Tuesday, May 26, 2020

More Hatcheting

Every test in our life makes us bitter or better, every problem comes to break us or make us. The choice is ours whether we become a victim or victor.
~Lorenzo Dozier


Following my usual plan, I made so many of these blocks there's enough for a second quilt. This one  had even more iterations because they blocks had been culled once for the previous Hatchet quilt. First the blocks were laid in the order they were sewn.

Blocks laid out as originally sewn
Hatchet 2 baby quilt original blocks

At first I regrouped some streamers and removed the light blue ones on the right.

Moving peach blocks closer together, exchanging light blue and red blocks for more peach and yellow
Regrouping the Hatchet blocks

Next I switched short blue and yellow streamers.

Swapping placement of short blue and yellow streamers of blocks

Then took out four beige blocks to add yellow and moved the light green to the right. I thought this was it but the digital camera revealed a less than attractive center line dividing left and right, dark and {mostly} light.

Swapping beige blocks for yellow and moving the light green blocks to the right looks better but makes a sharp value division through the middle of the quilt
Still more adjustments to the Hatchet blocks

Tweaking the coral and green streamers resolved that issue.

Moving the coral and green streamers created the final layout of the Hatchet quilt and blurred the value changes across the quilt
Hatchet 2 scrap quilt

Having a few extra blocks made this possible. While not perfect I'm only using the scraps on hand, not going into the stash for more. Babies will like these graphic designs and I like clearing some space in my workroom.

Again the extra/discarded blocks make up part of the back. It always amazes me how well they work with each other and with the main backing choice.

Extra hatchet blocks form a line of Xs through the yellow background fabric
Hatchet 2 scrap quilt back
Parallel quilting lines, of course. The binding is a really bright carnival stripe.

Folded quilt shows parts of front, back, and striped binding of the Hatchet 2 quilt
Hatchet 2 scrap quilt detail

Quilt Specifics
Size: 45" x 45"
Design: Hatchet or Signature block
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Superior 50 wt grey cotton thread
Quilting: Parallel lines with walking foot
Approximate yardage: 5.625 yds

Of course I saved the waste triangles. And sewed them up, too. I'm that crazy. They will wait in the HST box until needed for a border.

Waster triangles from the original squares used to make the hatchet blocks as sewn into smaller HST blocks
Waste triangles sewn into small HSTs

The next troll through the scrap bag pulled strips 2.5" or more to cut into squares for a future Trip Around the World quilt.

2.5" squares cut from remnant of cotton fabrics in the scrap bag. These can be used for many different quilts including Trip Around the World
Squares for a Trip Around the World

A week's work ended with another baby quilt as well as additions to the Parts Department. Now there are just narrow strings ready for my next project which should start next week.

There was even time to sew a few more pillowcases, too. These are more enjoyable than expected. They are useful, look pretty, and use fabric that had become stuck in my stash.


Just in time for an online discussion, I found the History book club through MFAH which meets quarterly. Usually they gather at Bayou Bend or Reinzi but with the stay -at-home order they set up online, at least this time. And guess what? The book was Bill Bryson's At Home! So of course, I joined in. There's a list of previous discussion books here.

Monthly FUR (Fabric Use Rate) 
Nineteen pillowcases, six totes, and two quilts used 41.25 yards for May. Tracking my usage is salutary or at least, educational. YTD = 103.75 yards.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Taking a Hatchet to my Scraps

"The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving."
~Oliver Wendell Holmes


It's way past time to use up my remnants and scraps. I used the largest to make a simple four-patch called Hatchet that is often seen as a signature block. In fact, I used the block for my first guild name tag. My rule was that each fabric had to make between two and seven center squares cut 5.5" each with pairs of 3" cut squares for the triangle sides. Five inches is fairly wide for the scrap bag but I grabbed bits from previous projects that are less than a fat quarter and remnants from clothing construction. After marking the diagonal I sewed that line and cut off the extra.

The  blocks are sewn with two small squares in the corner of a larger square. The outer half of the small squares will be cut away to finish the design
Hatchet blocks sewn but not pressed

By the end of the week I had enough blocks for two tops which finished the widest pieces in the scrap bag. One of Fern Royce's scrap quilts reminded me of the ribbon border on my Strippy Nine Patch. A celebratory quilt of streamers seemed like the perfect plan.

Here's the original layout.

Hatchet blocks for the quilt as originally set on the design wall
Hatchet baby quilt 1
Designs can be tightened by moving the blocks. Extra blocks are so helpful I usually sew enough for a second quilt. {Baby quilts are great for this purpose.} The finished quilt has streamers of red, blue and light green replacing a cream streamer and some darker streamers.

Hatchet blocks form ribbons of color down a quilt
Hatchet 1 scrap quilt

The back of the quilt includes leftover blocks. These were duller blocks that were pulled from the front. They look well with this funny pink fabric.

The quilt back includes a row of extra hatchet blocks inserted in a pink plaid
Hatchet 1 baby quilt back

I used simple parallel quilting lines, one of my favorite ways to quilt. The binding is a yellowish fabric with green polka dots. That creamy yellow matches the plaid in the pink fabric.

Folded quilt shows detail of the front, back,,binding, and quilting design
Hatchet 1 baby quilt detail of quilting and binding

Quilt Specifics
Size: 45" x 45"
Design: Hatchet or Signature block
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Superior 50 wt grey cotton thread
Quilting: Parallel lines with walking foot
Approximate yardage: 5.625 yds


Still at home ourselves, Bill Bryson's book of the same name caught my eye. His premise was that every room in his Victorian Yorkshire parsonage could springboard to the history of domesticity along with the scientific inventions and etymology that define our current way of living. He sets the stage with the year his home was built, using it to discuss the Crystal Palace and the appointment of clergy in the Church of England.

Starting with the hall, which used to be the entire house, Bill discusses how each developed. The addition of fireplaces allowed floors to be built above the ground and promoted the idea of privacy. The kitchen explores gastronomy, nutrition, and the Spice Trade. The scullery leads to the fuse box which leads to a discussion of lighting - one of the points that interested me most. The refrigerator light is stronger than the total amount in most 18th century homes. Those pictures of families working a a table lit by one candle illuminate the utter darkness of night for most of history.

Of course, hygiene is discussed in the bathroom while sex, death and sleep inhabit the bedroom. The study reminds him of the mice, rats, bats, lice, bedbugs, and the many microbes that live on our bodies and in our homes. Why? Because that's the room where they catch most of their mice. Darwin, and the destruction of country homes, and the sale of parsonages by the church conclude the book in the attic where are the ephemera of past glories go to die.

This was an excellent reading choice for self-isolation or any other time.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Snowballs Make a Perfect Border

Coward: One who, in a perilous emergency, thinks with his legs.
~Ambrose Bierce


The snowball borders are finally sewn on the Wheel quilt. Wheee!

A portion of the Wheel quilt showing some of the wheels with a narrow red and white striped sashing and a border of three rows of low volume snowball blocks
Snowball border on the Wheel quilt

Oh, joy! Not that the quilt is done but at least the top is finished. It's too large to get a full photo right now. Hopefully that can happen once it's quilted. Next will be an excavation of my stash to see what white fabrics lurking there could become a back. I can't remember any right now but am certainly not purchasing more before checking the piles already here.

The quilting plan will also take some time. While the backgrounds are not solid white, they are very low-volume so the stitching will show. What will look good? Does the sashing need any or can it just be SID? Fortunately my trusty vinyl is at hand so sketches should be easy.

Clearing Out my Stash

I pulled fabric for six more totes. Although I'm trying to make some for young men, they all look like a tote for little kids or little old ladies. Perhaps solids will work better for older boys. Next month I'll look for those. Each tote uses two fabrics: one yard that becomes the inside and sides plus half a yard for the front. The print in the top left is in two other totes {middle and left on the bottom row.} It's a beautiful {to me} Rose and Hubble print that's so old my hair wasn't grey when I bought it in Lewisville TX. There wasn't enough for a big shirt and it's been sitting in my stash long enough.

Six blue cotton tote bags use 1.5 yards each
Six tote bags

I also finished a dozen pillowcases which should keep my whole family provided. The king size ones take a yard plus a third for the cuff while the standard take two-thirds of a yard plus a third for the cuff. Most of my one-yard lengths got a serious look to decide whether they would work for either a pillowcase or tote. This batch took twelve and two-thirds yards. Now they are ready to gift throughout the year.

Twelve pillowcases in pinks and whites
Twelve pillowcases

Masks and Gowns

No new masks. Like Robin, I think I'm done until something needs to be replaced but six new isolation gowns this week. In addition, five gowns were sent to me for minor repairs. It's great to have a large group of sewers but would be better if they would read the directions. So that was not so fun but hopefully these were "first round" mistakes. Sewing 4 Good has a small group of paid sewers at a southern California shop but many volunteer sewers. As businesses reopen, I believe we volunteers will fade out; however, all our hospitals and care centers have spent their budget. Some are even laying off staff in the middle of this pandemic. So we will be sewing through the end of the year and probably beyond. Not as fun as quilting but way more important.


I alternate books online with physical copies but almost always am on the waiting list. A whole bunch came due this past week so I chose The Cuckoo's Calling, the first of a series of crime novels by  Robert Galbraith. That is a nom de plume for J.K. Rowling. {I must be the last reader to find out she has a new series.} Her protagonist, private investigator Comoran Strike, is a disabled Afghan vet looking into the death of supermodel, Lula Landry. I enjoyed it and placed a hold on the second one.

Movies, TV, Etc

We just finished the fourth of nine episodes of Home from Apple TV. If DH wasn't so adept I wouldn't have found this series and it's wonderful. Each looks at one builder or architect in one location, what they built, why they built it, how they were inspired. The homes are stunningly different, from a Swedish log cabin inside a greenhouse to the tiniest apartment in Hong Kong. That place had moveable walls. Not like Japanese sliding screen, these move like shelves in my chemistry lab and reconfigure the space for cooking, working, entertaining, or sleeping. If you see it, let me know which episode most intrigued you.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Heading for the Border

Make the best use of what is in your power and take the rest as it comes. If you seek truth, you will not seek victory by dishonorable means; and if you find truth, you will become invincible.


I used a dark brown to post the stripe at the corners of the wheel blocks. The value is quite a bit darker but the pieces are so small they don't overpower the softness of the rest of the top. Well, soft for me.

Wheel composed of four fan blocks with alternating pale red and green blades sashed with tan are in turn sashed with red and white stripe in this low volume quilt
Center of the wheel quilt sewn

Now for the border. My original plan was to create a grey/tan and white hourglass inner border and sew the rest of the wedges as Coins in an outer border. Eventually I noticed that sequence {or at least the Coins} has occurred in several of my quilts, including Chinese Coins II, III, and CCIV, and the Polka Dot. It's time for a new idea.

One that I've wanted to try for a while is the snowball. Again, examples abound in current and vintage work: Sujata's book, Audrey's Scrappy Tulips, Julierose's Autumn Snowballs. A photo of Yoko Saito's glorious taupe Snowballs is here.

Snowballs work as a sixteen-patch as well as a nine-patch. Those definitions just locate the grid a block fits into. Each side divides into four equal parts for a sixteen-patch while a nine-patch divides into three equal parts. Of course, I'm not going to measure my corners. Somewhere between those will work just fine.

The backgrounds are squares of pink, white, cream, tan, and a couple of light yellows. I raided my overflowing scrap bin for corner fabrics and that's where the trouble arose. This first pass included any fabrics that seemed to go but mostly dark values. Too dark. It's overpowering the soft wheels.

In this snowball border, the corners of the blocks are too dark for the center of the quilt
Snowball corners in darker fabrics

So I removed the darkest by pulling out my trusty Value Finder. In years past I always used it to select fabrics but haven't needed it for a while. This helps me calculate the range of values that will work: 8-10 for snowballs, 5-7 for corners {with perhaps a few 4s.} This second iteration is better but still too bright. The corners need to be quieter still.

In this version of the snowball border, the corners of the blocks have too many bright fabrics
Lighter snowball corners with several brights

My next battle was removing the brighter brights - even if they are reds - and the blues. I'm not sure why I thought those would work. Looking carefully at all the wheels, the prints include orange, tan, brown, grey, yellow, purple, and pink in addition to red and green. When the border is reduced to these colors in quiet{er} hues within the value range it starts to work. Boy! Lots of hedging in that previous sentence.

This version of the snowball borders has corners that closely match the colors and values of the Wheel blocks in the center of the quilt
Snowball corners that work with the quilt center

Finally I can start a little production line {because these babies are very fiddly and time-consuming.} That's what happened the rest of the week and I'm only halfway through. Funny how hard it is for me to use scraps in the corners and actually have them fill the entire corner {and have a bit showing once the seam allowances are in, too.}

Improvisational snowball blocks sewn and pressed, waiting to be trimmed
Snowballs sewn and pressed waiting to be trimmed

In order to keep the various fabrics fairly evenly distributed it seemed best to divide them into four groups - one for each side. I'm sewing each on its own. One is done. These are the snowballs for the second side. Slower than molasses in January... and it's May.

Quilt borders of three rows of pale snowball blocks with soft colors in the corners are in the process of being constructed
Snowball borders in progress

Masks and Gowns

My final thirteen masks are made and shared with neighbors; 263 in all... I think. No more lining fabric right now. But work on isolation gowns continues. Six this week for a running total of 19. As I wrote before, they a delivered to a variety of sites: hospitals, social workers doing home health checks. For more information, check Sewing 4 Good.

Enjoy the day, Ann