Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Hourglass Reprise

"The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be."
~ Paul Valéry

This quilt went together more easily if only because most of the parts were already sewn and ended up a repeat of the previous one. I thought about making something very different but... all the hourglasses with polka dots were already sewn and it needed to be gifted this week so time was of the essence. Time; hourglass. Somehow appropriate. Plus, it uses up all these specific pinks, aquas, and the second black print in my stash {which has been lurking for a while because it never fit anything else.} There's several more yards of the stripe since I purchased it for bindings. The last excuse is that the quilts will reside in different states and their owners most likely will never meet.

I enjoyed working with hourglasses as both a central block and a border. There are a few more ideas running through my mind {aren't there always} that I may flesh out in the spring. We'll see.

Nine sets of four to nine small hourglass blocks are separated by black and white striped sashing and surrounded by a larger round of hourglasses for a border.
Improv Hourglass quilt 2

The pink with red polka dot triangles were short one to finish the center {more or less} identically to the previous one. I dug through the stash and scrap bags for a bit more to no avail. Something had to change and the very center seemed the likeliest. Perhaps a different block should have been used but the design needed to be centered in the block like an Ohio Star with the hourglasses turned into star points. After cutting the beautiful birds below {which are laid out in the opposite arrangement in this photo} their backgrounds were obviously too strong for the rest of the quilt. A single bird in the center was even worse. Like a wart on the end of your nose. I didn't even pause to snap a photo.

Testing the quilt center combining five hourglasses with four alternate blocks of printed bird fabric
Possible quilt center with bird fabric

One reason I felt comfortable with this diffuse design is that I've done something similar before. Not every quilt needs spectacular blocks. The sashing or the border can grab your eye first. Because we start with the block, sometimes we focus too much on making them the focus {how's that for a pun?} rather than letting them become part of the background.

The quilting is almost identical to the previous one except for SID at the inner border - a more felicitous choice because my machine is home again - and quilted spirals in all the inner hourglasses. The straight lines in the border quilting add a bit of contrast and actually show against the prints. Wonders never cease.

The hourglass border has pink prints to the inside, blue prints on the sides and a black print on the outside to form a strong frame for the quilt
Detail of Improv Hourglass quilt 2 border 

Pink micro-check gingham became the best choice for the border interior. The black is printed with turquoise and grey so a dark grey with pink dots made a good binding. It blends into the black triangles well and makes a simple, strong edge to this quilt.

When folding the quilt for views of the front and back together, I unfortunately lined up the edge with the inner border. Now it looks like a different front. Oh, well. The back is the same fabrics as the previous quilt and that finishes all of them, too.

Folded quilt shows the pink, blue, and black hourglass border and the peach fabrics on the back of the Improv Hourglass quilt.
Border and back of Improv Hourglass 2

From the original mistake of low contrast pink and blue fabrics, these two quilts made a good recovery and have become some of my favorites. The striped sashing helps enliven the quilt but the black outer border adds confidence... or gravitas.

Folded quilt shows front, back, and binding of Hourglass 2 quilt
Detail of front, back and binding of Improv Hourglass 2

Again, this quilt was also gifted "warm from the dryer" and the parents liked it very much. For a change, it arrived before the baby. Ha.

Quilt Specifics
Size: 42"x42"
Design: Hourglass
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Gutermann 50 wt light blue, pink, and white cotton
Quilting: FMQ spirals, SID, parallel lines
Approximate yardage: 5 yd

Monthly FUR (Fabric Use Rate) 
For my records, January saw two finished quilts = 10 yds. Roll on, February.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

One Improv Hourglass Quilt Finished

"It has been said that patriotism is not a frenzied burst of emotion, rather the quiet and steady dedication of a lifetime." 
~ George H.W. Bush

After three weeks this "quick and simple" baby quilt is finally done. Wow, that's too long but it turned out well.

Nine groups of four to nine hourglass blocks sashed with black and white stripe fabric and bordered by pink, blue, and black hourglasses
Improv Hourglass quilt 

Since my machine with the working walking foot was in for repairs I had to use FMQ only. No SID around the sashing. I tried using a ruler to make straight lines a quarter-inch inside the sashing with mediocre success. The lines wobble but worse is the way the fabric pulls without an even feed foot. It doesn't pull with other FMQ designs so I'm not sure what caused it. My solution was to go back and FMQ a simple sine wave down the sashing. It won't win an award but looks much better. More stitching usually hides irregularities.

The rest of the center alternates spirals with wishbones although none of it is visible.

I used a design from Angela Walters FMQ challenge on the pink part of the outer border then sewed parallel lines on the blue and black sections.

The front corner shows the black and white striped inner border and the outer border of hourglass blocks with pink inside, blue on the sides, and black on the outside. The border has FMQ petals on the pink and  parallel quilting lines elsewhere.
Detail of quilting and binding of Improv Hourglass quilt 1

There wasn't a large enough of any pink for the back so these peach fabrics filled in. I'm not sure why I didn't look for any blues. Some days... The quilting doesn't show much on these busy prints either.

Folded quilt shows part of the border and the peach fabrics making the back of the Hourglass quilt.
Detail of quilting and back of Improv Hourglass quilt 1

There was just enough of a black-and-white print for binding which blends well with the outer border.

Another view of the front, back, and binding. The dots are the same size which help the odd pink and peach combination work. The white gives needed contrast and the black ties it all together.

Quilt is folded to show details for both sides and the black print binding.
Detail of front, back and binding on Improv Hourglass quilt 1

I thought this would go on the stack but it was a grandchild asked for it as it came out of the dryer. Isn't it fun when they are old enough to have opinions?

Quilt Specifics
Size: 42"x42"
Design: Hourglass
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Gutermann 50 wt light blue, pink, and white cotton
Quilting: FMQ spirals, SID, parallel lines
Approximate yardage: 5 yd

Previous Posts
  1. Choosing fabric
  2. Working the border

The white book cover has the author's name in large print above a sketch of Chika, Mitch, and his wife with the title near the bottom.
I just finished Finding Chika by Mitch Alborn who also wrote Tuesdays with Morrie. Mitch directs the Finding Faith Haiti Mission and Orphanage where Chika was brought after her mother's death. Two years later doctors found she had an inoperable brain tumor so Mitch and his wife brought her to the US for treatment.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Working the Border

"Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard a work worth doing."
~Theodore Roosevelt

Last week the black border didn't add anything to the conversation but the quilt still needed more contrast. I pieced more hourglasses with some black added to the pink and blues for the border then spent a while laying them out. This arrangement makes a striking zig zag but is much too strong for the weak center. {I'll have to remember it for another time.}

Hourglass blocks alternate blocks with pink or black outside to create a zig zag pattern.
Zig zag border arrangement

Black to the outside and pink inside makes a much better border but the corners need to be resolved. Removing some hourglasses to add the sashing means there's almost enough for a second quilt if they aren't used in the corners. This notion prompted another search through the stash for possible corners.
Even though the other colors in that floral are pink and blue, it reads orange. Not a solution. However, the blue choices might work.
A collage of three photos shows the effect of peach and blue fabrics in the corner of the border
Trying different corners

I settled on the gingham because it contrasts with all the florals and polka dots. Some might remember it as the binding on the Rose quilt.

What an improvement from last week!

Once this quilt is finished, the second should go together easily and will finish off those polka dots. But there's a slight hitch - the machine must have a tune up. I've been told the BSR software needs an update, too. I have a second machine but it doesn't have a walking foot.


The book cover shows a walking woman in a chador.I just finished Celestial Bodies by Omani author Jokha Alharthi and translated by Marilyn Booth which won the Man-Booker prize last year. {The Man-Booker is given to the best book translated into English and published in England as opposed to the Booker is for the best fiction first published in England.} Written in various viewpoints with many flashbacks, it tells the story of a large family including three sisters, their father, and one daughter as well as other people from their ancestral village as Oman transitions from slavery to an oil-producing state.

Interesting note: One woman sewed on a Singer with a butterfly decal. I've never seen one like that. Was is a treadle {most likely} or a featherweight?

Vintage pattern shows four variations of the half apron. Three are gathered and one is triangular. Square and diamond pockets are also shown.
Simplicity half apron pattern 
While sorting I found a vintage apron pattern and would be happy to pass it on to someone who would use it. Let me know in the comments.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Using the Hourglass Prompt

"Green is not simply a new form of generating electric power; it is a new form of generating national power - period."
~ David Rothkopf

For a change I'm starting the AHIQ prompt right away. {Although I should be finishing the Square Deal or Tethys Waves, they were put away when company came and you know how that breaks the rhythm. A new project pushed its way to the front of the line.} The previous hourglass quilt was rotary cut; this time I wanted to try an improv variation from Cultural Fusion. It seemed like a relaxing and quick{er} solution.

I dug out the pink fabric, purchased as a back but never used it. What if I used it as one value then mixed several turquoise blues for the other? In this photo there appears to be enough contrast. We are good to go.

Several turquoise print choices next to a pink fabric with large red polka dots
Fabric pull for hourglass blocks

Once the hourglasses were sewn... what a mess. No contrast. The colors don't even look good together. {The values are a bit off in the photo but they are just flat in person.}

Sixteen sets of four hourglass blocks with different turquoise print fabrics combine with pink with red polka dot fabric/
Sets of improv hourglass blocks

Sashing could increase the contrast by introducing new values but adding it between each four-patch would make the quilt too big for a baby quilt and too small for a lap quilt. Reworking the hourglasses into a variety of sizes seemed like it might work. It's a bit better in the photo below but definitely not inspiring.

Hourglass blocks rearranged into groups of four to nine blocks with room for sashing between them.
Making space for sashing

Adding black and white stripe as sashing made a difference but it still seems sub-par. What about a black border or binding? No, that's too severe.

Black and white striped sashing fabric and two different black prints for borders.
Adding sashing and possible borders

It's taken me all week to get here. So much for easy. And so it goes.


DH took me to see the fireworks, something we haven't done in a few years. What a delight to see the colorful lights bursting over the Bay and to visit friends over a leisurely meal on New Year's Day. As we age we appreciate these special events more and more.

Fireworks over San Francisco bay with the Bay Bridge in the foreground
2019 New Year's fireworks
He also gave me two quilt themed t-shirts. My favorite one reads, " If I could just find a way to read and quilt at the same time my life would be perfect."


Book cover shows a fern uncurling.Speaking of which, a friend invited me to join her book club and I eagerly agreed. It's been a few years since I've been active in a club; travel and moving cause them to fall apart. Oh, how I've missed the joy of discussing books we can sink our teeth into. We read the first of a science fiction duology, Semiosis by Sue Burke. {Only one other member reads SF and she convinced the others to try it.} A group of earthlings travels in suspended animation to a distant world to start over again without war or waste. The situation seems primitive but manageable until they realize the plants are sentient.

We spent a happy evening discussing themes, relating this book to others we've read, and planning the next few meetings. A couple of us {myself included} plan to read the Sue's sequel.

Enjoy the day, Ann