I Hear America Singing

I finished the red, white and blue version (top only) of Shine: The Circle Quilt and I did it by the time of the Inauguration of our new President, my goal.

This is not my first red, white and blue quilt, nor my first Inaugural quilt. In 2005, I attended the Inauguration of President Bush while we lived in Washington, D.C.

It was a really cold day that day, and being from California, I wore long johns underneath my pants, two sweaters, gloves, a hat and scarf and I was still frozen as I spent most of the day in the 20-degree cold. When it came time to find a bathroom, that chick in the red coat behind me accosted me, admonishing me for leaving this site while the Inauguration was going on. Okey-dokey. Fevered believers, everywhere.

Fancy ticket from my Congressman, but then I scored a better one, thanks to my Congressman’s staffer:

Waaay less fancy, but lots closer to the action, as I was in North Standing, which meant I was in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pond. Unfortunately it also meant that I couldn’t see much of anything because of trees, but it was very cool to be there, anyway.

Two quilts came out of that time. The first one was a quick flannel quilt which I spread out on the floor of our apartment in Virginia and tied together while we were watching the returns come in from the Bush-Kerry political contest.

Flannel Squares on Point, quilt #58

Really stunning (haha), but I use it to this day.

D.C. Dots and Dithers, quilt #60

And this one, D.C. Dots and Dithers, which you can read about here.

But this post is about finishing the quilt top for my red, white and blue version of Shine: The Circles Quilt. I’m really happy to be at this point, and already have the backing picked out.

Because I knew I wanted to write about this on Inauguration Day, January 20th, 2021, we took it down to the most traditional government building we could think of: our very own Riverside County Courthouse. Some skate-boarding teen boys gracefully cleared out when we showed up.

I titled it after Whitman’s poem of the same name, where he asks us to listen to America, with its varied carols, and then goes on to identify the different workers he imagines, all building this great country of America (and which is always under construction). Yes, in the poem there is someone sewing, but I can imagine many more songs and carols in 2021.

Whitman probably couldn’t have imagined a female Vice-President in his day, nor women in Congress or the Senate. He wouldn’t have thought we would have women doctors, as they tend to covid-19 patients lined up working hard to breathe, a rhythmic straining that populates too many places these days.

We have carols of discord, tunes of tumult and shouting. While some of this has existed in my own home when the teenagers lived here, it feels harder when this cacophony surrounds us in our public lives during a pandemic. When it’s this noisy, it’s hard to put my head down and stitch a seam, concentrating on my own tune of color, patches and cloth.

We have our own carols, we quilters: the whir of the machine, the click of the scissors, the slice of our rotary blades through the cloth. Whitman’s genius of a poem is that he stretched to include all different kinds of work and workers, yet give us an insight into their lives, with “each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else.” Yet in our singularity, we are drawn together, “blithe and strong” all of us with our “strong melodious songs.”

I honor our tradition of presidential inaugurations. When I was there in Washington DC in person, there was a sense of excitement, of an event, of something happening that was bigger than my own tiny quarrels in my life. Being there all day made me lift my head, look around and see all those people and to realize that we can come together whether our guy won or not, and commit again to this great experiment of democracy.

And that’s why I made a red, white and blue quilt.

from here

I Hear America Singing

by Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

I scanned that North Standing-Green ticket and used it as part of my label on that quilt.

The Last of the Shine RWB Blocks: 22

Happy Birthday to this blog!
Fourteen years of blogging: writing, sewing, quilting, venting, writing-back-to-you, reading and I still love writing this. I still love reading your letters and with a few exceptions was able to write back to everyone. Like I said, there are a few exceptions, but I try to keep the conversation going, so comments are back on for this final post of Shine blocks.

Block 22: Double Rosette

This block was very nearly infected with a virus, but I made some quick switches, and saved the quilt from this fate. It starts at the beginning when I choose fabrics, not always seeing the end from the beginning.

First up, attach the teensy little blue points to the large two-color points, already seamed using the quick trick I’ve mentioned before. But it’s easier if you work from the back, aligning the lower edge, taking a stitch to tack it together, then work upward to the point/shoulders of the two:

I never glue down that lower edge, so if you have, straighten it out, then you can see the bottom of the patterns. Take a stitch while you are looking at them. No, take two stitches.

After sewing one teensy point onto the same side of all the Inner Rosette units, repeat the process to sew two of these units together: work from the back, tacking the alignment into place. Sew the seam.

Twos, the fours. Notice that I sewed my little point onto the LEFT side of all the Inner Rosettes.

The blue diamonds went on, keeping the little blue dot pointing towards the center (I’ll show you that in a minute). It’s easier to add the outer sections if you are working in segments.

All the outer wedges are on, units are sewn together and it’s time to go hunting for a middle.

Because this circle is so much larger than my templates, I trace it on to the dull side of freezer paper, but also add a row of dashes at 1/8″ away from the circle and 1/4″ away. As I tell you on the pattern, it’s best to make your circle a little bit bigger.

I went to the ironing board and with the shiny side of the freezer paper facing upward, I tack it in four places with the tip of a hot (cotton setting) iron, kind of melting the shiny side of the freezer paper to hold the seam allowance in place.

I then work my way around, smoothing it into place. I will smooth out any bumps when I hand-stitch it down. Notice that the seam allowance is closer to 3/8″ — I will trim it down after it’s sewn to the larger EPP circle.

I measure from the edges to the center circle to make sure it’s evenly placed in the center.

And even now, I didn’t see what was happening with that blue polka dot against those teensy blue points.

I carefully stitched the center circle on, flipped it over for its papers-in beauty shot. See the little blue dots in the Outer Diamond E piece? They are there to help you know which side goes towards the center.

NOW I see it. It looks like a giant virus. This just won’t do.

I dithered about what to do for a day or two, then took off the center circle.

I replaced it with a medium blue center. But after another day, I added the final dark circle in the middle. I kept thinking I should dream up some more EPP for the middle, but frankly, I was kind of . . . done. And so I called the last block of the series, finished. (See the photo at the top for the final version.)

So, at this point, the Shine Blocks are all a family: The first sixteen, the second batch of ten, making 26 blocks out into the world. I love it when I see other people’s blocks, so I’ll leave you with Linda’s final block of her quilt.

Shine on, everyone!

And Happy Birthday to me this week!
Illustration by @flora.forager

Because it’s my birthday this week, here’s a coupon code to get yourself a little present in my pattern shop!

The Fine Print: 25% off • Expires Saturday, January 9, 2020

Happy New Year with Shine Block 20

This is the second of the three last posts for the Shine quilt done in red, white and blue, and these last three are all new blocks, found in the Nine More Blocks from Shine pattern in my pattern shop on PayHip. And yes, I know I put Block 21 before Block 20, but in spite of that I still think I’m doing pretty well these days. I have named this block Dresden Rosette, for every creation needs a name.

It all always starts with this, doesn’t it? I started Block 20 by doing the quick method of EPP, as described in the General Instructions: I pieced a couple of the fabrics together in strips, then laid out the pattern and cut/glued that to the paper. There are some tips in all the blocks, but I also think I did this in Block 19: Compass Star. Here I’ve paired up the Dresden-looking pieces:

The pairs were joined up to make a foursome, then the pieced diamonds were added to them, with one extra kind of hanging out there on the end.

Nothing prettier than a Dresden Rosette. But we’re not done yet. I’ve stitched the three sets together, but if you look at the photo at about 1-o’clock on the dial, you can see I’ve left one complete seam open. Trust me when I tell you it’s easier to sew the outer wedges on, if you have not sewn it into a circle.

Outer Wedges: On!
Final Seam: Sewn!
Now to hunt around for a middle…

Found the middle I wanted, and now am trying to decide between the two arrangements. You can which one I went for at the top of this post.

I’m sure you noticed all those little bits of seam allowances at all the tips. How do I handle those? Here’s three photos to show you. I first fold over and tuck under one side (#2), then fold and tuck under the second little bit (#3). Finally I stick a pin there, or quickly put in a couple of stitches.

Before
Photo #2
photo #3 (sorry about the color–I was outside and the sun shifted)

After it is all stitched down, I press. First I press from the top, then I set the circle on a well-padded surface, and really give some heat and steam to those protruding seam allowances. They usually fall nicely in line.

On onward to the last of the Shine Blocks. Again, I have turned off the comments for this post, too, as I’m doing them in such quick succession. My contact info is above in About Me, if you need to send me a note.

Happy New Year with Shine Block 21

Something short and sweet for you today: how to make block 21. I’m posting these last few blocks of Red, White and Blue SHINE in quick succession, so others can these posts for references.

The going is quicker, so I swiftly moved from the above, to the layout below.

This is an easy block to start with, if you are just a beginning EPP-er. This block can be found in Pattern 121, the final nine new circles, and is available in my PayHip shop. The quick trick is explained in the General Instructions, as well as in other Shine Block instructions (on this website).

Follow the steps on the pattern. You can see I made the inner circle first, then added on the red/white star points. Then next is making the outer wedge-point-wedge units. Sew them in between the star points. Applique a small circle on the center. Appliqué the circle to the background square, deciding if you want the red/white star points UP, or the blue smaller points UP. You can tell from the first photo which one I chose.

We’ve just had Christmas, come through the bulk of 2020, and I thought a short and sweet post would be best. It’s touch and go as to whether I get the top finished by the Inauguration in January, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

In other news, I finished the feather for Jen in our Gridster Bee for December. She wanted organic-looking batiks for the feather part, and solid black for the feather’s shaft. You can see a whole bunch of the feathers here. The pattern was a free download from ZenChic designer Brigitte Heitland.

I have turned off comments for this and the next two posts, as I am finishing up the SHINE block construction information; hope you won’t mind. If you want to get ahold of me, my email can be found on the About Me tab, above.

Shining my way through this season

This is my reaction to the election fol-de-rol. Actually it’s my granddaughter Maddy’s, when she was just born (she’s soon to be 12 this year!). I’m totally patriotic (witness all my RWB blocks) and love the election itself–going to vote, feeling a unity among all Americans as we do our civic duty. It’s just the other stuff — the having to board up windows, the chants (count the vote! stop the count!), the lies, the attempts to cast doubt on the election, the lack of patience for the vote-counting — that gives me a chance to imitate Miss Maddy on a regular basis. By the time you read this, it may well be all over. Or not. Onward.

QuiltMania and I have been collaborating on releasing the Shine blocks, all newly refurbished. They usually do them on the first Friday of the month, which is upon us, so I try to time it and have a post. There’s a tab, above, for Shine, but to get the free patterns, you’ll need to subscribe to their newsletter. I have been remaking them in Red, White and Blue (told you I was patriotic!) to give them a fresh look.

Op #3, made by Susan Hilsenbeck

But before we get to that, I wanted to show you Susan Hilsenbeck‘s block. She chose a Shine block for her SAQA Auction Quilt for 2020, and titled Op#3. I love how she chose the colors, the fabrics, and that quilting is a WOW. Really fun. Her artist’s statement is below:

Now, onto the new blocks!

Shine Block #7, RWB
Original Shine #7 block

This one’s a little different looking than the original. I flipped it to swirl a different direction, and instead of making the points separate, I kept them attached to the swirl, so they were both all from the same fabric.

Original SHINE #8
Shine #8, Red, White and Blue

This RWB version challenged me, as there are many places to use color and it’s a bit challenging to use just three colors. I have since found more lines of fabrics that will work with my original set, so I have more choices now.

Original SHINE #9 block
SHINE, Block 9 in Red, White and Blue

I think I like the RWB version better than the original. Okay, here are the original nine blocks:

Original SHINE blocks, 1 through 9
RWB SHINE blocks, 1 through 9

So, if you’ve been following along, and are getting the QuiltMania newsletters, you’ll have Blocks 1-6. The next three should drop tomorrow. Here’s a link to where you can sign up for the newsletters in order to get your SHINE blocks. If you don’t have Blocks 1-6, I’ve been assured that if you write to them, they will send you the links for them.

I’ve written two other individual block patterns, one of which has been added as a bonus block to the Finishing Instructions (which includes that sashing you see peeking out of the middle block, above). The other is being field tested right now by my friend, Linda, who is making her Shine blocks into a Christmas quilt.

I’ve got a couple more in the works, to be added to the Final Four blocks pattern that is up on PayHip.

But first, I’m going to be a guest tonight at Acacia Quilt Guild in Buena Park, California. Our workshop is Triad Harmony, which will be held on Saturday, live-online style. The organizer asked me to pass on to any of you that there are some openings left, if you’re not busy Saturday and want to jump in. Just leave me a note on this post, and we’ll get you set up. So far, I don’t have this on my teaching schedule in the future, so it may be the last time I teach it for a while.

More pumpkins. Well, I actually have thirteen, but who’s counting now?

They are. I’m happy to wait.

SHINE: QuiltMania Collaboration, part 2

When I searched this morning in Google for how many days until the United States Presidential Election, the questions it prompted me for were these:

So, if we are going to have a zombie apocalypse, let’s spend our remaining days doing some quilting. (By the way, it’s 32 days until the election, as of today.)

QuiltMania and I have collaborated on releasing revised versions of quilt blocks for Shine: The Circle Quilt, and they have released the next three blocks, if you are a subscriber to their newsletter (sign up here). Many thanks to QuiltMania for this collaboration–I’m enjoying re-working the blocks in Red, White and Blue.

Block Four: Red, White and Blue version
Block Five: Red, White and Blue version
Block Six: Red, White and Blue version
Blocks 1-6, RWB

I bordered that block to check for my Quilt Finishing Pattern, and then didn’t want to take it off for the picture. Soon, all of them will have their borders. I know these fabrics look a bit moody — but this line of Minick and Simpson that I’m using, augmented with a few more bits of Moda and M & S’s most recent line of fabrics — really is appropriately red, white and blue.

Block Seventeen: Red, White and Blue version

I’ve also worked up a new block, that is included in the Quilt Finishing Instructions as a freebie: Block Seventeen. I working on another new one, which will find its way in the panoply, as a freebie for the Finishing Pattern? Still working out the details, arriving hopefully before the Zombie Apocolypse.

I will be teaching Triad Harmony for the Coastal Quilters Guild of Santa Barbara next week, and while I have two of these wall hangings finished, I wanted to try it scrappy. As is always the case, I discovered some old favorites (the silvery leaves and the happy sun faces) and some new favorites (the plaid border) lurking on my shelves.

I’m currently quilting it, but stopped last night when I got to the borders. It was late, the book I was listening to got to a stopping point, and I was stumped by how to quilt the final section. Finding ideas of how to quilt something is always a challenge, but I’ll get back to it today.

My lecture with the Coastal Quilters is Thursday night, and I need to have this quilt ALL done by then. I’ll make it, as long as — you know — those zombies don’t show up.

Finally, this really great news. As many of my long-time readers know, I’m a huge fan of this book, but sadly it has been out of print for a long time. I was contacted by the new publishers, Electric Quilt, to provide a blurb for the new edition. You may see my words in their advertising, but the exciting thing was I was able to get a glimpse of the new edition and I was blown away! It’s a huge improvement to the original (although that will always be my first love). I just wanted to give you a heads up that they are having an introductory price that you may want to take advantage of.

I have had days like this — we all have — but with sewing my red, white and blue blocks, thinking up quilting motifs for borders, being pulled along by great fiction, and hanging out with friends like you: it’s all good. Yes, I take it day by day, but the whole concept of quilting is one of looking forward: from purchasing the fabric, to cutting, to stitching then quilting, to sewing that label on. We quilters are good at this.

Utah’s golden Aspens

Happy stitching!