Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Simple Border Variation for Lone Star Quilt 7

The logic of nationalism always flows downhill, toward the gutter.
~ Adam Gopnik


Of course I had to use the last few toile diamonds - rabbits paired with squirrels this time.


Lone Star 7 baby quilt

The row where the diamonds split into points is the lightest round in this quilt. It's not usually my favorite locations for lights but the background is dark. I used the rest of this Australian print, combining it with a funky greyed chartreuse floral. when it ran out. The subtle variation works well... at least IMO.  


The centers went together easily but there were a few possibilities for the outer points. The lighter diamonds on the left or dark ones on the right. 


Looking at different diamonds in the star points

When the large diamonds were sewed it was time to choose a background. My favorite is the large scale floral on white but there was not nearly enough. I tried combinations of grey-blue and mustard, alone and together to see what worked. Close up the mustard seemed too dark but fortunately we have digital photos. It's a winner.


Dusting off my math skills, I calculated the size of the corner squares and subtracted the width of the outer border to determine a cut for the inner border. 13 - 4 = 9 + 0.5 so 9.5" square and 4.5"x13.5" rectangles. You'll notice I deliberately chose to extend the border beyond the start point - to make it larger and to avoid having to match those points with the binding. Ugh.

Next I multiplied the total width of that corner square by 1.41 {square root of 2} to get the hypotenuse of the background triangle. (13 x 1.41= 18.33) After double checking that each leg of that triangle congruent to the width of the square, I halved the hypotenuse to find the height of that triangle. (18.33 / 2 = 9.165 or about 9.125") 


Subtract the width of the outer border here to get the height of the inner triangle. Add seam allowances and cut. 9.125 + 1.25 = 10.375" square cut QST.  Then outer borders 19.625" by 4.5". Edit: Math calculations added. Use your own diamond side lengths for your work. 


It's just math; the real magic is how well these two fabrics worked together.



Auditioning background fabrics

Same old, same old quilting design. It works well across all the fabrics and repetition increases my muscle memory and skill {hopefully}.



Orange peel quilting in the center before spiraling out

The binding gave me a few problems. I was sure red was the answer. Wrong-o. No dark green in the right tones could be found even after pawing through the stash. No blues worked either. Finally this little pinky-purple stripe called me. Kaja sent it to me last year. It seemed like a waste to use it on the binding but it's perfection. Thanks, Kaja!



Quilting and binding detail, Lone Star quilt 7

After a quick wash and dry the batting shrunk up more than usual. Or perhaps the striped binding makes it appear scrunchier. I wish I'd washed it before adding the binding.



Closeup of Lone Star quilt 7

There was enough of the mustard print for the whole back, something that rarely happens around here. And there's enough for the back of another baby quilt. Oh, good. These fabrics are moving along! Don't misunderstand. They are all lovely but I've been saving them for the perfect quilt - that  mirage in the distance we always look at longingly.


Amounts like this {3-4 yards} continually wait for the spot that needs that exact yardage because "we can't waste any." ROTFLOL! But leaving it to molder in the stash is another waste.  My new story is to use them up now. There will be more lovelies tomorrow.


The Superior thread was a gift from a fellow conference attendee and it is the best thread I've used in a long time. I know it's available online but I need to see if there's a local source... and if it comes on large spools.


Quilt Specifics
Size: 37" x 37"
Designs: Lone Star
Batting: Pellon 100% cotton
Thread: Superior MasterPiece 50 wt golden brown cotton
Quilting: Spiral with walking foot

Approximate Yardage: 3.75 yd

Me Made Update


With the kinks worked out, a second shirtwaist dress made up fairly quickly. Now that the neck is tighter in back, the sleeves don't bind when I move. I've needed summer dresses for a while but couldn't find anything appropriate in the stores - washable, modest, lightweight. Houston summers are meltingly hot and humid.


This time I pleated the skirt instead of gathering it and deepened the pockets. I'm pleased with the matching of the plaids on the front placket and sides but somehow forgot to match the sleeves.



Brown and blue plaid shirtwaist dress

The plaid has been in my stash for donkeys years. It's a thin tight weave that should wash and wear well. Done is great but well done is the best. 


Clothing Specifics
Style: Shirtwaist
Pattern: Out of print McCall's 
Fabric: Lightweight woven cotton plaid
Yardage: 4 yds 45" wide
Thread: Superior MasterPiece 50 wt brown cotton

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Bye Baby Bunting - Another Finished Quilt

Who remembers this old rhyme?
Bye baby bunting.
Daddy's gone a-hunting.
Gone to get a rabbit skin
To wrap his little baby in.

This quilt started with the light blue toile next to the center star. The variety of animal heads wreathed by laurels seemed to be perfect Shadow Star centers. I used a few there but didn't know what to do with the rest. The middle of each diamond trio was fussy cut to highlight rabbits and deer. {And there's enough for one more quilt.}

Fussy cut rabbit and deer on Lone Star quilt

The grey-blue of the toile called for darker fabrics - almost a reproduction feel - but then came the border.

When I don't know what to use next, my usual method is to toss the fabric {in this case, the sewn diamond sections} on different yardage until something sparks. This was the one that did it for me. It's such a contemporary design and while there aren't any gold colors in the diamonds, it blends well and actually enlivens the somber colors in the star.

Lone Star 6 baby quilt 

The triangular pieces were cut from one QST so they line up well. Of course, there wasn't quite enough so one corner square is pieced. There wasn't enough to match the pattern across all the sections but the offsets seem to work well enough.


Sewing Issues

I'm out of my favorite Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon batt and can't find it anywhere. The closest store quit carrying any Mountain Mist and only has Pellon. I decided to purchase some on sale. It's thicker than I like, not as evenly spread but shrinks up well {although it seems a bit uneven. On this small quilt the shrinkage could be from the quilting so I will test this some more.} I'm not as fond of this as MM or Hobbs.

Quilting details on Lone Star 6 baby quilt

The previous Lone Stars were quilted with the walking foot. Wanting to change designs, I switched to FMQ where my troubles began. Lots of skipped stitches. Ten or twelve in a row with no rhyme or reason why it's happening. I cleaned the machine {again}, changed the needle, rethreaded, used the bobbin hook all to no avail. This is the same thread I've been using for a while so the only difference is the thicker batting.

I decided to use the walking foot for orange peels on this small quilt and didn't have any skipping problems. On my next trip I purchased a larger Schmetz 90/14 microtex needle and tried it on the wavy lines of the background. Still not working so back to the walking foot until the machine gets cleaned and repaired.

Binding detail on Lone Star 6 baby quilt


The binding is a navy lawn printed with tiny birds on branches. It made a crisp edge here, even after shrinkage. The quilt is about four inches smaller each direction after a quick wash.


Quilt Specifics
Size: 37" x 37"
Design: Lone Star
Batting: Pellon 100% cotton
Thread: cream Gutermann 50 wt cotton
Quilting: Orange peel and parallel lines with walking foot 

(after FMQ didn't work)
Approximate Yardage: 3.625 yd


Reading Update

I'm currently reading two books from my "purchased but never read" shelf: Memories of Silk and Straw and Memories of Wind and Waves, both by Dr. Junichi Saga who collected stories from his older patients every evening.

Two books by Dr. Junichi Saga

He lived in Tsuchiura which is in the lower left corner of the frontispiece map. Both books contain stories of ordinary people from the area: shopkeepers, farmers, yakuza {gangsters}, geisha, and midwives. Another of his books relates the stories of a local yakuza but I wasn't interested; however, Bob Dylan read it and liked it so much he seems to have included some of the wording in his album, Love and Theft.

Map of the Lake Kasumigaura area from the frontispiece of Memories of Wind and Waves

I've never been to Japan although DH has but I enjoy reading blogs like Pamela's Hokkaido Kudasai and Julie's My Quilt Diary for their art as well as their insights into life in modern day Japan. These books are almost an anthropological look at a former era - from the fall of the Meiji Restoration to the 1930s and reminds me of Lark Rise to Candleford and Letters of a Woman Homesteader. The former concerns small town life in England about the same time while the latter are the collected letters of Elinor Stewart from her Wyoming homestead. I loved Elinor's book but seriously wished they'd put the letters in chronological order. {I went back and marked the chapters into that order myself 'cause I'm just that way.}

Let me know in the comments if you'd like Dr. Saga's books.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Lone Star Quilt Reprise

I finished the second one this week. The last of the red print makes the star points and I quite like how lively the lone star looks on the pink.

Lone Star quilt 5

Here's how I started the center. I thought the green would work but it wasn't strong enough. The navy blue print is better.


Next I tried moving the reds. Across the star points or down them? Should the outer row be green or navy or alternate?


Or perhaps it should be navy and light blue. Do the inside of the star points look better with dark or light greens and blues? Taking photos helps decide which looks best. Aren't we lucky to live in the digital era!


Finally I tested several borders. Of course, that blue with the green print border was my favorite but there's not enough. And this quilt is for a girl. The pink is a shocker but in a good way.

Possible borders for Lone Star quilt 5

Again I started this spiral with orange peel arcs in the center of the star then completed a circle around them. After that, a quick off-ramp starts the spiral.



Here's a view of the back. The quilting doesn't show up as much on this print as it did on the solid of the previous quilt but it works well with the greens on the front. A navy print finished the binding.



Done and dusted. Who'd have thought? But now DH will think I can pull this off any time.

Quilt Details
Size: 40" x 40"
Design: Lone Star
Batting: Pellon 100% cotton
Thread: Metler fine embroidery pink cotton
Quilting: Spiral with walking foot

Approximate Yardage: 3.75 yd

The next day I flew out to see my daughter. SFO has wonderful exhibits in their terminals. This time they displayed California Studio Craft from the Forrest Merrill collection featuring work from the 1940s to the present including sculpture, pottery, paintings, textiles, and furniture. Studio craft combines handmade crafting with fine art. Precursors to the American Craft Council and the NYC Museum of Arts and Design raised the professionalism of the artists and increased the popularity of the movement which really took off after WWII with the use of the GI Bill.

Bowl and Tile by Beatrice Wood, 1940s

The graceful lines of the legs attracted me. I wonder if it's as comfortable as it looks.

Hammered and soldered copper Sixes by Merry Rink (1976) with shedua and leather Wishbone chair by Arthur E Carpenter (1972)

Mr. Merrill collected at least two artists' work over the years. The exhibit highlighted how each worked on a simple design in series.  First, John Lewis created lunar themes with his glassworks.

Blown glass Moon Bottle (1970) and Moon Bowl (1972) by John Lewis

These two bowls by Kay Sekimachi show the progression of her work. The 1990s bowl is laminated handmade Japanese paper with bark and straw combined with linen thread inclusions. By 2014 she laminated much more delicate maple leaf skeletons adding watercolor and Kozo paper. These two demonstrate how working in a series builds our skills.

Bowl and Leaf bowl by Kay Sekimachi

Intricate woven, embroidered, and silkscreened textiles were tucked into the corner where the curving glass picked up all the reflected lights making photos impossible.

FUR or Fabric Use Rate Update

I donated 8.25 yards to the guild this month and finished two baby quilts of 3.75 yards each so my total FUR is 15.75 yards/month or a smidge over half a yard per day. That's something to consider before I go shopping again.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Who Knew?

And... just as I was ready to design some feathers for SIL's grandmother quilt, DH came home. Inspired by Preeti’s posts at SewPreetiQuilts, I relate the following:

DH: Two guys just returned from paternity leave.
Me: Wow. Everyone in your office seems to be having children.
DH: Yeah. {Pause.} Do you have any more baby quilts?
Me: No.
DH: Could you make some?

And so I made another Lone Star from fabrics that were already out of the stash. {At least I don't have to fold and return them to their box.}

Lone Star quilt 4

Playing with the center was a fun afternoon. Here are some of the possibilities. I started with blue and green in the center but finally realized it looks much better with a simple navy star.

Possible center variations for a Lone Star quilt

Spiral quilting is quick and easy. Good choice for a quilt that should have been given several months ago. Remembering how difficult the center was to encircle {in-spiral?} I used an orange peel on the first half of that star and drew a circle around them. That was the only thing I marked.

Then I took the "off ramp" and started spiraling around.

Detail of quilting at center of Lone Star

I chose a width for the stitching and simply maintained it by eyeballing. The other trick is to not stretch the quilt as the foot goes around. I hold my hands so the section I'm working on is squared up. Hand position needs to change frequently to maintain that squaring of the fabric.

Spiral quilting the Lone Star

I used a variegated yellow thread for quilting that ranged from pale yellow to orange. I worked beautifully on the yellow background and looked good on the back, too. I'm finding a mid-range light works well across lots of fabric. Variegation helps when it crosses such different colors. {This is a written reminder to myself. I fret about thread color way more than it matters.}

Detail of spiral quilting

I've quilted most of my life and sewed even longer but my constant complaint over the last forty years is that I have too much fabric. How do I know? It happens when I can't remember exactly where each piece was purchased. {I know I'm weird.} I just can't work with so many choices plus there have always been quilt shops nearby.

Rooting through the stash invigorates me when there's only one or two boxes but it quickly overwhelms me when the stash grows. {Yes, I know I'm weird.} With stacks against the design wall, it seemed like a good time to reduce the bins.


I disposed of two. That leaves four {and that is still two too many.} {Yes, yes, I know I'm weird.} This fabric won't all fit in the remaining space so... it either gets made up, replaces something already in the bin, or will be given away. Since these are my current working fabrics, they must be some of my favorites. I'd better get busy.

Why mention it now? Glad you asked. Several quilters {like Nann at With Strings Attached} track their fabric by weight or yardage. I've decided to join that movement by adding the approximate yardage used to make each quilt. This will certainly be a rough estimate because we all know there will be scraps left over but it will hopefully raise my awareness of my fabric use rate. Hmmm, that's FUR. Perhaps I could calculate a monthly and annual FUR.

Quilt Details
Size: 40" x 40"
Design: Lone Star
Batting: Pellon 100% cotton
Thread: Gutermann 50 wt cotton, variegated yellow
Quilting: Spiral with walking foot
Approximate Yardage: 3.75 yd


Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Lone Star Quilt Top

The Lone Star top went together without any trouble. The effect of the fussy cut diamonds in the center is striking to me and the medium blue brightens up the otherwise dour fabrics. Those dots make me happy, too.

Once again I considered adding appliqué in the corners but that would call for another medium blue and there's none in the stash. Plus, SIL would probably like feathers. Markings will show up easily on the white but so will mistakes.

Blue Lone Star quilt top 3

This traditional design runs in my family. My parents had a large version on their bed made by my grandmother. It was already a generation old when they got it and finally disintegrated when my kids were young. By using all our quilts daily, my mother sparked my lifelong interest in quilting. {Now I know who to blame.} So much better than storing it in a cupboard and never learning to appreciate handmade items.

In the late 80s, Catherine Anthony offered her final eight-week Master Quiltmaking class which I was clever enough to join. She and her daughter, Libby Lehman, wrote a set of books detailing six-inch blocks. Of course, I purchased the oversized books {but later passed them on during a move. It's hard to transport big paperbacks.} Catherine was a treasure-house of details about math calculations and  precision sewing. Towards the end, we covered Lone Stars and I made a pillow which is long lost. No photos either but that traditional design was my first Lone Star.

In 2006 I took a class with Jan Krentz and made my second Lone Star for a friend. Her book Lone Star Quilts and Beyond is still available. It was in my library until recently.

The cotton sateen border print had been in my stash for a while. Most was used making a dust ruffle and trimming the curtains but it was so lovely I couldn't discard any.

Lone Star quilt 2

Here's a detail. Choosing fabrics was pretty easy - just match or tone with the border. Most are batiks or tone-on-tone prints. As you can tell, I don't worry about mixing different types of fabric.

Detail of Lone Star quilt 2
The border print reminds me of happy times creating our first home. Very fond memories.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Another Grandmother Quilt

It's time to make the back for the Ohio Star/Log Cabin quilt. At least it should be since that's the next step and the leftover fabrics are in a pile on the dining room table. They'd make a good start but when I spoke with SIL last week she mentioned she will be a grandmother soon. So I changed course.

Possible fabric choices

And cut a bunch of diamonds for a Lone Star. The fussy-cut centers used all of that scrap and only made four. That's lucky because it forces me to get creative. Soon there will be two tops to back and quilt.

EDIT: Check out Mel Beach's Fruity Mandala for a stellar example of fussy cutting.

Possible Lone Star quilt center

Because these are the leftovers, they make an interesting combination. The "better blending" fabrics are all gone. That's probably a good thing for this Lone Star design. There was a quarter yard of the light blue and I used it all. Interesting how it brightens the design.

Possible star point fabric arrangement

Everything went swimmingly until the star points. I arranged the final diamonds several different ways. Fortunately digital photos are easy to shoot. Now I just need to decide. 1) Light to dark with two medium choices.

2) Dark/light/medium or adding a cream to the center of the point.

Possible star point fabric arrangement

3) Or moving the cream around some more.

Possible star point fabric arrangement

Small variations. The probably don't make much difference but I'll think it over before I sew them up.



Off the bookshelf

Almost fifteen years ago I read Adam Gopnik's, The King in the Window, about a young boy celebrating Epiphany in Paris who sees another young man in 17th century dress in the window. The window wraith {one of a cadre of dead French artists} mistakes Oliver for their new king imploring him to find his sword and reclaim the kingdom. Although a children's novel, it weaves French history of plate glass with quantum physics and Alice in Wonderland in such a complex manner that it became one of my favorite novels. As the reviewer put it, "Harry Potter for the Mensa set."

So I purchased two of his previous non-fictions and set them on the shelf where they remained until this cleaning. Currently I'm reading Paris to the Moon.

Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik

Before the millenium, Adam and his young family moved to Paris where he continued to write for the New Yorker. His journal, intertwining raising a small child while navigating a foreign city, became the chapters of this book. Each chapter combines seemingly dissimilar actions that he ties together in a wry fashion by the end. Perfect for reading at the beginning or end of the day.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Farmhouse Quilt Bordered

The blue and white quilt didn't look finished so I auditioned two simple navy blue fabrics for a narrow border.

Possible borders for Ohio Star and Log Cabin farmhouse quilt top

The stripe was the hands down winner. I will probably cut it down a bit further when binding.

Ohio Star and Log Cabin farmhouse quilt top

Although our vacation is over, I'm including these photos because they are giving me ideas for quilting.

The final stop on our Gold Country tour was Sutter's Mill, aka Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, original site of the '49 gold rush. We stopped at the Marshall monument (the man who actually discovered the first gold) to soak in the scenery from the top of the hill. It looks so peaceful it's difficult to imagine the crowded conditions when thousands of miners displaced the natives.

Sutter's Mill/Marshall Gold Discovery site, Coloma, CA

A few years ago Stephie at Dawn Chorus Studio and Kaja at Sew Slowly discussed walls and Stephie mentioned the two-toned walls in her area (Cornwall?) so imagine my surprise at the wall here. The words are made of lighter-colored river rock embedded in the darker and larger stones. They both made quilts based on the idea but I can only find Kaja's now.

We don't have much hard rock in Texas so while there are a few retaining walls, fencing is used more frequently. What skill it takes to build this wall and embed the contrasting stones so precisely.

Original site of Sutter's Mill
The original lumber mill washed away years ago and was rebuilt nearby on slightly higher ground. But the monument struck me. How do we notice and then translate ideas from the real world into fabric? Literally? Figuratively? What sparks our ideas if they don't come from another quilt or quilter? And how did that person come up with the idea that strikes us all so strongly?

Slightly uphill was this outcrop where for millennia, Nisenan women ground acorns as evidenced by the chaw-se (mortar holes.) Look at the grouping? Most are close together but a few are further away. Of course, the rock itself created some boundaries but I wonder who sat where? Were the smaller holes used by young children learning the work? Did higher status women sit further away or in the middle of the tightest group? How would this translate into art?

Grandmother Rock with chaw-se for grinding acorns

Of course, you know I'll include some geology. Although the Man Lee building originally housed Chinese bank and hardware stores it currently displays an excellent exhibit of the progression of mining. From placer to water wheel to hardrock mines and later highly mechanized operations requiring huge capital outlays.

Walking through this museum visitors walk through the history of California gold mining, including a sharp turn in an "underground" mine tunnel. Excellent!
Gold mining history exhibit in Man Lee building

California published Geologic Gems about the geologic features and history of their state parks - an excellent resource before visiting any of them. The final line in the pamphlet on MGDHP says, "The park provides a sociological case study of how the distribution of earth’s mineral resources has influenced the establishment and demographics of societies."

Miners from every country in the world rushed to California in the 1850s, displacing the few natives who survived the onslaught of disease that began in the 16th century. They in turn were displaced as mining operations required larger capital inputs. So individual claims amalgamated into large companies with few {distant} owners while the miners became hourly wage earners with little to no opportunity for that huge payoff.

Even more important gold claims were the water rights. In fact, water is so valuable that the rights throughout the west are generally established by precedence of arrival rather than closeness to the source. Mining required lots of water, causing downstream flooding and legislative action to hold companies responsible for their actions. Those economic consequences closed many of the mines, turning the area into a ghost town.

When the Museum opened we visited to see the films and enjoy the exhibits. My favorite was this small one of dolls used by children of different cultures. The china doll overpowers some of the unique examples behind it, including the duck head and the baby with corn husk clothing.

Dolls from various cultures in Coloma, CA

Not only is this area is rich in history, they have thoughtfully preserved and explained both the positive and negative aspects.  I plan to visit again next year and hope you will sometime, too.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Farmhouse Quilt Top

I forgot to take process photos this week but managed to get the top together. The split Ohio Stars alternate with some easy Log Cabins. Their strong light and dark sides make the furrows highly visible. The log cabin blocks sewed up quickly and the quilt went together like a snap. What a relief after futzing with those split Ohio Stars.

I'd like to consider it done but a narrow border might be better.

Ohio Star and Log Cabin farmhouse quilt top

A few miles north of Jamestown is Columbia State Historic Park, a gold rush town integrated into a living town. The proprietors and docents dress in period clothing to share a vision of life: mining, blacksmithing, cooking. There are two hotels and several restaurants. We watched blacksmithing, families riding the stagecoach...

Stagecoach rides at Columbia State Historic Park

and took a turn in the one lane bowling alley.

Single lane bowling alley, Columbia State Historic Park

Why did this house look familiar to me?* In 1940, the McConnell's bought and restored James Wilson's 1876 home, living here till their deaths. They petitioned the legislature to create a state park commemorating gold rush life - partly to keep the hotel across the street from turning into a brothel.

Wilson-McConnell House

*It was Gary Cooper's home in the movie High Noon. Although I shouldn't be, I am constantly surprised to find so many classic movie locations around California.

Enjoy the day, Ann