Tuesday, May 23, 2017

AHIQ 21 - Two Block Quilt Progress

I've been thinking about a second block for CCII. Oddly alternating choruses: Slow down versus move it along; try something new versus repeat something I can create with ease.

I thought this quilt would look more like Nettie's Stacked Bricks. Instead it's taking on a bright "Freddy Moran-vintage" feel. Like our children, we have many plans for their future but, to be truly successful, they make their own choices.

Stacked Bricks center

Whenever I go to a show or meeting, I think, "If a natural disaster strikes, which one will I save?" Not steal. But I could only carry one. There are so many quilts {and parts of quilts} I admire. Among my favorite quilts are ones with nuance and depth to their work that still appear handmade and touchable. These are the quilts I would save from natural disaster. A trivialization of Sophie's Choice if you will.

What does this have to do with anything? I don't want to copy but rather to let ideas percolate and metamorphose until I find a way to incorporate aspects I admire. Like the suns in Kaja's Little Bird which also remind me of my Cowboy Fireworks made using Sujata Shah's Cultural Fusion Quilts. Kaja's are rectangular and I think she individually cut her rays. How would it work with a stack of fabric instead?

Cowboy Fireworks quilt

What if I made star points instead of sun rays? I have some paper pieced New York Beauties in progress for years. Yes. I still think they're beautiful, still like the colors, and still plan to finish. I don't want to start a second one now. {I can't keep up with the papers already.}

Paper pieced New York Beauty blocks, still in progress

Several years ago, Tim Latimer made a Suspension Bridge quilt. {His post also includes photos of a housetop quilt in progress and Kaja's been using that block. Hey. It's the circle of life, or at least the circle of coincidence.} What charming awkwardness of the points. He didn't paper piece. But he did write a post about his process: Tim's Suspension Bridge piecing.

So... How improvisational do I want to be? What method will work best for me?

How about you? I'm setting aside a couple of afternoons to read all the posts in detail. Be sure to check in with Kaja for more insight into two-block quilts.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Spring Cleaning

Perhaps because of all the pollen this year, I've taken to spring cleaning with a vengeance. All the pillows have been washed; furniture moved, dusted, and polished; drawers are being emptied, sorted, and restocked. I've even reorganized my fabric boxes. And look what I found: a collection of squares cut for a class last year with Sujata Shah. That was when my family life went to pieces so I didn't take take the class and forgot about them. An easy project to sew this week and part of my plan to build a Parts Department a la Freddy and Gwen.

Fabric for Crossroads blocks

By the end of the day I had these completed.

Crossroads blocks

#AHIQtwoblocks continues Tuesday. CCII/Stacked Bricks needs a border. Might these work?

Possible Crossroads border on CCII
 The Xs aren't beefy enough to suit; they look wimpy compared to the stars. But the lighter backgrounds give me some ideas. Although these blocks don't work here, more fabric choices have emerged.

I pulled out my stash and set each piece on the top. This is my go-to method to ensure every possibility is tried. Purple is a possibility or perhaps blue?

After a couple of hours, here are the best choices so far.

Fabric possibilities for the next round

Some fabrics might be good colors but are the wrong print. For example, that whale fabric is a wonderful color but the print doesn't work with this quilt. Well, perhaps I'm wrong. {Won't be the first time.} Think seastars rather than celestial stars. There are starfish on that print that could match the red stars.

Testing some light fabrics.
Lavender and white print choices
None of these makes my heart beat faster when placed against the center. I'm going to try more lights tomorrow. If nothing works, a shopping trip may be required.

Enjoy the day,

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Enlarged Mini Trip Around the World

Twelve more blocks finished and the top sewn together. The quilt will be six by seven blocks or approximately 72" by 84". Here it is.

Red, orange, pink, and yellow squares form diagonals on this scrappy mini trip quilt

Here was the planned layout on the floor. Somehow the blocks became reversed while sewing. {Who did that?} It still looks good; one of the joys of scrap quilts. The colors are a bit brighter in this photo than the previous. The real colors are somewhere between these two.

Enlarged Mini Trip Around the World 
When I last laid these out, the blocks seemed a bit too bright/dark. So for the final twelve I used fewer dark and bright strips. Just to tone it down a bit.

Finishing this quilt doesn't take long when many of the blocks are strip pieced. I also learned some finer points from this exercise. For example, since I like strong diagonals I made sure a red/orange/yellow strip occurred every seventh or eighth strip. Then I opened the tube at that fabric so they made most of the main diagonals.

Note: If you strictly make your preferred color on the main diagonal, you'll have a larger "square" where four blocks meet at the corners. If you alternate seventh and eighth locations you get more of an Irish Chain style. Does this make sense?

Of course, you can be completely random, too.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Chinese Coins II Moving Along

I got busy with this top and forgot to take process photos. While I liked the red sashing better, I didn't want the sashing to be the focal point.

Stacked Bricks, a Chinese Coin quilt variation sets Coins vertically
Chinese Coins II with green sashing and star posts

On the other hand, the green sashing blended into the blocks too much. {Here's the photo from last time to compare.} Also, everything here was too squared up.

Posts without stars
I considered appliqueing flowers over the posts again but really wanted some red and pink here. You can see how circumspect I was adding tiny bits of red Coins.

Star points were cut from more squares the size of the posts. They were sew-and-flipped to the sashing then pressed. That let me use the sashing as a guide to again square up the sashing.

Many of the coins were hand cut. Of course, some were rotary cut scraps from previous projects. If they were already a decent width I left them as is. I overlapped the the light and dark coin sets before rotary cutting that seam line without a ruler, both to add individuality and to keep as much length as possible. But I squared up the final coin set pairs and cut the sashing with rotary and ruler. I liked the combination of free and sharp this gives.

Several quilters combine these techniques, including Freddy Moran, Gwen Marston, and Sujata Shah. Look at Sujata's Windmills quilt as an example. Free cuts within the block but block perimeter is squared up.

There wasn't enough green to complete the outer sashing either. Fortunately a half-yard of this navy print waited in my stash. Even it wasn't enough so a fat quarter remnant fills out the top and bottom.


I've been thinking about two-block quilts. Several ideas are running through my head for future quilts but  a second block might make a good border here.  Improv quilts are a learning experience for me - at least, I want them to be. There are many techniques to be tried: non-paper-pieced curves and perhaps another bout of applique.

This is the year to be fearless; to push myself to learn new skills; to create more textured quilts. So I'm mulling inspiration from Kaja and Audrey's beautiful quilts.

Enjoy the day,

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Sashing Chinese Coins II

Trying to salvage Retro Mama sashing. Is there a way to sneakily add some green to the sashing or posts? What if I appliqued simple flowers over the posts? It uses blues, reds, and greens but it's not doing anything for me.

Flower posts
Monica suggested adding brown or gold sashing which might look good with the plaid. But the few bits I had did nothing when these Coins are added. I will reserve that idea for a future quilt. Ha.

I bit the bullet and tried other sashing colors. Reds, pinks, and two shades of green. While I like the red, there's not enough of any of them. In fact, none of these fabrics is sufficient to sash the whole quilt. Of course, Nettie's quilt uses a variety of sashing fabrics. But they are secondary elements that add a frame/resting place for the eyes. These just "slap me up the side of the head."

Sewing these strings into value blocks created a sea change in this top. Some of the subtle aspects of Nettie's quilt will not work with them now. Time to figure out a new narrative.

Various sashing plans

I like this green with red posts although it's a bit too quiet. Funny. Red sashing is too dominant; green sashing is too recessive.

Green sashing with red posts
More thinking ahead.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Revisiting Chinese Coins II

Without progress on my Chinese Coins II for the past month, they came off the wall to work on the Mini Trip Around the World (TOW.) And look what happened.

Chinese Coin layout
While I didn't like the red boxes together, This arrangement alternating red boxes with slightly longer blue coins has possibilities. The sashing is a small scrap of dark olive that sets off the bright colors well. I was sure more fabric about this color lurked in the stash boxes... but I was wrong.

Although this plan didn't work out, it broke the drought and I sewed several sets of Coins. Many of my coins measured from six to eight-inches long. I haven't made a Coin top laid out vertically so they are purposely set to get my mind thinking the right direction.

Monica at Lakeview Stitching and I are both inspired by Nettie Young's Stack Bricks. Like both of them, I'm planning wide sashing. It's interesting to see the variations we each bring to this design. Monica recut some hourglass blocks into several improv blocks but she retained the tall rectangular outline of the block.

Chinese Coin sets

Mine are turned ninety degrees; wider than they are high. Without really planning, I ended up with a light side and a dark side. Originally I laid them all with the dark on top. That made too strong a horizontal. Now they alternate. They almost look square as they float behind the sashing.

Because these strip sets had lots of blues and pinks, I was absolutely certain my second choice for sashing would be perfect. {First choices was a remnant here.} So I cut several strips. Wrong-o. Again.

I was amused to note my sashing has the same colors as Monica's. She planned her colors better; the browns and tans, fit the cornflower blues. {Someone in the States didn't keep her eye on the scraps.} Somehow my coins became greener. The quiet color saturation of both these sashings attracts me but doesn't work with the stronger, {more acidic?} strings. This sashing won't make the grade either. It looks like Retro Mama meets the Groovy Gal.

Plaid sashing for Chinese Coins II
Back to the drawing board.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Monday, May 1, 2017

Kaleidoscope of Butterflies 16

My mother and I spent the day at the Dallas Arboretum. It was a bit early for many flowers and a hard rain and wind storm knocked the petals off the tulips. But we saw these moths busily mating.

Moths at the Dallas Arboretum
Monica at Lakeview Stitching says it's good luck when you see a white butterfly first in the spring. Do moths count? She's also making a charming Moth in the Window quilt. Take a look.

The Red Maple Rill is always gorgeous. Here's a view from the back side with the little waterfall and creek.

Waterfall near Maple Rill, Dallas Arboretum

This funny old woody was covered in flowers. Everyone lined up to have their pictures made with it. Peace out.

Flower Powered, Dallas Arboretum
Another scrappy Mini Trip Around the World in my perpetual attempt to reduce the scrap bag. And another Debater needs a quilt. Here's what I have so far. These blocks were made in a different way than I've seen others use. Most were made with expanded strips sets {directions here} but a few were individually pieced with leftover squares.

Scrappy Mini Trip Around the World blocks

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Alternate Method for Mini Trip Around the World Blocks

Since my scrap bag is still full, I decided to make another Mini Trip Around the World. I wanted to see if I could combine some quick piecing techniques with a bit of randomization.

There are two ways I to make Trip Around the World: use individual squares or strips. The first gives you complete control but takes a while. The second can be both more random and more organized. It may also yield unexpected results.

Scrappy Mini Trips from strips on the left and using individual squares on the right

Many people make tubes of six or eight strips, cut them crosswise and unsew between the different squares to make a single block. Like this. Ok. Most people use six strips but I always use eight. The numbers 1-8 stand in for different colors but you see the fabric repeats on each side of the main diagonal.

One Mini Trip Around the World from eight strips

My issue with this is that each half of each block is the same. What if I sewed more strips before cutting?  Here's what two sets to strips (16 total) would look like. As you see,  each block still has all the same fabrics although they are in different locations. Instead of one block having repeat fabrics on each side, now two blocks have the seven of the same fabrics. Only the main diagonal is different.

Two sets of strips to make two Mini Trip Around the World blocks

What about three Mini Trip blocks?

Three sets of strips to make three Mini Trip Around the World blocks

Finally each block has some of the fabrics but they are all different arrangements.

I cut my strips two inches wide so they finish 1.5 inches. With eight squares across, my blocks finish at 12-inches. Each strip set appears in only two of the blocks so I need a bit more than 16-inches of 24 different strips to make these three blocks. When they are sewed into a tube of strips it will only be 18-inches wide. I can easily do this. Hooray.

You could also alter this to the more common 2.5-inch strip (finishing 2 inches) and only use six strips per block. The finished blocks will still be 12-inches and the tube will still be the same width. Your choice.

Here's my first tube of fabrics.

Tube sewn from 24 2-inch by 17-inch strips. (A bit of extra length to make straightening cuts.)

After cross-cutting the large tube into eight two-inch wide circles, I unsewed at different pairs until I had this arrangement of columns.

Tube sets lined up to create Mini Trip blocks

Then I counted down eight squares and unsewed those on each column until I had this.

Three scrappy Mini Trip Around the World blocks from tube sets
Sew those short columns together to get three 12-inch finished blocks.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Neutral Strings Quilt and AHIQ #20

After washing and rebinding this quilt, most of the waviness is tamed. Not gone. It's worked into the interior though and doesn't show as much on the edges.

Love the striped binding. Remember it was printed with bias stripes so it's cut straight but appears to be bias. That straight of grain binding also helps tame waviness.

Neutral Strings baby quilt finished

Quilt Details
Size: 38" x 38"
Design: String
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: Guterman tan cotton
Quilting: Spiral design with walking foot

Oddly, this was the dregs of the scrap bag - what I call the "swash zone" - that stuff you leave each time you empty the bag. It's turned into one of my favorite quilts.

My biggest mistake was pulling the quilt package as the walking foot wound the spiral. I should have placed my hands to offset the bias stretch rather than emphasize it. If I'd done that the quilt would lie as flat as each layer did.

The waviness should continue to wash out at the quilt is used. Fortunately it's designed to be used and washed frequently.

Previous posts:
  1. Piecing the top
  2. Piecing the back with Stephie's scraps
  3.  Spiral quilting

Edit: Linda at Koka Quilts has started a new linky and I joined this time because she wants to encourage sharing through blogging. Pictures are fine but I want to hear more about how and why we made our decisions. Way to go, Linda!

Last quarter AHIQ worked through Chinese Coin variations. Check last month's linkup for enlightening results and ideas by other quilters. I've been preparing for our show, traveling, or fighting a cold most of this month so haven't progressed much on my CCII. I know many of you are still finishing yours and hope you link more this month.

The best news is IT'S KAJA'S TURN to lead the #AHIQ2017Invitational! This quarter she will be sharing an improv method that's been striking her fancy recently. I can't wait to read the details and start learning from this master improvisational quilter. Head over to Kaja's Sew Slowly blog for all the details.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Tilework at the Getty Villa

We finally saw the Getty Villa in Los Angeles, a place I've wanted to visit for years. It exceeded my dreams. All of J. Paul Getty's art was housed in the Villa until the Getty Center was built about 20 years ago. Now the Villa showcases ancient Roman and Greek objects only.

Although it didn't seem overly crowded, there were people everywhere. I never could get a photo without others in it whether it was scenic or detail. Ah, well.

We all know that tile floors make good quilt designs. Many artists have already made quilts based on various floors throughout Europe and there are even books of them. But this villa had so many elaborate tiles. This one reminds me of the center medallion on my Sampler quilt.

Medallion tile floor at Getty Villa
There was a similar medallion outside, too.

Medallion tile in the outer courtyard at the Getty Villa.

The tile in this room is the same block design. Only the centers of alternate blocks are changed.

Tile floors enhance the statuary at the Getty Villa.
Here's a detail of the floor although the contrast is not as good.

Detail of tile floor at Getty Villa.

This lovely curved design was in an entry.

This one appears to have pieced sashing.

Where would we be without tumbling blocks?

Tumbling Blocks tile floor at Getty Villa
The Greek Key design always creates a fantastic border.

Greek Key tile variation at Getty Villa

Here's my favorite. It bordered a shallow, interior pool. Don't you love the towers and battlements? Almost medieval feel although it's a Roman replica.

Tine tiles create a city wall with battlements around a shallow, interior pool at the Getty Villa.

Not all the tiles were flooring. Some created beautiful fountains including this colorful wall fountain.

Getty Villa wall fountain flows into a pool

Enjoy the day,

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Thirty Year Sampler

What can I say that you don't already know? We've all heard the adage "the longest journey begins with the first step," but starting wasn't the problem. Consistency was.

All are traditional blocks for which I drafted and cut plastic templates. Then I pieced each by hand. In 1989. After that it seemed logical to hand quilt. Elaborate feathers were planned but I took this on a data shoot to work on in the evenings. Since the light was bad I just stippled everywhere. Now that seems like a lost opportunity. And I also lost interest.

I put it away but dragged it from home to home. Two years ago I got it out to work on on the evenings during the news hour. Even that wasn't consistent work. With our quilt show approaching, I decided to hand quilt the inner area and small blocks then switch to machine quilting on the sashing and outer floral. Good choices. Nothing shows on the black sashing. Originally I planned spirals but changed to quarter-inch straight lines. The floral is randomly free-motion quilted. Now that it's been washed, I can't distinguish  it from the hand stippling.

Thirty Year Sampler quilt 

Each of these is a traditional design based on various grids. For example, Dervish Star is a four-patch while Fish is based on eight-pointed star.

Dervish Star and Fish blocks

Once the Alexander Henry floral was chosen, the other fabrics were selected to go with it. Several lights seemed like a good idea then and still do today but I wish I'd used more fabrics for the colors.

Fifty-four Forty or Fight and Wheel of Fortune blocks

I used the blue and pink fabrics in the four blocks to finish the inner diamond.

Devil's Claws, Goose in the Pond, my variation on Michigan Star, and David and Goliath blocks

The purple and green fabrics made the eight blocks around it.

St. Louis Star and World's Fair blocks
I tried to use examples from each type of quilt block: four-, five-, seven- and nine- patches; eight-pointed stars, circular designs.

Little Giant and King David's Crown blocks

The center medallion is a design from an 1858 Godeys Ladies Book.

1858 Godeys Ladies Book medallion

Binding. Can you believe I also saved a bit of the green and black fabrics this long?

Binding and backing of Thirty Year Sampler

Quilt Details
Size: 84" x 84"
Design: Sampler
Batting: Mountain Mist 100%cotton
Thread: Metler quilting threads, Aurifil 50/2 cotton, DMC embroidery cotton
Quilting: Hand quilting and Machine, walking foot and free motion

Just a note: Happy birthday, Mother.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spiral Quilting

What's wrong with this quilting design? Once my quilting foot was on the design, I realized each spiral would put more and more of the quilt to the right of the needle. By the end the entire quilt would be there. Talk about a difficult way to quilt.
Spiral started the wrong way

So I rubbed this out with water and wound the spiral clockwise. Now half the quilt started to the right of the needle and every round moved it further to the left. I dodged a bullet.

But what did I do next? It was late, I was in a hurry, so I didn't hold the quilt square as the walking foot moved along the bias. In fact, I pulled on the quilt. Even though the top squared up nicely, by the time the quilting was done, I had a lovely flounced, Spanish-dancer of a quilt to get under control.

Do you see all the waves along the bottom?

Back of neutral string quilt shows lovely scraps from Stephie and spiral quilting
After carefully washing the quilt I measured across the middle to determine the length of a side of binding. The quilt had to be eased on each side.

This will never be an award-winner. Well, it wasn't planned to be. But I should have been more careful.

BTW: Lovely quilting design. I will use it again with much more care.

Enjoy the day, Ann