I found this book in my library when I was sorting things for the move and noted that it had an interesting layout for blocks.
It is an old book (2013) but my online research revealed that there is a newer one, Best of Circle of Nine, available from Keepsake Quilting. It looks like that book includes the “best” designs from my Circle of Nine book and the one that preceded it, which I do not own.
So in December when I should have been doing other things, I used the book to make two quilts from orphan blocks.
The first used blocks that finish 8″, and made a quilt that finished 36″ with the border added. That is perfect for a preemie incubator covering, so it’s a win for the orphan blocks.
I should note that the book offers many interesting ideas for pieced sashing, but I thought the blocks were busy enough by themselves so I just used plain sashing and it went together fast.
The second quilt was made with orphan blocks that finished that finish 10″. The quilt was 40″ square without borders, also perfect for Ronald McDonald House.
Of course I couldn’t just leave it at that, so I used EQ to expand the “Circle of Nine” idea to use 25 blocks. Here’s what it looked like:
Design made with Electric Quilt 8
The Circle of Nine quilts were great for using up orphan blocks. I don’t think I’ll make the 25-block version 😀
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.
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!
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.
Before I show the latest group of donation quilts, I want to say how happy I am that my long-time blogging friend Melanie has started posting again. She’s an expert in medallion quilts and does beautiful work, so you may want to check her out here.
These quilts are going to Ronald McDonald House, so here’s a last look at them before they go.
“In Fairyland”, original design, 2013. 53″ x 67″. I like it, but it’s never been used, so off it goes.
Half square triangles are an important design element in many quilts. The split value and diagonal line allow a variety of dynamic designs.
One of my quilt groups has been discussing HSTs because some of us love them and some have limited tolerance for them. It matters because we regularly do block exchanges.
One member recently sent a picture of a beautiful depression block quilt, and that got the discussion going again. A depression block quilt is made entirely of HSTs!
Not being much of a rule-follower, I got to speculating about how we might make this quilt using strips instead of HSTs. (Yes, I get that the original idea was to use up small scraps, but what if you just wanted the overall effect without all those HSTs?) My friend Mary B encouraged me to develop this idea, so here we go.
I did a number of experiments with Electric Quilt 8 (EQ8), which produced all the illustrations for this post. I learned that the most important element in the success of this quilt is contrast between the values (rather than the colors) of the fabrics. (All the illustrations use Fossil Fern fabrics from the EQ8 fabric library.)
I first tried drawing a block that used strips of lights and darks in place of the rows of triangles. This would simplify construction significantly.
Here’s the block:
And here’s the quilt:
Then I tried a traditional Courthouse Steps block set on point to mimic the depression block effect.
Here’s the block:
And here’s the quilt:
Finally, I changed up the color arrangement in the traditional Courthouse Steps block to provide more variation.
Here’s the block:
And the quilt:
So! I’m not sure my variations are a good substitute for the traditional Depression Block quilt, but it was fun and I do like the quilts. What do you think, Mary B?
I found a quilt like this somewhere online, and you know I love improvised scrap quilts, so I just had to make it! (Sadly, I have lost the link, so if you know where this came from originally, please let me know.)
It’s always a great idea to offset the intersecting seams!
My quilter was able to use Minky Dot for the backing and quilt it with no batting. That makes the quilt nice and cuddly without being too heavy.
I have been informed that the grandchildren prefer the quilts backed with polyester fleece for cuddling. The lighter weight of the quilt without batting also makes it ideal for dragging around the house or building forts and tents.
Polyester fleece can be a challenge to quilt because it stretches in at least one direction. The quilter told me that a midarm or long arm quilting machine does not have feed dogs, so stretching was not a problem, though the tension was a problem at times. I suppose I could do free motion quilting with the feed dogs down on my domestic machine, but walking foot quilting might stretch the back.
Minky backing with no batting allows the quilt to drape nicely
A friend and I made Pat Sloan’s weekly blocks for her Going on a Picnic quilt. It gave us something to look forward to when the blocks came out each Wednesday and we enjoyed exchanging pictures of our blocks. Here’s my finished quilt top, though some of the blocks are NOT what Pat designed. If I didn’t like hers, I just made my own.
Meanwhile, my husband and I decided to lease a house for part-time use near where our grandchildren live. It’s a long story and not about quilting, so I’m not elaborating here. However, it came to mind that the house might not have window coverings. So all my quilt backs got packed to move in case we need temporary “curtains”.
And then I finished the quilt top, now known as “The Elvis Quilt”.
Elvis on The Elvis Quilt
There was no quilt back available, and I wanted to get it to the quilter before the moving van arrived. Therefore, I took all the leftover fabric from the quilt top and combined it with leftover pieces from a gray quilt back, and here it is.
It took all day to do this, with time out for packing, laundry, etc. Now I know why I buy the wide quilt backs. Anyway, a good quilt back is a done quilt back!