The Benefits of a Pattern Book

When I first saw this book, I pooh-poohed it as being just another pattern book. I was, however, struck by the pattern for the heating pad cover. I used a heating pad for months. Throughout those long and painful nights, I would wake up to cold plastic against my skin where the cover had slipped off. Or I would wake up to plastic seams lodged in a fleshy part of my hip or leg. I started to have dreams about making the heating pad cover and different techniques I would use to keep the beautiful cover on the heating pad. Velcro and, eventually, glue dominated some of those dreams.

I couldn’t get that heating pad cover out of my mind so I, finally, checked Denyse Schmidt Quilts out of the library so I could take another look.

At the end of the day it really is just a pattern book, but I decided to buy it because of the way she writes. She does not assume that her readers are morons, like most quilt books. She has a sense of humor (Ready-Set-Sew). The clean, clear lines of the quilts and projects are very restful. Complicated patterns aren’t necessary; simple patterns look great and pack the punch. I also appreciated the clear directions for 3-D items that I have never made before, such as tote bags. I actually feel like I could make a tote bag after reading DS’s directions.

People like Denyse Schmidt should be encouraged, though I would like to see a bunch of her quilts in one book sans patterns. In the meantime I will be satisfied with this book.

Cross Block Lives

On February 23 and 24th, I posted about the Cross Block. The original quilt looks like:

Yesterday and this morning I worked on making the blocks a reality. This is a hand piecing project that I can work on as I get the time or when I am on the road with DH driving, but already I am liking what I see.

Neither is a full block yet, but the one on the right will be soon. I have only to finish sewing on one of the curved pieces before I can sew that unit to what I have. It was fun to have a little project to work on, but I think I will review Jinny Beyer’s handpiecing book, Quiltmaking by Hand: Simple Stitches, Exquisite Quilts to see if there are any tips I can use.

I made the seam allowances on the edge larger so I can trim the blocks to a uniform size more easily.

I am still waiting for Laume to give me more information on her idea for coloring this piece. I can always switch midstream, if I want: My Quilt, My Rules! Laume wrote in a comment:
“There is a third option – make each block scrappy, but not planned so that the colors in each secondary “stretched out square” is matched. You would get rid of the matched “X’s” in the second option you think look unfinished. Whether the background circles would still come to the fore like the second option, or whether they secondary pattern of dark stretched out squares would come to the fore like the first option, I don’t know. You’d have to try it on paper and see.”
I wasn’t sure what she meant so I hope she’ll e-mail back soon.

Everything Old is New Again

Some time ago, I saw an episode of Simply Quilts on Mosaic Quilting. The artist was a southern woman named Shannon Williams and her idea was really interesting. The blurb for the episode is:

“What can you do with all your scrap pieces of fabrics? Mosaic quilt designer Shannon Williams joins host Alex Anderson in studio to give us the answer. She uses scrap pieces to demonstrate a mosaic quilt project called Blooming Sunflower. Alex reads a letter from viewer Kelly Biddle about her mom, Peggy Biddle, and the 50th anniversary quilt she created for her parents. Then, Alex talks to Peggy on the phone in studio about her work. QLT-705”

At the time (2003), after a class with Gwen Marston, I was working on Women’s Work and had a lot of red scraps around, so I started working on a piece using Ms. Williams’ technique.

It is not a project in and of itself. The idea is that it is ongoing and someday will provide enough new fabric so I can cut other shapes out of it. So far, this is what I have:

The long piece is the one I started with and the shape, after awhile, became quite unwieldy, e.g. not square or rectangular and quite useless. I was unwilling to slap some big strips on to make it a more normal shape, because I wanted it to retain that mosaic quality, so I started the second piece (shorter one) in order to sew it to the first piece and make more normal shape. I have considered hacking off a part and sewing it back on to another side/part of the original, but haven’t gotten there yet.

I haven’t worked on it for a long time as the piece has been covered by strips that I still feel compelled to collect for the Spiderweb. I saw the mosaic pieces peeking out from under said strips the other day and was reminded that I have some reds I could add to make the piece larger. Since I haven’t done any sewing this week, I thought it would be something to share with you all.

This is actually the first photo that I took today, but I thought it didn’t show enough of the detail nor did it show the entire piece. Perhaps I should ditch it, but I do like the way you can see how the two pieces will look together. You can also get an idea of how I simplified the piecing for the second piece.

And here is a detail shot that shows the intricate piecing. At the beginning of this piece, I would fit any size scrap in, which made the piece beautifully complex, but also a nightmare of piecing. I need to add some of the intricate piecing to the second piece, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

The other thing about this technique and my particular piece, is color. Since I had the red and use a lot of red, generally, I thought I would make a red piece, because I was sure to use the ‘new fabric’ later. However, there are often other colors in fabric. You can see the white and some blue flowers and the brown in the coffee cup scrap. I think the other colors add interest, but I know that my eyes gravitate to the white. I don’t have a panacea for this, but it is something that I am playing with.

San Francisco Quilters’ Guild Show 2007

Here are some photos from the 2007 San Francisco Quilters’ Guild Show, which is this weekend at the San Francisco Concourse. I was pleasantly surprised. There were a lot of quilts and it was a good quilt interlude in the midst of the winter. They seem to have the lighting thing worked out, so it didn’t look dismal. I was also pleased to see that people in the SFQG use color unlike the entries in PIQF, many of which were so depressing.

These are the fabrics I bought. I may use the stripe for the binding on Thoughts on Dots.

My favorite booth was Custom Woodworks by Jeff. I bought three Creative Grid rulers (8″ square, 9″ square and a yard stick ruler) from him and coveted a cutting table with a pull out ironing board. He does beautiful work.

I was also thrilled to see Jennifer of Pumpkin Seed Quilts and Textiles. She a booth there and is trying to see what is next now that the shop is closed. I bought a big piece of the turquoise and grey border print from her.

The Center is Not the Center

It occurred to me this morning that I seem to be working with patterns that create not obvious secondary patterns. Spiky Stars was the first (that I can identify), the Pineapple and now the Cross Block.

In Spiky Stars, the center of the blocks seems to be where the X of color is. Perhaps, in and artistic sense it is. However, in a technical sense (making the block), where the legs of two colors join is the center of the block. See below:

I have made an effort to outline the block in PSP, but Deirdre and DebR are more proficient, but you will get the idea.

The Pineapples are the same way.

It is a little difficult to see the secondary pattern at this point in the process. It is not the black square, which is actually the center of the block. The secondary pattern will become dominant as I make more blocks and as I put the corners on each block.

And now the Cross Block:

I wonder if this phenomenon has some deep subconscious psychological meaning or if it is a message from the depths of my mind? I think I am just trying to create interest. Worth pondering, I suppose.

Quiltmaking is a Journey Not a Destination

I found this quilt somewhere, drafted the block and am now trying to decide if there is a color layout scheme that I prefer. I don’t remember where I saw the quilt, which is a shame because I would like to document it better than “I don’t remember.”

There are two color layouts for the Cross Block quilt that appeal to me:

I like this one because the circles really stand out and you can really see the fabric. I don’t like the way I would have to plan out a bunch of the fabrics in advance (like Spiky Stars, which worked out well in the end). The other thing that bothers me is the half blocks on the edge. On one hand, they look unfinished. On the other hand they could comprise a self bordering technique border, again like Spiky Stars, that is so effective.

In the option above, the blocks would be a lot easier to piece. The crosses really stand out, which is nice, in a way. It looks a lot less interesting than the one above…a lot more regular.

So, does this count as another project or a way to get some more sewing done when I am not at the machine? Quiltmaking is a journey and not a destination, so does it matter?

What Could Be Better Than Red?*

From the inspiration department:
Big Chill Fridge. They come in a number of different colors, much more interesting than stainless.

The above are two blocks I made for group quilts. I sent them off today as well as made them! I know it is Friday and I never sew on Friday, but I was hitting the deadline wall and just had to do it and send them.

*Blue is always better than red during football season, but we are not talking about football season here.

Am I Really Cut Out for Strip Projects??

The Pineapple project requires lots of strips. I am not sure I am cut out for managing such supplies for this project. They are everywhere and I can’t seem to find good combinations of strips. I have seen curtain rods that people have set up on which to hang their strips, but I don’t have anything like that at the moment. Bleah!

Still, I soldier on and I seem to be making progress. I finished the strip part of the second two blocks. I still have to put the triangles in the corners, but will do that later.

The Pineapples Progress

I have made some progress on the Pineapples. I am working on them in between everything else so I don’t feel guilty about starting a new project. Yeah, yeah, I know guilt is not productive. Above is the first bits of the second two blocks.

I have made more progress on the second two blocks. I am about 3 rows away from finishing. One thing I did differently in the last few rows is add new backgrounds. the size and spacing are different from the background fabrics I have been using. We will see how they turn out and if you think they scream “INAPPROPRIATE.”

I also added some fabrics with smaller dots. In these photos they look like tone-on-tones. We will see if I use them again.

Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Although rain is forecast for later, the sky is blue and it is very warm outside. Despite all the weird weather we have been having, today things seem back to normal as we always have a week or so of warm weather in the middle of February. I can remember sitting out on our fire escapes as an undergraduate, sunbathing in mid-February with the other girls with whom I lived.

As a result of my renewed good spirits I have finished the back of Serendipity Puzzle. As seems to be my way lately, the thing has turned out to be a monster. Not as monstrous as Thoughts on Dots or the Nosegay, but larger than my design wall, which, in my book, moves it into the monstrous category. It makes it hard to take photos of these quilts!

Sometime in the last week or, perhaps, last weekend I put rickrack on the border of the quilt.

As I mentioned, I thought the quilt needed something and this is what I came up with. Deirdre actually suggested rickrack “or something.” I had some rickrack, but not enough to go around all the way. I used two different colors rather than buying more. I think it looks fine. The only irritation is that I pulled the rickrack a little too tightly as I sewed it on, so the quilt puckers a bit on the border. I thought about unstitching and then decided against it. If the quilter can’t make it ok, then I will unsew it and do it over. Live and learn.

Still I am pleased. I feel like I have made progress.

Making backs is such a bear! I know now why people buy 108″ backing fabrics. As you know, I have two more to go and was going to have a marathon, but I think I will make a few blocks, work on the Pineapples, perhaps work on the QA challenge and rest a bit. I am looking forward to making the back for the Nosegay despite the fact that it, too, is a giant, as I want to get all of those 1930s fabrics into a project, so I can use the bin for dots (or maybe stripes). I know I can easily buy more bins, but my shelves are full of bins, so buying more bins would do me no good since they would just be dumped on the floor with everything else that doesn’t have a home.

So, the fog came in, but it didn’t get cold, then it went out again. Now it is cooling off a bit. It doesn’t look like rain clouds, but I would rather have rain than fog. Have a great evening!