Showing posts with label HSTs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HSTs. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Rose Boll Progress


As I slowly excavate back through my UFOs, the next one that caught my eye was Rose Boll, started in 2017 and last seen here in June 2018. I have to admit, every time I read back through those old posts I just laugh. So optimistic!

Anyhoo, I don't think I ever gave much detail about my process on this quilt, so I'll cover that a little now. As you see above, most of the blocks have the same red fabric in the centre as well as the HSTs in the sawtooth edge. 20 HSTs are needed for each block, but I foundation paper pieced them in sets of 24. So, there were leftovers.

I decided to use the leftovers in the main quilt also, and made a few scrappy blocks. Since they were different anyway, I used different colours from my stack of floral "neutrals" for the centres. The gold and pink are from the same collections as some of the reds and whites I used, so it still ties together.

When I started to work on it this year all the string blocks were done, and there were only about 6 of the sawtooth blocks left. I finished those, laid it all out, and sewed together the centre.

As always, lol, I had considerable debate about the border. Bonnie Hunter's original quilt has 3 rows of diagonal set squares in the border that looks great. I sketched a few variations on that, and decided it was too much in my busy fabrics. A single row of squares looked a little better on paper. But, once the centre was complete I realized it's more than enough as it is. I'm just going to do a narrow inner border in gold and a wider outer border in scrappy chunks of red, and call it done.

And then I did a Very Dangerous Thing, and folded it up and put it away without finishing the border. I just wasn't in the mood to iron and cut those red chunks. 😂

insert optimistic closing here

And then I pulled out another project. 😜

Saturday, September 2, 2017


So, this is the second time I've said I'm taking a blog break, and then posted again within a week. I'm just going to stop trying to be structured all together!

I won a prize in Pets on Quilts 2017! Olive and Wilma were not able to beat the devious Molly, who cannot possibly be as innocent as she looks. But, they won a great participation prize from Eagle's Wings Quilts. The prize was a generous full set of papers for the English paper pieced Castor and Pollux. But sadly, my hand stitching problems continue, so Cathy agreed to send me her traditionally pieced (yes, traditional now means by machine!) pattern for Sisters Across the Miles instead:

I really love that sunburst effect! And since Olive & Wilma are my sister's cats, it seemed very appropriate.

Plus, as a bonus, Cathy sent me her pattern for Nine in the Pond as well:

It's really pretty, isn't it? In fact, I started tinkering right away with a colour scheme for Sisters that was inspired by Pond!

I have been thinking that it would be great to get it done for Pets on Quilts next year! I know, it is most likely a pipe dream. In any case, big thanks to Cathy for the lovely prize, and to Snoodles too for organizing such a great event.

Now, can you believe it's already September? That means it's time for a new colour for RSC. September is orange, and orange is just another word for cheddar!

It's been a looong time since you've seen this project, the Cheddar Broken Dishes from the October 2016 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting.
Back when RSC was blue for July, I made a big push to finish all the indigo HSTs for the broken dishes units.

1,176 indigo HSTs are now sewn, papers removed, dog ears clipped, and neatly pressed!

I still need 60 more, but they are not going to be indigo.

And, as you see, I have eight different cheddars to work with. Those are all now cut, so with luck things should really start to move.

It's a simple design, but I think the impact is going to be huge!
Click here to see the rest of the RSC offerings this week. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Decision Time

More HSTs for Hanami

I am not a good multi-tasker, but this winter I needed about 2000 HSTs for three projects, and that is a lot of repetitive work. (About half are done now.) So, I downloaded some of Pat Sloan's podcasts from All People Quilt. There was a great interview with Gwen Marston on February 6, which I recommend. What's the difference between liberated quilting and improv quilting? None. There is no difference, says Gwen. I love her common sense approach!

I also enjoyed Pat's discussion with Linda Thielfoldt in the same podcast. Linda has been cleaning out her studio, and has some helpful thoughts on how to make decisions about what to keep and what to let go.

Since I finished Hen Party I've been thinking that it's time to stop jumping on every shiny project that comes along, and to get real about what the quilt is for, and how it will be used. So, I've pared things down to two basic categories:
  1. Quilts for Use -- throw quilts and bed quilts
  2. Quilts for Art -- wall quilts
When I thought about my requirements for those two categories, several of my projects started to change, and some dropped away. Quilts for Use have to be durable and not too precious, with no fragile embroidery or applique. Quilts for Art, on the other hand, have to be non-trivial, there has to be something special about them. And, they have to be smaller! There is nowhere in our house where you can hang a bed sized quilt on the wall.

Improv quilts will work well in both categories. My Gwennie Medallion is something that I will be quite happy to hang on the wall...

...when it's done. ;) One of a kind, original, graphic -- improv sounds like art to me.

Two recent projects are going to the orphan block box. The first is the half scale version of Brinton Hall that I started for my guild challenge:

I just don't think this will hold its own as an art piece. You have to be very close to see the embroidery, and when you stand back it feels drab. Plus, I still have the big one for the bed.

The second one to bite the dust is the 150 Canadian Women quilt along, which is not feeling good to me any more. 30 blocks are done:

I was not thrilled when I realized that this quilt was excluding important women in Canadian history, such as Laura Secord and Elizabeth Simcoe, because they were not born in Canada. I admit I did not read that part of the introduction very carefully! But last week's inclusion of Helen MacMurchy was the final straw for me.

The challenge of history is that when you go back far enough, you will almost always find something unpalatable by today's standards. MacMurchy was a significant figure for women's rights in Canada, so I understand why she was chosen. But she is not my choice, she does not represent the Canada that I want to live in going forward, and I don't think it is sufficient to say "those were the times then." This would be a quilt that I am making today, for the future. I don't want to spend the rest of the year turning over rocks in Canadian history, and making excuses for inexcusable things, so I'm going to let this one go.

On a brighter and completely different note, I've implemented a new plan for all my hourglass blocks. Last time you saw this project, I was sewing the hourglasses as leaders and enders on Allietare. That worked great, and all 896 of them were finished last year. BUT...

...the vast majority of them still required trimming. And I baulked.

I think I made a big mistake when I decided to make a large, time consuming project from fabrics I didn't like. For six months I've been thinking of ways to make it nicer. Different settings, applique... nothing seemed worth the effort.

Then last week I was thinking deep thoughts about improv, and I thought it could be a great solution for the hourglasses. Before I could change my mind again, I started to sew:

I just sewed together the untrimmed hourglasses, and used scissors to clean up the seam allowances. It turned out that a row of eight untrimmed hourglasses was about the same length as nine trimmed ones. I like those offset rows quite a bit!

My "plan" is to play around with different settings of the hourglasses, and make brick-shaped blocks like this. I've been admiring the green in Kaja's latest work, and I think I'll use something similar for narrow sashing between the big bricks. We'll see!

I've been keeping some of the hourglasses in a project box on top of my wardrobe, for "easy access."

This has been the situation for six months. Maybe there has been some creation going on up there when I wasn't looking! The Improv box has some of my early improv letters and words, and I've decided to stick them in this quilt with the hourglasses too. Would the embroidered roses from the Brinton mini work as well? Probably not, but we'll see.

Anyway, I'm still aiming for queen sized with this quilt. I like it so much better now, that even the fabrics don't seem so bad!

And I'm glad to be back at AHIQ. Please check out everyone else's work at the link up right here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


After three days of work on my second new project this week, this is what I have to show. They look like they're about to fly away, don't they?

What am I making? A slightly simplified version of this...

Cheddar Broken Dishes is a vintage quilt that was included in the October 2016 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting.

I decided to make it based on some dark photos of the magazine that I saw online. There was some debate about that white sashing, but it seems clear to me that with dark beige or tan sashing the quilt will be both warm and elegant. And a cheddar quilt has also been on my list for several years now!

It turned out that in 2015 there was a "Cheddar and Indigo" fabric line from Penny Rose Studio that had all the cheddar, indigo and white fabrics I would need. Of course, I didn't stop there.

But, I did really love the warm white colour of the fabric stock. Between local and online sources I found enough of the four whites in the collection to make the whole quilt.

Most of the indigo in the collection was sold out already. I found the middle one in the clearance bin. The others are indigos from different collections.

At home I found these two in my stash.

And then, not in my stash but in an old project bag stuck in a box of old crockery, I found these treasures! They were meant to become all-indigo, hand pieced log cabins based on a project in Patchwork Tsushin. That did not happen. But, they had a quick wash and now I can't wait to see how they play in the broken dishes.

Ha! Yes, found with dishes, now to become broken dishes blocks.

I mean, seriously, look at this batik! Thank goodness I found it.

The vintage quilt in the magazine was made with 1.25" hsts, but I have enlarged them to 1.5". I have gone back to the same paper piecing method for hsts that I used for Hanami -- see here. 10 dozen are made, around 100 dozen are needed. Yes, 1200, which is less than the 1400 in the original.

Between this project and my other new project, Wild & Goosey, every level surface of my sewing area is covered in triangles. A strong wind would be a disaster! Plus, I think En Provence will finally get to the fancier triangles this week too.

I thought about starting three new projects this week, but for now, I think these two will hold me. I think I can fit in one more post before Christmas, but, if you're taking off now -- Happy Holidays!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Brinton and Butterflies

Turquoise, green and hot pink butterflies!

It's time for the October Kaleidoscope of Butterflies link up, and I've done nothing at all on my "official" butterfly project, Down in the Garden. I can't believe it will soon be two years since Ink Week (really Ink Fortnight), and I still haven't finished embroidering the blocks. Oh, the shame!

Yes, well, maybe I would have more finishes if I actually did feel shame.

This project, however, Brinton Hall, is steamrolling over everything else. Today I made the 60 3" hsts that I'll need for the second border. The fabrics were all chosen and rough cut over the summer. Today I just had to pair them, sew, and trim.

And a few of them even have butterflies! Out in the real world, I'm also seeing the Monarch butterflies steadily heading southwest along the lake shore again.

I was careful to make sure every hst was a unique combination of fabrics. It was a fun day!

They will finish at 3", and I will set them with 1" warm beige sashings. Leigh Latimore's design uses 1/2" sashings, but I feel like these strong prints need more room to breathe. Plus, the math worked out perfectly! That is always my sign to stop tweaking the design. :D

In fact, I have been redesigning, and tweaking, and redesigning again, this project since the beginning of the summer. I've changed it so many times that I lost track of the different counts. So I had more hst fabric cut than I needed. And, apparently my final design will only need 16 of the hexagon rosettes, even though I made 20!

But, the end is in sight, because I have simplified the final border by removing all the handwork. None of the handwork in Latimore's outer border is in the original Anna Brereton quilt, so that was an easy decision to make.

I will make the pieced "square in a square" block, because that was in the original, and I think it is a good looking block! I am keen to get started on that, it should be a good challenge. Lots of quarter square triangles!

So, this has been 54 of the 60 hsts. I made them in sets of 10, but 9 fit so nicely on my rotating mat there.

Now, I really have to crack on with Something Fishy!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

13 Cherry Trees

My 13 Cherry Tree of Life blocks for my quilt Hanami, have been done for a couple of weeks, and this week I finished sewing together the main body of the quilt. I've held off posting any progress photos, because I wanted to wow you with the full impact of the pieced setting:

The plan was to blend the trees "seamlessly" into the background, and I am really pleased with how that worked out. It's the random distribution of background fabrics in the blocks and sashings that makes it work. But in fact, the sashings and setting triangles were made from carefully managed strip sets:

The strips sets required careful management to make their repeating pattern look random. That involved a lot of labels and total focus, which is the other reason why there are no progress photos!

The idea with the strip sets was that it would be more efficient, and I suppose it was. But it was still a heck of a lot of sewing. And a lot of pinning too. But it was all worth it, and I'm very happy with how it has come together.

From close up, or from the side, the trees tend to disappear, and it is just a mass of pink and white florals.

I even managed to fit in a couple of butterflies:

If I was starting over there are a few of things I might do differently, but the benefit of leaving a lot of it to chance is that it stopped me from obsessing over the little details. Somehow you just relax and accept it the way it is. I think that helps the quilt bypass the logical mind of the viewer somewhat, and connect on a more emotional level. An unexpected benefit!

It still needs a border. I'll trim off the points to square it up...

and add about 5" (13 cm) around. My original plan was to make just a narrow sawtooth border of green HSTs, but I changed my mind on that a while ago. It felt too hemmed in. The green HSTs are already made, and I thought I may need to put them aside. Then today a better plan for the HSTs occurred to me, but it will require more cutting too.

So once again I have to put it aside for now, while I finish up a couple more urgent projects. My secret purple guild challenge quilt just needs a binding now. I have to say that it looks pretty good, but they are a competitive bunch at my guild, so we'll see how it does! And I still haven't completely unpicked that terrible puckered border on Hen Party. My mom's birthday is less than a month away, and the quilt is almost four years overdue. I think the embarrassment has dragged on long enough!

But never mind, for now let's just relax among the flowers...

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Back in Season

The cherry trees are in full bloom in Tokyo right now. Here in Toronto it is snowing, thanks to another visit from the Polar Vortex. Although, one forecaster called it a "Siberian" air mass, which I guess implies that it is even colder, lol. In any case, a little snow is normal for us in April, and fortunately, I'm prepared for spring with my blossoming cherry tree blocks:

It's almost a year since I've shown this project, Hanami.  It's my own adaptation of the traditional Tree of Life block. Most of my inspiration came from Audrey's trees here, except I changed the trunks to make them entirely from HSTs. Unfortunately, my first few attempts at the block came out distinctly rectangular.

So, on my summer break last year I took the first blocks almost completely apart. The seam allowances were not consistent, and my setting will require precision. This time they look much better!

And while I was at it, I changed the fabrics in the tree trunks too:

Old Trunk

New Trunk
Some of my pink florals are very light, and those dark browns completely drowned them out. I chose dark beige and light silver grey instead, because I want a very light, misty feel for this cherry orchard. I remember plenty of misty days in Japan!

A couple of the trees are almost all white:

I think this will still work, because the pattern is set by the darker trees, so the eye will fill in the gaps.

This quilt was my DIY Mystery Quilt, where all the pieces for each tree were drawn semi-randomly. Each block is a challenge! You can read more about that process here.

Now I feel like all the bugs have been worked out. Six blocks are done...

...and there are just seven more to go.

Of course, my plan last summer was to have this flimsy finished by now. But, on my first day back in blogland last fall all my plans were thrown out the window when AHIQ came along, and they were ground further into dust by Allietare in November. And, going "off script" has been exactly the right thing to do, because both Allietare and the ongoing improv challenge have dramatically improved my quilting. I am amazed at how much easier these blocks seem now!

So, there are no wrong turns. And, fingers crossed, I can still get this to the flimsy stage before this year's blossoms have fallen. After two months of frustrating machine quilting, it is nice to be piecing again!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Basking in the Sunshine

It's Improv Week again over at the Ad Hoc Improv Quilters link up. I was so busy quilting Mod Trips this month, that I had no time for improv. But, I figured, why not start now?

For this week's trick, I'm using Sujata Shah's Cultural Fusion techniques to make curvy half square triangles...

...and curvy rail fence units...

...and combine them into curvy churn dash blocks!

A churn dash quilt has been on my to do list for several years. Then when my guild started its crayon challenge, I hoped for a yellow crayon so I could make a yellow and white churn dash quilt. I got purple, but I liked this idea enough to make it anyway.

And, I've been thinking for a while that Sujata's elements could be combined to make interesting traditional blocks.

So, this is Modern Utility Quilt #2, which I'm calling "Sunshine." It's possible that this could turn into a series. And it's also looking likely that these Riley Blake ginghams will keep showing up:

I went to a lot of trouble to get the complete set of those ginghams in all 11 colours and 3 sizes when they were released. I thought I would put them all in the same quilt. But once they arrived, that seemed uninspired, and they sat in a box in the basement. Now I think several quilts will be better!

All the fabric is stash, like my first Modern Utility Quilt, and it seemed like a good chance to use all those large and small scale florals I used to buy. These are the first two blocks I made:

I have to say, I was feeling some doubt at this point. But I had the fabric cut for the first eight blocks, so I kept going:

It was all darker and browner than I expected. And was that citron Mini Pearl Bracelet really a good idea?

In improv theatre, the formula is to always say "yes, and..." So I squelched my doubts and thought, "ok, where do I go from here?" Most of the really pale yellows I'd pulled went back in the stash. The rest I pinned right up on the wall with the finished blocks:

This seemed like a crazy idea at first, but it turned out to be really helpful to sit back and see how everything was working together. So on Monday, I'll be linking up to Design Wall Monday as well!

All the fabrics fit into that range between the citron and gold of the first two blocks. I think the pure white fabric makes the dark fabrics look darker, so there will be less of that combination in the remaining blocks.

I've been looking at this pile of yellow fabric on my sewing table for a few days now, and I'm feeling good about where it's going. But, I promised myself I would get some more things quilted before the hot weather returns, so I will have to pack it up soon.

And before I go, look what I found when I logged into Blogger this afternoon:

I always enjoy these little synchronicities, which I know is why I keep finding them. This is a particularly good one. And it's probably why I "accidentally" logged into Blogger before I had my photos edited. And, check out the rest of the page:


Don't forget to check out the rest of the improv quilting at the February link up, right here. Happy quilting!
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