This and That: Pattern Release, Quilts, and Variations on the Puss-in-the-Corner Block

Recently QuiltMania Magazine and I entered into a collaboration — one of those collaborations that finds you in the middle of the night cleaning out the front closet, or tidying up the bookcase in the family room, or hunting all your sewing studio for your favorite piece of fabric. So I tidied up rewrote wrote a new finishing pattern and it’s now up for sale on PayHip. This pattern provides the setting templates and instructions for putting all those circles together cohesively.

Eventually I’ll put out a pattern with all the blocks, but for now, the Shine series consists of the free ones on QuiltMania, four more blocks for purchase, and this pattern to set the quilt together.

The original pattern was from my write-it-up-in-Microsoft-Word days, all the while plugging in poorly lit photos of the steps. Now it has many illustrations, as I’m finally getting the hang of my creative software, and what I don’t know how to do, I’ve figured out a few workarounds. The above illustration was one of those.

I made up a new EPP circle pattern, Summer Day, and threw that in at the end, figuring whoever checks this out would like a freebie.

Last week I taught a live-online lecture for the Alabama Station Quilt Guild, and the Criss-Cross Quilt below was sent to me by Gisele, one of the participants. I love the colors she chose and thought the quilt was really terrific.

A few weeks ago my friend Mary of ZippyQuilts sent me a photo of her version of my Merrion Square pattern, made larger as it had a specific size need. I love her interpretation and the cute bunnies in the town square.

Last year, in April 2019, I received this comment from Karin on an old post:

“I’m just embarking on making this quilt (Crossed Canoes) as a memory quilt for my parents. We lost my brother, an avid canoeist, in December. Thank you for that idea! I’m making mine with my brother’s shirts and a few other fabrics from my stash for extra vibrancy.” My original post was about my sister and her group of friends making a memorial version of Crossed Canoes quilt for a friend. I love this pattern, and this post tells that story as well as provides a free downloadable pattern of this block.

Last post I had put up our Gridsters Bee Block for September, attributing it to a variation of Puss-in-the-Corner block.

On further look, it is more like a variation of Illinois, from the periodical Hearth and Home, published from the 1880s to the 1930s.** What a difference a few well-placed color shifts can make! What would happen if I made a few color shifts, or line shifts, I wondered? The following riot of squares and triangles ensued. In my defense, it was late, and I was too tired to do the dishes, so I sat down to play with what my friend Janet calls “a quilter’s video game,” our quilting software.

These are grouped by first, the block, then a grouping of possible quilt designs. There’s a lot so feel free to just scroll quickly.

The basic Puss in the Corner block. I guess those little square blocks are the farmhouse cat, tucked away in the corner sleeping.

Basic Quilt with no sashing. If you squint, you can start to see a secondary pattern emerge. #needshelp

So I added some color. It needs some value shifts, I think.

Variation. I cleared out the undergrowth.

This final rendition has some different versions of coloring the blocks, along with some sashing.

I thought the prominance of the flying geese might make for some goose tracks throughout the quilt.

Here’s the basic Illinois block, in the coloration from Hearth and Home publication.

Okay. Maybe we could do something with this one.

I must have been really tired to use so much purple.

Okay, how about I keep the flying geese and Puss-in-the-Corner corner blocks, but just turn them all inward-facing?

Busy, but could be fun as a scrappy quilt, playing around with where the blocks touch. Of course, our quilting foremothers would have always had sashing, right?

This was a neighbor to Puss in the Corner, and is called Big T.

I went this direction first, swapping out the center. Nah.

Here’s the variations of that block. I kind of like how it looks like the corner edges are folded down.

Here’s what I played with, all capsulized. And below are the blocks in white, and then further down, a PDF of the pattern templates.

Final thoughts: The top left block looks like it has more possibilities, less places to call a halt to other ideas. The other three blocks kind of box in the quilter, confining the creativity to the block itself. I would like to try matching these up with other nine-patch variations, and see what kind of quilts those combos could yield.

Here are the basic block PDF files for download. They all make a 12″ block.

Happy Stitching!

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**This information was gleaned from the quilter’s bible, The Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns by Barbara Brackman.

Tiny Envelope & More Blocks

Gridsters January 2020

It all started, this idea of Tiny Envelopes, when a) I came down with a bad cold and everything I’d ever done in the world seemed lame and stupid, and b) Carol, our Gridster Queen Bee for January had us all make wee televisions for our signature blocks, in order to match up the larger block of Lori Holt’s vintage TV.

Okay, maybe I exaggerate on the first reason, but this is my THIRD cold of the season, and I am sick and tired of being sick-and-tired.  And I live in sunny Southern California, and no one ever feels sorry for you in the winter.

Then, last night, when the cold and sniffles had interrupted my sleep and I lay there, pondering this (can you tell I’ve been watching Jane Austin’s Sanditon on PBS, where they belabor every point, and examine everything to the point of madness?), following in Carol’s footsteps seemed the way to go.

Tiny Envelope

This little 6″ finished block will be my signature block for when it’s my turn, which is coming right up next month.  Last fall I spent many hours making a variety of my chosen bee block in my quilt program, in preparation for my turn at Queen Bee.

And it was that, which all of a sudden seemed so inane.  So last night this made perfect sense.

Tiny Envelope Illustration

So here are my instructions for making Tiny Envelope blocks, in downloadable PDF form (it’s slightly different than the illustration above):

Tiny Envelope Flier

(The usual caveats apply: don’t download for classes, parties, or your best friend.  Please send them here to this blog to get their own copy.)

Here are a slew of pictures to go along with the Tiny Envelope blocks flier:

TinyEnvelope_1

All the bits.

TinyEnvelope_2

I sewed one slender envelope strip on one side, trimmed it; then repeated the process.  Press.

TinyEnvelope_3

Now take that square that you cut in half and sew to one side, letting the tip of one side of the triangle extend 1/4″ past the edge.  The other side will really extend.  (Pay this no mind.)

TinyEnvelope_4

Sew the other side on.  You can see the 1/4″ bit of the tip extending on the upper left side. Thankfully, it does the same on the bottom.  Stitch, trimming off that excess first triangle.

TinyEnvelope_5TinyEnvelope_6

Now for the background.  Same idea.  Look for 1/4″ on the lower right edge, and let the rest of the triangle flow off the top.

TinyEnvelope_7

Sew the other triangle on.  Trim and press.

TinyEnvelope_8

The sides were bugging me.  I laid a 4″ ruler, so that the 45-degree angles matched up perfectly with my inner envelope, and trimmed both sides.

TinyEnvelope_9

I sewed on the strips for both sides, then evened up the top, too.

TinyEnvelope_10

Lower strip is on.  True the whole thing up to 6″ square, or leave it for me to do when you send it.  Either is fine.  And also for my Gridsters, use a background that is lively (no low-volume stuff), but that still reads “light,” like this one.  The envelope part will match the color of your eventual choice next week.  Like that makes any sense, but soon it will.  The rest of you can just make fun little envelope blocks.

In other news blocks…

Tri-Ball

My friend Simone designs new and interesting blocks for our chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild.  This is the Tri-Ball block that’s coming up to submit to the March drawing.  I really love this one!

Extra HSTs from Tri-Ball

Snowball Triangle Example

Since this has some snowball corners, if you double-sew that seam 1/2″ apart, then cut in between the two lines of stitching, you can get some fun HSTs.

Orange Fields HSH

I’m also re-writing, re-freshing my Home, Sweet Home pattern, and changed up some of the construction techniques, so I made up a new version.  I call this my Orange Grove Houses, especially now that its January and all the citrus is popping out in Southern California!

Quilted My Small World

Lastly, before this cold hit, I was able to finish up the quilting on My Small World. It’s good to hit the pause button now and again, to enjoy the (here comes my Jane Austin voice) fruits of our labors, the blessing of our handiwork.

Now I’m going back to the bed to practice some fainting and work on handling those nasty spells that come over a Victorian woman.  But boy, do I love all the clothes they wear.  It’s worth watching that show, if only to catch a glimpse of Miss Heywood’s dress with the pineapple sleeve caps!

sanditon-charlotte-heywood-sidney-parker-1571036275.jpg

Happy Quilting!

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.