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


Julierose said...

Your snowballs are looking beautiful--it is one of my favorite blocks--though, as you say, a bit fiddley to make...I like the secondary pattern that emerges with them...~ ~ ~ waving on my patio Julierose

Nann said...

The extra-wide snowball border will be stunning. (A lesser designer might have made one row of snowballs flanked by slabs.) But what encourages me is that you got the center all put together and then began the design of the border. That's how I work, too. (Planning the entire quilt ahead of time? Where's the challenge in that? )

Angie in SoCal said...

I learn so much from your in process posts. Thank you.

Quiltdivajulie said...

Those snowballs will make a wonderful border - thanks for sharing how you worked your way to the final combinations of fabrics.

audrey said...

It is a soft quilt for you! So, so pretty. Really liking the idea of the scrappy snowball blocks in the border. It ends up looking so much better than we expect while doing the sewing.:)

patty a. said...

The snowball blocks are lovely and an unexpected border treatment. You have made a lot of masks! That is wonderful that you have made so many isolation gowns. I am finally done for a while with making masks for work. I made 391 for work and another 24 for family and friends. I am burnt out. I might end up making more for work to replace any worn out masks.

Robin said...

The cornerstones look great. It's too bad it has taken so much time to get the border "just right". I guess that's the price you have to pay to when you are creating by "eye" and not by fabric line. It is so worth it to have something fresh and new like this and not just another quilt dictated by the manufacturer. This is a wonderful quilt. I love the wheels, it's a pattern I could make over and over.

Ann said...

Thanks, Julierose. I like yours even better. Your less intrusive corners made the snowballs even rounder... although mine look better when they are sewn. Next time {hahaha} I'll do better because I quite agree. The secondary design is delightful. Thanks for inspiring me.

Ann said...

Thanks, Nann. I don't know about a lesser designer. The large wheels needed a correspondingly wide border. I probably should have made a fourth row. Hmm. I'll think about it. Sometimes I "design" the whole quilt but have found those rarely get sewn. Where's the fun once all the ideas are worked out? Leaving each step open keeps me engaged and intrigued enough to finish. Twins!

Ann said...

How kind of you to write, Angie. I'm glad you like the process, too.

Ann said...

The other snowball quilts were so interesting that I wanted to try the blocks myself. I love them in a large {or wide} group like this because it emphasizes the snowball effect. As for the final values, I had to share; it took so many iterations to quiet myself down!

Ann said...

It certainly is. Not as pretty as your quiet ones but I'm getting there. Once I looked for snowballs there were many examples but yours had them as a border and that stuck with me. Yes, they improve as they are sewn. Just setting them on the design wall looks messy. I need to channel ballet next time, "round your arms" so there aren't so many "diamonds."

Ann said...

You and me, Patty. I was delighted to have a way to help but am worn out. Plus, there's no one else to donate to right now Then I think of all the essential workers who must be even more burned out. So I promise to make more if they are needed. Now the gowns seem like a better way to help. Every hospital is out of money so can't purchase supplies. If we can get some inventory built up for them it would ease some stress.

Ann said...

Thanks, Robin. I don't mind; it's enjoyable to figure these things out. What's worse is when none of my ideas seem to work. I've never made a quilt with a single fabric line or manufacturer. To me, that's like wearing clothes with the advertising logos. If they paid me, I might consider it. If I go to the trouble of making it, I prefer it to be original {at least slightly since I work with traditional blocks and there are other examples of those everywhere.} Perhaps I should say, my own variation. I recognize there are much more talented designers but I'm not interested in straight up copying. I certainly learn more each step.
Wheels are more fun than I thought. We'll both be making more in future.

Mystic Quilter said...

I am loving your borders Ann!! The brown cornerstones merge in beautifully with the softness of the colours in the blocks, I'm so looking forward to seeing those borders all stitched on. Brilliant idea.

Ann said...

I'm looking forward to sewing the last border on, too. Thanks for writing, Maureen. It's always good to hear from you.

Marie said...


Ann said...


Mel Beach said...

You sure are staying busy and productive during this pandemic!!

Ann said...

I'm working on older projects but you are really being creative. I love all your new little quilts-by-die. Wonderful, Mel, and I can't wait to see how these become 1) larger quilts and 2) classes for the rest of us!