Red, White & Blue Quilt

On Memorial Day, I put on the earrings I’d purchased in Washington, DC ages and ages ago on the 4th of July.

And we walk over to our main boulevard, about half a mile from our house, flags in hand and cheer on the West Coast Rolling Thunder, a compliment to the Rolling Thunder in Washington, DC on Memorial Day Weekend.  This year they anticpated about 9,000 participants–it lasted about an hour.

We waved and cheered and then I came home and put up my Red, White and Blue Quilt, made some years ago with my Quilt Night group–before we were zombie-fied.

We each made a block.  The requirements were red, white and blue and it had to be some sort of a star.  We were loose on the definitions, as you can see.  I had heard Margaret Miller talk the year before at Camp Watch-a-Patcher in Orange County, and she said you can tilt a quilt more towards one look or another by how you sash it and border it.  Because I wanted to push this more towards the red and whites, I chose this toile and made more tiny triangle points and densely colored red stars to pull it that direction.

One afternoon, I laid a few of the blocks out for my husband on our bedroom floor and asked him what he thought about them.  He pointed to this one and said he didn’t like it very much.  Well. . . that was the one I made–trying to work the theme of American baseball into our red, white and blue quilt.  (You can see the eagle that Lisa fussy cut for our centers on the block to the right.)  I laughed, then made another one.

He liked this flag block a lot better.

I also like this block, made by Susan, titled Peaceful Hours.  She now lives in Idaho, and I think of her every time I see this block.  That’s the beauty of group quilts: when you look at them, they remind you of your friends.  We used to call ourselves The Good Heart Quilters, but now we just call it “Quilt Night.”

I made up this Master List so I could remember everyone and what they’d contributed.  I also did the quilting, lines one inch apart and switching directions when I thought it was a good time to do so.

We also didn’t put size restrictions (that’s evident) and I like the fact that this made for a more free-form arrangement of the blocks.  I have Quilt Pro quilt software, so after the blocks were chosen, I put them into the program and worked them up for this handout.

Quilt Night–June version

So why did we have June’s Quilt Night in May?  Next Friday is the last day of school for most of the teachers in our group, so we thought by jumping it ahead we might be able to avoid Zombie Quilt Night.

Yes, this could have been us last night.  I had my grandsons for the weekend–which was fun, but tiring–and the others were teachers and tired professionals who came just by themselves, or with a hand project.  When someone asked Tauni what I was working on–I had brought down the sewing machine and had the Lollypop Tree block there, but at that moment was sitting over in the comfy red leather chairs visiting with Jean–Tauni glanced at me and said “Small talk.”  I laughed.  Yep–that’s about all I was good for.  But in my defense, Jean was headed to DC and since I had lived there for a year, I was giving her tips for her visit.

Others had been productive; here’s some of their achievements:

This is Connie’s quilt for a friend–all done with machine applique (a lovely line of zig-zag stitching around everything).  Connie said she chose a quick pattern this time for a quilt, and Lisa and I burst out laughing.  You ought to see Connie’s complicated quilts!

We recommended using some dye absorber if the recipient ever decided to wash it.

Laurel had been very productive with making these large (20″?) stars of multiple dotty fabrics.

Here they all are together (line-up was done digitally on my computer).

Tauni had finished this quilt top, and then when Jean arrived. . .

. . . got her second quilt back.  This was a friendship group challenge–to make a chubby log cabin block with modern and/or Kaffe Fassett fabrics.  My blocks are still in the bag!

Lisa’s first project of the night was to fix her daughter’s “promotion dress.”  Slight dressmaking adjustments. Then she put the borders on this wonderful quilt, made from a Bonnie McCaffrey block.

Lisa was the first to go, as she had “a date with the pavement in the morning” (she’s a marathoner).  The rest of us lovely zombie quilters slowly packed up and the night was over.  Who knows what July’s quilt night will bring?  It’s scheduled for the  4th of July weekend!

Happy Quilting!

Gone Fishin’

Not really, but I just returned from a family reunion in Zion National Park in Southern Utah.  This was just after the rainstorm, and the Watchman Mountain was reflected in a puddle.  It is glorious waking up to, and going to sleep to this sight, as our campground is just below its colorful beauty.

Not only was the place beautiful and with wonderful people, which were made all the better when I discovered that an in-law (the wife of one of the young cousins) loves to quilt!  I dragged out the quilt I had on my sleeping bag to show her.  “Brights,” she said.  She likes the Reproduction fabrics, a more subdued palatte than the one below.  I keep this quilt in the car as it’s smaller.  It was really cold that first night (43 degrees) so I was glad I had brought it along.

This was a mystery quilt done by my guild, and I had a stash of fabrics from Me and My Sister Designs, which all worked together just fine. I have never named this one, but generally refer to it as “the bright mystery quilt.”

True confession: I generally HATE mystery quilts.  I’ve done several and I feel totally constrained by not knowing how the fabrics will work together, or where the darks/lights/colors will end up.  Some of the rows in the above quilt worked okay, and some didn’t.  Maybe that’s why I keep this in my car!

Lollypop, Lollypop

I have struggled to find time to work on this quilt this week.  It wasn’t that there weren’t the hours, but that it was a struggle.  I just was a bit mentally worn out and this block requires some enthusiasm.  As Mary Poppins would say, “Well begun, half-done,” or something like that, so I thought it best to begin the task.

First, decide on which blocks.  Check.

Then lay out the first one and trace it onto freezer paper.  I completely did NOT think about if it were to be reversed, figuring whatever I started with I would end with and so it would be okay.  Plus I knew that these flowers/plants were symmetrical.

Cut out on the lines.  No, wait.  There are WAY too many pieces!

Number all the pieces on the pattern, then number all the pieces on the freezer paper, then cut out.

That funky stamen/petal-y thing in the middle is going to require a different sized piece of freezer paper so it can tuck under those outside petals. Can you tell I never studied botany?

The pattern calls for 4 different background colors in the blocks.  I’ve decided to make 12 squares (but am rapidly backpedaling to maybe only 9) and here’s my fabrics. They are all sort of gridded in a way–from mini-checks to a bubbly-looking print, upon the advice of Kathy from Material Obsession.  She’s done all this and so could give great advice.

I laid out the stems on the back of my brown fabric, placing the matte side of the freezer paper DOWN, and anchoring the freezer paper with a little bit of glue from a glue stick.  Then I trimmed the seam allowances to about 1/4-inch and using the tip of my iron, eased the seam allowances onto the shiny, waxy side of the freezer paper, letting the heat of the iron stick it down.

I found I could do the first method (above) on the big circles, but the little circles required a few more steps.  First, sew a running stitch around the outer edge, then draw it up over a plastic template.  I like to use gray thread–it just blends and blends.

Like so.  Give it a squirt of spray starch (I lay a scrap piece of fabric on my ironing board to catch the build-up) and set the iron down onto the circle for a few seconds, helping to dry the spray starch and flattening all those little pleats into place.  When dry and cool, ease the plastic template out of the circle and put it into place.

While doing some of the eight billion little circles this block called for, I decided this may take me the rest of my life to finish.
I also decided to only do one block a month, otherwise this summer will ONLY be Lollypop Tree blocks and I’ll get nothing else done.

I lay the pattern over my pieces and use it to nudge the pieces into place.


TA DA!!  First one laid out.  I haven’t decided whether or not to hand-applique this, or machine-applique with mono-filament thread.  While the hand method is very portable, if you have creaky hands (like I do) the thought of doing 12 of these makes me wilt.  But, with the machine, I will be tied to it–never able to take the block downstairs to watch Foyle’s War, our current BBC-TV favorite.  If I ‘m doing 12, I could get a lot of TV watched.

  Decisions, decisions.

I learned on Come A-Round ( my dotty circles quilt) not to obsess over every little piece, but instead go with the flow and realize that any quilt is greater than the sum of its parts.  In other words, don’t sweat the small stuff.  Get it done.  Remember Mary Poppins and that nursery clean-up.  Snap!

Quilt Festival Entry 2011

Welcome to those who clicked over from the Blogger’s Quilt Festival!

Heart’s-ease

I made began this quilt in a class from Ruth McDowell.  For those who have taken her classes, you know you only begin there, but then go on to spend a good amount of time chasing down just the right fabric to go in a particular spot.  It was a four-day class and by the end, we were all dragging in–our creative juices spent, our bodies dead tired, but our vision–changed.  For Ruth (who by the way didn’t look tired at all!) had changed us.  I was then, and still am now, a quilter who is enamoured with the grid.  I love nine-patch, stars, crazy about sashing, and love love love Log Cabin.  Maybe it’s my orderly nature or something, but when you finish a grid quilt it’s like having cleaned out a drawer or a closet or two.  You’ve restored some order to the universe with your neat rows and sharp points (even if you have cut off a few in construction–who notices?).

Heart’s-ease is the old-fashioned name for a pansy.
Ruth suggested I use a fabric that my husband brought me from Zimbabwe as the center; she was right–it really works.

So trying to do this quilt–which is a strictly right-side of the brain, pile on your fabrics, cut those pieces of freezer paper and go go go sort of process–humbled me.  The angles–none, except a few around the border–are that blissful 30 or 60 or ninety-degrees cut over and over.  The picture I’d brought in of the pansy determined her own angles, her own coloring and background.  I think I cornered the market on yellow-green fabrics that year.  But after a year and a half–it was finally done.

It had been on my pinwall while I finished my undergrad, earning my degree in Creative Writing.  So in a way, both Pansy and I grew while she lived, unconstructed and grid-free as I wrote short stories and the beginning of a novel and struggled through having my own brain cracked open and reformed.  No tidy endings for either the stories or the pansy, but only a dark, broken border to contain our tales, our thoughts, a few dreams and a degree.

Heart’s-ease label.
When Amy asked for a quilt that taught me a lot–this just HAD to be the one!

Thanks to Amy for hosting this.  Some of the other quilts I’ve been working on are:

Come A-Round (which is at the quilter right now)

Spring/Life’s Alive (I just needed a light, happy quilt)

Christmas Star (Whew! Made it before Christmas arrived last year)

You can read about these and others by clicking on the collage of words in the right margin.

Hope you find more inspiration and ideas. I’ll be looking at yours as well!

Thanks for visiting,

Elizabeth E.

Click here to return to the 2011 Quilt Festival, and come again!