Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Finally Adding Flowers

People overestimate what they can do in a single day and 
underestimate what they can do in their whole lives.
~unknown but possibly Bill Gates


With the vines and leaves finally sewn, it's time to sew the flowers. There have been several iterations as you can see by the "cut and paste" of the template under this border. After recopying the entire swag once, I wore out and simply cut the old flower out and taped a new version in. Why? Because the petals extended too far and ended at the edges of the border fabric. 

The flower base that covers the vine end was simplified, too. It's now a unique three lobed shape without specific leaf structures.

One tulip version had three separate petals that were too difficult to deal with. And I don't think they used less fabric than this simple bowl. It's definitely easier to sew this one that fits over the base easily. Since hand-quilting is not planned, the extra thickness shouldn't matter.  

A lightbox is used to place tulip petals on the border.
Lining up the tulip petals

Then a teardrop petal was appliqu├ęd on top. After looking at several placements, I matched the base of the teardrop with the base of the cup but the three petal points are lined up with the drawing underneath.

Basted tulip petal is pinned in place on an applique border
Pinning the final tulip petal

Here are two of the vines extending from the center vase. The quiet speckled green print was a gift from my friend, Gayle. Thank you. There wouldn't have been enough leaves without that addition. 

Two vines extend from a blue vase in this applique quilt border
Vine and leaf detail

And here's one side of the shorter border. Wow, that pink stands out. 

Two vines with pink tulips extend from a blue vase in this applique quilt border
Half of a vessel and vine border

Do you see the rabbit in the vase print? I'm still considering re-applying the base of the vase. That curve is off a smidge.

QS gifted me some owl fabric at Christmas. Ever since college, my sisters notice and send any and all owls they encounter. This heavier linen blend made a simple, useful tote.

Tote with brown owl print and yellow

Monthly FUR (Fabric Use Rate) 

A kawandi placemat and the tote were finished in January. We are in the middle of home repairs so sewing slowed significantly. YTD = 2 yards.

Electric Socket Shock QAL

The first post is next week. Are you ready? I can't wait to see what everyone does with this basic block.  

Did you see it? The Iowa Quilt Museum has a new exhibit, String Theory, about... {wait for it}... string quilts. How timely is that? Works from the ten quilters and collectors in the show include my friends Sujata Shah, Fern Royce, and Rod Kiracofe.  

Curator Linzee McCray defines string quilts as "thin lengths of fabric sewn onto a foundation." They are usually considered utilitarian as evidenced by the random foundation papers on the backs of unfinished tops. The technique lends itself to "happy accidents and intricately planned designs alike." 

The first Zoom meeting was last week and featured Rod with Siobahn Furguson discussing their quilts.  More meetings are planned on Tuesdays at noon CST. You can sign up on the museum's website. {I'd link it here but it's not https. Doggone it. So look up their name.} They also plan a gallery walk online for $6 - the regular admission price. I can't wait and only wish I could attend in person!

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Never Ending Leaves and a Few Bud Bases

It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.
~Molly Ivins

The US turns to healing our bodies and souls with the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris tomorrow. I will be but early to watch. Let's commit to more than watching though. Let's become involved, especially in local matters and primaries, so horrors like these last few years don't happen again.

Both the 2016 and 2020 elections showed that the majority of Americans did not support the policies of the group that came to power in 2016. By neglecting to participate early, by waiting to see who and what "the parties" promoted, we lost the opportunity to shape those policies. A small group of dedicated, single-issue radicals swung our national agenda shamefully and cost us hundreds of thousands of lives.

Adults know we have to do things we don't want. Sometimes it's working every day, putting on a smile when we would rather go back to bed. Creating equitable political structures is another duty of adulthood - if for no other reason than to keep sadistic, misogynistic, and racist opinions out of the laws of our land.


I cut out all the leaves starting with the smallest fabric remnants to maximize diversity. They were then sorted into four piles like dealing cards so each border has basically the same ratio of each fabric. Here is my set for the second side. Oh, my fingers hurt from all this sewing. Even with a thimble.

A stack of hand basted leaves with pincushion and thread spool
Basted leaves for a quilt border

Of course, the first two sides are shorter than the last two so I started sewing them first. Then the leftover leaves were set aside for the longer sides. It's not a perfect system but maintains some semblance of diversity.  

Again the leaves are blanket-stitched so their stems nestle under the vine. I shortened both the stitch length and the zigzag. My Bernina also has a mirror image function that lets me align the "teeth" of the blanket stitch to either side. That makes sewing easier, too. 

Bernina 1240 set to applique leaves with a blanket stitch
Blanket stitch by machine

Once the leaves are sewn, I re-pin the vines and sew them down. Then it's time to add the flower bases. This template has had the most changes. At first I planned a double-lobed leaf on each side, kind of like a dumbbell. It was too difficult to machine quilt and I ended by including the base with the leaves. Actually it now just looks like a larger base. Whatever. It works. 

A stack of hand basted flower bases with scissors and pincushion
Basted flower bases for an applique quilt border

In the plastic bag the bright pink flowers are cut and ready to be basted next. It's taking about three days to get all the parts basted and another day to pin just the leaves. Then sewing, repinning, more basting. Not a lot to show at the end of the week but I'm sticking with it. It's time to get this top done. I only hope it looks as good as my sketches. 


One of the unexpected joys of the pandemic is the upwelling of internet meetings that allow international speakers and audience to interact. And one of the benefits of multiple program chairs is the diversity of vision they provide. Sue Bianchi, one of our program chairs, arranged a unique speaker for our December guild meeting - Harriet Riddell of the UK spoke on Street Stitching Around the World. Artists must be brave to put their work out for public response but Harriet takes it to another level. She takes her electric sewing machine around the world to stitch the scenes in front of her. The audience in the street power her machine by pedaling a bike. Sounds crazy, yes? What a opportunity to interact with people, build connections, and build a portfolio of ever-increasingly skilled work.

Last week I joined the first lecture of The Black Index: Artists in Conversation sponsored by the Getty Institute. The online exhibition curated by Bridget Cooks and this month's lecture included two conversations. Professor Leigh Raiford interviewed Lava Thomas about her pencil sketches of the Montgomery bus boycott mug shots. The history Lava researched for this series reminded me of Patricia Montgomery's swing coats

After a short break, curator LeRonn Brooks and Whitfield Lovell discussed his drawings of card players. Photos of family and friends playing cards highlighted how the cards are the intersection between the viewer and the subject. Whitfield took time to choose the correct card for each person. In a way, this reminded me of Susan Shie's Tarot Cards althought she did it the other way around, chosing a card and then created images for it. Susan embellishes her work with extensive writing across the surface. 

Interestingly both textile artists wrote on their work while the others did not. Another feature that struck me was the use of well-known people as models versus "the man in the street." It recalled artists who were paid for commemorating prominent people versus Impressionists who sold work using unknown models or family. The various reasons give us food for thought.

Replays of this lecture are available at the Getty and more are planned monthly.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

More Leaves and my Light Table

Whoever is careless with truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.
~Albert Einstein


String Tulip QAL will start the first Tuesday in February. Thanks for responding so enthusiastically. Like our usual prompts, I will post steps in successive months. 

February 2 - ESS string blocks
March 2 - Tulip petals
April 6 - Center details
May 4 - Putting it all together

The instructions are not a mystery; they will recreate the three quilts I made with this design. The mystery is what you make of them. Everyone is encouraged to alter the instructions to suit their own plans. I can't wait to see where you take this.

Meanwhile, Shadow Stars continues. I estimate it will take eight more weeks to finish all four borders. My blog documents my process rather than being a source of continual eye candy and it's important to reflect the actual time it takes. Consequently these may not be the most exciting posts but I'm sticking with the program. 

I drafted leaves in three sizes and made mirror images of all. The vines were pinned in place before the leaves are arranged so the stems can hide under them. Then I removed the vines to keep them out of the way of the presser foot. {Don't ask me how I learned to do that.}

A Bernina sewing machine is used to applique leaves to a quilt border
Sewing leaves to border with machine blanket stitch

Laying all these parts out properly is quick. Using a light table makes it easier to orient the applique on the borders. Years ago I had an "old school" light table that used an incandescent bulb. Eventually the toggle on/off switch broke. DH found this fantastic LED light board that is much thinner {about half an inch} and puts out no heat. My only problem is that my hands are frequently cold and the touch-sensitive switch doesn't always recognize it. Rubbing them together for a minute usually takes care of the issue. You know what they say, "Cold hands, warm heart."

The light table is bordered with ruler measurements which make placement easier.  It also works for real artists. 

LED light table rests on part of a quilt's vine border
LED light table

On the back the table is raised by four small pads that raise the table slightly off the surface. And for the record, information to order by phone or email is taped to the back. With this photo I'll be able to remember it even if the sticker comes off or fades. 

LED light table contact information

It's been a great present. DH is clever at finding just the right equipment.

The kawandi placemats have been perfect anecdotes for these tumultuous times. Choosing scraps from the bag with soft music is a respite from the outrageous behaviors of terrorists and traitors. Perle cotton makes the quilting much easier. DMC's manufacturing process is excellent. 

Here's the third one. It includes the last bird from the Spiderweb border fabric. I found another scrap with a similar blue-green background to add to this placemat and it unifies the design better than the previous one. 

Third placemat kawandi


I finished The Dark Vineyard by Martin Walker, his second in the Bruno series. Since I started reading this series late, I'm pacing myself - one every two months. Two young men arrive in Saint-Denis to start vineyards. One wants to create organic wine while the other is the heir to a large American wine business. Both seem attracted to the beautiful young Quebecoise student who is working in a wine shop for the summer. Martin write lovingly of his adopted region. You wish you were there for the wine-stomping parties and the truffle omelet dinners or even to walk through the woods with his basset hound. This is a series to treasure.

Rhys Bowen's The Last Mrs. Summers came through a library loan. Although recently married, Darcy leaves Lady Georgie for an assignment and she joins her friend, Belinda, to view her recent inheritance of a small cottage in Cornwall. The story is inspired by Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca {which I read in high school.} A good read on a rainy day.

Hoping everyone can be vaccinated soon. Stay safe.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

AHIQ Prompt January 2021: String Tulip QAL

"Hope" is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird -
That kept so many warm -

I've heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

~Emily Dickinson 

2021 opens so hopefully. Here goes!


As always, many ideas for a prompt run through my mind but something different kept coming to the top. Repeated comments about the angled strings and the tulips gave me the idea for a quilt along instead of a prompt. So this time, let's have an Electric Socket Shock QAL. I was asked if there's a pattern. Answer: Of course not. I was making it up every step of the way. But it's a simple variation of a string quilt and those are always useful for clearing out the scraps. And it will force me to write something down.

Electric Socket Shock quilt

I'll start writing guidelines for us and we'll head out. Remember, they are merely suggestions. Change anything you want or go in a completely different directions. That's why we love improv.

Interestingly the tulip quilts were constructed like kawandi. I started with the border and worked my way in. So we will do the same with this QAL. We will start with the string blocks and then move to the string tulips. You can make one or both parts and add your own variations. 

String Tulips quilt

My previous quilts are about 40" square - baby quilt sized but you should choose a size that works for you. The final size will determine how many blocks you need to make. And BTW, my blocks were 5.5" unfinished/ 5" finished. Feel free to change those up, too.

You'll need assorted strings and scraps, about 2/3 yard for the background {more if you make a larger quilt}, and some leftover binding for the tulip stems. Or you can pull from your stash. Or go shopping. I also used newsprint for a base. You can do that, or nothing. If you sew with a fabric base, you should increase your seam allowances due to the extra bulk.

Are you in? Let me know in the comments. If it's a go, we will start sewing next month and continue monthly.

Enjoy the day, Ann