Tuesday, February 25, 2020

This is Going to Take a While

Wise people learn when they can; fools learn when they must.
~Duke of Wellington

I rarely copy a quilt although I pick bits and pieces from many quilts. Even now, I'm not trying to copy my great-aunt's quilt; I am inspired by the memory of it. Thanks to my cousin, this is the same Star block. The way the points fade to nothing always attracted me. That's the focus of this quilt for me.

My other inspiration is the wealth of antique appliqué quilts with circular motifs. I wrote about one of them here. The corner designs of this type of large appliqué block are another feature that pleases me.

Sewing the Shadow Star blocks with additional four-pointed stars in the corners
Sewing Shadow Star quilt blocks together

I thought the star blocks would be the hardest part but each section has its own difficulties. The sashing is my design {after looking at umpteen-jillion vintage appliqué quilts.} Since it's pieced, there's a seam that caused difficulties when it didn't butt against one on the star but actually overlapped it. Turning the seams the other way simply made a lump. Back to the drafting board.

For once there was extra of the green fabric but I didn't want to redraft those triangles again. So I simply moved a seam line back. {I considered making the green compass triangles longer but that made the block corners into a visible "box" and the vanishing star points... vanished.

Very close up you see an extra quarter-inch diagonal seam but I've decided not to care. I agree with Lynne at Patchery Menagerie - quilts that are too perfect rarely have life. A machine could have made them.

I'm surprised how slowly this is going. There are many fiddly points throughout - within the blocks and against the sashing. My compasses occasionally wobble after trimming and the sides of the blocks may need to be eased into the sashing but it's progressing.

Even though the templates are corrected, there are still miles of small pieces to cut. I have learned to cut a few at a time and sew them up to ensure I cut correctly. Ask me how that point was driven home. {On second hand, don't. The scrap bag is overflowing.}

Monthly FUR (Fabric Use Rate) 
One large quilt was completed this month and took 13.5 yards. Big quilts take lots more yardage, don't they? YTD = 23.5 yards.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Returning to the Shadows

"Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things; you simply must do things."
~Ray Bradbury

While I disagree with Ray's statement as far as thinking goes, the last sentence is a reminder that was even echoed by Yoda, "Do or do not. There is no try." We see that in our own lives as the things we 'do not' pile around us physically or mentally. Hopefully we tackle some of them each day. Speaking of which...

Who remembers the Shadow Star blocks? Who knows why I set them aside? Certainly not me although I suspect it involved baby quilts... with which I am constantly in arrears.

Shadow Star quilt blocks with centers being sewn

At least I appliqued all the centers to the stars before setting them aside. And I pinned and labelled the columns so it's easy to pull them out now that they've been flashing through my mind. The next step is to choose the sashing.

As far as I recall my great-aunt's quilt didn't have sashing. Or at least it was the same muslin as the stars. But mine seems to need something in the corners. Should it be a tiny post of color or something that extends into the sashing and corners of the blocks? Flowers? Circles? Stars? I tested some ideas previously so at least I know red is not the answer and an eight-pointed star is too heavy.

One benefit of setting this aside for a while is the extra time to simply think about it. The shadowed stars work because they sit on a darker background that fades to white. Your eye gets a glimpse of the shape and continues it when contrast fails. So foreground and background are important. And the posts/sashing are not foreground.

What about these very light compass points? The fabric is a pale green on cream. Audrey wrote about a similar issue with her tulip quilt.

Four-pointed stars of pale green form part of the sashing for the Shadow Star quilt
Sashing choice for Shadow Star quilt

It would need a different post fabric. Here are brown, medium blue, and a flower on purple cut two different ways. While centering the flower in the post repeats the circles of the stars, it makes the post too light. {Those white petals conflict with the tiny space.} Quartering the flowers puts a bit of color right in the center. Plus, I think those arcs look good.
Brown, pale blue, and lavender posts tested for the Shadow Star quilt
Possible posts for Shadow Star quilt
And that's how the week went. Thinking can take a lot of time.

Yet Another Plea to Make the Internet Safer
I sound like a broken record but... After six years, there are still people who haven't set their blogs to https. What a shame. There's a simple way to start if you use Blogger. Look at the top right of your blog and click Design. Then chose the Settings tab and then Basic. Toggle "Yes" on HTTPS Redirect. That will send people to this much, much safer way to access your blog.

Http is an outdated protocol allowing hackers to change your content, redirect people to a bogus site, and steal identity and credit information. {Some of us have clicked a link and gotten a porn site instead.} Here's more information on why you should definitely switch to https.

How do you tell if a website is secure? It has a lock icon before the address. Keep yourself and your readers safe. Don't go to any site {including the famous quilters who haven't addressed this basic safety issue} unless you are willing to risk exposing your personal and financial information to every malicious hacker in the world. I NEVER go to any site that hasn't got this simple, effective safeguard.  Whether you're selling something or just writing, if you want me to read your blog, it has to be https.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

A Done Deal

"Ambition is enthusiasm with a purpose."
~Frank Tyger

When looking ahead there seem to be so many long, time-consuming steps to finish a quilt. Between that and anxiety about our quilting, it's no wonder we set tops aside. This one is finally finished. It's a perfect size to snuggle under during this cold weather. I'm keeping it.

Medallion scrap quilt has The Square Deal block in the center surrounded by a narrow, white inner border and an outer border of two rows of lattice blocks in shades of red, pink, blue, and green
The Square Deal quilt

As I mentioned earlier I divided the quilt into three sections: the Square Deal center, the sashing, and the outer border. After simple SID around the sashing, each section was quilted with its own designs. The sashing was the simplest - just wishbones - and that finished the quilting.

Wishbone quilting in the sashing of the Square Deal

Binding is the next step. I pulled several fabrics and laid some under the edge of the quilt to see how they might look. I thought light blue or green would work best but chose the pink.

Photo collage of fabric choices for binding The Square Deal: pink, blue, green prints
Binding choices for the Square Deal quilt

There was just enough. Only four inches overlap. How's that for using every last bit?

Binding pinned and ready to attach to the quilt

Here's a detail of the binding and back.

Folded quilt shows parts of the front, back, and binding of The Square Deal
Binding and backing for The Square Deal quilt

Quilt Specifics
Size: 71" x 71"
Design: The Square Deal (with leftover Chinese Coin units) and Lattice
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: 50 wt Gutermann light blue, Metler red, and Aurifil white cotton
Quilting: SID, FMQ curves, feathers, wishbones, and parallel lines
Approximate yardage: 13.5 yds

The quilt started with some leftover Chinese Coin strips. Well, they weren't exactly leftover. The quilt they were supposed to become looked terrible. And there were too many to waste. And I didn't want to put them in the scrap bag because "I'm going to use it up now." Haha.

The lattice border was a collection of blocks that never got sewed up. I guess they were in the Parts Department that Gwen and Freddy espouse. They all fit together beautifully {only six extras were made for this quilt and you can tell which they are because the Xs are much wider} and reinforce my opinion that everything from our own stash will work together because we each have an innate and individual sense of color and pattern.

Previous posts:
  1. The beginning
  2. Finding border blocks among the leftovers
  3. Choosing the sashing
  4. Designing the border
  5. More border work
  6. Finalizing the border
  7. Using the leftovers as a baby quilt
  8. The back for the baby quilt
  9. Finished Square Deal baby quilt
  10. Quilting on original Square Deal begins
  11. Quilting continues
We viewed an interesting exhibit at SF MOMA by Turkish-German artist Nevin Aladag who incorporates a variety of musical instruments into her sculptures. Here's a video of musicians playing her Resonator which includes drums, chimes, harp, didgeridoos, acoustic and bass guitars, and parts of a mandolin.

Resonator sculpture with Social Fabric: Percussion in the background.
Both by Nevin Aladag

The wall hanging, which at a distance appeared to be a detailed painting, is composed of precisely cut rugs and carpets. {She must have a very sharp knife.}

The museum also has a room of Alexander Calder's mobiles with several of his sculptures on the adjacent terrace. This mobile entitled Double Gong includes two mallets which makes sounds when the wind moves it. {No breezes in the museum though.}

Sculpture and mobile by Alexander Calder
I first enjoyed Alexander's work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago where we found the Catmobile. {Dada dada dada dada. Who remembers that theme song?}

Chat-mobile by Alexander Calder, 1956.

With all the reds and pinks, the Square Deal makes a lovely Valentine. I wish you all a Happy Valentine's this week.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Moving on to the Square Deal

"Your future depends on many things but mostly on you."
~Frank Tyger

The Square Deal is finally moving ahead again. My machine is threaded and raring to go. This one might be finished in a week or two. I divided the quilt into three sections: the center Square Deal blocks, the white sashing and inner border, and the outer lattice border. Each will have different quilting.

Curving free motion petals on the red triangles alternate with parallel lines on the triangles of blue strips
Free motion quilting in progress on The Square Deal

Angela Walters' recent FMQ Challenge inspired the quilting design here. It's looking better as more blocks are finished. Isn't that frequently the case? A little bit looks terrible but adding more hides flaws or at least blends them. Those straight lines are only straight-ish and their spacing was eyeballed but mostly they show as a unit that contrasts well with the curves in the red HSTs.

The first row of the design took a day with sketching, planning how to move across the blocks, and practice drawing to build some muscle memory. The next day I finished that quarter of the center but all four sections were completed by my fourth day of quilting. No, I don't quilt all day... at least I didn't this time. It was good to see my speed pick up as the quilting design became ingrained.

The border was next up because it's a larger area than the sashing and seemed trickier to fill. Better to choose this quilting before finding a filler for the sashing, which could easily have many simple designs. Part of my difficulty is that, unlike the center blocks, the lattice is free-hand cut.

As you can see in the photo below, the Xs don't line up. It looks lovely but finding a design became harder. Here are some sketches:

Quilting ideas sketched on plastic overlay include petals, spirals, and stitch in the ditch
Border quilting ideas
I definitely want the quilting to move from block to block so I don't have to bury a lot of threads. Learned my lesson on those baby quilts. ;-) The continuous curves on the left mimic those in the center. Hey, good repeat. But... they will never line up well from one to the next because each lattice is unique. The spiral looks more like an Eye of God and doesn't seem to go with anything. However, the feathers on the side look interesting.

And here's what I finally went with:

Half feathers, stitch in the ditch, and squared echoes combine to quilt the borders
Final border quilting idea
I almost didn't use this Greek key because its sides are straight and the lattice isn't but finally decided the contrast of straight and curves works, it repeats the straight lines in the center, and I can't think of anything else.

The quilting hardly shows on the front. It's much more visible on the back.

A collage of two photos showing machine quilting in progress on The Square Deal
Quilting the lattice border

I'm just starting the first side of the border. Slow going because someone chose to quilt backwards. Instead of pushing the quilt away from me as I move from block to block, I'm pulling it towards me. When I get to the corner, I'll see if I can change directions. Too soon old and too late smart.


The plan last year was to read the books already on my shelf or dispose of them and the project started strong until it was sidetracked by many new and interesting tomes. Isn't that always the case? So much to read and not enough time.

However, several Charlotte MacLeod mystery series from the 1970s and 80s have been calling to be re-read. {Do they count if I've already read them once? I say, yes.} Charlotte writes with a breadth of knowledge about art, architecture, history, etc. {basically culture} in an equally broad vocabulary. There are words I rarely see, used with pleasure and playfulness rather than affectation. This writing style is not as common today {even though there are loads of cozy mysteries} and find I've missed it. She incorporates patter dialog - quick, fast-paced, funny exchanges that remind me of Gilbert and Sullivan.

Hardback and paperback books on a shelf
The Sarah Kelling mysteries of Charlotte MacLeod

She had four series: Sarah Kelling {a young widow on Beacon Hill who meets an art investigator}, Peter Shandy {a New England professor of agriculture}, Madoc Rhys {a RCMP detective}, and the Grub-and-Stakers {a Canadian garden club.} Currently I'm finishing the Kelling series pictured above. The secondary characters are idiosyncratic and the situations are zany. These old friends delight my cold winter days and nights.

Enjoy the day, Ann