Chuck Nohara Quilt Blocks

ChuckNoharaBook

I have a new girlfriend and her name is Chuck Nohara.  Like all of my girlfriends, she is charming, sweet with a bite of spice, witty and oh! so clever.  This is her book, purchased from QuiltMania.  She’s also worth her weight in euros — er, dollars — so get ready for that part, too.  If you live near a quilt show that’s coming up, sometimes QuiltMania comes to quilt shows and you can escape the horrific international shipping costs.  I admit only to the fact that I was in recovery from surgery when I was shopping and perhaps the drug-induced haze had something to do with it, but now I’m having fun.
ChuckNohara4

I was suckered drawn into this by the adorably cute photos of her work on the #chucknoharaqal on Instagram, and as soon as I saw some of these blocks, I was hooked.ChuckNohara3

The hashtag sashing is also very cute.  I may or may not do this.  Depends on my current state of mind.ChuckNohara2

You can make over thousands of these blocks, hence the title “2001,” which does not refer to the year, but instead to the number of block drawings inside.  There have been other Chuck Nohara books, and they are scarcer than hen’s teeth.  QuiltMania republished her work (text is both in French and English) and so now we can get her designs.  Because of course you want a new girlfriend, too.ChuckNohara6 ChuckNohara5 CN606 prep

This is the one that drew me in.  I’m prepping up some of the blocks just to try them out.  Susan of PatchworknPlay and I are going to join the quilt-a-long and do some of the blocks, too. If you jump in with us, head to Instagram and post up your blocks there.CN969 prep1

I started by scanning the page I wanted, full-size.  I then cut out my block, placed it on the copier bed and enlarged it until it measured 6″ on a side.  For the birdhouse, I needed to enlarge it by 283%.  But the cherries needed 301%.  I have no idea why.  Those mysteries are way beyond my pay grade.CN969_prep3 CN969 prep2

A perfect little project to tote along to doctor appointments, on car trips, and on a journey to my father’s 90th birthday celebration.

Traveling Threads Bee Block: Peaceful Hours, a Few Thoughts on Collaboration

Traveling Threads_logoThis the second block I made for my recent turn at the Traveling Threads Bee.  This was was found while trolling the web for new bee blocks, but the templates I found had the finished block measuring at 11″ which led to some very strange measurements.  I think it was probably geared for metric users, so my apologies to them for this block, which finishes at 10″ square.

Peaceful Hours Block_7

Here is a PDF of the templates for the block.  I am happy to provide them to you as a free downloadable file, but please don’t distribute these blocks to your mother or your friends.  Send them here to get their own, please.  Thanks.  Click to download: Peaceful Hours 10inch

I always like to simplify my cutting, so I tape together the triangles, then measure them, as shown here:

Peaceful Hours layout

Cut one large 5 1/2″ center square.  I used Lisa’s signature fabric of a bright floral.
Cut four smaller 1 3/4″ blocks to snowball onto the corners.  When you tape these together, remember to cut off that diagonal seam allowance.
Cut two 3 3/8″ squares (orange), and two 3 3/8″ squares (green).  You can either cut them apart diagonally, make them as a two-color half-square triangle (HST), which is what I did.  Trim them to measure 3″ inches square (you won’t have a lot of extra fabric, so be careful).

Cut two 2 1/8″ squares (green), then slice in half diagonally.

Cut the other pieces using the templates, remembering to have all the right sides of the fabric facing UP if you are going to cut them in a layer, as there is a left-orientation and a right-orientation to the F and H templates.  Ditto for the narrow wedge G and I triangles.

Peaceful Hours Block_2

Snowball the corner on your large center square, trim and press, then lay everything out.  This is where you briefly lose your mind on those F and H pieces.  The trick is to find the right angle corner and then let that help you figure out how it goes together.  You’ll always be trying to make those two short sides be that inner corner, but it won’t work.  Look for the right angle: one short side and one long side.

Peaceful Hours Block_3

Stitch on the longer wedgier triangle, press.  Then stitch on the regular triangle.  You’ll have four sets that are mirrors of each other.

Peaceful Hours Block_4 Peaceful Hours Block_4a

True them up to 3″ square.  That tip should fall right about at the 1 and 1/2″ mark, if possible.  While in my early quilting days, I used to just wait to square up the whole block, now I square up the units as I go, especially on these!

Peaceful Hours Block_5

I stitched together the two mirror-units of each of those angular blocks.  While I am NOT a fan of pressing open these tiny 1/4″ seams, in this case, that is the best way to get them to lay flat.  I pressed the rest of the seams to the side.

Peaceful Hours Block_6

Stitch as shown.

Peaceful Hours Block_7And now here it is!  Give it a good steamy press on a well-padded ironing board, let it cool, then true it up.

Peaceful Hours Quilt 5x5

Look what happens when you put Peaceful Hours into a block set of five by five.  I love the secondary circle-type pattern that forms inside.

Peaceful Hours Quilt2 5x5

Another coloration.  I’m playing around in QuiltPro software, which I love because it runs well on a Macintosh.  I also have Electric Quilt, which is also good (I use it to draw all my circles EPP blocks), but since I’m more familiar with QuiltPro, I tend to turn to it as it is more frequently.  And no, I don’t get it for free.  I bought it, just like you do.  I don’t hear about it as much as EQ7, so I thought I’d mention how much I like it.

Traveling Threads_Lisa June 2015

This is what I sent on to the next member of our Traveling Threads Bee: whatever came to me, plus these two blocks, and a slew of Flying Geese blocks for the last person, who puts together the quilt top.

Eastmond Bubble Log Cabin June 2015MCM

I’ve also finished this block for my bee mate Rene’ for the Mid-Century Modern Bee.  It’s from a pattern by Aylin-Nilya, and this one took some time with the weensy little logs in the center.

Being in a bee, or a group is a collaboration of sorts.  While the generally agreed upon conventions for a bee are pretty standard, we are feeling our way with the Traveling Threads Bee.  The biggest obstacle in both seems to be mailing dates, but beyond that, it’s an interesting experience to climb inside someone’s head for a while, use their colors, (and in some cases) their fabrics, their ideas.  Brian Eno noted that “When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness… That’s one of the great feelings – to stop being me for a little while and to become us. That way lies empathy, the great social virtue.”

And maybe that’s why this digital world of quilting has used bees and groups to engender understanding, which leads to curiosity about our friends’ lives, which leads to friendships that exist beyond the screen and the blog.  I think it is more than just Pen Pals on Steroids.

Amy Poehler, who spent three years in Chicago with The Second City, an improv group (and later famously collaborated with Tina Fey on SNL) had a good insight when she said to “. . . be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.”

I find that has happened to me more than once, and I notice it also in QuiltLand’s redundancy as I read blogs, watch the latest fad blossom (yes, My Small World is coming along–more later) and bloom.  But when someone has a pop of inspiration, works with it, shares it, that collaboration of sorts changes us all.

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Occasionally my blogging software will place videos and ads at the end of my posts.  It’s a tacit agreement we have: they bootleg onto my posts so I can use their software for free.  I do not control the content, nor the frequency of their ads.

Traveling Threads Bee Block: Woven Star

Traveling Threads_logoI recently made two blocks for the Traveling Threads Bee I’m in, and while we don’t show the completed sections as we go, I thought I’d share the blocks I made here.  The first one is Woven Star, which finishes at 10 inches (trimmed, it will measure 10.5″).

Woven Star Block_6

Lisa loves bright colors and sent along that floral as her signature fabric, including some of the solids.  I added the polka dot for a punch of light in the set of blocks I was sent to work with.

Here is a PDF of the templates for the block.  I am happy to provide them to you as a free downloadable file, but please don’t distribute these blocks to your mother or your friends.  Send them here to get their own, please.  Thanks.  Click to download: Woven Star 10inch

I always like to simplify my cutting, so I tape together the triangles, then measure them, as shown here:

Woven Star layout

I always then tape them back onto the first sheet, as it shows the diagram.  While this is shown in black and white, I also take colored pencils and color in the diagram so I know what goes where.  My quilt software is made by QuiltPro.  It’s a native application for the Apple (they also have PC versions) so it runs very smoothly.

Track which color of what you need.  For me, it was like this:
Cut one 3 3/8″ square of yellow (then cut in half diagonally)
Cut one 3 3/8″ square of bright pink (then cut in half diagonally)
Cut one 3 3/8″ square of floral (then cut in half diagonally)
Cut one 3 3/8″ square of bright green (then cut in half diagonally)

Cut one 2 5/8″ square of yellow (then cut in half diagonally)
Cut one 2 5/8″ square of bright pink (then cut in half diagonally)
Cut one 2 5/8″ square of floral (then cut in half diagonally)
Cut one 2 5/8″ square of bright green (then cut in half diagonally)

Then it was one 2 1/4″ square of each color.

Background:
Cut four 3″ squares of background color, and two large 4 3/8″ squares of background color (cut in half diagonally).
Woven Star Block_1 PIeces

All the parts.  Lay them out, as shown below.

Woven Star Block_2 Woven Star Block_4

I started by making the four square in the center.  Stitch two squares together, pressing the seam allowances to the side, then stitch those two units together, making sure the seam allowances are “opposite”–one falls one way and one falls the other, so they nestle together.  To get the nifty little square shown above, pop open the stitching (a little tug will do it), then press those in a swirl around the center, each seam allowance going a different direction.  The block center lays pretty flat if you do it that way.

Woven Star Block_3 mistake

Fail.  Make sure when you are stitching those corner triangles together you do it correctly.

Woven Star Block _5Better now (I restitched it, obviously).  Make your flying geese units at the top, bottom and sides.  Stitch your corner triangle units onto your center square, matching seams.

Woven Star Block_6

Stitch the two side 3″ blocks onto the top and bottom flying geese unit.  Stitch the two side flying geese units onto the center block, then stitch the three sections together.  Give it a good steamy press on a well-padded ironing board (if you don’t have a well-padded ironing board, press it face down on a towel, unless you are one of those who believes that the flatter a block is, the better.  In that case, go ahead and press the life out of this thing.)  Let it cool, then true up your block to 10 1/2″ square.

Next post: Peaceful Hours Bee Block

Pineapples and Crowns

Gazebo with two quilts

Pineapples and Crowns_front iphone

Pineapples and Crowns
Pieced, Appliquéd and Quilted
61″ square
No. 145 on my 200 Quilts List

Looking up into the cupola

Pineapples and Crowns_labelThe pineapple blocks were pieced by two different bees and I over six months: the Mid-Century Modern Bee and the Always Bee Learning Bee.

Pineapples and Crowns_lounging around

Pineapples and Crowns_back

Pineapples and Crowns_signature blocksI had forgotten to piece all the signature blocks into the backing from Mid-Century Modern Bee, so I just kind of swooped them onto the back.  While they may look a bit unusual, I figure the back of my quilt is like looking in my clothes closet–no one will see it but me–and this way I won’t lose these precious tiny blocks.  I wish I had a signature block from the other piecers of the blocks, but that bee didn’t do them, and that bee is now scattered.

Pineapples and Crowns_detail1The background is a series of petite prints on a white or creamy colored ground–no beiges or grays to muddy the clarity of the colors–and is a contrast to the solids of the pineapple steps and the crown petals.

Pineapples and Crowns_detail2I quilted this quilt over a week, using seven and a half bobbins, in a free-swirling pattern, outlining the leaves and stems in the border.  I got the idea for my border from the masters of borders, the Piece O’ Cake ladies, but varied it somewhat to fit what I needed.  I was interviewed for an article on quilting last week, and I noted that if we think we are making something original, we are slightly delusional.  Actually I wanted to say we are straight-up delusional, for everything comes from somewhere else, but I qualified it so quilters wouldn’t have their feelings hurt.  The idea, I think, is to make that snippet of influence new for you.

Mark Ronson, the well-known DJ-record producer, noted  in his TED talk  that we are all sampling from everyone else, sampling being his word for when recording artists slip in a line or two from someone else’s recorded song to bring a texture or a reference to the work that has gone before (cue at 6:15 for his discussion).  So you might say I sampled some early pioneer in the use of her pineapple block and the Piece O’Cake ladies for the border, and both of these were probably sampled from somewhere else, somewhere.  I feel richer for being a part of this quilting universe, with good ideas slipping in from places beyond.

Pineapples and Crowns_front

Yes, you did a notice another quilt in that first photo.  Stay tuned.

These photos were taken in our local university’s botanic garden, in the gazebo near the iris section, overlooking the creek gully.  It’s a very old gazebo and I fully expect that one day I’ll arrive with my quilts and it will be gone. Until then, it will be sampled into my photos, my coda on the making of a quilt.

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.

Straighten Up and Sew Right

Sad Seamtress(from *here*)

It had been nearly a month since I’d threaded the needle of my sewing machine and sent it to humming, and I felt like the sad seamstress in the photo, above, pining away.  I wanted to get to the machine and have a good sewing session and have something to show for it.  As one Instagrammer said, “My sewjo is missing.”  But I wasn’t idle.  First, I had a root canal, which ought to occupy anyone for a few days.  And I also cleaned out the stash a bit, filling two large mall shopping bags with swatches of fabric to let my quilting group, the Good Heart Quilters, rummage through before donating the rest to our quilt guild.  And here’s some photos to prove I have tidy cupboards, before I start messing it up again:

Straightened Up 1

 I like to organize mine by color and value (light-to-dark).

Straightened Up 2

The lower half of the cabinet.  Inside the pull-out box are browns and blacks–easier on the back this way.  I keep the Kaffe Fassets in another place, and I also have a stack of cream/tans and a stack of “low volumes” (neutrals or pastels), and stack of predominantly white/light background fabrics.

Molly Qee xfour

Here’s a close-up of my Molly Qee collection (the characters with the crowns).  They are hard to find in the States.  I started my collection when my sister Christine and I happened into a collectibles shop in Lyon, France.

More Shelf Stuff

And on the other shelf are other doodads.  My husband gives me the little Japanese dolls (ningyō).  And those fabric-covered binders are all my journals, began when I was a young woman of twenty-one years old.  Since the advent of email and cheap phone calls, I’ve stopped writing them, but I love having them around (they hold all my secrets!).

Pink Selvage BlockSo after a busy month, I pulled out the machine and got started.  I decided to ease my way in slowly, making a selvage block.

Basic Selvage Block Foundation

When I begin, I use my standby translucent paper, cutting, then pasting a strip on one side so it measures 10 1/2″ square. Then I draw lines on it to keep the selvages on straight.  Do I cut all my selvages off when I buy fabric?  No.  I like having them on to keep track of the newer stuff in case I need more.  Most of these selvages happen when I’m going through older fabrics that are in my stash (like those to be donated), of which I know I’ll never need the information again.  Then I slice it off, leaving about one-inch to 1-1/2″ of the fabric on top of the selvage so I have Lots of Options.

Pieced Selvage Strip

I get started by cutting two 4 1/2″ blocks, then slice them on the diagonal to make up the four triangles you see in the center above.  I pin them down, then start sewing on the selvages, placing the selvage edge 1/4″ in from the raw edge of the triangle, as shown.  Sew closely along the edge.  I like it best when the first selvage next to the color is the same, or nearly all the same, so I look for a longish piece. I think it just helps set the stage.  Sometimes I piece selvages to get the printed symbols and the words closer together (above) and other times I just let it be.   Then it’s random, random, random after that, some thinner strips, some thicker strips.  Some people like to trim the fringey pieces, but I just leave it that way.  Sometimes after I sew on a strip of selvage, I’ll go in and trim down the underneath piece just to keep it tidy.

Selvage Block Colors

Sometimes I get things off balance, like in the pink block way above (too much deep maroony-pink in the lower left) but then I figure I’m teaching myself how to let go a bit and just enjoy the process.  And I do.  I now have five colors of four 10″ (finished) blocks, so the block will be twenty inches square after all four parts are sewn together.  This is going to be one big quilt, but I’m in no hurry.

To close with, here’s a quote from The Rise, by Sarah Lewis (the book I wrote about in the Creativity post):

“Perhaps we have grown impatient with the incomplete. We are part of a generation that, as the African proverb goes, wants to eat dinner in the morning, that longs for the immediate, fully prepared for consumption. Yet the strength to linger over the long-left unfinished reminds us that something inexhaustible in us is empowered by striving, that we sense unnaturalness in blunt ends of journeys, of lineage. And that power comes from where we least expect to find it.”

Go tackle something incomplete, and enjoy the power of taking another look at something that in our hands, has had a long journey.