Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Wheel Quilt Bound and Labelled

Make a list of things that make you happy. Make a list of things you do every day.
Compare the lists. Adjust accordingly.


This quilt began over four years ago as an experiment with a wedge ruler. Instead of starting within the limits of the ruler, I immediately extended the perimeter with less than stellar results... then set it aside. Two years later it resurfaced in a clean-and-sort of the boxes and the soft colors called to me. {It was hard to find a place to photograph and I finally took an angled view and adjusted it on my phone. The wheels are circular, not oval as they appear here.}

Wheel quilt

What fun it's been to work on this quiet and limited palette, to rework the fans into blocks that lie flat, to take time with each step. I find iterative processes meditative and this quilt in particular is the repository of diverse family memories - the joyful and sad markers of time.

Wheel quilt detail with netted crab fabric

My stash only held a few quiet creams suitable for setting the fans and {of course} none had sufficient yardage to make all of them. The fisher-girl fabric delights me. It's a personal nod to our dear sister and always brings a smile. 

Detail of fisher-girl on Wheel quilt

The red and white striped fabric has been set aside for sashing since the first day but with the fan blocks  complete, it took a while to determine how much to use - both width of the sashing and frequency. Eventually, alternating it with a quieter taupe created a better rhythm.

Wheel quilt detail including cracking crabs fabric

The red and white fabrics of the wheels alternate between tastefully lyric florals and three crab novelty prints. I pulled everything in that colorway and was amused to find them. {And there weren't enough florals anyway. Of course.}

Wheel quilt detail with knitting crabs fabric

Many quilts use snowballs as central blocks and alternate blocks. I've done it myself but I hadn't made a border of them. They seemed like the perfect reprise of wheels - smaller and less distinct - but still repeating a circular theme. Of course, it took me many iterations to quieten down my fabric choices. The soft center can easily be overpowered.

Wheel quilt border detail and wheel with abstract circle fabric

What an excellent decision to send the top to Peg Collins for long arm quilting! I knew every stitch and design would show on all the light backgrounds and wanted something more exciting than my normal quilting. Her work is amazing.

Wheel quilt detail

The final steps were to trim the edges, bind, and label. A search through my dwindling stash brought two diagonal stripes. {The sashing stripe is gone. Of course.} The red-and white is narrower than the sashing. From a distance it looks pink.

Testing a red and white stripe binding

The green, blue, and red stripe unexpectedly excited me {next to the border} until Gayle gently nudged me to something that doesn't compete with the sashing or the wheels. 

Testing a multicolor binding

A quiet green enhances the quilt. In fact, it is the cutoffs from the backing fabric. Perfect.

Wheel quilt with detail of back and binding

My quilts are rarely labelled. My mother used to write them if I needed one for a show. Some of them are fading from washing even though I use special soap and archival pens. Penwork on the ones I've gifted disappear quickly. {I see that when visiting.} Now I simply sign the bottom right corner like a painter.  I usually use thread that matches the top. You have to look hard to see it. But it shows more on the back so archivists will find it. That's my story.

Wheel quilt signature

Quilt Specifics
Size: 86"x108"
Design: Fans and Snowballs
Batting: cotton
Thread: white polyester
Quilting: FMQ by Peg Collins
Approximate yardage: 19 yd {with leftovers for the scrap bag}

Previous posts:
1. The first block - way back in 2018


The Doctors Blackwell by Janice Nimura is a biography of Elizabeth, the first female M.D. in America, and Emily, her younger sister and the better physician. Together they founded the New York Hospital for Indigent Women and Children. Although they were contemporaries of many suffragists (and Lucy Stone Married one of their brothers} they didn't support universal suffrage, believing education was more important. Elizabeth was also the first, and for many years the only, woman physician listed in England. 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

String Tulip QAL Month 3

A party without cake is really just a meeting.
~Julia Child


So many household repairs needed attention that it was hard to push forward on the tulips. How did you all do? It's no problem if you're behind; we're all working at our own pace. And several quilters have branched in their own directions. For example, Kaja pieced tulips and Julie created an applique so lively I can see the blooms blowing in a breeze. Not only are her colors gorgeously bold, but her tulips are strung horizontally across the petals rather than vertically. Be sure to take a look.

Although I'm sharing directions, this is improvisation. Do what you want whether they are tulips, strings or something completely different. My directions are there simply to help people who are more hesitant and the many people who asked how I made the ESS blocks. 

This month we'll appliqué the center and put the top together. As usual, these are just suggestions, hopefully enough to get beginners started. There are many ways to accomplish these steps; this is just the one I used. Look at YouTube for other methods.

String Tulips quilt

Sew the Borders

We left off with the center cut two-inches larger than the finished dimensions of the ESS blocks. Remove the paper from the ESS blocks and lay them out as a border. Sew the four sides together so the lengths can be verified. Press the borders carefully {NO ironing and NO steam} because all the sides are bias. 

For ESS string block borders sewn

Find the Center

Once the length is established, fold the center {that  was cut an inch or two wider} into quarters and press. 

Center of String Tulips is quartered and pressed

Marking a perimeter keeps the tulips from creeping into the seam allowance. The center may shrink up a bit once the appliqué is done which is why a washable marker was chosen and why we added an inch or two extra to the center. If your string blocks are a different length than mine, change the measurements.

Center the ten-inch marks of the ruler on the center crease then draw the perimeter with the marker. {Or half your personal border width.} Repeat for each quarter of the center. 

Marking the center perimeter with ruler and washable marker

Prepare Tulips

Previously I needle turned the tulips but this time I hand basted the seam allowance. Or use raw edge appliqué or any other method.

Basted seam allowance of tulip

When they are all ready, pin them to the center background. Eyeball the location or measure with a ruler as long as they are inside the marked line. Try to position the center petal along the main diagonals with the point toward the corner.

String Tulips pin basted to the center

Prepare Stems

Measure the diagonal distance between two tulips to calculate how long the stems will be. Add an inch or two to slide under the flower bases. It can be trimmed back later but it would be a shame to run short.

For sturdy stems use binding remnants. Stems can easily be changed to any width you like. Mine were cut 2.25-inches and finish about 1.125".

Stems don't have to be green. Try unexpected colors to see what happens. 

Four possible stem choices for String Tulips

Open the binding and press both edges to the center. 

Pressing the tulip stems

Position the Stems

Fold the stems in half to locate the centers. Place the centers of both stems on the center of the background and extend each stem diagonally so they make ninety degree angles. Pin or glue the bottom one down. Pin or glue part of the top one down but leave one side loose to fold it back while sewing the bottom one.

Pinning the stems in place

Once you know there is sufficient seam allowance for the stems, tuck the ends under the tulips. 

Check that everything is well placed. If you are adding leaves, etc, lay those templates temporarily in place to ensure there's enough room. Adjust as needed {which could mean scooting something over or increasing its seam allowance. Note: A narrower tulip like Julie's {link at the top} leaves more room for additional appliqué pieces. Think about it.


Use your machine's edge stitching foot or blanket stitch to appliqué the bottom stem, starting and ending  under the tulips.

Applique the stem under the tulip

Then repeat with the top stem. 

Applique the tulip stems

Finally stitch around each tulip. Choose thread to match your fabric or not. I found it easier to start at the top right point. Slow down at the base where there's a wad of seams. Repositioning the presser foot by lifting it momentarily will help ease the sewing.

Applique the tulips

Add Additional Appliqué

I added eight circles but you could add anything you want... or nothing at all. Since I own a set of Karen Buckley's Perfect Circles, that's what I used to choose circle sizes. Look around your house for any circles... bobbins, spice bottles, etc. Place your templates on the background to check the size.

Possible circle templates

These fabrics from my stash repeat colors on the white print. I cut a few of each to test which would work best. 

Possible circle fabrics

Cut them out, then pin or glue them in place. Check the position then appliqué them in the same way as the tulips and stems.

Adding a circle above the tulip

Sew the Borders to the Center

Once all the appliqué is finished, it's time to re-measure the center. This time, mark the cutting line. In my case, that's a perimeter 10.25-inches from the center for each quadrant. I lined the ruler up with the 10.25 line on those pressed lines on the background. 

Mark the new sewing line for the center section

The appliqué pulled my center in about an eighth-inch. As a check, the cutting line you are marking now will be a quarter-inch or more than the previously drawn line.

Then cut the center along that line, pin the borders to opposite sides and ease them onto the center.

Add Outer Border

The ESS blocks are all bias so I added a narrow outer border to stabilize the quilt. {The other choice is to stay stitch an eighth-inch from the edge.} Cut strips 1.75-inches by WOF and seam together as needed. My first two sides are 40.5", the length of eight ESS blocks plus two seam allowances. The second two sides are 43". Measure your blocks to determine your personal lengths.

String Tulip 3 quilt top

Pin or mark the length and the center then pin each to a side and sew.

Ta da! Top done!

On a personal note, I'm fully Pfizered. Hopefully everyone will be vaccinated soon, the only way we can kill off this virus.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Blue Hatchets Quilted

The constant happiness is curiosity
~Alice Munro


Straight lines with the walking foot are one of my go-to quilting designs. They are relaxing, quick, and easy. There is something meditative about repeatedly halving the distance between previous lines. It makes a good time to think.

I moved the darkest set of hatchets to the center and divided the swans and goldenrod into two rows each.
Blue Hatchet  quilt 4

When some friends and I made a trip to Berkeley for Freddy Moran's Face the Year exhibit, we stopped by Stonemountain where I  purchased the back for a "future quilt." The day has arrived. It works perfectly with these hatchets and there was just enough leftover for the binding.

Front and back of Blue Hatchet quilt

Don't you love it when things work out so well? It's a good change from being a smidge too small... or yards leftover.

Blue hatchet quilt folded

This was supposed to restart my baby quilt stash but within a couple of days was needed for one of DH's co-workers. Actually, I love sending them to their forever home so quickly. While everything is fresh and new. So a sweet baby boy slumbers on it. 

Quilt Specifics
Size: 38" x 38"
Design: Hatchet
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Metler light blue cotton thread
Quilting: Walking foot parallel lines
Approximate yardage: 5.625 yds

Previous post: Laying out the blocks 


Somehow I haven't read Laurie King for a while but just picked up the next in her Mary Russell series, A Letter of Mary.  Archeologist Dorothy Ruskin visits Mary and her husband, Sherlock Holmes leaving them with an old manuscript concerning Mary Magdalene. When Dorothy is killed soon after, Mary and Sherlock question, murder or accident?

Monthly FUR (Fabric Use Rate) 

March came in like a lion. Two baby quilts and napkins used 15.875 yards this month. YTD = 17.875 yards.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Reprise with Blue

Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, 
and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.
~Marilyn Monroe


It felt good to clear out some of the older yellows and greens. Now another baby quilt will be needed and the blues could use a combing through. Except for the clear blue with swans, these are all soft blues with a grey undertone. The swan fabric is also light blue although much more clear but the swans and their white shape relate to the cranes on the left and the white leaves on the right. Plus, they fill out the 64 blocks needed for this quilt. Ha. 

Now they just need to be blended in a bit better. BTW, it was late when I took this photo so the colors are off.

Blue Hatchet quilt blocks

The next day was spent rearranging blocks until settling on this arrangement. The two fabrics that had the most blocks are separated into two columns and the darkest blue is moved to the center. Everything looks better when the seam allowances disappear.

Hatchet 4 blue baby quilt top

Pulling fabric for the back meant a short search through the stash. It's getting lower which is good for me. My plan is to use up the fabrics that are more than ten years old... or to donate them. Of course, some will be kept because they could make a special part... such an a flower center or an eye or a wing. More pictorial quilts are brewing in my mind but I need to clear some space in the workroom before they can come to the fore.


At a New York City nightclub Clary witnesses three teenagers murder another. Then the body vanishes and no one else saw anything. Cassandra Clare based her YA Mortal Instruments series on the thought that "all the stories are true." Angels, demons, werewolves, vampires, fairies. Clary's take on everything is unexpected - both by the other characters and by the reader.  I'm looking forward to more of these and I'm way behind.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Placemats and Napkins

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Finally. Two more kawandi placemats complete. There were only three birds so these have none and the scrap colors are much louder. I decided to pull a smaller, coordinated collection of scraps from the bag to add cohesion... Maybe. Reds in the first round established strong perimeters. I tried adding tiklis but am still not good at it. They usually occur to me after a round of stitching. 

Kawandi placemat 4

The dark pink across the top {and on the right side} is a gift from Sujata. It's Indian cotton, finer than lawn. What a difference it makes when stitching. The needle slides through like butter. Somehow, all the loud prints ended up in the previous placemat and this one was left with only quiet fabrics for the center. Still, a plate will cover it.

Kawandi placemat 5

Last week when washing the napkins, it came to my attention that they are permanently stained. Well, they've been used for several years. Clean ones are needed. At first I whined because there's not enough yardage of any of the fabrics that look like napkins. That means they won't match. Oh, boo hoo.

These fabrics have been sitting on a chair for too long. I'm starting here and will pull any fabric that is at least 22" square to make a napkin. A glorious riot of prints and color. Take your pick when you come over. 

Woven cotton prints with purple or white backgrounds
Cloth napkins

It took more time than I thought to make them. Cut, press the seam, pin the folded seam, turn the corners, sew, and press. The first ten are done. The old napkins are going to compost.


Oh, boy. Time for the third mystery in Martin Walker's Bruno series. Black Diamond refers to truffles but the story also involves attacks on various Asian businesses. 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Pi Day 2021

It's Pi Day, the only time American dating makes more sense than European style: 3/14. Time to review all the circles I made this year.

My largest circle quilt was the Wheel although it's not back from the longarm quilter.

Wheel quilt top

I also appliqued circles on several quilts including the String Tulips

String Tulip quilt 2

and Mars on my newest grandchild's Christmas stocking

Christmas stock with Mars

and the Shadow Star sashing. The eight-pointed stars also look circular, probably because they are drafted with radii, and arcs.

Shadow Star quilt top

Speaking of eight-pointed stars.... I finished Lone Stars

Lone Star quilt

and LeMoyne Stars

LeMoyne Star quilt

and a string star. I'm counting all of them as circles. 

String Star quilt

We're having chicken pot pie with apple pie for dessert. What about you?

Enjoy your pie, Ann

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

A Third Hatchet Quilt Gifted

Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.


All the blocks were made and trimmed traditionally but there was no plan for the layout. As last week's post showed, I worked through all the variations I could think of... and ended with this well-regulated arrangement. The value changes were just too great between the yellows and greens otherwise.

The quilting is my usual/common organic lines with a walking foot. I start by SID the main seams, then come back and halve that distance. And then the halving is repeated until the distance looks good or I'm tired of quilting. Simple. And it works.

Yellow and green hatchet quilt

This interesting fabric printed with hexagons has been waiting in my stash for several years. While the aqua is not on the front, the background is yellows, tans, and odd greens that blend well with the front. 

Yellow and green Hatchet quilt with view of back

The mother likes yellow. A lot. This is the last in my stash... although there are more cut squares squirreled away. 

As soon as it was washed the quilt went into the mail to be there for her new son. It arrived just before he did. Good enough.

Quilt Specifics
Size: 38" x 43"
Design: Hatchet
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Metler green cotton thread
Quilting: Walking foot parallel lines
Approximate yardage: 6 yds

Previous post: Choosing the layout.


This is the first of four Wayfarers books by Becky Chambers who started writing in the evening after her paying gig. When she lost that job she raised money to finish this book on Kickstarter. 

A young human joins the Wayfarer as a clerk. The old ship drills wormholes between distant galaxies and has a multi-species crew. They are asked to drill a new path to a new planet inhabited by a violent species which also has a rich energy source nearby.

This unique story doesn't cover bloody insurrections. Instead it tells backstories of the various crew and their evolving relationships. Very enjoyable and I look forward to the next in this series. {I'm late to the party but I'll space them out a bit.}

Enjoy the day, Ann