Bystander, Bifurcated: Home Again

Like my life recently, this is a bifurcated post. It has forked, diverged, split, branched, split, zig-zagged and divaricated. First a visual reminder:

Notice anything on this Index in the Year 2022? Nope, me neither.

I went back through my blog, which is a record of sorts, seeing what the heck I’ve been doing. Or not doing.

I have been doing pillow covers, which in a way, are small quilts, so I guess I could add them to the list, but if feels like cheating although January’s (the blue/white one) was more fidgety than some quilts I’ve made.

I chose this remedy: a list. Long ago in a lifetime far away I used to hang with the Finish-A-Long crowd, writing up quarterly lists, etc. Once I got into the habit of finishing, I bowed out. But since the pandemic seems to have scrambled our brains, I thought it was a method of organization worth dredging up again. One of my rules is to hand-draw the chart. At first I could only come up with one, but no worries, everything soon piled on.

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I’m more of a bystander, sometimes torn between two good things, or tasks, or the energy just gave out, or I just want to doom scroll on the phone. We’ve all done a lot of that, but with this break in the pandemic, I was hoping to feel a bit free, hoping to feel like my old self again — with enthusiasm in working my craft.

So I made the list.

Yet, I have been busy.

Started here. 5:00 a.m. Tuesday, March 29. Saw the sunrise after climbing through the Cajon Pass.

We stopped in Arizona, picked up Barbara, stopping for lunch at Viva Chicken in St. George, UT. We arrive in Salt Lake City near 8 p.m. after stopping at Shake Shack for a burger (worth it). My sister Cynthia greeted us and helped us into the place where we were staying. So glad to see her!

Wednesday, March 30. Pre-Op 7:30 a.m. and first time to meet the surgeon. Definitely a Very Nice Surgeon. Then up to JeniBee craft market, where I could have purchased too many things, but so fun to be doing “normal” craft market shopping. With people. I did buy some Ukranian wooden eggs, which took up residence beside Elenor Easterly:

And this little sign, plus a few other treats. Yes, indeed: Live Simply & Bloom Wildly.

Lunch with my sisters, first time we’ve been together in over three years, and our shoes always define us, to some extent.

Dinner that night with my sisters and more family.

Barbara and Barbara. My beautiful daughter is named for my beautiful soon-to-be-94 mother.

Thursday. Report for surgery at 6:15 a.m. My husband remarked that this was not a trip of restful mornings. Barbara (daughter) had been having pain in her hip for some time, and the surgery was to take care of it, but she was to be on crutches for a good 2-3 weeks. We were home by 10:30 a.m. and afternoon was a blur of bad pain meds, runs to pharmacy, finding food that will stay down, ice packs and then, “Can we go home tomorrow?” An okay from her doctor and we changed plans yet again.

Originally we were to be up there one week. No, two weeks. Really maybe only 4 or 5 days. I packed enough craft projects for two weeks, but in the end, they never left the car.

Friday, April 1. Up too early, but we were out the door fairly efficiently, having done most of the packing up the night before. We had to stop every two hours to give her a chance to crutch around a bit, and just as we rounded the corner to her home in Arizona, I feel something like a sigh come from Barbara. Then my husband said something like “We’ll be heading off here pretty quickly.” I thought we were staying for a couple of days, but as I said to him earlier in the week, I’ve figured out to make plans that can be changed. We did.

Friday, dusk. We and billions of trucks head to the Cajon Pass, driving through the Mojave Desert. Last time we drove through here we saw Elon Musk’s Starlink Satellites, a subway train of lights in the sky. Not tonight.

We slept for the next three days. Sort of kidding. Barbara is making her way through post-op. She will recover.

This photo of Barbara & Barbara was taken five years ago, before my mother lost her eyesight. Glad to have a new one.

And next Sunday — Easter Sunday — Part Four of Heart’s Garden will drop, and we’ll plant our garden.

And then there’s this.

Since we were taking Barbara to Utah for surgery, and we were supposed to stay at my sister Susan’s home for several days afterwards, I looked at her change of address card, and decided to make her a little housewarming gift using those motifs.

I drew up the basic idea in my Affinity Designer software, using brushes from Artifex Forge to make the trees. I copied, mirrored them on either side of the house, changing the colors slightly.

I backed a homespun-looking piece of cloth with freezer paper, and ran it through the printer. (I use EPSON printers because I like their inks.) I use the same technique in making quilt labels.

I fused on the house (she has grey rock in the front of hers), the roof, chimney and front door.

Susan mentioned that her landscaper was going to put in a perennial garden out front. She has a sliver of a front planting bed, but I wanted to add that, too.

I sketched in the dimension with pencil, then marked evenly around the outer upper edges. Using masking tape as a guide, I hand quilted rays of sunshine emanating from her new house, hopefully wishing her happiness.

I trimmed it, bound it in some of my current favorite fabric, and sewed on a hand-written label.

Happy New House, Susan.

While the original plan was to stay with Susan, our daughter Barbara took one look at the stairs up to the guest bedroom and worried about getting up all those stairs on her crutches. So that’s why we headed home early.

We’ve seen many pictures of refugees lately, people leaving their homes to escape conflict, destruction, fleeing for safety, for their future. I feel incredibly sad for these people. Our church congregation works with some of the Afghan refugees here; this past week my husband drove them to a dentist’s appointment, and helped assemble bunkbeds for children (he’s a saint). There is so much to do when they come to a new home: find a place to live, find furniture, household goods, acquaint them with our community, help them. I have forgotten what it’s like to start again, in a new place. But my hope is that one day, when all the displaced walk through their new front doors, they too will say: Home Again.


Good Heart Quilters Quilt Retreat 2015


The Good Heart Quilters had their 4th annual quilt retreat at Lisa’s home this summer.  She is the smiling blonde marathoner in the lower right (I am in the yellow T-shirt).  Some of our group isn’t here, and we also had a couple of newbies join us this year.  We meet at Lisa’s home Friday morning, eat lunch together (Lisa gets it all beforehand) and this year, we went out for dinner, then sew into the night. Saturday the group meets up again (we always lose a few on Saturday) and goes again until they can’t anymore.


From this industry. . .

Quilters working on Quilts

. . . came these results.

EPP Laurel

We had some handwork going.  Laurel shows her Rosette #1 of the New Hexie Millefiore Quilt along, and the start of her third rosette is the inset.

House Block CentesrLisa was more than patient with me as I auditioned centers for this house block for her to comment on.  At 16″ it is to be a mini quilt for a swap I’m in.  While the easy way would be to use the popular Swoon pattern, I went back to Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Quilt Patterns and went to the source: a block titled Rolling Star from 1932. This brilliant little house idea came from Blue Mountain Daisy.

LemoyneSawtooth Star

(from here)

After setting in umpteen Y-seams and a billion more V-seams, I finished the mini quilt top.  I think using the Swoon Block method of half-square triangles would have been easier, but the center of the original Rolling Stone block is also a Lemoyne Star, rather than the a Sawtooth Star block, so inset seams it is (although I suppose I could subdivide them like the lower block on the right).  I like to try this original Rolling Star block again, now that I’ve got one under my belt.  We’ll see which one ends up going to my partner!

See you all next year!

Quilts · Tutorial

Y-Seam Tutorial

During Thanksgiving Week, I thought it was time to re-post this tutorial from Leanne’s blog, from the Third Quarter Finish-A-Long Tutorials. As background, I’ve been sewing and quilting for more years than I should admit to, and during that time have completed over 120 quilts.  So I’ve faced down more than my share of the Dreaded Y-seams.

In June of this year, I made this quilt for my sister.  As you can see there are lots of peaks and valleys in this thing–lots of Y-seams going both ways (some people call them Y-seams and V-seams) but really, let’s keep it simple.

They are called Y-seams because the V-part of the letter Y usually has fabric with no seam, and the tail of the Y has a seam. I’ve marked the Y for you in red in the picture on the left.  The picture on the right is the other type of Y-seam.  I’ll show you both.

Let’s start with the first type of Y-seam, where the “tail” of the Y is facing toward you and the “V” of the Y is underneath.  Place a pin at the 1/4-inch mark through the seam, and into a spot that would be the peak of the 1/4″ seamline, if you could draw it on and imagine it.

Most beginners want to pin that seam to death.  Run screaming in the other direction.  The success of the Y-seam depends on the “float” of the fabric.

I sometimes will place one pin on either side of the seam, just to anchor it as I get going, then another pin or two along the starting point.  Then I take out the (above) pin.  I want my fabric to float — don’t want to anchor that second half of the seam too much, as I need it to pivot.

Start sewing from the left edge, as the seam faces you, using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Fold the seam toward you, and as you approach the seam, slow down and use a bit smaller stitch.  You are trying to anchor the stitching a bit.

When you get to the seamline, when you are on top of the thread marking that other seam, STOP.  Make a tiny stitch on top of the one before to anchor, but DON’T GO OVER THE SEAM LINE.

Lift your needle out of the cloth.  I pulled it away to show you what I mean, but you don’t need to do that.  Just give yourself a little room to smooth the (green) seam allowances out of the way, and to find the place to insert your needle again.

Re-insert your needle just on the other side.  Then line up the next two raw edges, smoothing the fabric away from the needle and your presser foot.  Sounds more confusing than it is.  Take a few tiny stitches to anchor, then change your stitch length back to normal.

Another shot of my needle placed just on the other side of the seam allowances (which I flipped to the back of my presser foot).

Depending on the amount of cloth in your Y-seam, and if you just feel better about it, go ahead now, and pin those raw edges together and stitch the rest of the seam.

When you are through sewing, clip the thread if it is restricting the ability of the seam allowance to open up and lay flat.  If you left a bit of thread there (pulled it away from the needle as in my photo above) there should be no problem. 

Press, keeping the tail of the Y-seam open.

From the front, it looks like this.

Now we’ll tackle the other kind of seam–where the seam of the Y’s tail is underneath, and you see the “V” part of the Y.

First locate the valley of the one-quarter-inch seamline and put a pin there.

Snip to within a couple of threads of the pin.  Leaving the pin there insures that you won’t cut too far.  If that happens, curse a little.  You can sometime rescue the piece with a bit of fusible interfacing.  Better to not cut too far.  Half of the seam (1/8″) is all that’s needed.

Find the 1/4-inch peak of the seam below, and poke the pin in to anchor.  You can leave in that center pin to hold it, and if you are afraid it will slip, it’s okay to put one pin on the backside.  If you can, try to avoid that pin on the right.  Again, the success of a Y-seam lays in the ability of the fabric to move and pivot.

Just as in the first type of seam, start stitching from the left side of the seam, towards that center pin.

When you get to the pin, STOP with your needle down in the fabric.  Remove the pin, then pivot the fabric so that you can match raw edges.  Move the first seam out away from you, as you align the new sides.  It may feel a bit bulky under your foot, but smooth any excess fabric out away from you.

Here you can see that I’ve pivoted, repinned the new raw edges together and am starting down the other side of the seam.

This is what it looks like from the back. That deep fold is the V part of the Y-seam.

The front.  Give it light press.  Resist the urge to saturate it with your pressing goo and mash it flat with your iron.

Sometimes your seam gets a little jig-jaggy.  As long as it’s not too bad, it will be fine.  I did the same kind of stitching process on this one: shorten your stitches as you approach the point, then lengthen them out on the other side.

A better point.  All of these work fine in the quilt, because you haven’t a) stitched it to death, and b) murdered it with your iron.

You can see one type of Y-seam where I joined the green roofs to the yellow houses.  And you can see the other type where I joined the purple roofs to the sky.

Now you know all my dressmaker/quilter tricks: never be afraid of Y-seams again!

One more time, thanks to Leanne, of She Can Quilt, for hosting a series of guest tutorials for the Finish-A-Long Motivational Program.  (Just kidding on the name of it, but it does help get those UFOs out of the closet and onto the bed.  Or wall.)