Tuesday, June 30, 2020

String Star Finished

When presidents lose the trust of the public, I think it's very difficult 
if not impossible for them to govern this country.
~Robert Dallek


Just a matter of curiosity, but do you realize all these string sections are 45 degree isosceles triangles or 45 degree diamonds {which are really two of those isosceles triangles?} It's another way to make a string quilt besides square and rectangular blocks.

Once each larger section was sewn I made four right triangles for the corners. You can see I'm running out of lights. These are getting into the mediums. At this point the quilt is about 54" across but it seems to need a border.

Four right triangles of string pieced light value fabrics add to the previous octagonal shape to make a square quilt of many string pieced diamonds.
Corner triangles added to string star quilt

So I straightened the edges and made a mess. And straightened again. Eventually they were trimmed almost to the star points because I couldn't seem to square it up properly. {Grr. What a fiasco.} With a narrow medium dark blue border, everything looks fine... as long as you don't know how much of the edge I "trimmed" off.

An inch wide dark blue print forms a narrow border around the string pieced star diamonds.
String Star quilt with a narrow border

By this time, I was ready for something easy and chose spiral quilting. I know how to do this well. It's important to hold the quilt square as the needle travels in circles. That way there are no waving edges.

The finished quilt has a light eight pointed star in the center surrounded by 24 dark string pieced diamonds that form a larger eight-pointed star that rest on a background of more light strings.
String Star quilt

Of course, it's even easier with orange peels in the center to keep me from having to turn the quilt in such tight circles.

The back of the quilt shows the two quilting designs on a white print.
View of orange peel and spiral quilting from the back
The back is three white prints. Not much to see in a photo but soft to touch.

The binding didn't need to contrast with the narrow border and there was enough of this navy binding in my leftover box. It made it around the quilt... barely.

Folded quilt highlights front, back, binding, and quilting.
Quilting and binding details of String Star quilt

There are still strings in the scrap bag for at least one more quilt. How can that small bag hold so many of them?

Quilt Specifics
Size: 52" x 52"
Design: String Diamond blocks
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Superior 50 wt grey cotton thread
Quilting: Orange peel center with spiral walking foot
Approximate yardage: 8 yds {a guesstimate of all the strings}

Previous post: String Diamonds

One of the Hatchet quilts was recently gifted to the new son of a coworker. He has a big sister so this slightly larger quilt went to her. I told her it was a star like she is but she decided the center is a lake and she's even found some fish in the water! Kids are so clever.

Projects Around the House

The perfect project has been staring me in the face: scanning and shredding our massive paper files. So many years neatly stored in tall filing cabinets. We never refer to them but feel compelled to keep them. DH bought me a new scanner last year making it very easy to repackage the files into pdf format. The critical path is the composting bin. Once it fills I'm through for the week. Two of twelve drawers are purged. 

I have plans to donate the file cabinets once they are cleared out. Paper copies are so 20th century. 


Our national election scheduled for November is 126 days away. Are you registered to vote? Are all the young people you know registered? Can you help them register? Democracy works when we ALL participate. Change won't happen without votes.

Monthly FUR (Fabric Use Rate) 

This was my only finish in June. Keeping a record points out how many quilt tops are started and how few are finished. I need to move the tops along next month. YTD = 111.75 yards.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

More String Diamonds

When men fear the loss of what they know, 
they will follow any tyrant who promises to restore the old order.
~Barbara Kingsolver in Unsheltered


The scrap bag still looks as full as when I started. More diamonds in the making but this time simply divided into either light or dark. A speaker at our guild showed her elegant Feathered Stars. Some were traditionally set while others were rotated 45 degrees so the points lined up with the cardinal directions.

Twenty-four paper-pieced string diamonds of dark values of blue, black, brown, green, red, and purple surround eight more string diamonds of very light fabrics.
Diamond strings made into a star

With this layout, the backgrounds are just more 45 degree isosceles triangles. Half diamonds as it were. Since they needed contrast with the star outlines, they are made using only lights. The strings are chosen to "look good" next to the previous one. Whatever that means. Just as long as they are light.

Two large isosceles triangles o fpaper-pieced strings rest on a green cutting board.
Triangle strings for a background

I wasn't sure what these would look like arranged around the star but it's not too bad.

Sixteen large, light value isosceles triangles form an octagon around the dark string diamonds.
Triangle strings added to diamond strings 


My mother was a gardener but I've never been very successful. With all the extra time at home this year {and with lots of advice, encouragement, and some seeds from a dear friend} I planted two larger containers with zucchini and bush beans, two window boxes with herbs, and diligently added watermelon radishes between the larger seeds. The idea is that they will be pulled before/as the larger plants need more room. Watermelon radishes are delicious but usually only found at restaurants. Only twice have I found them at the farmers' market and never in our groceries. We'll see how it works out. Pretty good so far but there is a squirrel or cat who comes by regularly to dig certain plants up. Sprinkling lots of pepper around seems to be discouraging this antisocial behavior somewhat.

This morning I noticed a new but smaller hole near the plants. This time I'm getting the red pepper flakes out! And I'm open for more advice. 

Projects Around the House

Like everyone else, I've noticed an uptick in quilting procrastination. I've been reading {mainly rereading  favorites.} That led to a purge of the bookshelf. DH even agreed to discard twenty old reference books that were seriously out of date. AND the related software. Now he's on eBay selling off old DVDs and spare parts. Woo hoo! Not much money but we are both delighted to keep things out of the landfill and I, at least, am delighted to get them out of the house.

This weekend was a clean out of the spice rack. Sad to report one bottle expired in 2006. No wonder it didn't add much taste. 


Our November 3 election is 133 days away. Are you registered to vote?

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Making Fabric

"I do not know how you draw the line between fine art and craft, or 
between the utilitarian and the non-utilitarian... I want to be an artist
... I intend to walk where I choose and not care which country I'm in." 
~June Schwarcz, 
Fourth National Conference of the American Craft Council, 1961

The quote reminds me of a recent well-written post by Kris of Pixeladies. I spend so much time {way too much!} worrying about all sorts of things it's a family joke. But I've decided to quit fretting about quilting. Even though I love stretching myself to make art quilts, the usefulness of bed quilts draws me back again and again. But whenever I've "created" a unique layout for any traditional block a photo of a similar quilt comes to my attention... usually just as mine is finished. Not worrying about that either; I'll just show mine and detail my inspiration. I will "walk where I choose and not care which country I'm in."


I've been thinking about many ways to lengthen the LeMoyne Star quilt - applique, hourglasses, more HSTs - and finally decided to add a row of smaller stars to each end. In red. Except... there's not much red in my stash. One delightfully splashy floral print, two solids, and a handful of tone-on-tone batiks.  Neither inspiring nor extensive. I pulled out all the red HSTs for potential star points then looked at these fabrics again.

A small pile of red batiks and floral prints grouped on a table.
Fabric choices for center of Sawtooth Star blocks

With such a small group of fabrics I again thought of slabs using bits of these and any red scraps in my bag. Everyone else makes lovely slab blocks. Mine get to a certain size and then look terrible. With a four-inch center, this should be about enough to work out even for me. Here are my first two samples. Not bad although the corners of the Sawtooth Stars could/should be changed around.

The centers squares of  these Sawtooth Star blocks are composed of red scraps of fabric.
Sawtooth Star quilt blocks in progress

That was a quick fix. Then I sewed a row together with narrow sashing between the stars. Why? Two reasons. I don't want them as tightly packed as the HSTs and I'm tired of working with odd sizes. These sawtooth stars finish at eight inches, close but not exactly the needed width. Cutting pairs of random sashing in different widths fills out the spacing and gives the quilt a homespun look. {At least that's my story.} Can you tell that each sashing is a different cream print and a different width? 

With one side sewn, it's an adequate length. I could stop now but making a second side will balance it better and the recipient will like it more.

The Sawtooth Stars are added as a row to one end of the LeMoyne Star quilt top
Sawtooth Star blocks added to one end 

I was dismayed after snapping this quick shot when both ends were sewn because the sides look lopped off. Will it need more stars? Oh, golly. Then it will become too big for a lap quilt and too small for a bed quilt. This is where "the need to add borders" started. {It was too large for a baby quilt and too small for a lap quilt.}

Red and blue LeMoyne string star blocks bordered with two rows of HSTs and red sawtooth stars at top and bottom
LeMoyne Star quilt with Sawtooth borders on two sides

In the end I added a narrow border of random strips around all the sides. Enormous improvement from such a tiny change and something to remember.

A narrow third border of cream print surrounds the Sawtooth Stars and HSTs to finish the LeMoyne Star string quilt top.
Final narrow border of cream print

Now there are three largish tops that need quilting. And the scrap bag is still full. 



Election day is November 3 this year. That's 140 days away. Remember you must be registered to vote. Tell everyone!

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Using the Parts Department to Complete a Quilt Top

"Voting versus protest; politics and participation versus civil disobedience and direct action. 
This is not an either/or; this is a both/and. 
To bring about real change we both have to highlight a problem 
and make people in power uncomfortable, 
but we also have to translate that into practical solutions and laws that can be implemented 
and we can monitor and make sure we're following up on.
~President Barak Obama


Sashing was the next decision. I laid out four choices but secretly thought one of the darkest {vertical} would work best. Instead, that dark grey on the left is it.

Four fabrics are laid out as possible sashing between the LeMoyne stars: two black, one grey, and one lavender print
Sashing possibilities

The sashing is printed with small dots of "non-colors" on dark grey. You know, those nothing neutrals - soft yellow, green, etc. So I looked for fabrics in those values for the posts and immediately like this odd yellow print.

The grey fabric printed with small circles was chosen for the sashing and posted with a pale yellow print that matches some of the circles
Sashing sewn

Now it's larger than baby quilt size but still doesn't look finished. Borders would solve that; however, I want them to be composed of smaller blocks instead of lengths of single fabric. There's already a small pile of HSTs, many already sewn, that could be the first round. The top is currently 51 inches. Divisible by three. Easy. Seventeen on each side.

3" HSTs in red, blue, brown, and black prints paired with cream and yellowish lights form the first border around the LeMoyne Stars in the quilt
LeMoyne string stars with single border of HSTs

A simple spreadsheet divides the current size of the quilt by possible number of blocks to find a block size that will be easy and accurate to cut

But it needs still more. I don't want another round of the same size nor a "matched block of 1.5 or 6 inches. Too planned. A simple spreadsheet came to mind as a quick way to find a good working measurement.

The current size of the top at the top is divided by the number of blocks down the first column to calculate a finished block size. Between 1.5 and 3 inches is what I want and look, 2.375" fits.

This round took a bit longer because of all the trimming. There are 17 large HST and 24 small HSTs {plus the corner blocks.} Since they have no factors in common {just a bit of math} they don't line up until the edge is reached. I like the way that looks. More random.

Four red and blue string LeMoyne stars make the center of this medallion surrounded by sashing and an inner border of dark grey print and a double outer border of HSTs in red, blue, brown, and black prints paired with cream and yellowish lights.
LeMoyne Star with a double border of HSTs

Sixty-one inches is an in between size - too large for a baby quilt and a bit small for a lap quilt. I prefer quilts to cover me from toes to chin. One way to lengthen the top might be to add another border on one or two sides. Pulling some fabrics I was surprised how few lights are left... at least lights in colors that work. Neither of these seems right. Both are a noticeably different style of print.

Two possible fabrics for another border

Obviously this needs more work. And fortunately I have time... next week. So the title of the post is a lie. The top is not complete.


Just 147 days until the US election but you must be registered in order to vote. Please do it now.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

LeMoyne Stars

"Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at its testing point.'
~ C. S. Lewis

With the chunks are out of the way, I'm ready to attack the scrap bag. Still enthused with diamonds, I cut newspaper foundation into five-inch wide diamonds to make LeMoyne Stars. To add some cohesion each started with one common fabric at the widest point of the diamond.

The idea to make a ring inside the star came from several sources. First, traditional Lone Stars {you recall how the tiny diamonds make a circle of each round.} Since this would be strings rather than diamonds, my mind jumped to those beautiful ringed spiderwebs. But even if I was crazy enough to line up all these strings. there wasn't enough of all the fabrics for that idea to work. I vaguely recalled  Gwen Marston's Amish String Star from her book, Liberated String Quilts and pulled it out for another look. It gave me the brilliant idea of making that circle from striped fabric but there wasn't enough in a color that worked. So I pulled out all my fabrics for a closer look. There was just enough of a pink fabric with double rows of dots. {All of this is just to demonstrate how ideas bloom and how constraints guide our choices.}

Lighter fabrics on one side and darker fabrics on the other; most of them are red or blue dark points. Yes, I cherry-picked the strings but as the preferred colors ran out, greens and purples and even brown was added. The inside is whatever light string was available.

Four LeMoyne stars created with a common center strip. The sides of the diamonds are either light or dark fabrics in mostly reds or blues creating two red stars with two blue stars in the opposite corners
LeMoyne Stars in progress

Problems arose with the background(s). After repeated measurements and calculations the four backgrounds require twenty inches for each pair of colors. Just over half a yard. And there's the rub. The print at the top of each of these photos {Background 1} works beautifully for the red stars but only okay for the blues. After pulling more choices, the flamingos looked best here but... there's not enough to make two backgrounds. And the other fabrics won't even finish one background. So all four will have Background 1.

Printed white fabric is set behind a blue LeMoyne star to determine which might make the best background. Three of the choices have insufficient yardage to create the background for both of the blue stars
Background fabric possibilities
String diamonds take a while to construct. This is a week's work. I thought I'd be further along.

Enjoy the day, Ann