The Grid, the Gridsters (and a wee bit of news)

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When I say the grid, you probably think of something like the image above: a rendition of the electrical grid in the United States.

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Or you might think of a street grid, or the computer grid, or any other type of connected web.

Is it This? Or That?

I also think of the grid we use in making our quilts.  Above is an example of a regular grid, using a 9-patch variant.  This style of quilting — that of using repeated blocks set in a grid — didn’t become popular until the 1840s, as earlier quilts were more whole-cloth, medallion, or broderie perse styles.

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The name of our Gridster Bee is a nod to the idea of the grid, and since I’ve had some non-sewing time, I did some research about the grid, finding its origin in the way that text was laid out on the printed page.  (Note: Where the quotes are unattributed, I could find no source for them.)

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This method of intersecting lines and angles, known as the Van de Graaf canon and used medievally, was popularized by Jan Tschichold in his books discussing classical book design, and became the standard for book layout.  You can see the proportions at work in the magazine layout (above) on the right.

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Some myths about the grid:

  • Grids are a design trend
  • Grids impede creativity
  • Grids are confining, and can only be used for certain designs
  • The grid is a static, even, regular subdivision of the surface both vertically and horizontally

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There are all types of recognizable grids, such as those above, and in the images below:

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(pencil cubbies in Switzerland)

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(subway tiles in Lisbon)

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(more designs from Spain and Lisbon)

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(circular grid, both above and below)

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golden-spiral(Golden Spiral • from here)

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I love the grid, as ultimately, the function of the grid is to help determine and define proportion, such as the last two quilts, which seem to have some unseen glue holding them together. That’s why some quilts that seem to use no grid at all can either make us shake our heads in confusion, or can capture our gaze.

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And that’s why we’re the Gridsters — not just those in the bee — but all of us in the quilt world.

tiny nine patches

And a little bit of news.

I wake up everyday and see this:

sweetsixteen-in-hiatusOn some of my harder days, it has crossed my mind that I won’t ever sit there again, happily stitching away, and I feel so far away from the quilting world that I love.  Cue the tears and the Sturm und Drang.  And then I received this:

quilt-entry-announce2017Pineapples and Crowns_front iphoneGuess the universe doesn’t want me to give up yet.  (If you’ll be there at Quilt Festival-Chicago, please take a photo of my quilt, and tag me on IG [occasionalpiecequilt].) And I was also asked by our guild, The Raincross Quilt Guild, to present a Trunk Show on May 16th.  I’m pretty excited about this, and have been working on my program notes.

So…guess I’ll be a good girl and keep all my Physical Therapy appointments so I can get back to quilting.

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Liberty USA Mini Quilt, 2

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I’ve made some progress by getting the first (left) side sewn down.  liberty-usa_first-side-sewn1

It’s pretty wonky, but I’m leaving it as a testament to this wonky time in my life.

In my pain-killer-addled brain the day I mapped this out, I resorted to doing the freezer paper appliqué method, so everything looks pretty 3D-ish when laid out.  In hindsight, I probably should have done it differently, but the quilt will still get done this way.  Better to move forward, than to take too many steps back.

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Be My Valentine • 2017

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Mini Love Quilt, 2012

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Be My Valentine, 2012

Spelling Bee Words, 2015

Spelling Bee Words, 2015

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peacebailey-valentine1 A creation from Way Back: a florid appliqué heart Valentine designed by Elinor Peace Bailey.peacebailey-valentine2

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Hearts in the Pines, 2007

(Pattern for heart blocks on this post.)valentine-heart_1

Valentine Hearts, with a wee pocket with a wee Valentine note tucked in.  The hearts themselves are about 4″ tall, with attached ribbons and keys.valentine-heart_2

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Twined Threads, 1997 (first quilt I ever quilted by machine)

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Liberty USA Mini Quilt, 1 (along with some “slow quilting”)

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I have always wanted a patriotic mini-quilt, so before surgery, I prepped up these little stars, fused them down to 2 1/2″ squares of fabric and stitched them together in a block.  I figured I could stitch on them while healing.  I would use some of those pearl cottons I’d collected while doing Oh! Christmas Tree, and blanket stitch around the shapes.
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The first day, all I could stitch was ten minutes.  liberty-usa-quilt3 I came back to it a week later and over a few days, finished them up. Now what?liberty-usa-quilt4

I taught my husband how to rotary cut, and we got some stripes together (short is 8-1/2″ x 2-1/2″; longer is 16-1/2″ long x 2-1/2″).  I swapped out my big machine for my teeny Featherweight, and stitched them together, one-handed.  At my first check-up the doctor gave me the go-ahead to do stitching, as long as I wore my sling, saying it would be “therapeutic.”  Oh, yes.liberty-usa-quilt5

Putting on these scissor-cut  1-1/4″ borders was not easy (finish at 3/4″).  I’m so used to man-handling the fabric for speed, I’d forgotten how to slow-stitch, or slow-quilt, or whatever you want to call it.  Before, I would grab the strip in front and in back and put some tension on it, floor my foot pedal, and force that fabric into place.  Since I only have one hand available to help guide it through the machine, this wasn’t going to work.liberty-usa-quilt6

Auditioning the next border, with the realization that there is no driving, either, so no running to the fabric store if I don’t like what I have.  I scissor cut the borders, laid out the little mini quilt face-up on the ironing board, and gave it a good press and smoothed it out.  Next I laid the border face-down on top, and again pressed it.  Since I can’t force these pieces together, I have to coax them.  I pinned them together in many places, and fed the seam slowly through the machine.  Flattest border I ever put on, with no puckers anywhere.liberty-usa-quilt7 liberty-usa-quilt8 liberty-usa-quilt8a_word

I had an old printout from the internet (couldn’t find the source when I went back to reference it) that had this word,  so I drew two lines, 5″ apart, then another guideline 1″ inside the top and bottom and freehanded the letters. I fused them on to the quilt.  They are about 5″ tall overall, as that outer border was 6″ scissor-cut.liberty-usa-quilt10

I sketched out a bud, figured out some leaves.  I drew joined leaves, inspired by my love of samaras, or those joined helicopter seeds from maple trees, but also inspired by this photo [PDF of pattern shapes is at the end of this post].  Above, I am trying Sarah Fielke’s method of prepping up shapes for appliqué.  It worked fairly well.

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I laid  out all the parts: leaves, byds (small and large), tubing for stems and more cut stars (on the pattern sheet), trying to decide if I like two leaf sets next to the word Liberty, or one.  I’ll appliqué or blanket stitch down everything…then decide.  Since I work in small segments of time, and ever so slowly, I might make my goal of July 4th.   Here’s the pattern sheet in a PDF document: liberty-usa-quilt-bits
liberty-usa-quilt-printingPlease be sure to set your printer’s settings to 100% so the large star will measure 3-1/4″ where noted. It contains: large flower bud (top and two sides), small flower bud (next to Liberty), joined leaf shape and the large star.  You can either shrink this star for the 16 stars in the central star section, or look for a star online that will measure about 1-3/4″ to 2″ across.

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My set-up is a pattern-cutting board laid out on the extra bed, a chair pulled up to it.

Keep stitching, however s l o w l y !

 

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February Bee Block for Gridsters Bee: Pineapple!

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IG: #gridsterbee

gridster-feb_4finalPineapple Block for Sherri for February 2017

This month, Sherri, of A Quilting Life, is our Queen Bee and she’s asked us to make her pineapple blocks.

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First step: make a mess of the sewing room pulling out greens to get the best ones.  (It also helps with re-organizing my messy shelves.)

I downloaded the free pattern, and also pulled up the post from Sherri where she makes her block, so I could glean any tips she had when she made it.

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She suggested we scroll through Jackie’s IG feed until we found the tutorial, which really helped me understand how we put these together (that’s a screen shot of her image above), as the pattern is a bit sketchy on details.  Click on the tutorial link to head over there.

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What confused me was that the pattern calls for cutting all the blocks the same size, different than what I would do if making half-square trianges (HST).  After reading the IG tutorial, I see that Jackie sort of “snowballs” on the white corners, instead of making HSTs.  She marks the line, and sews just inside of it–to the seam allowance side.  She then cuts off the excess.  One advantage of this method: there are no dog ears to trim!

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Yellows sewn: check.  Green pineapple crown sewn: check.

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One other difference in the construction of this block is that the low-volume white is added to the corners of the yellow block after it’s all sewn together, then sliced off and pressed.

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Ta-Done!

gridster-feb_4finalsigAnd here it is with its signature block–with yellow on one corner and green on the other–albeit a bit blurry.

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If you want to make a bunch and exchange them, Elaine’s Quilt Block Quilt Shop in Salt Lake City is having a swap of pineapple blocks–both in the yellow and in a range of colors.  Click here to go their IG page where they announced it.

Next month I am the Queen Bee–can’t wait!

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