Monday, March 30, 2015

Blue Deco Grows

I made all the blue deco blocks, and arranged them on the floor.  They looked OK, so I started sewing them together into rows. As soon as I had a row sewn up, I sewed the rows together.

This is a detail of the first 8 rows.  The blocks finish out at 6" square, and the quilt will be 15 rows of 9 blocks each.

I have no clue how many different fabrics there are in the quilt, but there are a lot.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Deco Block Construction

When I first saw the rotary cutter in the early 1980's, I could see its potential right away and I knew I'd never make a quilt using templates ever again, and I never have. (I don't do paper-piecing either.)

So when I had to add a 2-1/2" square on the end of a 4-1/2" strip, there wasn't any way I was going to cut either 2-1/2" squares or 2-1/2" x 4-1/2" rectangles. Since the exact location of the square at the end of the strip didn't need to be precise, I came up with a different way of doing it. The other reason was I was using a LOT of different fabrics. If I had wanted a group of these exactly the same, I would have sewn a 2-1/2" strip to a 4-1/2" one and then cut them crosswise. (See one of my earliest blog posts for an explanation*.)

 Instead I sewed the ends of my blue strips to a long colored strip that would be the square...

 Cut them apart,
And them trimmed them down to size.

Then I made all the blocks. I confess I did need to cut a few more strips (about 10) to finish the blocks, but as I trimmed them I set them out on the floor to see what they might look like. This is by no means a final layout.

I should have the blocks done tomorrow (well, if I ignore the housework I can), and I may start sewing rows together.

This is kinda wild. I'm not used to making a quilt in less than two weeks.

*The black quilt in that post is still on my bed, btw.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Am I Blue?

I cut up a bunch of blueish strips for the Blue Deco quilt. Mostly they are light and cool blues and some lean towards light blue green (aka "teal").

Most of the strips are only 20" or so long, cut from fat quarters, but some are WOF. I cut one strip of each fabric for most of them, but I did cut a few pairs of stuff that struck my fancy.

I am pretty sure I have enough. (snicker)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

More Seminole

 A few months ago I promised I'd show more information about making simple seminole patchwork bands of on point squares.

These strips are all the same, the outer ones are cut 2" wide, and the inner ones are cut 1-1/2" wide, and sewn together with a 1/4" seam, The seams are pressed toward the outer edges.

When cut crosswise 1-1/2" wide, staggered and sewn together you get a band of on point squares.

If you make the outer strips contrasting colors, you get something that looks different.

But you really get something different when you rotate every other strip when you sew them together.

Of course, you have to trim those pesky triangles and sew straight strips on either side to stabilize the seminole band. Remember, these are all bias edges.

Now let's add two strips...

This symmetrical band has a dark center strip surrounded by lighter strips, then the background.

You knew this was going to happen, right?  But check this out...

This is the same five strip band, but the center strip is the background fabric, and the other two are contrasting.  Cut these crosswise 1-1/2" just like all the others, but rotate every other strip, stagger them and sew them together and you get this:

Pretty cool, huh?  But we're not done yet. We can add two more strips...
and make something symmetrical...

or not.

And no, you don't need a pattern. All the inner squares finish out at 1" square. Cut those strips 1-1/2" wide, and cut the outer ones 2" wide, or wider. Sew the strips together with a 1/4" seam. Cut crosswise into 1-1/2" pieces, stagger and sew together. You can find slightly more detailed instructions here.

And if you think a quilt made from simple strips this way is boring, then check this out.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Blue Deco

Take some of these

and mix them with some of these

and you get something like this
or, what I'm calling Blue Deco.

It'll be my "summer" table cover.  It's comprised of two blocks, each finishing out at 6" square. Block A has three 2" x 6" strips sewn together, block B has a 4" x 2" rectangle sewn to a 2" square, sandwiched between two 2" x 6" rectangles. (All dimensions are finished sizes.)  Couldn't be simpler and I'll be using the littlest pieces in my medium to light blue and blue-green stash along with little pops of color for the 2" squares.

I'll need about 117 blocks to make something to cover the table and hang down about 6" on all four sides. It should go pretty quick. I've made 20 blocks already, and I was just goofing around. I found the inspiration in this book, Colorful Quilts for Fabric Lovers.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lightning in the Night Sky

The quilt for my nephew is done, the backing is made, and it's all packed up and ready for quilting. The "thunderbird" (such an awesome name!) didn't make it on the backing because I was so involved arranging the big pieces that I got almost done and would have had to cut the backing apart to get it in. Oh well. It's going to be great. I've got the binding all cut and ready to go.

Next up, a bit of bookkeeping, preparations for the next class at QT, a proposal for a workshop to a local quilt group and some garden prep.

However, I do have a plan for a quick summer quilt table cover. The Picnic Table rail fence quilt will be going to QT for a class I'll be teaching there later this summer, and will I need something to replace it.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Bird in the Hand...

I made a name panel for my nephew's quilt, and as I was making it I knew the quilt needed a bird.

The fabric around the letter L really is purple, although it looks bluish here.

But yes, the bird's beak is a  bright yellow green. Gotta have a little zing of the unexpected in there somewhere.

I bought two big chunks of purple fabric from an online shop (it's amazing how difficult deep purples are hard to find locally) but when they arrived they didn't "match" as much as I had hoped, so I'll be cutting up the fabrics and arranging them in a giant nine-patch variation on the back so the fabrics won't look strange next to each other.

The end is in sight, and I'm happy with this.

Dear Selvage Fairy, I never thought of the quilt as lightning, but I think you've just named this quilt, "Lightning in the Night Sky. "I love it. Thanks!

Dear Meagan, I never quilt my quilts. I always send them to Chris. She makes magic.

Friday, March 20, 2015


I've finished sewing all the blocks for my nephew's quilt. I have to sew the last two rows together, then to the rest of the quilt and the flimsy will be complete.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Almost There...

I have three blocks left to make for my nephew's Orange and Purple quilt. As you can see I have the strip pairs sewn together and I have to cut them into blocks first. I've also sewn four rows together, so I'm coming down to the finish line.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Got It!

After a lot of tinkering, I like this layout, and it's the one I will sew together:
It's a little bit jumpy, it has a lot of verve and liveliness, and it doesn't depend on symmetry. It needs another row, but that won't be a problem.

This was okay, but it was kinda boring.

This wasn't bad, but here are twenty blocks arranged four columns by five rows. This layout depends on symmetry for its success. The quilt needed to be five blocks by six, which meant the pattern would have 2-1/2 half repeats, instead of 3. That bothered me. There are four columns here, so it looks good, but five would look a bit weird.

This arrangement is more or less a combination of the previous two, but again, there are five rows and the design looks off balanced and incomplete.  Why not make the quilt bigger? Because this is going to a kid who's going off to college. He doesn't need a queen sized quilt at 18.

When I decided to see what would happen if I let the light/dark centers idea go to hell, I knew I had it as soon as I arranged the first four blocks.

I wanted a quilt that was lively and energetic. Orange and purple have a lot of energy on their own, and I wanted to keep that going, not tone it down, as I felt some of the other arrangements did. I'm happy with this, and excited again.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pi Day

It's Pi Day, (3.141592653) and this one is epic because it will be the only one like this most of us will ever see in our own lifetimes.

I'm back to work on this, albeit with a lot less enthusiasm than when I first started. I'm still wrestling with a layout, but I've got ten more blocks to make before I have to decide.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

It only took five months...

It only took five months to hang my thread rack. It's nice to have it done.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Talk, Talk, Talk

If you can believe it, when I spoke at the Amoskeag Quilter's Guild three weeks ago, I forgot to take pictures.


One of the members sent me these photos.

I gave my talk in a church. There were two tables on which I could arrange my quilts, but I didn't think it would work, so I spread the quilts out on the steps. There was a big projection screen on one side, and a podium for me right in the middle. The woman who introduced me handed me a microphone. "I'm not going to use that," I told her.

(I'm French Canadian. I talk with my hands. I have the remote control in one hand, and if I had to hold a microphone in the other, I couldn't talk, or turn the pages of my speech. So I turned it off and put the damn thing on the floor.)

 I talked. I joked. I told stories. They were surprised when I told them, "Everything about how I made my quilts is on my blog. All my design decisions, all my logic, all my thinking, all my problems and my solutions, it's all on my blog. I share everything.

"You'll be able to read the story of every quilt you'll see tonight, and many of the quilts are here in person so you can check them out in detail."

I talked for almost an hour. They laughed, and afterwards, they told me they loved my talk, they thought my quilts were awesome and they said I was funny.

In the audience was a woman I worked with over 27 years and two jobs ago. (It's funny, now she's a long arm quilter.) At the end of the talk she came up to me.

"Yup," she said, "you're still you."

It was a good evening.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Ask Me Why...

Ask me why I make quilts for myself... Because I don't have to listen to what anybody else thinks or wants.

Many comments yesterday said, "Make the quilt the way the kid wants it." Well that's nice, but it's not up to him. The only thing he got to choose was the colors. I picked the design and I'll choose the layout. I thought it would be interesting to see what he thought. He spent less than five minutes looking at what I had. He didn't seem attached to it either way. I told him that I wouldn't promise to make the quilt that way, that I would make the quilt the way I thought it was the most beautiful. He had no problem with that.

A few years ago my son asked for a yellow quilt.

Then he objected to many of the fabrics I selected. When the quilt was finished he pointed out all the fabrics that he hadn't liked originally.  "You didn't listen to me at all, did you?"

I shook my head.

"Good thing."

I'm not making what I think is a crappy  boring or mediocre quilt for anybody. I'm going to make the most beautiful quilt I can. Period. End of Sentence. End of Story.

Monday, March 2, 2015

O&P Rail Fence Layout Options

While my nephew has indicated which layout he prefers, I am not quite sure.

This is the one my nephew likes.

This is a layout I like very much.

Here it is from the other side.

No matter which layout I choose, the exact placement of the blocks hasn't been decided. I've only made 20 of the 30 blocks the quilt needs. The last 10 will be made because I need a block to fit in a particular space. So I'll figure out which layout I really like, then place the blocks where I think they'll look good, then I'll make blocks specifically to fill in the spaces I have left.

Random is a place to start, but I don't ever do anything completely randomly.