Tuesday, August 29, 2017

African Boxes and Eichler Homes

Words on Quilts

As I mentioned several times, I'm probably the last person to add words to quilts. Bad to be so far behind the curve. Good that there are so many excellent examples to spark ideas. One of my favorite quilters is Lynne at Patchery Menagerie. Her work is beautifully executed and usually humorous. For example, take her Chicken quilt. Here are the results of a Chicken search on her site. Taking the time to read through these posts will enlighten you on her process and certainly generate ideas of your own. Thanks, Lynne, for sharing so generously.

African Boxes

This quilt started from a photo sent by Sujata with a casual challenge to make a quilt from it. That was back in 2015. I had an immediate response to the structure and red color. By happenstance I was already making sets of long skinny triangles. It struck me these could easily substitute for the red boxes.

It's been finished since last year but I kept it to put in our quilt show this spring. I finally had the opportunity to personally give it to the recipient.

African Boxes, improv quilt
African Boxes

I stitched in the ditch down each side of the "strings" as well as the triangles. Then I casually echo stitched the piecing with a walking foot.

African Boxes, detail

The back is also muslin. This is one of the softest quilts ever. That muslin makes it so comfortable to snuggle in.

Detail of stitching from the back, African Boxes
Construction details.

Quilt Details

Size: 63" x 71"
Design: Original based on antique Ghanaian textile
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100%cotton
Thread: Gutterman 50/2 white cotton and YLI invisible nylon monofilament
Quilting: Walking foot 

Eichler Homes Exhibit

I saw this intimate exhibit at the Los Altos History Museum last week. Joe built open occupancy, post-war subdivisions in northern California with wide streets, parks, and community centers that are still treasured today. Open occupancy meant all races and cultures were welcome. In fact, he resigned from the National Association of Home Builders because they would not support this standard.

They are mainly one story homes with walls of windows on the back or side and frequently included an atrium. Perfect for California.

The museum had several current and vintage photos of Eichler homes...

Photo of an Eichler home in the 1960s

Photos of Eichler homes today by Marika Reed

floor plans {I always love these because they're like maps.}...

Eichler home floor plan
Eichler home floor plan

and accessories from the 50s and 60s.

Home accessories from the 1960s

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Piecing Words

The Phillies top may be done. I'm letting it marinate while I start on the quilt back. These free-pieced words don't seem to match the cursive team name on the front. And besides it's turned out that there are many more words than will fit on the front. So I decided to fill the back with them.

Piecing letters is so much fun. Why did I wait so long to try it? Some are quite easy: r  o  f

Piecing r, o and f

Of course, there are letters that eat my lunch. Like W.

Drafted w's and one attempt to piece it
After several iterations on graph paper, I thought I had a plan - until I kept slicing the wrong section or cutting the wrong direction. I finally have enough but they are much larger than the others. Ah, well. It adds a whimsical feel. {That's my story and I'm sticking to it.}

I pieced the FO's name first. {To respect his privacy, no photos of that.} I didn't know what I was doing but it came out okay. Next was his college with graduation date {The 2 was tough.} Now I've started a couple of sayings.

Piecing words for a quilt back
What have I learned so far?
  1. It's hard to free piece and stay uniform in size. {No, they aren't supposed to be completely uniform but look at how the word Phillies grew. The s is as large as the h. Mrs. Davis, my second grade teacher, would not approve.}
  2. It's hard to be a "little bit" wonky. {It's kind of like "a little bit pregnant."}
  3. A quick graph of each letter helps keep track - of the direction and width of lines as well as width of open spaces. 
  4. Typesetters have letter blocks with identical heights for a reason. 
  5. It helps to mix making each letter the same height with sewing a couple of short letters together and then adding the height.
  6. One-inch finished width "brushstroke" is too wide for a three-inch tall letter.
  7. It's easier to  cut a larger background square and then subcut it for the letter. (See the r above.)
Fortunately, we are not in Houston this week but we are certainly keeping an eye on Hurricane Harvey. Our neighbors say they are prepared.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

AHIQ 24: Pieced and Appliqued Words

Wasn't the solar eclipse exciting? I hope you had a good view of it, too. If not in person then at least on the news. NASA had an entire series of telescopes set up to view the live event as it crossed the US. Here's a feed from Madras, Oregon.

This is the second month of #AHIQwords invitation.  Part of improvisation is trying new techniques even if we must push ourselves. I may be the last quilter to add lettering to a quilt but it's something I always wanted to try. This is the time for me to check it off my list. The thing is: it's so much fun I can't wait to start another! Who'd a thought?

Baseball Quilt

The blocks are pieced and sewn with sashing. After realizing blue would dissolve the hat and red the shoes, I chose a white-and-blue stripe combined with red-and-white make a wide sashing. The quilt is getting livelier by the day. In baseball, the team name is on the front while the player's name and number is on the back. I could put numbers on each player or simply a "P" but haven't decided yet. {In part because FO hasn't sent me a list of his favorite players.}

Baseball players in red and white pinstripe
Phillies baseball team with sashing

Words on Quilts

This is as good a place as any to add words to a quilt. My first idea was to freely piece words around the borders until I realized the Phillies name is usually red in an upright cursive.  That's a machine applique job. After many attempts, my script finally looks similar to theirs. 

I traced Phillies onto red fabric then prepped the entire 8"x 25" rectangle using Lara's method in Crafted Applique. Years ago, Cindy England told me the best way to make sure a word is straight is to cut it out after it's laid on the background. And Audrey at Quilty Folk keeps writing that she appliques before sewing the border to the quilt. Isn't it helpful to have such smarties around? It's certainly made the job easier.

After lining the word up with the edge of the border, I pinned it, pressed it, then machined sewed along the pencilled lines. Then, taking a very deep breath, I cut about an eighth-inch away to remove the extra. 

Starting to cut away the applique

Mel at Piece, Love & Happiness loves Havel snips for this. I tried hers a few times but couldn't get enough control. Fortunately, Havel has another pair that remind me of nail scissors. The curved blades made cutting around the curves a snap; I simply turned the scissors back and forth in my hand to match the seam. Thanks, Mel!

With some relaxing music while sitting at a sturdy table with good light, I finished in about an hour. 

Continuing to cut away the applique with Havel scissors

The FO's name and graduation year need a location - border or back.

They won the World Series in 1980 and 2008. Their mascot, Phillie Phanatic, is considered the best in baseball.  Features of their ballpark include:
  • The Angle
  • Ashburn Alley
  • Liberty Bell {lights up for home runs}
  • Veterans Memorial
  • Memory Lane
  • Rooftop bleacher seats
Also under consideration are these sayings by Phillies players and announcers:
  • Moon Shot.
  • Ya gotta believe.
  • Swing and a long drive. That ball is outta here.
  • When it is time to go out on the field, we all go out through the same door.
  • For who? My teammates. For what? To win.
  • Half of this game is ninety percent mental.
  • Root, root, root for the Phillies
Looking at this increasingly long list, piecing them on the back might be the best plan. It seems very hard to keep creating this wide, even cursive. Besides, I've been itching to try free-piecing letters.

What words have you found for your project? How are you planning to add them to your quilt? Kaja and I created a new Pinterest board, Alphabet, with a variety of pieced and appliqued words and letters. It's a good starting point to spark your own ideas.

Just in case you're still working on with Chinese Coins, take a look at Patricia's quilt for Nora combining Coins with words. Wish I'd thought of that.

Eli Leon, African American Quilt Collector

A friend forwarded this article about Eli Leon. In the 1970s Eli began collecting African American quilts in Berkeley CA. After winning a Guggenheim fellowship, he travelled across the South to research and purchase more of this art. Eli 
posited, "There were African survivals and enduring African influences in African-American quilts, and that quilts made by African-Americans reflected the survival of a cultural identify under siege." He mounted several local and national exhibits from his extensive collection. Sherri Lynn Wood wrote more about him here and here.

Enjoy the day, Ann

InLinkz removed because it was hacked.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Field of Dreams

OK, a field of someone else's dreams. It's still a blast.

After a rough start, the Phillies ballplayers are coming together nicely. A couple of adjustments made the piecing easier. I straightened the curve on the glove and sewed the belt before cutting the shirt. I also thickened the ankles of the high tops. The casually pieced stick figure style amuses me although making raglan sleeves made this block a bit more complicated. But baseball means raglans and inset seams don't bother me.

They are large blocks with oddly shaped pieces so I'm cutting and sewing one at a time. Each block takes about a day but only nine are needed.

Phillies baseball players in pinstripes
Phillies ballplayers

Five blocks finished. I'm over halfway. And I'm making right-handed players now! {It was easier on my mind to sew the lefties first then the righties.}

Philadelphia's colors are red, white, and blue. I'd like to sash with red or blue but the feet and cap may become lost. The first four fabrics came from my stash but I purchased the two on the right to finish round it out.

Tuesday is our next AHIQ linkup where we'll be sharing where we are with letters on quilts. Have you got any new ideas?

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Celebrating Baseball and Cherries


Starting the final Great Debater quilt. The future owner (FO) and I share a love of baseball although we root for separate teams. {Hmm. That's a line from I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair in South Pacific. About halfway through the song.} Instead of riding him off my range, I decided to make a baseball quilt highlighting his beloved Phillies.

After quite a few sketches of baseball diamonds and backdrops, I remembered Farmer Fill by Freddy Moran. There are several versions in her book, Collaborative Quilting. Pages 82-84. Freddy spoke at our guild meeting last year and this is the Parts Department quilt she showed with a few of those guys.

Parts Department 2 by Freddy Moran. Shown at SCVQA meeting

I asked Freddy and she enthusiastically told to me to go for it... and send her a photo when it's done. How sweet is that?

My first pattern centered the ballplayer along the vertical axis. Looks okay except the glove fits almost to his elbow. I need to redraft this; it's bothering me more and more.

The Phillies colors are red, white, and blue. They usually play in red and white pinstripe uniforms. Lucky me. I had some in my stash - both a pinstripe and a loud red and white stripe. Loud looks better to me currently. The next job is to locate skin tones, glove tones, and green grass for them to play on. Here's what came out of my stash. My current guideline is, "No shopping until I'm absolutely sure there's nothing on hand."

Fabric pull from stash for Phillies baseball quilt

Not nearly enough greens or tans in house so I shopped QS' stash while I was there. That's my favorite first stop! After that I checked out a couple of stores in Colorado, including Alamosa Quilt Company. This small store has a broad selection of fabrics and some of the friendliest staff anywhere, including my dear friend, Peg Collins.

For a millisecond I considered using a single green for all the backgrounds. Ha! The uniforms will be consistent and that's enough. Once home, I paired skin colors with greens, trying for some contrast.

Pairing fabrics for baseball
Next I pieced my first ballplayer. I thought it would be easy to switch from lefties to righties but made several cutting errors. And I don't have extra of the pinstripe. Notice I switched from the broader red-and-white stripe to this true pinstripe shirting.

Left-handed Phillies baseball player
After all these fiascos I'm going to make a new set of templates strictly for lefties! I'm also wondering if I should make a cut-out template for the baseball glove to make fussy cutting more successful.


We're nearing the end of bing cherry season so I was determined to make at least one batch of Cherry Almond Scones. This recipe comes from Paige at For Love of the Table where I find many favorites.

My first step is to curdle some milk with lemon since I don't keep buttermilk around. Then set the eggs out until they are at room temperature while pitting and cutting the cherries.

Cutting cherries

Once the dough is prepared, I scooped sixteen small scones on parchment paper. Then they go in the freezer for a couple of hours. The final prep step is to cut the parchment and transfer the scones to freezer bags. It's easy to pull them out when needed.

Of course, I baked one for breakfast the next morning.

Cherry Almond Scone, recipe from For Love of the Table

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Second Scrappy Trip with Vintage Fabric

Still using those vintage strips but this time the quilt includes some pinks. It's a Grandmother Quilt for my college roommate. She says it reminds her of our junior year in college. {I'm not sure why that year in particular but she has a much better memory than I.} And she thinks stains won't show on this quilt very much. Ha!

Green Scrappy Trip with Red and Pink
A Grandmother Quilt is a way to celebrate. There's no way I could keep up with quilts for each grandchild of my friends. {Especially when I couldn't keep up with quilts for their children.} The grandmother or grandfather gets one on the birth of the first grandchild. They keep it and use it at their house. Or whatever. But no more quilts.

I'm still using my own method to make these blocks. Three blocks from each strip set. I prefer not having the same repeat on each side of the main diagonal. But look at that left side block with white on both sides of red/black. I like lots of green on both sides but wish I hadn't put white on both sides. Just need to pay attention to the sets and what is sewn next to what.

Like those late night ads say, "But wait. There's still more." Perhaps enough for two more small quilts. I'll leave those for another day. Definitely maybe this year. Ha.

We noticed this quote painted on a wall in San Francisco: "There's a loophole for that." So many places to apply it.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


While I'd like to work on some entirely new quilts {as well as a few new shirts}, I committed to resolving my UFOs. They need some new time in the light to determine whether they should be finished or donated. Tastes and interests change over the years. In January it seemed easy to say I'd get through this process within the year. After all, none of them were hidden. Haha. No; they're simply lost in the closet. Like this one.

Half these strips were originally cut to make a coat with Seminole piecing. It's hard to make a coat when it was never worked on after the class. Eventually these bits ended up in an old box of clothing patterns. That's one of the reasons I switched to clear boxes a few years ago - easier to see what's in them.

The colors are still some of my favorites and I know a young man who likes green so it was easy to repurpose the strips. Sixteen blocks make a good toddler sized quilt. No border. Notice they all have reds on the main diagonal. {Even though some were sewn into blocks already, I avoided the pinks for this top. Cherry picking.}

Green Scrappy Trip Around the World top with red

 It's interesting how the block boundaries are hidden in this quilt. But... Where did purple come from? The printed fabric below had some chartreuse mixed with purples and blue. Then I looked in the scrap bag and found two more tiny bits of purple so it wouldn't be so lonesome. And this is how I never make a two-color quilt.

Vintage and newer fabrics create these Scrappy Trip blocks

There are seventeen vintage versus eleven newer fabrics in the photo above. Good way to use up older stuff while updating, too. There are still a bunch of strips so I'll be making at least one more top. This wasn't exactly my plan for the month but I'm glad to keep the fabric moving.

In the evenings I'm still binding the Strippy Nine Patch. Finally on the last side. {Late night photo so the color is way off.}

Sewing the binding 

Lastly, we're enjoying the birthday roses. I only wish my thumb was green like Maureen's.

Birthday Roses

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Trip Progress

Even though a stack of tops is building, it's too hot to quilt this week. Instead I arranged Scrappy Trips using fabric was originally intended for a long jacket/short coat. These were cut for Seminole piecing inserts and there wasn't much color variation. Basically medium to dark green, red to hot pink-red, and tan to brown, a few black strips. Mostly green. Very funky green.

Ready to create Mini Trips

I added some chartreuse and creamy whites to brighten the blocks. With  2.5" strips it only takes six to make a block. Funny. I'm so accustomed to using eight that it was difficult to limit each set.

No idea how this will turn out. Hopefully the limited color palette will evoke Audrey's beautiful Blue Plumes. That will be a trick! I admire two- and three-color quilts greatly but have never been able to actually make one.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Kaleidoscope of Butterflies 19

How crazy that although I've made several kaleidoscope quilts I've never made a butterfly quilt. Time to change that. There are several options to choose including Cathy's lovely waste butterflies but, in the spirit of reducing my small pieces, I think I'll make a different one. I've been comparing tutorials from Mrs. Schmenkman and Rita at Red Pepper Quilts. Both used black backgrounds which certainly set the other fabrics off well.  There was a yard of solid blue in my stash which might resemble the sky. I started pulling some fabric. Easy peasy small quilt of about 40-50 blocks.

Then I noticed some fabric intended for a shirt... and I need a shirt. The pattern was not in my new {clear} bin so I had remember where it was. That was an experience. Finally found it behind the DVD storage boxes. How did it ever end up there? You'd think I'd been hiding it. At the bottom was a large set of 2.5" strips cut for a Rachel Clark coat class. It's been sitting here for twenty years.

Vintage strips should make good toddler quilts

Even if it doesn't look like it, almost half of this fabric is green and I have some young friends who like green. The old bait-and-switch still works. Off to make Mini Trips. Hopefully I'll start the butterfly blocks next month. Does anyone else want to join in?

This article about a parasite that attacks monarch butterflies was posted recently. The highest infection rate is in the non-migratory butterflies in Florida and unfortunately there is no cure.

Swallowtail butterflies were busy collecting nectar in the Uncompahgres. QS took the best photo.

Swallowtail tiger butterfly in Uncompahgre National Forest

This butterfly emerged from its chrysalis during our visit to Denver's Butterfly Pavilion.

Kaja made some wonderful points about adding words to quilts. There's quite a difference between planning the wording from the beginning and adding it at the end. Is there are way to combine words with butterflies? I'll have to think about that, too.

Enjoy the day, Ann

InLinkz removed because it was hacked.