A Pleasant Surprise

Usually tasks take longer than I anticipate. Not this time. Three of the baby quilts are finished, the lotto-block quilts.

3lotto fnished

The quilting is mostly meander, though I couldn’t resist putting some stars in the ship’s night sky.

3boat quilting

I didn’t wait to blog until all 5 were finished because I wanted a finish to link up to TGIFF (Here)

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Backs and Maybe a Doll Quilt

Well, that took longer than my “soft” goal.  (All my goals are soft goals–definition: can be changed.) I’d thought to get to this point in a day. But it is such a boring couple of steps that I had to pause and read and cook and  and and . . .  But here they are, ready to be quilted, and that is the final step.

1 5 backs

I think making the quilts “envelope” style is supposed to be a short cut. But I am convinced there are no short cuts, only a shifting of where one spends time. There are still two seams around the periphery of the quilts; however, one does avoid cutting, stitching and pressing bias.  And you can make a smaller back. Two ways to conserve fabric. But cutting the back and batting and trimming it to size is more fiddly than cutting backing and batting larger than a quilt and trimming after it is quilted. Plus all the boring stuff is together, so it is even more boring. And add to that, five at once.

Flannel is preferred for the backs–I think it is a guild, not a fire fighter, criteria. The only flannel I purchases for these five quilts is the anchor print. It is left over from a longer piece that I used a year or so ago. The rest were donated by a friend.  They weren’t the colors or prints I’d normally go to for baby quilts, but I think they will do fine.  Black may be a bit much, but the cherry print lightens it up a bit as does the jungle print on the front. I do plan to wash the ones with red flannel with color catcher sheets on general principle; however, they had been prewashed and the white selvedge is still white.

I will probably have time to make the last lotto block into a doll quilt.

1 butterfly

I got out the cuddle fabric for the backing; I have enough for a 16 x 16 quilt, so I’ll add a 3-inch border.  I’ve already rejected the pale green in the above photo and tried several other colors. Leaning toward a dark orange at the moment. Or maybe green. The butterfly can either be on a flower or grass. I’m planning to shift entirely to baby quilts as soon as the cuddle fabric is gone.  I think there is enough for four more. It was gifted to guild for a project long ago and I volunteered to use the left overs.

Details about the fire fighters’ project and lotto in the previous post (here).

Linking with Needle and Thread Thursday.




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Baby Quilt Tops

It’s that time of year when my local guild gives quilts to the fire fighters Toy and Joy program: doll/teddy bear quilts for the toy program and baby quilts for the emergency vehicles’ use when evacuation of the little ones is necessary. Previously the guild gave 100 of the baby quilts; the fire fighters told us they could use double that many. I have five tops–each is 36 x 36, the size requested. The first three are from my collection of lotto block winnings. This last batch must have been from a blue and yellow month.

1 all lotto

This first one was made the easy way, all lotto blocks. The Sunshine Online Quilt Guild (now on MeWe.com) is a friendly group that makes quilts for two charities: Wrap a Smile and Quilts Beyond Borders. The lotto is a monthly project. Those who want to participate make blocks in pairs; each pair is an entry.  One stays with the coordinator who makes heaps of quilts from them for each of the charities, and one goes into the “pot.”  The winner of the “pot” is free to do whatever they want with their bounty.Sometimes we give them to the two named groups; sometimes, as this time, locally.

The next two needed filler.

1 lotto star flowr

1 lotto sailboat

Now, adding four squares isn’t a big deal in itself; it is schlepping the bins of fabric to get to the one that has the relevant fabric that slows me down. For this sailboat one I have some anchor print flannel for part of the backing. I’ll add a piece to make it the right size.  Luckily three of the five will have backing made from single pieces, but then my stash pieces got smaller.

I haven’t played lotto for a while. The novelty of finding ways to use a collection of random blocks has worn off, and I now prefer designing the whole quilt.

Back when Sunshine had a retreat we were all making blocks for the retreaters to assemble.  I kept 9 for a baby quilt.

1 mendota

It is good to have a dark quilt top because some of the flannel I was gifted is dark. It will go fine here. It looks like I have used two shades of blue, but it is all from the same piece: just cut in different directions. If I had it to do over, I’d have split the border top and bottom better. I was aiming to keep the off-centered look, and overdid it I think.

This last one is from scraps.

1 argyle-domino

I even remember the project that left two of the fabrics: the argyle print came from a group project (here) , and the domino dot fabric purchased for use (here)–but  used here. The blocks are 6 inches finished; the scraps were large.

There is one lone lotto block left.  It is a butterfly pattern and will stand alone nicely in a doll quilt, should there be time.

Linking with Oh Scrap! and I’ll link up with Let’s Make Baby Quilts second Friday–this post, or maybe even the finish. (Link when available)


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So Good I Finished the Book in Two Days

Swimming LessonsSwimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m glad I had lots of free time these last couple of days as it was hard to put the book down!

The novel includes three timelines. First is the “present,” the time Nan and Flora are adults caring for their aging father. Second and third are included in Ingrid’s letters, letters placed in books rather than sent, hence never read by any of the other characters, only by us readers. Her letters include her history of her relationship with Gil in the 70s and reveal a woman trapped in marriage and motherhood, a woman who wants more. They also contain bits from the 90s, contemporary with her writing them. The three together provide in depth character development as the complexity of the relationships are explored.

Gil is a writing teacher, so it is natural for him to talk about literary theory. He proposes it in extreme form: readers make the fiction, not writers, as they fill in the gaps. (He doesn’t get tediously theoretical at all.) This idea is expanded to art as Flora sketches, one time explicitly commenting that she likes making as few lines as possible and letting the viewer fill in the rest. This bit of theory invites the reader to be an active participant.

One particularly interesting episode early on is told in two versions. Ingrid makes a paper daffodil and places it in Gil’s bicycle (before either know the bikes belong to the other); Gil shows it to the creative writing class  (in which Ingrid is a student) to illustrate a secret: he had stolen the flower from beside a sleeping child’s bed in a hospital on his way to visit his dying mother so he would have a flower to present to her. Thus, early on, one wonders whether this reveals his character or merely illustrates the creation of fiction.

The first sentence plunges us into plot: Gil sees his dead wife outside his shop window. The plot continues to develop the ambiguity of her disappearance. Gil and Flora maintain the balance of hope and loss; Nan, the practical, resolves it as loss. We the readers keep wondering and reading in the hopes of finding out.

The ending fits the characters and previous action. The ending has hints of futures for the characters, but doesn’t tell too much. There is room for readers to create, but that creation is constrained by what has been revealed of the characters throughout the novel.

All in all, a good read. I’m eager to read other of Fuller’s works.

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Urban Chickens #2 Finished

Oh the Sew-cial Network project with selections from Paintbox Studio Fabric’s “Picnic” line by Mabel Tan has been finished a while; the writing hand just got lazy. (Thanks to PBS for providing the prints.) After much debate, I ended up using the lighter solid (Paintbrush Solids verbina) for binding instead of teal.

1 urban chickens front

41 x 41 inches

I had debated between the darker teal to frame and the lighter to blend with the four blending flower prints. I’m glad I ended up with the blending effect.  Another thing about the binding (that I didn’t photograph): all four corners mitered just right. That is a first.

The binding also worked adequately on the back. Sometimes it is difficult to get a good color for both.

1 urban chickens back

Back when choosing solids, I chose the verbina because it appeared in a couple of the prints in small amounts. You can see that better in the detailed shot.

1urban chickens detail.jpg

I had debated several quilting possibilities: an overall floral pattern that I have done before (here), something like the first Urban Chicken quilt where I did the white in white thread (here), quilting it down so the triangles would puff up, and an overall meander. I ended up with the latter and think it works fine. It is certainly also the quickest.

And the glam photo

1 urban chickens scenic closer

Quilt history:


Design Decisions

Michele Freedman’s pattern here so you can make one too.

Linking with TGIFF 11/29/19


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Back to the Books

An American MarriageAn American Marriage by Tayari Jones

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading this book all the way through.

I love the guts of the title; in today’s society where white is considered normal and universal, to name a novel about black characters An American Novel shows confidence. The title is apt in another unfortunate way. The novel is about what a black man being in prison does to a marriage, a distinctly American problem with our justice system rigged against black men. But the novel never gets preachy about it.

Alternating sections by each of the three characters in a love triangle accomplishes two things. First, it allows us into the motives and feelings of each, such that I really cared about each and wanted the best for them. I could see why each man “deserved” the woman and why she might just take neither. Secondly, it controlled the pace of the novel in a delightful way, dangling the final decision until almost the final word–every option taking its turn to seem the probable one, every option seeming possible if not acceptable. For once the real ending was appropriate and fulfilling.

(view spoiler)

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Urban Chickens #2, Design Decisions

It turns out that I’d not have had enough fabric for the 3 1/2-inch square version I mentioned before (here) either. It was a math error from the beginning of planning. I would have enough with the new solids and using the backing fabric for the front. But I’d lose the blended look that I’d had in mind originally. Not the end of the world, but . . .

I also liked Louise’s suggestion to make bird blocks different from the pattern rather than making all squares larger. However, the repeat was too close for 6 1.2-inch squares. Ah, but 5 1/2 worked fine. And 10-inch finished blocks would also work well. And I could get 42 3-inch squares from each fat quarter instead of 30 1 1/2-inch squares. And that made a big difference.

The big ah-ha came when I realized I could make all the “chickens” the same color instead of following the pattern’s color plan. (Michele Freedman’s instructions are here, in case making the block interests you.)

So I made 3 x 4 piece blocks and a bunch of “chickens” to test layouts.

1 plan A

Plan A

I didn’t make the total number, just enough to test, so use your imagination to fill in the upper left. I was a little afraid that Plan A would be too dark, so also tried another layout.

1 Plan B

Plan B

It didn’t take me long to decide I liked Plan A; Plan B was just too pink.

So I made 20 more teal “chickens” and started assembling.

1 urban chix 2 top

41 x 41

It amazes me how regular the triangle blocks tended to be even though I  was going for “wonky.”  I had to consciously think “left,” “right,” “skinny,” “tall,” “squat,” as I made the blocks. I found it easier to cut white rectangles instead of working from a strip as in the directions. Some were 2 inches wide, some 3. Some 4 inches long, some 4 1/2, some 5, the latter for the sharply angled “chickens.” (I will get quite a few 1 1/2-inch squares from the trimmings.)

And the back.

1 urban chix 2 back

I’d asked for only a yard of backing fabric because I  wanted to use as much of the left over fabric as possible in piecing the back. And I did well. This is all that was left of the Marble Tan “Picnic” prints.

1 left overs

I used 5 fat quarters of the prints, 1 3/4 yards of white, and about 1/3 yard each of Paintbrush Solids teal and verbena. I will use an additional half-yard of either of the solids for binding.

On to pin basting and quilting. (One way to keep tops out of the to-bee-quilted black hole is to have a deadline. )

Linking with Let’s Make Baby Quilts.



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