Tuesday, July 25, 2017

AHIQ 23: What Would You Say?


I'm continuing the multi-color border around all sides of this quilt but still have doubts. No matter what color is added, it needs something else. Right now it feels like it needs more blue, navy and perhaps purple. But I've cut too many reds. Although the yellow is much lighter, it adds some fun to the pennants. Maybe...

Continuing multicolor outer border, CCII


Kaja and I discussed some ideas and I spent even more time wondering what invitation to extend this quarter. We don't want to push specific blocks. Much as I love scrap quilts, this is not a scrap challenge. AHIQ encourages people to look at their fabrics for the story; to step away from perfect purchased designs and instead explore patterns that speak to your own heart, to discover your own voice.

Several times I've written about my desire to try new-to-me techniques. Although I frequently thread write and even quilted school chants over one quilt, I've never pieced or appliqued words. Why? Well, it's time to change that.

I love Janet Stone's abecedaries. Each is so different. I've read she plans to make twenty-six, one for each letter in the English alphabet. Ricky Tims interviewed her for TQS at the 2016 Quilt Festival.

Then there are phrases on quilts. Some, like Audrey at Quilty Folk and LeeAnna at Nifty Quilts, add nouns to the border. Others, like Monica at Lakeview Quilting, piece a poem or joke. Em enclosed one sentence inside another. Lynn at Patchery Menagerie lists many uses for leftover chicken.

Lorina Bulwer embroidered such long messages or protests across her quilts, they appear to be pamphlets.

Of course, you could simply write your name as Gertrude Knappenberger did on this quilt now in the collection of the American Folk Art Museum.

From the American Folk Art Museum collection, possibly by Gertrude Knappenberger

Let's raise our voices. Consider how different it would be if we actually stated our goal or reason on our quilts instead of waiting to see what others read into it. Whatever way you choose, I hope you'll consider adding letters to a quilt this quarter.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Another Border

CCII Continues

I thought this was my own design and then realized it's only a variation of Sujata's Endless Mountains directions. A stack of half WOF nine-inches wide cut into long narrow triangles, then moved so different fabrics show in each row.
Stacked fabric for outer border CCII

Trying to be cautious, I considered a single color for these pennants. It's not lively enough to suit me.

CCII green outer border

So then I repeated the method with more colors. I think I like this better. But it still feels like it needs a different color. Not sure which that is.

CCII multicolored outer border

SFO Exhibit

Traveling home I took the time to view an exhibit of typewriters at SFO. As usual, educational, well-arranged, thought provoking. They included three free-standing arrangements of typewriters, copy/book, photos, and carrying cases by famous writers such as Orson Welles. {Think War of the Worlds.} Seeing the authors' work highlighted the connection with his typewriter.

These are index typewriters, an early portable, from the late 1800s.  The silvery Odell in front printed upper and lower case letters by pairing the sliding index with shift and selector keys.  Typists must be letter perfect since the typed page is not visible until it's finished.

Index typewriter: Odell Type Writer No. 4 c. 1900 by Farquhar and Albrecht, Chicago

Another style used type-shuttles which allowed the user to convert from one language to another. The cylinders rotate into position and are struck by a hammer to type the letter onto paper.

Type-shuttle typewriter: Hammond 1B c. 1890, The Hammond Typewriter Co., NY

The Oliver No. 5 featured typebars high and to the side. I'm not sure what the pencil was for but the typebars remind me of old folding plate cameras. I read an amusing comic by Mike Peters last month on a similar topic.

Lateral down strike typewriter: Oliver No. 5 by Oliver Typewriter Co, Chicago, 1913

The 1936 Corona from was my favorite. Designed to teach children to read, the keyboard is covered with animal pictures rather than letters.

Child's typewriter: Corona Standard with Animal Keyboard 1936, SFO exhibit

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Same But Different

Although I was initially hesitant to post any of our passage quilts, QS convinced me our experiences might help others. The situation is universal, after all. Before you start using your irreplaceable family clothing, consider reading the previous post and insightful comments.

Here's the final arrangement for Bro1's Broken Dishes. Blocks were moved, of course. It's about 50 by 60" and used 120 six-inch squares that finished about five-inches.

Broken Dishes memory quilt

Our second passage quilt is slightly larger because I put some squares in the wrong stack. Oops. Channeling Jacob's Ladder (a nine-patch) this is actually a four-patch called Buckeye Beauty.

Buckeye Beauty passage quilt

The fabric colors fell fell in two groups: pinks/purples/light blues and red/darker blues. Although there is fabric crossover in each group we did concentrate the amounts from one quilt to the next.

The third quilt is a simple pinwheel with unexpected zebra fabric in the corners. DS loved safari fabrics and nature parks. This fabric was part of her small stash for art and embellishment. BTW, this is the quilt that got shorted those squares.

Pinwheel passage quilt

The fourth quilt is a version of Kansas Troubles from Sujata's Cultural Fusion book. Each pair of blocks used eight six-inch squares. Because of the extra seams, the x-blocks finished eight inches rather than ten inches like the others.

Pink, purple and blue shirts from a sister make strong Xs across this quilt.
Kansas Troubles passage quilt

The border came from a heavy cotton sateen dress I made for my sister years ago. Even though it was out of date she stored it carefully all these years. So I had to include it. Unfortunately I cut it into squares before realizing how much thicker it was than all the other fabrics. My solution was to cut a couple of plaid squares into 1x6" units and sew them to the sateen.

One-by-six-inch strips from plaid used to join sateen cotton border

The plaid folds over, the sateen butts one to another, the sewing thickness is minimized, and the beautiful memory is preserved.

EDIT: Check out this passage quilt by Patty, the Quilt Lady.

Sherri Lynn Wood

Sherri Lynn Wood has made a series of passage quilts, first for her own family and then for others. {I like her name much better and will start using it.} Several were made for siblings; the variation between them was particularly interesting.

She teaches classes emphasizing recycle fabrics and others focusing on passage quilts. This post includes photos of several quilts she made from recycled fabrics during an artist-in-residence program at Recology. They range from simple, repetitive shapes to complex combinations. Even if improvisational quilts don't inspire you, some of these could be more traditional with use of rotary rulers.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, July 15, 2017


QS and I used the time after camping to cut and sort clothing for memory quilts. Kaja at Sew Slowly used recycled clothing in several recent quilts. As she points out, each shirt contains a limited amount of fabric. It's difficult/impossible to make a preconceived vision since there probably won't be enough  of any one fabric. And while you can unsew the seams and darts, sometimes those folded areas are too weak to use.

Family Fabric versus Thrift Store Fabric

Using family clothing is different than any other quilting or sewing I've done in the past. The materials are softer, sometimes even frayed and easily moves off grain. When I purchase used clothing I choose less-worn pieces. Without connections to the previous owner, I pick colors I like in material that will last longer. Conversely, the "more worn" pieces of family fabric evoke stronger memories recalling our loved ones and happy events when they wore this clothing.

Another difference between generic used clothing and memorial clothing is that the colors and prints were already chosen by a special person. Although they might not be exactly what we'd choose, it's the memory of the previous owners we want to preserve. Previously, I've combined bits of my husband's shirts with new fabric and enjoyed pointing out those heritage pieces. But with beloved {now passed} relatives it seems exploitative/sacrilegious to mix their fabrics with new. {This may be only my odd outlook and certainly everyone should create whatever comforts themselves.}

It became important that all the fabric used had been owned by our relative(s). There is a need to wrap ourselves completely in memories, not search for a few pieces scattered throughout. {What a complete turnaround from my previous use of DH's shirts.} For the first time, the visual impact of a quilt is less relevant, although it would be a bonus if the fabrics look good together.

We saved woven shirts, skirts and dresses from our dear sister but waited until now to start in order to have some distance from our grief. {Not sure how well that worked. Working on this opened a new wellspring.} DS loved purples, pinks, and reds. Lovely but not much contrast, especially since we didn't include jeans. When we asked our brothers if they'd like a memory quilt, too, they donated some shirts from our father. The additional material gave us more than enough for five lap quilts and improved the contrast within the blocks. Dad's shirts are quite a bit older so they are thinner and more worn. DS and our dad were very close; it's comforting to have their clothing mingled this way.

Squares and Strings from old clothing

Originally I wanted to make free-form quilts with pockets, arm scythes, and improvisational piecing but I was overruled by all my siblings. It's important that everyone find only love and comfort in their quilt so we developed a plan everyone agreed upon. Each quilt will be slightly different although most started with six-inch squares {because that was the width of the large ruler}. The squares divided into four piles: more reds for the Bros and more pinks for the Sisters. When there was no longer enough width to cut the squares, we created strips. QS will combine them with t-shirt and sweatshirt centers to make a log cabin variation for herself.

The buttons are destined for the button jar.


First Top

Each Broken Dishes block took four squares, two of each fabric cut into HSTs. The navy plaids are our dad's while the reds are our sister's. We added a few other colors from her clothing to lighten this top for Bro1.

Here's the working layout.

Broken Dishes layout 1
Final Caution

If you choose to make quilts from family clothing, check fiber content and test small pieces with your iron. These fabrics range from twill to almost gauze. They contain a variety of natural and man-made fibers including spandex. One was printed with flocking. It took special ironing because the flocking seemed to grab the iron. The best solution was low heat from the reverse.

EDIT: If you are interested in this topic, take time to read the comments. Several people have added great points and ideas.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Online Quilt Class

I was gifted with the iquilt class Abstract Quilts in Solids by Gwen Marston. I've read several of her books but never took a class from her. There are so many projects in my queue but I finally found some time to work on her first lesson: triangles. 

The brown and navy are actually prints rather than true solids. Gwen recommends NOT overthinking the layout but I had trouble not scattering those light pinks a bit more. How did they end up in such a small section? And then edged with a few bright greens. I discovered those two brighter green leftovers wrapped inside the olive green fabric. Their added spark saved this quilt.

Green, red, navy, brown, grey, and pink triangles form random patterns across this quilt.
Triangle quilt top

About 25" by 28" this top is good for a quick study. Not sure what it will become. I may add some Sujata borders to boost it to baby quilt size.

EDIT: About six months ago, Janie at Crazy Victoriana posted a top she made from the same class. Linking with Linda for Sew, Stitch, Snap, Share.

We managed to see Their Finest, a comedy/drama centered around Catrin (Gemma Arterton), a scriptwriter working on a propaganda/morale building movie about Dunkirk during WWII. Bill Nighy stars as a hilariously vain actor. As the show develops an American is added to aid film distribution in the US. Jake Lacy plays a seriously bad actor. So funny. It reminded me of Jean Hagen's performance in Singin' in the Rain. Is it harder to be a good actor or for a good actor to play a bad one?

The movie prompted me to read Crooked Heart, also by Lissa Evans and also set in WWII. This one concerns a young London evacuee and his woman drowning in debt who takes him in. I really enjoyed the beginning and end. 

"Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam. Where the deer and the antelope play." Not many buffalo but loads of the latter two grazing everywhere. Although I never saw people feeding them, they roamed freely in town, on the plains and on the hillsides. This one was in the park of the small town of Saguache. 

Deer in Saguache, CO
Enjoy the day,  Ann

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Penultimate Great Debater Quilt

Simple quilting with the walking foot on the diagonals. There are two ways to do this: sew each diagonal alone or turn at the edge. Guess which one I chose? The quilt turned time and again as long as the "lesser" amount was to the right. Like my grandson I've turned in circles until I'm about to fall down. Now that the quilting is done I'm dizzy.

Scrappy Trip Around the World quilt
Yellow binding kept it from competing with the multicolored top. All the yellow bits in the leftover binding bin were used.

Scrappy yellow binding on Scrappy Trip

A quick wash and dry shrunk the batting enough to crinkle the surface. It's my favorite look although the quilt becomes smaller. Keeping it out of the dryer and blocking the quilt after washing will both reduce shrinkage, at times almost to nil.

After this, only one quilt remains for the Great Debaters.

Quilt Details
Size: 68" x 78"
Design: Scrappy Trip Around the World
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100%cotton
Thread: Presencia cotton
Quilting: Walking foot 

Continuing our vacation, we drove by the Pinnacles near the Black Canyon. Both are great destinations but that wasn't where we were headed.  

The Pinnacles, Gunnison CO

This site on the Dolores River shows the arid environment and geologic outcrops that mark this region. Played out gold and uranium mines dot this region. Occasionally, the deeds have been purchased to rework the tailings but production here halted by the 1950s. 

Hanging Flume hangs above the Dolores River

We stopped to admire the Hanging Flume near Uravan, CO. This thirteen-mile hydraulic flume was built for a gold mining operation. The last five miles clings to cliff faces and is visible in both photos. Fantastic engineering feat but unfortunately, the gold was not recoverable. 

Hanging Flume

Our campsite was in the Uncompahgre National Forest. Colorado is open range which means the ranchers don't fence their cattle in; you fence their cattle out. This doesn't apply to any other livestock; i.e., goats, sheep, horses, llama, etc. Three cows grazed by the gate until I started to pull my camera out. Then they ambled off although one is still visible in the distance. 

Cattle through the gate

Lots of flowers such as wild rose and columbine bloomed despite the heat.
Wild rose and Columbine, Uncompahgre National Forest, CO

This old mailbox has been repurposed as a book drop for the Nucla Library. Love the lively painting which should encourage anyone to read.

Book drop, Nucla, CO

Enjoy the day,  Ann

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Quilting Scrappy Trip

Nothing will show on this bright quilt so I chose a diagonal grid. Simple. I thought it would be fast but for some reason has taken longer than planned.

People have asked what fabrics I use and this is a good representation. Lots of prints {some quite large scale}, a few tone on tone, some batik, some uglies, plaids when I find them.

Crosshatch quilting detail on Scrappy Trip
We visited Coors Field in Denver for a baseball series. It was hot, 90+, although that was typical nationwide. Hat, shorts, sunscreen required.

Coors Field, Denver
The Denver Art Museum had an exhibit of Pacific Islands bark cloth from the mid 1800s to 1900s.

Pacific Islands Barkcloth, Denver Art Museum collection

It was used as clothing, ceremonial masks, room dividers, bed coverings, and mosquito protection. Chiefs gave yards of this cloth as gifts to important visitors.

Pacific Islands Barkcloth, Denver Art Museum collection

This one reminded me of some of our two-block quilt examples. It resembles striped blocks with applique.

Pacific Islands Barkcloth, Denver Art Museum collection
Several of these remind me of Hawaiian applique, too. Such beautiful designs.

Pacific Islands Barkcloth, Denver Art Museum collection
Not only did they design pinwheels, their painted repeating styles remind me of Seminole patchwork. 

Pacific Islands Barkcloth, Denver Art Museum collection

Happy Fourth of July to my American friends. And linking with Sew Stitch Snap Share.

Enjoy the day,  Ann

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Kaleidoscope of Butterflies 18

Finally. A quilt that includes butterflies... on the red fabric. This top has been queued for quilting for several years. Like fifteen.

Strippy Nine-Patch partial view

See those butterflies? See that deep fold from storing it so many years? {BTW, these colors are off; way too strong. The border in the photo above is much closer.}

Strippy Nine-Patch top detail
 QS traded some of the nine-patches with me. I thought about making them into other blocks  but finally decided a simple strippy quilt would work best. And then it got complicated because I wanted a larger quilt. Of course.

I graphed various borders to see how they'd fit, how wide a spacing border they'd need, where they'd center, and exactly how to turn the corners. Then I copied the borders, cut them out and moved them around against each other. This is one of my favorite ways to work because I love math and graphing. {Someone has to love that stuff!}
Graphing various borders for Strippy Nine Patch quilt
My sizing mistake was adding the Delectable Mountains border with such enormous mountains. One of my favorite blocks but it made the quilt so large. What was I thinking?

It was so large I dreaded quilting it on my home machine. When I whined that I still hadn't queued it for quilting QS took it. The nerve! This past winter Peg Collins of Alamosa Colorado worked her longarm magic. They gave it back to me when I went out for vacation. Wow.

More photos once it's bound.

Butterflies and hummingbirds show up regularly but never when I have a camera in hand. QS had better luck.

Tiger Swallowtail butterflies in the Great Smoky Mountains
She also captured this gorgeous magnolia. Just looking at it makes me thirsty for a glass of iced tea with mint.

Magnolia blossom

Enjoy the day,  Ann

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tartan Diamond in a Square and AHIQ 22

Today is the third month of Kaja's #AHIQtwoblocks invitation. I'm on pins and needles to see what everyone has done even if, like me, you're not finished. CCII: Stacked Bricks is going to be my two block quilt; the second block forms a border. The background squares created by the Coins reminded me of a quilt I made years ago.

Tartan Diamond in a Square began with leftover Half Log Cabins/Housetop blocks. The bright, colorful ones quickly went into a simpler scrap quilt. These remaining blocks were so dull I almost donated them until... That plaid fell on those dull blocks and a perfect match was born.

About that plaid. I'd been on a business trip and wandered into WalMart one evening. This was before they standardized their offerings at every store so there was always the chance of finding something unusual. This fabric was on top of a station. From a distance it looked woolen and like the Sirens of old, it called to me across the store. I only bought 1.5 yards. {Why? There was certainly more and it was on sale.} Every scrap went into this quilt. In fact, that's why the inner section is not symmetrical.

Can you see the two block setting? It a bit of an illusion.

Tartan Diamond in a Square

The first block is composed of four Housetops.

Tartan Diamond in a Square detail with Half Log Cabins/Housetop blocks

They alternate with a simple dark or light centered block sashed with a loud plaid. Because the Housetops had subtle color variations I didn't want a single fabric in the alternate block. Neither did I want an obvious pattern. So I sewed two fabrics together, cross cut, and spun the resulting squares into a simple whirligig.

Tartan Diamond in a Square detail of dark block
While it contains some of the same shapes as the Housetops, the larger rectangles add some needed scale/shape variation.

The colors and layout fool the eye into seeing a different layout. Although more subtle than CCII, the plaids and bright purple posts seem to float in front of a background of duller dark and light. This quilt taught me that blocks don't always have to be the focal point.

Tartan Diamond in a Square detail with light block
Of course I wanted a large quilt so I combined aspects of the Amish Diamond in a Square with Middle Eastern rugs to create the border. The two different bright blues on each section define crisp edges. Creating the checkerboard in tans tied it back to the golden browns in that crazy plaid.

Tartan Diamond in a Square border detail

The stems of the vines were the only guidelines drawn for all this free motion work. I'd been told quilting doesn't show on prints so I used 40-weight thread and fearlessly quilted across the narrow borders. The work only shows on the lights but it was a joy to sew.

Tartan Diamond in a Square border corner detail

Sharp eyes will notice the same Alexander Henry fabric from my Thirty Year Sampler in the border and binding.

Quilt Details
Size: 84" x 102"
Design: Two block quilt with Housetops and original block
Batting: Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon100% cotton
Thread: variegated cotton 40 wt. thread
Quilting: SID and freemotion quilting, various freehand designs

Many two-block quilts are alternate blocks but there are other ways to combine them. Chaos #5 by Erin Wilson and Sunday Best by Michelle Wilkie demonstrate unconventional ways to create quilts of two or more blocks.

Edit: Linked to CrazyMomQuilts.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Inner Border Finished

The diamond shapes are four different darks: two purple, one black, and one navy. I like the variation although I was hesitant at the beginning. But what else can you do when there's not enough of any one fabric?

First border on CCII

Here's a close-up of the navy. It's hand-dyed fabric from India and colorfast. When the commercial fabric is this dark, it usually causes me problems so this is a welcome change. The fabric has a more textured feel and drapes well. That made me think about the mercerization and other finishing processes on many commercial fabrics.

Navy hand-dyed Indian fabric
Of course, now it  needs another border. I plan to try some of the ideas I posted last month... After a short vacation.

SFO had a new exhibit after we passed security: Games of Chance. I don't gamble {don't enjoy it} but found this exhibit of the development of coin operated machines quite interesting.

The first automatic-payout, three-reel machine was invented in 1898 San Francisco by Charles Fey. Customers couldn't calculate the payout percentage because only three symbols of the Liberty Bell's 1000 combinations showed at a time. More advantage to the house.  Charles also added bell sounds to his machine, a move copied by almost every other manufacturer since.

Liberty Bells are permanently commemorated with a historic marker at Battery and Bush. I've seen the marker and laughed at what people memorialize.

Liberty Bell mechanical game
The exhibit continued with games involving dice under glass bells {which looked like something in a physics lab}, wheels made like bicycles,  and elaborate enameled machines.

War Eagle and Horn of Plenty enameled slot machines with a bicycle wheel of fortune machine
The exhibit culminated with life size one-armed bandits. Frank Polk carved the cowboy in the 1940s, possibly as a self portrait.

One-armed bandits from the 1940s-70s

Enjoy the day,  Ann