Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Farmhouse Quilt Finished

"You can't be both awesome and negative.
Choose one."

Evidence indicates I will never have a stash of finished baby quilts. They leave as soon as the the final strings are buried. In the meanwhile, time is passing and the farmhouse quilt will be gifted next month. You may have noticed I'm working to the deadline... as usual.

This scrap quilt alternates Log Cabin and split Ohio Star blocks to create a straight furrow design diagonally across the surface.
Farmhouse quilt - Log Cabin and split Ohio Star blocks

I was amused to see Julie's latest quilt because we both quilted freehand Baptist Fans. Is that an example of great minds thinking alike? A few years ago Julie gave me the courage to try fans again when she shared some tips. Her post with all the details came while I was out sick but it’s here. Take a look and then try it yourself. I never mark them because it's always hard to see them on my quilts - unless they are so dark they never come out. And somehow, mine always come out larger, 6-8 inches. Four-inch fans would be easier to quilt. My new goal. 8-)

The folded quilt shows part of the front, the back's print of blue pines in the snow, and the dark blue floral binding. The Baptist fan quilting is visible, too.
Detail of binding and backing of Farmhouse quilt

There are a few dark blue plaids and stripes in my stash that looked terrible next to this lovely ikat border. I finally dug one plain dark grey-blue with enough yardage to complete the binding. Hooray.

Previous Posts:
1. Starting to piece Ohio Star blocks
2. Blocks sewn
3. Top bordered

Quilt Specifics
Size: 66"x76"
Design: Log Cabin and Split Ohio Star
Batting: Pellon 100% cotton
Thread: Gutermann 50 wt light blue cotton
Quilting: Free motion Baptist Fans
Approximate yardage: 8.75 yd

Off the Bookshelf
I knew William Smith as one of the founders of geology who developed the science of stratigraphy and created the first national geologic map in 1815. His greatest accomplishment was recognizing the continuity of the rock formations and confirming that by the specific fossils within. Fossil collecting was a stylish pastime but no one else bothered to actually relate them to the rocks where they were found nor to relate one outcrop of a rock to any other location. Simon Winchester wrote his biography with The Map that Changed the World and the cover of my copy opens to a replica of his famous map. Smith was a blacksmith's son with modest education who faced many difficulties getting recognition for his work which still hangs today at the Geologic Society of London.

The Map that Changed the World by Simon Winchester

FUR or Fabric Use Rate Update
Five finished quilts = 21 yards. Two dresses and one shirt = 11.5 yards {which includes some preliminary muslins.} Sixteen linen hand towels. I also donated 6.5 yards of fabric. Total FUR = 39 yards.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Almost the End of an Era

How beautifully trees grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.
~John Burroughs

Cleaning out continues. This time I found six yards of beautiful linen, a gift my parents brought me from Europe years ago - before my oldest was born. All these years I thought it was yardage for a shirt and doubted my ability to make it fit correctly. When I pulled it out this time it was only nineteen inches wide. {It must have shrunk while in storage.} Perfect for hand towels or dish towels - some to use and some to gift. There was enough for eight of each.

Two woven linens in medium blue on white. On has a wide blue and grey border with jacquard flowers banded with a narrow green stripe. The other is the same blue, grey, and green threads woven into a large, open plaid on the white background.
Linen hand towels
Sewing Specifics
Project: 16 linen hand towels
Size: 13" x 19"
Thread: 50- white Gutermann cotton thread
Approximate Yardage: 6 yd (but only 20" wide)

Remnants of a very old novelty stripe used to make a twin quilt for my youngest son were the next to surface from the stash. Ribbons of red or orange-and-yellow wiggle waggle between each row of critters. It made the stripe directional so the corner posts were needed to fill out the width of the quilt. Yes, we may all be getting tired of lone stars but I have the design down now and am interested in working out background variations. A few more ideas are wiggling around my brain. Haha.

Blue, red, yellow, purple, and orange print fabrics create a modern Lone Star on a pale yellow background printed with large medallions. The navy border has lines of colorful geckos and the corners are posted with and orange on red batik.
Lone Star quilt 8 with gecko border

Softer colors were planned for the quilt but once I added orange it started looking like a gas flame and screamed for a stronger center star. There was just enough of the African print to put green and blue diamonds in the center and plain blue ones at the outer points.

Two possibilities for the central star: alternating light and dark blue diamonds or alternating red and light blue diamonds.
Possible center stars on this lone star quilt

Ah, that saying: Pride goeth before the fall. Someone wasn't keeping the quilt straight as she quilted and the result is waves. Grr. But we all know the solution. Measure across the center for the binding widths and ease the sides in place.  As you can see from the first photo, everything worked out once it was washed and blocked. Whew.

The spiral quilting caused waving at the edges because the quilt was not kept square when the quilting went along the bias of the fabric.
The wave at the bottom happened when I didn't keep the packet squared up while quilting.

The egg print on the back is Birdwatchers by P and B Textiles from our dearest sister's stash. It's lovely and meaningful - almost too good for a back - but I'm sticking to my pledge to use the best stuff first. The yellow at top and bottom were needed to extend the length.

The folded quilt shows both the front gecko border, the red binding, and backing fabric printed with colorful eggs on black.
Detail of quilting and binding on Lone Star quilt 8 with gecko border and birdwatcher back

Why did I ever think I could create a stash of baby quilts ready to go? This one was gifted the day it was done.

Quilt Specifics
Size: 37"x37"
Design: Lone Star
Batting: Pellon 100% cotton
Thread: Gutermann 50 wt yellow cotton
Quilting: Spiral with a walking foot
Approximate yardage: 3.75 yd

This photo of the original quilt using this fabric was in my files. It's amazing the 25 year old photo made the transfer through all those computers because the camera is long gone. My son loved playing at the creek so it includes every fabric I could find with aquatic life. Bugs and caterpillars fill the corners. You can tell I've always designed around limited yardage of any one fabric.

This quilt uses the same gecko fabric as an inner border and uses many fabrics in colors similar to the Lone Star.
Every Critter in the Creek twin quilt

For a while I used the leftovers to make baby bibs. Then it just rested in the stash until this week. There is just enough border print before this era comes to a close.

Off the Bookshelf

Using a combination of patient and family histories, interviews with other professionals, and summaries of research, Dr. Gawande shines a light on elder- and end-of-life care in Being Mortal, another wonderful book from my shelf. After bookmarking twenty pages I finally just started underlining, something I rarely do with any but textbooks. He traces the evolution of elder care through family care, poorhouses, nursing homes, hospitals, and hospice.

We lose abilities with age and those with incurable diseases may face that issue sooner. Most of the current solutions fail to focus on the varied desires of the people for whom they're designed because "we want autonomy for ourselves and safety for those we love." Ranging from Plato to Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow to Keren Brown Wilson's community living model, he develops thoughts on "how to make life worth living when we're weak and frail and can't fend for ourselves anymore."

The cover shows the title in large black print with the subtitle in a smaller red font.
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Psychologist Laura Carstensen theorizes that "how we seek to spend our time may depend on how much time we perceive we have." As time horizons contract, whether through age or civil unrest, our focus becomes more immediate and concrete - family and simple pleasures.

Realization that life is finite "can be a gift." It drove the La Crosse, Wisconsin, hospital to develop a questionnaire for patients that ended up prolonging life, increasing peace in patients and their families, and reducing medical costs by starting family conversations about what people do and don't want before the crisis occurs.  They clarify how our lives continue to have value and reflect our goals when a cure is not possible. "You may not control life's circumstances, but getting to be the author of your life means getting to control what you do with them."

As a surgeon, Dr. Gawande recognizes the drive of all medical professionals to fight for life but he points out that death will always win in the end. We need serious and truthful discussions to prepare for the inevitable consequences of both a disease and its treatment options.

The book also discusses chronic aspects of aging, not just diseases. One point was that looking down while eating prevents the choking that many elderly experience. This was particularly useful to me because both my mother and grandmother suffered from this. I wish I'd known sooner but will put it to use in my own life.

Being Mortal touches on a wide range of topics centered on a simple question. How do you create a meaningful life at every stage of it?

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Facing the Year with Freddy

"If you want something to fall in your lap, you have to move your lap to the right place."
~Sandra Bruce

As the time passes more and more junk email arrives in my box. Most are true junk but some are various shops I've inadvertently signed up for. How and where do they obtain my email? Sometimes, it's a lucky break and this was one of those times because Freddy Moran was teaching her Faces class and there were a few last minute cancellations... and I was in the right town... and I had the day free... and the supply list was very short. Two fat quarters, glue stick, scissors, and scraps.

Even better, a non-quilting friend wanted to come. Off we went to play with paper dolls for the day. Not that there is any paper involved but it's as easy as that childhood pastime.

Here's my first face. The hair is leftover triangles from Propellers and Planes - the quilt that will never die. Several smaller quilts have spun off from its leftovers and more of these triangles yet remain.

The pieces are glued to a background fabric to create a friendly female face.
Jane: collaged face in fabric

Working quickly, the top was finished before lunch. Her eyes were flowers from a wild black and white fabric. Lobster earrings don't show up as much as I wished but they dangle beautifully. Moving her eyebrows made the biggest change in her expressions - frowning, quizzical, surprised. This position reflects the bemused wonder in her eyes.

The orignal glued nose was too large so it was replaced with a smaller and narrower strip to indicate the nose.
Jane with a nose job

Before quilting the next day she got a quick rhinoplasty. Now the printed butterfly marks the tip of her nose. I also added a strip of background fabric on the left so some of her spiky hair shows. But once it was quilted, that section didn't work anymore. Off it came.

Collage quilt of a smiling face with large eyes, spiky hair, and lobster earrings. The binding is faced.
Jane quilt

Facing seemed the best way to finish this quilt but it took two days to sew correctly. Binding would have taken me a couple of hours. It's not that hard but I don't face quilts often. The consolation is {perhaps} it looks better.

Freddy recommended not trying to make a specific person. However, my kids insist this looks like their favorite aunt.

Quilt Specifics
Size: 23.5" x 19"
Designs: Collage
Batting: Hobbs 80/20
Thread: Various 50- and 60-wt cotton threads, 

and YLI clear nylon monofilament
Quilting: FMQ
Approximate Yardage: 1.25 yd

At the beginning of class Freddy shared her story. After a medical issue and entering hospice she felt she'd lost her creativity and would never make another quilt but, remembering a recent class on Mostly Matisse by Rosalie Dace, she challenged herself to make one face a day. By the time 54 were completed she regained her creativity, improved enough to leave hospice, and started showing the quilts. Here she is sharing one of her collage quilts with several Faces in the background.

Freddy holds one of her floral collage quilts at New Pieces Quilt Shop, Berkeley CA
Freddy Moran at New Pieces Quilt Shop, Berkeley CA

Me Made Update

With two dresses under my belt, I felt ready to tackle a new challenge. My friend was not available to help fit the pattern so I sewed a muslin of the top only using a "bargain" fabric that had tiny holes in it. I was so annoyed to discover them but it's perfect for this use. 

It took a couple of days to work out the adjustments because I chose the hard way. Only afterwards did the easier methods occur to me. Sigh. At least now the alternations are completed if/when I make it again.

The blue cotton broadcloth printed with large stylized flowers i named A Garden for Olivia by Lida Enche for In the Beginning Fabrics.
Dolman sleeved dress

The attached belt wraps around and ties with a knot in back. No bow. I reduced the skirt width twenty inches, lengthened it half an inch, and added deep pockets. Why did designers think mid-century women didn't need pockets? When they are deep enough that items don't spill out, they remind me of Winnie the Pooh's useful pot. A place to put things in.

Clothing Specifics
Style: Dolman sleeved dress
Pattern: Retro Butterick
Fabric: Cotton broadcloth print with large blue flowers
Yardage: 3.5 yds plus 1 yd for the muslin sample
Thread: Gutermann 50 wt blue cotton

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Simple Border Variation for Lone Star Quilt 7

The logic of nationalism always flows downhill, toward the gutter.
~ Adam Gopnik

Of course I had to use the last few toile diamonds - rabbits paired with squirrels this time.

An old-fashioned quilt of cotton prints in light and dark blue, red, pale yellow, and white sits on a reproduction print of small fuchsia flowers on mustard. The border is a large-scale Jacobean floral on white and the binding is pink stripe homespun.
Lone Star 7 baby quilt

The row where the diamonds split into points is the lightest round in this quilt. It's not usually my favorite locations for lights but the background is dark. I used the rest of this Australian print, combining it with a funky greyed chartreuse floral. when it ran out. The subtle variation works well... at least IMO.  

The centers went together easily but there were a few possibilities for the outer points. The lighter diamonds on the left or dark ones on the right. 

Two collaged photos show the effect of different fabrics in the outer rows of the stars.
Looking at different diamonds in the star points

When the large diamonds were sewed it was time to choose a background. My favorite is the large scale floral on white but there was not nearly enough. I tried combinations of grey-blue and mustard, alone and together to see what worked. Close up the mustard seemed too dark but fortunately we have digital photos. It's a winner.

Dusting off my math skills, I calculated the size of the corner squares and subtracted the width of the outer border to determine a cut for the inner border. 13 - 4 = 9 + 0.5 so 9.5" square and 4.5"x13.5" rectangles. You'll notice I deliberately chose to extend the border beyond the start point - to make it larger and to avoid having to match those points with the binding. Ugh.

Next I multiplied the total width of that corner square by 1.41 {square root of 2} to get the hypotenuse of the background triangle. (13 x 1.41= 18.33) After double checking that each leg of that triangle congruent to the width of the square, I halved the hypotenuse to find the height of that triangle. (18.33 / 2 = 9.165 or about 9.125") 

Subtract the width of the outer border here to get the height of the inner triangle. Add seam allowances and cut. 9.125 + 1.25 = 10.375" square cut QST.  Then outer borders 19.625" by 4.5". Edit: Math calculations added. Use your own diamond side lengths for your work. 

It's just math; the real magic is how well these two fabrics worked together.

Three collaged photos show arrangements of a cadet blue printed with wildlife, the fuchsia flowers printed on mustard, and the Jacobean floral in different places on the background..
Auditioning background fabrics

Same old, same old quilting design. It works well across all the fabrics and repetition increases my muscle memory and skill {hopefully}.

Orange peel quilting in the center before spiraling out.
Orange peel quilting in the center before spiraling out

The binding gave me a few problems. I was sure red was the answer. Wrong-o. No dark green in the right tones could be found even after pawing through the stash. No blues worked either. Finally this little pinky-purple stripe called me. Kaja sent it to me last year. It seemed like a waste to use it on the binding but it's perfection. Thanks, Kaja!

A closeup of the quilt highlights the spiral quilting and the pink stripe binding.
Quilting and binding detail, Lone Star quilt 7

After a quick wash and dry the batting shrunk up more than usual. Or perhaps the striped binding makes it appear scrunchier. I wish I'd washed it before adding the binding.

The folded quilt shows the front, back and binding. The back of the quilt is the same fuchsia flowers on mustard that is the background of the Lone Star on the front.
Closeup of Lone Star quilt 7

There was enough of the mustard print for the whole back, something that rarely happens around here. And there's enough for the back of another baby quilt. Oh, good. These fabrics are moving along! Don't misunderstand. They are all lovely but I've been saving them for the perfect quilt - that  mirage in the distance we always look at longingly.

Amounts like this {3-4 yards} continually wait for the spot that needs that exact yardage because "we can't waste any." ROTFLOL! But leaving it to molder in the stash is another waste.  My new story is to use them up now. There will be more lovelies tomorrow.

The Superior thread was a gift from a fellow conference attendee and it is the best thread I've used in a long time. I know it's available online but I need to see if there's a local source... and if it comes on large spools.

Quilt Specifics
Size: 37" x 37"
Designs: Lone Star
Batting: Pellon 100% cotton
Thread: Superior MasterPiece 50 wt golden brown cotton
Quilting: Spiral with walking foot

Approximate Yardage: 3.75 yd

Me Made Update

With the kinks worked out, a second shirtwaist dress made up fairly quickly. Now that the neck is tighter in back, the sleeves don't bind when I move. I've needed summer dresses for a while but couldn't find anything appropriate in the stores - washable, modest, lightweight. Houston summers are meltingly hot and humid.

This time I pleated the skirt instead of gathering it and deepened the pockets. I'm pleased with the matching of the plaids on the front placket and sides but somehow forgot to match the sleeves.

Large brown and blue plaid cotton dress.
Brown and blue plaid shirtwaist dress

The plaid has been in my stash for donkeys years. It's a thin tight weave that should wash and wear well. Done is great but well done is the best. 

Clothing Specifics
Style: Shirtwaist
Pattern: Out of print McCall's 
Fabric: Lightweight woven cotton plaid
Yardage: 4 yds 45" wide
Thread: Superior MasterPiece 50 wt brown cotton

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Bye Baby Bunting - Another Finished Quilt

Who remembers this old rhyme?
Bye baby bunting.
Daddy's gone a-hunting.
Gone to get a rabbit skin
To wrap his little baby in.

This quilt started with the light blue toile next to the center star. The variety of animal heads wreathed by laurels seemed to be perfect Shadow Star centers. I used a few there but didn't know what to do with the rest. The middle of each diamond trio was fussy cut to highlight rabbits and deer. {And there's enough for one more quilt.}

Two collaged photos show toile prints of rabbits and a deer head on pale blue background. The diamonds are quilted with FMQ orange peels.
Fussy cut rabbit and deer on Lone Star quilt

The grey-blue of the toile called for darker fabrics - almost a reproduction feel - but then came the border.

When I don't know what to use next, my usual method is to toss the fabric {in this case, the sewn diamond sections} on different yardage until something sparks. This was the one that did it for me. It's such a contemporary design and while there aren't any gold colors in the diamonds, it blends well and actually enlivens the somber colors in the star.

Printed fabrics in three shades of blue, dark red, and white prints are cut into diamonds to create the Lone Star and sit on a background of cream cotton printed with lines of navy, mustard, and grey.
Lone Star 6 baby quilt 

The triangular pieces were cut from one QST so they line up well. Of course, there wasn't quite enough so one corner square is pieced. There wasn't enough to match the pattern across all the sections but the offsets seem to work well enough.

Sewing Issues

I'm out of my favorite Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon batt and can't find it anywhere. The closest store quit carrying any Mountain Mist and only has Pellon. I decided to purchase some on sale. It's thicker than I like, not as evenly spread but shrinks up well {although it seems a bit uneven. On this small quilt the shrinkage could be from the quilting so I will test this some more.} I'm not as fond of this as MM or Hobbs.

The Lone Star is quilted with FMQ orange peels and the background is quilted with organic parallel lines.
Quilting details on Lone Star 6 baby quilt

The previous Lone Stars were quilted with the walking foot. Wanting to change designs, I switched to FMQ where my troubles began. Lots of skipped stitches. Ten or twelve in a row with no rhyme or reason why it's happening. I cleaned the machine {again}, changed the needle, rethreaded, used the bobbin hook all to no avail. This is the same thread I've been using for a while so the only difference is the thicker batting.

I decided to use the walking foot for orange peels on this small quilt and didn't have any skipping problems. On my next trip I purchased a larger Schmetz 90/14 microtex needle and tried it on the wavy lines of the background. Still not working so back to the walking foot until the machine gets cleaned and repaired.

This detail highlights the organic parallel quilting lines on the background and the navy floral lawn of the binding.
Binding detail on Lone Star 6 baby quilt

The binding is a navy lawn printed with tiny birds on branches. It made a crisp edge here, even after shrinkage. The quilt is about four inches smaller each direction after a quick wash.

Quilt Specifics
Size: 37" x 37"
Design: Lone Star
Batting: Pellon 100% cotton
Thread: cream Gutermann 50 wt cotton
Quilting: Orange peel and parallel lines with walking foot 

(after FMQ didn't work)
Approximate Yardage: 3.625 yd

Reading Update

I'm currently reading two books from my "purchased but never read" shelf: Memories of Silk and Straw and Memories of Wind and Waves, both by Dr. Junichi Saga who collected stories from his older patients every evening.

The covers of Memories of Silk and Straw and Memories of Wind and Waves both show small Japanese boats on a river near a bridge.
Two books by Dr. Junichi Saga

He lived in Tsuchiura which is in the lower left corner of the frontispiece map. Both books contain stories of ordinary people from the area: shopkeepers, farmers, yakuza {gangsters}, geisha, and midwives. Another of his books relates the stories of a local yakuza but I wasn't interested; however, Bob Dylan read it and liked it so much he seems to have included some of the wording in his album, Love and Theft.

Map of the Lake Kasumigaura area from the frontispiece.
Map of the Lake Kasumigaura area from the frontispiece of Memories of Wind and Waves

I've never been to Japan although DH has but I enjoy reading blogs like Pamela's Hokkaido Kudasai and Julie's My Quilt Diary for their art as well as their insights into life in modern day Japan. These books are almost an anthropological look at a former era - from the fall of the Meiji Restoration to the 1930s and reminds me of Lark Rise to Candleford and Letters of a Woman Homesteader. The former concerns small town life in England about the same time while the latter are the collected letters of Elinor Stewart from her Wyoming homestead. I loved Elinor's book but seriously wished they'd put the letters in chronological order. {I went back and marked the chapters into that order myself 'cause I'm just that way.}

Let me know in the comments if you'd like Dr. Saga's books.

Enjoy the day, Ann