The Brown Strip story

In the last few posts you have seen bits and pieces of the brown strip-pieced scrap quilt that I have been working on. Now it is time for…….(in your best Paul Harvey voice)……THE REST OF THE STORY!!

Back in September of 2018 I had rotator-cuff surgery on my right shoulder. I knew that I would probably have some time to sew but would be limited in what I could do so I wanted to work on a project that could be cut out and ready to go. I saw this design…..

“Scrap Lattice” by Heather Kojan

….in the September 2018 issue of Modern Patchwork. Sadly this magazine went out of business just after I joined!!!

I was pretty sure that I would be able to push fabrics thru the sewing machine and would be able to iron with my small travel iron…..

So….I spent the week prior to surgery pulling out brown scraps and cutting them into 4.5 inch pieces.

After the surgery I was indeed able to do the piecing even though I had to make sure that my arm didn’t move too far out of the sling…..

But, when I put it up on the design wall…..

….it looked too dark and foreboding!!! It definitely needed something to lighten the color AND the mood.

At this point, I wasn’t able to use my arm to cut fabrics, so I had to put the project away.

Later, I went back to it and cut tons and tons of additional fabrics, adding MANY new colors…..

And then it was put away….to become a dreaded UFO for about 18 months!!!

I had planned to work on it at our May Guild Retreat which, of course, was cancelled!! 😞

But this summer has proven to be the perfect time to get back to it. It was something that I could sew on happily without having to do much planning or thinking about it. It was one of those projects that didn’t take up too much of my brain!!!

For some reason, in the original planning I had decided that I needed 80 blocks and that the quilt would be 8 x 10. Bu that would have been much larger than the Lap quilt that I was going for. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until AFTER I had made over 75 of the blocks!!!

With all of the brown strips made, it was time to think about the corners. In the original pattern the author had use crumb piecing to create the corner triangles. I was NOT interested in that!!!

I made one block using just one background fabric…..

….but it looked pretty plain. So, I was going to have to find something else to bring some sparkle to the blocks.

I decided to create strip sets and cut the triangles out so that there is modified courthouse step look to it.

I would love to say that my process was super accurate but the truth is that I cut everything bigger and just cut the block down to size at the end. I used my 12.5 inch ruler to cut the corners, marking the line with painter’s tape…..

The brown strip sets were cut down to 4.25 inches in width and a triangle was sewn to each side. After a few calculations, I marked my square ruler to show where it should like up against the stripe (the 2nd blue tape)…..

After making this first cut, I used the rule to square up the block to 8.5 inches.

As I started laying these out, I was super excited to see the sparkle that was appearing in the triangle areas….

All of the squares were sewn together…..

….and this quilt was off to a good start.

But what about borders…… more to come!!

Let the handwork begin!!

Over the last 9 months I have been working on my color wheel quilt. A few weeks ago I posted about using the Pathagorean Theorum to calculate the size of the triangles needed to fill the corners.

Now the question was exactly what to add to the corners. In my original design, the outside circles were going to move in curvy lines…..

But, when I started laying out circles in different orientations, having curves in the outside drew the eye away from the center rather than toward it……

I had also considered making the darkest grey into a circle, but quickly decided that it wasn’t worth the effort!!!

After a lot more playing around……

…….I decided that a starburst effect would draw the eye to the middle……

At this point I realized that I needed a bit more fabric than I had on hand so, while I waited for UPS to make a drop to my door, I started making all of the circles. I found that the colors were much easier to pick since I had my fabrics folded so well. This was the basic way that I worked…..

SUCH luscious colors!!!!

You can check out this post where I tell how I prepared the circles.

Once the fabric arrived I made strip sets and then trimmed them down to a size that was a few inches larger than the final product…..

Now I needed to transfer the circle pattern onto each of the 4 fabric triangles. I started by tracing the triangle onto the fabric and adding the straight radiating lines. Next step was to trace the circles onto the fabric……

Final step was to baste each of the circles into place….

Then it was time to put it up on the design wall…..

Happily, I am pleased with how this looks!!!

So, now every night will find me sitting in my chair and appliquéing circles!!!


What I did this Summer….a preview

For me there are five seasons each year….

  • Tax Season (January thru April)
  • Tax Season recovery (May)
  • Summer Fun (June thru August)
  • Travel Season (Sept thru mid-November)
  • Holiday Season (mid-November thru December)

For many years, the summer season was when we traveled but in the last few years more of the travel has moved to the autumn months meaning that Summer is MY FUN TIME!!!

As I got to this past weekend I was stressed knowing that June 1st was just around the corner and I didn’t have a plan yet!!! You see, I am a girl who LOVES a plan!!!

As Michael and I were walking on Sunday morning we were talking about my dilemma and the ideas started flowing. I started thinking about the things that I had missed so much in the last few “sheltering” months and decided that it was time to do something about it!!

I started off by making a list of friends to have over for coffee or lunch and then we added couples to have over for dinners. Since several of our favorite restaurants have opened back up, we also added going out for dinner at least once every two weeks……dinner IN a restaurant and NOT in our house!!

And speaking of food, I made Marinara sauce on Friday and REALLY enjoyed spending time in the kitchen….NOT a usual feeling for me. So, I added cooking a new dish each week.

Okay, that takes care of the social side of life….now let’s talk about the creative side. I am going to need some…..

One thing that I am really feeling is the need to get out of the house so I am going to visit some art galleries, museums, antique stores…..basically anything that is open right now!!!

I have recently pulled out the Color Wheel quilt and am starting to work on it again…..

It is a fun project but it takes a lot of thinking and planning and isn’t something that I can just pick up and whip out. So maybe I need to be working on two projects at one time… that is more creative and needs lots of thought and one that is super fast and easy. Since I have enjoyed piecing so much maybe I will aim for a Scrap Quilt. I hate to start a big one and then decide that I don’t like the pattern so maybe I will make a charity quilt in the design first…..just thinking out loud here!!

Finally, I need something to stretch my mind a bit. I love this quote…..

One of the local universities has several free online courses about creating websites. I have signed up for three of them and am already over halfway thru with the first one. My goal for the summer is to finish all three and hopefully use what I have learned to develop a website and strengthen this blog.

So now I have a basic plan for the summer and a more detailed plan for this first week. I am hoping that I can get to the end of August and happily look back on everything that I did last summer!! And if you are following this blog, you wont have to GUESS…..

….I will take you along for the ride.

And, in case you are worried, the year wont be devoid of travel. Covid permitting, Michael and I will spend 3 weeks in Mozambique in November!!! More good times to come.


Perfect binding….almost

When I was finishing “Mahek the Market Girl”, I wanted to try my best to make the binding PERFECT.

I made and attached the binding in the manner that I have always used, making sure that the corner stitching met in JUST the right spot and trimming that little piece out of the corner to reduce the amount of bulk.

But, as folded the binding over, getting it ready to hand stitch, I kept looking at my corners and knew that they were not going to work well.

Then I remembered an email I had sent to myself back in NOVEMBER that had been languishing in my inbox since. The video was from Susan Cleveland and was called “Two Ways to Reduce Bulk in the corners of binding”. Click the link below to view it.

I finally sat down and watched all 20 minutes of it and found several things that were SO helpful……

  • Making the binding so that it is a bit wider on the back of the quilt.
  • Being sure that the fold of the flipped over binding is opposite to the fold of the sewn-on binding (watch the video….she does a much better job of explaining)
  • Taking a few stitches in the corner on the top side of the binding
  • Anchoring the hand-stitching thread inside the seam before heading to the binding.
  • DON’T clip those corners!!!

So, I did the only thing left……CUT that binding off and started over again…..

This time I carefully marked my corners so that I could stop at exactly the right spot…..

Once sewn on, I do a few other things that I think help with the binding. Firstly, I press the binding out from the front……

Then I turn it to the back and start folding it over and pressing it as I go. When I get to the corner, I use the tip of the iron to press it out as best I can…..

As I fold each corner, I press it well and put clips on each side……

I am very happy with it and think that it makes a great finish to a fun piece.

The Palin source…..

Michael and I LOVE Michael Palin. We have spent many hours watching all of his travel shows, often dreaming about visiting some of the places that he has been. As a matter of fact, he is the reason that we trekked in the Himalayas back in 2015.

Many years ago, I stopped his show about the Sahara Desert to take a picture of a camel that appeared on the screen…..

At the time, I was playing with thread painting and used this photo to make a quilt…..

Note that it is the same “wide screen” display as the TV.

This past week, we decided to re-watch the Himalaya DVD and I was drawn to this gentleman in Tibet……

Doesn’t he have a wonderfully expressive face??

I am thinking that this might be a fun portrait to tackle next…..what do you think???

Having a ripping good time…..

At the end of this past week, the builders were working on the drywall in the room and doing lots of sanding, etc so I didn’t really think that I should try to sew in the dust. I wanted to move my machine downstairs but couldn’t figure out where to sit so that my rolling chair wouldn’t ruin the wood floors.

Then…..I thought about setting it up in my office and just move my office chair over a bit and use the same chair mat. It was a bit cramped, but it worked…..

….and the biggest plus… is right there and ready whenever I have a few minutes to sew.

The first sewing that I did was on her arms, finally just deciding to do 1/4 inch echo quilting…..

Then I decided to tackle her face….the part that I have been dreading since the start of this project!! While I may be able to draw with fabric, I am NOT an artist where facial contours are concerned!! I spent one evening drawing on 20+ photos of her face, trying to get an idea of what quilting needed to happen…..

And then I quilted…..

…and it was YUCKY!!!

So I spent that evening carefully taking out every single stitch in her face!!! Fortunately, I was having a good day with my machine quilting so the stitches were pretty even.

Now I am stuck with what to do!! I cant decide if the problem is my line placement or the fact that the thread is too dark!!

I KNOW that her nose isn’t good, but I feel like the other lines are okay.

I may try printing her face onto fabric and do several tries before I work on the actual piece again.

And, if any of you have the artistic bent to tell me what I am doing wrong on her nose, PLEASE speak up!!!

Finally….my friend from India, talked to the girl’s grandmother and found out that her name is Mahek. It is an Urdu name and means perfume! How perfect is that!!!

Designing Fun

As I said in the last post, it was time to get serious about the corners of the Color Wheel quilt and there was no better time than a Sunday night, sitting with my Sweetie and watching “Lord of the Rings”…..

I started playing with lots of different design ideas…..

….and then came upon the idea of turning the 1st grey “border” into a big circle…..

Then it was back to the design sheets to figure out what to put into the circle. This is my final idea…..

….make the big circle in the medium grey, the next layer in the lighter grey and the final triangle in the light grey (as in the very middle). I am thinking to make the “spoke” circles in colors that match the squiggle.

My last thought is to put 1/4 of the color wheel in each of the corners to finish it off as it began.

I played with it in Powerpoint and got a reasonable picture of what I am thinking…..

The next step will be to draft it out full size and see if I can make all of the details work, but that probably can’t happen until after my studio is back to a semi-normal state!!!

I know that these plans may change MANY times before the actual quilt is finished but it sure was fun to start out with a few ideas and see those morph into something that I really like!!

Maybe she is a flower girl??

I have continued to think about the background for my “Henna Girl” and just haven’t been happy with any of my ideas. Here, once again, is the photo that I have been working from……

My original plan was to add the lemons in the background, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I was concerned that having something so intricate and detailed might take the emphasis off of the girl.

I was talking to Michael about it the other day and he suggested adding something that was a little more abstract rather than a realistic background. I originally thought about adding a linear design….maybe strips in the background, but then……

…..Facebook to the rescue!!! A photo ( from Jan Ali of Chalo Heritage & Nature Walks) was posted that had large baskets of flowers….

They looked as if the perspective might be right so now I am playing with baskets of flowers rather than lemons. I think that I can do the wicker in detail but have the flowers more abstract.

I have done a bit of playing with paper…..

…..and think that it MIGHT work.

The real question will be whether to add more than the one basket in the background and the partial basket in the foreground, but I guess that I don’t really have to decide that yet!!!

So I am off to start weaving baskets!!!!

Let’s play “Never Have I Ever”

If you have never played this game, one person says…..”Never have I ever ___________(fill in the blank).” IF the other player’s HAVE done it (whatever it is), they have to perform some task…..maybe have a drink or do 10 sit-ups (wouldn’t happen with me), or some other silly thing.

Well, today we are going to play it with making bias binding…..

Never have I ever…… sewn the wrong ends of the bias strips together so that I ended up with 2 loops of binding rather than one long piece…..

Never have I ever……cut the strip too narrow and not find out until I had sewn all 260 inches together and started making bias……

Nope, that does NOT look right!!

Never have I ever….. clipped a notch in the bias when trying to trim the seam……

Never have I ever…… had to re-sew the connecting seams SEVERAL times to get the angle correct!!

Never have I ever…… sewn the strips together so that they form a 90 degree angle rather than a continuation of the strip!!

Since I did every one of these things this afternoon, it is obvious that I would LOSE this game!!!

I finally got my act together and actually made some decent binding. I was using the Clover bias maker in 3/8 inch width. Once I made the correct width and length of bias, I trimmed the end…..

…..and inserted it into the bias maker, using a point to help guide it thru……

Once I had it working well, I called Michael upstairs and ask him to help me video the ironing process…..

So at the end of my short creative time, I have the binding made and ready to add to my Color quilt!!!

Maybe tomorrow will be better!!!

Two projects at the same time!!

I seldom work on two things at one time, but busy times call for intense multi-tasking!!

As I have posted here over the last few months, I have two quilts in the making….the Color Wheel and the Henna Girl. Since I found out that my studio enlargement is going to start at the end of January, and I REALLY want to get both of these quilts finished this spring, I am having to split my time between the two.

The first item on the agenda was to get all of the hand appliqued circles put onto the Color wheel quilt. When this was accomplished, I then added the color “squiggle, basting it in place as I went……

I had to make a few alterations to make the corners match, but it was fairly easy to put a fold into the squiggle.

Next I made 25 feet of bias tape, using the 3/8″ Clover tool and glued it to the outer edge of the squiggle…..

With all of it now in place, I will be able to work on the hand applique at night while watching TV…..

On to quilt #2……

Today I finished the body of the “Henna Girl”, adding her legs and feet……

The next step will be to work on the background. I am thinking about painting the “asphalt” fabric that she will sit on. The question is what else to add to the background. As I look at the original photo that I took of she and her Mom……

….I am thinking that I want to include a bit more of the background to better set the stage. I am tempted to include the bag of fruit in the background and maybe some of the woven basket in the foreground.