Lessons learned in the pumpkin patch

I am still trying to catch up on the 2021 Monthly Color Challenge from Patterns by Jen.

The block for June is the amazing Pumpkin.

With the other inspirations, I have used the actual fruit or vegetable, but it was IMPOSSIBLE to find a pumpkin in mid-June!! The Produce manager in my favorite store looked incredulous that I was even asking!!!

So, instead of comparing the fabrics to the colors on hand, I just went from memory and quickly picked out two orange fabrics…..one darker and one slightly lighter. In retrospect, I wish that there had been a bit more contrast but, hey……the block is finished!!!

As with most of these challenge blocks, the cutting sizes were very specific, including several that were cut to a 1/8th inch measurement. Needless to say, I was VERY careful with my cutting!!

…..there are two other triangles that didn’t make the photo!!!

First, I was to make 8 flying-geese blocks using the “no waste” method. I had read about this technique but had never used it so I had to follow the instructions carefully.

The first step was to draw a diagonal line on the back of the 8 smaller squares and then place them on opposite corners of the larger square and then sew 1/4-inch on either side of the line…….

The next step was to “pre-iron” the triangles before I cut them apart…..

This helps to set the seams and keeps the bias stitching straighter.

Then I cut the piece along the drawn line…..

I pressed the triangles out, leaving this weird looking shape…..

Next, add another square to the open corner and sew along each side of the drawn line……

Again with the “pre-iron”….

….followed by cutting on the drawn line.

The result was 8 flying geese blocks, although they were too big and needed to be cut down to size.

As I started trying to figure out how to best cut them to the correct size, I remembered my previously mentioned trick about putting markings on my ruler that will make the cutting easier.

In this case, the block was trimmed to 1.5 x 2.5. The first mark that I made was at 1.25-inch (1/2 of the 2.5 width). I then marked the 1/4 inch at the top and the lines of the flying geese as well…..

I am using a wash away pen so that I can easily clean the ruler!!

Before making the first cut, I positioned my drawn triangle on top of the pieced one….

….and made the cuts. You can see that the right hand triangle is a bit short but not by TOO much!!

For the second cut, I turned the block the other direction and just used the normal ruler lines to line it up…..

I really enjoyed making the flying geese by this technique and especially like that I am not wasting a bunch of triangles!!

I learned even more while making this block and want to show you all of it, so come back tomorrow for the big reveal of the “GREAT PUMPKIN” block!!!

What now??

Congratulations….we survived 2020!!! Now bring on 2021…..


2021 has the potential to be an exciting year for Michael and I. He is starting to write a book about the rebuilding of various ecosystems in Africa and needs to have a fair amount of time with “boots on the ground”. COVID permitting, we will be in Africa three times in 2021 for approximately 8-9 weeks in total.

courtesy of history.com

My job on this trip is to be a second set of ears for information and to also document the trips in photographs. I am super excited about this part of my job but realize that I MUST find time in the next 4 months to practice with the new camera and lenses. The hardest part is finding a place to photograph objects that are moving!! I an happy with my ability to photograph things that are firmly planted in the ground, but am not as certain about moving animals!!! So, let’s put that at the top of my “MUST DO” list.

This could be me…..but with shorter and darker hair!!!

As a second thought, maybe I will just send Michael out into the backyard and tell him to jog around for a couple of hours as I photograph him!!!

I am also excited about my FrancesQuilts side-hustle!! I am planning to bring out at least two new patterns in 2021, develop two new guild programs that can be presented online and continue writing a daily blog. Having said this, I also recognize that the daily blog may be hard to keep up when we are traveling WITHOUT decent internet so I will just have to see how that goes!! And, as another thought, it may be hard to keep up with during income tax season!! We will just play that one by ear!!

As for creative goals, there are a bunch……

I want to continue with the Morewood Mystery that will end next summer.

I am going to be a blogger participating in the Color Challenge 2021 by “Patterns By Jen” ….

You can check out her blog here and learn all about the challenge. Jen has encouraged us to be creative when we are presenting our particular monthly block and to think about the “flat lay” photo. I had never heard that term, but have since watched a Craftsy class about it and am excited to figure out how I can “up my game” with my block photo. My first month is February so stand by for more about that!!

I was so encouraged about the portrait collage quilt from last year and would love to try another one. I just have to find a photo that inspires me. Hopefully there will be at least one on the Africa trips!!

I want to get the “Parasol Dancers of Green Lake” underway. If I can get it organized and layered, it would be a good thing to keep under the needle for when I have a few minutes of time during tax season.

I have recently watched a class about curved piecing so who knows what might come of that.

I want to continue to increase my proficiency in machine quilting, both with rulers and without. To this end, I plan to quilt a lot of charity quilts and MAKE myself try new patterns and not just stick with the old faithfuls!!

I could go on for days and days about the things that I want to do this next year but now I need to prioritize them and just get started!!

I recently listened to a podcast about having a “Don’t Do” list!! It suggested taking all of those items that you have moved from list to list over the last months, years or decades, realizing that you aren’t motivated to do that task and to take it OFF of your ToDo list. That takes away the guilt of not having accomplished it yet and lets you focus on the things that you ARE motivated to do!! Maybe I need to look thru my FIVE page “brain-dump” and do just that!!!

So now I am feeling overwhelmed and behind…..time to say Happy New Year….. and get upstairs to the studio!!!

Thanksgiving 2020…

I think that we can all agree that this year has been one for the books….and I don’t mean a great book that you can’t put down and want to read over and over and over and over. I am talking about the kind of book that you had to read in school….the one that you hated every minute of and didn’t want to read but you had to finish it anyway. And, as soon as the test was over, you threw it away!!!

There have been a lot of disappointments in 2020…..people have been scared, people have been sick and some have died, people have struggled emotionally, business endeavors have failed, fun things have been canceled, not-so-fun things have stretched out for a seeming eternity!!

And let’s face it, I have often struggled to be thankful in the midst of it all!!

But, as we approach Thanksgiving Day, I have been thinking of many, many things to be thankful for…. a husband who loves me, a beautiful home that shelters us well, children who are well established in their lives and relationships, stable jobs for Michael and I, money to provide what we need as well as much that we desire!! Also, this year has provided me with a new and enlarged studio and the addition of Julio into my journey.

But probably the thing that I am most thankful for this year is the gift of time that I have been given. COVID has forced me to slow down, stop running from one thing to another, and concentrate on the things that make me happy.

In August, I made the decision to “up-my-game” (I know that you are all tired of hearing that phrase) in one other area of my quilting…..my blog!!! I have realized that one of the things that I like best about this quilting journey is the opportunity it provides to help and encourage others and I truly hope that you readers come away excited about this crazy art of quilting!!!

Along the way, you have encouraged me as well, given me inspirations, and often much-needed advice. For that I thank you!!!

So I end by wishing you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving and I pray that a thankful and caring spirit will pervade the hearts of us all!!!

Wisconsin Quilt Show

The second week in September should have been an exciting time in Wisconsin….the Great Wisconsin Quilt Show!! As we are all familiar with now, the show was cancelled due to COVID-19. Instead of completely cancelling it, they went online and set up a website where you can view the quilts, and see many of the lectures. Some of the content is not free and you have to subscribe to see it.

However, I found several video lectures on YouTube that are free for anyone to watch. They are presented by the Wisconsin PBS channel.

These are the two that I have already watched…..

There are a number of others and the best way to find them is to go to YouTube and search for “PBS Wisconsin quilt” and you will find MANY more!!