Friendship Swap

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A few months ago, Vicki contacted me and asked me if I wanted to do a Friendship Swap.  I almost said no, as I had sworn off of swaps, but I so like her work that how could I not say yes?  So I agreed to do one more swap.  We chose the theme of summer, set a date and a size, and we went to work.

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I found this cute free watermelon table runner *here* (I think you have to register with them to get it, but there is lots of great stuff on this site), and set to making it.Tablerunner_5a

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I had to stop working on it when I injured my shoulder, but when Vicki told me she was all finished and could she send hers early? I just put my brain and body into gear and finished it up.  She has received it and said she really liked it, which is so nice of her.

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She sent me hers, which I love love love, and a small mini (below).Tablerunner_3a

This is typical of Vicki’s kindness, as well as her creativity.  Who else could have made a fabric cut-out so cute, with all those darling borders?  She said it’s in honor of me, going to a quilting retreat.Tablerunner_1

We keep her table runner on our kitchen table, and after we’d opened our anniversary cards, I set them out next to the little birdhouse I’d placed in Vicki’s leafy tree-tops.  What a terrific and fun swap to end on!  (And yes, I’m really done now with swaps, but I know Vicki is still going strong!) This is Quilt #168 on my 200 Quilts list (in above tab).  If you haven’t started making  your list of your quilts ane projects, I’d encourage you to start now  It’s very fun to keep track of your quilts and creative endeavors.

Summer Bee, Quilting, and Chuck Nohara Updates

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Updating you on my Chuck Nohara block progress.  I finished off the incredibly complicated floral wreath block in the upper left.  Susan and I (and Bette) are working together on this, with Susan choosing two/month and me choosing two/month.  Yes, I chose that one (never again).  But June was finished up.Chuck Blocks_July2016

July’s blocks were interesting.  I did the sunglasses on the road to my Gwen Marston class.  I did the lower two blocks at the quilting retreat, and promptly had to re-do them again.  But I could now cross July’s blocks off the list.

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I launched into August early because of some planned travel, and hit my first roadblock with a Dresden-plate block.Chuck Nohara Dresden_1

I drafted my own little Dresden template, then proceeded the way I always do.
Chuck Nohara Dresden_2Chuck Blocks_August 2016

I had prepped up the bird before our road trip to two family reunions, but lost it somewhere between my sewing room and the great state of Utah, so I prepped up a second one, stitching it to completion while watching the Olympics opening ceremony.  Yep, I changed a few things, but here they are, all done.  I need to get them all up on the design wall, all together.  Next week.

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My friend, Laurel, showed us her COMPLETED New Hexagon Millefiore Quilt, so I thought I should resurrect that project and get it going again.
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So I laid it out on the bed in the extra bedroom. . . (warning–lots of nighttime quilting pictures ahead)Rosette_6b

. . . found the package with all the pieces and tried to make sense of it.  I hated disliked the strong star shape of that rosette (seen here in Katja’s quilt), so after studying Laurel’s rendition, I made some changes, combining some pieces.

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Now comes the fretting part.  Will it work in the bluesy-purpley combo I have going?
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Luckily I hadn’t cleaned up the stuff of the extra bed yet, and so I laid it out, section by section.  I think it will work! I said to my husband, then packed it all away to take traveling with me.  It was hard to get going on this, as I’d forgotten how much trial and error is involved in the making of these rosettes.

Aug MCM block_MaryS July 2016_MCM June MCM_2016 rene

Here’s three sets of bee blocks for the Mid-Century Modern Bee (top is Mary, middle is for Sherri, and the bottom is for Rene).  Can’t wait to see what they do with them!

July Spelling Bee_2016

I did finish Simone’s Spelling Bee Block for July while at the retreat, and it was the one thing I didn’t have to re-do.  You’ve seen this before, but since this is a round-up post, I wanted to include it.JunePrince Edward_Spelling Bee

I made an extra set of words for Kerry for her Canadian Provinces list of Spelling Bee words.  Okay, we are almost to the end (I’ve been saving all this up for a while).

Quilting Circles_Aug1

In looking at the looming deadline for Road to California entry, I kept pushing forward on getting this quilt finished.Quilting Circles_Aug2

Peas Ice Pack

Which led to many rounds of this on my aching shoulder, and a trip to the doctor’s office.  I’ve not stitched much since then, which is like tying my hands behind my back and not letting me use them.Make America Quilt Again

So instead, I read a lot, finding this “Cap Slogan Generator” on the Washington Post website, and thinking that THIS is the slogan we all need to see more of.
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And since once an English teacher, always an English teacher, I corrected all the logical fallacies in the questionaire sent to me by one of the major political parties (such errors in faulty reasoning!) and yes, I sent it back to them (they had, after all, provided me with a postage-paid envelope). Quilt Postcard in Vignette

I won’t leave you with politics, after all I do have a heart, but instead with this little shot of the shelves above my computer.  I’d sent Marsha of #quilterinmotion some of my scraps and as a thank-you, she sent me my first-ever fabric postcard. (I was so excited.)

So, summer’s almost over.  Enjoy the last few days of the Olympics, avoid politics, and keep quilting!

Keagan’s Quilt

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Keagan, my first grandchild, came to visit me last month (along with her Mom–our daughter– and family.  She’s crazy about Paris and France and all things French, so I collected a few fabrics before she got there and surprised her with them.

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And you just can’t leave it at that in a quilter’s house.  Keagan_3 Keagan_4

L’Amour recoufortand de Paris, quilt #167
Pieced and quilted by Keagan Charon and Elizabeth Eastmond
July 2016

Keagan_8 Keagan_9L’Amour recoufortand de Paris, the title, means Paris’ Comforting Love, because she considered how quilts give comfort and since it had all things Paris in it, she thought it up and had my husband translate it for her.

Keagan_5We got all the pieces cut out, then I had to go and Take Care of Things, and when I came back, this was the design she’d carefully put together on the design wall.  We sewed the pieces together–me on my regular machine, and she beside me on the Featherweight– and we put the top together.  Her brother Riley helped iron the blocks; it was a team working together.

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I stitched most of it on the Sweet Sixteen machine, but had her take a turn at the quilting, so she could say she’d help quilt it, too.
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Since we were working against a deadline, we used a glue stick to tack down the binding, and then I top-stitched it into place.Keagan_10

And then, just like that! it was time to head on home.  Here they are Sunday morning, all the kids (Keagan and Riley and Maddy) lined up for a picture before they piled in their van to drive home.

Quarterly Challenge for November 2016

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Since we are doing a yearly theme of color, the next challenge also has to do with a particular hue.  Rachel just announced our theme of “I’ve got the blues” for our November 2016 challenge.  As you all know, our art quilts are smallish (no exact size anymore) which allows us to complete them quickly, and to follow our hearts in constructing them.

I immediately thought of some blue quilts when I read the new challenge. Enjoy the show.

Rosette 1_OPQuiltcom

Rosette #1 from a quilt in progress

But “got the blues” can also mean sadness, as in this quilt, depicting a mother saying good-bye to her newly deceased newborn child:

Most of these quilts are from past Road to California quilt shows; here’s what I wrote at that time:

Surrender was a quiet quilt, tucked in among some showier ones, but took my breath away for the depiction of a mother saying good-bye to her newly deceased newborn. Maria Elkins of Ohio, paid homage to all those moms who have had to say farewell at birth.  She dedicated it to her grandchild, “who was given into the loving hands of her daughter and son-in-law.”

And finally, another inference, as shown by this quilt:

Kathryn Nolte, from La Habra Heights, California created this visual feast, titled Take in the Night Blooming Jazz, Man.  Sinewy, fluid shapes echo the subject of her quilt, with a real live “piano key” border.  This, too, could be a rendition of “I’ve got the blues.”

Blue

Blue

Tranquil blue

Blue

Blue

Blue...

Blue ....

(All photos above from a Flickr search)

Can’t wait to let this one percolate into something fun!

Jill in the Pulpit: Four-in-Art Challenge • Aug 2016

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Jill in the Pulpit
Quilt No. 166, August 2016
#3 in the Color Series: Purple Passion

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I have no serious thoughts about the color purple even though there’s a novel with that title, and even though it has so many interesting connections (which were explored in my last post and which seems like it was written about a year ago, but really it’s only been several days).  Where do summer days go to?  To family picnics, visiting relatives, long interstate drives, trips, lounging around in hot weather cleaning house. . . the usual.  And then I had to ponder what I’m passionate about?  Quilting, for sure, so in the end, the reality is to Get The Thing Done, diving into my passion of quilting, but hampered by. . .

only a flesh wound

. . . my shoulder going rogue, rendering me only a bit less helpless than the Black Knight in Monty Python, which is the standard by which we judged all injuries when raising the children.  Yes, “tis only a flesh wound,” became our rallying cry for getting up and going, and so I did, and got the quilt done.

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All the purples in my stash (with the exception of the Kaffes) were purchased about the time of the Knights of the Round Table — all plummy and grayish and dated — so while in Utah, I visited *this* shop and *this* shop, acquiring a few new fat quarters.

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Just before sleep one night, I sketched out an idea (top).  The next day I proceeded to massacre my idea (the rest of the photos).  Finally I decided that I should just slash it where it had problems and insert other fabrics, so I did, using *this video* for help in sewing curves.

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I line up fabric underneath the slash, position it, then move it about 1/4″ back from my imaginary positioning line, then rotary cut along the shape.  Stitch a 1/4″ seam. Press.

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Repeat with other side.

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Keeping the bag of frozen peas balanced on my “flesh wound,” I quilted this, stopping often to rest and ponder the state of the universe. . . or what I was doing.  I hate that I have a new quilting machine, and haven’t really been able to use it much.  “Soon,” my husband says, as he rubs my shoulder nightly and soothes my worries.  “Soon.”JillinPulpit_10

I whacked it here a little, there a little, turned it and whacked it again, until I got this ungainly flower-like thing quilt in a sort-of balance.
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Now you know why I named it Jill in the Pulpit.  It’s irrelevant whether you like the candidate or not, as the Big Deal is that we have come far enough to nominate a woman, and I thought that deserved some recognition.JillinPulpit_9

So there you go–my Purple Passion Challenge.

Please visit the rest of our group, to see how they interpreted Color: Purple Passion.  We also have a blog, Four-in-Art Quilts, where you can find us all.

Betty         https://www.flickr.com/photos/toot2

Camilla         http://faffling.blogspot.co.nz/

Catherine         http://www.knottedcotton.com

Janine         http://www.rainbowhare.com

Nancy         http://www.patchworkbreeze.blogspot.com

Rachel         http://www.rachel-thelifeofriley.blogspot.com

Simon         http://quiltalicious.blogspot.com

Susan         http://patchworknplay.blogspot.com

Oh Christmas Tree QAL • Step 7 (Final)

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Today is Step 7 — the final step — of our Oh Christmas Tree Quilt-a-Long (#ohchristmastreeqal), following a pattern by Wendy of FlyingFishKits and which was published in Simply Moderne issue #3, by QuiltMania. As always, we have an assist from Wendy of  Wendy’s Quilts and More (blog) and wendyquiltsandmore (IG).  Our hashtag on Instagram is #ohchristmastreeqal so look there for more ideas.

Wish Upon a StarI’ve been keeping a log of the steps in the tab above, Oh Christmas Tree Quilt-A-Long, so consult that page when you need to find a post.

Yes, today we are wishing upon a star, the final part of this quilt.  We started this journey 7 months ago in January 2016, right after the magazine came out, and today we’ll finish it up.

OhChristmasTree6_first border on

Your tree should have the red triangle borders on.  See earlier post for how to get them on.

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Wendy has laid out several fabrics for her stars, above.  I thought I wanted to go with traditional Christmas colors of red and green, but realized quickly that I should go with colors that coordinated with the flowers and birds.  In other words, be bold in your star colors.

WendyStarPoints

With your fabrics chosen, now it’s time to make the stars, but before you start, one issue with wonky stars is getting the star points too close to the edge.As Wendy writes: “Yellow star is what NOT to do.  Points are at the edge and will be cut off during trimming, or lost in seam allowance.  Star points need to finish further down the sides.”  I’ve circled them in red, so you’ll recognize this when it happens.  It happened to Wendy (that’s her block), it happened to me.  Consider that your Training Wheels Block.  Now one way to be aware of this is to cut all your blocks a bit larger than they ask for, and to slice the diagonal a bit differently as well.

First up, here’s my chart of how big I cut things.  It’s a downloadable PDF document:  Oh Christmas Tree wonkystarchart

Wonky StarMapAnd here’s your roadmap/key to the letters.  I put the “f” in lowercase and italicized it, as everything was getting a bit overwhelming with that alphabet floating around.

OhChristmasTree7_1splitsquare

You’ll notice on the chart I mention to cut the f-triangles “skewed.”  Cut them like the above shows, so there is a chunky bit on one end.  If you haven’t made wonky stars before, you can try it first by cutting it on a strict diagonal, and after some construction, see which one you like.  I like this way because I feel like it gives me a good angle and I’m less inclined to get the star points too close to the edge.

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Find the narrower center piece, “E” and lay them out.  Layer four f-triangles on top, with the chunky top down from the top edge, as shown.  Try to have the lower pointy edge near the middle of the lower bottom edge of the E piece.  I often finger-crease a little mark in that bottom edge of the E-rectangle so I know what I’m aiming for.  See the next photo.OhChristmasTree7_2aOn this piece, I’ve got a pretty good start. What counts is the seam line.  So at the top right, it’s down about 1″ to 1-1/2″ and the seamline is about midline, or just a bit to the side of it.  As long as you are in the ballpark of the red X at the bottom, you’re fine.

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Fold it back to check.  Press.  Trim off that wedge underneath the star point fabric, as shown below (I’m doing a stack here.)OhChristmasTree7_2c OhChristmasTree7_2d

Now line up the next set.  Yes, they are all upside down, as that’s how I’m going to sew them.  Again, the chunky tip is near the top edge, and the pointy edge overlaps the first wonky start point.OhChristmasTree7_3

Stitch, press and turn.  If you are worried, check it before you stitch it by folding it back to make sure your star point fabric covers the background E piece all the way on those two lower corners.OhChristmasTree7_3a

Now trim it up to 2 -1/2″ by 4.” In the photo above, I laid my ruler on the outline of the E piece for placement.OhChristmasTree7_3b

Now trim off that underneath piece.OhChristmasTree7_3c OhChristmasTree7_3d

Done with one!  Repeat three more times for one star block.  Don’t try to get all the points the same–let them be different lengths and placement, as your block will be more interesting.  DO make sure you are not too close to the outer edge–you’ll need that extra space for trimming.OhChristmasTree7_4

Now line them up as shown, with the H-piece in the center and the four corner G-pieces in their place.

Now you are going to make a “web” of thread, as you sew the pieces into rows.  Keep reading.

Wonky StarMapSewing

  1. Unit #1: I stitched G-1 to E-2.  Without cutting the thread, I slipped the next pair under the needle and kept stitching:
  2. Unit #2: I stitched E-4 to H-5. Without cutting the thread, I slipped the next pair under the needle and kept stitching:
  3. Unit #3: I stitched G-7 to E-8.

Sew onto a leader/ender piece (mine are just scrap, even though I always think I should be piecing another quilt or something.)

  1. Now to Unit #1 above, stitch on G-3. Without cutting the thread, I kept stitching:
  2. Stitch Unit #2 to E-6. Without cutting the thread, I kept stitching:
  3. Stitch Unit #3 to G-9.

If you can get the hang of this, you can keep all your star points together and really crank through them.

OhChristmasTree7_4aWEbThreads

Here, I’ve circled the bit of connecting “web” threads.  Press as shown: the center row has the seams pressed to the center, and the top/bottom rows have the seams pressed towards the G-piece (outer corner block).

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I’ve sewn them, pressed them, and now I can stack them, ready to sew the rows together.  Because of the thread-web, I won’t get a piece turned around, or upside down.
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There’s no magic, just press them how you like them, but I do always believe a seam will generally indicate which is the easiest way for it to fall.  In this case, it was away from the center.

OhChristmasTree7_7arrange

Arrange your stars around the tree how you think you’ll like them.  Take a photo, re-arrange if you want.   In my case, I ended up making some brighter, bolder stars, and shuffling several times.  It also helps if you go get some lunch, or fold a batch of laundry, or maybe snack on some chocolate.  Anything to take a break so you can bring some fresh eyes to the process.   Do this until you are happy with how they look.OhChristmasTree7_5trimmingNow for some measuring fun.  You know that each corner of this quilt will have a star.  And generally, the finished measurement is 8″, or trimmed to 8-1/2.”  Both Wendy and I caution that you need to make VERY SURE that your H-block is centered in your trimming.  Pay attention to the diagonal line and make sure it’s running through the center of the H-piece.
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Trim FOUR blocks only, and set aside.  What you see above is me making sure that the middle row of my stars would line up when they were placed next to each other.  I took my time trimming.  If you don’t have the middle of the star lined up, you can fudge it a bit, but not by much.

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Diagram of how to get the Wonky Star borders attached

Now comes the hard part.

Take a measurement across the top of Border #1 (triangle-border).  Mine was just over 39.” I called it close enough to 40″ as that would fit five star blocks nicely (8″ blocks x 5= 40″); I can also sew a seam or two with a bit bigger seam allowance to get it closer to my measurement (yes, there are all sorts of ways to make our Zen Quilt behave).  In my case, I trimmed them to 8 1/2″ so they finish at 8″ when they are sewn in.

Once you get that figured it, trim up TEN blocks. Use the trimming trick above to make sure the star blocks will line up.

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See how that trimmed edge is away from those star points?  (And yes, I’ve re-done a couple of blocks in my lifetime of wonky star blocks when I trimmed them off.)  Sew the FIVE top star blocks together in a row. DO NOT SEW THE CORNER BLOCKS ON YET.

Border2_stepone

Press the seams to one side, and stitch that row of Border #2 (wonky star) on to your Border #1 (red triangles).  Repeat with the bottom row of star blocks.  Press seam toward the red triangles border.  Your quilt should now look like this.

chocolate

Before you start on the sides, get more chocolate.

OhChristmasTree7_6trimming

Here comes the part where Wendy says it is kind of like childbirth: you’ll forget about it once it’s over with.  I measured the side border, counted up how many blocks were shown in the pattern, and divided that into the border measurement.  That was a scary number, so I subtracted one block, and did the dividing again.  I ended up needing SIX blocks of just about 7 3/4.”  This is the same as the pattern.
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Because the measurements were kind of weird, I decided to cheat.

OhChristmasTree7_6trimming2AI kept my blocks at 8-inches finished “north-to-south” but cut them to be 7-3/4 inches finished “east-to-west.”  Which means I was trimming them to 8-1/2″ and 8-1/4″ as shown above by the blue tape.  The “West Side” tape is at 8 1/4″ whereas the “South Side” tape is at 8 1/2.”

I just wanted to make sure that I had at least 3/8″ to 1/2″ away from the pointy edges (blue ovals).  Most of the time I succeeded.

Go Zen QuilterTrim up your blocks.  Now rotate them so the 7-3/4″ finished dimension is running north-south, and the 8″ finished dimension is running East-West.  (This is an update from the original post.) Then sew them together.  Press and hold them up against the border.  Chances are they won’t fit–they’ll be too big.  So. . . cheat again.

Take a bit bigger seams between all the blocks: from 1/4″ inch to 5/16ths of an inch.  Check your sewn row again.  If they are still too large (and can’t be eased in), choose the two stars that have the most room between the tips of their star points and the seam, and make another teeny bit bigger seam.  Now you should be fine.

Breathe Deeply.  Go Zen.

NOW sew the star corner blocks to each side border strip–two to each side strip of stars–one on the top and one on the bottom.  Press all seams on the strip towards one side.  Stitch these borders to the existing quilt.
OhChristmasTree7_Final

I then pressed all seams toward that red triangle seam, even if it didn’t want to go there.  Now, in looking at it, can you tell that the side blocks are sized a tiny bit differently than the top/bottom blocks?  Didn’t think so, and no one else will be able to tell either.  I think the solution to the challenging measurements was a success.

As Gwen Marston said, “Nobody ever said, ‘I need a little more stress in my life–think I’ll make a quilt.’ ”  Quilting should be fun, even if it’s challenging (and this was definitely a challenging quilt).
Wendy_finished quilt OCT

Here’s Wendy’s…

Betty OCT

…and Betty’s.

Now let’s see yours.  Shoot me an email when you get yours done, with a photo of your quilt, and if (I mean, when–I’m thinking positively) I get a few, I’ll put up a post showing off your hard work.

Happy DanceTry not to dance, but you are done!  It’s over!  You made your quilt!!
(Click *here* for a fun dance scene from On the Town, a favorite movie of mine.)

Thanks for joining us on this journey, from January to July, of making the Oh Christmas Tree quilt.  I’ve appreciated all your enthusiasm, your comments, and seeing photos on Instagram.

My_Place_Or_Yours

Here’s one of Wendy’s new patterns, My Place or Yours, if you want to feast your eyes on something new.  Pattern can be purchased *here.*

Pieces O My Heart Williams

Another one of hers is Pieces O My Heart, which just won a blue ribbon at the Sydney Quilt Show.  Visit her Instagram feed for more inspiration.

Lastly, if you are not a follower of my blog and you’ve enjoyed this quilt-a-long, I’d like to invite you to become an email follower. Just enter your email in the box above.  I generally post about twice a week, with occasional longer gaps. I try to post worthy and interesting content with an occasional “friends and me doing quilty stuff.”  I think by building communities and sharing discussions about issues and happenings in our world, we shorten the distance between us, forming strong links of like-minded quilters.

Happy Quilting!

Good Heart Quilters • Quilt Retreat 2016

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The 5th Annual Good Heart Quilters Retreat began last Friday morning (7/8/16).  For those of you who don’t know yet about this small quilting group I participate in, The Good Heart Quilters began meeting about 20 years ago, and have been meeting about once a month, taking summers off.  Five years ago, Lisa decided she wanted to do a retreat, so she clears out all the furniture, brings in tables and chairs and we come and sew (or mostly sing and talk, it seems like) for two days in July.Retreat2016_2

She also invites her relatives to join us, so they all schlep down from Utah/Washington, which is really fun.  Above is Elly, our newest member.  In the background are Nycole and Brittany. Retreat2016_4

I always believe I will get something done, which is a complete fantasy.  On Friday, I made four log cabin bee blocks, all the wrong size, and put this Chuck Nohara square together, then had to rip it apart when it didn’t fit.  I did make it over to Costco at dinner time and brought back an  “All-American Chocolate Cake” (aka, “Death by Chocolate”) so the day wasn’t a total loss.

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Lori just puts her head down and goes.  This is the culmination of her LQS Sampler Saturdays.Retreat2016_6

Jean is another who quilts and quilts and gets her blocks sewn together at retreat.  She’s amazing.Retreat2016_7

Coming back from dinner.  I think we had about 12 sewers on machines, and one doing handwork.  Retreat2016_8

We had two more join us on Saturday, which is when I pulled out all my words from the Spelling Bee I’m in, and tried to make some to fill in where I didn’t have.  Again, a total illusion that I’ll actually get something done. Retreat2016_9

We do Show and Tell at Saturday lunch.  This is Brittany’s.Retreat2016_10

Charlotte did a quilt with Monopoly Fabrics.Retreat2016_11

Nycole made a quilt in her husband’s favorite soccer team’s colors, and played us the RSL song that is sung at the games.Retreat2016_12

Laurel finished her exquisite Millefiore Hexie Quilt-A-Long, and even has it backed to a border.  I love this one!  (Mine sits in pieces on the guest room bed–six months down, six to go.) Retreat2016_14

Simone’s been working on a baby quilt: free-form hexies will be appliquéd to a very creative front.Retreat2016_15

And YES!  I finished something: Simone’s word for this month’s Spelling Bee.  She’s playing with all our minds and asking us to make the names of colors in a color other than is indicated.
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Lisa sent us home with lots of goodies, all in a Daiso Japan zipper case — thank you, Lisa!! See you all next year!

Hallowe’en 1904 QAL–Step Six • Final Post

Step 6 halloweenQAL

First up, some business to take care of.

UppercaseGiveaway7_2016

I recently had a post about creativity/uniqueness/Uppercase/Collaboration, where I had a giveaway with two Uppercase magazines and a charm pack of Uppercase Fabric.  So many of your comments were incredibly thoughtful about the process of creativity and the quality of being unique.  Several were very encouraging to me, which was quite appreciated and touched my heart.  Of course, I’ve pasted them in my journal for those less-than-stellar creative days.  Thank you all so very much.

I used the True Random Number Generator (I like to spread the love around the random number generators), and it picked Mary, of NeedledMom.  Email is on it’s way to you, Mary, and I’ll get the treats mailed off to you this week!

Okay, back to Halloween 1904.  This was our schedule:

Step 1 (Preparation): February 13, 2016–buy all the fabrics and find the pattern.  Patterns are available from Primitive Gatherings.  The quilt measures 90 by 90, which is too large for me, so I’m only doing nine blocks.  Each block is 20″ square, and with the outer borders, that should come to roughly  65″ square.  I may change my mind, but this looks good from here.

Step 2: March 13, 2016–Cut out the quilt: the tan backgrounds of the squares, the border triangles, the smaller half-square triangles, strips for the wonky stars, but save the piano key border for later.

Step 3: April 13, 2016–Assemble four blocks and add large appliques; use Thelma’s method (of Cupcakes and Daisies) for adding the curlicue stem. Make and add half-square triangeles (HSTs) around these blocks, using the 8-at-a-time method of HSTs.

Step 4: May 13, 2016–Cut and make the wonky star blocks from templates and strips.  I’m doing five blocks, so will need to make twenty wonky stars and true them up.  Add on the large outside triangles.

Step 5: June 13, 2016–Assemble the rest of the star blocks, by adding their HST borders. In the pattern, they are mixed up and varied, but also harmonized (some have a mix of orange and black, some have just black, some have just orange.)  Make your own rules and go with it.

AND NOW!  WE ARE AT Step 6: July 13,  2016–Arrange the blocks on your design wall and stitch together.  Cut the pieces for your borders.  Make the four corner pinwheels. Sew borders together and attach them to the quilt. Ta-Done!!

Halloween4_ninesquares

We finished up here last time, with the center of the quilt put together, the blocks placed and sewn together (and yes, I fixed the lower sawtooth edge on the right). Leisa and I are making a 9-block quilt; the pattern calls for 12 blocks.

Halloween6_0Make more HST blocks: there are four blocks per pinwheel, so this time I didn’t use the eight-at-a-time method, but instead, followed the pattern’s recipe for two-at-a-time (check there for dimensions). Halloween6_0a Halloween6_0b

Trim each HST to 3″ using your favorite method, then stitch four together to make a pinwheel.

Halloween6_2Press, as shown, with all seams to the dark, popping a few stitches in the middle to allow the seam allowances to make their own tiny pinwheel.Halloween6_1

True the corner pinwheel square to 5 1/2.”

Halloween6_3

You’ll be making four corner pinwheels.

Halloween6_2a

Cut your pieces for your borders, following the pattern directions.  For the smaller nine-block quilt, adjust down to 24 total per side.  I tried to randomize the sewing of the oranges in between the black pieces, as I had many more different types of orange.  Just do your best. Halloween6_2bHalloween6_2c

Press the seams going one way.  You’ll notice that you begin with a black and end with an orange piece (or visa versa).  I chose to press my seams toward the orange, from the black, doing the same on all four border strips.  Halloween6_4

Matching all the seams, pin and stitch on the borders: I sewed on the top border and the bottom border and pressed the seam away from the quilt top (towards the border).  Then I sewed the sides on, but I left one inch free on the beginning of that seam and on the end of that seam, which would allow me to stitch on the pinwheel blocks later.  You can kind of see where it’s not sewn down, above.

Now, audition your pinwheels–you’ll like them going one way or the other, or swap them out to get the look that pleases you.  But please don’t overthink this step.  When you get them how you like them, stitch them on the side borders at both ends.  Press.  Then finish stitching the side seams.

Halloween6_5Now press those seams away from the quilt top, towards the border.  You are done!

Halloween6_quilt2I went outside in the sunset and took pictures of the completed quilt top.

Halloween6_in the garden Halloween6_quilt1 Halloween6_quilt3I know when you were deep in wonky stars and then deeper in making millions of half-square triangles, you wanted to quit; however, this last part is easy-peasy, so you should come roaring into the finish line.

Congratulations on finishing your Halloween Quilt, and so early!  Thanks for following along our QAL.  Hope you enjoy your quilt this Halloween!

1halloweenQAL logo

When you finish, send me a photo (or two) and I’ll put them up on the blog.  Happy Haunting, everyone!

Uppercase Fabrics, Kevin Umana, and Creativity Breakout

KevinUmanaSnap

This post is the story of two creatives, well, maybe three.  One is an artist living and working in Los Angeles.  That’s Kevin Umaña, up there.Vangool

Another is Janine Vangool, a graphic artist and editor-in-chief of Uppercase Magazine in Canada, who recently released a line of fabric through Windham Fabrics (photo of Janine from *here*).

And then there’s me, but you know what I look like.

UmanaUppercaseQuilts1

And it’s also the tale of two quilts and a quilt block (which is at the end, by the giveaway from Uppercase and Janine, so keep reading).KevinUmanaIGfeed1

Some time ago, my nephew linked me over to Kevin’s Instagram feed, as he knew I am slightly passionate about quilts and designs, and I’m especially in love the the “grid.”  Apparently Kevin loves it too, as well as color and shape and repeated lines. (All these images are posted with his permission.)
KevinUmanaIGfeed3

I had sort of been in a creative slump, slightly burned out, not really knowing what to do next besides bee blocks and the Same Old. Idly scrolling through Kevin’s feed one afternoon, I found a few designs that interested me; he and I began to correspond, and then collaborate.

Stitch-IlloAbout the same time, Uppercase Magazine‘s Janine Vangool announced that they were producing an Encyclopedia (images from Uppercase’s website), and the one that interested me was her Stitch-Illo, one of three that was launching the Encyclopedia series.  Since I’d missed submitting to her Compendium (which is always on my nightstand), I went right to her website and started choosing pictures to submit, planning on getting the submission in early. Everything was going along swimmingly until I hit this question: “What makes your work unique?”

Unique?

No matter what I wrote, it sounded trite and useless and idiotic and banal and cliched, and believe I re-wrote the answer to that question about 50 times. I felt dead in the water.  (I’m sure Kevin wondered what happened to me.)  It was like coming up to a mirror and instead of seeing a reflection of my image, it was like seeing past me into an empty sewing room, forty million quilts stacked to the ceiling, but they were all somebody else’s vision or creation or idea.  Nothing unique anywhere.

That question rattled around in my head while on a trip with my husband, and where it rained nearly every day, giving me lots of time to think.  I slowly reviewed all the quilts I had pictures for while sitting in my hotel room, wondering; do we all make the same quilt, over and over?  Not our own same quilt, but the One of the Moment, currently seen on everyone’s Instagram feed, or splashed all over the quilty magazines?  Where was my unique?  If someone saw one of my quilts, would they say, “Oh, yes–that’s Elizabeth’s!”  And if I really had a unique, what was it?  What did it look like?  How could I tell it from someone else’s?

And in my more cynical moments, I’d say, “Well who cares, if it’s unique?  Doesn’t matter enough that I’m a maker, that I express myself with cloth and sewing and cutting and stitching?” Really helpful, right?

IllusionofColorsQuilt

Back home, I began looking at Kevin’s designs again.  In college we were encouraged to do “imitations” of writers, using their form in order to get the meter and the words under our creative nails, as a way of training up a writer. It was a form of limiting, giving us structure, but not letting us off the rails, so to speak.  So I decided to allow Kevin’s form to give me structure. And I chose to limit my fabrics to a (delightful) bundle of Janine’s Uppercase fabrics, which I’d purchased at Market.

The first experiment (above) with Kevin’s work was almost an exact copy.

KevinUmanaIGfeed2

Umana Cross Quilt 2

But the second quilt took off on its own.

Crossroads Center Block

The center cross morphed.
Crossroads_frontfinal Crossroads_detail

Somewhere in here, the experiment sparked an original idea.  And when I quilted, I kept seeing more.Crossroads_3 Crossroads_2 Crossroads_1

Crossroads, after Umaña • Quilt #165

Until finally, I’m here.

I won’t tell you what I wrote for Uppercase, because in a way, it’s really irrelevant to the idea of this particular story.  What resonates is that challenge laid down in those words of the application, one that I think about to this day.  I’m incredibly grateful to Kevin for allowing me to collaborate with him, and to borrow a little from his light when I needed it.

I’m also grateful to creatives who make fabrics for me to use, such as the excellent line shown in this post.  All fabrics, with the exception of the solid white, are from Janine Vangool’s Uppercase Fabrics line.  Yes, even the wee metallic letters in the sunglasses below, an echo of Kevin’s at the top of the post.

UppercaseFabricSunglasses

 (Chuck Nohara block #345. Pattern for the Crossroads quilt coming soon to Craftsy.)

And finally, the cheesy way to close out a conundrum: let somebody else do the talking for you.

I narrow-mindedly outlawed the word ‘unique.’ Practically every press release contains it. Practically nothing ever is. (Fred Hechinger)

Every person born in this world represents something new, something that never existed before, something original and unique and every man or woman’s foremost task is the actualization of his or her unique, unprecedented and never recurring possibilities. (Martin Buber)

Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else. (Margaret Mead)

Nobody can be exactly like me. Even I have trouble doing it. (Tallulah Bankhead)

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Uppercase Giveaway

When I saw Janine at Quilt Market, her booth was handing out free Uppercase Magazines.  Since I’ve been a subscriber for several years, I mentioned to Janine that with the free magazine I could instead do a Giveaway on my blog, and she handed me another magazine, her fabric catalogue and the charm pack of her fabrics to sweeten the pot.  To enter, please leave a comment.  Blog followers get double their chances (shameless promotion), but it’s not necessary to follow to win. 

NOTE: Giveaway now closed.  Thanks to all who entered.

˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚
And finally…

Giveaway Step 6_OCT

…congratulations to the winner of the Dresden Carnival book, Beth T, who wrote about making a squared Dresden plate block for her niece’s quilt.  I’ve sent you an email and I’ll get that off to you this week.  Thank you to all who entered.  You have lovely Dresden Plate Memories!

Oh Christmas Tree QAL • STEP 6 and Giveaway

6XmasTreeJune

Today is Step 6 of our Oh Christmas Tree Quilt-a-Long (#ohchristmastreeqal), following a pattern by Wendy of FlyingFishKits and which was published in Simply Moderne issue #3, by QuiltMania. As always, we have an assist from Wendy of  Wendy’s Quilts and More (blog) and wendyquiltsandmore (IG).  Our hashtag on Instagram is #ohchristmastreeqal so look there for more ideas.

I’ve been keeping a log of the steps in the tab above, Oh Christmas Tree Quilt-A-Long, so consult that page when you need to find a post.

And yes, there is a giveaway at the end of this post, so have fun reading through the maze of red triangles.

great wall of china1

Today is the Dreaded Border Problem. No, not that kind of border problem, but a QUILT border problem. To guide you through all the blather this longish post, I’ve broken it into 5 parts: 1) The Pattern and the Problem, 2) The Fix, 3) Construction, 4) Fitting it to the Tree, and 5) More Ideas.

The Pattern and the Problem

As SuggestedThese were the inner red/background fabric border blocks, drawn to the measurements listed on the pattern in Simply Moderne.  You can see the troubles already, right?  None of them can play nicely together (that last shape is the dimension of the half-triangle, minus its diagonal line).

MetricImperial Stormtrooper(from here)

Maybe the Metric vs. Imperial measuring system may have something to do with it?  but I don’t know (and to be truthful, I just really wanted to use that image).

As Re-drawn

When I tried to subtract the seam allowances, and create the wedge piece for use at each end of the borders, it just got messier.

But never fear!  Wendy informed me that the seam allowances were left off the triangle and the wedge piece, EVEN THOUGH IT SAYS THE SEAM ALLOWANCES ARE INCLUDED.  She sent me photos showing a difference in the base of about 3/4″ across.

Which explains. . . a lot.  Like a lot of you have gone ahead and cut out the triangles then got to a place like where Gwen did, when she noticed that they were too small!  She eventually made more triangles to fit across the area needed.  Leslie, another friend who was trying to make this at a retreat, emailed me with the same problem; she decided to stop until I figured it out.

The Fix

But before I knew about the news from Wendy,  I had scrapped their templates entirely and made my own, which work fine (free templates for download are below). I compared my triangles to the revised pattern (now including) seam allowances, and mine are slightly larger by about 1/4″ total on the large triangle (1/8″ each side), but interestingly enough, perfect for the wedge triangle.  So you have a choice: do theirs in their imperfections — first adding seam allowances — or, forget theirs and go with mine.  You should know, however, using my templates will change the number of wonky stars you’ll make for the border, if that matters to you.  The finished quilt photo is at the very end of this post, if you want to compare how mine turned out with the magazine’s photo.  And Simpy Moderne’s  link for the errata; it simply says “add seam allowances.” Okey, dokey.

I figured out my templates by starting with their lower border measurement, which just happened to be one that I could evenly divide by 3.  So I redrew my triangles to measure 3″ across the bottom. Then I had to change the side border measurement to also allow division by 3.  Here’s my working snapshots from my QuiltPro software.

OCT6_Side border1

These images show the measurements without seam allowances.  The templates that you’ll print off (at 100%) include those pesky seam allowances.  OCT6_TopBorder

So here is that link to a PDF file that has templates for the new triangles and corner block: OCT New Border Templates.  To make sure you are printing it out correctly, the inside measurement of the cornerstone (w/o seam allowances) is 3.5 inches (or the entire square is 4″).  Please print out only one copy for yourself.  If your mother or friend want the pattern, please send them here to get it.  Many thanks.  

Construction

OhChristmasTree6_1 cutting triangles

I cut three 4″ strips WOF: as you can see, the strips were big enough to accommodate the triangle pattern.  I did flip it back and forth so was able to get about 10-12 triangles out of that folded cut per strip (I forgot to count).  So, from three strips I had plenty.  You’ll need 11 red triangles each for the top/bottom border, and 13 red triangles each for the side borders.  Cut 12 whole background triangles and 2 smaller wedge triangles for each side border; top/bottom borders require 10 full background triangles and 2 smaller wedge triangles.  [NOTE: I do show you two different ways to think about your placement; read all the way to the end before cutting.]OhChristmasTree6_2

I put a double loop of painter’s tape on the back of my template so it wouldn’t shift while I was cutting.OhChristmasTree6_2a

I also don’t really worry about the outside edge of the template so much, instead focusing on lining up my ruler with the actual dimensions of the triangle.  That way, if I accidentally trim off a bit of the template while cutting, the world doesn’t end.  I’m paying more attention to the inside “actual triangle” shape when I cut, than to the triangle’s outer seam allowance line.OhChristmasTree6_2b OhChristmasTree6_3 cutting arrangement

I’ve also learned to shift the fabric going up away from me (north-south direction) when I cut angles, shifting it slightly left or right as needed, so it’s easier cutting with less stress on my hands.

OhChristmasTree6_4 sewing

All lined up, ready to sew. OhChristmasTree6_4a

Since I cut three strips at once, I work with a stack of six red triangles and six background triangles, laying them out like this.

OhChristmasTree6_4bb

Line up the tip like this, then sew along the top edge with an accurate 1/4″ seam, shown here by the dotted line.  Do your best to get that seam as accurate as you can, as you are working with a ton of seams here, and a little scoonch off at this point can yield big differences later.  Having said that, I wouldn’t worry about it too much, as there are lots of ways to adjust these borders.OhChristmasTree6_5 pressing

I stitched them in pairs, then pressed to the dark side.OhChristmasTree6_6

Then I seamed two together, pressed again to the dark side, then built out my four different borders by combining these sets.  Watch out–you will have an odd number so you’ll need to sew on just one red triangle at the end of each border, then sew on the smaller half-triangle shapes to make your borders.  To reiterate, you should then have:
•  two borders with 11 red triangles
•  two borders with 13 red triangles

This is different than the pattern in the magazine.  Sew a corner block on the ends of the 13-triangle (side) borders and iron all the seams to the dark side, as before.

Fitting It to the Tree

Find yourself a nice big flat surface, preferably with a grid.

OhChristmasTree6_7 squaring quiltLike a cutting board, or something (Why yes, I do work on my guest bed all the time).  I smoothed out my tree, aligning the tree trunk on one of the lines (north-south) but quickly realized that even though I thought I had sewn the tree on straight on my background, it was slightly off (see the slope of the lower edge).  You’ll cut the background 33 1/2″ by 39 1/2″ if you are using my templates.  Please follow the measurements in the magazine if you are using theirs.

OhChristmasTree6_7 squaring quilt1

I was more concerned that the tree be upright and straight, so I continued lining up the tree trunk and the limbs with the grid underneath, then putting pins to anchor them straight.
OhChristmasTree6_7 squaring quilt2

Since I want the background to be cut to 33 1/2″ inches wide, I put the 16-3/4″ inch line in the middle of my tree.OhChristmasTree6_7 squaring quilt2b

If you have one of these hanging around the house, that’s even better.  They are nifty rulers that allow you to find the center easily.  Just line up the similar measurements on the outside (in this case, the 1-inch marks on the top edge of the Center-Finding Rule) and you’ll instantly find the center.  OhChristmasTree6_7 squaring quilt3

Mark the outside edges.OhChristmasTree6_7 squaring quilt4

Now connect the marks.  I also used the grid underneath to aid me, deferring to those lines, if I thought my marks were a little wonky.  I measured the height of this rectangle (39-1/2″) and it turned out to be almost exactly two inches above the big circle at the top of the tree and the lower edge of my manger in my scene.  (Lucky me!)  I then used the grid underneath and the right angles of my big ruler to draw the top and bottom lines.

The idea is to draw yourself a squared-up rectangle.  If you draw the lines at 33 1/2″ and 39 1/2″ then you can align the raw edges of your borders with those lines as you pin them on.  BUT DON’T TRIM THE BACKGROUND YET!!OhChristmasTree6_8 sewing borders1

Of course, the best-laid plans often go awry.  I’m a bit short here, but instead of stretching the border to fit (which I could do, since it’s mostly on the bias), I let it be a bit short.  I’ll adjust the outside wonky star borders as needed.  Sew on the top and bottom borders first.OhChristmasTree6_8 sewing borders2

While ironing this seam, I just realized that the red triangles should be pointing TOWARDS the Christmas Tree. I un-sewed, then re-sewed, all the while listening to this (30 hour!) book:

Alexander Hamilton

In this season of political intrigues, constitutional fights and jockeying for power, it’s been interesting to revisit the original story of political intrigue, constitutional fights and jockeying for power.  Okay, back to the triangles.

OhChristmasTree6_8 sewing borders3

Sew on the top/bottom borders first.  Then sew the two sides, leaving the corner block seam areas unsewn.  Press, then check them, THEN TRIM THE BACKGROUND FABRIC.  After that, stitch the corner block seams.OhChristmasTree6_first border on

Ta-Done!!  It changes the look of everything to have this first border on, and now I can’t wait until I can get sewing the Wonky Blocks for the outside.  I’ll cover that on our last installment of the QAL, including how to adjust in case your borders aren’t quite what you thought.

Betty, another friend who is doing this, was working parallel with me that day, and we talked back and forth as we worked. The big take-away is that I think this quilt is jinxed, has a spell on it.  Or maybe it was because it was too hot:
113 degrees_toohot

At one point, nearly in tears, I called my husband and told him this pattern had gotten the better of me, and I wanted to chuck it through the window.  So if you have this reaction, you are not alone.  But carry on, it gets better.  Betty’s quilt turned out like this:

BettyOCT_redborders

(Isn’t that background fabulous?)

Here’s the kicker: she had to eliminate the wedge triangles from the two sides at the lower edge, where it joins the square.  In fact, she had to cut those triangles in half.  Her measurements are only 1/2″ different than mine, so that’s when I decided that with this pattern you have to:

Go Zen Quilter

Go Zen.

Oh yeah, that’s totally me up there, but only after I got the red borders on.  Just let go of trying to make this pattern be a precise, precision-cut and sewn quilt, and just work with it.  And by the way, Wendy from NZ was working with the “good measurements” from the original pattern and she still had a hard time getting the red border sewn.  But like me and Betty — and soon, you — she did it.

Wendy OCT with first border

Yes, she reversed her triangles, but when I commented on it, told me that she was all finished so they were staying that direction.  I mention this to fit in with the theme of Go Zen.  There are many ways to complete this pattern, and they are all charming.  Keep reading for another.

Once you get here, you’re going to want to keep going and get the whole dang quilt finished off.  So, instead of waiting a month for the next installment, I’ll give you roughly a week to get it on (and to get the cursing out of your system) and then I’ll pop up with the the final installment, where we Finish This Thing.

tiny nine patches

More Ideas

OhChristmasTree alternateborder

I first saw this on IG.  She did it all in Kaffe Fasset fabrics (apparently, no wools anywhere), with a red/white checkerboard border and that she plans to hang it up all year long.  This photo is from the IG feed from Linderella’s Quilt Works in North Carolina.  (This is the advantage of tagging your photos!)

SusanHolmanOCT

And then Janice of french75too (and a huge EPP enthusiast) sent me this picture that was posted on the Kaffe Fasset FB group.  The quilt is by Susan Holman, who gave me permission to post it here.  She also mentioned that she “had to cut the inner section a bit smaller” and also “re-drafted the stars to finish at 7.5,” as the depth of the border changed the dimensions.

Just to torture myself further for fun, I decided to think about how the quilt top would look if I used different end wedge triangle colors. Here are two pictures to illustrate what I mean.

OCT6_beigetriangles

This is how the pattern goes: small half-triangles made of the background fabric sit next to the corner blocks.  The center triangle, in the top and bottom borders, is pointing exactly at the tree trunk.
OCT6_RedTriangles

In this one, the small wedge-shaped triangles are red, which means that the numbers are slightly inverted (10 full red triangles, instead of 11) and the points of the center triangles are on either side of the tree trunk.  You get to choose.  And because I promised you, here’s a look at my completed top:

OhChristmasTreeFinalToplabeled

This photo is showing number of triangles and the number of wonky stars (which we’ll do next time).

ChristmasTreeLogoSM

Here’s our updated schedule (can you believe we’ve been working on this since January??):

January 2nd, Step “prepare”: buy the magazine, books, gather your fabrics, buy the felt/wool, buy/find the pearl cotton.
February 2nd, Step 1: Make the tree on the background and stitch it down.
March 2nd, Step 2: Make 21 flowers.
April 2nd, Step 3: Make 10 birds and all the leaves.
May 2nd, Step 4: Appliqué down the flowers and birds.
June 2nd, Step 5:  Scene at bottom of tree–make, then appliqué onto background.
July 2nd, Step 6: Sawtooth border (reds); sew together and attach. 

July (sometime mid-month), Step 7: (finish up Quilt-A-Long): Make wonky star blocks, sew them together and attach border #2.

September, Step 8 Show and Tell, just in time for school starting again.  Please send pictures of whatever state your Christmas Tree is in–whether it’s just the bones of the tree, of a completed top–we want to see it!

 

Giveaway Banner

Dresden Giveaway

Since we are now winding down our Oh Christmas Tree QAL, I thought you’d like to have another project to start.  How about some Dresdens?  This lovely book, Dresden Carnival, written by Marian Gillian and Yvette Marie Jones, has sixteen different quilt projects using the Dresden Plate block in ways you never thought of.  The color pairings are bright and fun and the settings will have you thinking about Dresdens in a whole new way.

To win a copy of this book, please leave a comment telling me what your best Dresden Plate block memory is–from that vintage quilt you saw in an antique store to inheriting a set of blocks from your aunt, to the colorful Dresdens now flying around on the internet (including the free EPP pattern on this blog).  I’ll activate the Husband Random Name Generator and we’ll pick a winner.

UPDATE:

Well, my husband was reading intently, so I fired up the Random Number Generator and it picked a winner.  See next post for more info.

Flag waving

Happy Independence Day!
After listening to Hamilton, this whole process has a new meaning for me.  I owe a great debt to those early patriots.