WIP Wednesday (Selvage Blocks)

Selvage Quilt Block_yellow

Okay, these 20″ blocks are addicting.  Someone on IG commented on my selvage stash, but the whole thing could fit into a gallon ziploc bag.  There are all those selvages on my stash, however. . .

Other Works in Progress, this Wednesday morning:

Rainbow Petals.v2Rainbow Petals–the more I type that name, the more I realize it needs to be changed

LollypopTree Top FinishedLollypop Tree Quilting.  It’s such a big project, I keep waiting for the decks to be cleared to start on it.  That’s always a bad idea if you are trying to get something done, but a good way to procrastinate.

February CrossX blocks_2

Cross-X Quilt Blocks. That’s February’s installment on our Friendship Swap to the left.

Cutting out the quilt with the Mirror Ball Dots fabric.  Let’s just make that THINKING up the quilt with the Mirror Ball Dots fabric.  (No photo)
That’s enough for now.

Linking up to Lee’s Freshly Pieced blog and her WIP Wednesday.

WIP on

A Record of Quilts–Making A Quilt List

I have two links up above, one titled “100 Quilts List” and the other “200 Quilts List.”  It’s been interesting to be able to say with some accuracy how many quilts I’ve made over my lifetime, but I didn’t start those lists when I first started quilting.

Dad's Art Book Pages

Those lists began because of my father’s journal of his paintings (this is one volume of five), which are a record of how he created them, colors he chose, inspiration, sketches.  My friend Lisa also had a quilt journal and when she showed it to me, some time ago, I was in an insanely busy time of life and thought I could never do such a thing.  But life changes, from busy to not-so-busy, and as an experienced quilter, I began to want a record of my work in this life that didn’t vanish under dust or dirt, or disappear into a student’s backpack, never to be looked at again.  I began quilting in my twenties, some four decades ago, so that was a lot of quilts to account for.

CCA holding quilts

And once I started my journal, I wanted it to be accurate, a habit that has come about because I am married to a scientist, and we are all about accuracy in this house.  I started making a list, pulling photos from albums, and bugging my children to let me come and photograph their quilts.  That’s my oldest son, Chad, above.  We met one day at his work and we laid out the quilts he had in the conference room, so we could photograph them.

Photographing Quilts

At that time, we had wooden lift-up garage doors, and I stapled a white sheet to the front, set up a table and gathered every quilt from what I had in our house to photograph.  I pinned the quilts as straight as I could to the sheet and waited until the sun had moved off the door, so I could get an even tone (adjusting for the shadow).  It took me about three days, and the neighbors were quite entertained by all my going up and down the stepladder, photographing the front, turning the quilt over (you see a back up there), and then a few close-ups here and there.


Another time, I drove to Arizona, where two of my children lived, set up a borrowed frame and pinned and photographed, over and over, with grandchildren watching, finally being allowed to wrap up in their baby quilts.

MeganPeter SunandSea

I started going through all my digital photographs, looking for quilts.  Above are Peter and Megan the night before their marriage, holding a quilt I gave them.  And from all these sources, I started compiling my list in a simple spreadsheet.  Where I had dimensions, I put them in.  Dates were critical, but I decided to keep it just to the year.  Was the quilt labeled?  Photographed?  I noted that too.  A couple of quilts are gone forever, but I remembered them, and tried to put them in where I could, numbering and re-numbering.

I decided to only include finished & quilted tops, but I know Thelma, of Cupcakes and Daisies counts hers by pieced tops.  However you decide to count yours, I would encourage you to start writing down what you have accomplished.  I guess the biggest pay-off came from me when I came home from Arizona with those frames and was able to photograph some of the larger bed-sized quilts that I couldn’t accommodate on the garage door.

Clay's Choice

This is Clay’s Choice.  The first big quilt I’ve ever made.

My husband helped me put it up on the frames and I stepped back a bit to photograph it, then looked up from the camera to really see it.  This was the first time I had seen my quilt off of a bed, all arrayed in its beginner-quilter glory.  I paused and studied it–the white floral sheets, the solid greens, the Clay’s Choice triangles in a dainty blue print spinning around, each in their own block.  I remember tracing around cardboard to get those shapes, stitching the blocks, and hand-quilting it over several years on a small portable frame.  I looked at it, all the memories of the making, here, visible in this fabric concoction, never needing to be dusted, or re-done, or rewritten.  This quilt, nearly 35-years old, captured all of that in its pieces, waving back and forth in the late afternoon breeze.

“Everything okay?” my husband asked.

Oh, yes.  Everything is just fine.

At the Bandstand, Under a Starry Night


 At the Bandstand, Under a Starry Night, front

I’ve written about this quilt on this blog before, where I referred to it as Hunter’s Star, a description of the block.  But now it is finished, binding and all, and has a new name: At the Bandstand, Under a Starry Night.

SFO Bay Bridge_1

I’ve done a couple of “under the starry night” experiences this past week, and there’s also been some bandstanding, or music.  The photo above is of the San Francisco Bay Bridge, where they have an LED art installation, The Bay Lights, which makes patterns with fish swimming across the bridge, clouds, waves, shooting lines, sparkly doodads and all sorts of patterns.  We drove up to San Francisco to see this, as it’s only here for two years.

SFO City LIghts

And here’s The City’s lights, with the Ferry Building in the foreground.  I had first made this quilt for my youngest son’s college quilt.  He was enamored of music of all kinds, acquiring the nickname of Audioman, so I incorporated music-themed fabric into the Hunter’s Star design, a personal favorite.


 At the Bandstand, Under a Starry Night, back

However, he took one look at it and kind of squinched up his eyes, subtly shook his head and didn’t say much.  I figured it out, and made him a different one (#43 on the 100 Quilts List), which he liked much better.  This one sat around.


I pulled it out because I’d put it on my Finish-A-Long list, rummaged through my fabric stash, finding the borders already cut out.  I slipped in the yellow inner border for some variety (funny how your quilting tastes change), found a large piece of IKEA fabric and put a back on it so my quilter could get it quilted for me.

BandstandStarryNight_back detail

Back detail

As you all know, it had been a beyond-stressful week for me not only for my own puny reasons, but troubles within my larger circle of people I love.  And then the landline phone on the house telephone went out.  That’s it, I said.  So I sat down and put on the binding, and Friday morning found me traveling north with my husband to a scientific conference.  I happily stitched as he drove.


 quilt on a large cypress tree, outside our hotel room

So we found ourselves here in Monterey and it’s the jazz festival — a Big Deal, with Big Names — jazz in the lounge, on the stereo, musical instruments being seen everywhere.  And I thought of the best kind of music, being played with great affection and intensity under a starry night, perhaps even by a band on a bandstand on a summery night, and so the quilt found its name, and its finish.


FinishALong Button

This is one of my project on the Finish-A-Long list, and quilt #47 on my 100 Quilts List.  Yes, I went backwards.  (Although now I only list them when they are completed, earlier I slipped in a couple of tops only.)

Using the Other Side of Fabrics

First off, after I finally figured out how to use Mr. Random Number Generator, and making sure that comment included a trip, I’m happy to announce that the winner of the Itsy Bitsy Scissors is Mary, of Needled Mom.  Congrats!

I figured since I subjected you to a swath of vacation photos, I needed to get real and get some real quilts back up here on the blog.  I started yesterday on the newest Schnibbles for June, Dulcinea, beginning with the background fabric in a navy-blue print:

background dulcinea

A high-quality iPhone photo, uploaded, then recaptured as a screen shot.  Love technology.  Kidding, but it does come in handy.


I filled in with mostly Comma prints, but a few others (I hate doing one line of fabric), but it just wasn’t going anywhere for me, until I turned the background fabric over to the “other side,” not the “wrong” side (shown in pink circle).  Why do I not say “the wrong side”?  It comes from the era of watercolor quilts, when we tried to blend blend blend our tones across multitudes of itty-bitty squares.  We learned to consider both sides of a piece of fabric as possibilities.

Watercolor Quilt

Here’s my version: Color Study: Night Infolds the Day.  My friend Leisa got us started on this adventure–I think it was her first quilt ever.  We cut about a zillion little squares, and since that cool gridded fusible web hadn’t been invented yet, we pieced them all.

Watercolor detail 2

So the technique was to smooth the colors across the colorful sections, and sometimes no matter how many little squares you browsed through, it just wasn’t possible.

Watercolor detail1

So you flipped the piece over and used the “other side,” like the middle partial square in the upper row, and the full right-hand square in the second row.

Watercolor Back

I used an allover celestial print for the back–that was pretty daring for that time — all of 14 years ago.

Watercolor Label

The label.  I exhibited this is a local quilt show, and stitched on their label, too.  The best part of this story is that our friend Tracy adopted our six pizza boxes full of squares (we sorted them by value, from light to dark), added about a zillion white squares and made herself a wonderful quilt from our leftovers, another value of getting together in a quilt group.  This is #29 on my 100 Quilts List.

Carmel BluesAnother quilt where I used the “other” side sometimes, was on the quilt I made for my mother (mentioned in last week’s post).  We’d gone to a quilt show in Carmel, where I’d picked up a fat quarter pack of blues.  This is titled The Blues of Carmel, and is #19 on my 100 quilts list.  It’s named not only for the ocean at Carmel’s edge, and that pack of blues from the quilt show, but also because my mother has blue eyes.

Carmel Blues Back

The back of this is merely a whole cloth, allover design, which I used as a guide to hand-quilt.  Pretty much the only people who machine quilted their quilts at that time were J. C. Penny’s or Sears.  It was hand-quilt, or yarn-tie.  Quite a range of options, right?  Since this was made in my earlier days, it doesn’t have a label.  I need to remedy that.  This quilt was published in Joen Wolfrom’s book Color Play (page 64). Don’t know who Joen Wolfrom is?  Google her.  Her book, Patchwork Persuasion is ground-breaking.  And just typing “#19 of 100 Quilts” makes me realize how far I’ve come, and how far quilting has evolved, in the nearly two decades since I made this.  Of course, I’M not any older.

Dulcinea Label

This was on my melon for lunch, which reminds me I need to get back to sewing that Schnibbles quilt, another one in Sherri and Sinta’s Another Year of Schnibbles!

Scrappy Stars!

Scrappy Stars, full view

I can finally write this post, as I caught Dave before he picked up his latest Donna Leon book (see the picture at the end for my stack).  I used to have this perfect photography studio, but then we had to replace our garage doors and I can’t staple a white sheet onto it any more.  So, I have Dave hold up the quilt for me in the back yard.

Here’s the requisite languid beauty shot: Quilt Draped Over Something.

The back.  You know that fabric you have that you love love love and it’s been sitting sitting sitting on your shelf for too long?

This was mine, so I put it to good use on the back of this very red quilt.

My quilter, Cathy of CJ Designs, did a meander over the star points and a star on a rolling wavy line in the borders. I had wanted to quilt this myself and imagined some glorious feat like Angela Walters accomplishes–all detail and punch and wonderfulness.  But in the end, I traded “Done” for “Glory,” as the pragmatic side of me realized that summer was o-v-e-r and if this quilt was to be enjoyed, I needed help on the quilting.

The label:  Scrappy Stars • No one sees what is before his feet: we all gaze at the stars.  –  Cicero

This is my number 100 of 100 quilts.  Now I’m starting on my second batch of one-hundred quilts.

I’ve arranged this stack of Donna Leon books I’ve finished in order of publication, with Death at La Fenice the very first one she published.  Notice how we get the paperbacks from used books stores (via Amazon and Abe Books online).  ( That second one is titled Death in a Strange Country.) There’s a lot of her books out there. So far, Acqua Alta is my most favorite, but I do like her subplots and characters. I’ve made a note to buy little almond cakes while we’re there, as they only appear around the first part of November — a piece of trivia gleaned from one of the novels.  At any rate, I look forward to reading more of these as soon as I can.

Village Houses: Joybells Ring in Heaven’s Street

When I was at our sewing group, Lisa brought out her “house” quilt, the earliest group quilt that we’d attempted together.  You saw hers.  Here’s mine:

We had the common fabrics to use of the fairy print (on navy) and the pink striped (shown in some of the houses).

And here we are: Tracy, Lisa, Susan (who has moved away) and me, all holding up our quilt squares.  I love how they are all laid around the sofa everywhere.  And I love seeing that houses quilt in the background (#14 on my 100 quilts list, made 10 years earlier in 1988).

Detail.  I wanted it to have bits and pieces of a neighborhood so I included those things in each deep border above and below the houses.  I guess at the time it had significance, as I notice some World Wide Web fabric there (the earth globe above).  The internet was just getting popular then — seems like a millenium ago.

This one’s my house.  I guess my fairy was tired and lay down on the front walkway.


I entered into Road to California in 2000; here’s what I wrote on the entry form:

As I was designing all the houses, I tried to include a wide variety of styles, to illustrate the diversity of a street in Heaven, a celestial neighborhood that would be knit together in love and faith. In the upper and lower borders, I placed activities that the people in the houses might do: getting together with friends, outdoor activities, celebrating holidays, and of course, quilting.  The name of this quilt comes from an old saying that explains that when a child is given a home, “Joy-bells ring in Heaven’s street.”

You know those things you buy at quilt shows, like the panel above.  Whenever are you going to use them, if not for backs?

Okay, here’s a few of the houses.  The links underneath each illustration are templates for each house.  They are PDF download files, but I’d ask you to remember that since I was a novice at this software at that time, they aren’t perfect.  Some have a lot of pieces, others are more streamlined.  A mix is best, if you’re making a village.

1930s Prairie House ESE






Heart Houses–Far Flung Bee

Krista received her Far Flung Bee Blocks, so now I can write about them.  Like a pregnancy, I figure it’s not my news to tell, so I like to let them do the Woo-hoo! thing and then I’ll follow up.  Since I’ve only done In-Real-Life Swaps, it’s probably all wrong, like when I sent in my Polaroids. . . Whoops, did it all wrong.

She wanted a wonky house.  And trees, if you please.

But I thought about how she recently got engaged, and so I drew from a quilt I’d made a couple of years ago (one block is up in my blog header), and made her a block that featured a heart made of two houses.  Aw.  I’m of the mind you should always celebrate love.  Especially “goofy love,” as Krista refers to it.  (I remember those days with great fondness.)

This is Number 68 on my 100 Quilts List.  A version of this quilt was on the cover of a quilt magazine some time ago, and I had searched my hard drive for the downloaded file, but couldn’t find it.  I started drafting it again, then tried the internet.  No luck.  Finally it was in the last place I looked. (Sorry for the wobbly lower edge — for the photo, I had it on a quilt rack extended yea-high and the wind interfered.)

Here’s my PDF of the block that has all four blocks–click to download: heart_houses

They show it for paper piecing, but no way was I going to do that.  The blocks on my quilt are about 12″ on the short side because I wanted JUMBO houses in among my pine trees.  I took it to the local copy shop and blew up the PDF  and taped the pattern pieces together.  I just cut them out and use the pieces as a pattern, sometimes just measuring then cutting.

I made the long blocks for the border sort of randomly, first making the tree tops, then gauging how long those trunks needed to be to fit.

I backed it with some Mary Lou Weidman fabric.

That was the year I was in charge of a camp for young women ages 12-18, which was held up in the pines in the San Bernardino forest near Big Bear Lake.  It’s a LOT of work, and I was working with a camp director who I found out later was brilliant in working with recalcitrant teenagers, but not so brilliant in doing the grunt work that has to be done to get a camp organized.  Her team was also untested, but were very strong-willed about what should and shouldn’t be done.  I had been to a similar camp when I was a girl, had gone back as an adult counselor for several years, so I came at it from a different angle.  Needless to say, that was a challenging spring as we tried to quash all our personality quirks in order to get the camp planned.

And on top of all that, it was my only my third semester teaching at a community college, and they’d given me a new level of class to figure out, and I felt like I was nearly underwater all the time just on that issue.

So, what else to quilters do?  They make a quilt.  I called this Hearts in the Pines.  I finished the top and with only a few weeks to go, the semester ending, I called my quilter and she did stitch-in-the-ditch to stabilize the quilt.  I stitched the binding on, but didn’t have time to sew it down.  I took it to camp and in the few free minutes I had in between kitchen crises (oh, didn’t I tell you that two of the cooks backed out at the last minute and so I was in the kitchen too?), visiting with the girls, my husband (who I’d recruited to join me) and my angel daughter who drove in from Arizona with a friend to help her mom, I finished stitching around the quilt to get that binding on.  And much later, I finished the quilting around all the houses and trees.

I always like how quilts have a story behind them.  Whether it’s just one of those quick quilts that you throw together for a baby shower, or one that represents a time in your life, the story — I believe — makes the quilt.  Just like Krista will hopefully remember the summer she was engaged, when she looks at the quilt she made from a few wonky heart blocks.

Milestone–100 Completed Quilts

I want to make a hold-in-the-hand book–full of clippings and writings and photos–about my quilts, following the example of my friend Lisa, and my father’s art journals (which we children all covet) and in keeping with my desire to leave some sort of legacy behind for whoever cares to know what I do, or create. I haven’t made much progress on the journaling part, but today–since I was moving at about sludge pace–I decided to update the list.  At least I could do that.

So I was surprised to notice that I have reached a milestone of sorts.

I have made 100 quilts.

It’s a loose compilation with these caveats: include very few tops (only two large quilt tops are included and a few minis, class samples for when I taught Amish quilts in Texas–the first time we all fell in love with solids), and no sewing projects.  So the era when I was sewing up a storm for my children, dressing them in clothes of my making, yielded very few quilts of any kind.  Those were mostly the ones to go on a bed, rather than express my creativity.

That did change, right about the Amish quilt craze time, when I made Sunshine and Shadow, a classic quilt comprised of one-inch squares, which I had laid out in the corner of my bedroom.  When my then-husband pitched his shoes off into that same corner that night as he went to relax, something in me snapped a little bit.  That was my art, my creativity.  Something I had done, which stayed done.  That slight shift canted me towards a greater appreciation and reverence for the act of creating, of making quilts.  I had found my medium in which to work. (And by the way, that husband is long gone.)

The one-hundredth quilt technically isn’t completed yet.  It’s Scrappy Stars, which you all know, but I did drop it at the quilter’s and it is a WIP for sure, but I’m counting it.

Near the end of our trip to New York, we wandered over to Grand Central Station via the elaborate subway system/tunnels.  We emerged into a new tunnel that had a banner embedded in the mosaic on the wall that said: “Dripping water hollows out a stone.”  I guess I feel a little bit like that today.  That my hours and days at the machine were like that, and all of sudden I look up and the decades of working with cloth and thread has yielded this body of work, a lovely surprise.


Of course, any good quilter still has a few quilts they are working on.  I’m reveling in the COMPLETED quilts today; next week I’ll detail some others that still need finishing.  Many thanks to Lee, of Freshly Pieced and her guest, Kati of the Blue Chair, for hosting us today on WIP Wednesday.

And many thanks to those who played along in Project Gingham.  Next post I’ll round up everyone’s project, plus give you a look at my first received Far Flung Bee blocks!

Project Gingham!!

A long time ago, in a galaxy garage sale faraway, Elizabeth found a whole lotta’ gingham.  She shared with Krista, who really likes vintage fabrics.  Then we hatched the idea to share with a few others. And today’s the day everyone is sharing with us, but first–my reveal!

I’ve titled this quilt: Gingham Quilt.  Really original, but certainly it has to get points for being descriptive, doesn’t it?  I auditioned a lot of different block ideas, and then decided that just about anything would work with these prints, especially a lot of white.  I know some of the checks get in the way of the bow-tie, but I wanted this to be a fun, summery quilt, without freaking out about anything.  So there you go—some things you just live with and love.

I had seen in a Roberta Horton book that she had used a different fabric for the outside blocks in order to create a border, and I wanted to try that too.  I picked up the cool lavender almost randomly, wanting it so it wouldn’t intrude on the crisp white in the middle of the quilt.  A slight shift, only, in that border, and I tried to use many of the darker ginghams to highlight that shift.

Detail of the quilting, which is a spool of thread and a needle.  My quilter Cathy always has a great design for me.

Two glamour shots of the quilt.  I wanted to show one of my favorite ginghams–one not likely ever seen again in today’s mass market.  It’s that true lavender in the middle of the quilt.

I left this picture bigger so you could click on it for detail.  This is made with (deep memory, here, from my CloTex degree) a dobby loom.  The word comes from the early days of fabric manufacture, when a little boy would sit on top of the loom and pull up individual warp (or lengthwise) yarns so the weft (crosswise or selvage-to-selvage) shuttle could glide across and make a design.  Dobby is short for “draw boy,” or so the rumor goes.

If you look closely on the back, you can see white yarns (threads) that are carried across the back, and create the design on the front.  The floating yarns are the tip-off to which side you are looking at. A lappet is another type of machine but it’s my understanding that the lappet can only do one direction of thread, whereas in this design both the warp and the weft are involved.  Like I said, we aren’t likely to see this fabric ever again.


I chose a Jane Sassaman print for the back, and not only because I got a bunch of it for a deal when I went up to Michael Levine’s in Los Angeles, in the garment district, but more because it seemed to be in the mood of the front.

I think of this as the quilt for a picnic, for throwing down on a meadow somewhere and pulling out a wicker basket, kitted out perfectly with gourmet feastiness.  Right.  Not my life.  In reality, I think of the time I went up and took my then 4th-grade daughter out to lunch. . . on the front lawn of the school.  We got a lot of crazy looks from the gardeners and the kindergarteners as we enjoyed our sauteed pepper-and-onion sandwiches, just the two of us, with moms picking up kids in the school’s driveway just three feet away.  It’s a great memory; it’s that kind of a picnic quilt.

Now hop on over to the other blogs and see their Project Gingham reveals!

Krista, of KristaStitched

Cindy, of Live A Colorful Life

Rachel of The Life of Riley

Suz, of PatchworknPlay

Kris, of Duke Says Sew What

Becky, the Sarcastic Quilter

Scrappy Stars Saga

So I left you all when I thought I had the answers to the Scrappy-Star-conundrum with the Japanese fabrics.  Nope.  Discouraged, I headed to a quilt shop, where  guess what–out of all of the fabrics we tried, we liked the stars on some red Quilters Linen fabric.

Like I said, it seemed like the answer. Here’s some pictures of the process I went through.  I was happy with the red, as it acted like a solid, but still wanted to beef up the quilt with pattern and texture, a la Material Obsession quilt shop in Australia, as I love looking at their quilts.

Now I’m trying to add in those fabrics.  As you can see–it’s not working.  Again.  This is when I wrote the blog post on Struggle, appreciating Robert Penhall’s quote particularly.

Auditioning, Take Two.  I realize that photographs flatten out what’s going on, but as you can see, what was going on had problems.  I came home right after school, took an Internet Sabbath, and worked steadily on sewing together the center section.  When my husband came home last night, he kissed me hello and asked me how my day was.

“I hate my quilt,” I said.

After dinner, we went up together to look at the disaster quilt.  We talked, and I felt like a balloon deflating.  The view evolved as we tried different things, talking and talking, but really the quilt just has so much going on.  Like I’ve said before, I was trying to take Cinderella to the Prince’s Ball, and she really just want to go out for a burger and fries.  We folded back the end stars, took down some of the wild fabrics, paring it down.  I felt as if the quilt had beat me, as if I had caved.  But burgers-and-fries it was going to be, no matter where I wanted to go.

Cutting off of the side star.  I unpicked the center so I could save two of the star points for another project (like I ever want to tangle with this one again!).  I finished sewing the center all together, smoothed it up on the wall, and went to bed. In the morning, the pared-down quilt, white on the wall, greeted me and I chose the tomatoes on yellow for the inner border and auditioned the outer borders:

I guess I don’t feel defeated anymore, just happy it’s to this point.  I wanted that sophisticated, interesting quilt, really I did.  But what I have instead is a bold graphic set of stars, demanding un-adornment, insisting that the rest of the crowd pipe down so they can shine.

There’s a great children’s book titled “Babe, The Gallant Pig,” which was made into a movie.  At the very end, the farmer looks down at Babe, his pig, and says “That’ll do Pig.  That’ll do.”

That’ll do, Scrappy Stars.  That’ll do.