Tuesday, July 30, 2013


I spent many hours this weekend hand piecing rows 4 & 5  of my USA quilt together.  This distant, but blurry pic reinforced that I made the right decision by adding 2.5 inch sashing strips (2" finished) around each block .  The extra inch really adds some breathing space.

This is about 1/2 way.  And yes, I am "totally over" the need to completely hand stitch anything.

But the real purpose of my post is to talk about the "leftovers".  Tonight I spend my second "round" of adding strips to the mini blocks I started on the retreat to build some large, lovely red blocks.


All my friends who sent red fabric sent WAY more than I neeeded.  I have enough for the USA quilt,

Plus a bonus half square triangle quilt (also hand pieced).

But those extra reds are going to be a Karma Quilt Give Away!!! If you sent me fabric you already bought a ticket to win a red & white quilt  (...ok, maybe just a flimsy...I may be getting unrealistic).

Here's the deal.  Everyone who sent fabric is automatically entered.  But I know I'ts been a crazy long time since I started.  And then there's the whole Google Blogger Bye Bye thing.  So to figure out whom I may be easily able to hunt down, I'm offering a BONUS CHANCE.  Everyone who sent red fabric and replies to this post with any comment that suggests that you are still alive, gets a bonus chance.  How easy is that?   Hope to hear from you soon.  And just for fun, include the state you sent fabric from in your post.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Baby Quilt 1 Done

Long term blog followers might recognize this tidbit of piecing.  About 3 years ago, I received a packet of precut triangles from a shop hop at Halfway, Oregon.  One day, when I was killing time, I started piecing them together, and adding bits and pieces to make this quilt.  It was my very first foray into true improv piecing.  Meanwhile, I've been trying to improve my FMQ skills and periodically would pull this quilt out to try  a design I saw on a blog.

 I just went back through my blog and discovered that I pieced this the summer of 2011.  I posted about it here and here.  As I re-read the old blogs, the irony is that I think I was about to go out to dinner with our friends Kas & Dave the day I was "killing time".   They are now pregnant.  With twins.   About a week ago I found out that they were having girls.  The next day we received the invite to the baby shower.  That's really not fair.  The babies won't be ready for another 7 weeks.  I spent most of Saturday quilting like a fiend, but still didn't finish.  I took the partially finished quilt and the flimsy, but took them back to finish.

Which I did this afternoon.  And because quilters are really far more interested in the back than the front...here you go.  The initials in the end panel are the parents and the girl's initials.

Other baby will get this quilt.  Which has an even more interesting connection.  It was also made from Shop Hop Charm Squares.  From the same shop in Halfway, but 2 years later.  Oh, and the reason that I had enough door prizes to make a quilt is because it was from the trip when I took my biker buddies with me. And the babies daddy is a biker.  Well, at least he was before twins.

And I might have finished at least one of them if I hadn't stopped to crochet a couple boobie beanies.  After all Daddy needs something to look at while the babies are eating.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Color Blind?

Quilting initials into a panel of a baby quilt.  Can't stop thinking that this looks just like the pictures they eye doc uses to assess color blindness.  If you are color blind and can't figure out what I'm talking about...I'm probably right.

Next step?  Martini glass marking.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

LE Center

It took me most of my day off (maybe 9 hours) to prep and stitch down all these points.    I was going to do a darker blue, but I found lots of these teal scraps left over from the double wedding ring quilt that I could work in here.

In retrospect, I should have sewn the circle down first, but I thought it was going to be a little too big and thought it would be easier to stitch the circle ring smaller than it would be to resize or adjust the points to match.

Now I wish that I would have used the darker blues that I started with for the outside zig-zag border.  Oh well.

As I was stitching, I spent a lot of time thinking about this pattern.  Although I appreciate all the tiny little details, I like more white space in my quilts.  I'm going to skip the round flowers and even the 6 petaled ones that surround the star.  I'm really looking forward to the corner vases and I think they will stand out more without the extras.   To further annoy the purists, I also plan on making the  next several borders larger, spreading the designs out  for white space, and to make up for the fact that I'm not crazy about the bow/swag outer border.  Those corner designs that look like willows / amaranth / sad corn....will likely be replaced by dragonflies.   At least that's my plan as of today.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Change Tack

The great thing about starting a new project is the opportunity to approach a problem from multiple directions.

Strangely, I abandoned my favorite method of applique for the center in favor of a foundation pieced star thinking that it would, in the long run, be simpler and faster.  As part 2 came out, my approach was to fall back on fast and easy back basting applique.  I had considered piecing, but once I saw the smaller scale of this piece, that seemed like it would add a lot of seams and make the whole thing seem much heavier than necessary.  Not to mention increase the odds of lots and lots of unmatched points.

Last night I started the zig border using my usual technique.  Though not bad, I came to realize a couple things.  1)  I NEVER applique things with straight edges. I guess I never saw an advantage of using a technique that is so splendid for something curved somewhere where a 3 second pieced seam would do.  2) Starting with a straight piece of fabric would probably increase the odds of having a straight edged applique.  Seems obvious, but it took several pieces for me to make this discovery on my own.

Tonight I made several slices of my zig-zag border fabric 1" wide, from the 2.5" wide strips I'd been using last night.  Maybe I'll get lucky and my parallellagrams will actually have parallel edges.   A girl can dream.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Today I downloaded Esther Aliu's Love Entwined.  Thinking that I might have to rename it Love's Insanity.  I mean, I like applique and I like detail but this is crazy small.

My pattern taped together within 1/8" of what it was supposed to be.  I taped it to the dining room window and before long, had the new design drawn on the back of my center background fabric in preparation for back basting applique.

I actually went out and bought some new blue fabric after I read how many parellagrams I would need for this pattern.  That was, honestly, before I printed out the pattern and saw the scale.

Please note the 1" test block above the compass circle.  Those diagonal strips finish at 1/2" wide.   This is seriously 1/2 the size I thought each element would be.  (Note: Annelein left a comment about the 1.5" measurement in the directions.  That's the length of one "V".  I am shocked about how narrow each piece is.)

When Esther warned beginner appliquers, she was right.
This isn't hard.  But it is tiny and fussy.   And not good for those who aren't at least a little bit crazy.

Oh, and of course I'm going to do it.  Duh.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Retreat & USA Quilt Update

I am completely spoiled.  I have just returned from a fantastic quilt retreat hosted by my friend Joanne.  The creek in the background was the only sound I heard all week besides lovely conversation and laughter.   The TV and technology blackout provided by the surrounding mountains was a delightful change of pace.

I really wanted to come back with something finished, so I did spend a lot of time early in the week on finishing the quilting on this Broken Star quilt.  

I managed to do the Matrix fill on the outer star points the Saturday I arrived.  Am not sure if the Merlot helped the process or not.

I did the outer radiating lines using the walking foot over the next several mornings.  I tried to limit my machine quilting time to the mornings so I didn't hog the limited table space.

I even sewed the binding on completely by machine, even though it never works out like I intended.  And, of course, my pieced bias managed to get the piecing seam on the corner 3 out of 4 times.

I don't care.  It is done.

In 2010, when everyone was working on Dear Janes and Farmer's Daughter quilts, I got all excited about small blocks.  That was also the year there was a huge Red & White quilt display somewhere.  I also had been to several quilt shows where there was nothing done by hand.

That was the year we took the epic road trip. 6666 miles with my mother and 2 teen aged daughters.  'nough said. We hit 19 states and a fair bit of Eastern Canada.

I decided to make a block for each state, with red fabric that came from that state.  Each block is to represent something about the state.  Oh, and I decided to piece it all by hand.

 In addition to my own collecting, I had blog followers, family, and friends buying and sending red fabric from all over the USA.

I was really good at first about recording details and posting them on the USA Quilt page of this blog. 

I pulled this project out again last October and managed to add another 7 blocks to the pile.   Going into the quilt retreat, I was still 11 blocks shy of a finish.  My lack of finish was twofold.  1) I didn't have fabric from those states 2) I couldn't find reasonable blocks to make that represented the state theme.

My solution:  1)  all fabrics in the box qualify for any block  2) lower my standards on block theme.

Nevada:   Card Trick

Reason for delay: waiting for a friend in Vegas to send me fabric.

Solution: reds I thought would work well.

Missouri:  St Louis Star

Reason for delay: no fabric, no pattern

Solution:  Found in 5500 quilt patterns after I'd given up on things like "show me" and Independence.  Super fussy.  Ended up a little wonky and 1/4" too small.

Maryland:  Crab Claws

Fabric from Shannon.  Reason for delay:  Pattern.

And then I was totally distracted by mixed mottos trying to decide if Maryland was for both lovers and for crabs. Because that just seems wrong from a marketing standpoint.

But that got resolved when I found the fabric and note from Virginia...who claims to be for lovers, thus the heart fabric.

Virginia:  Jamestown Square

Fabric from Amy.   Reason for delay:  Pattern

Idaho: Double Sawtooth

Reason for the delay:  All my fabric counts as Idaho since that's where it currently resides.  I opted for this amazing floral, that has nothing to do with the state, because I like it.  And I'm from Idaho.  

You can see how this theme thing totally dissolved now right?

Mississippi:  Mississippi

Reason for delay:  no fabric from the state.

It was one of the last 3 missing blocks and I picked out a fabric that I thought would look good with the blocks near it.

New Jersey:  State of New Jersey

This block gave me fits.  I had planned on a Grandmother's Flower Garden, but as I was flipping through the 5500 quilt blocks book, I stumbled across a NJ block and drew it out.  Unfortunately, I failed to note what page or pattern # it was, so when I went back to clarify, I couldn't find it.  Barb and I both spent an hour apiece trying to find it both by name and pattern.  Finally, just as I was about to give up, I started looking for it based on the neutral corners rather than the narrow cross pieces.  "State of..."   sheesh.

New Mexico : Squash Blossom

Red fabric from Veronica

WV:  Belle of West Virginia

Reason for delay: no fabric

Utah: Salt Lake City

Fabric from Anna

Reason for delay:  I had originally planned on an appliqued bee block.  This was simpler than drafting something.


Reason for delay:  no fabric.  But this came from Maine...so that's close.

I opted for 2" finished wide sashing strips since the blocks are already so busy.    Nearly 20% connected!

I'd be further along, but I ended up repositioning the bear paw block since I didn't like it pointing the same direction as the cactus blossom.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


One quilt finished! Only 3 more state blocks to go!  Making great progress. Amazing how much I can get done when I don't have access to technology. Time now for me to leave the coffee shop and head back to the cabin in the woods.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Jessica Rabbit Moment

"I'm not really bad, I'm just drawn that way."

If you were following my evil plans earlier this spring, you might recall that I had an idea for a Pin Up Girl applique quilt.  I downloaded some classic pin-ups and I really want to make a Sailor Girl Pin Up for my nephew Jesse for his bunk the next time he's out to sea.  (Navy Sub guy)

This morning, we decided to drag our younger daughter out of bed to go on a ride with us for breakfast.  She hates riding (she falls asleep) but loves food, so she finally relented.  On the ride home I decided to get her to take some pictures of me on my hubby's bike to use for my idea. He deserves a Pin Up Girl Quilt!

I can only imagine what the neighbors were saying as I headed outside in my skull fabric bikini and the Naughty Pirate Boots (aka Viagra Boots).  When I wear those boots, I am 6'2" (187 cm) and have an in-seam of 36" (92 cm).    I was feeling pretty hot (literally...as it was 90 degrees F and figuratively too) until I looked over the side view pics.  For the record:  Never let anyone photograph you from the side, while you are sitting on a motorcycle.    Ever.    Especially when you have helmet hair.  Not good for the psyche.

When I started the cartoon, I removed the wind shield,  shifted my torso slightly to the right,  simplified the bike details, shifted the boot position and gave myself hair extensions.

You all saw the pre-boobie-dicky picture from the zig-zag dress, so you know that the chest bit is legit.   The waist is a bit exaggerated to my advantage.

 And since my mother accidentally saw my tattoo last week when I was adjusting a waist band on a crap pair of shorts during her visit, I can admit that the Jurrassic sized dragonfly is, in fact, part of my body.

When I get 4 more quilts done, I will reward myself by starting on the Soft Tail Custom Quilt

Monday, July 1, 2013

1991 Done

The 1991 block is finished.  Pica, phlox, lupine and The Blue Goose.  It's a tribute block for 1991 using a blend of Baltimore Album and Civil War Bride style.

I need to prep things for my quilt retreat, and maybe sew a dress I cut out.

For now, I'm just enjoying being done with something, if only 1 block of 20-25.