Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Hourglass Solids

What gives dignity to death is the dignity of the life that preceded it.
~Sherwin Nuland~

Still in recovery. This is a quilt I made but didn't blog because I wanted to make a video. Haven't done that; probably won't now.  Still, it's a pretty quilt to share.

When I reorganized/cleaned my sewing room last year, all threads and sewing supplies went back in their respective drawers. That's not much but makes the room neater. The biggest decision was to put all the "pulled" fabric back in the stash. The partially sewn blocks are still kept together but no more endless collections of fabrics for future quilt that didn't even get cut.

Just when the stash seemed to be decreasing, I find I've simply hidden it in "plain brown wrapping." Like a naughty book or an accounting shell game, only with fabric. Ha!

Solid fabric choices

For someone with few solids, I unearthed a small trove. Most are medium. This photo contains only three lights: pink, pale green, and yellow - and they look washed out.  However, they are needed to add value change. Can you imagine how badly a quilt would look with only medium values? Tucked in with these  pieces was a charm pack of solids; the perfect way to stretch this limited color range.

I cut one WOF of each fabric whatever that width was; some were fat quarters or less. Then cross-cut into five-inch squares. Then cut each into four QSTs. That took a couple of days.

Solid Hourglass quilt blocks
Next I matched up each of the remnant squares with one of fabrics I had in abundance {for example, the blue, lavender, and pinky-red} in order to scatter the colors as widely as possible. When that was done, I matched the remaining fabrics into pairs and started sewing hourglasses.

This time I laid them out right in front of the television. DH said he could tell it was mine because it was so colorful.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Pi Day 2019

Will we act in this world with respect for our founding conviction that all people have equal dignity in the eyes of God and should be accorded the same respect by the laws and governments of men? That is the most important question history ever asks of us. Answering in the affirmative by our actions is the highest form of patriotism, and we cannot do that without access to the truth.

~John McCain~

Celebrating Pi Day {3.14} this Thursday {3/14} - the best reason for using American date notation which I've always considered slightly backwards. Month/Day/Year is not as orderly as Day/Month/Year but at least gives us a day to celebrate circles.

What circles have I made in the past year? Mainly aspirational.

There will be loads of applique circles in the centers of the Shadow Stars as soon as I get my energy back. I thought I'd be much further along but still keep falling asleep. Plus, it's time to get the taxes finished. Not that I'm doing them myself; I just need to get them organized for the accountant. But not only do I have ours to organize, there's also the estate. It's tougher to do someone else's since I worry about forgetting a category. Getting sick put me way behind. Time to catch up.

Here are the three two-and-a-half centers I finished. I'm learning there is no such thing as too many pins when there's already a hole behind the applique. Those seams allowances like to wiggle.

Sewing the centers of the Shadow Star blocks

Other than Jupiter on the latest Christmas stocking, I didn't make many circles last year.

Velveteen Christmas stocking with sequined ornaments

I'm looking forward to apple pie for dessert although not homemade. DH is bringing it home. I hope you're making celebratory plans, too.

Happy Pi Day!

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Possible Posts

I thought I'd have a few of the centers sewn this week but haven't started on any of them. However, it's time to think about possible posts. Of course they aren't required but this block is so pale it seems to need something in the corners. As I perused my board of {mostly antique} applique quilts, I noticed most of them have a secondary design or post in the corners. Even the quilt that reminded me to start this. The change in size looks good to me - like Pies and Tarts.

My first thought was applique. Let's be realistic. I'm unsure I'd finish a multitude of tiny circles in any reasonable time. Crazy! Although sewing a single larger circle might work. {The orange flower was originally cut to be a compass center but might work well as a post.

Posting choices for Shadow Star quilt blocks

Then a regular eight-pointed star seemed like a good plan. It will not work. It's much too heavy for the light and airy Shadow Star.

As a fourth idea I pulled some compass points to see if they could they double as posts? These are a bit wider than they will finish because of the seam allowances. They will sew up thinner and I could cut them even thinner from the beginning.

Red is one of my favorite colors. There's some in the Shadow Star blocks but I'm finding red overpowering as a post. Must reconsider.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Reviewing My Choices

We live in a land made from ideals, not blood and soil. We are custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world because we believed our ideals are the natural aspiration of all mankind, and that the principles, rules, and alliances of the international order we superintended would improve the security and prosperity of all who joined with us.
~ John McCain ~

I miss John's insights, ethics, and patriotism.

I reached the point of diminishing returns with these Shadow Star blocks. There are more than enough for the quilt. {Actually there's enough for two quilts. Sigh.} The extras give me more room to play with the layout but color combinations are being repeated. It's time to stop.

When I started I wanted the squares to fade into the white like these.

Shadow Star quilt blocks

After a while it seemed to need some slightly lighter compass points so I made I few more with the darkest color in the middle.

Shadow Star quilt blocks

Then I realized I'd missed a number of colors and a few lovely prints begged for some fussy cutting.

Shadow Star quilt blocks

Personal issues came to a head this past month so I am mostly off-line. Hopefully short posts will suffice but very little time or energy for responding. Sorry.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Sixteen Blocks

American nationalism isn't... nativist or imperial or xenophobic, or it shouldn't be. Those attachments belong with other tired dogmas that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.
~ John McCain ~

Chugging along. Sixteen blocks are now complete but I didn't count as I grouped and cut fabric so there are several more on the tray. Why do I do this?

Sixteen Shadow Star quilt blocks
They aren't laid out in any particular order. Some seem to belong to different groups. And there's the reason... or at least my way of working myself out of the corner of excess blocks. Since I usually make extras when planning larger quilts, the leftovers can be used for a smaller lap or baby quilt. It keeps the fabric moving, reduces clutter {if I get the second one made quickly} in my sewing area,  and gives me a larger selection for the quilt(s).

EDIT: The design is based on an old newspaper clipping from my cousin once removed. No idea what paper. Not terribly accurate. She had a note that I interpreted as "Aunt Ethel's quilt" - the one I have a vague memory of. Using the layout I drafted this design myself. No other information. Sorry.

The book I'm reading now is The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights and Other Appreciations by John McCain and Mark Salter. What a reminder of better times.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Nine Blocks

What God and good luck provide we must accept with gratitude. Our time is our time. It's up to us to make the most of it, make it amount to more than the sum of our days.
~ John McCain ~

What a wonderful precept: make our time amount to more than the sum of our days. It encourages me to think what I can do to make the world better than it was yesterday.

The fabric choices continue. I enjoy fussy-cutting the compass points when I have a large scale print...

although sometimes there isn't enough fabric {like the red compass in the bottom right.}

Even when I like the squares, there are still issues with those compass points. Currently I'm choosing between the dark red and the bright red blow.

In no particular order, here are the nine currently sewn. These are not quick blocks. It takes a couple of days for each one. Of course that includes changing out the fabrics almost every time.

Shadow Star quilt blocks

Figuring out how to best arrange the fabric is also a problem with Trip Around the World and other Trips. Do you have the same issue? I can easily see how strips look next to each other but once they are cut into squares, everything changes tremendously. I always want to rearrange something. So while I'm not working in units like Kaja, this is one of my versions of improvising.

If the blocks are sashed, the "disappearing star points" effect will still be featured. Almost as importantly, the points won't have to match up. Without sashing that effect will be lost as the points touch each other. Of course, sashing makes a lot more white. I'll need to think about posts {for the quilt, not the blog.}

And the compass centers. I don't want to add those until the layout is set. So the blocks aren't really done but they are coming along.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Fabric Choices

We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say, "It's not my child,
not my community, not my world, not my problem." Then there are those who
see the need and respond. 
I consider those people my heroes.
~ Fred Rogers ~

Last year I watched the Mister Rogers documentary, Won't You Be My Neighbor?, which related the life of Fred Rogers with many clips from his shows and interviews. Now I just finished reading The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King which covers much of the same ground; however, there are differences when you read. You can pause and re-read paragraphs; books usually dig deeper and explain more.

When DH saw what I was reading he queued up the 2016 documentary, Mister Rogers and Me by the Wagner brothers for us to watch last night. I didn't realize Kickstarter began the funding for this movie. The difference with the previous works is this one highlighted people who were influenced by Fred and discussed their work that parallels his vision. How good to know there are more people interested in early childhood development and grounding children in kindness.

Back to the Stars. Picking three fabrics always seems like it will be easy. It's not. At least for me it's not. First I chose the three blue fabrics on bottom. They looked so good folded in a group and so bad cut and laid out. It needed color contrast, too. I kept trying different choices until finally choosing pink for the lightest value.

So it should be easier going forward, right? Wrong.

This time I used the medium value from above as the darkest value below. Again, my first idea was a range of three values of the same color.

Eventually the pale blue worked best for the lightest fabric. Hopefully my choices will improve as the quilt moves along. {Hope springs eternal.}

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Medallion Chinese Coins III Quilt Finished

"When I say it's you I like, I'm talking about that... deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed."
~ Fred Rogers ~

While {I'd like to say} quilt designs are rarely reprised or repeated, I've recently completed a second pair of baby/toddler quilts. This pair is even more identical than the previous ones except the sizes vary this time. That makes them a perfect older sibling/new baby gift. Not that there's one on the horizon, but it will come.

Chinese Coins III Medallion quilt with appliqué

Adding appliquéd flowers made these tops into something more special. Remember they were the bottom of the scrap bag. It took both quilts to actually empty the bag that time. The technique is a variation of raw edge appliqué. Check Lara Buccella's book Crafted Appliqué for more information.

Chinese Coins III Medallion quilt appliqué detail

To make it more like the other medallion, I quilted Baptist Fans again. Free motion quilting is a good change of pace from all the simple walking foot lines I've been doing. And so relaxing.

Chinese Coins III Medallion quilt Baptist fans FMQ detail

When it was time to bind the quilt I found a pile of orange leftovers in the scrap bag and trimmed them to size. Unfortunately they don't look good on this quilt. They are simply too bright. So...

Chinese Coins III Medallion quilt with possible bright orange binding

I found a lighter peach remnant in my stash. This shade isn't as bright plus the white design printed on top brings the intensity down further.

Chinese Coins III Medallion quilt with light peach binding

Here's a view of the back showing the Fans and the quiet binding.

Partial view of back of Chinese Coins III Medallion quilt

And here's a view of the binding itself with the outer border and parts of the back showing. Yes. This works much better.

Chinese Coins III Medallion quilt binding detail

This pair will go on the stack until two children need them.

Size: 50" x 58"
Pattern: Medallion with Chinese Coin borders and appliqué
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: Aurifil 50-wt grey cotton 
Quilting: free motion Baptist fans

Previous posts:
  1. Starting the medallion
  2. Chinese Coins III top finished
  3. Chinese Coins IV finished
Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Shadow Star

DH took me to Paradise Square this weekend, a musical about the free Black and Irish immigrants who lived in the Five Points slum around the Civil War. The show highlighted a forgotten era of early interracial neighbors and friends torn apart by the draft which forced Irish immigrants to fight for the Union while denying American-born Blacks that same choice.

The next day I had time to view Freddy Moran's Face the Year at Hello Stitch. Freddy wrote that she became dissatisfied with quilting and considered giving it up until she started making a quilt a day. Fifty-four days later she had a collection of faces, a sampling of which made this exhibit.

Pride of place was her original self-portrait: her red glasses, white hair, and bright clothes on a signature background of neutral red.

Freddy Moran's Self Portrait quilt

Her new collaged works are much smaller but encompassed unique fabrics for hair as well as frequent additions of flowers and fish. Seeing them together allowed easy comparison of facial features and construction techniques from one strip-pieced face to a minimalistic light- and dark-sided face.

Face the Year, collaged quilt portraits by Freddy Moran

Although I should be quilting more of the finished tops, there are only so many I can force myself to power through. I simply had to start a new quilt. I'd taken a break to clean up some photos on my computer and saw this antique quilt I'd saved from eBay. Years ago. Before Pinterest.

At first glance it looked like an eight-pointed star on a circle. Then I saw the appliqued flowers that make up the design. Not pieced at all. However, it reminded me of a quilt from my childhood. I only saw it once so I have the haziest memory. All I recall now is that the pieced stars faded into muslin at the endpoints. Similar to this one.

Searching through my block references, I found Shadow Star. Practically perfect. This is a compass design based on the eight-pointed star grid. After a few changes, this is what I've come up with.

Loads of y-seams. Not for the faint of heart. I can't wait to get started.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Color Study Baby Quilt Gifted

"The real issue in life is not how many blessings we have, but what we do with our blessings. 
Some people have many blessing and hoard them.
Some have few and give everything away." 
~ Fred Rogers ~

I've certainly been on a quilting roll these past few weeks. There's lots of non-sewing stuff to do, too, but I'm incentivized by the number of babies arriving soon. {So much for the plan to have a small stack at the ready. These are heading out as fast as they are finished.} Not that I'm complaining.

The first, larger Color Study was quilted and gifted a couple of months ago to a special friend who shares my love of color. These blocks were the "leftovers"; the extras. Still bright; just enough for a baby/toddler quilt. Only waiting for another person whose heart sings with color. And then...

A young friend is expecting her second baby. Her oldest received Suhavi's Stars and this one almost matches it in cheerful color...

Color Study 2 Chinese Coins baby quilt for a second baby

 especially with the addition of bright orange on the back!

Color Study 2 baby quilt binding and quilting details

My first thought was to bind it in similar bright oranges but they didn't show well with the back. Given all the colors, no binding seemed to work with them all. There are; however, many green and blue fabrics which blended well with this green stripe binding. It looks good against the orange back, too.

Since the idea worked so well last time, I quilted with the same cross-hatching as the first Color Study. Certainly running quilting lines in two directions adds strength; always an important point when the quilt will get so much use.

It arrived just before the baby. Hooray.

Size: 45" x 45"
Pattern: Chinese Coins variation
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: Aurifil 50-wt grey cotton 
Quilting: Walking foot grid

Previous post: Sewing the top

A big Thank You to the many hundreds of you who've updated your blogs to the safer https form. So many people have emailed, posted comments, and actually flipped the switch on their blogs. I'm thrilled. Quilters are a strong, kind, and helpful group. You've shown it again with your commitment to helping keep the internet safe for everyone.  🎉🎉

Let's keep the momentum going. Check your sidebar blogs for https and let those quilters know that their blog needs to be switched also. Simply hover over the blog title. If it starts with https, it's safe. If not, it's not.

The next AHIQ invitation is posted. We hope you’ll join us.

Finally: guess who came to dinner? While walking to dinner last night we spied a pair of raccoons playing in the gutter.

A pair of raccoons in the gutter

They quickly hid but then popped out again to see if we'd share. A reminder that wildlife is more adaptable than we think.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, January 12, 2019

How Safe is Your Site?

Last year I posted about switching to https from http. If you haven't done this, you need to read the post and make the change. It's VERY EASY to do. This is a safety and security issue even if {like me} you aren't a commercial site. Why? Http is an old system and has serious and known flaws that allow hackers to breach your site.

Recently I noticed several of my old linkups mysteriously had a photo of a car added to the quilts. My site is https but the linkup company I used had a flaw that Google warned me about. Simply deleting the linkup wasn't enough. Those linkups with the car photo stubbornly remained. The hackers came through that flaw and added the code into MY post. I had to delete the string of code in HTML. {I'm a not a professional coder so my solution was to delete everything from my signature on down.} If you check, you'll see the explanation I added.

What I did NOT do was click on that car link. That could have compromised my computer. By adding their own link, the hackers could make it point to any site they wanted. I'm sure "sinister people" pay them to link a porn site, a bitcoin or Nigerian scam, or something else through my innocent post. I'd seen an uptick in odd sites to my blog and was trying to track them down.

If you don't have https and/or you link to sites that aren't https, you are helping criminals. Please don't. 

The world moves on.

Lately some of the blogs on my sidebar have been "coming up blank." I click on them but the page doesn't appear. In fact, all that appears is one of these icons.

I use Chrome, a Google product. In May, Google announced they would start flagging insecure sites because most sites worldwide now use https and it's better to call out the laggards. Now it appears they've moved to the next step to help keep us all safe: Chrome won't let me go to sites that aren't https. I asked DH and found out I could override this choice. Hey, I'm an adult. But that would be like taking those stupid ridiculous bird box challenges.

I mean, really.

If the experts {among whom I am NOT included} think it's foolhardy to go to an insecure site, why would I override them? Even if your site is only an innocuous quilting blog, too many nasty people can hack in through it. So...

I checked and I can get there on Safari. But I won't. If you aren't https:, you won't see me until you are.

Please. And thank you. Ann

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

A Finish and an Annual Review

Still turning tops into quilts and this is the latest. Hooray. Simple parallel lines using the walking foot always make an effective design on Coins. 

Chinese Coins XI quilt
One of my irrational fears is that the seam will fray or rip. Stitching in the ditch is one way to assuage that, plus it helps stabilize the layers when quilting on a domestic machine. Then I stitch a "presser foot" away from the seam on each side and end by halving the remaining space until it looks right.

Parallel quilting on Chinese Coins XI quilt
I planned to quilt with blue thread until I looked at the back. It's all peach so a change of plan was in order.  There was just enough of the daisies on aqua fabric for binding. It makes a good contrast with the back while also blending with the front.

Binding and backing of Chinese Coins XI quilt
After a couple of days quilting, this one is ready to go.

Quilt Details
Size: 58" x 62"
Design: Chinese Coins
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: Peach Gutterman cotton
Quilting: Walking foot parallel lines

Previous posts:

  1. Using scraps
  2. Top sewn

2018 Review

Finding myself in an extremely prolific "quilt-'em'-up-and-move-'em-out" mode, it's difficult to stop and write a thoughtful post about the past year. One lazy excuse is that finished 2018 quilts already have their own page; however, reflecting on my previous goals versus results helped the last two years... although I seem to ignore goals at will. The tally? Seventeen quilts, one Christmas stocking, and one quilt repair. More were small. {Another goal met.} Nine baby, four toddler/lap size and four full size quilts. 

Looking back, this has been a year of Chinese Coins quilts. The overwhelming reason/excuse is the September workshop for my guild. Deadlines are always an incentive. Paying attention to fabric selection was a goal that is visible in these quilts. It is evident {to me at least} in the original fabric pulls as well as the many columns of colors. I enjoyed those first pulls and then sorting them by values, colors, or arranging them randomly.  

Eight finished quilts were Chinese Coin variations while four spun out of the Bars workshop. Only one was specifically for me. Two Coins are held for future workshops but everything else was gifted or is ready to be. 
Most of the Coin quilts have a similar arrangement as I worked through iterative examples of the class but a few explore some other ways to use Coins such as Medallions and Stacked Coins.  

Representative sample of 2018 finished quilts 

I drafted the Racetrack quilt and used templates for the Spiderweb but improvised the others. For me that means working in small units and pausing along the way to see what is needed for the next step. Repetition is important and usually some grid-like structures. While I admire wild piecing, it's not what I create. In fact, the past year is mostly one block designs. Scientific Pinwheels is the only one combining two blocks: Coins and pinwheels in two sizes. I think I'll expand my design choices a bit in 2019. 

About half of my 2018 plans were met: smaller quilts, simpler quilting designs, using scraps + recyclables + new fabrics, and paying attention to color selection. A couple of quilts have more details but that effort could be improved. So far, so good. 

On the other hand, none of the listed quilts was finished nor did I write the baseball quilt pattern. My idea was to post it through Craftsy. However, they've been sold and deleted many existing patterns/contributors so that doesn't seem viable. I'll have to find another way to publish - if I ever get it done. Any advice is welcome.

Overall last year's plans are things I want to continue. {Perhaps those WIPs will actually be finished this time around. Ha.} The Square Deal, which started from leftover Coins, is almost ready to be quilted. Considering how much I like borders, I've become lax/lazy with them... they are frequently missing and that needs to change.

Finally I purchased some clothing patterns and pulled out a few old ones. Finding clothes that fit my more casual lifestyle is difficult and this may be a solution. Ideally I would have clothes that fit in fabrics and colors I prefer. We'll see. 

2019 Plans
  1. Write it up: baseball quilt pattern.
  2. Keep them moving: quilt tops and finish several WIPs.
  3. Consider: borders, stars, and medallions. 
  4. Continue combinations: recycled + scraps + new fabrics; traditional + improvisation + original designs. 
  5. Sew some clothes.
Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Quilt Repair, Lights, and an Infinity Scarf

Happy New Year! Hopefully 2019 is a year of recovery and peace worldwide; a time for us to embrace the best of our beliefs in common humanity and kindness.

In addition to human grandchildren, I have two granddogs {GD1 and GD2.} GD1 has the charming habit of digging underwear out of the dirty laundry, draping it around his neck and prancing around the house whenever guests are present. {No photos of this; just take my word for it.}

GD2 has a very delicate constitution which somehow still allows him to eat aforementioned underwear, socks, and parts of quilts. The first two are funny, until you have to take him to the vet. The latter is always reprehensible. We hope he is growing out of this stage but truthfully, it's only slowing down thus far.

Last time I visited, several chewed quilts came to my attention. Most of them I tossed and replaced {with their permission} but one had too many memories - a high school t-shirt quilt now hosting three holes. One on the border, a small one in the interior and a very large one {almost one entire shirt.} Home it came for repairs.

Repaired t-shirt quilt

First I washed the quilt. Then, after measuring the holes, I covered them with the same Hobbs 80/20 cotton/poly batting, zigzagged around the perimeter of the hole, and trimmed the batting back to that stitch line.

Next I patched the backs. I pulled a red and a blue fabric to patch the smaller two holes back and front. The rectangles were cut and turned before being hand stitched in place. No, I didn't try to "match" the mend on each side. It seemed better to minimize some of the seam bulk by letting them do their own thing.

After much deliberation I used a busy outer space themed fabric to repair the front. I considered making a block {plane, car, flying geese, cross} to fill the area but decided the diner dome {sort of } matched the snowy mountain on the original t-shirt. And the color definitely fits the quilt well.

The largest hole uses some leftover improv blocks on the back. Sadly part of his name was chewed away. The improv pieces seemed to fit that center though; even the colors blend well. Who'd have thought?

Mended t-shirt quilt back

With both sides mended, I free-motion quilted the repairs, then bound the section on the edge.

It's back with the original recipient. Hopefully, GD2 won't need a midnight snack again.


DH outdid himself for Christmas. I mentioned needing LED lights like Lynne posted at Patcherie Menagerie and he bought me two.

Slightly different maker but they certainly light up my quilts. Only 20 watts but 1400-1600 lumens each. What a difference. Thanks for the tip, Lynne.


Going into cleanup mode, I almost tossed the silk remnant I purchased three years ago. Then I found some silk thread in the drawer. I gave myself an evening to finally make the infinity scarf or toss them. The deadline was met.

Silk infinity scarf
Most of my scarves are bright so these soft colors were an attempt to try something different. I'm not sure if it needs edge stitching. It's hard to get a sharp edge on this material. And I've no idea how it will wash. Or if it's only dry cleanable. I'll have to call the shop and ask.

Enjoy the day, Ann