Magic Stars Quilt, with Sarah Jane fabrics

It begins here…magicstars_1

…with fabric by Sarah Jane.  A relative of mine fell in love with her work and asked me to make her a quilt for her daughter, who has a name similar to mine.

(I couldn’t say no.)magicstars_2

I found the pattern on Michael Miller’s Website, and followed it exactly. magicstars_3 magicstars_4

I made it over the break between Christmas and New Year’s.  You can see my husband’s nutcracker collection on top of our hutch.magicstars_5 magicstars_6 magicstars_7 magicstars_8picking-up

I trundled it off to my longarm quilter, and she did a quick turn-around.  It’s always a happy day to pick up a quilt from Cathy.  This fabric is very silky, and I enjoyed working with it.magicstars_9 magicstars_10front

And on my birthday, I declare it done!  Happy New Year, Happy New Quilt.  This is Quilt #176 on my list of 200 quilts.  I never thought I’d reach 176 quilts.  If you haven’t started your list, do so now.
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We chose a pattern called “party ribbons” for the quilting, as it fit in with the theme of the fabric.magicstars_12a-back-detail

The backing has unicorns with touches of gilt bushes.magicstars_13-quilting magicstars_14a magicstars_14b

I packaged it up and sent it off, the people in the Post Office helping me find just the right box.

(I love my post office.)

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I didn’t label it because it was going to live at someone else’s home, but if I could, it would look like the one above.
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Rebecca sent me this photo of the quilt on her daughter’s bed.  So glad they both like it!

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Gridsters Bee • January 2017

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IG: #gridsterbee

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Susan of PatchworknPlay starts off our new year of our Gridsters Bee with having us make her some New York Beauty blocks.

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She sent us to a webpage (Ulas Quiltseite–it’s German) that had ten different New York Beauty blocks on it, and we could pick two different ones (if we were making two).

gridsterbee-january-blocksThere was even a block for beginners.  I chose Block #1 and Block #6.

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Helpful tip: These words mean that she split them to get them printed.  You may want to join the outer pieces together so there is no seam.  You’ll see what I mean.

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I always remember Leann’s tips for sewing curved edges together (her quick video *here*): it’s best to put the concave piece on top, and the convex piece on the bottom.  But since I had a curved shape with gazillions of pieces, I reversed it.  Don’t know if that made it harder or easier.gridsters-january-2017_3

The second block had another challenge.  If you go and look at it, you can see I was using striped material, and I didn’t want that stripe to tilt.  First piece on (above), and I don’t glue my foundation paper piecing, I pin.gridsters-january-2017_4

I marked the center of the lower edge of the piece (opposite its point).  I folded my fabric scrap in half lengthwise and line it up with both centers.gridsters-january-2017_4a

Keeping it in place, I fold back one side, mimicking the slanted edge that needs to be sewn.  I finger-press it.gridsters-january-2017_4c

Then using all my skills, I move this carefully to the other side of the unit, holding it up to the light to line up that folded edge where it needs to go.  Sometimes it’s easiest to note where the edges are and adjust from there.

Unfold it, being careful not to move it.  gridsters-january-2017_4d

Stitch on that line, trim seam allowances and continue on.  They all line up nice and vertical.gridsters-january-2017_6a

We make each other signature blocks, using a white 3 1/2″ square and snowball on two 2-1/2″ squares on either corner, using fabric from the blocks we made. (Click on the link to see a how-to, as well as how we’ve used our signature blocks: sometimes on the back and sometimes on the front of the quilt!)

The key to success:  IRON ON A SCRAP OF FREEZER PAPER to the back before writing, as it stabilizes the fabric.  I use a Pigma 08 to write.

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We always write our name, but other things to write could be:

  • IG/blog name
  • month/year
  • hometown
  • name of the bee or why you made the quilt

Looking forward to the rest of year with my Gridster Beemates!

 

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Getting a Perspective on a New Year • 2017

 

My friend Leslie sent me this knitting gnome (so I had to share it with you), and although the holidays are past and gone, I think many of us have been as busy as this little guy, creating and sending them out our quilts and things with a heart full of love.

Here is a composite of What I Did Over the Holidays:

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I made bread from a bunch of gifted persimmons, hugged a sleepy elf (and his brothers) in my kitchen, enjoyed watching my oldest son Chad and my youngest son Peter make home-made pasta for our Christmas Eve dinner, pieced a quilt with Sarah Jane fabrics (always lovely), shopped for a new car (but I didn’t like any of them better than the one I have, so I came home without one), and cleaned up my sewing room (always an event).en-provence_purple-four-patch

I jumped into the En Provence Mystery Quilt, hosted by Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville and had fun trying to find the color periwinkle in my stash and in shops, as I decided to slant it that way, instead of the straight purple.en-provence-quilt_bonnie-hunter

Here’s a picture of HER finished quilt–mine is still three clues behind and mostly in pieces.  If you ever needed a good blog post to encourage you to save your scraps, *here* it is, courtesy of Bonnie.halloween-1904_front

But I do have one finish I can share.  I finished up the binding (my quilter did the quilting) on my Halloween quilt.  I’ll be updating the final post of the Quilt-A-Long on this pattern to include these two photos (front is above and back is below), but I wanted to say…halloween-1904_back

…Happy Halloween to you all!

But wait.  Isn’t it January?  Full of snow and storm and putting away the holiday boxes?  Watch this:

If you can’t see the video, it’s the Selective Attention Test; you can watch it on my blog.

This is how I feel when I’m working on something not in the season it’s intended for.  I’m am distracted/entranced by the cues all around me. In July, I see red, white, blue, stars, stripes, but not green pointy growing things called Christmas trees.  In April, it is flowers flowers flowers and complete absorption into planting my summer garden.  It is nearly impossible for me to focus on turkeys and fall decor.  Or snow.  As a result of this focus, I rarely see the proverbial gorilla among the basketball players.

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Perspective, exhibit A

Yet so many of us work “out of season” in planning, buying and creating that I thought I’d look into it.  The 99U article (where the video is found) noted that “We see the world, and our work, through countless lenses of assumption and habit—fixed ways of thinking, seeing and acting, of which we’re usually unconscious.”  The author, columnist Oliver Burkeman (a personal favorite of mine), observes that “This urge toward making things unconscious is a blessing if you want to do the same thing, over and over, ever more efficiently. But it becomes a problem when we’re called upon to do things differently—when you hit a roadblock in creative work, or in life, and the old approaches no longer seem to work.”  He suggests using physical or temporal distance to get perspective, to get past that creative block.

When you use physical distance, you institute physical distance from your creative problem, such as when you take a break from piecing or quilting to look at Instagram, or take time to research, perhaps see something in a quilt book.  Or you might take a trip and get your best flash of insight while flying over the country.  Research has been done that shows that for many people implementing creative ideas begins with recognizing creative ideas.  While this sounds circular, it’s fairly common: how many times have you read a magazine and decide to add two new quilts to your List of Quilts To Make? You recognize the creative in others, and choose to implement it for yourself.

To proximate temporal distance, Burkeman suggests that we can “externalize our thoughts by writing them down in a journal. The point isn’t necessarily that you’ll have an instant breakthrough, but that by relating to your thinking in this ‘third-person’ way, you’ll loosen the grip of the old assumptions, seeing your thoughts afresh, and creating potential for new insights.”  Sounds like an argument to begin a creative journal to me.

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Perspective, Exhibit B

The title of his article is “You Don’t Need New Ideas, You Need A New Perspective,” and I thought it fitting to start out the new year with this creative idea of perspective.  Now that all our holiday boxes are up in the rafters, the tinsel and glitter and ornaments and the fall boxes with autumn colors are all put away, the minimalist environment we live in come January can provide a clean slate — and a new perspective — for our creative work.

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Spelling Bee 2016 Wrap-Up

Last year I had this idea that I wanted to try, and so I rounded up some willing participants and we made ourselves a Spelling Bee.

quiltabecedaryI started it by creating a blog that was dedicated to free tutorials to make these free-form letters, without the use of patterns or papers.  Some were pretty wild, but it was a great challenge.  And then we all started by choosing a phrase or a poem or a group of words and entered them into a Google Spreadsheet (we were all tired of trying to use Flickr).  This is the wrap-up post, showing our collective work of The Spelling Bee ( found as #spellingbeequilt on Instagram, where we posted our photos).

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This is my phrase, done in reds, creams and pinks.  I do have plans for it.johnson_spelling-bee

Lisa (aka Nymblefyngers on IG), a first-time bee participant, decided on lots of bug words for her quilt, and people carried out the theme by making them in bug fabrics.mary-s_spelling-bee

Mary, who writes the Needled Mom blog, made fun sewing-themed blocks to add to the words in her quilt.carla_spelling-bee

Carla, of Grace and Favor, recently opened a yarn shop in her town, and requested knitting terms.snooks_spelling-bee

Susan finished her quilt the first, showing it off here and on her blog, PatchworknPlay.  This truly typifies Susan’s attitude towards life!foster_spelling-bee

Just to keep us on our toes, Kerry of PennyDog Patchwork,  decided she wanted us to try her “digital” alphabet, and we made up the names of the provinces of Canada, her new country. While the how-to’s for the regular alphabet are free on the blog Quilt Abecedary, this style is Kerry’s own.bradford_spelling-bee

Simone, of Quiltalicious, tried to make us all go crazy by asking for color names, but in different shades.  A couple of us dutifully cranked out our word, only to realize that we sewn it up in the wrong color.  We were all getting pretty good at this point.kolb_spelling-bee

Mary (aka maryonlakepulaski on IG) wanted the names of her family.rachel_spelling-bee

Since bee-keeping was a new passion for Rachel (The Life of Riley), we all sent bee-words to her.
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Brenda (aka brendaandblue on IG), requested words that describe all those things that make her happy: “comfort words.”

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Cindy of LiveAColorfulLife, is doing the words to one of her favorite songs; unlike her name, she went with black, white, cream and grays to put together her phrase.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this wrap-up of our word adventure!  If you ever jump in and make a word or two, drop me a note as I’d love to see them.

 

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Coming soon: a new bee!

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I do not know about, nor choose, the content, nor do I receive any money from these ads.
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Mid-Century Modern Bee 2016 Wrap-up

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Four years ago, Cindy and I sat at this computer and designed this logo for a bee she was starting.  She brilliantly gathered up a coterie of quilters, all over the age of 50, and I helped her with the spreadsheet, organization, and the design.  Some members have come and gone, but as I am one of the original members, and since 2016 is our last year together, I thought I’d do a wrap-up of blocks and quilts.

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January 2016 was my month and I asked for blocks to make the above quilt, titled Riverside Sawtooth.  

Riverside Sawtooth_small2I used my sample blocks to make this little table topper.

February was Cindy’s turn, and she asked us all to make little books.

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I chose ballerinas because I knew this was headed to make a quilt for her granddaughter.

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She arranged all our signature blocks on the back with some fussy cut blocks that were representative of her, so her newest grandchild could associate these cute blocks with her grandmother.wiens_mcm

The quilt is like a library of books!

March was Linda K. we were ready for some bright colors.

March MCM bee blocks

She asked for 4″ churn dash blocks in fun colors, with a few “oopses” in the construction of the blocks to make it interesting.  I switched around some of the corner blocks and substituted in another block of color.

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These are all the blocks, arranged up on her design wall.  Those colors just pop!

Stephanie had April and was interested in having us make blocks representative of the windows at her daughter’s school.

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The idea was to make a raffle quilt to benefit the school, but it was sold before the raffle could be held, so I’m hoping she keeps the blocks we sent her and makes a quilt for her daughter.

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They do look like multi-paned windows, sparkling in the light.  She sent us Paintbrush Studio Fabrics to use, and I have to say again how much I love those solids!

Once again, in May, we made churn dash blocks at the request of Carla F. but with a twist: they could be subdivided up inside the 12″ square requirement to add interest.

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I made one jumbo block.  She asked for something skewed as well, so I made two sides skinnier.

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This is quite an array of sizes and shapes, and should be an interesting quilt, or a good start to something fun.

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Rene kept it simple and fun for us in June, asking for Raspberry Kiss blocks (tutorial found *here*).

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The collection is here.  Rene is one of the quilters involved with the Pulse Heart quilts, and she has been incredibly busy this year helping with that project.  Click *here* to see them delivering the quilts to the first reconsiders on the scene. It’s a really sweet video with all those quilts.  Rene is about 2:44 if you want to see her in action.

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Sherri, in July, asked us for scrappy Log Cabin blocks to add to a quilt she’d already started.  I don’t have a picture of all the blocks, but I’m sure it will be terrific.

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Here’s a screen shot of some of the other blocks that our group made for her.

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Mary, for August, found a quilt she liked on the Robert Kaufman website, called Woven Pattern, and wanted us to make blocks in the color of the beach: sea and sand.

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She laid them out on the floor at my request, and I really love those colors!

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Mary K. is a star-lover and always has great blocks for us to try.  September’s Confetti Star block was no exception and the free pattern can be found *here.*

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Isn’t this a great layout of stars?  We made each other signature blocks, and you can see them laid out in the lower right corner.  And yes, there are 12 of us in this bee; sometimes we have forgotten to send them along.  She asked us to make the signature blocks two-toned, rather than just out of one fabric. [Here’s a post with another one of Mary’s choices for stars, also including a free pattern.]

Roaring into October found us making B’s and E’s for Anne’s choice.

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She asked us to do one in a color we wanted to and the rest in “barely there” sort of colors, but with enough contrast to distinguish them from the background.

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I can hardly wait to see wait Anne’s imagination conjures up from these letters.

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Fittingly for November, Nancy asked us to make these leafless trees, in sky color and green.

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Lastly, for December Elizabeth R. asked for us to make blocks out of Anna Maria Horner fabrics in the blocks we requested.

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Since my choice (the Riverside Sawtooth block) doesn’t look good unless there are four of them, she gave me permission to make something different, so I enlarged a Chuck Nohara block and made her two.

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Here’s the composite (so far–people are still sending in their blocks).  But while it’s stunning, and makes me want to make a quilt only out of AMH fabrics, some of the genius is in seeing how different the blocks are from the originals:

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Nancy’s tree blocks become transcendent in this new fabric.

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And Stephanie’s window-pane triangles completely change character in the different fabrics.  There’s a great lesson for us all to learn–sometimes we don’t have to change our blocks or patterns, but instead think outside the box on our fabrics.

Other wrap-ups are found here and here.  Our blog is here, and since we all know whatever we put up on the internet stays until someone takes it down, you can find many of our blocks up there on the blog.

So, thank you all, to the Mid-Century Moderns.  It’s been fun!