Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Polka Dot Quilt for a Great Debater

Sidetracked again... by another finish! Finishing quilts is a great way to clear out my sewing room and reduce my stash. It takes as much material as the front. At this rate there won't be many UFOs around here AND I'll have room for a few new purchases. {Nothing humble about this outright bragging.}

In case you hadn't noticed, boys are different than girls. :-) High drama always surrounded my daughter and her friends while the boys took most things in stride... until I made a fatal error.

As my offspring graduated high school and college I always made quilts for them and their best friends. So when my youngest finished college I made quilts for his two roommates as a matter of course. {Three quilts. Count 'em.} You'd have thought that was a sweet, considerate gesture. Wrong.

I knew the guys watched the games at his apartment but didn't realize part of the attraction was his quilt collection. Turns out they loved wrapping in those old quilts. Everyone had a favorite.

The arrival of two new quilts occasioned loud discussions of "who was most worthy." Each vociferously propounded his own opinion of who should have received a quilt based on
  1. closeness of their friendship, 
  2. length of time they'd known my son, 
  3. number of classes they'd taken together, 
  4. climate of their new homes, and probably even
  5. phases of the moon. 
What a ruckus. ROTFLOL. What else could I do? Here's the fourth quilt for the Great Debaters. {Two more to go.} It's my Polka Dot quilt from the Freddy Dot Com class. {Not quite FDC because I used a different template.}

Piano keys border in reds surround polka dot quilt.
Polka Dot quilt
Look. The piano keys border is a single column of Chinese Coins! It reminds me I need to get busy with that project.

The back mimics the front in a simpler fashion using up some more leftovers.

Back of Polka Dot quilt
One of Freddy Moran's quilts had large cobblestone circles. {I took a picture but seem to have deleted it. Not only can I not show it, I had to remember what I thought the quilting looked like.} Anyway the recent applique ideas reminded me because they all doubled stitched each design without trying to stitch in the same place. I practiced that technique on this quilt and must say it's very easy. It only took a day to quilt. Plus a lot of thread. Multiple loops take more thread than you think.

Detail of loose circles on Polka Dot quilt

Freddy encouraged us to include lots of dotty fabric which makes a festive look.

I bound it with a black and white stripe printed on the diagonal. Yes! Cut straight of grain but looks like bias binding.

Binding and quilting detail of Polka Dot quilt

It arrived at Great Debater #4's home last week and he loves it. Don't we all want a recipient who truly values our quilts? Lucky me.

Quilt Details
Size: 70" x 82"
Pattern: Polka Dot or Freddy Dot Com
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: Gutermann red cotton 
Quilting: Loose free-motion circles

Other posts about this project:
  1. Fabric pull 
  2. Drafting differences of Racetrack and Drunkards Path
  3. Beginning
  4. Borders
  5. Finished top
Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, February 18, 2017

String Quilt for a New Grandmother

Ok. I got sidetracked. Instead of working on Coins or Spiderweb, I finished a top for a dear friend who recently became a grandmother. No complaints though. A finished quilt is always a win plus it only took a day to baste, quilt and bind this little toddler quilt which will be perfect to use when the baby visits.

String quilt quilted with a grid pattern using a walking foot.
Red and yellow string quilt, quilted and bound

The quilting design is a variation of the one I used on the blue string quilt. This time I stitched in the ditch of all the blocks then stitched a half-inch away on each side. Finally I divided the remaining space into half and half again (four equal-ish sections.) It was easy to quilt from point to point with the walking foot after eyeballing the spacing and marking it with straight pins. The ditch stitches only show on the back; that makes the front a bit plainer than intended.

Quilting point to point using straight pins to mark the points.

The fabric for the back has been in my stash for years. {In fact, I just culled it. Sitting on top of the "future sleeve" pile made it more noticeable.} What a treat to have sufficient yardage for the entire back.

Red and Yellow String quilt detail: quilting, binding, and backing

The same fabric creates the binding, too. It is cut separately, not pulled from the back. The fabric is naturally blurry and a third of a yard still remains.

The best thread color turned out to be brown. Blending with both red and yellow, it's not too harsh on either color.

Quilting detail, red and yellow string quilt

Quilt Details
Size: 40" x 48"
Design: String quilt on paper foundation
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: Brown Metler cotton
Quilting: Walking foot on a domestic machine

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Into the Ditch

As many of you know, I quilt on an older domestic Bernina with a fairly small throat plate. With a large quilt, it helps to stitch in the ditch along major seam lines.

I started by stitching the block boundaries vertically and horizontally. Each block contains a "star," not a spiderweb. This stitching starts and stops which also means loads of thread tails to bury. Next I stitched the border seams. Now I'm stitching around each spiderweb by rotating as the needle moves from point to point. With care, you can turn the quilt when reaching the borders. That translates to only two threads to bury. Yay!

These photos may help visualize what I did: Sew across the X where two spiderwebs meet.

Sew across the X where two spiderwebs meet
Turn at the inside of the star.

Turn at the inside of the star.
Fortunately I have two machines so while I quilt on my Bernina, I can still sew Coins on my Featherweight. Not both at once, you understand. But no time wasted changing needles and thread.

Here are some more possible Coin pairs. The yellow floral with brown/yellow/white plaid is not working for me. I don't think I'll use it.

Possible Chinese Coin pairs.

Although I haven't written about this in a while, I'm still working on my old Sampler quilt - usually while listening to the news at night. This is the final block to be hand quilted but it's still a long way from done. Twenty-nine years and counting.

Sampler quilt {still}in the hoop
Of course, if I'd worked on it regularly it would have been finished years ago.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, February 11, 2017

My First Chinese Coin Columns

It can be difficult to make a quilt with a certain person in mind while also creating something that maintains your own interest throughout the construction. My niece's style and color palette are much quieter than my own.

Currently I'm pairing fabrics for each column with the idea of adding bits from the scrap bag when the columns are too short. Here's what I have today.

First two columns of Chinese Coins
Despite adding a block of daisies and dots, the blue column is still a bit short so I'm also inserting those darker blue strings. The columns aren't completely sewed yet. {"Just say no," to unsew.} Sets of four or eight coins makes them faster and easier to move around than those little bitty triangles in the Spiderweb border. I'm setting aside a couple of coins to work with inserts.

Short coin stacks let me change my mind easily during construction

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Chinese Coins Fabric Pull and Spiderweb Back

Sometime in the late 90s I bought a Balson Hercules fabric called Fujiwara by Susan B. Faeder. {Reading the selvedge.} It has always been a favorite, one I intended to use but never have. It was my first choice for the back of the spiderweb because there's over four yards, it was still in the stash, and it makes a statement. At least I will be able to visit it easily by turning this quilt over.

I combined it with some soft blues then added one funky green/black/beige plaid to pump it up. {Who remembers "Pump you up" from Saturday Night Live?} The longer I look at this, the better I like it.

Spiderweb quilt back with Balson Hercules "Fujiwara" fabric

The quilt was almost completely pin basted when I realized I'd rotated the front ninety degrees. Darn. Another evening spent taking those pins out. Then pinned it correctly. So feather-headed.

It's far enough along that I could start pulling fabric for Chinese Coins. While pondering what tack to take, I read this:

"The next step is to do a pull of all the fabrics I have been aching to use and to see how they look together." Kathy Doughty

What an exciting way to approach a scrap quilt. But, I also need/want to make a quilt for my niece who is decorating her new home in turquoise, yellow, grey, and white. And I happen to have lots of light blue leftovers right now. {Insert maniacal laugh here.}

I pulled these from my stash and {for now} intend to supplement them with leftovers in the scrap bag.

Fabric for Chinese Coins


Did you know there's a way to move/regroup photos on your Pinterest boards?  I've been doing a lot of that lately. Creating order by commonalities allows me to think. {That's a geologist for you.}

It never occurred to me to combine a traditional block with a painting until I saw Deb Hyde's work. Someone posted this time lapse YouTube video showing the development of Lucy ITSWD several years ago but few people seem to know about it. I'm awed that anyone could keep two balls in the air -  a specific quilt style and a scene. Definitely one to enjoy over your morning coffee or tea.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The form or the scene? The answer: it depends.

Diane Wright's Thimble Islands shows sea, sky, and islands in blues and browns while Ululu (Ayers Rock) rises in the distance across a wide valley in Ann Bauer's Summer Comes to the Mountain. (It's about the middle of the page.) The regularity and precision of column widths in both makes me think they envisioned this arrangement from the start. In fact, Ann's website shows several works created in a similar style. The phrase "working in a series" comes to life as she develops her ideas.

Diane's free-hand cut coins emphasize waves hitting rocky shores. Ann's straighter cuts create a flat, grassy plain with a hazy distant mountain. By curving the pink fabrics she perfectly conveys a setting sun reflecting on wispy clouds.

On the other hand, I think I'm overlaying the Coin form on the finished quilts of other artists. I could easily be reading more into it than they intended but  I'm struck by how well the Chinese Coin design evokes an impressionistic scene.

From Sue Kelly's previous posts, I know she did not use stacked coins as a starting point. She randomly cut and sewed fabrics until she ended up with her design for Abbott's Lagoon... which just happened to resemble Chinese Coins. Now that she's quilted and embellished this piece, it's even easier to distinguish the tidal flats, mud flats, grassy hummocks, and deeper waters of this lagoon. So much detail.

In a previous post I referred to Kaja's Build Me a Wall but it's still the only scene I've found that's a closeup of a manmade structure (rather than a panorama.) I'm unsure if she started with a Coin format but she wrote about some of her other works recently. They demonstrate how one's starting idea can unfold into more expressive form.

In fact, this Rail Fence began with leftovers from Chinese Coins. I added some darker blues, raided the scrap bag for odd strips of triangles, and worked them into a different form by rotating sections.

Improv Rail Fence built from Chinese Coins

Whether an artist arrives at a Chinese Coin layout purposefully or in retrospect, I'm delighted to find it possible to use a structured form to create a natural scene. Even if you start with some Coins, remember you're the creator of your own quilt. Feel free to change it any way that works for you. Let's celebrate all of us!

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Spiderweb Borders Complete

The top is finally finished. It measures over ninety inches in each direction which is good for a queen-size bed. The lighting is off. I tried all hours of the day but couldn't get the colors to photograph properly. {And you know it no longer fits on the kitchen floor.}

Scrap spiderweb blocks on a light blue printed background with three borders.
Spiderweb with all borders

Taking the wider triangles out of the narrow sawtooth border made the rest more coherent. The background of the small triangles is yellow while the outer background is pale green. It makes a nice change from the center.

In many ways these borders remind me of heavily carved antique Spanish picture frames I enjoyed at the Dallas Museum of Art. They are "important" enough to set off the center but they also stand on their own, not an afterthought. The homey, slightly awkward construction pushes it towards 19th century American folk art.

Here's a detail of the color change and the borders. These colors are very close to the actual quilt.

Spiderweb quilt border, detail

The improvisational style of the triangles is more apparent in this photo. Especially on the narrow border, the width of the triangles as well as their points vary. On the outer border the triangles were cut close to thirty degrees. The width and height still vary but not as much as the inner triangles. Because of the similar angle it was easier to exchange foreground and background within the rectangles. {Important discovery: It's very fabric-expensive when you can't change any pieces around but always have to cut new ones.}

Since everyone's taste differs, other people may have stopped at a different place or moved in a different direction. This quilt could have easily expressed several styles.

For instance, here's the spiderwebs alone. This might be the stopping point for a true scrap quilt.

Spiderwebs with no borders
While here it is with only the plain border. A quieter quilt that could highlight elaborate quilting in the border.

Spiderweb quilt with plain border only

With only the applique it could move to a very traditional finish - with our without a second border.

Cardinal rest on the applique vine border of this scrap spiderweb quilt.
Spiderweb quilt with applique border only

Finally, I photoshopped this to see what the quilt would look like with sawteeth pointing out.

Spiderwebs with sawteeth pointing out, photoshopped detail

It's interesting to discover the crossroads of quilt construction, the places where your decisions change the style of the quilt. And what a joy that we can each make quilts to please ourselves if we take the time to verbalize our reasoning. Thanks for all the help. You pushed me to articulation; I needed that.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Kaleidoscope of Butterflies #13

Cathy and I use this monthly linkup to spread the word about butterflies, their beauty, and what we can do to keep them around. While this may not be the month to see many in our areas, we can start some preparations for spring.

If you don't already have milkweed plants, this is a good time to purchase seeds since cold stratification helps them germinate. Here's a good article on growing milkweed from seed.

Save Our Monarchs is currently offering asclepias incarnata milkweed seeds free. Please add a donation so they can continue their efforts. This variety (swamp milkweed) is native to parts of eastern Canada and the lower 48 except the Pacific coast states, Arizona, and Mississippi. See this map for details.

If you check reputable suppliers in your area you'll be doing the greatest good. Buying varieties that are native to your county means they bloom at the "right" time encouraging butterfly migration. Those butterflies have a long journey and need sustenance all along the way. Although the article speaks about Texas varieties, the principle applies everywhere. Here's a list of varieties found in different states.

On the quilting front, the first sawtooth border is sewed to my latest spiderweb. It's looks much better than the original layout after culling the "wider" triangles. There were too many itty bitty triangles to move but I intended to preview some type of floater border once the strip was sewed. In my rush to "get to a stopping point" I forgot. On balance, I'm okay with this. A yellow floater would just make these triangle points a bit further from the vines. A contrasting floater would add emphasis where it's not needed. That's my story now because I'm not unsewing this row.  :-)

While spiderweb is not a kaleidoscope, it's made with a kaleidoscope ruler. And I'm really trying to focus on one project at a time. Well, one and one UFO and one new top. Unless I get sidetracked. Squirrel!

Spiderweb with first sawtooth border attached
I found the limit of my kitchen floor. Not sure where I will be able to take a photo next.

These pretty butterfly fabrics made their way into the triangles.

Butterfly fabrics used in spiderweb
Cathy has a charming tutorial to create butterflies from waste triangles. Take a look.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Adding a Second Sawtooth Border to the Spiderweb

Thanks for all the helpful comments. Your new ideas helped me clarify my thoughts. Being able to articulate them advances my understanding. Some suggestions might have worked better but I'm constrained by the fabric on hand. Running out of yellows {in addition to all the previous background fabrics.}

Several changes make me happier with this quilt. First, pulling some of the wider small triangles creates a more uniform narrow strip. Now it doesn't look so chaotic. More may come out. {There are probably enough leftovers for a new quilt. Sigh.}

I rotated the sawtooth borders so the yellow was on the outside. While it may look better against the toile, it's too dark against the applique vine. At least, it is for me.

Spiderweb quilt with Sawtooth border, yellow to outside.

I tried, without luck, to find something on hand for another narrow border. All the colors that might work are very short, not enough to go around. That worked for the vine border but I'm not ready to to carry it another round.

So I forged ahead with a second sawtooth border. This one is composed of 5" by 7.5" triangles cut casually around thirty degrees. The background fabrics are light greens this time. Even in this poor lighting, the color change emphasizes the yellows in the narrow sawtooth border while the size change balances the borders. And I like busy.

Spiderweb quilt with possible sawtooth borders pinned

Everything is still in rectangles but I feel more confident about sewing the borders. I'm more secure that I don't want another floater border. It would divide these into discrete rows which might make their improvisational character a distraction instead of a feature. Does that make sense? If everything was neat and tidy then floaters would highlight that aspect. Although scrappy, the spiderwebs are neat and regular. The color changes make your eyes move; the floater stops them.

The quilt fills the entire wall but the room is too small to take a full photo.


As soon as this is sewn I plan to pull fabric for #AHIQChineseCoins. I notice Julie's well into construction. What about you?

I've been looking over my Chinese Coins Pinterest board for a month now {Yeah, I started before everyone else} and several groupings come to mind. First is a "boxing" effect caused by using sashing fabric as some of the coins. Look at these examples.

Oldest is this 1930s Pennsylvania Amish quilt on this page. (The first link goes to a photo but the second goes to the site where it is published. The quilt is almost at the bottom but the entire article is enlightening.) She only used two fabrics. I see hints of both old Venetian blinds in an abandoned room and conversely, exotically folded fabrics such as Rami Kim creates.

Another 1930s example is this homespun Chinese Coins collected by Roberta Horton. (Again, first link = photo, second link = website.) The sashings are tan plaids. I'm not sure that any were used as coins but somehow there's a hint of "boxing" to me. And I admire the way the coins are all cut from plaids on the diagonal.

By using bright red sashing and a triple border, Jane Weston created a boxed feeling without using any of the sashing fabric as coins. The few, deliberately softer reds she chose as coins contribute to the "boxing" but I think the border is the biggest factor. Try covering up the border yourself to see what a difference it makes.

Finally, Summer Reading by Timna Tarr. By merely rotating her design ninety degrees she made the boxing effect into beautiful bookcases. {I love her color sense, too.}

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

AHIQ 2017 Invitational Begins and Linkup 17

Kaja and I plan some changes to AHIQ this year to help newer quilters embrace this movement. Even experienced quilters have written of their diffidence with improvisation so we hope you'll enjoy our Invitational, too.

We invite you join us as we start a new quilt idea {or kernel} each quarter. The first month will introduce our quarterly theme. We'll share our progress the second month as well as our improvisational ideas. There could be finished tops to share by the third month. We hope you will write and link posts on your progress monthly.

Participation in our AHIQ 2017 Invitational is entirely optional. Continue to post your current improvisational or utility quilting, too. It wouldn't be improv otherwise.


I'm starting this party with a Chinese Coins strippy quilt. While making one last year, several more ideas occurred to me, always a good sign. This design can easily combine scrap quilting and improvisation. It's friendly to both traditional and artistic styles, beginners and experienced quilters, and has more variation than you might expect.

Chinese Coins or Roman Coins probably refers to the fact that these highly developed civilizations created standard coins quite early. At its most basic, rectangular scraps sewn together like stacks of coins form columns. These are sashed with lengths of a single fabric... or not.

There are few exact instructions. The strips can be any width or height as can the sashing and these can vary from one column to the next. You can even omit the sashing. Columns can be turned vertically or horizontally. I've seen strip columns made of crazy piecing, UFO blocks, and selvedges. {Some people would classify these types as strippy quilts but let's be more general.} Repeating the sashing fabric in some of the strips gives an open grid design.

Traditional Example

This is a philanthropy quilt I made years ago. The sashing was cut from a single striped Halloween fabric. Six-inch-wide coins of various heights were sewn together randomly until they matched the length of the Halloween fabric. Everything was cut with rotary tools. Notice the same fabrics appear in each column.

Striped Halloween fabric forms sashing between columns of colorful coins to create this happy quilt.
Halloween Chinese Coins scrap quilt
Improvisational Example

Next is a more improvisational version of Chinese Coins. Each column contains only one of three sets of fabric. Many of these came from my scrap bag but there are also remnants and yardage in it. I used both rotary tools and scissors to cut the strips. Once the columns were sewn, I butted them together to trim overlap and determine where vertical strips were needed to fill empty spaces. More notes about this quilt on posts listed here.

Stacked Coins, Chinese Coins or Roman Coins in reds, pinks, blues, and greens.
Chinese Coin Improv string quilt
More Examples Across the Internet

Here are a variety of quilts that push the boundaries of Chinese Coins classification. Some are more improvisational than others. Most of them have additional aspects so their makers may not consider them Chinese Coins. I group them because they have a basic design of stacked strips in columns (or rows).

Sometimes the simplest construction highlights the most masterful quilting. These are listed first because of their straightforward {basic} construction. But make no mistake. Each of these is a masterwork of fabric, layout, and style.

Chinese Coins by Freddy Moran, used with permission. Photo by M Beach
  1. Freddy Moran made this Chinese Coins with her signature colorful fabric.
  2. Gina Abayan of the Philippines created her quilt from solid fabrics only. She rotated her work 90 degrees so the coins are vertical. Her columns (now rows) appear to be hand-cut but about equal width.
  3. Wanda at Exuberant Color also rotated hers. She organized her printed fabrics by value so well that you can almost see the sun highlighting this quilt.
  4. Cassandra Ellis lists the variety of "found fabrics" used in Katie's Quilt in her post. It's also rotated. {Am I seeing a theme?}
  5. Edeltraud Ewert created one of my favorites which seamlessly crosses boundaries between traditional, improvisational, and even modern. Art at it's best.
Applique can easily be incorporated into this design.
  1. All a Flutter by Judy Crane appliques trees, leaves, and birds on a Chinese Coin background. Notice the strips are divided by color and the coins are rotated again.
  2. Mel Beach used a McCall's pattern to applique cheerful floral vines with cute buttons on the sashing between her Coins. As usual, her color sense delights.
If you want to try more challenging improvisation or think Chinese Coins is too simple, look at these three quilts.

Improvisational variation of Stacked Coins quilt in green, yellow, tan, brown, and white.
Build Me a Wall by Kaja Ziesler, 2016 (Used with permission.)
  1. Kaja's Build Me a Wall incorporates vertical strips (rather than sashing) and reverse applique squares into a basic columnar Coin layout. Her middle section divides into two columns at the top. Notice the visibility of each column despite the fabric repetition. The vertical seams create their own boundaries. Her borders unify the composition without encasing it.
  2. Sue Kelly recently made a top based on Point Reyes seashore. Her final version reminds me of horizontal Chinese Coins with sashing strips in several colors and widths.  
  3. Nettie Young of Gee's Bend created Stacked Bricks in 1928. Her quilt is composed of rotated double brick (or coins) columns that are sashed and posted.
Do you need still more inspiration? Check out my Chinese Coins Pinterest board or Google "Chinese Coins", "Stacked Coins", or "Strippy quilts."

Getting Started

Although we are approaching this improvisationally, I was planning to write instructions to aid beginners until I found Mary Johnson at MaryQuilts and HeartStringsQuiltProject already posted great directions. Her traditional version guides you through the basic construction.
  1. Overview on Chinese Coins quilt.
  2. Construction directions.
How much fabric? Assuming a 50"x60" quilt {without borders or sashing} and 2"x5"finished coins, you will need between 2.75 and 3 yards of fabric. Changing the coin sizes, adding sashing, or any other variations will alter the yardage requirements.

Are you in? Then go through your scraps, remnants, and yardage for the colors and fabric that speak to you. Try sewing some coin blocks or units. You don't need to sew an entire column all at once. Let's meet back here next month to share where we are, what we've discovered, and any questions we have.

Be sure to tag your photos with the hashtags #AHIQ2017Invitational and #AHIQChineseCoins so everyone can find them more easily on social media.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Improvisational Sawtooth Border

While I like the vine border, the quilt doesn't seem finished. There is no more of the star background, the light blue gingham, or the bird toile. What to do? Try a contrasting color.

About a month ago, Nana suggested adding yellow, {a color she seems to love as much as Monica.} Yellow perks up against the aqua so I cut a bunch of improv triangles about 4.5" by  2-4", When sewed they trimmed to rectangles 4" long by a variety of widths.

Spiderwebs with second border layout

I'm not feeling the love. There are too many things going on here. The angles of the triangles are incoherent. Might work in a quilt with more improv but just looks odd on this quilt. This border is too narrow to be the outer border.

Thinking yellow might be the problem I cut some in pale green but don't like those any better. So it's not the color. It's really a size and angle issue for me.

Nothing is sewed except the individual rectangles. Timeout for thinking.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Vine Border Complete

It feels like the applique took an inordinately long time but that's not true. Improv machine piecing takes just as much time.

The border came out well. The cardinals look like birds... well, like folk art birds. The leaf fabrics worked well. I like the unrealistic, but mostly quiet colors. It's darker than the toile and quieter than the spiderwebs - exactly to plan.

Cardinals sit on a leafy vine border around two sides of this scrap spiderweb quilt.
Spiderweb quilt top with vine border
I'm considering another border. Partly because I prefer bed size quilts but also because it looks unfinished. Hmm.

Next week begins the AHIQ Improvisational Challenge. Each quarter we will introduce a quilt or technique that can be adapted as improvisationally as you choose. We hope you'll join us in our exploration of utility and improv quilting.

Linking with Lorna at Let's Bee Social.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Leafing Out

The vine is sewn; the cardinals will fit. I only want a few of them but perhaps a bit more upright.

Pinning cardinals and leaves on vine border
I pinned some leaves to check the angles and the spacing. Would some look good directly under the cardinals?

The vine was easy to sew but I'm having more trouble with the leaves. My stitches wobble very far from the edge at times. I try slower speeds {and even the half-speed button} but before too long I'm back in the Grand Prix. Changing to the overlock foot helps a bit {except for my speeding tendencies.} When the wire on the right is positioned along the raw edge, it creates an eighth-inch seam... until I sew too rapidly. "Slow down on curves" is not sinking in.

Attaching leaves by machine applique

Mary at Mary and Patch
 is machine stitching raw edge applique by sewing around each piece twice. Also, Cathi at Gertrude Made used this same technique to applique her lovely bird. The casual feel of the stitching is very appealing. Too bad some of my leaves are sewn and tied off. I hate thinking about redoing them but dislike even more my current poor technique. At least I found a possible solution before it's quilted.  Gotta love that.

Making haste slowly but I'm still sticking to one project at a time. For now. I will need another Grandmother quilt next month and plan to quilt the red and yellow string top soon.

Red and yellow string quilt top

The green string was quilted with channels, the blue with double row checkerboard. I'm trying to figure out another simple no-marking quilting design to try.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Making Leaves

My first thought was to use lots of colors for the leaves but I decided the cardinals would be bright enough. The vine fabric is a blue-green but most of my greens are on the yellow side. I pulled all the blue-greens I could find in my stash and scrap bag. A few are crazy prints that may or may not work out. We'll see.

Green and blue fabrics for leaves

Preparing fabric using Lara's book, Crafted Applique, took most of the day but this method is easier on my hands. {I needed physical therapy after my last attempts to hand quilt. I now limit handwork to prevent recurrence.} My previous work with her directions worked quite well but I'm curious how this will hold up to daily use. Frankly, I wonder how long any raw edge applique will last. {QS says it will last as long as I live. What a comedian. Also a good point. This is a quilt for me and that's how long it needs to last.}

Stephie and I traded fabric scraps last week.  I thought mine looked like some of her flags for Fete, the quilt she's making for her sister's birthday. {Aren't sisters a wonderful gift in themselves?} She thought hers would make a good binding for my neutral string quilt. Plus she send some extra Quilty365 circles with hand stitching. Lucky me.

Fabric scraps, Quilty365 circles and a card from Stephie!

We took the train to San Francisco and saw this magnificent dome in Westfield Centre.

Emporium Dome, Westfield Centre, San Francisco

Originally built as the Emporium Building in 1896, the first dome survived the 1906 earthquake but fell during the subsequent firestorm. The current dome was built in 1908 and restored about thirty years ago when the shopping center was built.

It reminded me of another San Francisco landmark. Almost forty years ago Neiman Marcus purchased the old City of Paris building with its glorious white and yellow stained glass rotunda. The dome was added in 1908 when department store was rebuilt following fire damage after the 1906 quake. Despite being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building was torn down in 1981. The new structure incorporated the original rotunda and is again a favorite city landmark.

City of Paris dome, Neiman Marcus, San Francisco
This dome reminds me of Sunshine by Monica at Lakeview Stitching. She handles yellow so masterfully.

Enjoy the day, Ann