Northern Lights Medallion

Northern Lights Medallion_front

Northern Lights Medallion
Quilt No. 210 • 52″ square

I love these posts where I get to place a quilt front and center, quilting finished, bound and photographed, and even a label made AND sewn on.  It’s like that Easter Sunday long ago, where your mother dressed you and your sisters up in fancy new dresses, new patent leather shoes and anklets with ruffles and you all posed for a picture.  It’s like that wedding day, where your hair was behaving, and your wedding dress and veil were just how you wanted them, and oh–the love you had for your soon-to-be-yours was shining from your face.

Yeah, kind of like that. Some process photos:

Northern Lights Medallion_pinning

I now pin my quilts on my kitchen counter–the floor is too far down these days.

Northern LIghts Medallion quilting

I’m getting faster at quilting: the dates from start (August 8, 2018) to finish (August 25, 2018).  Part of the challenge is figuring out what to quilt, and another part is not to physically wear myself out.

Northern Lights Medallion_quilting

I love the texture that quilting creates.

Northern Lights Medallion Name label

Fun detail: I like to include my name and address on my quilts, but also like to hide that info.  So I used the logo from the Mad for Solids Challenge and used it as a disguise.

This began as a challenge to create something using just eight colors of Painter’s Palette Solids, in the March Madness Challenge in 2018; you’ve read posts about this before.

But the other challenge I put for myself was to create a medallion quilt using my favorite quilt software, QuiltPro, which I’ve been using for years.  I love it love it love it and their tech support person, Linda, is nothing short of a fairy godmother, always answering questions quickly and succintly.  Like she taught me how to do this conversion:

Northern Star Medallion

from this

northern lights no pen outlines

to this (no pen outlines)

This creates a more modern look, I think.  Anyway.  I’m a fan.

So I posted this design up on their Facebook page, and I was contacted and one thing led to another, and Northern Lights Medallion (its real name, in spite of other confusing  malarky above) will hang in their booth at both Paducah and Houston this year.  I’m honored, and I love working with these lovely people (and it may be the only way I get to be at either of those shows!). So if you go, snap a photo and email me (opquilt@gmail.com) or tag me on Instagram (occasionalpiecequilt).  Thanks!

This is quilt number 210, and it’s going up on the 300 Quilts list.

You Are Not Going to Run Out of Ideas

You’re Not going to Run Out of Ideas

And I need to keep remembering this.

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

QuiltPro Quilt Software

I’ve used QuiltPro software for about a decade now, choosing it first because it worked on a Mac as well as a PC (I’m a Mac user, and Electric Quilt has ignored people like me).  I’ve been reading about another quilt software program that you rent monthly, and thought I ought to talk about an alternative to that, especially since QuiltPro is having a sale right now of 30% off. 

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What I like about this program is its simplicity.  It didn’t take me long to figure it out–click on the square icon and draw a square, click on the triangle (there are two kinds) and draw a triangle.  Click on the paint can and color in your shapes.  It does have a fabric library, but after a few times, I’ve skipped over that and just use the solids, coloring in what I want to show value and placement. (And sometimes I wonder if that’s not why we’ve had such a surge of popularity in using solids–we see them in our quilt software and then want to make those quilts? Who knows, but I’ve thought about it.)

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And if I want to, I can change the colors by double-clicking on one of the little squares.

QuiltProBlocks

There’s a block library if you want it, but I use QuiltPro mostly to work up a design that’s in my head, like this one:

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Which became this:

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and this

SunshineShadow3

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Or this design, to make use of some lovely bits and pieces from a cherished set of fabrics, which became this:

HeatherQuilt

A quilt for a friend who needed some quilty hugs.  And I’m now thinking about how to make this one, dreamed up recently:

ManCharacterQuilt

Sometimes when I read quilty blogs, I get the feeling that whatever is being shown, or pitched, becomes an extension of that quilter.  That is to say, that if you buy this, or shop here, then that’s like a ‘vote’ for that quilter, and you say you like her better.  I don’t really care if you use QuiltPro or not.  I do use it and I’ve had great success with it as a tool to help me get done what I really do love: quilting, so I thought you might want to know about it.  I used to draft blocks using graph paper, pencils, rulers, drawing out the templates by hand.  This program does all that for me (yes, it prints the templates too, so I can measure them to use with my rotary cutter and rulers).  It’s my tool.  I’ve used this tool in my little quilt group, Good Heart Quilters, when we do our block swaps, or someone needs me to draft up how their chevron quilt will look.  It’s been very helpful in a lot of ways.

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Here’s a photo of Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who lost both of her legs in combat.  She was recently profiled in the New York Times–go read the article; it’s short and sweet and makes you want to cheer.  But I liked what she said here:

“Q: When you wake up do you feel a sense of loss when you realize what happened to your legs?
A: Of course. But I have a different perspective for what my legs are now. Now they’re just tools, you know? If I still had my legs, I would be in line for a battalion command, and instead I’m flying a desk.”

I want to fly my version of a desk–my sewing machine–making quilts and sewing and playing with cloth and squares and triangles and designs.  I love quilting and am happy to have my rotary cutters and rulers and yes, my QuiltPro software.  It’s just a tool, you know, to get the quilting done.