Tag Archives: challenges

“Made Fabric” and Charity Top

quilt topHere is another starter from the deep past. It was part of the Multiple-of-Three challenge that brought me about three groupings of blocks. These were unified by the cute blue bug print, and they played better together than with others. At present it is 24 x 36 and needs to be 40 x 60. I have three more blocks–can’t make a row, nor can I do cornerstones for a border, but I will do SOMETHING.

I think if I plan a pieced border for this quilt I can use the pieces as leaders and enders while I continue on the “made fabric” for the architecture quilt challenge. Meanwhile, I have started with these “crumbs”:

"Crumbs"     I spent much of yesterday afternoon starting to assemble them. In spite of having faithfully read “Fifteen Minutes of Play” blog, I’ve never sat down to sew these small pieces for 15 minutes because I’d not sorted the crumbs. Finally that sorting is finished.

For fun I timed the first fifteen minutes. Two small pieces is all I had completed.Beginning "made fabric"

I kept on sewing,  and after I laid out what I had so far,  I decided it would be wise to confirm the exact shape I’d be using and to make the background so I’d see exactly what would be next to what. “Random” isn’t really in my vocabulary.

Prints give me great difficulty when I am considering value. These are all “light” but certainly not the same. And since the values are not the same, I’ll have to be careful where I place the whiter pieces and the darker. I could rip out the outliers, but I think they will add interest. Looking at these, you’d never guess that my first plan was all solids. I had very few light solids, and light is the value I wanted. “Adapt” is in my vocabulary.








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What next?

After finishing a top with a pieced border (three posts back) and sorting my “crumbs,” I’m pondering my next project. First the crumbs.

sorted scraps

About a third through the project

“Crumbs” as in “gather up the crumbs.” Sunshine online guild (link to the right) got me started long ago. Everyone claimed it was a mindless relaxing thing to make up 3-inch or 6-inch blocks from them. They turned out some very nice blocks being random or sorting by brights or pastels, sometimes by color.  Then they created some cute settings for them.  Mine didn’t turn out so good, so I thought I’d try sorting by color.  I didn’t have enough to coordinate, so I set them aside. We won’t say how many years ago that was.  Now “crumbs” have some new names: “improvised fabric” and “made fabric” to name a couple. And I am working on the architecture challenge which requires some “made fabric” somewhere. That provided the motivation for the big sorting project.

I have a photo and a plan, so now there is nothing to stop me from starting to sew. I even have time after I browse Design Wall Monday.


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Architecture Quilt Design Challenge

I love it when a challenge comes up, and I have time for it! So when Victoria Findlay Wolfe blogged about designing a quilt from her window view and issued a challenge for us to design from architecture, I was all excited. I could devote time to it this month.

I planned to take photos on an architecture tour in Portland’s Old Town. Rain that day hampered my picture taking considerably, but I got a couple.

Theatre and Fountain    date and eves

Kells building

There is potential here, but a few sketches were not productive. I wanted to do a minimalist design and these ornate buildings were not lending themselves to it at all. Nor was I able to abstract enough to get from ornate to minimal. So I browsed some old photos of buildings and bridges. They were not very clear photos, so I figured I’d have to go and take some more. But I also was thinking I needed to get started designing and sewing. I went back to the instructions and had an ah-ha moment: The photo was a starting point; the building did not have to be recognizable.

I almost revisited the above photos, but then yesterday, while I was waiting for the bus, I looked up the street and started thinking design thoughts. So here is the photo that I will use. Not a spectacular building, just some ordinary apartments.

Street sceneSo as soon as I finish the Ohio Star border (last two posts), I’ll get busy on this project. Maybe you would like to play too–you have till July 5.






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A Very Quilty Day

Flock of Geese Quilt top

All those triangles are stitched together and the setting triangles cut out.  I have a setting triangle ruler, but the smallest it goes to is 6-inch blocks and mine are 5.  So I had to do the math. Not too big a problem with calculator in hand and the magic number 1.41.  Either multiply or divide by it.

Many of you already know how to do setting triangles, but some readers are newer. Old time quilters, skip this paragraph. For the side triangles, a square to be cut into quarter triangles is needed so that the straight grain fabric ends up on the outside edge of the quilt; for the corners a square to be cut in half is needed so that the two outside corner edges are the straight grain. My squares are 5 inches finished (5 1/2 unfinished).  For the side triangles I will need  to make a square equal to the diagonal of the finished block plus seam allowance.  To get the diagonal, multiply 5 by 1.41 then add 1 1/4 inch (another magic number to remember for making quarter square triangles –QSTs) for seam allowance.  My diagonal is 7.05–7 to be practical, plus 1 1/4. So I cut squares 8 1/4 and cut diagonally from corner to corner both ways. I needed two squares to make the 8 side triangles.  Moving on to the corner triangles. The diagonal of the square to be cut will be the measure of the finished quilt squares (5 inches). To see what size square to cut, divide the diagonal by 1.41 then add seam allowance; for half square triangles (HSTs) add 7/8 inch. Another magic number.  Five divided by 1.41 is 3.54 which I round to 3 1/2 and added 7/8, so I cut squares 4 3/8 inches, then make one cut diagonally from corner to corner.

I am surprised to see that I will be able to add two borders to enlarge the quilt without overpowering the middle. I think the reason it will work is that the border colors are so much lighter than most of the triangles. I had a pink I’d wanted to work in, but didn’t like it in any widths that I tried, even very, very narrow.

The second project for my quilty day was was to finish blocks for guild tomorrow. This is not procrastination…I have been thinking design thoughts since the Michael Miller neon fabric was handed out at last month’s guild meeting. First I played with the Design Tool at Threadbias.

Schematic of quilt block

Since it is a new fabric line, I didn’t have exact fabrics in my virtual stash, but chose the dot, which wasn’t neon at all, and colors as close as I could come to the solids. I made several designs, but chose this one to make. The next photo is the fabric version.

Fabric block from designI want to say that the light fabric is really yellow! I don’t know what my camera was “thinking.”  My direction changed between designing and sewing, but since I was making only one block, it didn’t matter. (I said “I designed…”; however, there could be a traditional block out there just like this. If anyone knows of one, do let me know its name and source.)

Then I had fabric left over, so I decided to make more blocks.  I thought to make stripes and then make a pinwheel with my “curves for squares” ruler. I’d really wanted the stripes to go around and not straight across, but didn’t have enough fabric to make two sets, so played around with layouts and ended up with this:

quilt block: curvy square-in-square

And then since I still had fabric, I began to play with made fabric and “slice and insert.”

abstract quilt block

I had really wanted one more black strip from the left, but the block was shrinking instead of growing, and I needed 12 1/2 x 12 1/2, so I stopped.  I can see that there is some new math to learn in order to know how large a piece to start out with. I also don’t think I’ll try the slicing again with defined lines–too hard to match them up on odd angles.


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Challenge and Lotto Blocks Completed

The Jacob’s Ladder blocks from a couple posts ago are stitched and so are the tedious Flock of Geese blocks.

Flock of Geese

Flock of Geese

That was a lot of triangles to trim. As I look at the four blocks, I am wondering if this version of “geese” came before the block we know call “Flying geese.” A little quilt history digging in my future (unless someone comments with the answer and saves me the effort).

Then I had to use up all the fabric sent to me.

a bit of border and a block

The leftovers

Since I couldn’t use it all in a block I made a strip of “piano keys” border. It may work into a quilt or not…can easily be shortened or lengthened.

And I made four blocks to become two entries in the March lotto–once again using the Jacob’s Ladder pattern with the March color of green.

Four blocks

Jacob’s Ladder–four blocks

I think it is time to work on a whole quilt instead of a block project, and it is also time to start practicing free motion quilting.

I didn’t have time to put a giveaway together for the current Blog Hop Michelle is hosting, but plenty of other people have–check it out.

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What could be more fun than quilting or knitting?

Baby watching, of course!


New grandson

He is about a week old here.  The times don’t last long where every yawn, smile, frown –even cry face–is cute. Enjoy it while we may…

So, not only did I not do quilting, but I didn’t do much of the planned knitting either.  I had totally forgotten how much time newborns take.  Also I had to cram cuddling in since I’d be there only a month.

And then I returned home to the design wall (previous post) with modifying ideas, so I haven’t begun that “starter” project immediately. Instead I am working on a Sunshine challenge. (Sunshine blog here). The challenge is this: One member sends out fat quarters or other amounts of fabric; we who receive them make blocks and send them back. S/he then assembles the blocks into tops, and in this case also quilts and binds them. My selections of fabric (the two prints) had arrived while I was away.

Jacob's Ladder quilt block

Jacob’s Ladder

I’ve used most of the darker print on four of these Jacob’s Ladder blocks; there is almost a half yard of the pumpkin print to plan. I like the planning phase (and when relevant, the hunting and gathering for fabric), but then the process feels “ho hum” until I get to the stage where I can lay out the block and actually see how my idea works. So I am ready to roll with this one. And there is a plan–using lots of half square triangles–for the remaining gray. Lots of “ho hum” cutting, marking, stitching, pressing, and trimming before I can get excited about that one.

I have pondered why these challenges work. I think there is something about the limitation of having to use one or two preselected fabrics that pushes design juices more than the overchoice of one’s whole stash. There is the obvious end: when the sent fabric is used up you are finished. And there is the sense of obligation.

I am guessing on the originator’s end, there is again the freedom from thinking through one’s whole stash and selecting a pattern, replaced by the use of the palette of blocks received. And the challenge of making blocks that were made by various people work together.

I’m linking up with WIP Wednesday; click the link to the side and check on what others are working on today.



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Why finish when you can start…

I suppose people with less of a capacity for UFOs would be finishing up something. And actually the “demanding” socks from two left overs are nearly finished and probably will be completed before the weekend is over. Meanwhile…

I am a member of an online Google quilting group called the Beehive, and we have a Swarm planned in the fall.  And we will be bringing blocks to raffle–each block is an entry.  The pattern comes from the Quilters’ Cache website and is called The Frugal Patch .

I am not sure how many blocks I will make; my online friends assure me that it is addictive, so I will probably make several.  Actually I am not being totally irresponsible.  I am following a suggestion to cut 15 minutes each day. I have enough scraps of design fabrics, but doubt I’ll be able to do the background from scraps.

I have a box of scraps that I have moved from place to place several times in addition to current scraps.  Maybe there are some background potentials there that I have forgotten about.

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Modern Mini challenge

I just learned of the Modern Mini challenge.  And it sounds like a lot of fun.  First you blog-hop to get inspiration, then you sew and then you enter to win fat quarters and some other cool stuff.

I have to get back into picture taking mode.  I’ve started blocks on the languishing golf quilt and finished some socks. So I’ve not been totally idle.  I’ve also done a lot of reading since I am auditing a class in cultural studies/critical theory. And I am reading the “everybody reads” book, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, noting places in Portland so I can go photograph them for another challenge.  I’ve not been inactive in life, just here.

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Home from Houston–quilt show strategies

The Houston International Quilt Festival was as large as I had been told it was; however, I was not as overwhelmed as I expected to be.  I guess it comes from knowing what I wanted to see and from pacing that.

Maybe you would like to see the winning quilts: http://www.quilts.org/winners.html  Their photos are better than mine, and some very exciting exhibits did not allow photography.

For this show I had two days. The program map made it very clear what exhibits were where, so I could go directly to my favorite categories.  Of course I look along the way. At first–as I usually start any quilt show–I started out reading each and every quilters’ comments.  I soon realized, as I usually do, that I had to speed up. So I went into down-the-middle-of-the-aisle mode. In that mode, I walk, glancing left and right, and only get into detail on the quilts that call to me.  Plenty of quilts yell! Thus I catch my favorites first, while I am still alert.  Any time that is left goes to the other categories and the vendors.

When I reach the chosen area, I slow down and give each quilt more individual attention. I always check out the Hoffman Challenge because I love to see the wild variety of quilts that come from one fabric.  The rules are that the fabric has to be used in a recognizable way on the top in more than the border.  I am always amazed at the designs where a quilter has taken a small motif of the fabric, cut it out, and appliqued it throughout another design, like one with a weeping flower tree. The flowers, about nickel size, were carefully cut from the challenge fabric and appliqued as the flowers on the tree.  Since I don’t applique, I also look to see if there are patchwork winners. There usually are a few. Every year I think I will make one myself.  I did once. Here is the URL for previous challenges and winners: http://www.hoffmanchallenge.com/past_challenges.html   The fabric for 2012 is pink and lavender roses: http://www.hoffmanchallenge.com/index.html We have until July 20, 2012 folks!

One thing always amazes me.  When I hit an area I have already viewed from a different angle, it is as though it has totally different quilts from the first viewing.  So I can enjoy an exhibit more than once.  In smaller shows, I often go around twice.  Here the double viewing came if I was with friends at a section I’d already viewed or if there were a section I had to pass to get from here to there.

This show could have used more chairs more randomly placed; however, they did have a “meet the teachers” section where there were continuous half hour presentations and nice seats.  I wandered there by schedule for presentations I wanted to see and when I needed to sit. The latter provided introduction to a variety of things I found interesting but would not have sought out.

Thank goodness for cell phones.  My friends and I could meet up for lunch and going home.  In between we did some viewing together and some on our own.  Both are great ways to see a show.

The vendor area is another kind of exhibit. This one I walked through quickly and again let a booth call to me. I was quite tempted by several: raincoats, kits, hand dyed fabrics.  But I didn’t do a lot for the economy this year. I am sure the vendors prefer shoppers to viewers like me.

Non quilt show aspects of a trip are interesting as well: accommodations, restaurants, local museums. It was great to have a local hostess who knew the restaurants. I will never forget The Red Onion. I ordered their specialty, Chicken Brazil, but it was a difficult choice–each looked so good. There was even one vegetarian offering and one meat-and-potatoes offering, so most anyone could be accommodated. Look at my entre

Chicken Brazil


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The quilt blocks arrived!

Yesterday I got a squishy in the mail; the yellow and purple blocks had arrived.  The project started with 8 blocks can now continue with 28. Last night I just looked at them over and over; today I started possible arrangements (after realizing I couldn’t photo all 28 at once).  My first step is to see how many I can combine into one top–old fashioned sampler style.

So here is the first pass at using 12 blocks.  The goal is quilt tops approximately 40 x 50 or 40 x 60.  This one will need a border–I’m thinking a warm brown.  I may switch a block or to also.

Next I look for duplicate blocks–I do tend toward symmetry. And similar degrees of contrast plus some similarity in shade of purple/yellow.  Sometimes also theme, for example these blocks are mostly all stars.  I don’t know yet what to do with the center space. I have enough fabric to make a fifth star like the four I submitted, but I think that might be too much; I may leave it plain and match it to the border. Whatever I do, it will be dark around the edges to contrast with the light blocks it will adjoin.  I may pick up the aqua of the two side stars in border and center–but it will have to be just the right amount.  I really like the stars adjacent to each other, so no sashing for this one. The 9-patch arrangement of 12-inch blocks gives only 36 x 36  so some bordering will be needed. Pieced or plain…no clue yet.  Maybe something including both the bright aqua and the medium purple in the bottom center block.

Then there are the more pastel blocks. I started with 9-patch arrangement. I think that is my default arrangement, and I have to remind myself that there are other options. So this one already morphed.

       After seeing these two photos, I realized   that I needed to get out of 9-patch arrangement mode.  So I played a bit more. After all that is what this stage is all about, arranging and rearranging before committing to sewing.

I like challenges where certain colors and/or themes are presented. Sometimes a limitation on how many fabrics one has to use/can add. I like to work within restrictions.  In block lotto the restriction is the number of blocks one gets. But there is no limitation to how many I can add. I can use just one block and add all around it; I can arrange like the first 12 and add next to nothing. So this challenge is wide open with just a few restrictions. At any rate, here is the rearrangement.

With this one there would be the most room to play with sashing and borders. I’m leaning toward something that will emphasize the pastels, but am not fully committed yet to any plan.

The next step will be to dig into my 12 boxes of fabric (yes they are labeled) for colors to work with. But I also like to let ideas germinate a while and the golf quilt has germinated long enough. So I think I will move to working on it.


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