Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Chinese Coin Demonstration

Since agreeing to give a short demonstration on Chinese Coins that date looms ever larger in my mind. Several of my Coin quilts were gifted away while others are tops at best {and some are just ideas in my brain.} It didn't seem right to have only photos to show; I need to finish {and keep} some. And I need to create a simple-yet-interesting Coin top to start them off.

How to best explain this process to new quilters is another issue. What process? As my sister aptly noted, I just pull everything from my stash and scrap bag and throw it together. Finally I wrote what I think I do. Now I will follow those directions {guidelines? suggestions?} to verify that's a workable plan.

Dovetailing my efforts, I cut strips with a certain person in mind. This woman likes yellow. "Yellow and what?" you ask. Unspecified. Last time I made her a string quilt that avoided resolving that question. This time I'm adding green. Yellow, black, white, and green. Easy peasy.

Chinese Coin fabrics in yellow, green, black and white

The yellow and green look great together. Probably a bit louder than she wants but, hey.

Yellow and green Chinese Coin columns

Adding the white columns made the green unworkable. Now the green is too bright, too loud. It makes the other columns look faded and dirty.

Yellow, white, and green columns of Chinese Coins

After a day's reflection, I sewed only yellow and white columns together. A soft, lovely quilt I think she will enjoy. Well, there are some wild fabrics in there but it does come from me and I like the buffalo plaid, the black and cream triangles, and the white daisies {which I bought for Freddy Moran's class when we took her shopping... or more truthfully, we drove while she took us shopping. Good memory there.} I bought a yard but only used one arc's worth in the Polka Dot quilt, so it became the back of the Racetrack quilt. One strip surfaced in the scrap bag.

Yellow and white Chinese Coin quilt top

Chinese Coins VI contains most of my talking points with no extraneous techniques to muddy the presentation. Mixing prints, using solid white, adding a strip square, changing column widths, and ruler cutting the sides. The only thing missing is using a third color. Much as I and FO (future owner) like this quilt, it might confuse new quilters into thinking they should only make two color Coins.

Sigh. I'll have to try again. Another sigh because there are still many green coins to use up. I do wish I could learn to cut what is needed rather than creating a small mountain of pieces each time.

Quilt Trunk Show in Berkeley
A special treat yesterday: Julie Silber presented a trunk show of some of her quilts dating from 1828-1948. Here's my favorite of the night. All she needed to add is, "Make up your bed."

Red and green quilt in Julie Silber's collection

Our friend, Rod Kiracofe helped her display the quilt and showed one of his Wheel quilts.

Julie Silber holds a Wheel quilt from Rod Kiracofe's collection

Rod and Julie are selling quilts from their collections February 10 and 11. They are sure to be swamped with buyers.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Chinese Coins II Quilted

"...men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys."
- Charles Dickens from A Christmas Carol

Hooray! CCII is done and dusted. And yes, I lifted that phrase straight from Kaja. Alliteration somehow sounds even more complete; every i dotted, every t crossed. Spic and span. Hmm. Could this be the reason comic book characters have alliterative names? Pepper Potts, Peter Parker, Lois Lane, Beetle Bailey. But I digress.

Chinese Coins II quilt

The pennants on the border are free motion echo quilted. Not perfect but I'm pleased with the result and it was much easier than turning the quilt while using a walking foot. After a few, I developed a rhythm - a bit slower is better. If I can just remember it.

Free motion echo quilting 

Here's a view of the quilted borders. The purple diamonds have an orange peel design with a central eyes. The pastel triangles on either side are simple waves in matching threads.  The pennants have a serendipitous V design; I simply didn't want to repeatedly stitch-in-the-ditch in order to move from one echo to the next. And the white background is a basic feather.

Free motion echo and feather quilting

Why did I worry about using different threads? Here's the same area I took a photo of previously. Thread is barely visible. {Again, I point out my blog's name - Fret Not Yourself - as a personal reminder to stop the handwringing.}

View of the back and binding of Chinese Coins II

Another area of the back looks like this. I see some parallel quilting lines but only the merest hints of anything else.

Another view of the back and binding of Chinese Coins II

These loops are fast becoming a favorite. Libby Lehman used to say everyone has a signature quilting design, something that comes easy to them. Hers was random loops. I used to think mine was spirals but this ribbon of loops are also moving up in my ranking. {I'll also point out we can learn new styles. Baptist Fans used to be disastrous but mine look fairly good these days.}

Loop quilting in the sashing of Chinese Coin II quilt

The loops, feathers, and echo quilting also appeared in my Spiderweb quilt... in corresponding places. Do I now have a personally identifiable style?

The binding is a bright blue bandana print. I wouldn't have chosen it from my stash but found it in the binding bin and think it's a perfect edge. Almost enough for the entire quilt.

Chinese Coin II quilt binding, quilting, backing 
Here's a glimpse of the back.

Scrappy back of Chinese Coins II quilt

Everyone needs deadlines. - Walt Disney

Truer word were never spoken. The deadline that kicked me into gear? Not New Year's resolutions. Next month I'm demonstrating Chinese Coins to my quilt guild. Ever since I agreed to present I've been wondering what I have to show. Most of my Coin quilts are given away. Examples on hand would help. How's that for a motive?

Previous posts:
1. Collecting Coins
2. Arranging Coins
3. Revisiting Chinese Coins II
4. Sashing Chinese Coins II
5. Sashing Sewn
6. Retrospective to Date
7. Inner Border
8. Starting the Outer Border
9. Working on the Outer Border
10. Outer Border Choices
11. Outer Border Sewn
12. Quilting in progress

Wow. So many posts. I'd forgotten how long I've been working on the quilt. Some come together quickly, some slowly, and some are as slow as molasses in January... like this one. But it's worth the wait. I quite like it; warts and all. It's headed to a wonderful home after the demo.

Quilt Details
Size: 84"" x 78"
Design: Chinese Coins
Batting: Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon100% cotton
Thread: blue Aurifil Mako 50/2 cotton , YLI nylon monofilament, pink and purple Metler fine embroidery cotton, green Superior cotton, white Guterman cotton 
Quilting: walking foot SID; freemotion lines, loops, spirals, stars and feathers

The Movie That Almost Got Away
Somehow we missed The Man Who Invented Christmas {check the trailers and snippets on this site} in December but fortunately found it at the dollar shows in north Dallas. We all went for a belated Christmas treat. And what a treat it was! Beautifully staged, costumed, and acted.  DIL noticed Dan Stevens, her hero from Beauty and the Beast, played Charles Dickens. I noticed Christopher Plummer, my hero from Sound of Music, played Scrooge. Bharat Nalluri directed this film as well as another of my favorites, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. I'm buying a copy as soon as one becomes available.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Linked with Finish it up Friday and Oh, Scrap.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Finally Quilting Chinese Coins II: AHIQ 29

AHIQ Invitation
Kaja and I discussed last year's AHIQ invitations and think they went pretty well. Our goal was and remains to build an interested community of quilters exploring original ideas for everyday quilts. The open-ended topics let each of us develop our own interests at a variety of skill levels. We all  expanded our understanding of improvisational utility quilting and became more confident in our skills.

I noticed that I needed more than a couple of months to work on each idea, especially since I wanted to incorporate the technique into ongoing work. Meaty projects that challenge me on several levels are much more engaging {although I'm in the throes of a group of fairly quick small quilts right now.} However, by the end of the year everyone's energy dropped off. I know my time was overcommitted. There were several projects that simply had to be finished; something had to give.

This year we plan to present only two invitations/challenges. We hope this will fit into your schedule more easily, encourage more participation and longer discussions. Kaja's leading off with a new idea this month. Check her post for all the details. I can't wait to start.

Queued Up
I finished several quilts recently because they were small but I'm still working on two that are pin basted.

Chinese Coins II quilt (CCII) with SID complete

Southern Hairstyles and Quilting
My mother loved to read columnist Marilyn Schwartz in the Dallas Morning News. The way Marilyn poked fun at Texas pretensions always made her laugh. When A Southern Belle Primer: Or Why Princess Margaret Will Never Be a Kappa Kappa Gamma appeared in 1991 my mother was among the first to purchase it.

One chapter dealt with hair. Given a choice, Texas women want fine rather than coarse hair because it sounds classier. Curly or straight? Curly, of course; waves are so beautiful. And thick or thin? Why thick. As Marilyn noted, we just selected the worst possible combination: curly, fine and thick - a mess to style, ready to frizz with the slightest humidity.

What does this have to do with quilting? Well, that's the same way I quilt. Simple or complex pattern? Complex. Print or solid fabric? Prints, of course. Simple or detailed quilting? Oh, detailed, please. And we all know the result. Tiny pieces rarely show prints to advantage (and vice versa.) In fact, echo or parallel quilting is all that really shows on my quilts because those beloved prints hide all the fancy stitching.

So why do I spend so much time agonizing over quilting designs? IDK. Crazy. The longer I dither, the less capable I am of moving forward. CCII is a case in point. Realistically I should quilt an all-over pattern with grey thread and move on. Not much is going to show on this large quilt with loads of patterned fabrics. But I can't bring myself to do that.

Quilting Smaller Shapes on CCII
New Year's prodded me to get busy. The choice was to quilt it or watch is rot in storage. Requisite SID started the quilting. Then FMQ in dark threads since I had {sort of} decided on how to attack the darkest fabrics. The spiral-and-wiggle isn't that great. What was I thinking?  And everything always looks bad at this stage - especially when dark thread traipses across white backgrounds. I keep reminding myself it will look better when the rest is done. I didn't want to worry about threads peeking through. Now I only need to finalize the rest of the designs.

Free motion quilting on Chinese Coins II quilt back

Next up was the star posts combining a spiral with FMQ outline of the points.

Bottom left: Free-hand-and drawn circle with washable marker.
Bottom right: Hold the tails, stitch the circle then start to spiral out. It's slow moving the tails from hand to hand as I circle around.
Top right: Continue spiralling until I hit the base of one of the star points.
Top left: Outline the star points with FMQ. Finish back at the spiral to tie off.

Quilting a star with spiral center

In case you're still wondering: Princess Margaret would not be pledged because she smoked in public.

Enjoy the day, Ann

InLinkz removed because it was hacked.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Change the Border, Change the Quilt

"Our true nationality is mankind." H.G. Wells

Bordering the Spiderwebs
I sewed the scrappy little spiderwebs.  Despite the waviness of the edges, the sides are the same length; a border will stabilize it. That's where it got interesting.

There's just enough of the white print... but it looks dull and unfinished.
Border ideas for spiderweb quilt
Top left: spiderwebs sewn
Top right: white border only
Bottom left: narrow purple inner border
Bottom right: narrow blue inner border

The blue works better and gives some needed definition. Funny how quiet the white print looked before it was cut into kites. Now the spiderwebs are lost on this print. Using it as a border just makes things worse.

Perhaps a quieter white would do the trick.

Back through the stash for another border choices. White microdot is certainly quieter but just looks empty against all the busyness. I wish I'd noticed it before cutting the kites; it might have worked well there. Also, the inner border is a pretty blue but that shade doesn't add to the conversation.

Another border choice for the spiderweb quilt

Finally I really sat and looked at the fabrics in this top: red, pink, white, blue-green, green. The turquoise green grid print has languished in the stash for several years. Even though the color makes me smile, it's never fit anywhere. But look how well it blends with the lighter green stars. So... I used it for a single border. No inner border at all.

Spiderweb baby quilt top with sea green border
What a difference these potential borders made. The "wrong" ones deadened the quilt but this turquoise green gives presence to the spiderwebs. The reds, whites, and pinks are {almost} back in place rather than moving all around the top. The color actually corrals and heightens all those other greens and prints.

Hopefully my perseverance in taking time to select the right fabric for the border is a harbinger of many more good decisions in 2018. {Let's ignore my typical "full speed ahead" questionable choice of the pink and white print for the stars. That's so last year.}

Dining with the Locals
While visiting Dallas last week we had lunch at the Communion Cafe. What an interesting concept. They converted a auto repair shop waiting room into this sophisticated cafe serving excellent coffees, teas, and entrees.

Communion Cafe

The auto bay conversion is even more striking. Large tables and sofa groupings in the front allow people to freely interact. Behind them is a closed area available for hire as a work space. It's arranged so you can safely leave your work there although it's as light as the outer area due to more floor to ceiling windows. The combination cafe/co-working space/meeting place created by these young owners excites me. I wish them well.

Co-working space at Communion Cafe

We seem to dine at former auto shops frequently. One of our favorite local hideaways is Maga's Restaurant.

Maga's Restaurant

Maga cooks while her sisters wait. She's an excellent chef. {Her chicken tostadas are my favorite.} An original mural and interesting artwork adorn the interior. When you attend Quilt Festival Houston, you can get here on MetroRail {with a 12 minute walk at the end} or on the bus {with only a two block walk.}

Mural at Maga's Restaurant

Speaking with owners and staff is one of the many joys of dining at independent cafes. I wish there were more of them. Of course, in order to have more, we must patronize them regularly. Where's your favorite cafe or coffee shop?

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Housetops Quilted

This is a lovely, soft quilt that I hope will be used daily by the baby. So I wanted a quilting design that enhances the softness as well as the durability. Baptist Fans work well with the spacing and direction changes. {And somehow, these colors are a bit off. Overexposed? The quilt really looks like the photos from the last post.}

Housetops quilt with Baptist fan quilting

I bought these darling bunnies on blue for the back and bound it with a tiny blue and white stripe. Stripes are our favorite binding, aren't they.

Bunnies on the back of the Housetop baby quilt

Including conversation prints is always a fun game for me. Here are some sophisticated sparrows in orange rain (?), bicycles, and fish.

Bird, bicycle, and fish print fabrics on the Housetop baby quilt

And I had to include these charming owls, my college mascot.

Owl print fabric on the Housetop baby quilt
Each block is ten inches with four or five strips sashing two sides of a center square. I cut the strips 1.25-3” wide and combined them to reach the ten inch mark.

Previous post here.

Quilt Details
Size: 38" x 38"
Design: Housetop or Handkerchief Corners
Batting: Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon100% cotton
Thread: green Aurifil cotton 50/2 thread
Quilting: Free-motion Baptist fans

I believe the intended use of the quilt informs the type of care it requires. One of my goals is that people love, use, and even wear out the quilts I make. Of course, I'd like them to use them gently and take care of them - rather like polishing our shoes and putting shoe trees in at night. But most of my gifts are utility quilts, meant for daily use. I always include this information sheet... then I keep my mouth shut whatever they choose to do.

Caring for a Quilt is permanently linked on my Tutorial page. Other people have their own instructions. Quilt Care by Michigan State University is a good guide for utility quilts. On the other hand, The National Quilt Museum prohibits machine washing. They have excellent information for heritage quilts - or quilts we hope will become heritage.

What's your opinion?

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, January 13, 2018


Inspired by Gees Bend and Linda's Handkerchief Corners quilt I started one myself.

Here are the first two blocks made from true scraps. Love the color riot that was starting. Unexpectedly someone special called for a baby quilt with mint. So I cut some strips thinking they would blend with the previous ones.

Housetop  quilt blocks

The next day the color scheme was clarified: mint and coral. The further I progressed, the less the original pull worked with it. I could have continued in my own loud style but want everyone to be happy.

Fabric strips for housetop baby quilt

And here's what I finished with.

Housetops quilt top

Quite a change. The red and dark purples are gone. Several fabrics include birds and fish. I think both parents will like it. I like it myself. The lesson to me is that colorful scrappy can also be restrained.

That large bird is a remnant from the toile border on my spiderweb quilt. It adds extra meaning to me and hopefully to the recipient. I do love connecting quilts and generations.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Fifth Chinese Coins Quilted

Such a simple quilt but with all the household and family memories, it's one of my favorites. Definitely a keeper.

Fifth Chinese Coins quilt

At first the fabrics seemed a random assortment; however, the monochromatic blue scheme made its presence known. {Black and white create the darkest and lightest of any color.} The multitude of blues became a boring as the quilt grew. Adding small amounts of purple and green perked it up again.

So the monochromatic color stretched into an analogous scheme. In the end, I simply had to add a smidge of red coins, too. By this point I was thinking about the color wheel. Orange should have been the "correct" color to complement blue but it didn't work for me. Whether it's because the many of the blues have a green cast (making a red the complement) or because it's my favorite color, nothing but red would do.

One perennial problem with improvisational quilts is finding the edges. Where and how should it end? Making Chinese Coins columns uniform length seemed easy but when I started quilting I realized a couple of rows were short. No problem.  I sewed two coins side by side and appliqued them to the end of those two short rows. They are about to be trimmed in this photo but at least the other rows didn't need to be shortened further. This quilt needs all its length.

Coins were appliqued to the top of these rows to get the correct length

The first quilting was SID along the column seams with nylon monofilament on top and cotton in the bobbin. Next I quilted horizontally about 2-3" apart with cotton in top and bobbin. With that done I went back and split the distance with new quilting lines. Keeping the line spacing consistent but wide in the beginning of the project lets me stop whenever (a) it looks right or (b) I get tired of quilting. If I start out making close lines, I'm stuck to the bitter end.

Basic horizontal quilting on Chinese Coin quilt

The quilting is certainly close enough to hold the quilt but it looks a bit dull. I sewed more lines between a few of these rows and realized I liked the variation. So...

Horizontal quilting with variable spacing
The quilting alternate between seven to ten rows of close lines then six inches or so of wider spacing. Can you see them in this photo? It adds a bit of textural difference. Well, that's what I think.

When I pulled the Moda stripe for the Racetrack quilt I felt it worked even better with this one. Fortunately, there was more than enough for both. Love clearing older fabrics from my stash. Another one bites the dust!

Several aqua blue prints make up the back. This may be my first monochromatic back.

Binding and backing on Fifth Chinese Coins quilt

Previous posts:
  1. Pulling the fabric
  2. Sewing groups
  3. Arranging the columns
  4. Sewing the top

Quilt Details
Size: 73"" x 80"
Design: Chinese Coins
Batting: Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon100% cotton
Thread: grey Aurifil cotton 50/2 thread, YLI nylon monofilament
Quilting: Walking foot SID

Enjoy the day, Ann

Linking to Crazy Mom Quilts

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Fifth Chinese Coins Quilt Sewn and an Annual Review

Fifth Chinese Coins appeared to be finished until I found several more coin strips - enough for a couple of rows. A bit of hesitation. Should I add them in or not? Yes. With extra rows the quilt fits a double bed {if I use pillow shams.} So one wide row on the left and a skinny row to the right. Now the columns are sewn and I'm considering sashing strips.

Fifth Chinese Coins quilt with possible sashing

I'm not sure why I keep trying to add sashing to this quilt or why it's always dark sashing. Once up, it always seems overpowering and unnecessary so I sewed the top without any.

Chinese Coins quilt of vintage household fabrics and scraps
Fifth Chinese Coins quilt top
It was the correct choice.

2017 Review

I intended to review and set goals before the New Year but was sidelined by a racetrack quilt. With a bit of free time I can now organize the thoughts that have been playing in the back of my mind.

Last year was the first time I publicly wrote an annual plan: five quilts-in-progress and four goals.  Only two of the five from last year's post were completed - one way or another. Polka Dots was quilted and gifted. The selvedge top was donated.

On the other hand, I finished a record 23 projects counting all pillows and stockings. {And of course, I'll do that.} Nine older projects miraculously sewed themselves up and moved out. The rest were started and finished this year.

I finally included recycled fabric in a few. Kaja's photos of her bundled shirts and the subsequent pull from her stash highlighted my problem. Pulling the recycled material first completely changes the choices of new fabrics. {I think that's why her quilts have become noticeably softer this year.} Following suit I chose a wide assortment of "home recycled" fabrics first for pillows and the fifth Chinese Coins quilt then filled in with the new stuff.

Monica at Lakeview Stitching finds end use drives her color choices. She wants her bed quilts subtly shaded, leaving the "more energetic color combinations" to her art quilts. It's a point I've been pondering for a while. Although our level of quiet for bedrooms varies significantly, I too want that room to be restful and relaxing.

Four quilts finished in 2017 involved complex designs that encompassed all my abilities. I like having projects with depth and challenge but also need some easier ones to simply keep the scrap bag in stasis.

Considering the quilting backlog whittled away, the new projects carried across the finish line, and the fabric stash used or donated, publicly announcing my goals helped me achieve them. Worth repeating.

2018 Plans
  1. Write the baseball quilt pattern.
  2. Finish New York Beauty, Ocean Waves, and Quilty 365.
  3. Focus on smaller quilts, beginning with the three designs already drafted.
  4. Pay attention to color and fabric choices.
  5. Practice simpler quilting designs.
  6. Continue combinations: recycled + scraps + new fabrics; traditional + improvisation + original designs. 
  7. Add more details. This probably means applique or printing and stamping. Thanks for the inspiring posts, Audrey and Kaja.
Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Racetrack is Quilted and Bound

The Racetrack is is open for business. Starting the New Year with a finished quilt. Hooray!

For years I've known this block design as Racetrack or Snake in the Grass. Boy, that last name does not do it for me. Yuck. Looking through my reference books I couldn't find either name nor could I find the design under any other name.

It's similar to Polka Dot, Drunkard's Path, and Robbing Peter to Pay Paul blocks but the important point is that the "road" must be centered on each side. I wrote about that aspect last year here.

Racetrack quilt top sewn
I drafted a six-inch block, then cut plastic templates with seam allowances added. I traced these with Frixion pens, something I don't normally use because the ink can never be removed. But these marks are on the cutting lines so will never be seen and they were certainly easier to cut out.

It's also not a beginner's block although I wonder if paperless paper piecing would make it easier. There are two quarter circles on each block which makes it harder. Take your time pinning and sewing. Be careful while pressing. When squaring the block you must keep the roads centered. In my case that meant the road edges lined up at 2.5 and 4.0" for the 6.5" unfinished block. Doesn't sound hard except those measurements must line up on each side. If you've pulled the block out of shape it may not be useable.

Pinning the Racetrack quilt and choosing thread color
To make the racetrack more than a single path, I added two four-way intersections...

A four-way intersection on the Racetrack quilt

and two three-way intersections.

A three-way intersection on the Racetrack quilt

Both intersections give the driver multiple ways to move his car along the track loops but to get a closed course with three-way intersections, use an odd number of rows and columns. My even-numbered rows mean the roadway runs off the quilt. I wanted to do that so our Fabulous Guy can extend the raceway with building blocks but other people may not want cars racing off the quilt/mat.

I considered sewing a median line along the road but finally just stitched in the ditch along each side and then went back and meandered on the background areas.

Radiator Springs Racetrack quilt

This old Moda stripe as been in the stash for years. I love stripes for binding and think the colors work well here. Plus, I'm trying to use up fabric when I find a good place for it. No more saving it for that "perfect" project. The blues and greens blend with the top while the cream background makes it sit back a bit. After all, the racetrack itself is the star of the show.

Radiator Springs Racetrack quilt detail of binding and carhops

This is the first time I regret using Mountain Mist. It always shrinks a bit so this is now the Radiator Springs Speedway. If I'd used Warm and Natural or something that doesn't shrink the racetrack might have been smoother. But cars will never be able to race down it independently. They must be hand-pushed.

Back, binding, quilting on Radiator Springs Racetrack quilt

The loud back is two fabrics that didn't make it to the front. Fun and bright.

Back of Radiator Springs Racetrack quilt

Previous post here. I'm surprised how quickly this one was finished. Perhaps because all the leftovers gave me more time for sewing. It's in the mail and should arrive by Twelfth Night. Who remembers that as the traditional day to exchange gifts?

Quilt Details
Size: 44.5"" x 44.5"
Design: Racetrack or Snake in the Grass
Batting: Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon 100% cotton
Thread: yellow Aurifil cotton Mako 50/2 and YLI nylon monofilament
Quilting: walking foot SID and free-motion meander

Yesterday my son called New Year's resolutions a to-do list for the first week of January. Hopefully mine will last a bit longer. Wishing you all a healthy and happy 2018.

Enjoy the day, Ann