

September, Step 8 Show and Tell, just in time for school starting again.  Please send pictures of whatever state your Christmas Tree is in–whether it’s just the bones of the tree, of a completed top–we want to see it!

 

Giveaway Banner

Dresden Giveaway

Since we are now winding down our Oh Christmas Tree QAL, I thought you’d like to have another project to start.  How about some Dresdens?  This lovely book, Dresden Carnival, written by Marian Gillian and Yvette Marie Jones, has sixteen different quilt projects using the Dresden Plate block in ways you never thought of.  The color pairings are bright and fun and the settings will have you thinking about Dresdens in a whole new way.

To win a copy of this book, please leave a comment telling me what your best Dresden Plate block memory is–from that vintage quilt you saw in an antique store to inheriting a set of blocks from your aunt, to the colorful Dresdens now flying around on the internet (including the free EPP pattern on this blog).  I’ll activate the Husband Random Name Generator and we’ll pick a winner.

UPDATE:

Well, my husband was reading intently, so I fired up the Random Number Generator and it picked a winner.  See next post for more info.

Flag waving

Happy Independence Day!
After listening to Hamilton, this whole process has a new meaning for me.  I owe a great debt to those early patriots.

Hallowe’en 1904 QAL–Step Five • Giveaway

Step 5 halloweenQAL

ATTENTION!!  THE LAST TWELVE REMAINING PATTERNS OF HALLOWE’EN-1904 IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD ARE NOW AVAILABLE FOR SALE AT PRIMITIVE GATHERINGS ONLINE.  

ONCE THEY ARE GONE. . . THEY ARE GONE!!!

Okay, see the rest of the post for the backstory.

halloweenqal_pattern cover

When I was at Quilt Market, I stopped to see Alma Allen of Blackbird designs in her booth in the Moda section and asked her if she had any remaining Hallowe’en-1904 patterns.  Because I’m running this QAL, I get a lot of questions like, “Where can I get the pattern?” for as you know, they’ve been rather elusive.  Downright scarce, actually.QMarket_ModaDesigner4

 (Alma is shown above with her newest quilt, The Raven.)

“Well, actually,” she said (and I paraphrase), “I was going through the warehouse and found the last box of those–didn’t know I had them.  There’s twelve.  Would you like them?”  Gulp, golly. . . YES! for I knew that a lot of people had been looking for them.  I walked over to Lisa Bongean’s Primitive Gatherings Booth across the way (Lisa is the nicest person ever), and since it was the last day of Quilt Market stammered out my request asked her if she would buy them and get them for us?  Yes, she said.  And she has.

So here’s a link to the LAST REMAINING 12 PATTERNS ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH that you can buy.  Get over there right now and get them.  Alma does not intend to make this available as a PDF file after these are sold, so if you want one, you know what to do.  Well. . . actually there’s only 11 now.  (I just bought one.)

 

Giveaway Banner

And yes, I do have a giveaway today, but it’s not the pattern (go and get one, NOW, before they sell out).  Read through to the end to find out what our giveaway is for today. Now, on to the business of our Quilt-A-Long.

Halloweenqal4_0

If you remember, I left you with the instructions to get your wonky/appliqued stars done and get them assembled into a block, and add those corner triangles.  This month, you are going to make half-square triangles (HSTs) until your rotary cutter falls apart.  I’ve updated the previous post about making wonky stars, as I refined the method as I went.

After making all these wonky stars, I just have to say it’s probably about similar the work in terms of appliqué vs. wonky.  You’ll be sick of either method by the time you are done, but you’ll also be an expert in that method, too.  (Making gives, and making takes.)

Halloween4_2 laid out

I laid all the blocks on my kitchen floor to motivate me to get going again.  Notice that three of the “starry” blocks have orange stars, one has black stars and one is a mix.  The big triangle borders are varied; I used deep green triangles on that one in the second row to the far right, but it’s so dark, it reads as blackish.
Halloween4_3

Now it’s time to make half-square triangles until your hand falls off. . .or your rotary blade needs changing.  I use Bloc-Loc rulers to make my life easier in trimming, as it has a groove in the underside that nestles onto that fold of your seam, keeping it from moving around while you trim.  I can do a whole bunch at one sitting and I think they are more accurate.Halloween4_5

Now commandeer the guest bedroom, and lay out your star blocks.  Lay out your HSTs around the edges.  Because we use the 8-at-a-time method (talked about in an earlier post) I have multiple sets of 8 identical HSTs.  I used three sets per block, swapping out a few here and there to keep the eye moving around my quilt.Halloween4_4

Sew them on, as discussed in Step Three (that earlier post I keep referring to).  Halloween4_6

Because I had four appliquéd blocks, it was a no-brainer to put them in the position above for the initial run-through of placement.  One by one, I put up the star blocks, auditioning them.  Of course, I could have planned out where the dark triangles were and the HST color placement, but I didn’t.Halloween4_ninesquares

This is how I ended up, complete with a whoops: Halloween4_7ooops

I’ll fix that today.  But now I’m caught up with our QAL, and getting ready for the last step (yes!!) in our quilt making: the borders.

Here’s our schedule:

Step 1 (Preparation): February 13, 2016–buy all the fabrics and find the pattern.  Mine was purchased from Common Threads in Waxahachie, TX (www.commonthreadsquilting.com).  The quilt measures 90 by 90, which is too large for me, so I’m only doing nine blocks.  Each block is 20″ square, and with the outer borders, that should come to roughly  65″ square.  I may change my mind, but this looks good from here.

Step 2: March 13, 2016–Cut out the quilt: the tan backgrounds of the squares, the border triangles, the smaller half-square triangles, strips for the wonky stars, but save the piano key border for later.

Step 3: April 13, 2016–Assemble four blocks and add large appliques; use Thelma’s method (of Cupcakes and Daisies) for adding the curlicue stem. Make and add half-square triangeles (HSTs) around these blocks, using the 8-at-a-time method of HSTs.

Step 4: May 13,  2016–Cut and make the wonky star blocks from templates and strips.  I’m doing five blocks, so will need to make twenty wonky stars and true them up.  Add on the large outside triangles.

Step 5: June 13, 2016–Assemble the rest of the star blocks, by adding their HST borders. In the pattern, they are mixed up and varied, but also harmonized (some have a mix of orange and black, some have just black, some have just orange.)  Make your own rules and go with it.

Step 6: July 13,  2016–Arrange the blocks on your design wall and stitch together.  Cut the pieces for your borders.  Make the four corner pinwheels.  Sew borders together and attach them to the quilt.

Yes, I combined the last two months, so we’ll be done early–so you can get it quilted!

Giveaway Banner

Steam-A-Seam 2 giveaway

When I was at Market, I talked the people at the Steam-A-Seam booth (The Warm Company, who also make Warm and Natural Quilt Batting) telling them how much I liked their fusible product for the quilt I’ve been making (I used it on all the appliqué parts). I also used it on my Christmas Tree Skirt and really am a fan. Next thing I know she’s handed me some packages for a giveaway, so here I am, giving it away.  There are two packages of Steam-A-Seam 2 sheets (5 sheets, 9 x 12 inches in size) and two packages of Lite Steam A Seam 2 (8 sheets of 9 x 12 inches).  The Lite Steam A Seam 2 has upper and lower case letters printed on the the release sheet, so when you fuse them down, then cut them out, they’ll be going the correct direction.  They also include one blank sheet for your design. Very cool product.

To win all FOUR packages (share with a friend), please leave a comment telling me if you think Halloween should be a kids’ holiday (candy, traditional costumes and pumpkin carving) or an adult holiday (more sophisticated, more zombies, blood and gore, fewer pumpkins).  I’ll pick a winner and announce it on the next post. UPDATE: Giveaway now closed.

1halloweenQAL logo

Quilt Market May 2016 • Day One • Giveaway

QMarket1_sign

Yes! folks.  That is me standing under the sign, nervous and excited as all get out. Yeah, I know it’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.  And there’s a little bit of a giveaway at the end, just to reward you for reading all the way through.

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I’d entered the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City that morning, dazed and confused even though several people had given me good advice for Going to Quilt Market.  I came down the escalators to the left (out of sight), trying to figure out what to do next, when a lovely woman walked towards me.

QMarket_Claudia and I

Claudia, the owner of Snowed In Quilt Shop in Panguitch, Utah showed me where to pick up my badge.  She then told me to pay for SchoolHouse (all-day classes) and for Sample Spree (really?  I’m going to that time-honored craziness??).  I designated her my “Handler for Quilt Market,” and off we went to Schoolhouse.

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Wait, what?
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This is better.  We shared the building with burly guys wearing T-shirst that said Coal: Clean & Abundant, as they went to their meetings in a wing of the convention center.QMarket2

First up: a plenary session where the first 700 who picked up their schedules also got a ticket for a souvenir tote bag from Cotton and Steel.  I’d heard about the freebies here (actually less than you think) and was happy that I could get something fun right off the bat.  It opened with the officials telling us the stats of our industry, among other pleasantries.

For the very next presenters were the Cotton & Steel gang, all young women, announcing their partnership with Rifle Paper Company, and the new fabric line where they showed us us a video.  We had a small sample of it in our freebie bags.  We weren’t yet allowed into the exhibition hall, as everyone was still setting up their booths.  It dawned on me only later that I had a badge that would let me in.  (Trying not to overuse my Super Powers, here. . .) However, I didn’t have time to go in until later, as I was busy going to Schoolhouse.  Claudia and I went back and forth between the two sets of classrooms, about a 3-minute walk between them, until we wised up and chose classes in a clump next to each other.
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This presentation by Ink & Arrow/Quilting Treasures was stellar.  I learned a LOT.  Every quilt shop should have attended this one.QMarket_Schoolhouse4

Plus the brownies in their little giveaway bag were a nice treat.QMarket_Schoolhouse5

Many of the Schoolhouse classes are like this one: an introduction to a new line of fabrics, in this case Frou-Frou, distributed by ClothWorks, Inc.  I liked what the head of Frou-Frou was saying about quilting being like cooking.  “Spaghetti” in column 2 is actually skinny tubing, suitable for spaghetti straps on clothing.
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I loved Maywood Fabrics’ presentation.  Claudia won a bundle of their fabric.  She actually won two times that day, which is nice payment for her having to drag me around.
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Somewhere in here, at the urging of my darling husband (yes, he is!) I went down to the floor to see my  quilt hanging up.  Sigh.  You read all about that yesterday, so I won’t bore you today, but it was wonderful.  (And yes, I’d finally figured out at that point that I had a badge that would let me do that.)QMarket_Schoolhouse6

After lunch it was more classes.  Here’s Anna Maria Horner’s Schoolhouse class, showing off her amazing quilt.  And skirts.  And fabric.  And more quilts. And her fine sense of humor.QMarket_Schoolhouse6a QMarket_Schoolhouse6b

(Reverse applique flower and leaves)
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So glad to see her in fine form.  We’ve missed you, Eleanor Burns!QMarket_Schoolhouse8_moda QMarket_Schoolhouse8a_moda QMarket_Schoolhouse9_moda QMarket_Schoolhouse9a_moda

The Moda Schoolhouse was all about their program starting in fall and continuing through next year: “Be My Neighbor,” where they will give out “blueprints” of blocks to fabric shops, where we plebeians can get them.  I’ve already made a house quilt, (click *here* to see and to get free downloadable patterns, too) but after looking at this one, it’s mighty tempting to try another.

By now Claudia and I are dragging and we have to muster up some strength to make it to Sample Spree that evening. QMarket_Schoolhouse10

So we stayed in our seats through another designer’s presentation (basically a demo of all her new products and how we could buy them) then went next door to Moda/Martingale’s presentation of the Match Game, featuring quilty terms, and a cast of brilliant stars (some lined up above).  It was really funny, and very high energy and we had a great time.  Some of the quilts featured in the book are below, slightly blurry as they were parading them before us at a pretty good clip:QMarket_Schoolhouse10a QMarket_Schoolhouse10b QMarket_Schoolhouse10c QMarket_Schoolhouse10d QMarket_Schoolhouse10e QMarket_Schoolhouse10f QMarket_Schoolhouse10g QMarket_Schoolhouse10h

There.  Now you’ve had your fill of eye-candy for one post. (I do think I’ll get this book.) We went to find dinner and I took a photo of the sample spree line from the second floor, where people had been lining up for hours:QMarket_SampleSpreeLineQMarket_exhibitor floor

And then I took one of the market floor.  See those people laying green carpet over to the left?  Stay with me now, there’s a story there.  Claudia and I grabbed a salad for dinner, and ate it quietly away from the Sample Spree line.  She agreed to watch my bags while I went in for one last pictureQMarket_onelastlookz QMarket_onelastlook

I came out of the aisle just as three uber burley guys gave the green carpet runner a hefty yank to the left. . . and I fell down to the right.  Yes, so graceful, but the rug had been pulled out from under me, just like in the cartoons.  The burley guys to the right came running over.  One of them was the crew leader, and after watching me get up (again, incredibly graceful *ahem*) he insisted I go to the boss of the crew.  I followed him to the loading dock, where it smelled like brine, a storm coming in off the salty Great Salt Lake.  Kind of like being at the ocean, really.
QMarket_loadingdock

Then he insisted I go to the Floor Boss, who was driving around somewhere on a yellow cart.  You think if they were so concerned about my injuries that they would have put ME on one of those dumb carts and driven me around, but no.  I had to go with this guy, chasing around looking for the other guy on the dumb cart.  We found him, but I explained that I was going to miss my PARTY and that my friend had my bags and I needed to go and get them, and really I felt fine (but knowing the next day I was going to feel it).  He agreed to let me release Claudia so she could get in line.

Now I’m carrying all my loot from today, and following this guy around.  Back to the loading dock, where we get another boss, who determines that I should to see Security. (But my PARTY!! I want to scream, for that’s what Sample Spree was to them–how could I explain what would be the mad dash of frothing quilters straight for the Rifle Paper Company new fabric line by Cotton & Steel?)  He takes me along the back of the convention hall, to a wide gaping doorway and I realize I’m looking at Sample Spree and nobody is in here!!  Did I take advantage of this and grab a stack?  No.  Like a good little girl, I follow the guy through the other doors, out into the hallway, where everyone in line is looking me, like “How’d she get in there?”

We go down the lines of foyer-sitters, into the office.  He says “This is the lady who fell down.”  Wait.  I pipe up to say, “I didn’t fall down.  Someone yanked the carpet from under my feet!”  I was asked to wait while they called for an EMT, and while I was waiting, would I write a description.  The EMT guy arrives and wants me to go in an ambulance to the ER.

Meanwhile. . . I can see the lines start to move into Sample Spree.  I turn to him, and say “My Party is starting! I’ve got to go!”  He assesses me (no slurring of speech, no fuzzy vision, no impact to the head, appears to be somewhat sane and walking straight); I sign waivers to not to go the ER in an ambulance.  But by now, I’ll be at the back of the wagon train in the Sample Spree line.  So I look at him and say, “You look official.  Can you walk me to the front of the line and get me in?”  He smiles, agrees, and we pass by hordes of frothing quilters, and I slip in past the Quilt Police, into Sample Spree.  I’m still achy, my hip and ankle are sore, and I know I’m going to feel it in the morning, but hey–I made it it to The Party.

QMarket_SampleSpree

This sort of image was not unusual.  I decline to show you my group of bags so as not to incriminate myself, but I got in about halfway through the long line, and no, at that point there were no Rifle Paper Company stacks to be had unless I bought ALL of the new Cotton & Steel lines for a mere $271, which would include their tote bag.  Um, no.  But it was fun going around, seeing the FQs (Frothing Quilters) grab and push and terrify those on the inside of the tables as they snapped up their stacks and bundles, and overheated their credit cards.

Basement apt

I did see Claudia later on, and she asked how I was.  She’s lovely and terrific and as she was still shopping, and I was pretty spent (in all ways), I headed home to my sister’s new apartment in her basement, where I had a lovely space all to myself.  I took some ibuprofen, and while I was uploadiong some IG photos, all the power went out around me.

I looked outside: dark.  I looked on IG: all the quilters in the hotels downtown were freaking out, saying “Way to go–the Fabric Geeks broke Salt Lake!”  Sounds like the party was still going on.  I knew the light would wake me up when it came back on in the middle of the night, but I rolled over and went to sleep.

Giveaway Banner

Because I was surprised at how little freebies there were (I had to purchase most of my souvenirs, except for the bag I mentioned), I have one giveaway here and a couple of more over the next two weeks, courtesy of the people I’ll name.

Felt Giveaway1

This first one is a charm pack with lots of colors of 100% wool felt, for those of you who are working on your tree (another one’s coming on June 2nd).  The colors are beautiful:

Wool Felt 3

It’s from National Non-Wovens, and they also donated some for our next Oh Christmas Tree post, just in case you don’t win this round. While this is a vendor, they will sell smaller quantities to us quilters at Commonwealth Felt.

In The Pines Book

The other item I’ll throw into the giveaway is this book by Carolyn Culling McCormick, In the Pines, from Kansas City Star Quilts.  This is a book of paper-pieced patterns so you can make the more traditional pine-tree quilts with tiny pieces.  The paper-piecing makes is manageable.  Leave a comment below and I’ll activate the Husband Random Name Generator and pick a winner (one winner will get both items).  This will close on Saturday, May 29th, my mother’s 88th birthday.  (Happy Birthday, Mom!)

NOTE: Comments now closed.  Winner to be announced in next post.

Next Up: Day Two of Market