Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Butterflies Burst their Cocoons

I don't wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. 
Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.
~Pearl S. Buck


Ok. So they weren't in cocoons but only because they aren't real butterflies. These are blocks I started years ago that somehow ended up in a baggie in the back of a drawer. Actually only about twenty were sewn. The rest of the baggie was green backgrounds and black-and-white bodies. 

I decided to use larger pieces from the scrap bag and a few other leftovers to make the rest of the wings. The blocks finish at four inches so one hundred should be needed to make a baby quilt... And there weren't enough backgrounds and bodies. After all this time there's no more of either of these fabrics. 

I have no recollection of my original layout for these blocks or even how large a quilt was planned. These days I use found blocks to make baby quilts, the easiest way to move them along. So... how to make it work? My solution was to create a two-inch inner border so the butterfly blocks fit inside and out even though they don't "line up" all the way across the quilt.

Here are four light fabrics as possible inner borders. The one on the left is a remnant from the Shadow Stars border and I discounted it. Looking at it here, it should have had more serious consideration. The floral at the top gets lost at times. The blue at the bottom doesn't have enough contrast.

The print on the right was the final choice. It makes a soft break. 

Can you even tell the butterfly bodies taper? I can't. 

I first saw butterfly quilts in a Japanese version with solid black backgrounds. It reminded me of a traditional block Called Arkansas Traveller. The bodies in those versions  didn’t taper. Not wanting to copy exactly, I chose this bright green background and altered the body. Not thrilled with either decision. But I do like the layout. It makes the wings appear to curve. A very cool effect.

At least there were enough parts to create a baby quilt and it works well for that use.

Interestingly, yesterday I ran across another butterfly quilt Hubblebird recently finished. She used a black background and found directions linked in her blog for her slightly larger blocks if you’d prefer that to the small ones I started.


To escape an unwanted marriage in 1714, Addie bargains with a "dark god" to live freely until she chooses to die. The consequence is that she is forgotten as soon as people's eyes leave her face. Three hundred years later a young man remembers her. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab makes an interesting read. 

It's hot here but this close to the coast, scattered showers build almost every afternoon. This week though we hear lots of thunder and see rain all around but it hasn't fallen on us until today. We had an hour of good soaking rain so I won't have to water tomorrow. 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

String Tulips Quilted and Gone

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs but not every man's greed.
~Mahatma Gandhi


Taking a {hopefully short} break from the baseball quilt. Family members asked for quilts for their friends having babies and this quilt was the easiest to finish up. The top was completed in April. It's better to quilt them soon after. What looked good becomes indifferent with time. 

String Tulip baby quilt 3

The tulip petals are outlined and echoed. The white background is stippled.  

String Tulip 3 stipple quilting detail

The ESS blocks are free-hand quilted in a zig zag design that moves easily from one to the other because nothing shows in all this business. 

String Tulip 3 zig zag quilting detail

The outer border is a free-hand loop. And it's done.

The back is three purple {approximately} half yard pieces sewn dark to light. Not clever but easy and adds more color. Because this quilt was so quiet... ;-)

String Tulip 3 quilt back

One more photo of it folded ready to roll into a mailer.

String Tulip 3 quilt folded

Quilt Specifics
Size: 47" x 47"
Design: String tulips and string block border
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Gutermann 50/3 light and dark green cotton thread
Quilting: SID and FMQ
Approximate yardage: 6.5 yds

Previous posts:

It's already reached its forever home and will be well loved. Several more have been requested. I need to search out some stashed blocks and bits. 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Words on Back

Worrying about things you can't control is a waste both on the baseball field and in life..
~Tom Swyers


Like the Phillies quilt, no one should be in doubt which team is represented. I appliqued Phillies on the front last time but the border is already busy enough so their name must go on back. Large enough for to read from the opposite side of the park.

This is the last of the solid black fabric. I could buy more but trolling through my stash brought two black prints to the surface. The team name will be strongest because it's the greatest contrast.  

And speaking of buying fabric, I did purchase three yards of the orange batik seen here. Why did I think I'd need it? It turned out great for the writing on the back. There should be enough for whatever else gets written. I just need to decide. I don't want DH's name, or mine, or the year. It needs to be about baseball.

Here's some of the phrases under consideration:
  1. Bye, bye, baby.
  2. That ball is outta here.
  3. Adios, pelota!
  4. Don't stop believing.
  5. Yes! Yes! Yes!
  6. World Champions 2010, 2012, 2014
  7. There's no crying in baseball. {OK. This has nothing to do with the Giants but it certainly is funny.}
  8. Splash hit.
  9. Stare out the window and wait for spring. {Part of a quote by Rogers Hornsby, a one-year NY Giant.}
  10. Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game. ~Babe Ruth {not a Giant}
  11. Take me out to the ballgame.
It's time to make up my mind so the back gets finish.


Can you believe I found a new series just as it was published? Nev March debuted Murder in Old Bombay last year. The historical mystery is based on a report from her childhood about two young women who fell to their deaths from a university clock tower. Nev's story introduces Captain Jim Agnihotri, an injured Anglo-Indian soldier who reads about the deaths in hospital. Adi Framji, the widower and brother of the victims, hires him to look into events. 

A good introduction to issues in colonial India. And I kept my maps handy to track the movements of the characters.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Sashing and Bordering the Giants Baseball Quilt Top

There are three types of baseball players: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happened.
~Tommy LaSorda


The red and white stripe worked so well on the Wheel quilt so once I realized I didn't want wide sashing, this black and white became the hands down choice. Orange and black are Giants colors plus the black and white reminds me of umpires... although baseball umpires wear solid colors. Plus the stripe goes so well with the border fabric, I piece I've held for many years not knowing where to use it.

Sashing the Giants baseball quilt

But the sashing is still too wide. So I trimmed the interior sashing down by half an inch. On to the next problem.

Despite yards and yards of the border fabric, my decision to highlight the white diamonds left me with too little to fill the corners of the quilt. Grr.  OTOH, DH purchased several Giants decals when I made the first {Phillies} baseball quilt for one of my son's friends. They will fit into these corners if I choose the right base. Solid black sounds best.

Still, here are two black and white print possibilities just to make sure all my choices are covered.

Two border post choices

And yes, solid black it will be.

Now to sew these long seams and start thinking about the back.


My father, who enjoyed native art and western stories, introduced me to Tony Hillerman's Navaho detective series. I loved reading each and discussing them with him. Now I'm re-reading. The Blessing Way opens with anthropology professors arriving on the reservation. One is an old friend of Joe Leaphorn who wants to research Navaho witches.  A young man is killed, livestock go missing, and the Navaho hold an Enemy Way ceremony to get rid of the problems. 

Tony is a wonderful writer with excellent knowledge of Navaho culture and history. 

Monthly FUR (Fabric Use Rate) 

One finished quilt this month. June = 3.75 yds. YTD =  81.875 yards.

Happy Fourth of July! 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Adding a Catcher to the Baseball Quilt

The first and last duty of the lover of the game of baseball, whether in the stands or on the field, is the same as that of the lover of life itself: to pay attention to it. When it comes to the position of catcher, as all but fools and shortstops will freely acknowledge, this solemn requirement is doubled.
~Michael Chabon


Nine men out and they mostly look alike. Who on the field looks different? The catcher. His shin guards extend over the top of his knees and his chest protector covers shoulders to waist. Redrafting the shoulders to create the chest protector actually makes the sewing easier. 

Baseball catcher

This was the busiest green background but it had to be included because of the orange eyes. Finding a skin tone that showed up against it was tough. This is the only solid I used because even the "tone on tones" faded into the busy green print. He should have a face mask but I couldn't get one to work. It always looked like he had long hair. I gave him a ball instead although it doesn't show up well against the light skin tone. 

Working out these three players has been an enjoyable exercise. The minor variations should make the quilt more engaging. 

Now for a few southpaws.


Some days I wonder about myself. It's hard to keep track of book series I like, especially when I find them from the beginning. That just means you have to wait a year or more for each new installment.  So it is with Katherine Hall Page. The last I recall reading was The Body in the Bog so I started by re-reading it. Faith finds children's preschool teacher crying in the arms of Tom, her minister husband. Someone has been harassing her. Then someone turns up dead... in the bog. It's good to get back in the game. And this time technology helps me remember my reading history. 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Playing in Knickers

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; 
the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. 
Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
~George Bernard Shaw


Ballplayers wear uniforms on the field so it can be hard to differentiate them but I wanted to try. Several recent {and many past} Giants players wear knickers. The top half is the same but I redrafted the legs. The pieces are casually set on the background but don't they look delightfully alive. I love the casual way he's standing but it would require appliqué and I'm piecing this. 

Baseball player in knickers

Here's a right-handed baseball player in knickers. Pieced and ready to go.

Baseball player in knickers sewn

This is so much fun! What else can I do with nine men out?

It is so hot. We had a couple of weeks of rain but now it's terribly hot and dry. The weeds grow but the plants we purchased wilt if they aren't watered daily. Watering and weeding takes lots of time so I haven't been quilting as much. We are having salads and iced drinks every meal to keep the heat out of the house.


M.C. Beaton (aka Marion Chesney) is another writer I've enjoyed in the past but haven't kept current. With so much time on my hands, I'm restarting the Hamish Macbeth series with Death of a Gossip. which concerns the death of an extremely unpleasant woman during a week of salmon fishing  classes in Scotland.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Starting Another Baseball Quilt

The greatest accomplishment is not in never failing, but in rising again after you fall.
~Vince Lombardi


Rarely has my dear husband (DH) been as excited about a quilt as he was about the Phillies baseball quilt I made a few years ago. He insisted it had to have decals on it. I demurred but he ordered them anyway. One was not enough. He purchased four. And... he purchased several Giants decals, too, then looked at me with his sweet blue eyes. Because, of course, he'd love a Giants quilt. 

And I love him. I intended to make it immediately after the Phillies quilt but family emergencies intervened. So I bundled a collection of fabric and set it aside. Now is the time to get this one done. Except, the templates can't be found. 

Looking at the first quilt, I was sure it could be improved. Here's my first baseball player, a right-hander. The socks are gone; his trousers reach his shoes. His legs are shorter; still longer than his torso but the block is now square. 

RHP baseball player

And here's the second one. Including skin tones of all the players required different greens for the background. A couple of days were spent moving the fabrics around until everyone shows up reasonably well. 

Learning from my first foray, the caps and shoes the same color. Teams have limited colors and it's a faux pas to use any others. When caps are a different color than the shoes, one of them tends to fade into the {future} sashing.

Stay tuned for more players. 

Our lilies are blooming. The first is as bright an orange as Giants shirts but I've forgotten what type it is.


The Crowded Grave
is my next book in Martin Walker's Bruno series. As Bruno is drawn into preparations for a summit between France and Spain, archeologists looking for Neanderthals instead turns up a skeleton with a Swatch. Martin’s love of this region is evident in every page and makes me wish I could visit for a year or two also.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The Last Blue Squares

I will continue to entertain the hope that there has emerged a cadre of leaders in my own country and region, on my continent and in the world, which will not allow that any should be denied their freedom as we were; that any should be turned into refugees as we were; that any should be condemned to go hungry as we were; that any should be stripped of their human dignity as we were.
~Nelson Mandela


Of course, once I started cutting these scraps of blue and green and lavender, there were many more than expected. I thought about using them as part of a larger quilt since they would make a good border or a round of a medallion. But what is needed around here are baby quilts and lap quilts. So here's another Cross quilt. {I did have to dig around for five more background squares to fill out this quilt but that's all to the good since the point is to use them up.}

Cross quilt 3

This time I pulled a delightful yard of bees sparsely printed on chartreuse. It reminds me of Napoleon. A yard is never enough to create a back so I added the remnants of an octagonal print used here {Hey, it was in the scrap bag} and some odds and ends for a center post. And look. It's an improvised reprise of the Cross blocks on the front.

Cross quilt 3 back

The blue flowers were a wonderful back for the previous quilts but this one is just as charming to me.

Cross quilt 3 folded

And wouldn't you know, it's already in the mail. They never stay around long.

Quilt Specifics
Size: 42" x 42"
Design: Plus block
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Gutermann blue cotton thread
Quilting: SID with walking foot 
Approximate yardage: 3.75 yds 

Previous posts:


Lots of rain recently but we had a four-day break so I've been busy in the backyard weeding. Many of the original plants are Texas area natives but this one is aggressively taking over the borders. It's taken several days but I've taken out all but two small clumps... and my eye is on those.

I've forgotten what is is - dayflower or spiderwort. The blue flowers bloom one day only and close in the afternoon heat. Then it puts on another kudzu-like growth spurt.


When books aren't available online at my library, they suggest others. That's how the Scumble River series by Denise Swanson came to my attention. Murder of a Small-Town Honey begins with Skye Denison's return to her small Illinois hometown as a school psychologist. She was fired from her previous job for insubordination or refusing to ignore her standards, take your pick. Then a relative dies in suspicious circumstances and her brother is implicated. I'm looking forward to folding this series into with the others I'm following.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

A Pair of Cross Baby Quilts in Blue

Once you get a spice in your home, you have it forever. Women never throw out spices. The Egyptians were buried with their spices. I know which one I'm taking with me when I go.
~Erma Bombeck


I spend a lot of time using up my scraps. My small scrap bag is the first place I go when making blocks. I almost have to force myself to get into the stash. This past year I made a determined effort to draw down the boxes and now have five large shallow ones left: three for quilting fabric, one for clothing fabric, and one for UFOs. Although I strongly denied having any, quite a few were unearthed during our Swedish death cleaning. My quilting group and I have been laughing that we will be buried with our fabric if we don't get busy and use it up. We haven't decided whether it will piled on a Viking ship and lit up or wound around our bodies like the Egyptians. And perhaps my family will sprinkle some of my spices between the layers.

Anyway... using stash fabric means the scrap bag filled up again. Back to my old habit of starting with that stuff. And I need to because lots of friends are still having babies since DH works with many young people. I pulled all the blues, greens, and purples. There were a few black and white prints also but most of those came from Nann and were already cut this width. 

Cross quilt 1

I admired the many plus blocks on the internet but didn't want to copy any exactly. These off-center crosses produced more ways to arrange the blocks. This one creates a plaid effect. What fun to move the blocks around, deciding whether to group similar colors or scatter them across the surface. 

Front and back of Cross quilt 1

The back is a large-scale blue flower print that I found on sale somewhere. I purchased three yards but forget what it was planned for.

Cross quilt 1 folded

I love these photos of the quilts folded up. Such a good way to see both sides and the binding, too.

Cross quilt 2

There were so many blocks as well as that extra backing that I had enough to make two almost identical quilts. I divided the duplicate blocks into different piles then added singletons until there were forty-nine for each quilt.

Front and back of Cross quilt 2

They are very simply quilted SID along the block boundaries and the crosses. I considered more quilting but this is enough. Much less than I usually do, though.

Cross quilt 2 folded

As usual, I thought these would restart my baby quilt stack and, as usual,  one was called for almost immediately. Lucky me. 

Quilt Specifics
Size: 42" x 42"
Design: Plus block
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Gutermann blue cotton thread
Quilting: SID with walking foot 
Approximate yardage: 3.75 yds each


Jacqueline Winspear's latest Maisie Dobbs is available and I couldn't wait to read it. While The Consequences of Fear covers the latter half of 1941, it explores the effects of fear on the characters. Fear from their past as well as the future. An excellent continuation of the series.

Monthly FUR (Fabric Use Rate) 

Four quilts finished this month. Shadow Star is my largest quilt to date and has taken several years. I'm delighted it's done and on the bed. Yardage used doesn't count for me until the quilts are quilted and bound. May = 35.5 yds. YTD =  78.125 yards.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

And Now to Use the Blue and Green Squares

True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it's thinking of yourself less.
~Rick Warren


With a new set of cool colors, mainly blues and soft greens but also a few lavenders, it's time for a new block idea, too. Many versions of plus blocks caught my eye online last year so I decided to make my own version. Lucky for me, Nann sent me a surprise package of black, white and grey strips cut 1.5" wide when she gifted me a spare copy of Donald Hall's essays. And we're off.

Cutting the six-inch bases crosswise in both directions at 2.25" create an off-centered plus {or maybe the beginning of a plaid.} I enjoyed finding black, white or grey strips to fill in. And there were a few red squares set aside for a long-forgotten project that became the posts. 

Off-centered plus blocks

Here's the layout of the first set of blocks.  Their wonky lineup looks great but unfortunately they will "straighten up" when sewn. 

Plus block arrangement for a baby quilt


A Promised Land
, Barack Obama's latest book, explores his thoughts and post-presidential life.  It's the first of a planned trilogy and covers his first run for state office through the bin Laden raid.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

That's it for the Red and Yellow Squares

For what it's worth... it's never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. 
There's no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you've never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of, and if you're not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.
~F. Scott Fitzgerald


These are the last of the red and yellow six-inch squares. They were cut {and carefully stored} so long ago that I can't remember the reason. So Sujata's freehand hourglass block from Cultural Fusion Quilts seemed like a great way to quickly use them up... and again attempt to rebuild a stash of baby quilts. 

My old rotary cutter no longer holds the blade firmly. The nut and bolt unscrew with each swipe. It's time to purchase a new one. Meanwhile my pair of very sharp Kai scissors works well to cut the diagonal lines. {Of course, the blocks are squared up later with the rotary tools.}

With my usual insouciance I cut all of them before determining how many were really needed. And there were way too many for the first toddler quilt. In fact, there's enough for seconds but I'm ready for a new layout. This time all the hourglasses point the same direction.

Did I mention I started putting slabs in scrap bag in addition to strings? That's where the oranges came from as well as the remnants from last year's aloha shirt. Not sure how I like that but at least they were available despite being the "wrong" size when I started. And I didn't have to find yet another bag or box to store them.

The shading between orange and red isn't great but I love the way the orange foreground blends into the yellow background. There's always something fun to discover working with scraps. 

Since the blocks were sewn a couple of weeks ago, sewing the top went much faster but it needed a border. I drove myself nuts pulling out almost every blue in the stash.  These...

and these.

I wanted to like the carrots because of the bits of orange. You can see I laid the horizontally and vertically but neither seemed to work. And I love the blue and black plaid but it clashes with the stripe that will be the binding. {It's too good an opportunity to pass up using it to bind and that's where the idea for a blue border came.}

Eventually and oddly I chose the darkest blue. It's almost a reproduction wide stripe. Not sure why it works but it does.

The finished quilt bound and ready. 

Improv Hourglass toddler quilt in red and yellow

The orange fabric was purchased for a different quilt that has yet to be started so I'm using it here. Of course, there wasn't quite enough for the back so a few remaining hourglasses and border strips fill in.

Back of Improv Hourglass quilt

The binding looks great. I love striped binding and frequently purchase random stripes that then molder in my stash. What joy to realize this one works so well with the blocks.

Detail of Improv Hourglass quilt

A final view of the front and back of the quilt.

Folded Improv Hourglass quilt

It's now in the quilt stash waiting for an older sibling who needs some attention. 

Quilt Specifics
Size: 57" x 57"
Design: Improv Hourglass
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Gutermann multi-yellow cotton thread
Quilting: Walking foot parallel lines
Approximate yardage: 6 yds


I've been eagerly waiting to read the second of Becky Chambers' Wayfarer's series. A Closed and Common Orbit picks up with the transfer of AI system Lovelace to a human-looking body. Pepper, a human who escaped from a factory where  genetically engineered girls recycle trash, invites her to her home and tries to help her fit into this new reality. The novel explores sentience, autonomy, and purpose. 

I've learned the hard way to space out reading new series. Reading them back-to-back usually results in burnout. Now I'm counting the days till the next one. 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Shadow Stars Quilted and Bound

The wise response to intolerance is not more intolerance or self-righteousness; it is a coming together across the ideological spectrum of people who want to make democracies more effective. 
We should remember that the heroes we cherish 
- Lincoln, King, Gandhi, Mandela - spoke to the best within us.
~Madeleine Albright


A few years ago it seemed time to make something with a white background for our summer bed. I recalled the Shadow Star quilt my great-aunt made and found the newspaper clipping my cousin sent. The first step was to redraft the pattern, an eight-pointed star variation. Next I wanted a border even though the original had none.  It took several years to get everything together and I wisely sent it to Peg Collins for quilting. 

She completed just it and mailed it back!

Shadow Star quilt

Peg free-motion quilted everything. The border quilting is simple but...
Vase detail on Shadow Star quilt

she went to town on the center. Each star, indeed, each point has its own design.  Lots of swirls...

Shadow Star quilting detail

and spirals...

Shadow Star quilting detail

and circles...

Shadow Star quilting detail

and blades...

and feathers. Even some arrows.  Peg's free-flowing designs move across the white, helping the star points and the background blend even more. That was always my favorite part of this design and I think it's why I remember it all these years later. 

The back is an extra-wide blue and white print. 

Despite being a traditional border, it updates this quilt tremendously. The stripes are "hand-drawn" in several shades of blue on white. There was nothing in my stash that worked so I purchased yardage online which wasn't the right shade. Then I found this. Online, too. Gathering my courage, I bought it. Success.

My dear friend, Gayle, gifted me a yard of her green fabric which gave me enough clear but quiet green for the leaves. The stems are a plaid cut on the bias. And the charming vases are fussy cut from to show off the rabbits. {Unfortunately there wasn't room for the ears. 

This angled view gives me an idea of how it will look on the bed. {But we are still awaiting the bed frames which need repairs after the movers tossed them around.}

Quilt Specifics
Size: 112" x 112"
Design: Shadow Star with Vessel, Vine, and Floral border
Batting: cotton
Thread: white polyester thread
Quilting: FMQ by Peg Collins
Approximate yardage: 22 yds

Previous posts:

Perhaps this blog should be renamed Shadow Stars since they have been the subject of so many, many posts. 

Enjoy the day, Ann