Lotto Tops

I’ve been making lotto blocks for Sunshine  (an online Yahoo group for making charity quilts) and winning them back occasionally for the last several years. Although there is a monthly theme, it is sometimes a challenge to make all the blocks play well together.That, plus choosing colors for sashing and borders, is all the design work involved–sometimes it is enough to stretch my brain. Sometimes I keep one block that doesn’t work into groupings in the hope of getting some mates later on. Sometimes I make blocks to add in. Sometimes i make do.

I have won bright blocks a couple times, boyish prints, novelty prints, floral prints, and a couple color groupings, most recently blue and yellow. I finally gathered them all together and started making tops.

Lotto 1

42 x 48

This one was a color experiment.  I am not unhappy  with it, but not thrilled either. It was intended to be 50 inches long, but I’d been cutting 3 1/2-inch strips for sashing and forgot to shift to cutting for 4-inch HSTs. It was easier to make 8 more HSTs than to start over. Then 4 more because I’d forgotten to add in the width of the sashing. I decided that was enough HST work for a while. On to straight borders.

Lotto 6

42 x 50

I was considering a narrow red border then navy, then I remembered the striped fabric.I’d wanted something to tie in the “extra” colors in a couple of the blocks. The planet print block, lower left above the Ohio Star, is one that had been waiting for mates. Happily there was a space themed block in this blue and yellow set.

The next quilt tops don’t have a border–they can be used as is, or I may add a border later when I dig into fabric for backing.

Lotto 2

42 x 42

This one also benefited from waiting. I’d laid out the arrangement sans the middle top and bottom blocks. I’d wanted something somewhat like the white, gold, red blocks. These came in a more recent batch.

Lotto 3

36 x 48

This one had been laid out ahead, but I’d had only one purplish block. I was happy to be able to add two more from a more recent winning in place of what I’d made do with before. Most of these blocks are from the boyish-print month. See the big bugs? Another top that benefited from its time out. If I add borders, they will be dark green or blue.

Lotto 4

36 x 36

I gave about one-minute of thought to setting these blocks on point, but 33 inches or 50 inches seemed too hard to work into the preferred measurements of the groups. I decided that baby quilts are often wrapped on the diagonal, so the hearts would show then. These were from the floral month winnings.

Lotto 5

36 x 48

This one started out with orange as the unifying feature. Needless to say that got to be too orange. So I swapped out blocks one by one until I got it toned down just enough.

When I have pairs of matching blocks and am working with a big variety of blocks, my formal balance instincts kick in even though I like to work asymmetrically otherwise.

I still have enough blocks for 4 or 5 more quilts, depending on what size I make from them.

ETA: Linking with Oh Scrap! because at least some of these blocks were made from other peoples’ scraps and Move it Forward Monday (links in sidebar).



Filed under quilting, Uncategorized

Japanese Garden

Another venture during daughter and grandson’s visit was the Japanese Garden. It is not a colorful season, like spring or fall would be; however, there is a subtle beauty to the various greens.

It is more meditative than a place to run and play, so we wondered about its appeal to a 3 1/2-year-old. The ticket clerk offered a treasure hunt map, which Logan guarded carefully for most of the visit.

Japanese Garden treasure map

He spotted the first item all by himself, but had to be helped to find others.

Japanese Garden tall structureSpotted instantly by Logan, it was at the beginning of the path. ETA a description from the brochure: “The antique 5-tiered stone pagoda lantern [was] given to Portland from its sister city, Sapporo, Japan. The stones at the base of the pagoda are in the shape of the island of Hokkaido. The red stone represents Sapporo.”

The rest were less obvious.Japanese Garden heron sculptures

A pointed finger led him to see the heron sculptures; I don’t think he ever saw the frog. (It doesn’t even show up in my photo–distant, small and moss covered.)

The deer chaser was fascinating.

Japanese Garden deer chaser

We watched several rounds while the water flowed from the top bamboo to the lower one; the lower one filled up and tipped, making a sound. Luckily it didn’t take too long to fill.

Buddha and the Animals was a bit abstract and took some convincing.

His mother pointed out the number of animals on the map and the number of small stones in the sand garden, and he was finally satisfied.

The Jizo was spotted by only one adult in the group and required retracing steps.

Japanese Garden lecture

Doesn’t he look like he is giving a lecture about it?

Hunger pangs decreased interest in the map; food not being allowed in the garden, we worked on getting to the exit and a picnic area near the International Test Rose Garden.

The two gardens are among the sites in Washington Park.





Filed under family, photography, travel

Grandson Visit

Three-and-a-half is a wonderful age; I love watching language acquisition and logic development (and sometimes lack of). And imitation.

And physical skill development, like climbing.

Of course Grandma was impressed that he got there all by himself. The more intricate climbs required Mom’s coaching, but not help.

I was too busy watching as he crossed the top, foot dangling in midair till Mom reminded him to look where the rung was. Then he got it and finished, making it across both loops.

Another adventure was the Children’s Museum.

He did wear a hard hat while doing construction, but it kept falling off. The tool belt was also as big a hit as the building activities.

Of course I have more photos, but I’ll restrain myself.


Filed under family

Floating Squares 2 Top Finished in the Nick of Time

I finished the top last night around midnight; that left this morning to transform the studio back into an apartment and wash the dishes that had piled up while I frantically sewed.

Without further ado:

Floating Squares 2 Finished Top

50 x 70 — irregular edge and teal binding planned. Orientation is sideways–blue is the top.

Product people can stop reading here. Process people, for you I remembered a couple before and after photos.

When I started working on the blue section, I thought it was getting too checkerboardy.

Floating 2 check effect

So I scrambled to make some combination blocks more like among the reds here.

floating 2 check fix 1That turned out to be overcompensation and way too dark. So I tried rearranging.

floating 2 check fix 2I liked that till I sat with it a bit, then the long filler lines on each side of the remaining dark segment distracted me.

The solution–shifting left and adding mixed light and dark.

floating 2 fixed

While there are still some checkerboard moments, they seem less obvious with variety around them and among more colors. Finally I was ready to move on.

In her book, Sherri talks of quilt edges in two ways. The traditional squaring up straight lines and keeping the curve created by the non-uniform pieces. Until I started assembling, I’d not seen the value of the latter. But then I saw edges like these:

In each case there was a lot of piecing I’d not want to lose by straight cutting; nor could I move the segment in farther. There was some aspect I needed where it was placed. So I’ll be using an irregular edge.

Have I mentioned how much I enjoy curving he seams to follow irregularities in piecing? I should caution that it adds about thrice the time to the project as straight seams do. (If there is a long way to do something, I am sure to find it.) So I do a mix. Some considerations I make to choose:

  • How tired am I and how tired of trimming and sewing curves?
  • Will a straight cut obliterate a great pieced detail?
  • Which preserves more fabric?
  • Does the potential curve enhance the overall look?

While the first question is primary, the next three can override it.

Most of the curves are gentle.  I learned some things about trimming. It is easier if the pattern piece is placed to the left and the piece to be cut to the right (I am right handed; left-handed people might reverse this.) And when there are a couple areas with deeper overlap, something to hold onto, it is easier to hold the pieces steady. I did this trimming with scissors as I had trouble cutting through two layers where there were seams with the rotary cutter, and it is harder to re-cut a line without a ruler.

Most of my curves turned out smooth.

Floating squares 2-curveBut I also had plenty of practice darting to make corrections. I pretty much pressed where the fabric wanted to go and then returned to the sewing machine and sewed along the fold where it differed from the seam. No ripping involved because curves require pressing to the side.

One other thing I learned. Large chunks of fabric “control” how the square segments are sized and sewn.  I had to eliminate a lot of large squares of the bright colors. Heavy and dark just didn’t integrate with the print.

Are you still reading? Have you run into any design issues like these?





Filed under design, quilting

Assembling Has Begun

I’m bored with sewing, so I’ll take a break and blog a bit.

I’d hoped to bring more forward for this Monday’s linky (button in sidebar), but this will have to do.

city2 assembly1

About 1/6 of the whole

In case you missed it, here is the layout I am working from.Most of the white space in the layout is becoming filler fabric. Now if I were following directions (who, me?), I’d have one filler color in each main color section. However, since I am  using a floating squares background that didn’t work where planned, I have several light colors. (Here is the background in case you missed that post.) Most of my filler is mint green or ice blue, but there are a couple other light neutrals for added interest.

You might notice some puckers and slight curves.  When cutting without rulers, “squares” are oddly shaped and lines get wiggly. In Improv for Modern Quilters, Sherri Lynn Wood gives two solutions: straighten the line or curve the seam. Though she prefers the latter, I have used both. I’d expected to lose some space due to seam allowances, but the curves take yet more. So I have various sized and colored squares on hand to fill in spaces.

I find improv tedious, enjoyable (thus contrasting to the tedium of paper piecing), but tedious. One helpful tool is a roller that I found online after reading Deb Karasik’s Quilts with Attitude (link here)

city2 roller tool

It isn’t a substitute for pressing with an iron, but it allows several seams to be sewn before hopping from sewing machine to iron. I’ve seen other wooden “ironing” tools but fear they would distort the fabric. I’ve tried finger pressing, but the roller seems to do better. (I have no connection to the supplier.)

With improv, you are frequently trimming bits of fabric off to make pieces fit together. All those small bits put me into crumb-block mode.

city2 crumb

The group of three is about 3 x 3

I like combining near colors so that they look like one piece from a distance.

Break over–thanks for joining me.


Filed under quilting

Floating Squares Continuing

I’ve been assembling small sections, arranging and rearranging. In the ideal world I’d have before and after photos of the big changes.  But I get an idea and jump up to try it with nary a thought of a camera.

So, here is where I am now.

city2 progress c

The first unphotographed layout had the bright sections lined up along the Utopia fabric, the greens along the bottom of the middle piece and the reds in a V along the middle and upper pieces. I fiddled and remained unsatisfied until I finally realized that was the big problem.

After I realized I needed some larger squares and cut some 8-inch and 10 inch squares I made some rather large sections, but when I placed them, they overpowered the print. So I ripped off the big bright squares, keeping only the big background squares.

My approach has been to start with large sections while I have large spaces to fill. Gradually I make smaller and smaller segments–now I am mostly making strips of squares and four-patch combinations. Smaller allows me to fiddle more.

You can see there are lots of empty spaces left to fill. I’ve been thinking, Two more days of work, for the last 3 or 4 days. So much for my powers of prediction. One deadline. Guests are coming on the 8th and I’ll need to fold up the ‘design bed.’ And I don’t want anything unattached at that point.





Filed under design, quilting

Floating Squares 2, Step 2

In a non-quilting day in which to ponder step 1; I decided that squares would not do the Utopia fabric justice; plus I had odd-shaped pieces left from the first quilt.

So I opened up the ‘design bed’ and laid out the leftover pieces, considered where each of the three Floating Square segments (predominantly red, predominantly green, predominantly aqua) would go, then laid out the “squares” accordingly.

city2 layout 1

Blue tape marks goal of 50 x 70

In case you didn’t guess, the arrangement is subject to change. This looking and rearranging is the part of improv that I enjoy the most. The only thing that hurries me on is the need to fold up the Hide-A-Bed; it takes up the whole living room walking space.

I remember now the ah-ha from the first try; I need more big squares. So I cut a bunch in each of the colors and am ready to start stitching.

I think using left overs from quilt 1 qualifies this as a scrap quilt even though some of the solids are new yardage, so I’ll be linking to Oh Scrap! (button in sidebar).


Filed under design, quilting