Sunrise

Here’s the last finish of August, made of HST (half square triangle) blocks left over from another project.

And here it is held out the window for me to photograph! I thought it would be fun to have my husband stand on the landing half way up the stairs and hold the quilt out the window. And it was fun!

Quilt Stats

Name: Sunrise

Design by: me

Finished size: 50″ x 75″

Quilted by: Julia Madison

And just in case you asked, the quilt isn’t upside down in either picture. It’s ambidirectional–is that even a word?

Stars Again

I’ve probably made more stars than any other type of quilt block. For some reason the design just appeals to me. Here’s the latest.

The original inspiration was this quilt called “Scrappy Stars II”, found on Pinterest. The post from which it was pinned is here.  I also found a similar pattern, called “Night Sky”, at the Missouri Star Quilt Company, here.

I didn’t care for the way it was arranged and I wanted to make it bigger anyway, so I redesigned it. First I drew the basic idea in EQ8, as I had found it on Pinterest, but with a border added.

HST Stars, drawn in EQ8 as a starting point for my design. Sources in preceding text.

I used this drawing to lay out my HSTs (half-square triangle blocks). Then I started adding rows and fiddling with the design. This was during the time we were in temporary housing, so there was a LOT of running up and down stairs to view the design from the loft. It was extremely easy to get pieces turned the wrong way!

The back is a sheet I got at my favorite thrift shop.

Quilt Stats

Design based on two sources noted above

Finished size: 78″ x 53″

Quilted by: Julia Madison

Wonky

I’m currently on a program of finishing 2 UFOs (unfinished objects) before starting each new project. I caught up quite a bit last year, but there are a few things still to be done.

Most recently I pulled out these swap blocks from a long time ago. They should finish 24″ square. Of course, since they are medallion style blocks, there’s plenty of opportunity for the size and shape to get “off” with each additional border.

There was one in the group that surely was not perfectly square. I put 4 of them together anyway, figuring this could be a picnic quilt and “fixing” the wonky block was way too fiddly.

This worried me a little, even in a picnic quilt. (OK, like most quilters, I’m more than a little O.C.)

Then my daughter came along and said, “It’s not wonky, it’s organic in design!” Ha! So there! Art-speak is frequently useful!

Virtual Design Wall

I’m making a queen sized quilt from my 100 Tula City Sampler blocks using this design. I made several layouts in EQ8, my design software, and chose this one.I love this layout, but it’s turning out to be a bear to piece!

BTW, I don’t recommend this design particularly. The sashing is waaay too fiddly.

Anyway, I have assembled the top in 4 quarter panels to improve the accuracy of my piecing. Now I’m ready to assemble the panels into a quilt top, but we are still in our rental house so I don’t have much of a design wall.

I thought I would wait until I have a big design wall in the new house, but then I had another thought. I took a picture of each of the quarters, edited them all with Photoshop, and custom printed them so each quarter is 7″ square. The pictures aren’t perfect, but I think they’ll work!

Now I can play with arranging the quarters in various ways. The printed colors aren’t great (I used regular printer paper) but this is going to be much easier than moving 4 big panels around on a big design wall. I may even use this technique again when I have a big design wall available.

I’ll let you know what happens.

A Terrific Resource for Quilt Finishing

The Ultimate Quilt Finishing Guide is not exaggerating in its name. I was not immediately enthusiastic because it isn’t a “modern” quilt book, but it really is “ultimate” in being very comprehensive. Pretty much everything you’ve ever learned or wanted to know about borders, batting, backing, and binding is in this book, whether you’re a modern or traditional quilter.

Photo courtesy of C&T

It’s a single resource for all the stuff I keep forgetting, like how to make bias binding from a square of fabric.

I also like the book because the authors often agree with me 😀  For example, they suggest choosing border fabric after completing the center of the quilt. This has been my method for years unless I have a specific reason for buying the border fabric at the same time as the fabrics for the center.

There is a section on squaring up the quilt top when it’s finished, and another section on squaring the quilt up after it has been quilted. This is a major hassle for many quilters, so it’s nice to have it all clearly explained and well illustrated.

There is a discussion of how to measure for borders and then attach them without distorting the edges of the quilt. I should have read that years ago, before I learned the hard way!

Other helpful topics include:

  • Choosing batting
  • Joining batting pieces
  • Binding for both plain and fancy edges

The only thing I disagreed with in the entire book is the method for joining binding ends. I’m sure the way described in the book works just fine, but I love Susan Cleveland’s “Kiss, Twist, and Wiggle” method.

An extensive section covers just about every type of border imaginable, which I particularly like. I certainly could draft any of these using EQ (Electric Quilt design software), but here they are with an explanation of how to do the math to make them fit! That last is the most important, and there are practical work-arounds when needed. For example, when a border is one that makes turning corners difficult, the authors suggest using corner squares. I like it.

This is a comprehensive guide that I’m happy to add to my quilt library. Although most of the samples in the book are more traditional looking, the authors do include many borders that would work for modern quilts, especially as the modern quilt movement seems to be diversifying a bit.

Here’s one last picture from the book:

Photo courtesy of C&T

If you’ve read this far, leave me a comment and I’ll draw a name to receive a free copy of this book. Sorry to say I can only ship to U.S. addresses. I’ll draw the winner on Sunday, July 4, a week after this post goes up. I think I can find your email if you’re a subscriber to these posts, but if you want to be sure please leave an email in your comment. And thanks for reading!

Please note: C&T provides books and products for me to review. I choose those that I like the very best to tell about in my blog.

Scrappy Triangle Swap Blocks

I’ve belonged to a block swap group for a long time, but we have done extra during COVID. Here’s the latest, a scrappy triangle block. In case you want to know, it’s made with the tri-recs tool, available several places–just ask Ms. Google.

What we haven’t done is put any of these into a quilt! Here are some ideas on layout:

And in case you’ve never made improvised scrap blocks, here are directions. We’ve been using single-color scraps, but there’s no reason the color scheme can’t be scrappy.

Start by choosing 2 scraps you like and sew them together any way you care to. If one has a curved side, you can choose to sew the curve or cut it off straight.

Trim up an edge so you can add something else.

Keep adding pieces, checking occasionally to see if your template is going to fit on the scraps.

It’s fine to add BIG pieces too in order to move things along.

Press all the seams open. Too much bulk otherwise with all those seams.

Finally, cut around your template and assemble the block.

What templates do you like to use?

Eight Years

I’ve now been blogging weekly for 8 years. One of the best things about it is “meeting” people from all over the world and reading about what they are doing. Some of them have been at it even longer than I have, though many of the bloggers I’ve “met” have since quit writing.

Here are my current favorite quilts from each of the years I’ve been blogging.

Rising star art quilt

Rising Star, made for the Quilt Alliance TWENTY contest in 2013

quilt photo

My Zippy Star Quilt and Pillow as shown in Modern Quilts Unlimited, Summer 2014

modern quilt

Happy Squares, designed and made by me, 2015

improvisational quilt

Cherrywood Toss, 2016.

scrap quilt

Scrap quilt made with strips that finish 1″ wide, 2017

Equilateral Triangles, 2018

My “Little Green Man” quilt, June 2019

“Clamshells? Really?” 2020

I’m going to delete many of the older posts since I doubt they are serving any purpose at this time. I have had a book made for each year, as suggested by my friend Linda, so I can always look back at them if I want.

Landscape Quilting Books

I’ve been making landscape quilts for years and have collected several books on the subject. Since I’m going to be teaching landscape quilting again soon, I thought I’d list the books I am familiar with as a resource for anyone interested in the subject. This absolutely is not an exhaustive list of all the books available; it’s just brief reviews of the books in my own collection.

Create Landscape Quilts by Meri Henriques Vahl, C&T, 2021. This is by far the best of the bunch if you want to put people in your quilts. She covers all the basics but particularly excels at detailed directions for including realistic people. Since I have a “hang-up” about drawing people, this was especially helpful for me. Of course, she has a number of examples of art quilts that do not include people, as well. Her technique is basically collage with a tulle layer on top. Look at the amazing detail in this sample of her work!  Book available here.

Photo courtesy of C&T

Happy Villages by Karen Eckmeier, 2nd Edition, The Quilted Lizard, 2014. This book presents step-by-step instructions for making a number of landscape quilts. It is easier to jump right in here because of the specific instructions, but some of the pieces she uses are tiny. I used tweezers. This is another collage technique with a tulle layer on top. Connecting Threads had it here for less than the used book site I generally go to.

I made this little landscape based on the ideas in Happy Villages

Mickey Lawler’s Skyquilts by Mickey Lawler, C&T, 2011This is a fabric painting book, entirely different from the previous two. It does address some basic principles, and if you enjoy fabric painting this is a good place to start. The author uses several different dyes and paints, which are explained in the book. I did not invest in most of them, but did enjoy using my Setacolor dyes and her ideas. I particularly like her suggestion to use tracing paper over your finished quilt to decide where/how to quilt it, since quilting lines can make all the difference in any type of quilt. It is available from C&T as an e-book here, or I found a good price on a used copy at Abe Books (use their search feature to find what is available).

This pine tree has green flannel for foliage and lots of free motion quilting for texture

I “painted” the sunset here with markers, and attached a little charm I found in my stash

Easy Batik Landscape Quilts by Patricia L. Brown, AQS Publishing, 2011. The technique here takes advantage of the natural variability in batik fabrics to make more realistic looking landscape quilts without having to apply paint or other media. Ms. Brown makes paper patterns and uses piecing and applique to assemble her quilts, so a tulle layer is not necessary. There are examples of both realistic and abstract designs with specific instructions for making a number of them. I have found that batiks are, indeed, excellent for landscape quilts, but I don’t have the patience to make paper patterns the way she does. (I made one landscape quilt using patterns I designed in a workshop with Georgia Bonesteel years ago, so I did try!) At the time of this writing, Connecting threads had a good price on it here.

The mountain in the background is made from a batik so did not need to be painted to have the right appearance. The commercial prints in the foreground were altered with markers.

Accidental Landscapes by Karen Eckmeier, The Quilted LIzard, 2008.This book has an excellent discussion of the elements and techniques that make a successful landscape quilt without resorting to technical language or going into too much detail. The sample projects she uses to teach techniques are easy and helpful. Her examples are much less elaborate than those in most of the other books, which is especially nice if you’re just getting started. The publisher sells it through Amazon.

Batiks and markers were used in this little quilt, and I put a UFO in the sky 🙂

Points of View by Valerie Hearder, Martingale, 2007. This book covers a variety of media that can be used in landscape quilts, from commercial prints to fabric crayons, paint sticks, and embroidery. She constructs the quilt on a muslin base, which I have found helpful. She shows how to use tulle and batiks as well. If you want just one book that covers a variety of techniques, this is a good one. I particularly like the way she plays with scale to add interest to some of her designs. This was available through Thrift Books at the time of this writing–use the search feature to find available copies.

This one was made with fused fabric, using techniques I learned several years ago from Laura Wasilowski

The Art of Landscape Quilting by Nancy Zieman and Natalie Sewell, Krause, 2007. I love Nancy Zieman’s practical approach to sewing and quilting, and this book starts with how to generate ideas and goes right through to finishing the quilt. There are no instructions for making specific quilts. Instead, the authors use many pictures of landscape quilts they have made to explain a variety of techniques for making your own designs. At the time of this writing, the book was unavailable through Thrift Books and available but not cheap at Abe Books. It was $71 on Amazon, so better check your library!

I think I made this one so I could use those round red buttons!

Landscape Quilts for Kids by Nancy Zieman and Natalie Sewell, Krause, 2004. This is a fun book that covers all the basics. I especially enjoyed her idea of cutting out people and animals and applying them broderie perse style to the quilts. She gives tips on how to print pictures of your own kids on fabric for use in landscape quilts. Amazon had one left at a reasonable price as of this writing, but Abe Books had a better price for a used copy; use the search boxes to see what they have available.

I found pre-printed fabrics for everything I needed to build my husband his ideal woodshop 🙂

There are many more landscape quilts waiting to be made from the pictures I’ve taken at beautiful places we have visited.

One of these days I’ll use this as inspiration for a landscape quilt

Please note: the links are for your convenience; they are not affiliate links for which I get paid. I do receive books from C&T for review, but I only review the ones I like!

 

What Shapes Tesselate?

In addition to the practical way of designing tessellations presented last week by Jean Larson, there is a whole field of mathematical theory and practice related to tessellations.  I loved geometry in high school, but the theoretical stuff quickly gets beyond me.  Here is a summary of more practical implications.

A shape is said to tessellate if it can cover a plane without gaps, extending to infinity in all directions.

The regular polygons that will tesselate are:

  • Triangles.  All triangles will tessellate.
  • Quadrilaterals (4-sided shapes) all tessellate, and all can be divided into triangles, just by drawing from corner to corner.
  • Hexagons (regular hexagons) will tessellate, as we know well from English paper piecing.

From there it gets complicated as to which figures will tessellate and which will not, but to go on with practical information:

It’s perfectly OK to draw lines inside your tessellating shapes, which may mean they don’t all look alike anymore.  An excellent example is this pattern by Alison Glass.  The design is composed entirely of equilateral triangles, all the same size, BUT she has drawn lines within some of the triangles to create secondary designs.

Illustration from AlisonGlass.com

It’s OK to use more than one shape to cover a surface, or more than one size of the same shape, as long as the whole pattern can be continued to infinity.  (Who knew?)  Here’s are examples, drawn in EQ8:

This tessellating design is composed of squares of 2 different sizes

This tessellating design is composed of 2 different shapes.

Many of our traditional quilt patterns are actually tessellating designs.  The second example above is just a recoloring of Tumbling Blocks.

There are many, many ways to create tessellating designs, and I’ll direct you to some additional resources next week.  Meanwhile, one of my favorite easy ways to create tessellating designs is something called “pattern blocks“.  The link takes you to a fun site where you can develop patterns consisting of one or more shapes.  This works because the angles of all the pieces are either 30, 60, 90, or 120 degrees.  I just love that the site is intended for kids–it’s all I can do to wrap my head around it!  And I have no idea how to tell which combinations will tessellate except to try.  Here’s one I made on the site that I think will tessellate:

And FYI, the MQG published a brief article on tessellations back in January.  Access it here.  You’ll have to log in with your usual password first.

Next week: more resources to help you create tessellating designs.

Tessellations again!

In a moment of madness, I agreed to do a program on tessellations for my MQG in Greensboro.  I’ll be posting the same information here so we can all share it and so that these blogs can serve as “handouts” for my presentation.  To start, here’s a blog written by my friend Jean Larson, who has designed and made several award-winning tessellation quilts.  To view some of Jean’s quilts, click HERE.  –MJP

Tessellating designs make me happy.  Tweaking those designs is even more fun.   I want to share the joy of starting with a very, very simple design and watching it blossom.  

Start with a simple gridded block and create a light/dark design.  Here, I’ve started with a 3 x 3 grid.  Then re-color the same block with the lights and darks reversed

.The grid lines are only for design purposes, and each block can be constructed with a single square block with 2 corner triangles attached using any method you prefer.

Here are some design possibilities…Quilt_1A simple “cat head” quilt using only 2 colors.

Different looks can be achieved with variations in the color placement.

Blocks can be inverted and turned for even more quilt designs.

Just imagine all the possibilities with color in these!!!!!

It’s even more complex when you design with a 6×6 grid.  Here are the positive and negative versions of another block.

These blocks can be constructed using half-square triangles integrated with larger fabric pieces.  If these blocks were to finish at 6 inches by 6 inches.  The center column on each block would be a single 3.5 inch wide by 6.5 in long piece of fabric.  The side strips would include some half-square triangles.

A couple of the quilts that can be made:

Looks like spools, some gray, some white, all standing up.  Same quilt with alternate blocks turned a quarter turn yields a different  clearly recognizable tessellation.  Reminds me of tessellating doggie rawhide chews 😉

Now back to the spool quilt from above.  The “thread” areas have been colored in.  No blocks have been turned.

Jean spool 5This shows the power of color and value (lightness and darkness).   The colored part, being next to the gray and being closer in value to the gray, unites those parts of the block, and gives the illusion that we have all gray spools on a white background, some standing up, some lying down.

I hope these examples can be the seeds to sprout some design experimentation with tessellating shapes.

  1. Start with 2 square grids
  2. Create a positive design, and its negative design
  3. Alternate them in a quilt layout
  4. PLAY!
  5. And play more with color!

Happy Quilting (and Designing)!!   –Jean Larson