Where Creativity Lurks

world wide web image.org

a picture of the connections of the World Wide Web, from here

We scan through page after page of blogs, fingers working the mouse, images flying by until one catches our eye.  Pinned! Now to Instagram, to Flickr, pictures and posts whizzing past —  double tap, double tap, scroll, scroll — everything at breakneck speed with us jotting a word here or there to add the chorus of wonderfuls.

Is this creativity in the universe of 500 followers? (This calls for a giveaway) 100 comments on a post (how can you read all of this?) Where you aren’t a success until you have the traffic to drive 2,000 other quilters’ eyeballs to your site, to buy your patterns, to buy your books.  Where we all strive to keep up with the intense and overwhelming pace of production out there in the world.

mountains_cloudsArctic mountaintops, from here

Austin Kleon has a wonderful image in the back of his book Show Your Work.  It’s a sketch of a series of mountain peaks, a faint line skimming the tops of those peaks like a caught line of clouds, or like the waterline showing those peaks to be islands poking out of an ocean, the mountains anchoring it to the sea floor, submerged.  Above that pencilled, horizontal line, he wrote “product.”  And below, “process.”

And it is in there, in those submerged depths or massive formations, where creativity emerges.  It can start with a sketch, a riff on someone else’s quilt, a pile of colored fabrics.  It has a thousand beginnings and a thousand endings, but it is the journey that counts. For what we see when rifling through our feeds several times a day is product, the tips, the peaks, the aha! moment after a long climb to the top, flag planted firmly on that product summit.

Sarah-Lewis-The-Rise-coverfrom here

Winston Churchill is reported to have said that “Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”  Scott Adams noted that “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”  Both of these quotes come from a book I’m reading on creativity and mastery written by Sarah Lewis: The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery. I sometimes need a break from the uber-sunshiney world of quilting, with quilt after quilt after project after quilt showing up on my reader or feed, especially if I’m in place where my own creativity is at a low ebb.

I love seeing beautiful quilts.  I love seeing the cumulative work that comes from thousands of hours of trudging up that mountainside.  But I try to also value those who show me a block, or a stack of fabrics, or those take a long time to get that quilt finished, label and all, for we are being creative, finding away to express ourselves as surely as if we had written a novel or painted a masterpiece.

Sherri of A Quilting Life wrote and asked if I would join her and others, writing about creativity.  Some questions to consider are:

  • What am I working on?
  • How does my work differ from others?
  • Why do I write/create what I do?
  • How does my writing/creative process work?

Or you can do what I did and let your creative juices run a while, and come up with something else.

Pineapple Blocks nine

tutorial for paper foundation pieced Pineapple Quilt Block is here

And since no quilt blog can publish a post without a quilt photo, one of the projects I’m currently working on is shown above.   If you write about creativity on your blog, please paste a link to your post into your comment so we can see what you are thinking.

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Occasionally my blog posts links and video below, so I can use this software for free.  I do not control the content.

Summer Report

What I Did This Summer
(And can it already be over??)

Kneaders Crab Sandwich

1. Went to Utah and ate a Crab Sandwich at a Kneaders Sandwich Shop

Beachy Maddy

2.  Went to the beach with my grandkids and two of my kids

puzzle

3. Entertained grandchildren with puzzles

Quilt Fort

4. Entertained grandchildren with forts made out of quilts (luckily I have a few)

Summer Guest Room

5. Put the lighter summer look in the guest bedroom, loving how it makes Kaleidoscope shine
(on the end of the bed is my friendship quilt, which includes signatures from all my granddaughters)

MCM July Bee Block

6.  Made a starry block for Susan for the Mid-Century Modern Bee in July

MCM August Bee Block

7.  Made my August Mid-Century Bee block for Mary

Pineapple Bee Bocks So Far

8. Been arranging the blocks that come in from my turn at the Always Bee Learning Bee.  Everyone must be on vacation, because they are dribbling in, little by little.  But I love to see them all together!

Zagreb Cathedral

9. Went to Zagreb (and Ljubljana and Dubrovnik–all in Slovenia and Croatia). . .

Budapest2

. . . and Budapest, Hungary.

Giveaway Banner

10. Hosted a giveaway!

I did the Random Number Generator thing and got #3, but Susan said she already had that book so not to consider her.

Book Giveaway

So I did it again, and Carly was the winner.  I’ll be in touch by email.

But I can’t let this go by without telling you all how thoughtful and interesting your comments were.  I like how you read each other’s and answered each other; I love seeing community in our quilty world.  It made me remember that I’m also inspired by quotes and sayings, as well as nature and other quilters.  I love how Harlan said that when the creative juices are clicking, “something new and needed is created.”  I appreciated Anne’s parsing out the difference between flat-out copying vs. being inspired by someone’s work.  All of you brought excellent ideas to the conversation and I wish I could give you all a prize.  You are all the best.  Hope you also had a good summer!

Inspiration. . . and a Giveaway!

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Nancy Crow Crosses Info

In the book I just finished reading, Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon, he writes that “Nothing is original.”  He quotes Jonathan Lethem who notes that “when people call something ‘original,’ nine out of ten times they just don’t know the references or the original sources involved.”  And in our quilt world, I see this all the time manifest in the copyright squabbles, the this-is-my-original-pattern-syndrome and it’s only a variation of a log cabin, the insistence by some in the modern quilt movement that they dreamed it all up — this modernist stuff, without any regard for where the idea first surfaced. . . and then resurfaced.  When I see this stunning quilt by Nancy Crow, made when many young quilters’ parents had not even started dating, I think, as did Kleon when he quoted the Bible, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

But Kleon goes on to say that this idea fills him with hope, rather than despair:  “As the French writer Andre Gide put it, ‘Everything that needs to be said has already been said.  But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”  Kleon encourages us to note where our influences come from.  I say, if you don’t know about some of the earlier quilters, try heading to the International Quilt Study Center and Museum and browse for a while.  Take a look at these early masters and be inspired.

Steal-Like-an-Artist-Kleon

To inspire you, I’m giving away a copy of Austin Kleon’s book, a small little treasure, perfect for some end-of-summer reading.  To win a copy, leave me a comment below and include a source of inspiration, whether it be another quilter, a photograph, an image, nature or something else–something or someone that provokes or triggers your spark of creativity.  Rather than just saying “nature,”  or “Michael James,” try to be specific, such as “the moment the sun drops to the horizon” or “Michael James’ ‘Aurora’ in his early work”  so that we can learn from each other.

I’ll announce the winner on my next post, and send you a gift card from Amazon so you can order it yourself; for this reason, it will work for international as well as domestic. Have fun, everyone!  This post will close on Saturday morning.

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Circles Block #3, EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

This month the block is a tad more difficult, but my primary motto on these things is “I Make The Mistakes So You Don’t Have To.”  Here we go.

Circles Block Three EPP

And where did the inspiration for this block, titled “Ljubljana” come from?

Ljubljana Serbian Church

From the Serbian Orthodox Church in Ljubljana, Slovenia, which is beautifully painted on the inside (see blurry photo below), and has rich colors and lots and lots of circles.  We recently visited that country, and my husband was under strict instructions to photograph any and all circles, so we gathered quite a few ideas.

Circles Block Three Inspiration

This is a detail of a larger picture, so that’s why it’s slightly blurry, but see that circle fifteen feet up there on the left, on the ceiling arch?  That’s where the inspiration for this one came from.  As usual, please read through the entire blog post before you begin.

Here are the two sheets of patterns, in PDF form: EPP #3A_OPQuilt   and EPP #3B_OPQuilt  As usual, you’ll need to print out several copies of each.

Printer Settings 100 percent

Please make sure your printer is set for 100% and is not scaled down, otherwise the pieces won’t fit together to form the correct diameter of circle.  (How do I know this to be a problem?  Call that my first rookie mistake on this process.)  I print out the number of sheets I need for each, then staple the stack of 3 or 4 or 5 together all over in the spaces.  ALL OVER, staples everywhere in between the pieces.  Then I can cut them out as a group without the paper shifting.

Fabric Selection

Choose your fabrics for your circle by laying them out so you can see the combinations up against each other.

Laying out Inner Diamonds

If the pieces have a certain direction or shape and I want to reproduce the picture above exactly, place the paper with the printing FACE DOWN on the fabric, then pin.

Layout Inner Arcs

If the pieces don’t matter (like the symmetrical small arc, above), you can place the pieces either printing UP or printing DOWN, or a mix.  I don’t care, nor should you. Notice that I just curve around them with my rotary cutter, as you don’t have to be so precise on that quarter-inch seam allowance for English Paper Piecing (EPP).  Just get sort of close to that quarter-inch, but not less than.  I pin through each of my pieces, then I fold over the seam allowances a side at a time and baste them down with that icky thread from the back of my sewing box.  (I’ve got to use it up somehow.)  I make sure the beginning knot and the ending tail are on TOP of the piece, not on the paper side.  This is good stuff to do while you watch Endeavor on television, or something (can you believe the ending on Season 2, Episode #4?  We’re still stunned).

Process 3_EPP

The basic idea of EPP is to sew your basted pieces together.  Begin by matching up a corner.  I slide my needle into the corner between the paper and the fabric seam allowance so my knot is buried inside.

Process 4_EPP

EPP is basically just a teeny overcast stitch.  Take only a thread or two on each side when sewing the sides of your shape together.

EPP3 Assembling

I sewed the first center together half-diamond shape by half-diamond shape.  (More on that first thing, later.)  Then sew all the shapes together.  But let me tell you about a cheater trick that will be helpful.

Take Two Center_EPP3

First seam together on your sewing machine the two fabrics for the diamond, then cut apart into segments (below).

Take TwoA_EPP3

Trimming SeamAllowances_EPP3

Before basting the fabric onto your paper shape, trim down the seams beyond the edge of the paper, where it will fall into the seam allowances of your shape.  I hope that doesn’t sound confusing; see above for illustration.  I’m just trying to get bulk out of the process and this won’t affect the structural integrity any.

EPP3_Basted Piece

It’s okay to let the corners extend.  No need to hammer everything down.

Take Two Center2_EPP3

Use pins as you need to to get control as the pieces get narrower.  I always take a double stitch at the end of my seam, then take the needle through the loop and draw it tight to secure.

Take Two Center3_EPP3

Yes, it will look like a volcano but we’ll be taking care of that later, so no worries.  I then sew the dark smaller arcs onto the circle of diamonds.

EPP3_Outer Ring

I stitch the left and the right sides together into groups of two. I have done this next part two ways.  One way is to sew groups of two onto the inner circle (you see them above in the background), then afterwards stitch the sides of those together.  Another way is to sew all the two-part shapes into a large circle, then attach that.  I use pins to keep the intersections lined up.

BAckside of Large Circles Block#3Everything sewn together, from the back.  I’m sure you noticed that this time I didn’t include the four corner pieces on the pattern.  I decided to try putting this on the backing a different way.  Take out all but the outer arc of papers.  Take out the papers by releasing the basting threads from the front, then popping out the papers from the back. You can see it in the photo below.

EPP3 Cutting Center Bump

Then, cut off your volcano top, or, as we call it around the sewing circle — the training bra effect.

EPP3 Cutting Center Bump2

Then trim out the center a little bit more.  Just not too much. I just want it to lay flat.

EPP 3 Circles Block Center Added

Pin your little circle on for the center.

EPP3 Adding Background

Fold a 14 1/2″  square of background fabric into quarters, then press to leave lines for placement.  Start pinning the circle to the backing, using the pressed lines to get it on straight and even.

EPP3 Trimming on outer circle

As you get to that place where all the seams come together, trim down the seam allowances like you did with the diamonds, getting rid of bulk to help the edge to lay flat. I pop out the arc papers one by one as I go.  Proceed carefully, trimming and pinning, and smoothing out the edge to create a nice circle.

EPP3 All pinned down to background

Using an appliqué stitch, attach the circle to the backing.

EPP3 Trimming out back

After stitching the circle on, trim out the backing, leaving a quarter-inch seam allowance.

EPP3 Center Circle Appliqued

Using a smaller-than-usual stitch, appliqué on the center.

EPP3 Center Circle More Trimming

Then turn it over and carefully cut away more of those volcano-y seam allowances, again leaving a quarter-inch seam allowance.  Press everything lightly, using steam.  There are a lot of pieces and a lot of grain lines to deal with, so you don’t want to kill the fabrics with too much handling, although the block is very sturdy.

Circles Block Three EPP

You’re done! And congratulations, it’s just as beautiful as the one in Slovenia.

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And now I’m going to tell about all the mistakes and problems I had, just so you know that I test sew each block before putting up the pattern.  If you have found places that need tweaking, please leave a comment and I’ll work on it.

Backside of First Draft_EPP3

I have actually sewn the block twice.  Here’s how the first one’s center ended–with a definite volcano center.  Actually more like a chrysanthemum, I think.  So I thought it was my pattern, or the way I did things, so I remade the yellow/orange diamonds, as described above, by seaming the fabrics together first.

Still Such a Mess_EPP3

I tried to smooth it out by twirling it with my thumb. Yeah, what a mess.

Oh What a Mess EPP_3Still a mess even though I sewed on the outer arcs.  What was needed was a design change, like adding the center circle to the design.  Even though the fine artists in Slovenia can paint the center of the circle to a distinct point doesn’t mean that fabric will allow us to do that.

So I took off all the outer little dark arcs, and started again.  Here comes the next mistake.  I got it all done, and cut the 14 1/2″ square for the backing and just about died when I saw that the hand-sewn EPP circle was tooooo big for the backing.  AAAGH!

EPP3B Circles Block Drawing

I went back to the pattern and measured, and sure enough, I’d drawn it too large. The yellow lines are the new re-drawn lines. I re-drew the pattern, re-cut all the outer pieces and arcs and started again, but used the first series of yellow/orange center diamonds, as I didn’t want to take apart the completed Ljublana Circle Block.

EPP3_Basted Piece Front

That’s when I hit on the idea of seaming the two colors together first to cut down on bulk.

EPP3B Better Center

But I still had that hump in the middle.  Still have to make a design change with the center circle.

Auditioning Center Decor2_EPP3

Auditioning Center Decor1_EPP3

Here I’m auditioning center circles for the other block that was too big.  I like the top one in person, but the bottom one on camera.  I ended up recutting and sewing the correct size block so still have the large circle to make into a pillow or to put on the back.  You, too, can audition center circles once you are finished to see the different looks they give to your block.

I hope my story of my mistakes and do-overs hasn’t confused you.  The accurate pattern is up there in PDF.  If you are following along, send me a photo of your finished blocks and I’ll throw them up here for everyone to admire.  I know this one has a lot of moving parts, but once I got the quirks out, and used the shortcut for the diamonds, it went quickly.  Have fun!

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Deconstruction of Ted and Maurice at Lorinc Pap Ter, an Art Quilt

On the Bench at the Park

This post is a deconstruction of the techniques I used to create Ted and Maurice at Lorinc Pap Ter, a small (12″ square) art quilt for the Four-in-Art Quilt group.  Our challenge this quarter was Contrast, under the overall yearly theme of Urban.  Often an idea will come to me, but sometimes I start with the technique.  I knew I wanted to drag out those bottles of Bubble Jet Set and Bubble Jet Rinse that I’d ordered some time ago, and find out if this whole process was difficult or easy.  It was easy.

Bubble Jet Set is a type of mordant that binds to your fabric and allows the ink from your inkjet printer to adhere more easily.  I’ve printed on fabric for years, but haven’t ever prepared the fabrics.  I first started by reading a lot of blog posts, and I’ll post the links at the end.  The one website that described the process best was Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry’s (Bryerpatch.com), and I followed her instructions.

Bubble Jet Set

I bought a shallow plastic container at Target, about 4 inches deep with a latch-type lid, as I wanted to store the prepared fabric in there afterwards.  I cut my fabric about 9 inches by 12 inches, grabbed the container and the Bubble Jet Set (I only needed that one at this time) and went down to the kitchen sink.  I put on dishwashing gloves, as suggested, then laid the first piece of fabric in the bottom of the container.  I sparingly glopped some BubbleJet Set (BJS) onto the fabric, smoothing it out until it was thoroughly moistened.  I placed a dry piece of fabric on top of that, again, smoothing until it looked like it had picked up most of the excess BJS, then glopped a little more.  I’m being quite stingy with the BJS, actually, but do want to make sure that the fabric is sufficiently soaked.  I repeated this until all four sheets were saturated.

Prepared Fabric DryingI lay down some towels underneath my improvised clothesline in the garage (some say you can put containers to catch the extra drips, but I didn’t have that much excess) and hung up my sheets of fabric until dry.  In our summer heat, it only took about an hour.  Meanwhile, I washed and thoroughly dried my container, and when the fabric was dry, put them in the container until I could get to them.  I read one blog where the crafter cautioned about letting too much time pass between treatment and printing. I had a space of about 4 days, and that was fine.

In yesterday’s post, I talked about how I created my art conceptually, but what I did technically was begin with a good photo of the square in Budapest.  I overlaid the baseball backstop photo, sized it, then took it down to 20% transparency, and used the Eraser tool to start erasing a space to let the statuary shine through.  I could have created a Path and selected it, but sometimes I think the Erase Tool does just fine.  I did change out the size of brush I was using, from 1 pixel in some places to 75 pixels in other places.  I did the same with Ted and Maurice, first flipping them around so they faced the other way, as that’s where I had some space to put them.  I merged the layers, as I know from experience that when printing on fabric, it’s wise to pump up the Saturation of colors (enhancing the image without making it garish), and to Lighten/Brighten the entire image.

Four Squares of 9Patch

For the border pieces, I sized each combination of colors to four inches, then pasted them into one document so I could print all the colors at once, first flattening, then then increasing the Contrast/Saturation and then adjusting the darkness through the Lighten/Brighten menu.

Trimming Fabric

When I was ready to print, I backed the prepared fabric in freezer paper, ironing it thoroughly but using NO steam at all — I wanted the freezer paper to really bond with the fabric.  I trimmed it to exactly 8 1/2″ by 11″ inches, and used a High Quality photo setting to print.

Image Printed on Cloth 4-in-art_1

It worked like a charm!  I let it set for the recommended 30 minutes then peeled off the freezer paper.  I let it set some more to let it thoroughly dry–a caution I read on many blogs.

Bubble Jet Set Rinsing

I put four capfuls of Bubble Jet Set Rinse in my container, then added about a gallon of water (about 3 inches) and set the first printed sheet in the water.  I kept it agitating the whole time of two minutes, as you see above.  I held up the sheet to let it drain and in the other sink, I rinsed the sheet well and laid it out on towels that I had set on the counter.  I did the same process with all the other prints, agitating them (apparently to keep the dye from the printing to re-settle back onto the fabric — they cautioned several times to keep it flat, and to not let it crease!).

Leftover Rinse Water

This was the color of the rinse water after I did all four sheets.  The Bubble Jet Set Rinse is a mild detergent formulated to remove excess dye.  In my reading, many said that Synthrapol would work also, but I had this so I used it.

Blotting Printed Sheets

I blotted the sheets gently, pressing out the excess moisture.  I did not wring or crumple the printed fabrics at all, working to keep them flat.

Sheet to Dry in Garage

I hung them in the garage again to let them dry, again taking only a short time.  I was pretty happy with the results.  The colors were vibrant and the fabric was soft and I knew it was washable, although there are cautions about what type of detergent you use.  I never wash my art quilts so it wasn’t a concern, but if you plan on doing so, here are some good websites with information on their experience with using BJS:

http://vickiwelsh.typepad.com/field_trips_in_fiber/2009/04/bubble-jet-rinse-whats-the-point.html

http://quiltbug.com/articles/bubble-jet-set.htm

http://www.bryerpatch.com/faq/bjs_q&a_page.htm

http://www.cjenkinscompany.com/Frequently_Asked_Questions_s/25.htm

The C J Jenkins Company manufactures the Bubble Jet Set, and I thought their page on printers was helpful, although I swear by my EPSON with their Archival Inks.

First Layout of Printed Sheets

After this, the construction was pretty straight forward, although I had to do some cutting and stitching to get the dimensions correct around the central image.

Sashing Printed Sheeets

I sashed the central image because I felt it might get lost in the tiny square borders.

Quilted 4-in-art_Aug2014

I quilted it, using matching threads (mostly lots and lots of gray).  Detail below.  I didn’t want to “over-quilt” this, but did want to emphasize the various elements.

Lorinc Pap Ter_detail front

Lorinc Pap Ter_front

And that’s it!  I’m pretty happy with how the BJS and BJR turned out, and glad that I had this little art quilt to nudge me into trying that preparing-fabric technique.

Circles EPP Button

Next up? The third block in my Circles English Paper Piecing Sew-Along.  I’ve remade this thing twice, so I’m ready to put it up and move on to the next block.  See the above tab if you haven’t started yet.

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Ted and Maurice at Lorinc Pap Ter, a Four-in-Art Quilt, August 2014

4-in-art_3

Lorinc Pap Ter_front

Ted and Maurice at Lorinc Pap Ter

No. 4 in the Urban Series

small plaza

It all started here, in a small square in Budapest right outside our hotel, on a recent overseas trip.  We walked through it several times a day, enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Matryoshka Bistro in the background, sat and ate ice cream on a bench the night before we left.  “Why don’t we have small squares like this?” I wondered outloud to my husband.  “A place where you can get an ice cream and enjoy the evening, and see your neighbors?” for several people had greeted each other as they walked through.  Another group gathered at the pub (just out of sight) for an end-of-the-day gab session.

Baker Ballfield Backstop

Then the next week, trying to recover from an extended case of jet lag, I went walking at our local park — part walking path, part baseball fields, part tennis courts, with lots of benches.

Ted and Maurice

I chatted with Ted and Maurice, two regulars that we see walking in the morning.

Other Regulars at the Park

And these three men who walk together, who do have names, but who I refer to as The Retired Guys.

Ball players

And on Saturday mornings I see the Little Leaguers warming up to play their early morning games.  It was after talking to Ted and Maurice one morning (both retired) that I realized that while my “square” is a contrast to that sweet little Lorinc Pap Ter in Budapest (“ter” means “square” in Hungarian), it is also fundamentally the same.  Of course, I want to go back to Budapest yesterday, but I’m content to notice the contrasts and take what I have.

Some of the obvious contrasts are the commercial enterprises: we work really hard to separate them in the United States, but interestingly more and more shopping centers are trying to recreate that “square” feel, setting out benches, have shaded trees to sit by, and playgrounds for tired children and their shopping parents.  Another obvious contrast is the size, and the purpose.  I think that Lorinc Pap Ter was meant to pay homage to Count Zichy (who is atop the statue, being honored by The Common Man, and The Neighborhood Priest, for the church is right behind me in the photo) and while the park where I walk in the morning is named for a local land donor, there isn’t a bit of statuary in sight.

small plaza+multicolor

I first thought of contrasting the differences felt in times of day, how many people were there, and certainly the colors do provide some visual interest, but I felt it was really a cliche, and didn’t point up the contrast like I wanted to.  So I got the idea to merge the two parks and some of the people, overlaying the backstop and adding Ted and Maurice. It’s a jolt to see a Little League backstop in a Budapest city square, and certainly most ballparks don’t have statues holding laurel wreaths.  By mashing them together it pointed out the contrasts in a quick sort of shorthand.

Walkers at Park

I felt like I’d lucked out to get a photo with the tricolor bunting on the backstop (it’s gone now).  I now was much happier with the outcome, and didn’t let the colorful square of squares go to waste: I shrunk them down and used them for the border.

Ted and Maurice and Quilt

And to end it off, here’s Ted and Maurice, holding my quilt.  They were thrilled to be honored that way, and told me about more regulars (they get there earlier than I do).  Ted took photos of my creation having never seen something like this, and we all laughed and joked around, especially as The Retired Guys came loping around to join us.  All we needed was some ice cream.

Tiny Nine-Patch

Please take time to visit the other Four-in-Arters, who have also put up their Challenge Quilts today:

Amanda  at whatthebobbin.com
Betty at a Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com
Elizabeth at opquilt.com (you are here)
Leanne at shecanquilt.ca
Tiny Nine-Patch
And come back for the next post, with instructions on how you can make your own little art quilt, including the use of Bubble Jet Set!
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Creative Housekeeping

creativehousekeeping-blog

I read Grant Snider faithfully, as he is an artist who often captures the frustrations I feel in my creative world (while trying to juggle that OTHER world of job, laundry, etc.).  I thought his Creative Housekeeping a perfect illustration of some of the frustration I feel as I look around my house (and garden) and sigh, then immediately get back to the sewing machine.

I wrote to him and he gave me permission to post this here for all of you.  For more inspiration, visit his blog Incidental Comics, or head over to his poster shop and buy a poster to hang on your wall.  I especially love the Treehouse of Adulthood.

Yeah, okay.  I’m a total fan, but I thought you’d like seeing his Creative Housekeeping, especially in summer.  (He just needs a quilter in that last frame.)

Deep Summer

In deep summer, everything moves a little slower because of the heat.  The sewing slows down because we’re at the beach, or watching Endeavor on the television, or just lazily talking after dinner on the patio.  The dusk deepens, and we realize we’ve talked the evening away as we flip on the overhead twinkle lights and talk some more, maybe eating an ice cream bar.  Or something else cold and slippery and refreshing like a tall lemonade.

Backside Hills on EPP3

So I sip some lemonade while fighting the urge to take the scissors and whack off this veritable mountain of seams on the backside of Circles Block #2, which I’m currently working on.  I’ve made this section twice, and have now realized we need a Design Change.  It will work fine, but in Deep Summer, it’s best not to be thinking too hard.

BAckside of Large Circles Block#3

I finished the block this morning (this is the backside–full reveal the first week of August), went to add the background corners and realized I’d drawn the whole shebang one inch too large all the way around.  I slumped into my chair–it’s really too hot to do anything else, right?  Then after slumping for a while, I got up and redrew parts of it to make it conform to what we have going on so far in Circles Block #1 and #2.  I’m NOT remaking that center section, though, having already sewn it twice.  It will all be correct when I finally post it, and tested.

Retreat Ladies 2014

We had our annual Good Heart Quilters Retreat at Lisa’s house, and were joined by her two sisters-in-law, who traveled down from the Mountain West to join us.  This is just the first batch of quilters in the moring–more came and by evening, when the fudgy brownies came out of the oven, there were many more.

Jean and her quilt July 2014Jean was a phenom, getting several quilt tops to the finished stage so she can quilt them on her machine.  Others quilters were just as industrious, but I was head-down-fingers-stitching on the Circles Block and forgot to take photos.

4-in-art_3

I also finished my Four-in-Art quilt, but that reveal is not until August 1st, so check back then.  I really like this one and tried a new technique of printing on fabric.  I’ll share the quilt and all the “deconstruction” details next week.

And in Deep Summer maybe something we ought to do is read a poem or two, while sitting outside under the twinkle lights on the patio downing the last of the frozen peanut butter cookies — a poem like this one, by Susan Hutton, found *here.*

Falling Through

My neighbor, perched high on a ladder
one weekend afternoon,
trimmed the wrong branch and sent himself
slowly wheeling through the sky.
He curved through the air as smoothly
as if he’d been drawn with a compass,
a graceful inflection discordantly accompanied
by crepitating branches and breathy leaves,
and landed in a lush, bent sapling.
To call it beautiful misses the point.
To say he stood and walked away unharmed
is true. For fifteen years I’ve remembered that shape,
its pace, but it’s the moment when he understood
it would happen that I return to: that fear,
and whether he resisted it or surrendered.
How often it happens that we step, half-consideringly
into the impersonal forces at work,
unable to pull ourselves back.
The tread of the stair beneath our feet
the appalling speed of our own blood.
The fifty years of our working lives limit our thoughts
as the pyramids’ size was ultimately determined
by what they could build within the pharaoh’s life.
The arctic whale moves through the water
with a century-old, ivory spearhead buried in its flesh.
My son was born early, before his body had developed
the reflex to suck. He spent his first two weeks alive
covered in wires and tubes amid loud, beeping machines.
I did not know him yet, in the lasting way,
but I saw he had my grandfather’s face.
And oh I was afraid. And we moved through it.
SUSAN HUTTON
Michigan Quarterly Review
Spring 2014

 

summer_time_b+w

Pineapple Quilt Block (for Bee-mates)

Queen Bee

As my friend Susan of Patchworknplay says, I’m Queen Bee in August for the Always Bee Learning Bee.

Pineapple Block August ABL

This bee likes to learn new things, so I thought I’d try a Pineapple Quilt Block, but use a paper foundation piecing technique to keep everything true and accurate during the process.  This is an 8″ block when finished (8 1/2″ when you finish your block for me), and I’m using solid fabrics coupled with small print fabrics with a WHITE background — no grey, no tan, no beiges, just white.  In this bee we also mail out fabrics, and some of my bee-mates have already received theirs; I mailed them out early because of traveling and family visits in the last half of July.  I’ll also be doing this for my turn in November of the Mid-Century Modern Bee, but for that bee we don’t mail fabrics, but simply provide descriptions and examples.  **If you feel you have too many of the same, feel free to substitute in any from your stash, as long as the print background is bright white, and the figures are small rainbow-colored designs.  Ditto for the substituting the solids. I tried to distribute them randomly, but you know how things go.**

I’ve written up some step-by-step directions (below) but I got the paper foundation from Generations Quilt Patterns, another website with a really good tutorial on Pineapple Blocks. (They have a discussion of setting the blocks on this page.)  Their ideas and explanations are top-notch, so if you find my step-by-step confusing, feel free to step over to that site and take a look.  If you want the pattern, head over *here* and download the 8″ size of the Pineapple Quilt Block.

Cutting Chart Pineapple(Chart modified from Generations Quilt Patterns.  Used with permission.)

Using the diagram above, which is modified from Generations Quilt Patterns *here* cut your pieces to size, keeping track of which is which (solids vs. light bright prints). I cut all my strips 1 -1/2″ wide as I didn’t ever want to have to mess with unpicking if it went on slightly skewed.  (NOTE: for the outer corners (#38-41), sometimes I just cut a 3″ piece of fabric by 6″ piece of fabric.  I know the corner will be on the bias that way, but that’s okay with me.)

5_ Pieces Lined Up

Here they are, all cut out and ready to go (I am doing multiple blocks, so don’t get confused by what you see above).

Step One

1_Center Square affixed

Using a glue stick, dab a small amount of glue on the small square and glue it to the back (unprinted side) of your paper foundation chart.

Step Two

2_Beginning of First Row

One by one, align, then sew on the first set of print strips, using a 1/4″ seam.

3_ Beginning of Stitching Line

When stitching on this, and all other rows, start your stitching a couple of stitches before the line, and finish a couple of stitches beyond the line, so as to secure the sewing.

4_Ending First Row

I sewed on the first two, pressed them to the side, then did the next two.  I learned to pin the fabrics so as not to have slippage.

Messy Ironing Paper

I printed out your parchment paper on my Laserjet, which can leave a residue on the ironing board, so I put down a piece of paper and pressed on that.  This is the messy paper at the end of my pressing session (sorry about all the transfer stuff).

Step Three

6_Cutting and Folding_1

Fold back your parchment paper in order to trim it up.  I sketched in the first fold, above, in pink.

6a_Cutting and Folding

Lay your ruler so that 1/4″ peeks out, then trim.  Again, I used Generations Quilt Patterns as a reference, if you need to read or see it differently.

7_First Row On

All four sides have been trimmed (those fold lines look so crisp in this paper!).

7a_Stitching First Row

Here’s what the stitching looks like from the printed side.  Notice I’m a couple of stitches over the line every time.  Generations recommends a full quarter-inch over, but it tore the parchment paper too much.  Two or three stitches will be fine.

Step Three

8_Second Row

Repeat this process, using the solids this time.  At this point you can do two at a time (opposite sides, like the yellow and green shown above).  Stitch those, press out, then add on the remaining two solid strips.  Stitch, then press open.

9_Cutting and Folding

You’ll turn the paper and fold back again, as shown this time by the green line, above.  Trim as in the previous step, all four corners.

10_Second Row Sewn

It’s looking pretty cute!  I like how now I start to see blunt ends on the corners.

Step Four

11_Third Row Beginning

Add on the next row of light bright print strips, again doing two (only) at a time.  Soon you can do all four, just not yet. Trust me on this.

12_Third Row Sewn and Pressed

Press open, then trim.

13_Third Row Trimmed

One nice thing about paper-foundation piecing is how nicely the points come out and how it is all perfectly aligned.

Step Five

14_Fourth Row

Still doing only two at a time (opposites) add on the next row of solids.

15_Fourth Row Sewn Pressed Trimmed

All pressed and trimmed up.  The blunt end is becoming more pronounced.

Step Six

16_Fifth Row Pinned

Okay, now!  You can now pin on all four light bright print strips onto your pineapple, and lifting your needle/presser foot in between to pivot the paper and move to the new stitching place, then begin sewing again.  Clip through the traveling threads after you are finished sewing.

17_Fifth Row Sewn Pressed

It’s pressed.

18_Fifth RowTrimmed

And now, trimmed.  Keep going, keeping track of which row is solids and which row is light bright prints until you only have the corners left to do.

19_Penultimate Row Sewn

Step Seven

20_Outer Blocks placed

Some of you have 4 1/2″ triangles in your packet and some of you have 3″ x 6″ strips.  I show both in the following photos. To figure out the alignment, Generations Quilt Pattern uses a nifty trick of letting the point of the triangle guide you.

21_Outer Block Aligned

Line up the outer raw edges of the diagonally cut triangle, with the point centered in the square, as shown by the bright blue (above).  Stitch.

22_Outer Blocks Pinned

For the 3″ by 6″ strip, fold in half to find the center, then line that up with the center square, as shown.  Pin, then stitch.

22a_Outer Blocks SewnPressed

Corner blocks pressed.

Step Eight

23_Trimming

Okay, I know this ruler isn’t perfectly aligned (the phone rang right as I was going to snap the photo and startled me, and I didn’t find out until later how crooked it was). So, don’t do as I show, do as I did: make sure to only trim 1/4″ outside the solid line, all the way around.  DON’T TRIM ON THE SOLID LINE.

Ripping Off Paper

Once trimmed, turn it over and use Katie Pasquini-Masopust’s famous “Fatty Thigh” method for removing foundation papers (I learned this from her at Houston one year).  As she instructed us: lay it over your fatty thigh, and pop the papers off, starting on the outside, working in.  The parchment paper comes off so much easier for me than regular paper, so I hope you have an easy time of it.  Thank you, thank you!!  You are done!

Final Four

Here are four together.  I look forward to seeing all of yours!

–Final notes–

Boys in the Boat

I listened to The Boys in the Boat while working on this project, a fascinating story.  I’ll never look at this sport the same way again.

Parchment Paper

And the paper? Here’s a photograph of the information on the edge of my ream of paper.  I bought this paper several years ago, beginning with my Come A-Round quilt (below), a foundation-pieced quilt, and have used if for several other projects (including Scrappy Stars and I am currently using it for my selvage quilt).  It will probably last me until I die, and although not cheap (I think I paid 35 bucks for this ream) I feel like it was a great investment.  They do sell it on Kelly Paper online, but I’m not quite sure which one is which.  You could take in a scrap of what I sent and ask them to find the same thing, I suppose.

Come A-Round, full SM

Yep,  all those spiral dotty circles in the middle were arcs that were paper-foundation pieced.  The pattern is a Piece O’ Cake Design, titled Everyday Best.

˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚

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Happy to Be Home

Croatia Trip 2014

Well, the laundry is done, but I’m still walking into walls, as the jet lag recovery seems fiercer this time, perhaps complicated by the arrival of my son and his family 24 hours after we arrived home, but who can say no to seeing the grandchildren?  The trip, above, was delightful, with the appropriate number of highs and lows.  If you want to see some of my photographs, there is a pretty extensive collection of them on my Instagram feed (button to the right), and once I start posting about the trip, many more will be on my travel blog.  One of the positive things is that I now know where Croatia is.  And Slovenia.  And know that Hungary has this massive lake in the middle of it that stretches for miles and miles, or at least it felt that way, as our train from Zagreb (Slovenia) to Budapest (Hungary) stopped at every single station along that lake. And I also know that I need to figure out how to make gulyas (goulash) the Hungarian way.  It was amazing.   I was able to read all your comments while I was gone, and hoped you enjoyed the continuing posts.  Thanks for the messages you left.

MCM Block July 2014

I pretty much did nothing for the first few days home, but then eased back into sewing with our Mid-Century Modern’s Bee block for this month.

3b64dee956d73308ff5c5fb9a6c80a42

Susan, of PatchworknPlay liked this quilt, so asked us all to make a 12″ star with a black background to begin her collection.  Beginning with one that I liked from my Jolly Old St. Nicholas quilt (post *here* with lots of 12 blocks with templates), I subdivided and added, so it would be more snazzy, with more colors.  You can download a PDF file of the templates by clicking on this link: Snazzy Star.  Enjoy!  It’s my welcome home gift to you, making up into a 12″ block.

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 5.20.44 PM

I used my QuiltPro program to do this–it’s a simpler, older version of an electronic quilt program, but it works great for me.  So, cross two things of my list: a Bee Block for July, and Getting Back Into Sewing!

Circles EPP Button

I picked up lots of ideas for the Circles blocks–a richly decorated church in Slovenia had them painted everywhere–so right now I’m working on the EPP Circles block #3 (named “Ljubljana”) and will post that the first part of August.

4-in-art_3

I am also working on our Contrasts challenge for our Four-In-Art reveal August 1st, so keep your fingers crossed that I’ll make my deadline (I’m starting earlier this time, as my jet lagged brain is still fogged in).  In keeping with the laundry-list theme of this post, I’m also the Queen Bee for the Always Bee Learning Bee in August, and in this bee, fabric is mailed out along with the block, so that’s in the works as well. And I’ve just got to get to the beach this summer, don’t you think?

There's No Place Like Home

But as Dorothy found out, there’s no place like home. I’m glad to be back.