Tag Archives: Design Wall Monday

The Last Top from the Purple and Yellow Block Lotto

The last top from the oldest set of lotto block winnings is assembled. Oh, I may have older lotto blocks, but not whole sets. I’d assemble what I could and the blocks that didn’t play well got set aside. But this whole purple and yellow batch got set aside–each grouping needed one thing. Sometimes I knew what it was, but other times I didn’t. Just “something.”

Such was the case with this last one. I had eight blocks and needed nine. I had a preliminary arrangement (link here) but had not decided on the center. As I pondered it, nothing seemed right. I kinda wanted that Hole-in-theBarn-Door block in the center since it was the most different with its lavender.  But I wanted dark purple against the yellow of the other blocks.

From the get go I had put the yellow stars with purple background in the corners, just because there were four, I suppose. It took a long time to realize that detail too could change.  Have you ever had one feature fixed–and barely realized you were making it non-negotiable? I finally got around to trying the What If?

Rearranged blocksYes, that block with lavender did look better in the center. And the two blocks with aqua centers looked better farther away from each other. And I had fabric I could use to make a partner to the block with the plain center. So I got to work.

I am interested in the upper-right corner block. I find it interesting that it has exactly the same shapes as the Saw-Tooth-Star block, arranged slightly differently and the color changed for the two corner squares. (I checked my trusty Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns–Barbara Brackman attributes it to Nancy Page, who called it “Indian.”)

I also find it interesting what one change will do in a setting.  When I assembled the blocks I turned the upper right corner block, and it made the whole top look more coherent.

Top assembled and borderedSo here is the final look. It became a little more dizzying–not quite optical illusion–when the points actually touched. Who would think that losing the 1/4-inch seam allowance would change the look that much from the trial layout? I chose the lavender border so the center block was not so alone. And I’ll bind it in the teal to relate to the two corner blocks. Someday.

And now to link up with Design Wall Monday. Join the fun.



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If Your Only Tool Is a Hammer…

Most of my sewing time this weekend was devoted to the Modern Quilt Guild’s Riley Blake Basics Challenge. The fat quarters were distributed around September, and I got right to work. (Blogged about it here.)  I set it aside till I could practice Free Motion Quilting because I had “plenty of time.”

No longer do I have plenty of time, and I didn’t get enough practice to feel comfortable with FMQ on the whole quilt, so out came the walking foot. Straight line quilting couldn’t take too long, could it? Three days later, I decided it could.

Quilt top with quiltingAnd a better shot of the quilting

Quilting detail

What added the time was my decision that I didn’t want gray thread on the yellow or orange prints. After I spent eons trying to figure out a continuous line route, I decided it was impossible. Actually I spent less time with the stops and starts and hiding the knots than I spent trying to avoid them.! Next time I won’t think so long (though it is always good to do as much without a thread break as possible–in case my non-quilter friends want to know what’s the big deal).

I still have some time, though not plenty, so I will practice pebbles and do FMQ in the empty triangles and in the big aqua block. I seem to have the best luck with the pebbles design of my FMQ repertoire, so it is good that it is the one I want. (Or is it a case proving the African proverb: If your only tool is a hammer, all your problems look like nails.????)

Linking up with Design Wall Monday and WIP Wednesday (button to right)–check out other peoples’ projects.


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A Different Approach to Design (for me)

It all started with diving into my scraps to make kits for a charity. Some vintage red, yellow, and blue calico prints landed together on the table.

Now I don’t do much strip piecing and in the past did garment sewing, so my scraps are odd sizes and shapes. I decided to cut the largest possible, then keep cutting smaller till the scrap was used up. (Yes I saved some bits for crumbs later.)

Then I started to arrange the pieces on the design wall.

R Y B startI had two ways to go: design whatever size my scraps would make or pick a size and add solids (of which I have plenty). I started planning for adding solids, but it was too hard to visualize the end result.

Two things made designing by layout difficult: the odd way they “fit” because of added seam allowances–I lost track of real sizes and seam lines, and the blank spots. So I moved to graph paper and sketched options. To do this I had to commit to a size.

The above photo is one of the options–for a doll quilt 20 x 20.  I arranged the pieces I have according to the plan and counted up what I needed.  I can trim down some unused larger pieces and finish it mostly with scraps. The only addition will be a 2-inch border and the back.

Check out other peoples’ design walls at Patchwork Times.


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An All Day Block

Indian Summer quilt block

12 x 12

This is how I kept out of trouble today.

I’ve been exploring a variety of group quilting options, most recently a Bee. A Bee has 12 members, and each month one,the queen bee, chooses the block that the others make. This Indian Summer block was chosen for October. The queen bee sent enough fabric that we could choose colors, plus we could add. I added the darker orange and didn’t use two shades of yellow. It still has the paper backing, so it isn’t lying flat.

Do you like group projects?  What kind? Of the group approaches to quilting that I’ve tried, I like two and don’t like two.

I have tried mystery quilts three times.  Not for me.  I like to design and to modify designs.  Even with good instructions, it is hard to select fabrics for a project that is revealed only in small bits. I always wish at least one fabric had been placed differently.

I don’t think I’ll continue with the Bee beyond my initial commitment.  The good things are that it expands skills because someone else is doing the choosing. I’ve now done two paper pieced blocks, something I never choose on my own.  And I can imagine doing a block for someone and deciding to do a quilt from it for myself. But again, someone else is in control of the design. I had other projects that would have interested me more today.

Gathering around a quilting frame to hand quilt and visit is how I began quilting.  From observation of tops we quilted, from discussions of design, from looking at tops brought for show and tell, I gained knowledge about quilt design and technique. The only downsides are that it takes space and requires attendance at a specific time and place.

My favorite remains round robins.  They expand my horizons and I get design challenges.  And it is time to go work on the second round for my November robin.  After looking at the piece for a week, I now have a plan…

Check out design walls at Judy’s blog–some people did more than one block.

ETA link to free pattern on Craftsy


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Doll quilts start

After thinking quilty thoughts during my vacation and after a week to resettle, it is time to get to projects, especially those with due dates. Both my guilds are making doll quilts for the Oregon Ballet to sell during performances of the Nutcracker, and the quilts are due at this month’s meetings.

Improv fabric

Improv fabric

When I mentioned ballet related doll quilts, a friend who was making a pink and yellow quilt offered her cutaway pieces. I like making improv fabric, so it was a good place to start.

How random are you when you make improv fabric? I find it hard to just grab and sew. I also wonder at what point to measure and trim. I hate to waste time making more than I need, but find the constant measuring annoying. I also get annoyed when a particularly good combination gets trimmed off in making the needed shape.

I’m thinking to make hearts and stars. Every child who takes ballet thinks about being a star, and hearts are always in favor.

heart quilt blocks

So I have some blocks made and need to decide on sashing (pink, yellow, or aqua). A larger heart block will get borders. And if I have time I’ll make some star blocks.

There are more doll quilts in my near future.  Members of my traditional quilt guild have been asked to fill a gap created by the death of a member who used to make 500 each year.  I plan to make five and hope to make ten. They will be due at the December meeting–that’s “plenty” of time, eh?

Check out what others have on their design walls.


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Urban Chicken and Other Quilt Blocks

I missed the Portland Modern Quilt Guild party, but happily I got the pattern. I like the block and the name really tickles me. I’d recently heard Weeks Ringle in a Craftsy class say that modern quilts should reflect modern times, and we don’t live in log cabins.  With that in mind, Michelle Freedman’s Urban Chicken name and design seemed especially apt. I foresee several quilts from this pattern in my future.

Urban Chicken

Urban Chicken 12 x 12

Go to Michelle’s tutorial (link above) to see the layout for a quilt since at the moment I have only two blocks. I’m also wondering, what if I do something other than monochromatic color scheme? . . . I’ll probably try. These two blocks are headed to Sunshine’s Block Lotto along with a traditional pair.

four patch

Four-patch in a four patch

I still like traditional quilts as well as modern ones. And I do like log-cabin patterned quilts even if we don’t live in them any more. The theme this month for the Lotto is bright colors. When I first started making quilts for Sunshine Online Guild, I didn’t have enough bright colors.  That is no longer a problem!

Disappearing four-patch

8 x 8

In addition to online guilds, I ‘m in local guilds as well. Northwest Quilt Guild also has a block of the month. This year we will do the same pattern each month, changing the colorway. This month was Asian themed fabric with a neutral. I didn’t think I had any Asian themed fabric, but I  found some when I was making kits to take to a retreat. This one starts as a four-patch block, then gets cut four times and reassembled.

Back to modern design: I am also in a Bee, and this month the Queen Bee wants two feather blocks. One is finished.

Feather block

16 x 8

This one is an Anna Maria Horner design and quite fun to do.  I’ve been adding to my solid colored fabrics, so finding the variety was easy.  I especially enjoy having hues that are close to each other–and used a couple here. Back to making that second block.

See what others are working on at Judy Laquidara’s Design Wall Monday.


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Charity Blocks from Guild

I picked up a packet of charity blocks selected from previous block-of-the-month patterns and put them up on the design wall to think about.
five blocksI had enjoyed making the BOMs so was happy to get the kit of five of them and three fabrics. The one fabric is such a large print that  I am thinking of enlarging the block and working that into the design. (I know it is okay also to cut into a large print –can give a nice effect as well.) I’m not planning on a diagonal strip, but placed them that way so all would fit on my design wall. I’d need to make three more of the 12 x 12 blocks to get to a good length for a twin sized top plus additions on the sides to get to sixty inches wide. I have plenty of scraps, but will have to ponder the background.

Here is the link to the directions in case you are also intrigued by the block.


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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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Ohio Star Border

I have abandoned the plan for four lotto blocks mentioned in the previous post. Although I had a nice big piece for backing, I didn’t have enough other fabrics to extend the five blocks to 40 x 60. So I started to think square.

Ohio Star quilt plan

I extended the saw tooth star to “partner” with the Ohio Star. I was thinking of doing “something” with the hourglass block, but browsed Sally Collins’ Borders, Bindings & Edges and found this Ohio Star border.

I didn’t have enough light for background, so shifted to dark. That was getting too dark so I added the red center square.  From this trial, I can see that using only two fabrics on this border would really simplify the construction.

Normally I make up my QSTs and then lay out the quilt. However, this time I needed to be sure I’d calculated the number of all-red and the number of red-plus-blue QSTs correctly before stitching.  My first thought had been to alternate blocks with light and medium stars. But duh! The star blocks share one QST strip.  Maybe making a QST with one of each would work. It did till the lower left when in order to get the reds in the correct position, I had to ignore which light fabric was paired with it. Note to self: QSTs are directional.

So now I have to play before stitching. I don’t want all the irregularity in one spot, so I have to make it look like irregularity is what I had in mind all along. And a second issue. I do have some aqua (now looking quite green) shades that I had intended to use, but abandoned.  Their absence makes the “green” in the center look abandoned. I’ll have to think on that. Whatever I end up doing will be fine because the kids don’t care.  Charity quilts are a good way to experiment in design as well as to practice free-motion quilting.  It will go to Sunshine for WAS when finished. (Link to Sunshine blog on the right)


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A Finish and a Kickstart

The turtle triathalon fabric from a week ago Sunday has become a finished top. It would have been finished sooner if I hadn’t taken three days to reorganize my stash.

turtle quilt top

I ended up leaving the pieces as is and playing with irregular placement. I don’t think I saved any time that way, but I rather like the effect.  It was meant to be a quilt to practice free motion quilting on.  It has two problems for that: solids show quilting and the high contrast means that either I’ll change thread (which I hate) or the quilting will show on one color or the other. Not a great practice piece. I’ll repeat my mantra, the kids don’t care, as I quilt it.

I had a yard of the solid and this is how much was left.scraps left over I was holding my breath till I saw I had enough to get to 40 x 60, the size I had decided on making. I guess I’ll have to rethink my purchase amounts when I am buying without a plan in mind.

More exciting than the finish is that I won the lotto blocks for March, color requirement–green. I have some left over blocks from a previous winning when the assigned color was “brights” that I knew I could probably mix with them, so I was especially hoping for a win this time around. So I have been playing with arrangements. I started with the greens.

Lotto blocks 1

I think these will work together. The blocks are 12-inch square, so I’ll add sashing and border to get it up to size.Not sure what color/colors I’ll be using yet–bright blue maybe.  Then I mixed the greens and brights for two more layouts.

lotto greens and brignts 1

lotto green and bright layout 2I have a new bright orange that I think will work with these two. Tomorrow I will dig in the newly organized stash and see if my re-sorting has made it easier to find fabrics to use! And of course, I will rearrange them a time or two before I start sewing.  I do enjoy playing with a mix of blocks and working to make a unified quilt that looks like it was planned from the start. I like the head start that comes with having the blocks already made.

The resulting quilts will go to Sunshine, an online charity quilt guild.

Linking up with Design Wall Monday–the other linky parties have buttons to the right.


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