Thursday, October 31, 2013

Oh - K

When I was teaching the letters class at QQ2013 in St Louis last month, I had to explain how to make the letter K to several students. It's kind of a mind-bender, and one student was having a particularly hard time understanding what it was I was asking her to do.

Finally I pinned the two pieces of fabric together and handed it to her. "Sew these together along this edge," I said. "When you open it up, you'll understand."  She did as I asked, and when she pressed the seam open her face lit up. "OH!"

So here's how I do it.
I start by making a kind of an L, but here the size of the background is important. It has to be BIG, because we're working with diagonals here.

That skinny piece is the top diagonal of the K. It has to be skinnier than the rest.
Can you see where this is going? The inner corner of the K is a 90-degree angle. Notice how that inside corner does NOT touch the upright. It's a little thing, but I think it makes a difference.

Got it yet?

 Make sure you allow for the seam allowance when you get ready to add the upright.

I've trimmed it to size here, but normally I'd leave it as is until I'm ready to sew letters together.

Some letters make sense as you sew them together, some make sense only when you cut away the excess. The K is one of the latter.

As I am writing this I am watching Game 6 of the World Series. I live an hour's drive north of Boston, so it stands to reason I am rooting for the Red Sox. I'm old enough to remember the heartbreak of 1967 and then again in 1975 and 1986. Every now and again there's an ad to "stand up to cancer." I'm having a colonoscopy on Friday, so I'll be quiet for a day or two until I get back to "normal." Let's stand together.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Because I can't count, I made 24 I's. I only needed 12.

I cut fabric for 24 H's before I caught myself. And I sewed them together in about 15 minutes and I didn't even take pictures. Oops.

So I used the extra crossbars from the H's to make the E's.  How did I do that?  Lemme show ya!

First I added a bit of background to one side of the "crossbar". I wanted the middle bar of the E to be shorter than the upper and lower ones.

 After trimming them down (I wanted the middle space about 1/2") I sewed the orange upper

and lower crossbars.

I cut them apart and then trimmed the edge.

 Then sewed the upright.
See? Twelve E's. These letters will finish out at the smallest size I think you can make them, which is 2-1/2" tall.

Which is the size of these letters on my tote bag.

Julie wrote to me, "I want to see you make 12 2-1/2" K's." She didn't say it like she didn't think I could do it. She said it like she was curious. How are you going to make your K's 2-1/2" tall?

If I can make a Q that size, I can make K's that size too, and I did, but it's past my bedtime. So I will show you tomorrow.

However, I will leave you with proof:

Those squares on my cutting mat are 1" (2.54 cm).

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Say, can you C?

Yup, this is twenty-four C's. Fastest 24 letters I ever made.  How did I make them? I thought you'd never ask.


So what do I need 24 C's for?

CHICKEN casserole
CHICKEN + dumplings
CHICKEN + noodles
CHICKEN sandwiches
CHICKEN Tetrazzini
CHICKEN pot pie
CHICKEN a la king

After I wrote yesterday's post, I emailed Julie and told her about my conundrum with the oven mitts and that I felt the real problem was that I wasn't really clear what the quilt was ABOUT.  Julie replied just as I was getting ready for bed, "When Brenda told us the story, she used WORDS. Maybe you don't need to draw anything else this time."

So I thought about it. The quilt is about TOO MUCH CHICKEN. And the best way to convey that is to list the things you do with leftover chicken.  I came up with the list above, which adds to Brenda's list, but ends the way hers did, "chicken an' chicken."  Twelve CHICKEN words, 24 C's.

I now know EXACTLY what this quilt is about, and just HOW I am going to have some fun with TOO MUCH CHICKEN.  And you had better believe it will include the usual little in-jokes that I put in all my quilts.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Oven Mitt

One of the ideas Julie and I discussed when we were brainstorming about the Chicken quilt was the idea of a pair of hands in the quilt (as if the chicken has escaped). Hands, we wondered, or perhaps a pair of oven mitts instead?

There's nothing wrong with this oven mitt, but there's not much about it that is really good. It's the right size, and it looks like an oven mitt, and with another for the other hand and positioned correctly it might be okay, but my problem with it is the fabric. It almost disappears and the chickens on the mitt confuse the viewer.

Rather than looking like an oven mitt, (or as a positive thing on a background), the white fabric "reads" as an oven mitt shaped "hole" through which you see chickens, and that confuses the viewer.

So I need to make the oven mitts remind viewers of a real oven mitt!  Which begs the question, what does an oven mitt LOOK like?  I went into the kitchen and took a look at mine.

Is anybody surprised that my oven mitts have cats on them? Or one is made with selvages? Um, no. Using this information, I went "shopping" in my stash.  Here's what I pulled out:

Cats and fruit. Could be cute, but I am worried they'd "read" the same way the original mitt does.

The big print on the right is fun but the scale is too big. And I think the peas with the black background would create too much contrast and draw the eye to that fabric and never move around the rest of the quilt.

Then I found this. The colors are perfect (I'd have to cut around the big triangles) and I love the idea of the foxes, because we all know that foxes like to eat chickens.

The more I think about this, however, the more I realize that I haven't fully resolved in my head just what this quilt is about.

When Brenda said, "I want to tell her to let the chicken go," she meant she was tired of leftovers. In that case she didn't want to see any more [cooked] chicken (and a pair of oven mitts fit perfectly here). But "let the chicken go" could also mean letting a live chicken go, in which case hands could be more appropriate.  In any case, whatever I choose to represent, the idea has to be very clear so viewers will "get it." If it isn't clear to me, then it won't be clear to the viewers either.

What are your thoughts?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Got Chicken?

Me neither. I made "Let the" on Saturday, and have been thinking about trimming the letters down a bit. I've folded some parts under, and used strips of background to see what I might do.


Here's a hand in an oven mitt. Yes, my selection of the chicken fabric as oven mitt was intended as a joke.

We'll see how it all ends up. I have no clue!

PS: Judy in Michigan won the Thangles.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Rainbow Baby Finish!

The last few evenings I've been sitting on the couch sewing the binding on the Rainbow Baby quilt. I sew the bindings of my quilts on the front instead of the back. I like the way it looks and I can blindstitch invisibly, so I don't bother "wasting" the effort on the back.

Here's the finished quilt.

I've turned a corner up here so you can see the backing.

The finished quilt is 41" x 46" (104 cm x 117 cm)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Twenty-Five Years

Today I mark a very special anniversary that many folks never get a chance to get.  It's one I never thought I'd reach.

Twenty-five years ago today I started a new job. I'd never worked at any company more than two and a half years before that. I didn't figure that job would be any different, but I was wrong. Very wrong.

The anniversaries piled up. Five years. Ten years. Fifteen years. Twenty years. Today it's twenty-five years.

I'm still with the company.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Way back when, when I was getting back into quiltmaking I read about Thangles. At the time I made quilts with squares and Thangles looked like an easy way to make HST's. Alas, I did not quite understand paper piecing at the time. When I received them, I tried making some and found I hated ripping the papers off. I put them in a drawer and never took them out.

Until this past weekend when I was looking for something. I'll never use these, but in the old New England tradition of not throwing out something that could be useful to somebody else, I will be giving them away. Leave a comment if you are interested. After about a day, I will pick a name at random. I regret I am unable to ship them outside the US.


In other news, the Sliced and Rainbow Sunburst flimsies are on their way to Chris to be quilted.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Chicken Letters

Here are the first letters I've made for the chicken quilt.  I say "first" because it's not uncommon for me to make letters several times before I get the look I want. Remember, in the Black Box Quilt, I made all the letters at least twice, the rays twice, and the box itself three times.

Bear in mind these letters have not been trimmed to size. They won't stay this big or this clunky.

At first I tried making the letters in white with a grey background, based on chicken tracks,

but I thought the letters looked Egyptian, not chicken, so that idea went out the window ASAP. I like the idea of the chicken tracks though, and I will surely use them somehow.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Chicken! The Chicken!

I -finally- got my chores out of the way so I could start working on the Chicken quilt.  Here are some of the fabrics I have pulled / purchased:
Love the chicken soup recipe fabric on the upper right!

and these:

 Chris donated this terrific fabric:

but there's only one yard of it, so I have to be careful. I think I know what I am going to do with it, but I am not quite sure. So I'll work a little bit, and then see how it goes.

I like these three grey-ish neutrals. I am particularly happy with the broken chicken wire print on the left, since the chicken has flown the coop...

I'm working on the layout, but one thing I have decided is the background will not be white or cream, or black. (Been there, done that.)

And there won't be a chicken.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sunburst Rainbow Update

Here is the new fabric I have chosen for the backing of the Sunburst Rainbow quilt.

I set my hand down so you could see the scale of the print, but the light from the Ott light sure does make my hand look creepy!

Here's the fabric I have chosen for the binding:
(binding fabric on the left, quilt on the right.)  Although I like large prints for the backings of my quilts, I did not consider this for the backing because I felt there was too much going on. The quilt itself is full of vibrant intense color, and I thought if I used that fabric on the back it would just be too much.

This quilt is going to my eighty-year old Mom, who told me when she saw the flimsy: "NOBODY can appreciate that quilt more than me."

I'll be sending it off to Chris on Monday. If I'm lucky, the Sliced quilt will go along with it, and then I can focus on sewing the binding on the Rainbow Baby quilt and the Spools quilt.  I'll work on those when I "watch" television.  But next up.. The Chicken!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Home Sweet Home

My quilts arrived back home yesterday.

After an extended stay in Memphis with Julie, the sampler quilt, Letters From Home, is back on the wall for which it was designed. I've missed it.

The Black Box, Nine x Nine and Magic Happens are all back where they belong. (Note the space bags on the floor at the right.)

I had to unpack the two giant boxes that came back from Memphis because today is trash day, and I wanted to get the boxes into the recycle bin.  I'll tell you about the goodies Julie and Larry included later. Last night was the Project Runway finale, and I had to watch that.

I also received the fabrics I ordered for the Chicken quilt. Chris gave me a few scraps of good stuff too. I've been washing and ironing all that. I'll show you later.

I changed my mind about the backing of the Sunburst Rainbow quilt. I've selected something else, and I've also chosen the binding. You'll see.  I'll be using that gray and white zig-zag for the back of the Sliced quilt, and I think that one will have a red binding. I know where both these quilts are going.

I have to finish the Rainbow Baby quilt, and the Spools quilt. Both need binding.

And I have to clean the house. Oh well.

And I bought myself the new Kindle Paperwhite, which I love. I sent my old Kindle to Kidbean, the oldest of my "fairy nephews." His Mom reports I may hear the sonic boom of joy when it arrives at their house later today.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sliced - The Flimsy

This pattern was from Amy Ellis's Modern Neutrals book, but you know I'm not a big fan of mashed potato quilts.  I like the punch of the red.

This is about 54" square.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sliced, again

While waiting for the fabrics I ordered for the Chicken quilt to arrive, I'm finishing up the Sliced quilt. I made all the blocks, sliced them apart and matched them up and resewed them together.

Next I had to trim them to 10" square. I didn't have a ruler big enough to do that. Hmmm.... What did I use?

A six inch ruler, a four inch ruler and some blue painter's tape.

Once the blocks were trimmed, I worked on the layout and started sewing some rows together. This is where it's going, and I like it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

From Oops! to Inspiration!

I bet you all see something like this every day.

I bet you all have "goof" pictures like this too. I had been taking a pictures of a panoramic view on Saturday, when I took this photo by mistake.  Sure, it's the dirt road I was standing on. Look closer.

This is a lovely example of low-key colors working together. Those lovely sandy browns and deep blue-gray rocks make a glorious combination. I'm going to be working on the Chicken quilt soon, and if you think I'm going to use this as inspiration for the background, you are absolutely correct. Let's get still closer.

I keep telling you that you can find inspiration almost anywhere. You just have to LOOK.