Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Another Ocean Conquered

Paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people.
~Justice Hugo Black


It seems I am flitting around from one project to the next. While it's true, there's an explanation. We are steadily cleaning out every drawer, cabinet, cubbyhole, and niche in the house. The floor is covered with files, collections, and half-finished projects. When there is time to sew I just grab the closest one {or the one I keep tripping over} and move it along. This week was the time to finish the Ocean Wave scrap quilt that resurfaced in my last cycle of cleaning. {An embarrassing number of projects in various stages of completion come to light when I clean. They are neatly stored, usually in common areas although not with my current fabric. I don't have a separate closet for tops either so they get hung with the out of season clothes. Perhaps they need a divider to highlight them. In this case, some of the triangles were boxed {in shoeboxes like and with heels I no longer wear} since the previous one was completed seven years ago while others are leftovers from my first Ocean Waves... which doesn't seem to be posted. Here is the 2009 quilt that started this series.

Scrap quilt of small blue and cream triangles form this traditional pattern
Ocean Waves quilt with blue centers 

I don't remember difficulties quilting it but I was younger and stronger. The white triangles are matchsticked. There are feathers in the border, but I don't remember the design in the blue squares. It was a college graduation present to a dear young man. We still keep in touch but I haven't seen the quilt since.

Matchstick quilting in the light triangles allows the blue ones to advance.
Detail of Ocean Waves 1

Since this newest red version was the third and especially since parts have been lying around for a decade, its name is Tethys Waves in honor of the ancient Mesozoic Era ocean. Just amusing myself. 

It was pin basted along with the LeMoyne Stars but didn't get quilted as promptly. Time to move it out before it truly belongs in another era. 

Tethys Waves and LeMoyne Stars pin basted

Comparing it with the blue quilt highlights the effect borders make in this pattern. The variations in color and value create a sense of wave motion that gives the block its name. Even though the "waves" include many of the same fabrics, this version seems much scrappier and casual without a border.

Triangular scraps of blue and white form waves across the surface surrounding red squares on point
Ocean Waves 3 scrap quilt

This time I wanted to see the effect of an all over quilting design. Again, straight line/matchstick quilting was considered {when is it not?} but the curves of Baptist Fan will work better for two reasons: they fit the wave theme and curved quilting stands up to daily use better. Casually ignoring the piecing seems in keeping with a scrap quilt.

While it's not very visible on the front, the red thread makes it stand out better on the white back. 

Two photos show how the curves of Baptist Fan quilting appears on both sides of this quilt
Detail of Baptist Fan quilting

In fact, here's a view of the entire back. A bit boring but this large piece of blue pine trees on white has been languishing in my stash long enough. Large lengths of fabric can drive me crazy. There's either too much to "waste" on a smaller quilt or not quite enough for a large quilt. Time to put it to use and move it along. The off-center strip of two blues adds some interest, blends with the blue shades of the pine trees and saved me from matching the pattern at the seam. 

The quilt back is blue pine trees printed on white with a single stripe of blue fabric to add interest
Back of Ocean Waves 3 quilt

The cadet blue that was used on the LeMoyne Stars makes a good binding color. It matches the pine trees on the back and fades into the values on the front where there's already enough going on. And that fabric is gone. 

The folded quilt highlights the front, back, and blue binding
Detail of front, back, and binding

Using an all-over design made the quilting much faster. It was finished in less than a week and it already in the mail to my dear friend who has been patiently waiting for a red quilt. This is one of my favorite designs even though all those tiny triangles mean it is time-consuming to make. But I've given every one of them away. Perhaps I should make one to keep next time.

Quilt Specifics
Size: 63" x 63"
Design: Ocean Waves
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Superior 50 wt red cotton thread
Quilting: Free motion Baptist Fans
Approximate yardage: 9 yds 

Previous posts:

Monthly FUR (Fabric Use Rate) 

Woo hoo. The three quilts and two shirts completed in September took a total of 27.25 yards. {Yes, baby quilts still count.} YTD = 153 yards.


The last day to register to vote in Texas for the November election is coming up. Monday, October 5. That's when your application must be accepted - not just mailed. Check online to find the deadlines of your state but whatever you do, make sure you and all your friends are registered!


This administration callously moved the deadline for the 2020 Census up by a month. September 30 is the new deadline to give information that will effect your community for the next decade. It has nothing to do with citizenship and everything to do with hospitals, libraries, roads, and Congressional districting. Don't let your community be undercounted. 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

String Tulip Quilt Finished

Prejudices are rarely overcome by logic. 
Not being founded in reason, they cannot be destroyed by logic.
~Tryon Edwards


It was worth all the time it took to remove the border quilting. The spiral design didn't add anything to the quilt because it was hidden among the strong Xs and the tension was a mess. With the machine cleaned, the needle changed, and thread rethreaded it's sewing perfectly {except for my own bobbles.} 

Four crossed tulips center the medallion with string blocks forming Xs as a border
String Tulips on Green baby quilt

Quilting began with a few free-motion arcs on the tulips then SID around the inside and outside borders. After that it was time to stipple the green center. Other designs were considered {for a couple of milliseconds} but there are already lots of strong lines in the piecing and I find stippling easy and effective. 

Quilting on the tulip and stippling on the green background
Detail of string tulip quilting

The third step was quilting the string border and this is where issues arose. The strings are so strong that no quilting shows. I thought FMQ spirals might work but had tension issues that took most of last week to resolve. After taking that out I decided to scribble back and forth in the basic direction of the strings. When I reached the opposite block corner I simply switched directions onto the next block. I went around the inner row of string blocks first then made a second pass of the outer row. Better views are visible on the back. {Photos below.} 

The photo highlights the quilting on the colorful Xs of the border.
Detail of string X border

Usually I finish each quilt before signing it but a new idea occurred recently. If I carefully place my signature I can sign before quilting. It looks neater. I don't usually add a label. My dear mother used to write them because her handwriting was so lovely but I've found the ink fades over time as the quilts are washed. Painters sign in the lower right corner on the front of their work so why shouldn't we? 

Cursive thread writing using narrow zigzag and free motion stitching in the lower right corner of the quilt
Quilt signed and dated with cursive thread writing 

Obviously chartreuse is a favorite color of mine. I thought the green print on front had yellow crosses on it and couldn't find any fabric in my stash that matched/blended until I pulled these odd colors. There wasn't enough of the first so the second was added to finish the back. Of course, I could have looked at the selvedge but that would be too easy. ;-)

Two chartreuse prints make the back of this quilt
String Tulips on Green quilt back

{Over}thinking tripped me up again. In my mind there was enough of the darker chartreuse on the back to create the binding. Where did I get that crazy idea. Only a six-inch strip was left. Back to the stash. Several yellow-green prints came to light and this one worked best. Who'd have thought? 

This is why I prefer pulling fabric and setting them next to each other. There are wonderful surprises. Color theory is great in practice but we don't deal with color like painters. Unless we dye our own, we can't blend it. We use fabric; and printed fabrics in particular have their own ways of working. 

This photo gives details of the front, back and binding of the quilt
String Tulips on Green quilt folded

The outer border of the quilt is finished with half feathers. So easy and quick... which was appreciated even more after the inner border debacle.

Quilt Specifics
Size: 47" x 47"
Design: String tulips and string block border
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Superior Masterpiece 50/3 green cotton thread
Quilting: SID and FMQ
Approximate yardage: 6.5 yds

Previous posts:
1. Stringing along - the original idea
2. String Tulips - adjusting the original idea with applique
3. Working on the String Tulip quilt - starting quilting
4. Two Steps Forward and Three Steps Back - messing up the quilting


Did you read The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare as a child? It was recently available as an ebook and I took the time to reread it. On the death of her grandfather in the late 1600's, Kit sails from Barbados to Connecticut to live with her aunt and Puritan uncle. Her more relaxed background brings her into conflict with the rigid religion practiced in New England and it grows as she befriends a local Quaker shunned by most of the community. 

The book is praised for its theme of tolerance; however, given recent events it obviously ignores the issue of slavery. One sailor is proud his ship doesn't carry slave cargo. Kit sold {"let go" but didn't free so what else could it be?} her personal Black maid (slave.) Reading it this time made me wonder how Black children felt when it was assigned in grammar school. Fifth Chinese Daughter has worn better through the years. Still, this is a good story and a continuum on the road to the development of inclusion and tolerance... and I don't just mean the Puritans.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Two Steps Forward and Three Back

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.
~Carl Sandberg


All the border seemed to need was some quick FMQ but a huge problem arose. The bobbin thread pulled too tightly and then too loosely. It has taken the rest of the week to unsew this mess. 
Ripping out poor quilting stitches

Next week I'll try something else... right after I give the machine a thorough cleaning. 

But the stack of projects never ends and fortunately I have a second machine. This funny Outer Space Santa fabric has been in the pile for a year waiting to be made into an Aloha shirt for DH. He likes this style {although he's not as fond of Christmas prints as I am} because I see a family resemblance between him and the man in the red suit. It turned out well and is earmarked for his birthday. Woo hoo. One present down. Don't tell him.

Aloha shirts
Wouldn't you think I could relax and read down some of my book pile now? No. I decided to continue drawing down the enormous pile of "clothing fabric" and make a more sophisticated shirt for me. I should have left well enough alone. 

Reminder to self: patterns with photos on the front are always more accurate than those with fashion sketches. Funny. This looks just like an Aloha shirt. And about as much fit even though the sketch had lovely lines. 

The leftovers from each of the shirts now reside in the scrap bag. And I may have an idea for them.

We are working very hard to donate or recycle all our discards. An article last week suggested that all companies should be responsible for the entire life cycle of their products, including final disposal/reclamation. That would be much better for our planet than creating the acres of trash and ecological disasters we currently have. Like a VAT for end use, too. What do you think?

Like many of you, I watched Sujata and Freddy on The Quilt Show last week. What treasures they both are. Their books remain some of my favorite quilt references and I signed up for a workshop with Sujata late this year. Her suggestion of placemats resonated. I need some and they are just the right size. Can't wait for class.


Only 49 days till our election. The door for registering to vote is closing. Ask everyone if they are registered, please. And encourage them to vote. Our democracy and our lives depend on it.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Working on the String Tulip Quilt

"We're all just walking each other back home."
~Ram Dass


Delightful as I find this quilt it was set aside while I finished some that needed to be gifted sooner. Finally I can get back to it.  For smaller quilt like this, doubling my folding tables makes the perfect basting table. They fit perfectly with no time wasted moving and re-stabilizing the quilt package. 

A few lines of quilting hold the petals. None of the fabric behind them was cut away. Slow, steady sewing was key to getting this part done.

String Tulips pin basted

Combined with stippled background the tulips now push forward a bit. I considered echo quilting but stippling is easier for me and the strong Xs in the border and the crossed stems are enough straight lines. 

Stippling the background of String Tulip quilt

Next up is the border.

Around the House

Less sewing than some weeks but we are busy with several chores around the house. Not exciting to write about but definitely nice to carve out a bit more breathing room. It's amazing how many old, tired items accumulate wherever we set down roots. 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Turquoise and Red Lone Star Quilt Finished

Ninety-nine percent of failure comes from people who have the habit of making excuses.
~George Washington Carver


This quilt was a surprise for my newest grandchild. The turquoise/aqua colors match {or at least blend with} the mint in his older sister's quilt while the red is a stronger version of peach. Hopefully they will look well together like the beloved family they are. 

This variation looks amazingly like a kaleidoscope. A real one, not the quilt. ;-)

Main star in red, turquoise, black and green with smaller red and aqua stars around the sides
Lone Star quilt in Turquoise and Red

The easiest design for the central small diamonds was Orange Peel. It feels very comfortable to sew and was a quick start. Reaching the green border, I chose a repeating S-shape, similar to orange peel but one that makes better use of the space. I could/should(?) have quilted it closer but didn't want that section to become "background" like the stipple quilting on the white fabrics.

S shapes are free motion quilted along the length of the green border
Quilting detail on green border

The diamonds of corner and side stars are larger than the center diamonds and I wanted to try something new. After rewatching Angela Walters' recent "Help How Do I Quilt It?" series, the swirl hook design was the best choice. In the corner blocks they all swirl the same way and I found that filled the area most evenly. Both aqua and red fabrics are quilted with light blue thread. 

Swirl hooks fill each diamond of the corners stars
Quilting detail of corner stars

The side half-stars have the same swirl hook design but they mirror each other from one side to the other. The center pair almost looks like a heart. With four sides there's one heart for each parent, his sister, and me. Cute as a button for the baby who's stolen our hearts. 

Swirl hooks quilted into the diamond shapes are reflected on each side
Quilting detail of side stars

The remaining green that formed the border of the lone star didn't fill all the back so turquoise and aqua fabrics were added to each side. It's always fun to see quilt backs; the designs usually show up much better here. This is not quite the last of each of these because the trimmed-off bits are now in the scrap bag. This is how it constantly refills. 

Light green print with aqua prints to each side create the quilt back
Turquoise and Red Lone Star quilt back

The brilliant red binding was waiting in the binding box. How was there enough to fit all the way around in one fabric? IDK but I'm not complaining. It's such a treat to "find" binding cut, pressed and read to apply - even though I'm the one who did all that work.

The quilt back highlights details of the free motion quilting
Quilting detail from the back

Washed and dried, it crinkled up a bit more. Just the way I like it. Due to health concerns, it was mailed to my dear fellow grandmother who kindly rewashed it before giving to the baby. No germs here.

Quilt is folded so corner star shows along with part of the green back and the red binding
Lone Star quilt folded

One more beauty shot just to see both sides and the binding. 

Quilt Specifics
Size: 38"x38"
Design: Lone Star
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: Gutermann 50 wt white, green, and red cotton
Quilting: FMQ and SID with walking foot
Approximate yardage: 5.75 yd

Previous posts:


I finished Circe by Madeleine Miller this week. What an excellent retelling {and reimagining} of a few lines in Homer's Odyssey. Raised on the classics, Madeleine not only brings the nymph turned witch to life but creates a full-bodied character. It brings home how little significance women are given in the classics and indeed, throughout history. By the end of this book I was completely in sympathy with this woman, cheering her growth and delighted she found a full life. 

In the postcripts Madeleine calls the Greek gods a cautionary tale. They "reflect what happens to humans when we see only ourselves and our own needs.... They have forgotten what it's like to be told no and it has turned them into monsters."

This NPR review encouraged me to read find the book. Now I can't wait to read her previous one. And BTW, her name is pronounced KIRR-kee or KEER-kee although many English speakers {including me} say SIR-kee. I'll try to change my habit. 

Enjoy the day, Ann