Tuesday, May 25, 2021

A Pair of Cross Baby Quilts in Blue

Once you get a spice in your home, you have it forever. Women never throw out spices. The Egyptians were buried with their spices. I know which one I'm taking with me when I go.
~Erma Bombeck


I spend a lot of time using up my scraps. My small scrap bag is the first place I go when making blocks. I almost have to force myself to get into the stash. This past year I made a determined effort to draw down the boxes and now have five large shallow ones left: three for quilting fabric, one for clothing fabric, and one for UFOs. Although I strongly denied having any, quite a few were unearthed during our Swedish death cleaning. My quilting group and I have been laughing that we will be buried with our fabric if we don't get busy and use it up. We haven't decided whether it will piled on a Viking ship and lit up or wound around our bodies like the Egyptians. And perhaps my family will sprinkle some of my spices between the layers.

Anyway... using stash fabric means the scrap bag filled up again. Back to my old habit of starting with that stuff. And I need to because lots of friends are still having babies since DH works with many young people. I pulled all the blues, greens, and purples. There were a few black and white prints also but most of those came from Nann and were already cut this width. 

Cross quilt 1

I admired the many plus blocks on the internet but didn't want to copy any exactly. These off-center crosses produced more ways to arrange the blocks. This one creates a plaid effect. What fun to move the blocks around, deciding whether to group similar colors or scatter them across the surface. 

Front and back of Cross quilt 1

The back is a large-scale blue flower print that I found on sale somewhere. I purchased three yards but forget what it was planned for.

Cross quilt 1 folded

I love these photos of the quilts folded up. Such a good way to see both sides and the binding, too.

Cross quilt 2

There were so many blocks as well as that extra backing that I had enough to make two almost identical quilts. I divided the duplicate blocks into different piles then added singletons until there were forty-nine for each quilt.

Front and back of Cross quilt 2

They are very simply quilted SID along the block boundaries and the crosses. I considered more quilting but this is enough. Much less than I usually do, though.

Cross quilt 2 folded

As usual, I thought these would restart my baby quilt stack and, as usual,  one was called for almost immediately. Lucky me. 

Quilt Specifics
Size: 42" x 42"
Design: Plus block
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Gutermann blue cotton thread
Quilting: SID with walking foot 
Approximate yardage: 3.75 yds each


Jacqueline Winspear's latest Maisie Dobbs is available and I couldn't wait to read it. While The Consequences of Fear covers the latter half of 1941, it explores the effects of fear on the characters. Fear from their past as well as the future. An excellent continuation of the series.

Monthly FUR (Fabric Use Rate) 

Four quilts finished this month. Shadow Star is my largest quilt to date and has taken several years. I'm delighted it's done and on the bed. Yardage used doesn't count for me until the quilts are quilted and bound. May = 35.5 yds. YTD =  78.125 yards.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

And Now to Use the Blue and Green Squares

True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it's thinking of yourself less.
~Rick Warren


With a new set of cool colors, mainly blues and soft greens but also a few lavenders, it's time for a new block idea, too. Many versions of plus blocks caught my eye online last year so I decided to make my own version. Lucky for me, Nann sent me a surprise package of black, white and grey strips cut 1.5" wide when she gifted me a spare copy of Donald Hall's essays. And we're off.

Cutting the six-inch bases crosswise in both directions at 2.25" create an off-centered plus {or maybe the beginning of a plaid.} I enjoyed finding black, white or grey strips to fill in. And there were a few red squares set aside for a long-forgotten project that became the posts. 

Off-centered plus blocks

Here's the layout of the first set of blocks.  Their wonky lineup looks great but unfortunately they will "straighten up" when sewn. 

Plus block arrangement for a baby quilt


A Promised Land
, Barack Obama's latest book, explores his thoughts and post-presidential life.  It's the first of a planned trilogy and covers his first run for state office through the bin Laden raid.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

That's it for the Red and Yellow Squares

For what it's worth... it's never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. 
There's no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you've never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of, and if you're not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.
~F. Scott Fitzgerald


These are the last of the red and yellow six-inch squares. They were cut {and carefully stored} so long ago that I can't remember the reason. So Sujata's freehand hourglass block from Cultural Fusion Quilts seemed like a great way to quickly use them up... and again attempt to rebuild a stash of baby quilts. 

My old rotary cutter no longer holds the blade firmly. The nut and bolt unscrew with each swipe. It's time to purchase a new one. Meanwhile my pair of very sharp Kai scissors works well to cut the diagonal lines. {Of course, the blocks are squared up later with the rotary tools.}

With my usual insouciance I cut all of them before determining how many were really needed. And there were way too many for the first toddler quilt. In fact, there's enough for seconds but I'm ready for a new layout. This time all the hourglasses point the same direction.

Did I mention I started putting slabs in scrap bag in addition to strings? That's where the oranges came from as well as the remnants from last year's aloha shirt. Not sure how I like that but at least they were available despite being the "wrong" size when I started. And I didn't have to find yet another bag or box to store them.

The shading between orange and red isn't great but I love the way the orange foreground blends into the yellow background. There's always something fun to discover working with scraps. 

Since the blocks were sewn a couple of weeks ago, sewing the top went much faster but it needed a border. I drove myself nuts pulling out almost every blue in the stash.  These...

and these.

I wanted to like the carrots because of the bits of orange. You can see I laid the horizontally and vertically but neither seemed to work. And I love the blue and black plaid but it clashes with the stripe that will be the binding. {It's too good an opportunity to pass up using it to bind and that's where the idea for a blue border came.}

Eventually and oddly I chose the darkest blue. It's almost a reproduction wide stripe. Not sure why it works but it does.

The finished quilt bound and ready. 

Improv Hourglass toddler quilt in red and yellow

The orange fabric was purchased for a different quilt that has yet to be started so I'm using it here. Of course, there wasn't quite enough for the back so a few remaining hourglasses and border strips fill in.

Back of Improv Hourglass quilt

The binding looks great. I love striped binding and frequently purchase random stripes that then molder in my stash. What joy to realize this one works so well with the blocks.

Detail of Improv Hourglass quilt

A final view of the front and back of the quilt.

Folded Improv Hourglass quilt

It's now in the quilt stash waiting for an older sibling who needs some attention. 

Quilt Specifics
Size: 57" x 57"
Design: Improv Hourglass
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose cotton
Thread: Gutermann multi-yellow cotton thread
Quilting: Walking foot parallel lines
Approximate yardage: 6 yds


I've been eagerly waiting to read the second of Becky Chambers' Wayfarer's series. A Closed and Common Orbit picks up with the transfer of AI system Lovelace to a human-looking body. Pepper, a human who escaped from a factory where  genetically engineered girls recycle trash, invites her to her home and tries to help her fit into this new reality. The novel explores sentience, autonomy, and purpose. 

I've learned the hard way to space out reading new series. Reading them back-to-back usually results in burnout. Now I'm counting the days till the next one. 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Shadow Stars Quilted and Bound

The wise response to intolerance is not more intolerance or self-righteousness; it is a coming together across the ideological spectrum of people who want to make democracies more effective. 
We should remember that the heroes we cherish 
- Lincoln, King, Gandhi, Mandela - spoke to the best within us.
~Madeleine Albright


A few years ago it seemed time to make something with a white background for our summer bed. I recalled the Shadow Star quilt my great-aunt made and found the newspaper clipping my cousin sent. The first step was to redraft the pattern, an eight-pointed star variation. Next I wanted a border even though the original had none.  It took several years to get everything together and I wisely sent it to Peg Collins for quilting. 

She completed just it and mailed it back!

Shadow Star quilt

Peg free-motion quilted everything. The border quilting is simple but...
Vase detail on Shadow Star quilt

she went to town on the center. Each star, indeed, each point has its own design.  Lots of swirls...

Shadow Star quilting detail

and spirals...

Shadow Star quilting detail

and circles...

Shadow Star quilting detail

and blades...

and feathers. Even some arrows.  Peg's free-flowing designs move across the white, helping the star points and the background blend even more. That was always my favorite part of this design and I think it's why I remember it all these years later. 

The back is an extra-wide blue and white print. 

Despite being a traditional border, it updates this quilt tremendously. The stripes are "hand-drawn" in several shades of blue on white. There was nothing in my stash that worked so I purchased yardage online which wasn't the right shade. Then I found this. Online, too. Gathering my courage, I bought it. Success.

My dear friend, Gayle, gifted me a yard of her green fabric which gave me enough clear but quiet green for the leaves. The stems are a plaid cut on the bias. And the charming vases are fussy cut from to show off the rabbits. {Unfortunately there wasn't room for the ears. 

This angled view gives me an idea of how it will look on the bed. {But we are still awaiting the bed frames which need repairs after the movers tossed them around.}

Quilt Specifics
Size: 112" x 112"
Design: Shadow Star with Vessel, Vine, and Floral border
Batting: cotton
Thread: white polyester thread
Quilting: FMQ by Peg Collins
Approximate yardage: 22 yds

Previous posts:

Perhaps this blog should be renamed Shadow Stars since they have been the subject of so many, many posts. 

Enjoy the day, Ann