Serendipity Puzzle

Serendipity Puzzle is my new project. It uses the latest group of Piece O’ Cake fabrics, called Serendipity, plus some of the woven plaids from their 4th plaids collection. The plaids I am using are POCP 437G, POCP 437O, POCP 437R, POCP 437T, and POCP 437Z. I bought these fabrics in June at Quilting Adventures during my trip to Maryland and Virginia.

This project is a follow-up to Thoughts on Dots as I am still using color and giving myself some limits (using, basically, one line of fabric). This time however, I am doing more piecing. Initially I am finding that piecing blocks allows me to sew a few seams, even if I have only a few minutes, thus making progress. Thoughts on Dots required larger blocks of time for the staring and arranging part as well as once I started sewing. Neither is bad, just different. It is satisfying to be mindful of the process.

P&B offered a free pattern for this line of fabric, which I liked and provided inspiration. Ultimately, however, I decided not to use it. I am doing a variation on the triangles theme from the free pattern but using the Dutchman’s Puzzle design. I think the Dutchman’s Puzzle pattern is more organized than the pattern they offer. The free pattern has a nice look, just not for me at this time. I guess I need order in my life!

I plan to use the turquoise for the sashing and borders like P&B/Piece O’ Cake does, but am thinking of slight variation. Stay tuned for more info as that part of the project develops.

In the above photo you can see that I have cut and selected some of the fabrics in preparation for piecing.

Above is a detail of the center block.

Several days pass….

On and off since the second week of November, I sewed a few seams as time permitted, steadily making progress. I don’t plan on setting the blocks this way, but wanted to see how they would look together. This also allows me to review the use of fabric and identify any problems that may be developing. As you can see, I have several blocks and have still not used all of the fabrics from the line. I flipped over the stack of fat quarters so I would cut some new ones the next time I cut the larger triangles.

Some issues I want to work through with this piece:

1. Distribution of the red: I think that the red is necessary, at least at this point in the piece, but it seems to be a bit dominant, so I need to take care where I place it. I also want to use different reds. There are 3 or 4 in this group.

2. Mixing up the various prints: I need to think about whether to place duplicates of fabrics in one block or to ensure that all the blocks have different fabrics. This depends on the number of different fabrics that I cut as well as similar colorways in different patterns.

3. Brown: I am afraid that the brown will be a dark hole, but like the chocolately feel of it. I may, in the end, take it out (yes, that means unsewing), but I want to wait to see how it looks when I have more blocks.

4. Number of blocks: I am not sure. I think I will make at least 9 and possibly 16. I am thinking that this will be a baby quilt for a friend. We will see.

5. Variation in blocks? : I am thinking about mixing 1-3 regular pinwheels in with the Dutchman’s Puzzle blocks to add interest. I may make a couple just to see how they look. As Lorraine Torrence says in her design classes “Make visual decisions visually.”

Thoughts on Dots Nearly Complete

The two photos above are how I left Thoughts on Dots before Halloween and my trip to Arizona. One fabric (Top photo: 4th from the bottom and 3rd from the right) looked like a plaid and had to be removed. Fabrics that were too beige had to go as well. I did leave a couple that were beige-ish, but still very “dotty.”
The problem with the above layout is that the white background fabrics I added are too active. In this entire piece the white, IMO, is acting like a resting point for the viewer’s eyes. In this section the whites are not doing their job. I separated some of them before I took this photo, but it still wasn’t working quite right.

I think the other problem was the differences in sizes of the dots. I didn’t have them mixed up enough.

This photo is a bit wonky. I am really having some problems taking photos of this large piece, because of the construction and all the stuff being where it is not supposed to be. In any case, I think that this is nearly the end of the design phase. The piece is really coming together, which is great, because I was really unhappy with the layout when I got back to it last night.

Good Day with Fabric

I spent the day at home doing laundry and minor household chores. Since nobody else was here (what bliss!), I was also able to get the left side, yes the ENTIRE left side!, of Thoughts on Dots finished. I am thrilled and love the way it looks thus far.

The above photo shows the bottom right corner. Trying to strike when the iron was hot (metaphorically and in reality), the design wall had not cooled before I already had moved the right hand two rows over to the left and was putting more squares up. I tried to use many of the squares I had cut previously, but had not yet made it into the quilt. Many of them, however, I had to remove in short order as the colors were too depressing for this happy, sherbety quilt.

I had dreams of actually picking out all of the colors for this section today and sewing it together. I realized that was only a pipe dream. I ended up cutting more squares, which meant pulling fabrics out of the fabric closet, always an exercise in time and patience. Though not my favorite part, it was worth it because I found some very nice dots that have not been used yet in this piece. I also really want to have the right fabrics after all the work I have done on this piece so far.

Final Layout for the Bottom of Thoughts on Dots?

As you can see, I have worked a lot on Thoughts on Dots. Mostly, as is my current mode of working, moving the fabrics around. However, this time, I also replaced a number of fabrics that weren’t working for me. This arrangement has been up on the wall for a week with none of the fabrics really bothering me. It may be the final layout.

Progression on Thoughts on Dots

Above is pretty much how the piece was before I started working on it again last night and this morning.

Here you can see I got the piece into what I thought was a final stage. I particularly like the upper lefthand corner section.

Two concerns I had were adding the new fabrics from Seattle and the sewing.

After contemplating the construction of the piece (AKA how to sew it together), I realized that adding an additional row would allow me to sew the thing in 4 patches AND leave the two bottom rows unsewn so that I could work on uniting the two halves. (In case I forgot to mention it, dear readers, I plan to make this piece twice the size it is now and add a couple of rows on the right hand side as well.) St. JCN sugested that I keep the bottom two rows on the design wall to aid in uniting the two halves. I decided that it would be easier to work with the bottom two rows if they were not sewn together. All of this meant that I needed an extra row otherwise I would have an orphan row which would ruin my 4 patch sewing model.

You might ask why not sew the thing in rows. I find that sewing large pieces in chunks (e.g. 4 patches) rather than rows facilitates squareness of the entire piece.

Adding an additional row also meant I could start to incorporate the Seattle fabrics into the piece, so the two halves would not look like completely different quilts.

The Return of Thoughts on Dots…Again

7/29/2006: I have had Thoughts on Dots on the wall for a few weeks again, but haven’t moved any of the squares around nor have I sewed anything.

I moved some squares around this morning when it was very quiet in the house and, as a result, today was the first day in a long while that I have felt like being creative. I really need a table to which I can walk up and glue and paint and cut, because I had a massive desire to experiment with the Tsukineko inks.


I did move a number of squares around after I took the above photo, but think I may have the final layout now. It is an interesting exercise to get the colors/fabrics in the right place in order to give the right feel.

One wrench in the mechanism are the new dot fabrics that I cut last weekend while in Seattle. I had planned to add them to this piece, but am wondering if I don’t like the light, fresh, airy feeling of Thoughts on Dots as it is now? Or am I being a chicken and need to, as Lorraine Torrence says, make visual decisions visually? This quilt is destined to be a cuddle quilt, as I may have mentioned, with the express purpose of making me feel better when the life or the monkey chatter gets overwelming. I think, as a result, that the layout has to give the right feeling more than be designed as a great work of art.

I have more sets of squares waiting for my attention in this same exercise and am looking forward to working with them.

Return of Thoughts on Dots

I removed the Pamela Allen quilts and the April Cornell squares from the design wall. I wasn’t working on them and they were starting to depress me*. I put the dot blocks back up instead and it makes me really happy to look at the dots. I also enjoy rearranging the squares into a pleasing layout. This is an extension of working on the various block arranging that I have been doing lately. Below is the photo of the arrangement as I put them up on the wall.

Thoughts on Dots in progress
Thoughts on Dots in progress


I have rearranged a few, but nothing major. I am sure there will be some major rearranging as time progresses. I see a diagonal line of white-lights that I would like to break up. I see that I need to pay attention to the placement of the scale of the dot fabrics as well.

Another challenge is the size. Mostly I work on quilts that are about the size of my design wall, which is approximately 64″x42″. I want this quilt to be a true cuddle up quilt. I want to use it to warm me up, but also to comfort my spirit. It may be a quilt that gets used up. It will be a quilt that gets coffee or wine spilled on it, a quilt that gets washed. Thus, I want it to be bigger.

I have, already, more squares than will fit on my design wall and more to cut. I am determined to use as many dot fabrics as I can dredge out of my palette (AKA stash). I am also resolved not to worry about the size.

The challenge is to make it work together while sewing it in sections. I won’t be able to get the whole thing on the design wall all at once. St. JCN suggested a method that I am considering. She suggested that I create a top section and sew it together. Next, I am charged with creating a row or two that works with the top as a transition row, and sew it together. I should not sew it to the larger piece. Then, in order to create unification between the already sewn together top section and the yet to be created bottom section, I should put the transition row or two up the design wall and begin building the bottom section. My primary concern is that the top and bottom be balanced. I am going to try St. JCN’s technique and see how it works when I am ready to sew.

In terms of scale, I need to cut more of the dots with the large circles (4th from the top on the left and 3rd from the right and 2 down). I don’t know how many colorways are languishing in the fabric closet, but I am sure I can dredge some up from somewhere if there are no more in my palette.

I also notice that there are too many of the hoop dots (2 over from the left on the top row, 2 up from the bottom on the left) for the top section. I will remove some of these and save them for the bottom section.

So, come back and see how this project develops.

*I really need to drag out, at least the Jaye’s Garden piece, and some nice Perl Cotton or Oliver Twist specialty hand sewing threads and just start sewing on it. DH’s family doesn’t have a tradition of working on projects while they are chatting and visiting, so it is harder. Like the Nike ad says “Just Do It!”

Quilting Quilts Not So Painful

The quilts are in the good hands of the quilter. I picked out a varigated green-blue color for the quilting on Feelin’ Blue, Too. It is difficult to pick the color of the thread. I always like the thread to disappear unless you get up close. I really like the piecing to be the predominant design feature. With all of the different colors and fabrics I use in a quilt, the thread tends to shriek at me on either the light or the dark, depending on whether the thread is light or dark and the fabric is light or dark. Light thread on dark fabric=bad; Dark thread on light fabric=really bad.

I picked out a berry color for The Eye of God. The purple border was a problem with the yellows in the center, thus choosing something completely different seemed like a good idea. It won’t scream on either the yellows (lights) or dark purple.

So much for handwringing. I should have more faith in the universe, because CG said that she would probably have the quilts done by the end of the week. That would rock! It would, however, mean that I really need to get going on the binding and the sleeves.

In other news, the hand quilt is back on the design wall. I need to get that quilt done by Christmas. It is already a year overdue. Appliqueing the hands is such a drag, even with fusing. I have to follow the classic Nike ad and JUST DO IT.

After the hand quilt, I need to do something of my own design. We’ll see. It may be time for more bullseyes by then.