The Last of the Doll Quilts for 2015

When guild meeting time came, I had 8 doll quilts finished and two to go, two that needed pieced backs. While working on them, I added two more.

map quilt

~24 x 24

First I found this scarf that I’d never decided what to do with. When I noticed it was doll quilt size, I had a plan. (I hope there is a child out there who likes bicycles or maps.)

Seems a one piece top deserves the most pieced back.

map quilt back

~24 x 24

(The dark colors blend too well with the sofa; it really is a square quilt.) The guild had been given the backing fabric for a previous project, and I’d taken the left overs.  The medium width strips are left from when I didn’t need the full width. The narrow strips are color samples that had been stapled to a card. One day I removed the staples, arranged the strips and sewed them into squares awaiting some future quilt. There are six more squares for some future use. For the quilting I followed various of the roads–sometimes creating my own. Good thing it was with stitches and not a car. That was the most detailed pieced back.

The other addition was from the Noah’s Ark panel–border prints to coordinate with the panel; however, only 18 inches wide. While I still had the coordinating scraps out, I decided to add another doll quilt.

Noah doll quilt

18 x 24

This top was narrow enough not to need piecing for the back. I tried quilting clamshell for the first time. Barely visible from the front–back shows it better.

clamshell quilting

As before, I tried it without marking. Either I decide I like the “primitive” look, or I’ll have to perfect my curves. And my estimation of width. The top row was too narrow for two, and too wide for the one row that I made.

I also practiced curves on the checkerboard centered quilt.

Checkerboard center

~24 x 24

The red and blue minkee fabrics allow bits of thread to be pulled through to the top–my thread for quilting was light gray. The quilting shows better from the back.

checkerboard back

It seemed I could either watch speed and stitch length or watch the curve, but not both at the same time. I quilted the flower as I remembered from a blog, and then went hunting for the blog. It was  Flower Power, by Lori Kennedy. (She may not appreciate being credited, since I didn’t remember it quite as she had demonstrated it.) I plan to continue practicing this flower on the next infant top that I quilt.

And last but not least, the four-patch block quilt.

4-patch front

24 x 24

As I’d may have mentioned previously, I had some 3 1/2 inch squares left over from my Urban Chickens quilt. I think this quilt got the best color matches for this print fabric. This one also got a pieced back.

back of

I did the cross hatch quilting with the walking foot, using the corners of the squares as guidelines.

I have enough minkee left to back 4-5 quilts for next year. It is nice and soft, but not really nice to work with. I’ll be glad not to be making more minkee lint on the floors (and furniture, and clothing, and and and) now that these quilts are finished.

I have a couple secret projects to work on, but am also hoping to finish one more infant quilt before meeting night (last chance for delivery this year). I have some time to work on it tonight.

Linking with Finish it up Friday and Free Motion Mavericks today and Oh Scrap! on Sunday (button in sidebar). And because the backs are improv, though minimally so–took strips the shape they came in; they were almost straight–and because I just found this new linky, linking with Ad Hoc Improv Quilters. (AHIQ)


Filed under quilting, Uncategorized

A Very Unusual Novel

Geek LoveGeek Love by Katherine Dunn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had to look up “geek” because it surely didn’t mean the detailed interest of, say, a computer geek. So I learned the carnival meaning. Luckily the really gross and bloody part occurred only briefly at the beginning. The next oddity was the father deciding to produce his own freak show for the carnival (based on his seeing horticultural variety at the International Test Rose Garden). The mother dutifully took drugs to alter her offspring. Their living children were four: Arty with fins for arms and legs; Elly and Iphy, the Siamese twins; Oly, the albino, hunchbacked, dwarf narrator; and Chick the youngest, with his special powers.

Had it not been a group read, I might have stopped there. However, I remembered a comment of a professor about other novels with “grotesques”: What could the author say through them that couldn’t be said through more average characters? I decided to read a bit more through that frame. Then the next chapter captured my attention with its narrative strategy of jumping into the future with Oly and her daughter Miranda. Several events are revealed that make a reader wonder how they happened. That same strategy is used a few more times, like a carrot to keep one reading. For the first two thirds of the book, the pacing was very effective. Then the notes of a reporter/participant were introduced, and while they provided important information that Oly, the narrator, couldn’t have known, they dragged the pace considerably. Also the very ending of the book seemed to take too long.

I have not yet answered the What-could-be-said question. First hypothesis, something about disability issues. Did not hold up. Second hypothesis, something about minorities. The carnival provided a sort of ghetto where deformities were normal; however, the carnival was dependent on the money of the norms buying tickets. Oly didn’t feel odd till she no longer lived in the carnival setting.

One group member, who read an interview with the author,  learned she is an environmentalist and is anti-war. Perhaps the father’s manipulation is an extreme of the various pollutants in our atmosphere, food, and water. And there was one paragraph in the reporter’s notes where Arty ponders how people could criticize his followers who are maimed by choice and not criticize war with the injuries it produces. Maybe. And is it really choice when there is cult-like power in the leader and manipulation? I feel the need to think more on the followers’ willingness to endure amputation and what it might say about other things we readers may be willing to give up and for what.

View all my reviews


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Two Noah Panel Infant Quilts

Long ago–hard to believe it was 2012–I got most of these two tops finished at a retreat. (Here) They have been patiently waiting for final borders and quilting, so they seemed good to add to my UFO list. Of the ten I’d listed, I’ve finished three, so something small seemed a good project. I’d hoped to do two, but I forgot a couple obligations that took away from quilting time, so I finished one. I’m thinking that it pays to have a bigger goal than what can be accomplished; I think it pushes so that even if not reached, more is finished than would have been without it. Of course if you are going to play that game with yourself, you don’t dare beat yourself up for not accomplishing your whole goal!

This is the one that got finished.

Noah 1 quilted front

37 x 37

It needed at least three inches of border; I was aiming for 36-inch square, and thought more would be taken up in quilting. I used the added two borders to brighten it up a bit. The blue HSTs had a duller effect than I had expected. The quilt is made from scraps, mine and others’ scraps. Two of the fabrics–the stripe and the blue star print–were left over from two queen quilts; the panel and the cream stripe came from the give-away table at a guild retreat (around 2010). The other prints were from various guild charity starter kits, made up from donated scraps. Even the back was made from scraps of flannel a friend had given me.

Noah 1 back

While not quite synchronized with the top, it does have animals. :-)

I knew how I wanted to quilt the center and outer borders,but it took a while to decide on quilting patterns for the HST rows. I’d designed them to be two-color flying geese; however, the overall look was of two saw tooth rows. I thought maybe I could emphasize the geese units with quilting.

I knew I wanted to outline the figures in the panel, and that led to the vine with leaves for the blue and blue-checked borders.

vine and flying gees detail

On one side of the panel I added leaves in the sky and wished I’d thought of it when doing the first half–I’ll have to remember that when I quilt Noah #2.

Noah 1 quilting detail panel

For the outer two borders,I wanted to use the “wonky triangle” quilting that I found on Night Quilter’s blog. I thought of three loops in the “geese,” but decided I wanted something more transitional between the curvy center and angular outer borders. I think I got the idea that I ended up using, the three triangles per “goose,” from Angela Walters’ dot to dot quilting. Only I didn’t use dots. Even making dots is more marking than I want to do.

The corners were a challenge.

HST detail

I wanted to keep the straight line going–it would have looked better if I’d done the curvy outline or at least have connected with stitch in the ditch instead of the one lone line on the 3/4 square. And you can see (lower right) where I began.  Yep, I should have practiced the idea before starting on the quilt itself.  It took a “goose” or two to get the bottoms of the three triangles to come out even.

And here is the wonky triangles border.

wonky triangles border

The striped border, where you can’t see the quilting, is where I practiced the border. I really like the effect of this design, and it is fast and easy after the first couple repeats. (I keep the pencil diagram nearby for moments when I forget where I am in the pattern.) I’ve done various corner turning tactics, mostly estimating how much distance is left and remembering that the first line on the new side is perpendicular to the length.

There was no binding to do because I’d “birthed” it (aka envelop style edge).

Linking up with  Finish it up Friday , Free Motion Mavericks, TGIFF,  Let’s Make Baby Quilts, on Sunday with Oh Scrap! And on Tuesday Freemotion by the River (buttons in sidebar).



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Last Lan Su for awhile

The Lan Su Chinese Garden is closing after Thanksgiving for some major repairs to the lake–the lining needs to be replaced and they are creating places for the koi to hide from the herons that pass through for dinner. That pushed me to make a visit before it closed, and the timing led to some spectacular color.

The star red tree–front.

Fall redFrom the back

LS red 1 back

Through the arch

LS red 1 through archWith that little penjing as an accent. I remember the first time I saw one of those miniaturized trees changing with the season. After my surprise, I thought, Of course!

There were other more delicate colors, as well as an exhibit of mums and floral arrangements.

And the most persimmons I’ve seen on the tree. Maybe I should say the most I remember seeing–I didn’t go back and check old photos.

There were indoor floral arrangement demonstrations too, and we watched two. But my photos of their arrangements didn’t turn out. Two very different styles, and fun to see both. And mums everywhere.

And the ritual landboat shot–with persimmons to the left and lotus in the foreground.

LS landboat

The view through the keyhole arch was spectacular too.

LS key hole arch




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Doll Quilts

Eight doll quilts are finished. The other two require pieced backs and that will take a little longer. It would have been nice to have the minkee fuzz over with, but there will be one more day of it.

Only one got batting and real binding; the others were birthed. Much easier.

doll-hand dye

This is the class project from QuiltCon (more detail here).

I wasn’t able to wind a bobbin with invisible thread, so used a green that almost matched the green in the hand dye.  Instead of bringing the back to front in lieu of binding, I used this small floral that I found. Proportion really matters; it actually looked better when there was more of the floral fabric beside the piece. There is some of the light aqua in the hand dye but not much. I don’t suppose the doll will care.

Here is one of the big stitch flowers.

Big stitch

It will take practice and experimenting with and without a hoop. I do want to be able to add detail occasionally.

The other quilts got minkee backing and no batting (dolls don’t get cold). So the quilting was also minimal: organic wavy lines 4 inches apart, an off center zig zag, also four inches apart.  Some diagonal lines through squares.  None of these photographed well.

I’d thought to practice spirals, Plan A was to free hand the starting circle in the center 3 1/2-inch square. Then I realized a doll quilt didn’t need the close quilting I’d get if I used the walking foot to keep it going around. On to Plan B.

spiral top

15 x 15

I really hate marking, so I keep trying free hand. Could I maintain an even 1 1.2-inch spiral freehand?  Almost.

spiral back

Next time I’l try it without the aid of the 3 1/2-inch grid formed by the squares. I don’t think I could manage it free hand on a larger piece. The walking foot allows me to concentrate of direction without also having to think speed and stitch length. It worked well for each of the doll quilts. Experimenting is fun.


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F2F Blocks Arrived in France–A PS to Retreat Quilting

I always hold my breath when I mail quilt blocks; moreso, when they go out of the country. So it is always a relief to hear that they arrived.

Lynn’s colors were aqua, gray, and white; gray background. A touch of coral was okay too.

Sunny lanes

12 1/2 x 12 1/2

None of the patterns I wanted to make had small enough areas for “a touch” of coral. Then it occurred to me to use the Flight fabric from Violet Craft’s Waterfront Park. And that gave just enough coral.

Water wheel block

12 1/2x 12 1/2

This water-wheel block is one of my favorites.  And I thought the light dotted fabric made a nice illustion of water splashes. The Domino Dot fabric seemed a good companion; it also came from the Waterfront Park line. My pieces from this line are dwindling.  This block design, when made to tessellate, becomes Indiana Puzzle in the way that quilt block designs and names morph.

And finally, Lady of the Lake (one of three blocks with that name, and apparently the lesser known one).

Lady of the Lake

12 1/2 x 12 1/2

It is a fun block to make and useful because it has a place for small pieces.  I just had to show off that I have learned how to watermark photos.

On another note, I finally got the judges’ comments for my two quilts in NW Quilt Expo. The negative comment for each concerned my corners. I thought I had gotten pretty good at corners, but obviously I have more improvement ahead of me. I guess it matters whether I compare with the awful ones I used to do or a judge compares with an ideal out there somewhere.

You’ve seen the quilts long ago.  Weighty Reflections and a Riley Blake challenge that got a new name, Squares, Circles, and Zig Zags, Oh My! (Links in “finished quilts” lead to blog posts about them.)

Finished quilt

45 x 45

It was deemed successful asymmetry, and I was surprised by the comment that the the variation in print scale adds interest. I hadn’t thought of that, but I guess it does. I’ll have to think of that more in the future. And the variety of quilting patterns were seen as enhancing the design. In a day when so many prefer minimal quilting design so as not to distract from the piecing, I valued that observation. I am not sure how I feel about the comment, “Piecing is done well.” While I”m glad to have technique recognized, it all depends on which judge said it. Was it the only comment one could make? If so it also is a negative comment on design. If it was in addition to a design comment, I’ll be pleased.  There is no way to tell which judge made which comments.

Weighty Reflections, approximately 40 x 60

On this one they approved the graphic design and the straight line quilting. And “Complimentary color scheme is enhanced by the minimalist nature of this quilt.”

After the strong design comments, I should plunge right into that abandoned art quilt I posted about a while back, but I have doll quilts to finish first. And I’ll be working on those corners.


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Liebster Award

Zippy Quilts tagged me for a Liebster award, a way to introduce bloggers to bloggers. Ironically Zippy Quilts is modern in focus, and though I do modern design, my most recent posts have been scrappy, so I hope new visitors haven’t been too disappointed–or that they have browsed a bit. At any rate go visit Zippy Quilts. I’ll wait.
liebster logo

Her questions were more interesting than some for the various chain-awards that have been floating around (and the option to make my own appealed), and since  I have not been sewing since the retreat, it seemed a good time to play. Go from Ziippy’s link to Wanda’s Life Sampler link for the whole question list and the “rules” (which have been morphing).

1. What is one thing that you believe with your whole being?

I think it is important to try new things, to strive for something akin to perfection, but to be easy on yourself  if the results disappoint. To take the “oopses” in stride.

2. What have you made lately?

My most recent finish is a scrappy quilt from leaders and enders (and Keepsake samples).

Quilting detail

The blog entry is here if you want details.

My most recent (but not very recent) art quilt from spring


And its blog entry is here.

And my favorite modern quilt.

A queen sized bed playing dress up

Its blog is here with a full shot as well. Quilted by Jolene Knight.

3. What does skimming your recent entries tell you about your quilting habits?

I see that I am easily distracted from major goals by smaller goals. It is easier to do a block of the month than to sit down and work out a design problem. And that charity quilting is very important to me.

4. Are you a cat person or a dog person? Or neither?

If there were to be an animal in my life, it would be a cat. But I enjoy my freedom to up and leave without the detail of pet sitting.

5. Where do you hope to be in 10 years’ time?

This question made me chuckle. Bottom line answer is alive. There is something odd about being 77 and knowing average life expectancy for women is 79 (however, it you make it to 79 it becomes 90 something). Refined answer is alive, well, alert and productive.  I would like to have had a quilts in Quilt National and QuiltCon.

6. What is one thing you wish you were better at?

Free motion quilting with a Domestic Sewing Machine. (And I do practice on those charity quilts.)

7. Why do you blog?

It is both a quilting journal and a means of communication. I love getting into bloggy conversations. A little family, a little local color, a little travelogue, a few book reviews–these round it out as I am more than a quilter. However, I try to keep the balance on quilting.

Now visit some of my friends.

Desert Sky Quilting

Quilt Musings


Visit and enjoy.


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