Welcoming Easter with This and That

April 2015 MCM Bee Block

This #1:

I finished the Bee Block for our Mid-Century Modern Bee; Stephanie was the Queen for this one, and she chose this paper-pieced block, which was published in Love Patchwork & Quilting Magazine, out of England.  I purchased and downloaded the issue (they were having an Easter Sale!–$2.99 for each digital issue);  the templates are on their website, but the directions are in the magazine.

Baby bean plants

This #2: 

The beans are up and have leaves!  Those of you who follow me on Instagram are used to the hashtag #goofyaboutmygarden, for I am indeed, goofy about my garden.  With California’s mandated water rationing on the horizon, I’m glad we converted to drip irrigation systems and tore out our front lawn.

Grading Papers

That #1:

I graded the third batch of essays from my college-level class, but you wouldn’t really have known it, given the number of errors and problems.  I looked up the scores for the other two essay assignments, and this essay’s median scores are a full six points lower than the previous two.  Maybe it’s time to retire?

Modern Sampler to Quilt

That #2:

I was able to take my sampler quilt, with blocks from my bee mates, to the quilter.  She was recovering from foot surgery and wasn’t taking any new quilts until April 1st.  This is one of my happy errands.

Star Neonatal Quilt back

That #3:

I made another neonatal quilt to give to my guild.  I know I promised you a free pattern, but I need to try this one again.  Bigger.  There were waaaay too many pieces as it shown, and I’m trying to keep these little quilts easy and quick.

star Neonatal quilt

Final This ‘n’ That:

I’ve also finished up the hand-sewing for all the EPP Circles in my Circles Sew-Along (wait for the reveals in the next couple of months), and now am puzzling out how to put this quilt together.  And I’m still sewing down the leaves on the Pineapple Quilt.  And my list of things to finish for this quarter still remains pathetically long, but I guess the point is to keep going.

Being Mortal

For at some point, as Atwul Gawande points out in his excellent book, Being Mortal (and which I just finished), we are all mortal and have a finite time on this planet.  One study he mentioned which was fascinating to me was the idea that “how we seek to spend our time may depend on how much time we perceive ourselves to have” (97). He cited the work of Laura Cartensen, who devised a way to track and study this, finding time after time, that the choices that we make with our time depends heavily on how much time we think we have left.  The young and healthy “believe [they] will live forever,” and are drawn to experiences in the Big Wide World, while those feeling like they have less time focus on the “here and now, to everyday pleasures and the people closest to [them]” (97).

Translated to quilt-ese, that means that as an older quilter, having lived through the first incarnation of popular topics such as Gee’s Bend, large blocks on the back of quilts, square-in-a-square quilt blocks, Amish/Modern, and so forth, I really have no desire to repeat those topics again in my quilting.  My choices are informed by not only having done-this-already, but also on what I want from the quilting.  It becomes more about a creative journey and relating to those also on the journey, and less about cranking out quilt after quilt after quilt.  It is more about quality and less about quantity.  Less randomizing and more focus.

So while I still love a good quilt magazine, I browse to see what they offer.  Same old, same old?  Pass.  Some new ideas or a new way of looking at things, leading me to a stirring up of the creative juices for a day of happy working?  I’m all in.  And if I can further connect with quilty friends, you blog readers, have conversations and chats and trade IG quips, this version of the quilt world is what I aim for.

Happy Easter, everyone.

Because He Lives

Neonatal/Preemie Quilts with a Free Pattern

Neonatal Preemie Quilt

The Riverside Raincross Quilt Guild, to which I belong, has many community service projects, one of which is their making and donating neonatal, or preemie, quilts to the County hospital’s NICU.  I sat across from Mary last guild meeting, as she patted the stack of little quilts, and told us the story about how her friend, who is a nurse, lays them all around the layettes when she gets a new stack from us, and how she loves looking at them.  All those little quilts made with love.

Neonatal Preemie Quilt_1

They are 30″ square, lightly quilted (at least all the ones in the stack were, for that makes them more huggable and drapable).  I had some fabric I’d ordered last year that I wasn’t that fond of (the hazards of online-ordering, although the fabric itself was very popular and cute and I thought it would be good for a boy), plus I had a block I wanted to try out, which first surfaced in the 1940s.  Here is a PDF pattern for that block, a 15″ square Twin Darts: Twin Dart 15%22 block.  (Click on the link to download.) Make sure your printer settings are set to 100% and it should come out okay.  You’ll be making four large blocks.

It’s an easy pattern, but there are a lot of bias edges, so my advice (in hindsight) would be to give them a good shot of spray starch before piecing.  All the quilts are pre-washed before they go to the babies, so it will be washed out.

Then I wanted to try a Pillowcase Binding.  I liked Susan B. Katz’s excellent tutorial, found *here.*

But I ended up going the tutorial from Rita, of Red Pepper Quilts (found *here*), as it was not for an art quilt (which Susan’s is) and yes, I did baste the quilt top to the batting in a couple of places before sandwiching them all together, then turning.

I then top-stitched around all the outside edges to close up the opening, then quilted around all the arrows (or darts) and other main seams.  Done!  I have another one in the works, which I’ll post about, too, as well as give you the free pattern.  I put this up on Instagram, and many people had the same response I did–a good way to winnow down the stash as well as doing good.

While looking through the web for guidelines about batting (apparently polyester or cotton, no wool), I found this document and modified it to post here: neonatal_quilt_guide  Please check with your local guild as to size and other requirements, as they are obtained from your local hospitals.