Saturday, April 29, 2017

Alternate Method for Mini Trip Around the World Blocks

Since my scrap bag is still full, I decided to make another Mini Trip Around the World. I wanted to see if I could combine some quick piecing techniques with a bit of randomization.

There are two ways I to make Trip Around the World: use individual squares or strips. The first gives you complete control but takes a while. The second can be both more random and more organized. It may also yield unexpected results.

Scrappy Mini Trips from strips on the left and using individual squares on the right

Many people make tubes of six or eight strips, cut them crosswise and unsew between the different squares to make a single block. Like this. Ok. Most people use six strips but I always use eight. The numbers 1-8 stand in for different colors but you see the fabric repeats on each side of the main diagonal.

One Mini Trip Around the World from eight strips

My issue with this is that each half of each block is the same. What if I sewed more strips before cutting?  Here's what two sets to strips (16 total) would look like. As you see,  each block still has all the same fabrics although they are in different locations. Instead of one block having repeat fabrics on each side, now two blocks have the seven of the same fabrics. Only the main diagonal is different.

Two sets of strips to make two Mini Trip Around the World blocks

What about three Mini Trip blocks?

Three sets of strips to make three Mini Trip Around the World blocks

Finally each block has some of the fabrics but they are all different arrangements.

I cut my strips two inches wide so they finish 1.5 inches. With eight squares across, my blocks finish at 12-inches. Each strip set appears in only two of the blocks so I need a bit more than 16-inches of 24 different strips to make these three blocks. When they are sewed into a tube of strips it will only be 18-inches wide. I can easily do this. Hooray.

You could also alter this to the more common 2.5-inch strip (finishing 2 inches) and only use six strips per block. The finished blocks will still be 12-inches and the tube will still be the same width. Your choice.

Here's my first tube of fabrics.

Tube sewn from 24 2-inch by 17-inch strips. (A bit of extra length to make straightening cuts.)

After cross-cutting the large tube into eight two-inch wide circles, I unsewed at different pairs until I had this arrangement of columns.

Tube sets lined up to create Mini Trip blocks

Then I counted down eight squares and unsewed those on each column until I had this.

Three scrappy Mini Trip Around the World blocks from tube sets
Sew those short columns together to get three 12-inch finished blocks.


Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Neutral Strings Quilt and AHIQ #20

After washing and rebinding this quilt, most of the waviness is tamed. Not gone. It's worked into the interior though and doesn't show as much on the edges.

Love the striped binding. Remember it was printed with bias stripes so it's cut straight but appears to be bias. That straight of grain binding also helps tame waviness.

Neutral Strings baby quilt finished

Quilt Details
Size: 38" x 38"
Design: String
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: Guterman tan cotton
Quilting: Spiral design with walking foot

Oddly, this was the dregs of the scrap bag - what I call the "swash zone" - that stuff you leave each time you empty the bag. It's turned into one of my favorite quilts.

My biggest mistake was pulling the quilt package as the walking foot wound the spiral. I should have placed my hands to offset the bias stretch rather than emphasize it. If I'd done that the quilt would lie as flat as each layer did.

The waviness should continue to wash out at the quilt is used. Fortunately it's designed to be used and washed frequently.

Previous posts:
  1. Piecing the top
  2. Piecing the back with Stephie's scraps
  3.  Spiral quilting

Edit: Linda at Koka Quilts has started a new linky and I joined this time because she wants to encourage sharing through blogging. Pictures are fine but I want to hear more about how and why we made our decisions. Way to go, Linda!

Last quarter AHIQ worked through Chinese Coin variations. Check last month's linkup for enlightening results and ideas by other quilters. I've been preparing for our show, traveling, or fighting a cold most of this month so haven't progressed much on my CCII. I know many of you are still finishing yours and hope you link more this month.

The best news is IT'S KAJA'S TURN to lead the #AHIQ2017Invitational! This quarter she will be sharing an improv method that's been striking her fancy recently. I can't wait to read the details and start learning from this master improvisational quilter. Head over to Kaja's Sew Slowly blog for all the details.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Tilework at the Getty Villa

We finally saw the Getty Villa in Los Angeles, a place I've wanted to visit for years. It exceeded my dreams. All of J. Paul Getty's art was housed in the Villa until the Getty Center was built about 20 years ago. Now the Villa showcases ancient Roman and Greek objects only.

Although it didn't seem overly crowded, there were people everywhere. I never could get a photo without others in it whether it was scenic or detail. Ah, well.

We all know that tile floors make good quilt designs. Many artists have already made quilts based on various floors throughout Europe and there are even books of them. But this villa had so many elaborate tiles. This one reminds me of the center medallion on my Sampler quilt.

Medallion tile floor at Getty Villa
There was a similar medallion outside, too.

Medallion tile in the outer courtyard at the Getty Villa.

The tile in this room is the same block design. Only the centers of alternate blocks are changed.

Tile floors enhance the statuary at the Getty Villa.
Here's a detail of the floor although the contrast is not as good.

Detail of tile floor at Getty Villa.

This lovely curved design was in an entry.


This one appears to have pieced sashing.


Where would we be without tumbling blocks?

Tumbling Blocks tile floor at Getty Villa
The Greek Key design always creates a fantastic border.

Greek Key tile variation at Getty Villa

Here's my favorite. It bordered a shallow, interior pool. Don't you love the towers and battlements? Almost medieval feel although it's a Roman replica.

Tine tiles create a city wall with battlements around a shallow, interior pool at the Getty Villa.

Not all the tiles were flooring. Some created beautiful fountains including this colorful wall fountain.

Getty Villa wall fountain flows into a pool

Enjoy the day,

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Thirty Year Sampler

What can I say that you don't already know? We've all heard the adage "the longest journey begins with the first step," but starting wasn't the problem. Consistency was.

All are traditional blocks for which I drafted and cut plastic templates. Then I pieced each by hand. In 1989. After that it seemed logical to hand quilt. Elaborate feathers were planned but I took this on a data shoot to work on in the evenings. Since the light was bad I just stippled everywhere. Now that seems like a lost opportunity. And I also lost interest.

I put it away but dragged it from home to home. Two years ago I got it out to work on on the evenings during the news hour. Even that wasn't consistent work. With our quilt show approaching, I decided to hand quilt the inner area and small blocks then switch to machine quilting on the sashing and outer floral. Good choices. Nothing shows on the black sashing. Originally I planned spirals but changed to quarter-inch straight lines. The floral is randomly free-motion quilted. Now that it's been washed, I can't distinguish  it from the hand stippling.

Thirty Year Sampler quilt 

Each of these is a traditional design based on various grids. For example, Dervish Star is a four-patch while Fish is based on eight-pointed star.

Dervish Star and Fish blocks

Once the Alexander Henry floral was chosen, the other fabrics were selected to go with it. Several lights seemed like a good idea then and still do today but I wish I'd used more fabrics for the colors.


Fifty-four Forty or Fight and Wheel of Fortune blocks

I used the blue and pink fabrics in the four blocks to finish the inner diamond.

Devil's Claws, Goose in the Pond, my variation on Michigan Star, and David and Goliath blocks


The purple and green fabrics made the eight blocks around it.

St. Louis Star and World's Fair blocks
I tried to use examples from each type of quilt block: four-, five-, seven- and nine- patches; eight-pointed stars, circular designs.

Little Giant and King David's Crown blocks

The center medallion is a design from an 1858 Godeys Ladies Book.

1858 Godeys Ladies Book medallion

Binding. Can you believe I also saved a bit of the green and black fabrics this long?

Binding and backing of Thirty Year Sampler

Quilt Details
Size: 84" x 84"
Design: Sampler
Batting: Mountain Mist 100%cotton
Thread: Metler quilting threads, Aurifil 50/2 cotton, DMC embroidery cotton
Quilting: Hand quilting and Machine, walking foot and free motion

Just a note: Happy birthday, Mother.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spiral Quilting

What's wrong with this quilting design? Once my quilting foot was on the design, I realized each spiral would put more and more of the quilt to the right of the needle. By the end the entire quilt would be there. Talk about a difficult way to quilt.
Spiral started the wrong way

So I rubbed this out with water and wound the spiral clockwise. Now half the quilt started to the right of the needle and every round moved it further to the left. I dodged a bullet.

But what did I do next? It was late, I was in a hurry, so I didn't hold the quilt square as the walking foot moved along the bias. In fact, I pulled on the quilt. Even though the top squared up nicely, by the time the quilting was done, I had a lovely flounced, Spanish-dancer of a quilt to get under control.

Do you see all the waves along the bottom?

Back of neutral string quilt shows lovely scraps from Stephie and spiral quilting
After carefully washing the quilt I measured across the middle to determine the length of a side of binding. The quilt had to be eased on each side.

This will never be an award-winner. Well, it wasn't planned to be. But I should have been more careful.

BTW: Lovely quilting design. I will use it again with much more care.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Gifts from Abroad

Back in January, Stephie at Dawn Chorus Studio and I were inspired to exchange fabric scraps when we each noticed the other had a QIN {that's quilt-in-need.} Look at those darling foxes, bunnies, and birds. Of course, I got the better half because Stephie also included a couple of her hand sewn circles.

Scraps Abroad

She suggested I use her scraps to bind the quilt but they are too adorable. Wanting to see more of them, I added an insert of the prints on the back.

Stephie's fabric remnants create an insert on the back of this quilt
Just enough to finish off the back with some more saved for future projects. I'm reminded of Stephie every time I look at these.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Kaleidoscope of Butterflies 15, Bees and the Guild Show Prep

Bees and Butterflies

My darling QS sent this butterfly card she made. It's beautifully tinted. So clever of her!

Butterfly card

From April 2015 to April 2016 the cultivated honeybee population declined 44%. Bees typically die off in the winter when food sources disappear but for the last two years we've lost as many during the summer as the winter. You understand why this is a problem: bees pollinate 35% of the world's food.

Scientists generally agree that species face extinction due to habitat loss, climate change, and rampant chemical use. We can help by not using pesticides and keeping some "weedy areas" in our yards. Bees like to live in dead/dying plants.

Here's an interesting article about entomologist Robin Thorp's continued search for the Franklin bee. Since this bee doesn't make honey, why should we care? Monoculture creates increased risk for species collapse. When a disease strikes a species, the greater the diversity of related species, the more likely they are to recover. Remember the die off of American chestnut trees and the battle against oak wilt? When one tree becomes the singular street tree it may look "pretty" in a mechanical way but greatly increases the transmission of disease. There is strength in diversity. {Hmm. This hits some political notes today.}


SCVQA Quilt Show in Santa Clara

Our biennial quilt show runs this weekend. I'm part of the the stand take-down crew. We start after the 300+ quilts are down. It's a quick operation and much easier since we recently purchased new rods.

Not only is SCVQA a larger group but we have a wide diversity of quilting - art, traditional, modern, really a bit of everything. Each show highlights one or two noted quilters. This year Mel Beach and Sue Bianchi share their artistry. Both are award-winners. Mel, known for her lively colors and modern style, has several quilts touring with challenge quilts. Meanwhile Sue frequently creates works based on photos and/or heavily embellished with buttons. Both are talented artists with unique visions who enjoy sharing ideas. The show's up through Sunday! {Hint, hint.}

It was worth the effort to get Spiderweb and my old Sampler finished in time for the show. I also entered Boxes {finished in 2016} and hope to share details of these next week.

Here's a portion of the Sampler as it was being blocked.

Block the Sampler before the show

There's still some time to link up with #AHIQChineseCoins.

Although {once again} I haven't made a kaleidoscope or butterfly block, I plan to share a design next month. Tune in and let's see how colorful we can be in May.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

AHIQ #19

My first Chinese Coins went together so quickly I was sure this next one would, too. Not true. Of course, I don't have a deadline... and I unexpectedly went to a quilt retreat... and our guild show is this weekend and two of my entries weren't done. Why did I insist on entering my current WIPs rather than ones finished last year? Do you do that, too?

CCII is still on the design wall and I make a few triplet sets whenever I need to use up the last bit of thread on a bobbin. Here's what I made last week.

More sets for Chinese Coins II
What have I learned from #AHIQChineseCoins?

First, that I work better tackling one or two ideas than trying to copy a quilt. {I knew this already but it's always reinforced when I try to duplicate something - even my own work. As evidence I present my attempt to copy the petal quilting of a small Spiderweb onto a larger Spiderweb quilt.}

CCI took my niece's color sense, limited the values, and used a stripe effect. I learned why modern quilters prefer solids and white. When dark values are eliminated {or light values for that matter} the remaining fabrics must have some contrast. The print assumes greater importance because fabrics can so easily merge into one another.

Additionally it's hard to combine many neutrals in a soft quilt. Adding tan/brown to the greys and whites just muddied the background. I'm glad I took those out.

Chinese Coins I in soft blues, yellow, grey and white
I {may have} learned to check twice before hand cutting columns. One of these columns is upside down from my original plan. Probably no one notices but me, yet it slaps me in the face each time I look at the photo. It's hard/impossible to turn hand cut columns. {I wrote 'may have' because this is a frequent mistake. Someday I hope to cease making it and move to a new mistake. Ha.}

I learned that simple walking foot quilting can create an excellent texture.

This quilt reemphasized the need to check several values of binding. Originally a light grey seemed like it would be the best choice but the blue improved the quilt greatly when I tried it.

Walking foot quilting and blue binding finish a Chinese Coin quilt

I started CCII with the idea of making boxes similar to Timna Tarr's Summer Reading. It was a mistake to pre-plan that far.

Boxing Coins in red

Conversely, after looking over many of the links last month I realized I didn't want to pull random scraps from the bag. Many of yours were scrap-style but still had a planned value or color scheme that greatly enhanced the result.} So far I'm liking the semi-planned effect of blues and greens. Now that I have a large set, I'm ready to add a few more colors. No idea where it will end up.

Beginning Chinese Coins II by sewing triads of strips

These days I'm always reminded to slow down and finish what I start. I don't have the energy to keep too many quilts in-progress - neither the space in my sewing room nor in my head. Unfortunately that means limiting the classes I take. But I'm also taking time to review my sketchbooks more frequently.


One Final Chinese Coin Link

While the center of this Anna Williams quilt, LII: Strip Quilts, may not be a Coin it gives a strong nod to them.  Irregular blocks of strip sets are joined into three columns. The left column has five blocks while the other two have four blocks. Along the left seam the same fabric matches from the two columns. What a good way to disguise the seam. She incorporated a few short rows of triangles and perhaps some crazy piecing. Take a while to look at the construction.


Thank you

So many of you added excellent links last month. It's enlightening to see how differently we can each approach a simple design. We build confidence in our vision and voices when we attempt new versions.

This month I'm sure there will be even more starts and some finishes to link up. I look forward to reading what you've discovered. Thank you all for accepting this Invitation.

Next month Kaja's introducing another project on her blog. I admire her style and can't wait to see what she plans.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Meanwhile There are Still Chinese Coins

The Coin trios {or triads or triplets?} using only fabric from the scrap bag are coming along better than expected. A nice change from Spiderweb quilting. They are arranged vertically so I can concentrate on that layout.

I sorted the scraps and decided to concentrate on greens and blues. Not exclusively, but for the most part. With seven partial rows it's looking kind of boring so I'm adding narrow bits of reds. {Those wider reds are not sewed right now. I'm comparing the effect of narrow versus wide.}



There was one long strip of fabric from the back of the Spiderweb quilt. After placing it on the design wall as ersatz sashing, I found I really like the look. Why? Perhaps because it's a quiet mix of blue, green, brown, and white. There's no more but I plan to scour my stash to see what else I haven't considered that might work.

I also have some longer strips at the left. Since I haven't decided how to use them, they'll remain long for a while.

I snapped a photo of the dome in the Chinese Pavilion at Disneyworld last year. The entire dome wouldn't fit in my view; I finally decided this was more "artistic." I was trying to clean out my digital photo albums which includes an amazing number of duplicates and out-of-focus shots of feet and sky. Does anyone else manage to take random/extra shots while picking up or putting down cameras?

Dome of the Chinese Pavilion, Disneyworld

Squirrel! This could be a Chinese Coins using highly patterned fabric as Coins. The vertical columns could narrow towards the top or even change width like these. {Wow. Such an original plan. Patting myself on the back.}

Then while browsing through Sarah Nishiura's website yesterday, this quilt struck a chord. Doesn't it also look like a partial view of a domed ceiling? And a Chinese Coin variation? Nothing new under the sun. I'm still going forward with mine since I thought of the plan before noticing Sarah's.

How did I find her? This quilt was included in one of Rod Kiracofe's recent exhibits. He shared that he'd literally pulled it off his neighbors' bed to put in the show! Don't you love the quiet coloration, so relaxing for a bedroom. And all the men's shirting - oxford cloth, broadcloth, twill, with bits of quilting cotton to add tiny sparks. Great use of fabric.










AHIQ linkup is this coming Tuesday. I was so impressed with the Chinese Coins linked last month and hope to see more interesting views this time.

Enjoy the day, Ann



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spiderweb Borders

Border quilting is much better than the webs. {Frankly anything is better than the webs.} The plastic overlay helped me choose quilting designs.

Using plastic overlay to practice quilting designs
The toile needs a lacy, open design that won't overpower its printed design. I found an idea in Luann Kessi's sketchbook. Links to the entire sketchbook are found on her blog which is also a wonderful inspiration for art quilts. After much practice on paper and plastic, I quilted it over these two borders and simply outlined the birds. I tried to keep the leaves even smaller than Luann's in deference to the small leaves on the toile.

Lacy quilting on the toile, idea from Luann Kessi
Mel Beach suggested the loops on the smaller triangle row. Amazingly easy and good looking. Thanks, Mel!

Loop quilting
I had to have some feathers: a favorite and I can usually do them well. I considered both light and dark outer triangles but decided on the inner triangles.

A view of the quilting on all three borders
Here's a view from the back of all the work. You can see how the birds were outlined.

Free motion quilting from the back

All that's left is some outline stitching on the outer triangles which will reprise the outline stitching on the stars. Oh, yes. And binding, washing, blocking...

Enjoy the day, Ann

"The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest." Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Empty Spools at Last

Empty Spools began over thirty years ago and I've been hoping to attend almost that long. With young children, tight budget and half a continent of distance it was a pipe dream. Secretly I promised to attend when the children were grown. Not only have they been grown {for quite a while} but we now live in California part of the year. And I still didn't attend.

Gayle mentioned that Valerie Goodwin's class, The Complex Composition, still had openings. Valerie visited our guild two years ago and neither of us could believe her class wasn't full. It was a sign to sign up immediately. We packed machines and fabric and off we went.

Julia Morgan designed the first buildings in the California Arts and Crafts style using local wood and stone. Fireplaces are the centerpiece of almost every structure. We checked in at reception in the Phoebe Hearst Center (Julia was Phoebe's protege)

Phoebe Hearst Social Hall, Asilomar
and found our rooms at The Lodge.

The Lodge (photo by Asilomar Conference Center)
This building was constructed after important visitors from New York found the tent buildings too primitive for their tastes. My room was simply furnished: single bed, small bathroom with shower, desk and dresser but faced the ocean. I left the windows open nightly to enjoy the sounds of the waves.

Simply furnished single room at The Lodge
Empty Spools centered on Merrill Hall and our class was held in an anteroom. From there we could see the ocean through the trees.

View of the Pacific Ocean from our classroom
Late one afternoon, we took a walk along the shore for a closer look.

Monterey Peninsula shoreline
Caterpillars covered the grounds. We had to step carefully to avoid crushing them. I'm not sure their species but another site suggests they might be tiger moths.

One of the many caterpillars on the grounds
Valerie led us through individual samples and a group project before we started on our own maps. Since she had a tremendous amount of detailed information to impart, they were important precursors.

Technique sample from Valerie Goodwin's class
Here's my initial draft, overlaying topographic maps and photographs of San Francisco.

Initial draft combining topographic maps and photographs

Enjoy the day, Ann

"If silence seems to give approval, then remaining silent is cowardly." Eleanor Roosevelt