Friday, December 31, 2010

Stacking (Quilt) Blocks

Sophie's Stacks Block #3This 10 inch block (finished size) is my variation on the traditional Chinese coins quilt pattern.  Each block is unique as you decide how evenly (or not) you will stack the fabric coins.

I'm calling it "Stacks."

It's a great scrap-buster and is easily made from 2-1/2 inch wide noodles or jelly rolls.

For the January Block Lotto, we are making this block in scrappy bright fabrics–solids, tone-on-tones, hand-dyes, batiks, plaids, florals, novelties, geometric or any kind of prints with a white background.


All the pieces you need for this block ar 2-1/2 inches wide.

For one block you'll need:

10 white (background) rectangles cut 2-1/2 by 3 inches
5 different bright (focus fabrics) rectangles cut 2-1/2 by 8 inches

  1. Sew a white background rectangle to each end of each of the strips of focus fabric.  Press all seams toward the focus fabric.

    Sew Background rectangles to each side of each strip

  2. Arrange your stack--do NOT line up any of the seams ... and you won't have to worry about matching them when you sew the rows together.

    Arrange your "Stack"

  3. Sew your stack together as you have arranged it.

    Sew the strips together as arranged

  4. Trim your block to 10-1/2 inches square, making sure there is at least 1/2 inch of white background on each side of the bright strips.

    Trim block to 10-1/2 inches square
Example Blocks

Here's a bunch of stacks made by some of the Block Lotto sneak peekers--more than you would need to make even a California Kingsize bed quilt.

For a closer look at the individual blocks, check out my flickr set Bright Stacks.

Thanks to Benta, Caroline, Cathy, Debbie, Julie, Kate, Laurina, Maree, Mary Jane, Michelle, Rho and Sara for the photos of their blocks.

Monday, December 27, 2010

15 more seconds of fame ... for the Block Lotto

I knew it was planned for the February 2011 issue of Quilter's World magazine and lately I heard from some friends that they had seen it.

I raced around looking for a copy yesterday and struck out, but when the quilt shops opened today, I made a call and found it.

The Block Lotto blog is mentioned in the side bar of page 10 in the From the Editor pages.

I feel like a proud parent.

As a nice side effect, a little original quilt I made (for the blog badge) is in print ;-)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Doll Quilts and Roses and Santa, my postman

In quilting, for me, one project often sparks interested in another, especially when it's been a while since any serious quilting--it's like I forget much fun and fulfilling it is when I make/take the time to do creative things.

Lost & Found - BackAfter I finished the I-Spy play quilt, I couldn't resist finishing up the "lost" doll quilt I found during my hunt for the walking foot ... and christening it with a new name, Lost & Found. I will be mailing it today to Kate, but here's a teasing shot of the back of the quilt.

When I found the quilt in progress, there were some other quilt blocks I intended to send to Kate along with the quilt ... I know she's already made quilts from some of those blocks, so I think I will have to find another home for them, but a little gift I intended to send years ago, will also finally be on it's way. 

Trouble's Twin - completed topFinishing that project led me to pull out another doll quilt project--a second miniature Irish chain, made from blocks left over from Double Trouble, a doll quilt made for Terri and finished at the end of January.  My quilt, Trouble's Twin has wider simplified borders, but will have miniature feather wreaths, just like those that caused me so much trouble almost a year ago.  I guess that even though I haven't quilted much during 2010, I've become more fearless ;-)

Over the past week, my mailman has seemed a little like Santa.  Bringing me a couple packages of things I've won in Blogland (Frieda Anderson's book, Fabric to Dye For from Dragon Threads, and  some great IKEA fabric from One Red Robin).  Even though it was pouring rain on Christmas Eve when both packages arrived and the mailman could have just left a note in my box, he made the trip across the complex, down the stairs and to my door to deliver them.

He's also been delivering these beautiful rose blocks that friends in the Block Lotto group have been making for me.  I have a quilt in mind that will use these plus the word blocks I won in February ... and they are all helping me get a lot closer to "done."

All the Rose blocks

Johnny was "helping" when I put them on my temporary flannel-backed tablecloth-as-design wall by pouncing on my hand from the other side each time I pressed a block into place ... and later, here, coming out from his hiding place to make sure he was in the photo.

These blocks were made by Caroline, Ginny, Janet, Kathie, Laura, Mary Jane and Michelle.  I don't know how they all found the time during this busy season, but they did and I just love the blocks.

A Biennial Christmas Eve Event?

The way things turned out, a larger space at the storage place was available (I've been on a waitlist since May) and the deadline for moving out of the old space and into the new one was Christmas Eve.

I couldn't help but feel a little déja vu and remember unpacking my UHaul truck on Christmas Eve two years ago.   I hired movers to unpack back then, but this year, I schlepped the things I had in storage myself.  Beside the person working there, I was the only person in the building ... which was a good thing because, as it turned out, everything had to move from one end of the long building to the other end--at least both spaces were on the same floor.  Here's the scene,  2 years ago ago in Dallas and 2 days ago.

Unloading on Christmas Eve A new Christmas Eve Tradition?

I guess it's true--the more things change, the more they remain the same ... but I'm hoping this does NOT become a Christmas Eve tradition for me ;-)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Found Objects

Found ObjectI must have dreamed about it, because I woke up knowing where to find the lost walking foot. Hurray!

I don't think I have ever really adapted to life without a sewing room and I keep changing my ideas about the best place for my machine and sewing things to live ... I am already looking forward to my next move and dreaming of having studio space again.

In the meantime, the I-spy quilt has been washed and labeled and given it's final inspection by Grace Hopper.

Final inspectionI also finished the other found object-the long lost doll quilt . . . which you can almost see in the background behind Grace.

I'm going to wait until after the holiday to take it to the post office and send it on it's way ... and avoid all the express mail shoppers hoping to get their gifts where they are going on time for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My 15 Seconds of Fame

Do you see my little quilt, Hanging On - The Last Leaf, in the first frame of this trailer for Ami Simms appearance on The Quilt Show and the debut of AAQI's new traveling exhibit, "Alzheimer's Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope"

In the way a parent recognizes their child with a quick glance, I recognized my little quilt (the first from the left) during the split second it was on screen and filled with pride for being part of this effort.

If you click the image, it will take you to the YouTube video--it was too wide to embed in the blog.  AND you can see the whole show HERE–it's free on The Quilt Show site until the end of the year.

Two Years Later ...

I realized yesterday that exactly two years ago,  I began my 3-day trip in a UHAUL truck for my move from Michigan to Texas. I  was on the road in snow and ice and temperatures so cold I delayed stopping for gas until absolutely necessary because the wind chills were -30 and -40 degrees below zero (F).

How I travelled

I remember how I didn't stop and eat in restaurants because I was afraid the truck would cool off too fast and too much and my cats would freeze.

The last two years have been quite the sometimes scary roller coaster ride and I suspect my adventure is not yet over.

Breakdown on I-96
As on many kinds of anniversaries, it's natural to look back ...  and ahead.

As I think about the road I've traveled since those three days in that rental truck, I find myself feeling that sometimes simply surviving can be celebrated as an accomplishment.

A friend yesterday said it was wonderful that at the end of this year, "everyone" has a job ... referring to me and two other friends who were unemployed or underemployed earlier this year.  I, too, am grateful that the three of us now have real work and am mindful of all those still out there on the road.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lost and Found

I-Spy Play QuiltMy plan for quilting this I-Spy quilt was a simple cross-hatch over the squares, with something figurative in the borders. But when I was ready to quilt it last weekend, I realized I haven't seen my walking foot since the move from Dallas to Austin in July and had NO IDEA where it could be. Ugh ... could really have been lost in the move?

As I double checked in some storage boxes that contained some miscellaneous sewing and quilting related stuff, I didn't find the walking foot, but I did find something else ... that I had given up as lost in my move from Michigan to Dallas. An almost finished doll quilt that I carefully packed away 2 years ago was found. (No photos yet as two years later, I still want it to be a surprise for the friend who was told long ago that it was gone, gone, completely lost.)

I modified my quilting plan for the I-Spy quilt and free-motioned the whole thing with an unmarked pattern on the squares and a marked flowers and leaves pattern in the borders. I also finished the last of the quilting on the doll quilt. And last night, when I couldn't sleep--for some reason I can never sleep when there's a full moon--I finished sewing down the binding on both quilts.

Why do I think that as soon as I go buy another pricey Bernina walking foot, the old one will be found? Maybe, in the meantime, I'll just practice more free-motion quilting.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like ...

December in Austin

It's beginning to look a lot like AUTUMN around here . . . and I find myself re-writing lyrics to popular holiday tunes. It all started after I read this blog post by a Texas author whose version of The weather outside is PLEASANT . . . seemed just so perfect.

Today, on the first day of WINTER, the weather experts are predicting a high in the 80's.

I confess that I miss the snow a little--though definitely not shoveling it or driving in it or none of the other ugly, cold, dangerous aspects of a real winter.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday Night Sew-in at the Honey Bee

UFO Night at Honey Bee QuiltsNancie, a friend from the Liberated Quilters yahoo group told me about the Honey Bee Quilt Shop and UFO nights there. I was thrilled to find out that the shop is a 10 minute drive from where I'm working--close enough for a lunch run ... if I really need something. In fact, I made a lunch run on Friday to check for a new issue of a magazine and to check if I was going to be able to move up off the waiting list for UFO night.

What a nice bit of synchronicity that it was the same night as the Friday Night Sew-In ;-)

This time, my sew-in was the literal, in person variety.  It was great to meet quilts in my new area and see what everyone was working on.  The store had just hung all the samples for their new classes and new $5 quilt (aka Five at the Hive). I faded earlier than most and left around 11 PM.  But I did get to see at least one UFO "finish."

Nearly finished Detail of Bevo

The color in the detail photo of Bevo (the UT mascot) on the right is very washed out, but you CAN see how great he is--don't you love how one of his horns reaches out into the churn dash blocks?

I spent the time getting to know the regulars and working on this month's lotto blocks--tree pairs in jewel tones with black:

Sophie's Trees

I also took some in-progress photos of how I made my tree block pairs. You can find them, with my notes, here:  Adding Complexity to the Free-style Tree Block.

My phone (in the pink wrapper) was out because I was using it to show the ladies all the other great tree blocks that have been made so far.  If you're curious, you can see them here.

Edited to add that the Honey Bee Quilt Store has added some nice photos of Becky's Longhorn Quilt on their blog.

Adding Complexity to the Simple Tree Block

If you surfed past the Free-style Tree blocks because you thought they weren't interesting enough on their own . . . consider adding a few boughs, using the drawing with your rotary cutter technique to add some complexity and interest.  I also liked the idea of making a mix of trees with varying complexity and height.

Sophie's Trees

These are my tree block pairs for the December 2010 block lotto. They are 6.5 inches wide (to finish at 6) and 6.5, 9.5 or 12.5 inches tall (to finish at 6, 9, or 12)

The technique is a variation of my Free-style Tree blocks.  Here's how.  For each pair of trees, I started with two pieces of fabric, 8 inches wide and as tall as my target size plus 2-3 inches.  So, for the yellow/black tree pair (which will finish at 6 by 12), my rectangles were cut at 8 x 15 inches. For my 6 x 9 blocks, my beginning rectangles were 8 x 12 inches.  And for the  inches squares, I began with 8 inch squares.
  1. Begin by stacking your two fabrics evenly and making horizontal cuts.  Use a ruler so the seams will be straight (and easy), but they don't have to be perfectly horizontal.  I tended to make the top and bottom sections a little larger because I knew I would be trimming a little at the end when I cut my blocks to size. The number of cuts you make will determine how many side-ward pointing "boughs" your tree will have.
  2. "Draw" the appropriate part of the tree in each section:
    • 2 vertical cuts in the bottom section form the trunk
    • a triangle in the top section to form the top of your tree--be sure to leave a lot of "sky" at the top if you want to avoid losing the point
    • wedge shapes--shorter on the top edge than the bottom and slanted on the sides--in the middle section(s)
    Stack 2 Fabrics and Slice Draw your tree
  3. Swap the fabrics in the tree sections to create your trees.
  4. Sew the block together by first sewing the pieces in each "row."
  5. Swap top and bottom fabrics Sew rows
  6. After each row is sewn, trim the top and bottom edges even. You can leave trimming the top and bottom of the block until later.
  7. Trim edges
  8. Sew the sections of tree together.
  9. Sew rows together
  10. Square up and trim to your target block size. (For my block, 6.5 x 12.5 inches.
  11. Square up block
Click here for a look at many more examples of the "Jewel-tone Forest" quilters have made for the block lotto--if you're interested in joining us, there's still time.  The deadline is December 31.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Sampler Quilts - Love 'em or Hate 'em?

This month is "Quilter's Choice" for the Block Lotto.  In recent years the winners of Quilter's Choice months have made some really beautiful sampler quilts.  I know that they aren't everyone's cup of tea, but I think that sampler quilts with an interesting setting are beautiful.

For my blocks this month, I decided to remake some of my favorite lotto blocks from year's past--from 2001 to 2010.

Sophie's Block #3This little girl with the big hat and long legs is a variation on the "boomerette" Julie designed when we made the traditional Oklahoma Boomer blocks, in July 2009.

This month's guidelines ask quilters to to put an 8 inch purple and white block of their choice on point, adding scrappy strings to the sides to create setting triangles, finishing with a 12 inch block.

Sophie's block #4This house is another variation of an original block, the Amish Houses we made in November of 2008.

I rotated the paper foundation and stretched the house to make it taller to fill the 8 inch block. I still love this minimalist house block design of mine.

For this month, our block choices may be traditional or liberated blocks.  I ended up playing with a little bit of everything, from hand appliqué to paper foundation piecing.

Below are a variation of Polka Dot, from December 2009, Laced Star, from February 2003, and a "double" double 4-patch, from January, 2007.

Sophie's block #2 Sophie's block #8 Sophie's block #5

As much as I enjoyed my trip down Block Lotto memory lane, I couldn't resist making a new block, Posy (from the Quilter's Cache Site), along with a re-sized Double Wrench from August 2003 and last month's liberated Variable Star.

Sophie's Block #6 Sophie's Block #7 Sophie's Block #1

My links go to the photos of the lotto blocks which inspired my choices. If you're interested in tracking down the patterns for any of the blocks, you can find them in the Block Pattern list on the Block Lotto blog . . . along with those for every other lotto block we've made since January 2002.

I really intended to have SOME sort of actual design wall in place this week so I could post an actual design wall photo for Judy's Design Wall Monday, but it still hasn't happened.  I picked up a flannel backed tablecloth today because it has been making me a little crazy to work without one.

As a consolation to those who followed the link from Judy's blog, I offer you this virtual design wall of the lotto sampler blocks made so far by the sneak peekers (who received an advance look at the November guidelines.)

block #4Janet'e 
Block #1Linea's 
Block #2Sophie's 
Block #6
block #1Sophie's 
block #2Linea's 
Block #3Maree's 
block #3
block #8Caroline's block #6Caroline's block #4Maree's 
block #2
block #2Caroline's block #3Sophie's 
block #5Kim's block 
Caroline's block #5Sophie's 
Block #3Linnea's 
block #1Kim's block 
block #3Sophie's 
Block #7Ginny's 
block #1Maree's 
block #1
Caroline's block #2Kim's Block #4Kim's Block 
#3Caroline's block #1

This virtual quilt contains my blocks, as well as those from Caroline, Christina, Ginny, Janet (S), Kasey, Kim, Linnea and Maree. Click any of the individual block photos to find out who made it and for a better look.

If you love sampler quilts, too, you might want to come join us this month ;-) 

 If you haven't yet checked out the "design wall Monday" around blog land, you can still enjoy the eye candy--check out the links at the bottom of Judy's blog post.
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