Back from the Rockies

I’ve been back a day and am getting my photos sorted. The Rockies, like the Grand Canyon, are hard to capture in photos. Add to that hazy skies from forest fires in British Columbia and Alberta, rain, and shooting from moving vehicles, and most of my pictures are mental.

Rockies in haze

We did wonder if we would get any views.  Of course the real concern was containing the forest fires. Rain the first night settled things a bit, and there were views on the Banff Gondola ride.

Gondola up Sulfur Mountain

Here is the route of the gondola up Sulphur Mountain, lifting us to about 8,000 feet.

Gondola machinery

The gondola looked sturdy enough to trust for that uphill ride. Each held four people, and the view was stunning. It was possible to walk yet higher after we got off–I thought I was high enough. Here is one view from the stopping point.

View from gondola drop offAnother participatory event was riding the Ice Explorer on the Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park. (The hardy people could hike up to it.) Athabasca combines with five other glaciers that feed from the Columbia Ice Field. Unlike the Continental Divide that feeds two oceans, the Columbia Ice Field feeds three: Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic. Our guide said this was the only proven one, though there are one or two others assumed, one in Siberia.

Ice Explorer

We were told that the glacier was as deep as the Eiffel Tower is high. And that it retreats 10 feet a year (gaining 25 in the winter and losing 15 in the summer). Here is an article about retreat with slightly different figures.

Melt run off

Watching the rushing melt run off was quite dramatic, as was watching the rushing river at Natural Bridge. You’ll have to imagine the sound of the rushing water.

Natural Bridge, side view

Natural Bridge frong It was mentioned that the water was so high that it was flowing over instead of under natural bridge.

I’ll sort some more photos and be back in a day or two.


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Filed under nature, travel

MQG Challenge Finished

Finished quilt

Here is the rearranged layout. (Starting sketch here and first actual layout here I do occasionally finish a project quickly). The blocks are actually set straight. I have made blocks to fade into the background before and float, but this is the first time that the “floating” part was almost square and looks like they were set on point. So I reoriented the flower square to the angle of apparent blocks instead of the real blocks, and it felt more unified.

One change demands another, so I started shifting the blocks till I got this arrangement.

I learned some limits to the walking foot.  I didn’t want to do all those starts and stops in the zig zag in the upper right and lower left triangles, so I tried using the walking foot forward and reverse. While it keeps layers smooth going forward, it allows them to bunch when going in reverse. I think the puckers will “disappear” when the quilt is washed and gets more crinkly, so I didn’t rip anything out nor change my plan. The zig zag worked up to about 6 inches; then the same stabilizing techniques that I had used no longer worked as it got longer. I guess I’ll have to perfect my FMQ straight lines in both directions.

Also this is the first time I tried sectioning off areas and then quilting between lines without adhesive; that too produced a few puckers even though I’d pressed the batting and pinned more carefully than usual. When I have had no puckers I have started in the middle and worked out to the edges. I don’t like to use adhesive, but I do like sectioned designs. Does anyone have other solutions?

The quilt measures 40 x 54 and is close to the maximum I can quilt on my Featherweight.

A note to my followers: I am heading out tomorrow for “Rockies by Rail” in Canada and not taking my computer. There will be photos, but not till I get home.


Filed under design, quilting

MQG Challenge Progress: Piecing That Odd Center

The blocks are finished–now I can get a better idea than when I had only a sketch and a few rectangles on the design wall. The block is a traditional block, Brackman #2583, Lacy Latticework.Layout--first trial

I’m not sure I like the flower placed as I’d originally planned. While I think about that, let me tell you about the challenge of that simple-looking block. (If in doubt about what to do next on a quilt, blog about it.) Because I’d used the technique for block borders, as in this round robin addition, I’d expected it to be a breeze, and it was, almost.

Here is a mini-tutorial on the block, with emphasis on piecing those overhanging pieces around a one-inch square (The construction probably has a more specific name.)

The pieces to cut for each 7 1/2-inch block (7 inches finished):

1 square 1 1/2-inch (preferably matching four of the triangles)

4 rectangles 1 1/2 x 4 1/2

8 triangles , 4 of each color, to make rectangles 2 1/2 x 4 1/2.  These I cut using the Rec Tool of the Tri-Recs ruler set, cutting from two 4 1/2 strips. It was good I’d reread the directions as one layers the two fabrics both with right side up.

First assemble the split rectangles, then attach them to the cut rectangles. Because I am geometrically challenged, I have either a finished block or a drawing of the block at my side while assembling these so that I get the color that forms the tilted square sewn to the correct side! The pin marks the upper right orientation for the block in the finished quilt–only needed if arranging prints precisely.

Now you are ready to wrap around the center square. Lay out the pieces. This block will be worked counter clockwise, so I have numbered the components accordingly.

components numbered

placement of squareFirst partially attach #1 to the 1 1/2-inch square, note the position of the piece in relation to the wide end of the matching fabric. Stitch from the edge where the pieces match to about 3/8 inch from the edge in the middle. The loose flap will be needed later. This is where the small piece makes the construction more tricky than when bordering a larger block. If you don’t leave enough flap, you won’t have room to make a 1/4-inch seam later. If you leave too much, you will end up with a gap in the final seam.

partial seam and loop

I felt the need to knot the sewing thread here, though usually I would consider stitching over it later enough to hold it.  Here the seam is short and there will be fiddling with it (and the first one I made ripped out while I was fiddling). I am not one who normally adds extra steps. :-) Have you knotted the old fashioned way by pulling up the back loop with the top thread, then pulling it through and tying an overhand knot? Imagine when that was the only way to knot before reverse stitching was possible. Cheers for reverse stitch, but here the accuracy of placement makes it worth doing it the old way. IMPORTANT: Press toward the rectangle, not the square.

adding 1 to 2

Now it is smooth sailing for two seams as you Adding 3




attach the #2 unit to the #1 unit, then the #3 to the #1-2. I continued to press toward the rectangle, though it is not so crucial here. Sewing unit#4 is what you saved the flap for.

Adding #4


Fold the excess of #1 out of the way so you can line up units #3 and #4 and make a 1/4-inch seam. If your pieces are not perfectly lining up, as mine do not, let the excess hang off the edge; keep the center seam even. It will make the next attachment easier. Start the seam from the center. Now all that is left is to complete that first seam sewing #1 to #4.

Seaming 1 to 4

The pin with the white head marks the end of that first partial seam. (The one with the red head is my way to remember which quadrant goes in the upper right of the block.) This is the spot where the size of the center square makes a bit of difficulty.

Needle placement


Place the needle on the previously made partial seam as far back as you can while keeping it all flat. I leave the pin at the edge of the partial seam till I get the machine needle placed, then remove it. As in this photo, so in life–you can’t always see the stitches. So far the most I’ve been able to sew over is the last three stitches of the initial partial seam. I usually knot a thread by hand if I can’t overlap at least five stitches.

Finished block

Press, and trim if you need to (as I will here) and your block is complete.

Chain piecing is possible if you are not keeping track of placement of various print rectangles as I was here. It works for all but the partial seam  attaching #1 to the small square and the completion of the partial seam as you stitch #1 to #4.

ETA measurements for a 10 1/2-inch (finished) block (which would make the center square at 1 1/2 inches finished a bit easier). ETA corrected math. I added several times and got the same answer–making the same mistake. 10 1/2 is correct.

Per block, cut

1 square 2 x 2

4 rectangles 2 x 6 1/2

8 triangles (largest possible from Tri Recs ruler) from two different 6 1/2-inch strips, both cut right side up.

If you don’t want to get the ruler, you can make a template. Angles are 30 degrees, 60 degrees, and 90 degrees.

























Filed under quilting, tutorial

MQG Challenge Started

The challenge fabricsThe challenge is national, sponsored by the Modern Quilt Guild. These six fabric fat eights from the Pinwheel line of Michael Miller were handed out at the May meeting of the Portland Modern Quilt Guild with a due date at the end of June. I was disappointed that I didn’t make the due date since I really liked the fabrics. Imagine my surprise when I started seeing postings of progress after the due date! Then someone blogged about a date change. Now projects are due at  the end of July, and I might get it done in time.

It is another challenge with loose rules: Use any of these prints, add any solids, add only Michael Miller prints. The finished item has to be quilted.

In looking at the fabrics, the only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to focus on one large flower from the upper left print. Since ideas were slow in appearing, I got out Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns and started browsing. When I found Lacy Lattice Work, not only did I think it would work with the fabric, I thought it had a modern look.

Block sketchBrackman has categorized and researched names for 4,000+ patchwork blocks that have been printed from the 1800s to the 1970s; it is a great source for ideas. The book is out of print, but the information is available electronically as Blockbase from EQ. This block is attributed to the Farm Journal, which published quilt patterns from 1877 to the “present” (Encyclopedia published 1995). Since Brackman doens’t indicate the dates of patterns we don’t know anything other than the possible range. Seems the really popular ones were published more than once and had more than one name, so this one may have been ahead of its time. That latter is all speculation on my part.

First layout sketch

Instead of simply enlarging a block so that a single block will make a quilt, I sometimes arrange blocks into the pattern of the block, so I sketched that out.

Since I didn’t want a square quilt I started to play with adding length and subtracting width till I came up with the second layout.

Second sketch

This one pleased me more. Not only did it give me the rectangular shape I wanted, it got some pleasing asymmetry and increased the negative space.

The next decision was which fabrics to use. I’d already decided on the large flower for the center. I could have used the orange or dark gray in small pieces, but the only small piece in the block was the center, and I wanted it to be the background color. That left three fabrics for four positions. That meant I couldn’t just place fabric and chain piece the lot of blocks. I didn’t even want to make the blocks and then tinker with their arrangement. Instead I cut the rectangles, placed them to appear random (my “random” is almost always very much arranged), sat back and looked at it a while, moved some a bit, and decided it was good.

Trial layout

So now to get out my Tri-Recs ruler and make the split rectangles out of dark and light teal, the dark closest to the patterned fabric. After I get the blocks sewn up, I’ll decide whether the background will be the lighter teal or a mixture, whether it will be all negative space or whether I’ll make a pattern block or two out of four shades of teal and place them here and there.

I have till July 25, but I’m heading out July 17, so as usual, my deadline is close.

Linking up to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times and WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced; and I just found Esther’s WOW:WIP.


Filed under design, quilting

Return to the MasterClass

After a break in completing assignments, I’m back this June with a finish for the Masterclass.

First the sketch that both my commenting classmates and I preferred:

sketchI never was happy with the upper three curves.  Design often results this way for me.  I get an idea, but it doesn’t fill the whole quilt. What to do with the space left over?

I solved this one with a batik.

Finished quilt

I had nothing in mind except shapes, colors and values when I made it; however, looking at it makes me think of riding a roller coaster. Do you see it? Or something else? I could make “Roller Coaster” the title, but it would shut off other observations. I really hate coming up with titles!

Now to wait a day or two for July’s assignment. It’s good t be back in production mode.


Linking up to NinaMarie’s Off the Wall


Filed under design, quilting

Back to Quilting

It takes a while to get back in the groove after being away for a month. I’ll miss watching Logan’s almost daily progress (see last four entries if you are looking for baby photos). Guess I’d better get to some quilting progress to make up for the absence.

In my stack of held mail was a package of Block Lotto winnings, 15 blocks. I’d entered one pair of floral blocks. Well, as “they” say, It takes only one entry to win.

When the theme is a topic instead of a color, it is more of a challenge to get coordinating sets. This grouping works.

possible arrangement

I am as yet undecided whether to sew them adjacent as shown with a border of the pinkish orange that I am auditioning or to sew them with sashing (of the same orange). And I may swap out the upper right darker block. (It didn’t look that dark to me IRL as it does in the photo.)

The other six blocks are fine by themselves or in pairs, but do not play well all together.

Six more blocks

I’ll either keep them to mix with other blocks that come my way or use pairs that work and make blocks to add. The upper left block is the one I sent, and I have more of the lilac fabric. I may combine it with various lavenders to complete it.

Time to go stash diving and see what I come up with. If I remember I’ll link up with Design Wall Monday and WIP Wednesday and NewFO at CatPatches.


Filed under quilting

Child “Labor”

With a condo for sale, we have to keep it clean and tidy.

baby with broom


Sweeping looks like so much fun and sounds so interesting. Let’s hope the interest continues after he grows a bit.

Anyone moving to Chicago? Here is a cool condo. There is a quilt I made on the bed in the bedroom photo.





Filed under family