Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Two Steps Forward and Three Back

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.
~Carl Sandberg


All the border seemed to need was some quick FMQ but a huge problem arose. The bobbin thread pulled too tightly and then too loosely. It has taken the rest of the week to unsew this mess. 
Ripping out poor quilting stitches

Next week I'll try something else... right after I give the machine a thorough cleaning. 

But the stack of projects never ends and fortunately I have a second machine. This funny Outer Space Santa fabric has been in the pile for a year waiting to be made into an Aloha shirt for DH. He likes this style {although he's not as fond of Christmas prints as I am} because I see a family resemblance between him and the man in the red suit. It turned out well and is earmarked for his birthday. Woo hoo. One present down. Don't tell him.

Aloha shirts
Wouldn't you think I could relax and read down some of my book pile now? No. I decided to continue drawing down the enormous pile of "clothing fabric" and make a more sophisticated shirt for me. I should have left well enough alone. 

Reminder to self: patterns with photos on the front are always more accurate than those with fashion sketches. Funny. This looks just like an Aloha shirt. And about as much fit even though the sketch had lovely lines. 

The leftovers from each of the shirts now reside in the scrap bag. And I may have an idea for them.

We are working very hard to donate or recycle all our discards. An article last week suggested that all companies should be responsible for the entire life cycle of their products, including final disposal/reclamation. That would be much better for our planet than creating the acres of trash and ecological disasters we currently have. Like a VAT for end use, too. What do you think?

Like many of you, I watched Sujata and Freddy on The Quilt Show last week. What treasures they both are. Their books remain some of my favorite quilt references and I signed up for a workshop with Sujata late this year. Her suggestion of placemats resonated. I need some and they are just the right size. Can't wait for class.


Only 49 days till our election. The door for registering to vote is closing. Ask everyone if they are registered, please. And encourage them to vote. Our democracy and our lives depend on it.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Working on the String Tulip Quilt

"We're all just walking each other back home."
~Ram Dass


Delightful as I find this quilt it was set aside while I finished some that needed to be gifted sooner. Finally I can get back to it.  For smaller quilt like this, doubling my folding tables makes the perfect basting table. They fit perfectly with no time wasted moving and re-stabilizing the quilt package. 

A few lines of quilting hold the petals. None of the fabric behind them was cut away. Slow, steady sewing was key to getting this part done.

String Tulips pin basted

Combined with stippled background the tulips now push forward a bit. I considered echo quilting but stippling is easier for me and the strong Xs in the border and the crossed stems are enough straight lines. 

Stippling the background of String Tulip quilt

Next up is the border.

Around the House

Less sewing than some weeks but we are busy with several chores around the house. Not exciting to write about but definitely nice to carve out a bit more breathing room. It's amazing how many old, tired items accumulate wherever we set down roots. 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Turquoise and Red Lone Star Quilt Finished

Ninety-nine percent of failure comes from people who have the habit of making excuses.
~George Washington Carver


This quilt was a surprise for my newest grandchild. The turquoise/aqua colors match {or at least blend with} the mint in his older sister's quilt while the red is a stronger version of peach. Hopefully they will look well together like the beloved family they are. 

This variation looks amazingly like a kaleidoscope. A real one, not the quilt. ;-)

Main star in red, turquoise, black and green with smaller red and aqua stars around the sides
Lone Star quilt in Turquoise and Red

The easiest design for the central small diamonds was Orange Peel. It feels very comfortable to sew and was a quick start. Reaching the green border, I chose a repeating S-shape, similar to orange peel but one that makes better use of the space. I could/should(?) have quilted it closer but didn't want that section to become "background" like the stipple quilting on the white fabrics.

S shapes are free motion quilted along the length of the green border
Quilting detail on green border

The diamonds of corner and side stars are larger than the center diamonds and I wanted to try something new. After rewatching Angela Walters' recent "Help How Do I Quilt It?" series, the swirl hook design was the best choice. In the corner blocks they all swirl the same way and I found that filled the area most evenly. Both aqua and red fabrics are quilted with light blue thread. 

Swirl hooks fill each diamond of the corners stars
Quilting detail of corner stars

The side half-stars have the same swirl hook design but they mirror each other from one side to the other. The center pair almost looks like a heart. With four sides there's one heart for each parent, his sister, and me. Cute as a button for the baby who's stolen our hearts. 

Swirl hooks quilted into the diamond shapes are reflected on each side
Quilting detail of side stars

The remaining green that formed the border of the lone star didn't fill all the back so turquoise and aqua fabrics were added to each side. It's always fun to see quilt backs; the designs usually show up much better here. This is not quite the last of each of these because the trimmed-off bits are now in the scrap bag. This is how it constantly refills. 

Light green print with aqua prints to each side create the quilt back
Turquoise and Red Lone Star quilt back

The brilliant red binding was waiting in the binding box. How was there enough to fit all the way around in one fabric? IDK but I'm not complaining. It's such a treat to "find" binding cut, pressed and read to apply - even though I'm the one who did all that work.

The quilt back highlights details of the free motion quilting
Quilting detail from the back

Washed and dried, it crinkled up a bit more. Just the way I like it. Due to health concerns, it was mailed to my dear fellow grandmother who kindly rewashed it before giving to the baby. No germs here.

Quilt is folded so corner star shows along with part of the green back and the red binding
Lone Star quilt folded

One more beauty shot just to see both sides and the binding. 

Quilt Specifics
Size: 38"x38"
Design: Lone Star
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: Gutermann 50 wt white, green, and red cotton
Quilting: FMQ and SID with walking foot
Approximate yardage: 5.75 yd

Previous posts:


I finished Circe by Madeleine Miller this week. What an excellent retelling {and reimagining} of a few lines in Homer's Odyssey. Raised on the classics, Madeleine not only brings the nymph turned witch to life but creates a full-bodied character. It brings home how little significance women are given in the classics and indeed, throughout history. By the end of this book I was completely in sympathy with this woman, cheering her growth and delighted she found a full life. 

In the postcripts Madeleine calls the Greek gods a cautionary tale. They "reflect what happens to humans when we see only ourselves and our own needs.... They have forgotten what it's like to be told no and it has turned them into monsters."

This NPR review encouraged me to read find the book. Now I can't wait to read her previous one. And BTW, her name is pronounced KIRR-kee or KEER-kee although many English speakers {including me} say SIR-kee. I'll try to change my habit. 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Lone Star Quilt Construction Tips and Y-Seams

"A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience."
~Oliver Wendell Holmes


After so many Lone Stars, LeMoyne Stars and other eight-pointed stars I have a few tips to pass on. 
If you are sewing smaller diamonds together, it's easier to  press those seams open.

The back of a larger blue Lone Star section shows all the seams pressed open
Press seams open on smaller diamonds

Of course, that means those intersections need more pinning when sewing one larger unit to another. I put a pin exactly one-fourth inch from the edge and through the seam on both sides then add pins on either side to keep it from shifting. Take out that vertical pin as you approach it when sewing. 

Also, pin at an angle where the sewing line stops. See the pin at the right below. 

Place a vertical pin at the intersection of smaller diamonds and use another to mark where to stop sewing at the end.
Use pins to keep intersections aligned and to tell you exactly where to stop

When you reach the end pin, backstitch {more carefully that I did here} over the previous stitching line to keep seams from unraveling. 

Sewing up to the pin. 

If your backstitching must go "off" the stitching line, at least make sure it's in the seam allowance and not into the star itself.

A line of sewing on Lone Star seams is backstitched at the end
Backstitch at the end

Once the large diamonds are sewn into pairs, it's time to add the backgrounds. I usually sew the corner squares first and leave the side triangles for last but either order works fine. Pinning is almost exactly the same except you want to pin the intersection of the two diamonds to the corner of the square without any overlap. I.e., just pin one diamond to one side of the square. 

Pinning one side of a background square to one of the two diamonds 

Again, sew to the pin but not over it and backstitch.

Sewing to the intersection of three pieces of fabric

Then when sewing the background pieces to the Lone Star, sew them the same way: up to intersecting seam allowance and backstitch. Both sides. No overlapping here, please. And you'll notice this time my backstitching looks better. 

The background fabric is sewed to the Lone Star diamonds at backstitched when the intersecting seam allowance is reached
Backstitch when sewing backgrounds to Lone Stars/Eight-pointed Stars

I always press the large diamonds and the backgrounds to one side {not open} so the intersections spin.

Press these seams to one side and spin at the intersection

Monthly FUR (Fabric Use Rate) 

The LeMoyne Star was completed in August for a total of 13 yards. YTD = 124.75 yards.

Online Lectures and Meetings

How can we feel lonely with so many online meetings? Between Zoom and Meet, I now have at least five meetings a week. It's wonderful to see friends again and great to participate in lectures. I only participated in one short workshop but my friends are taking and teaching that way

Bisa Butler recently spoke with Dr. Myra Brown-Green at the American Folk Art Museum about her body of work. The excellent discussion covered the development of her craft {always my favorite part}, her history, and the reasons she chooses who to portray and how to portray them. She began as a painter and moved to quilting with her master's program. Initially she quilted portraits of family, then friends, and finally moved into the wider world as her confidence increased. I was very interested to see the development of her skills and color sense over the years.  She also had a wealth of information about the names of the African prints, something I was unaware of until this program. 

In the second part of the program, Myra discussed her quilts and books which focus on symbolism from cultures worldwide. The third part was a conversation between the two of them. And lucky us, AFAM made the program available for reply on their website. Get some coffee and enjoy an hour of in depth thought on unique quilts.


Our national election scheduled for November 3 is 70 days away. Have you requested a mail-in ballot or made plans to vote early? Check Vote411.org for details about your state and precinct. {Make the website is correctly typed and you are on a Secure site!} Democracy requires the participation of ALL citizens.

Wink at the Moon

Neil Armstrong passed away eight years ago today. His family asked that we wink at the moon annually in his honor. Tonight the moon will be in its first phase but I plan to spend a few minutes admiring the view and remembering an event that united our world with joy.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

LeMoyne Star Quilt Finished

"The evil that is inside men is at the last a matter for men to control. 
The responsibility and the hope and the promise are in your hands - your hands and 
the hands of the children of all men on this earth.
 The future cannot blame the present, just as the present cannot blame the past.
The hope is always here, always alive,
but only your fierce caring can fan it into a fire to warm the world."
~Susan Cooper in Silver on the Tree

LeMoyne String Stars quilt is finally finished. Hooray! Quilting started last week and now the rest is completed. It's bound, washed, dried, and ready to mail. 

The center of this scrap quilt is four LeMoyne stars in red or blue surrounded by two rows of HSTs with a row of red Sawtooth Stars at the top and bottom of the quilt.
LeMoyne Star string quilt

Last week's post showed the quilting on the LeMoyne Stars in the center. The flowers in the background are reprised in the centers of the Sawtooth Stars. Both stars have orange peels, too. 

Quilting on the red sawtooth star reflects the flower motif in the background of the LeMoyne Stars
Sawtooth Star detail

In fact, there are even more orange peels on the light HSTs in the border. After finishing those, the dark HSTs seemed to need some, too. At least it will help hold those patches securely in the wash. If you look carefully, you can see the difference in the quilting from the top to the bottom photo below.

An extra round of FMQ is quilted in the dark HSTs
HSTs before and after an extra row of quilting

Using red thread on red fabric means almost nothing shows. However, the FMQ is much more visible on the grey solid that makes part of the back. 

The FMQ quilting designs in red thread show up better on the grey quilt back
View of quilting on Sawtooth Stars and HSTs from the back

There wasn't enough of the red calico for the entire back so I pulled all my solids until I found one that went with it. It's not that I'm deliberately trying to not purchase fabric, but I want to use what's on hand first. There's a feeling of peace to see the piles dwindle. Shopping soon.

Red calico and grey solid form the quilt back
Back of LeMoyne Star string quilt

Cadet blue, a medium greyed shade from QS, looks good with the red, white, and blue of the front so it became the binding.

View of front, back, and binding of the LeMoyne Star string quilt
LeMoyne Star string quilt folded

My youngest has requested this. How flattering. How fortunate I am that my family enjoys my quilts.

Quilt Specifics
Size: 63" x 83"
Design: Le Moyne Star string blocks
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Red, white, and blue Superior 50/3 cotton thread
Quilting: SID and FMQ
Approximate yardage: 13 yds

Previous posts:


The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates finally came in... just in time for my book club discussion. In fact, I hadn't finished it by the meeting so the meaning of conduction wasn't clear in my mind. After reading the final pages, I no not see it as "magical realism" or "fantasy." To me, it shows that Blacks have the strength and intelligence to rescue themselves while it also tells of the rejuvenation of Black history by highlighting the tremendous effort to keep it alive. While Hiram struggles to exhaustion to bring forth the story, it was his personal choice requiring communal efforts from the people he was conducting. Juxtapose this with his original escape, orchestrated by {mainly white} others who tortured him {or allowed him to be tortured} in the attempt to turn his talents  - not to their use exactly - but to their direction, to times of their choosing rather than his. 

The best review is by NPR here. An excellent book, well-researched, well written. I enjoy his writing, not least because of the different point of view. In fact, his preface quotes Frederick Douglass: "My part has been to tell the story of the slave. The story of the master never wanted for narrators." 

V-O-T-E and Complete the Census. 

Please. Don't let anyone rob you of your voice. America is made of ALL of us working together even when we disagree.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

LeMoyne Star Quilting Progress

You do not write your life with words. You write it with actions. What you think is not important. 
It is only important what you do.
~ Patrick Ness in A Monster Calls


I haven't moved quickly but at least the quilt is in progress. I wanted a quilting design that honored the piecing, didn't have many starts and stops {burying threads takes so much time}, and was less densely quilted than usual for me. My friend, Marty, spent an hour with me on the phone discussing how to quilt this. We used FaceTime to see exactly what we were talking about. Isn't technology great!

We decided on orange peels in the star points and a modified flower in each background segment. It turned out better than expected. The quilting really shows, which is not always the case on printed fabrics.

FMQ arcs and flowers on LeMoyne Star

The small sawtooth stars on the border will reprise those flowers and orange peels. Here's a sketch on transparent overlay. One of the nice things is that this doesn't have to be marked on the quilt.

Sketched FMQ ideas for Sawtooth Star blocks

I'm still weighing options for the outer border. 


I pulled my first watermelon radish. These lovely specimens look a bit like watermelons with red centers surrounded by white and a green outer rim. For the last few years, I find them in restaurant salads but have only found the root in the grocery twice. They are very large radishes, about three inches, so it takes at least sixty days for them to grow. This is day 75 but the one I pulled was only about an inch and a half. And the outer layer was green at the top but the part under the soil was still white. But I shaved narrow slices off it with a potato peeler and enjoyed some on my salads this week. Who know how long the others will take to get to full size. On the other hand, the beans and squash are coming in steadily.

New Blogger

So many people are having trouble with the new Blogger that I wanted to share a trick I've used for a while. When starting a new post, I first write x's like this:





Then I move the cursor to the lines between the xx's and add photos. In the example above, I can add three photos. I've found I must have some xx's {my temporary substitute for type} above and below each photo. If I want to add more photos, I first add more xx's to the "end" so there's always text after each photo. Does that make sense? Finally, I move the cursor to the xx's, type my text, and only then backspace out the xx's. Otherwise the text seems to become part of the captions and does those other weird things. I hope this helps.
Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Why Do I Ever Think Construction will be Easy?

"Opportunity's favorite disguise is trouble."
~Frank Tyger


Another baby quilt will be needed next month and even though there are ten previous stars, I thought up  another Lone Star variation. Small stars in the corners and partial stars on the sides means it won't need as much of a single fabric for the background. 

Last time the mother wanted mint and coral. This time I'm not asking. There's several mints in my stash, one red, and a couple of red diamonds leftover from previous Lone Stars. Using those as a start, I added some greens and a dark print to round it out. 

Fabric choices for Lone Star quilt

Even though the additional stars in the corners is a traditional design, I want the main star to read more contemporary so I chose to cut the light green print into long parallelograms rather than diamonds. Then I placed some darker fabrics on the outside and tried several variations of reds for the center.

The centers of these Lone Stars vary in the arrangement of red and pale blue diamonds
Laying out Lone Star variations

Thinking the center was complete, I looked a two minor variations on the outer row and didn't like either.

Turquoise and dark green alternate in these two layouts for the outer row
Two variations of the outer row of the Lone Star quilt

Finally I decided they were in the wrong location altogether. Exchanging their location with the light green parallelograms made an enormous difference. But back to the drawing board to get the center correct. 

Lone Star 11 comparing center changes

Finally it's time to place stars around the sides. Remember the small diamonds were cut from 2.5" strips so they finish at two inches. That makes the corner squares 11.25" finished so the outer diamonds are slightly larger. I cut mine 2.875" to finish 2.375". Then I had to determine the best placement. 

Of course, I thought more red would be better but that was a mistake. None of these photos shows a complete layout. They are just to get an idea of what looks better. I occasionally use a folding mirror to "see" the entire idea. It saves laying them all out.

How much red does a border need?

And here's the final layout. Way less red than I'd ever have thought. 

There is a good mix of new and very old fabrics. Traditional, conversation, and contemporary. I like the touches of red paired with a range of turquoise/aqua values. The dark print adds needed depth and the Kona white background makes it all so clear.

Lone Star 11 quilt - mint and red

This quilt has been loads of fun to create but it was not the cakewalk I expected. Simply using a new collection of fabrics {even if some are leftovers from previous projects} changes the needs of the quilt. It's always good to keep an open mind. 

Last week Nann's husband offered an extra copy of String Too Short to be Saved {the story I mentioned here.} What a surprise to find a very large and heavy box on my doorstep two days later. I knew the book was fairly small and couldn't imagine what was in it. Look! Three bags of scraps, too! It's a treat to received some new fabrics to work with and is sparking my imagination.

I enjoy having my own copy as it's worth rereading regularly. And now there are some new scraps for my next scrap quilt foray. Thanks, Nann!  

Fresh veggies

The squash and beans have been coming in. What fun to run out and pick fresh vegetables for lunch. My friend gave me several varieties of beans including these purple ones that turn dark green when steamed. 

Voting and Census

Our national election scheduled for November 3 is 91 days away, just less than three months. The deadline for registering is fast approaching and is a prerequisite for voting. 

Help your community by completing the Census and encouraging your neighbors to do so, too. It helps support hospital services, transportation funding, and other community projects as well as Congressional representation. Everyone who lives in the US counts in the Census whether they are a citizen or not because everyone who lives in the US impacts the infrastructure. The current Executive branch recently decided to close the Census early (September 31) so please help everyone you know complete it. 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

String Tulips

Freedom discovers man the moment he loses concern over
what impression he is making or about to make.
~Bruce Lee


As if the first set wasn't enough, here's a second set of the Electric Socket strings. {Thanks for the perfect name, Julie.} Not so much yellow here and the green blocks aren't resonating. 

Long skinny strings of fabric in a variety of prints form Xs when set together.
More string X blocks

Leaving them on the design wall gave me lots of time to arrange and rearrange all those string blocks. I moved something every time I walked by but they were just too crazy together. It could be the mix of fabrics {completely mixed up} or the angles of the strings themselves but it never gelled. What to do? What about taking out the center to make a medallion? 

After a while, I realized scrap tulips have been on my wish list for years. Tulips remind me of our dear sister and always make me happy. This will be my #AHIQPositiveThinking prompt. Just when I need a smile. 

Now I've looked at hundreds of tulip quilts over the years - antique stores, online auctions, blogs, etc. - but some of my favorites come from Audrey at QuiltyFolk. There are three general block types: a single tulip with leaves, one or more tulips in a basket, and crossed tulips. {Audrey has made all of them.  Another reason to follow her blog.} The center petal can be another string set or a single fabric. 

Most often the petals are strung crosswise but I saw one years ago in Dallas where the strings ran the length of the petal. That's what I chose to do with mine. 

48 colorful angled string blocks form Xs around a blank center
Angled string blocks as a border

The tulip are sized so one petal fits inside one of the already sewn blocks. No reason to add more work. It also uses some of the blocks that were removed. How nice is that!

Now to choose the background fabric. Loads of greens and a few blues came out of the stash. These four are too busy, too bright, or too strong.

Three green prints and one blue are tested as background for string tulip blocks
Possible center background fabrics

This funky green with gold crosses and x's blends nicely with the melange of colors in the border. Lighter tulip petals faded into the background. Using blocks with some dark strings {like the one in the bottom left} makes the tulips pop the most. It reminds me of Black Tulips such as Queen of the Night and Black Hero

Four string tulips make an X in the medallion center. Forty-eight multi-colored angled string blocks surround it.
String Tulips baby quilt top

I was going to add leaves but there wasn't room once everything else was sewn so circles using Kay Buckley's Perfect Circles templates were the backup plan. My circles always turn out well shaped with this tool and there's a lot of choices in the set. I just put different sizes on the top until it looked right. Then it seemed to need another set of circles at the petal points. 

All the appliqué has turned under quarter-inch seams topstitched down using an edge foot... even the circles. {My previous appliqué used a blanket stitch.} Only when sewing across the bottom of the tulips did I have any trouble. So many seams. Just slow down so the stitch length stays even. 

The stems are binding remnants. Their chunkiness fits the large scale of the tulips. 

Monthly FUR (Fabric Use Rate) 

Despite my goal to finish more tops, nothing was completed in July. Again. YTD = 111.75 yards.

Voting and Census

Our national election scheduled for November 3 is 98 days away. Help someone register and encourage everyone to vote. Everyone needs to participate in a democracy - both in becoming informed on issues and candidates as well as actually voting.

And just as important, the 2020 census is still ongoing. Everyone residing in the US of every status needs to participate. Our constitution requires an accounting each decade of every person in the US and its territories as a way to determine congressional districts and apportion Congressional seats and allocate federal money. Please make sure you and your neighbors are counted. Check here for more information. 


Poems by Mary Oliver have been my latest evening reading. After weeks of randomly reading her poems online I started her fifth collection, American Primitive. Her reflections on nature and her joyfulness at life draw me in every time. 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

When to Say Uncle

Love determines our bonds.
~Mitch Alborn in Finding Chika

When we were growing up {back in the Dark Ages before the internet} my youngest sister cried because "everyone else gets mail and I don't!" So our mother told her everything addressed to occupant was hers. Mother was a clever woman.

Taking that lesson to heart, I send my grandchildren a weekly postcard. Their parents tell me they are thrilled to receive "real" mail. I look for postcards wherever I go. Museums are especially good places to find them... when they were open. Fortunately I stocked up several good batches. 

Remember the story, String Too Short to be Saved? This week, just before dropping all the scraps into the trash I sewed some together to make fabric postcards. Because they are still useful... And I'm crazy.

It started with some leftover Porgs from a shirt for DH. {That curve came from the sleeve.} I backed it with muslin, stitched the layers together, then decided to zigzag the edge. Oops. Big mistake. It was straight but ended up lumpy and wiggly. However, edge treatments need to be done before attaching the card backing. As we all remember, close stitching on paper just causes it to fall away.

Because I attached the fabric to the card from the fabric side, the back is visibly uneven.  Altogether as bit of a mess.
Two collaged photos show the cardboard back and the fabric front of the postcard. Half the front is a print with U2D2 hidden in a bunch of porgs. On the left are three parallel strips: dark grey, tan, and white.
First postcard attempt

The backs are 4" x 6" index cards... because I have a bunch at the house and it's better to use what's on hand. I sewed the layers together with with longest basting stitch and learned
  1. The "basting" stitch length is too long. A 3 on my Bernina looks best.
  2. Topstitch thread works better than regular sewing thread. 
  3. Lightly glue the fabric to the card {then press with a dry iron until the glue dries} to hold the layers in place. There's no way to pin these together that won't leave a hole in the card.
  4. Mark a border about a quarter inch from the edges of the card and sew with the card side up to create an more even border.
My next Porg attempts turned out a bit better. I pinked the fabric edges... because I have my grandmother's pinking shears.

Two more postcards with the R2D2/porg fabric paired with red, white, mustard, and dark brown prints.
Porg and R2D2 postcards

I made a few more with raw edges but thought sewing a pillowcase might look more finished. No idea why that would matter with a postcard.

Two collaged photos show the cardboard back and two fabric fronts sewn so there are no raw edges around the sides. The one on the left has jellyfish on aqua. The right has white prints on the left, green on the right with a vertical strip of reds.
Pillowcase postcards

They make a nice change but the raw edges are simpler. Notice how much nicer the back looks when the sewing line is drawn and stitched with the card side up.

Then I pulled any scrap that had a design on it. Crab, bird, frog, tulips. Even when they are partly cut off.

Postcards of colorful scraps rest on a green cutting board. The fabrics include a crab, bird, frog, and several tulips.
Fabric postcards

These aren't the most artistic pieces but they amuse me. I've seen ATCs but was never inspired. Postcards have a similar function: a place to use tiny scraps, a way to practice new techniques, a time to play. I enjoyed myself, learned some things, and have a way to move these bits out of the house. {Mailing them to the grandchildren. Hahaha.}

Eight postcards used perhaps quarter yard. Warning: Fabric postcards are too thick for the postcard rate; they require letter stamps. But what fun this is.


Some of the beans have the loveliest purple flowers. What a joy to watch them grow although I'm not sure how many beans we will actually get. 


Our national election scheduled for November 3 is 105 days away. Help someone register and encourage everyone to vote. Democracy requires the participation of ALL citizens.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Rosie Lee Tompkins

"Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society."
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

We had a three month delay in paying taxes here in the US. The new deadline is July 15. Tomorrow.

Chinese Coins

With so many little projects around the house there wasn't much time for quilting this week. Someone asked how to decide on the widths of Chinese Coin columns recently and here's what I wrote:

1. I plan the overall size (LxW) of the finished quilt because it helps me determine when I have enough columns and when to stop sewing onto a column. Believe me, column length is difficult to eyeball. I put pins on my design wall but you could masking tape your carpet or use floor tiles as a guide. Just something concrete to refer to.

2. Decide on a range (say 4-8") or pair of ranges (very narrow and very wide) as a guide because it helps determine how many columns you are shooting for. {50" wide/6" = 8 columns while 50" wide/ (8+2") = 5 PAIRS of columns. Only three 14" wide columns could fit in the same 50 inches.} You might still need extra columns in the end but this gives you an idea to aim for.

3. Sew the widest column(s) you want first because you will run out of strings. Just look at your outlined quilt size and consider what width looks "right" remembering you will trim and seam about an inch off the column. 

4. When that/those columns are finished, look at the strings that remain to figure your next column width.

5. There are usually enough tiny bits left at the end for one or two very narrow columns.

There are many examples on my blog because it must be my favorite scrap quilt idea. Just search for Chinese Coins or use this link where I did it for you.


Despite all the issues of the pandemic, I did manage to see the Rosie Lee Tompkins quilt exhibit at BAMPFA. Just not in person. You can see it, too... until December 20. The exhibit opened just as California locked down for the pandemic so the museum kindly made a video tour. It's over an hour long so get your coffee ready first. The museum site includes a slideshow and links to their catalog but the video itself is also available on YouTube. Among the benefits of video {as opposed to in person visiting} are the ability to rewind and tour a site as many times as you wish.

Rosie is the pseudonym of Effie Mae Howard who lived in Richmond CA where Eli Leon met her. He purchased many of her quilts over the years and curated several shows that included her work. I have catalogs of three of the shows but believe there were at least eight including several, such as the 2016 exhibit at the Museum of California, that didn't have catalogs.

Catalogs of African-American quilt shows by Eli Leon

Upon his death, Eli donated most of his collection of 3,000 African-American quilts to the UC Berkeley museum including 500 by Ms. Tompkins alone. 

Projects Around the House

Still scanning and shredding. As previously mentioned the compost bin limits how much can be done each week. There is nowhere else to put the stuff. Currently six of twelve drawers completed. Halfway through although the tougher files are still ahead. More of these will need to be retained. Still, it's good to review what is in the files and put misfiled papers into their correct section. 


As we watch Covid ravage the US and see other countries actually dampen their outbreaks I realize part of the problem is the politicization of the pandemic. For the first time, politicians have pushed health care professionals out of the way as they rush to get their face before the electorate. They are not trained in public health and conflate their own agenda with medical facts. It has encouraged people to think the virus votes. I am appalled by the thoughtless actions of my neighbors and fellow citizens who somehow think it's a hoax/ they won't get it/ it's not too deadly. Read this short article if you find a 1% death rate acceptable.  

If nothing else consider the rate of infection among health care workers. It takes years of training to become either a nurse or a doctor. As they die off, who will be there to provide your healthcare?

Who else recalls one of America's major problems of WWII was that  malnutrition during the preceding decade of the Great Depression left many of our citizens unfit to serve? Are we really ready to write off another generation of working-age citizens? Do you want yourself or your family to be one of these people? And support them with all the extra care they will need over the years ahead? 


Our national election scheduled for November 3 is 112 days away. Help someone register and encourage everyone to vote. Vote 411 is a wonderful resource. Democracy requires the participation of ALL citizens. 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Stringing Along

We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

The introduction of a story by Donald Hall relates an apocryphal story: 'A man was cleaning the attic of an old house in New England and he found a box which was full of tiny pieces of string. On the lid of the box there was an inscription in an old hand: "String too short to be saved".'

My mother loved quoting the punch line whenever something foolish appeared in our cabinets. We deny packrat tendencies but truth will out. What crazy stuff we save because it might be useful one day. The dreadful warning of this tale {occasionally} restrains me from expanding my quilting stash which I already find overwhelming.

It is also the reason I keep a single small bag for scraps although an amazing amount can be crammed into that bag. I won't purchase containers to subdivide the stuff. My point is to use it up, to keep it moving because this insidious fabric propagates nightly. My scrap bag still looks as full as when I started this recent set of scrap quilts; there are just fewer "pretty" fabrics.

How can I sew this mess? Why am I bothering? How small is too small? What's your limit? What's the smallest scrap you keep? What do you do with the waste? {I know Cathy spreads hers as garden compost.} Questions we face daily.

There are still a ton of strings. I'm tired of diamonds, thought about Chinese Coins, but got the brilliant idea to angle the strings. At least it sounded brilliant. In reality it's been a bit of a pain.

The newspaper foundations are 5.5". No idea why except it's less than six inches so it was easier to cut and the smaller squares don't need such long strings - only about eight inches for the main diagonal. I pulled "longer strings" out so the centers would be easier to plan but still find myself coming up short.

Scrap strings are sewn diagonally across the square blocks, narrower at one end and widening at the other.
String blocks

What should be the middle string? How can I highlight the angle? The X? I'm way overthinking this.

The string blocks have darker strings on the center diagonals that create colorful Xs in this layout.

Wow. It looks like I stuck my finger in an electric outlet. Too wild? I need to think it over.

Projects Around the House

Scanning and shredding continues apace. Two more drawers cleared. I'm finding a few things that still need to be retained physically but hope to limit it to one drawer. Once the compost bin filled I attacked our bookcases and culled three bags of books for the next library sale. QS and I laughingly refer to moving junk out of the house as foundational cleaning. I imagine how happy the house is to lose the weight and I certainly love having more room in the rooms.

We enjoyed a quiet holiday weekend at home. All our family called at some point... and we watched Hamilton. DH took me to the stage play a few years ago as a special gift but the many unique angles of the video recording make it almost as remarkable. 


Our national election scheduled for November 3 is 119 days away. The Vote411 website can help any American register, check their registration status, and find out what is on their specific ballot. I find printing a sample ballot before going to vote gives me time to double check all my options. Who can you help register? And get to a polling place? Democracy requires the participation of ALL citizens. 

Enjoy the day, Ann