Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tartan Diamond in a Square and AHIQ 22

Today is the third month of Kaja's #AHIQtwoblocks invitation. I'm on pins and needles to see what everyone has done even if, like me, you're not finished. CCII: Stacked Bricks is going to be my two block quilt; the second block forms a border. The background squares created by the Coins reminded me of a quilt I made years ago.

Tartan Diamond in a Square began with leftover Half Log Cabins/Housetop blocks. The bright, colorful ones quickly went into a simpler scrap quilt. These remaining blocks were so dull I almost donated them until... That plaid fell on those dull blocks and a perfect match was born.

About that plaid. I'd been on a business trip and wandered into WalMart one evening. This was before they standardized their offerings at every store so there was always the chance of finding something unusual. This fabric was on top of a station. From a distance it looked woolen and like the Sirens of old, it called to me across the store. I only bought 1.5 yards. {Why? There was certainly more and it was on sale.} Every scrap went into this quilt. In fact, that's why the inner section is not symmetrical.

Can you see the two block setting? It a bit of an illusion.

Tartan Diamond in a Square

The first block is composed of four Housetops.

Tartan Diamond in a Square detail with Half Log Cabins/Housetop blocks

They alternate with a simple dark or light centered block sashed with a loud plaid. Because the Housetops had subtle color variations I didn't want a single fabric in the alternate block. Neither did I want an obvious pattern. So I sewed two fabrics together, cross cut, and spun the resulting squares into a simple whirligig.

Tartan Diamond in a Square detail of dark block
While it contains some of the same shapes as the Housetops, the larger rectangles add some needed scale/shape variation.

The colors and layout fool the eye into seeing a different layout. Although more subtle than CCII, the plaids and bright purple posts seem to float in front of a background of duller dark and light. This quilt taught me that blocks don't always have to be the focal point.

Tartan Diamond in a Square detail with light block
Of course I wanted a large quilt so I combined aspects of the Amish Diamond in a Square with Middle Eastern rugs to create the border. The two different bright blues on each section define crisp edges. Creating the checkerboard in tans tied it back to the golden browns in that crazy plaid.

Tartan Diamond in a Square border detail

The stems of the vines were the only guidelines drawn for all this free motion work. I'd been told quilting doesn't show on prints so I used 40-weight thread and fearlessly quilted across the narrow borders. The work only shows on the lights but it was a joy to sew.

Tartan Diamond in a Square border corner detail

Sharp eyes will notice the same Alexander Henry fabric from my Thirty Year Sampler in the border and binding.

Quilt Details
Size: 84" x 102"
Design: Two block quilt with Housetops and original block
Batting: Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon100% cotton
Thread: variegated cotton 40 wt. thread
Quilting: SID and freemotion quilting, various freehand designs

Many two-block quilts are alternate blocks but there are other ways to combine them. Chaos #5 by Erin Wilson and Sunday Best by Michelle Wilkie demonstrate unconventional ways to create quilts of two or more blocks.

Edit: Linked to CrazyMomQuilts.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Inner Border Finished

The diamond shapes are four different darks: two purple, one black, and one navy. I like the variation although I was hesitant at the beginning. But what else can you do when there's not enough of any one fabric?

First border on CCII

Here's a close-up of the navy. It's hand-dyed fabric from India and colorfast. When the commercial fabric is this dark, it usually causes me problems so this is a welcome change. The fabric has a more textured feel and drapes well. That made me think about the mercerization and other finishing processes on many commercial fabrics.

Navy hand-dyed Indian fabric
Of course, now it  needs another border. I plan to try some of the ideas I posted last month... After a short vacation.

SFO had a new exhibit after we passed security: Games of Chance. I don't gamble {don't enjoy it} but found this exhibit of the development of coin operated machines quite interesting.

The first automatic-payout, three-reel machine was invented in 1898 San Francisco by Charles Fey. Customers couldn't calculate the payout percentage because only three symbols of the Liberty Bell's 1000 combinations showed at a time. More advantage to the house.  Charles also added bell sounds to his machine, a move copied by almost every other manufacturer since.

Liberty Bells are permanently commemorated with a historic marker at Battery and Bush. I've seen the marker and laughed at what people memorialize.

Liberty Bell mechanical game
The exhibit continued with games involving dice under glass bells {which looked like something in a physics lab}, wheels made like bicycles,  and elaborate enameled machines.

War Eagle and Horn of Plenty enameled slot machines with a bicycle wheel of fortune machine
The exhibit culminated with life size one-armed bandits. Frank Polk carved the cowboy in the 1940s, possibly as a self portrait.

One-armed bandits from the 1940s-70s

Enjoy the day,  Ann

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Chinese Coins II: Inner Border

One of the issues with waiting a while to take the next step is that you become accustomed to the {unfinished} look. It happens with houses as well as quilts. I've dawdled so long that I started to think this quilt needed dark on the outside. Not what I wanted.

So I finally started making an inner border for Chinese Coins II using hourglass instructions from Cultural Fusion Quilts by Sujata Shah. I cut my squares a bit smaller though. Even at this stage they lighten this quilt beautifully.

Adding an hourglass border to Chinese Coins II

The next big surprise is how much fabric it takes. I rarely have large amounts of any fabric but cutting five or six-inch squares uses it up quickly. Consequently, almost every side is composed of different fabrics.

After trimming a few squares I realized only the height needs consistency. The width can be anything. So I started trimming one direction 4.5" but kept as much as possible in the other. Don't get excited; at most this is a quarter-inch. Every little bit helps.

Sujata recently posted photos from a class where many students used the same simple hourglass shape in their medallions. Take a look here.

Enjoy the day,  Ann

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Surprise Baby Quilt

DH forgot to tell me one of his co-workers was expecting... He forgot for about nine months. The surprise was on me when he mentioned the birth. Fortunately one last log cabin top remained.

It only took a couple of days to quilt and bind this charmer. The larger light areas occur because some of the log cabins are entirely light fabrics rather than half light/half dark.

Half-inch logs in lights and darks create this scrappy quilt
Log Cabin baby quilt

Given all the tiny pieces and the fact that baby quilts must be washed frequently, each log is secured by quilting. I alternated groups of straight line with wavy lines. {It's a multistitch zig zag choice on my machine.}

Quilting and binding on Log Cabin baby quilt
The green insert was needed to complete the back. It's bound, separately, with the same seahorse fabric as the back.

Quilt Details
Size: 44" x 44"
Design: Log Cabin variation
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: Guterman grey cotton
Quilting: Straight and zig-zag lines with walking foot

DH and I went to see Hamilton for our anniversary.

Orpheum Theater in San Francisco
Wonderful show with excellent cast. The stage was this single set throughout with the cast moving additional items in and out as needed. The curtains never rose or fell.

Hamilton stage set
Dinner included a view of the Bay Bridge as the sun set.

View of the Bay Bridge from Perry's
The next day we enjoyed fish tacos at the Woodhouse Fish Co.

Woodhouse Fish Co.

I loved our seat in the corner of this vintage cafe.

Charming decor in the Woodhouse Fish Co.

Enjoy the day,  Ann

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Chinese Coins IV: Every Last Scrap

There was a childhood story about a magic pot that made porridge. Like the Sorcerer's Apprentice, the lazy child started the process but couldn't stop it. Porridge bubbled out of the pot, filled the house, and ran down the street until the cook came home and said the magic words.

That's exactly what my scrap bag feels like. It's only an old zippered, clear plastic bag that once held a set of twin sheets. Twin; not king size. {The small size and zipper pleased me enormously.} So how can it still have fabric? Will it ever empty?

Chinese Coins IV: Medallion in progress

When I finished CCIII many of these strip sets were sewn and it looked like enough for another quilt. So I pulled out the other half of that Alexander Henry fabric and started again. This one has more dark blue in the center.

I'm obsessively clearing these strings but decided to see if I could finish a top while finally emptying the scrap bag. Because choices are very limited, the coins are grouped by length rather than any artistic merit. The sides of each border are different lengths from necessity but add more interest.

Pinning that outer dark border on the wall suddenly darkened the entire quilt. What a difference from left side to right side.

Dark outer border makes a dark quilt

After sewing the first border and half the dark, the center looked awkwardly long. So I folded it up, took a photo, and went to lunch. I do enjoy the bit of orange extending through two borders at the bottom.

What if the center was shorter?

After the break I still like the shorter version. It seemed unsewing would be my afternoon lot until... Epiphany. These borders are no particular size. And the center is just a single piece of fabric. I unsewed a bit of the side borders and cut along the seam line. Then I trimmed the center down and resewed everything. About twenty minutes. I fiddled with the side borders to avoid a common seam but it was fairly easy.
Preparing to shorten the center

By the end of the day CCIV emerged. These aren't Roman numerals. So not 204, thank goodness! It's Chinese Coins, version 4. This could be a baby quilt; it's now about 41" by 46".

Piano Keys borders of Chinese Coins surround a whole cloth center
Chinese Coins IV: Medallion quilt top

Other than a dusting of lint the scrap bag is empty... for the moment. Color me peaceful.

I've been possessed. What is my compulsion to use up every last scrap? Despite nodding as friends talk about tossing these bits, I hate throwing good fabric away. {Did I just throw good thread and irreplaceable time away though?}

Many of the brighter fabrics went to the Mini Trip and the previous Coins. As you can imagine the remnants became successively duller although many light-colored fabrics remained. I think those were the impetus to make these two medallions. I'm attracted to lighter-colored quilts these days so making the outer borders light pleases me.

I've never used a whole cloth approach before; the center makes me slightly uneasy. It could be beaded or embellished; applique flowers and leaves are another idea. In fact, rotating the quilt might turn those white flowers into part of an appliqued vase with stems. And the Coin border could ground lots of applique. Possibilities...

These tops might be a good place to pursue future, new techniques. On the other hand, extra tops and quilts are always useful for unexpected gifts and donations.

Fern Royce recently posted a much livelier coin medallion quilt made with solids. Love the way she turned the corners of the borders. More information on her blog here.

Enjoy the day,  Ann

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Chinese Coins Retrospective to Date

CCIII: Medallion is finished for now. The inner border contains many of the lightest lights while the outer border is more colorful. I like the subtle difference between the two.

Chinese Coins III: Medallion

This top will be a good toddler quilt, currently 51" by 60".

Before Kaja and I started this invitation, I didn't think there were many variations of Chinese Coins, even with an extended definition. How many ways have I interpreted them now? Besides this medallion, I've made two columnar Chinese Coins: the red/aqua Coins

Improv Chinese Coins

and the Pflugerville Coins, which was my first #AHIQChinese Coins.

Pflugerville Chinese Coins

The leftover from the first morphed into a Rail Fence.

Rail Fence variation from Chinese Coin remnants

I'm working on Stacked Coins, CCII.

Stacked Coins variation of Chinese Coins, in progress
Obviously, scrap quilts still have my heart and this idea is an easy way to use up leftover fabric. Other quilters have made much more original variations that truly push the boundaries. For example, Paula interpreted seed growth while Marly used coins as the background for a delightful tree. Meanwhile, Patty created a value study in grey tones that I return to look at again and again. I enjoy reading how people take a germ of an idea and develop their own vision.

For more examples browse through the links here and here. Color, design, ideas abound. So many ways to speak with our own voice even when starting from a single point.

Enjoy the day,

Ann

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Chinese Coins III: Working Around the Medallion

My sewing room is a wreck. Fabric everywhere and as usual, the scrap bag is a swash zone of leftovers/rejects. On one hand is an urge to toss it while on the other hand, perhaps there's one more quilt in it. It's impossible to get anything else out so I can't start another quilt till I sew up or clear out this mess.

Most of the remaining strings are dark or light. Boring, but they might make a good string/piano keys/Chinese Coin medallion.

Originally I thought of Gwen Marston's quilt in this style. Lucy Mingo of Gee's Bend made Bible Story which is now owned by Bill Volkening. He wrote an amusing article about Lucy signing this quilt for him. Both quilts are made of solids but Gwen's has a single fabric center while Lucy's is a large nine-patch.

I planned a few Broken Dishes for my center until this old Alexander Henry remnant caught my eye. Although a tiny bit went into my Propeller quilt, {I recognize the cut-out shape. Ha!} the rest has been moldering in the scrap bag. It's a big print and {sort of} blends with {some of} the strings.

Starting a medallion quilt of Chinese Coin strips

The narrow light inner border looks quite nice. Except for the dark blue flower in the lower right. How did that happen? I may change it but...

Working on the third border

The dark border is getting too bright for the center. These strings are still the swash zone, but there are quite a few reds since I actively excluded most from Stacked Coins. Oddly, there were few rust/peach-colored strings.

Linked to Let's Bee Social.

Enjoy the day,  Ann