The Orphan Blocks Mash-Up Middle…

… is done!

This is one of the times I wish that I had a tile floor to measure and check the square-ness of the top, but I did the best I could with the lines in our wood floor. It seems to be fairly even and I hope, as I said before, to be able to quilt some of the irregularities out of the top.

Orphan Blocks Mash-Up Middle!

So now it’s on to redesigning the appliqué. Here’s what I started when it was a different quilt. Now the vines need to grow down one edge (at least) and perhaps over the dark log cabin. I love hand appliqué and haven’t done it for a long time.

Orphan Blocks Mash-Up Border

I’m looking forward to some hand work!

Hooking at the Florida Harbor Hookin’

The room at the Florida Harbor Hookin’ was – obviously – filled with women hooking. Between classes, the vendors and people to talk to, many seats were empty, but still, there was a lot of hooking going on. Here are some of the fun pieces I saw.

My table mate, Suzanne, was working on this great runner. The photograph that came with the pattern showed that the designer had hooked it in browns and beiges, but Suzanne asked her teacher for bright colors. These really do sing, don’t they?

Suzanne's runner

It was fun to be in Florida and see what colors and motifs the ladies chose! This woman was finishing up a project that her friend had started. What a cute bunch of frogs.

Frog hooked rug

This is a great start to what is going to be an interesting piece. The hooker wasn’t at her seat, but from the drawing on the linen, it has a very Zentangle feel to it. What a fun project to hook!

Zentangle hooked rug

This was a pillow design I found in the Heavens to Betsy booth. For those of you who are not rug hookers, at the bottom you see what a design drawn on linen might look like, when you buy it. It’s like a coloring book. This was hooked using very wide strips.

Heavens to Betsy pillow

This wonderful piece was also designed and hooked by my dip dyed scrolls teacher, Angela Foote. I asked if this was dip dyed wool as well, but she said that she hooked with variegated wools (dump dyes). I really like the intensity of her colors.

Angela Foote design

These next rugs were designed and hooked by Carol Feeney, whose work I was happy to discover! She and her husband moved to Florida some years ago and she said that her designs and colors are greatly influenced by the area. I seem to have photographed many of her tile series; this is called Aesthetic.

Carol Feeney  Aesthetic


This is Flower Medallion Tile. Her colors are so rich and her hand dyed wool adds such texture. This piece is probably larger than it looks at 39″x39″.

Carol Feeney Flower Medallion Tile

This is Funky Flower Tile. I was really drawn to the lacy leaves and asymmetry of this piece. Click on this photo to see the many fibers she uses – funky yarns, sari ribbons and even buttons and beads.

Carol Feeney Funky Flower Tile

And just one more – this is Double Trouble Tile. This piece has lots of interesting fibers hooked in the design as well.

Carol Feeney Double Trouble Tile

I was inspired and delighted by all the rugs I saw. And now, I have added the heart scrolls piece to my rugs-to-finish list!

Orphan Block Mash-Up Quilt Borders

I’ve been looking at the design wall and thinking a lot about some of the decisions that need to be made. First one, not a big deal really but will dictate some of the other squares I make is that orange gets to play in the quilt top but purple doesn’t. I love purple but my stash of that color is not good. I must remedy that!

And then I’ve decided to use the squares border all around the quilt. I am not good at designing pieced borders and very few of my quilts have them. It seems that I don’t do them unless I have them in the original design idea. Funny. This is my favorite pieced border and it was a bear to do. I saw it on a Japanese quilt at a show in Tokyo and quickly sketched out the design on the pad in my purse as I walked out the door. My math skills are abominable and in the end, Peter had to figure out the math for me as the nine patches on point constitute very wonky math. Now that I think about it, I could have made it all a lot simpler, but Peter came through and it all worked out.

Tokyo Bright Lights

There are two designs of the black and white squares, I thought and then I came across another one, which had yellow in the middle – for the corners, I’m assuming. I fiddled around with possible combinations and what size the quilt would be and decided that 7 squares on each edge will be big enough. The outside size will be about 56″ square and the inside, about 40″. I spent the last few days piecing them and here are the four border pieces finished. It is very dark and heavy…

Orphan Block Mash Up Borders

The one border has a hand appliquéd vine and that may stay on just one border or may grow to other areas…we’ll see.

Applique on border

Next I need to piece some more blocks to fill the middle and think some more!



And So The Planning Begins…

Here is the latest look at the design wall. The zinnia and sunflower are in a spare bedroom waiting to be quilted and now the design wall is freed up. I keep finding squares that might work for this project, but these are the latest. It turns out that most of the blocks on the design wall are “stitch-alongs” from classes that I taught. The heart and leaf appliqué squares are from a Baltimore Album sort of class and the black and white checked border went with that project. I was designing my own blocks and I do remember getting bogged down as some of the designs weren’t turning out as I had planned. There is an appliqué vine started on the one border. I am debating whether to use the border; it seems heavy, though I do like it…

Design wall for mash-up

The paper pieced flower squares (upper left) are from classes I taught on that subject. The Dresden plate and the flower basket are from a Quilt Drafting class I was teaching. The tiny flowers and stem are about to go back to a bin. They are from a machine appliqué class that I took from Sue Nickels. I don’t think they can be washed, so I will save them for something else.

The squares are pinned on a black and white backing which I discovered in the black and white fabric pile. I don’t recall what it was for! How nice to have the backing for the quilt already pieced. I removed the borders  from the appliqué squares and I also removed the middle of one square whose design I never liked.

Since all the squares have a black and white background, I will continue on with that. I have a large shelf of black and white and white and black fabrics. (I often use the white and black ones for over-dyeing.) I tend to buy small bits of these fabrics and did not have enough for a background, so I had to look for some more. ;-D I googled around online and found – they have 20 pages of black and whites should you need any!!!

Here’s what else I am debating:

  • Most of the squares are red, blue, yellow and green. Can orange and purple play with the group?
  • Am I going to use the black and white border? (It’s a lot of piecing and I know I threw out the scraps…)
  • What new squares do I need to sew for a nice mix?
  • It’s clear that I need to choose a size for this quilt to be. I think this decision will depend on whether I use the black and white border. It has a pattern and the size will be determined by that.

And when I can, I am working on the house quilt, though is a favorite spot for Gizmo to snooze…

Gizmo resting

A Quilt Name & Some Progress

Coming up with names for my quilts is something I really enjoy doing, and when nothing comes to mind, it bothers me. Interestingly enough, I find that naming a quilt early in the creative process helps me with the colors or design. When I take a class with someone, I generally refer to it as something like  “the Gail Garber class quilt”, which was what I called this quilt was for some time.

Too Many Moving Pieces sewing

And then it came to me –

As part of his job, Peter develops training courses. When things aren’t going quite right, he’ll say, “There are too many moving pieces”, meaning in a business sense that a lot of things can go wrong – or perhaps aren’t well enough thought-out. The words popped in my head one day when I was trying to invisibly sew a seam that had come undone while I was quilting the top. I only designed one of the stars in the class and that was fairly straight forward. I came home and added flying geese and many more stars and trying to figure out how to piece everything together gave me fits; it was a bit over my skill level…and so it seemed a good name for this quilt.

I started this quilt top in a Gail Garber class on March 9, 2012. Last January I pulled it out of the closet planning to quilt it in time to enter my guild’s show in March. After all the relocation and related distractions, I was seriously committed to trying to figure out how to use the Bernina 820 and do some good quilting. It was not to be and I won’t bore you again with a Bernina rant!  (I just looked over my posts from last year and I did not comment much on my difficulties. I think I was so upset that I couldn’t discuss it.) Since the Sweet 16 was shipped to me in November, I have been wound up with The Holidays and have spent very little time using it, so I needed to find something to experiment on.

This quilt-in-progress seemed like a good project to work on since it’s really ruined and I can’t mess it up anymore than it has been. Last February I put it away in a huff and yesterday I had to carefully examine it to remember what thread I was using. The Bernina was so fussy that I tried many kinds of threads before I found two that seemed to work. Usually I wrap the quilt up with the threads I am using, but I was pretty angry. I had some places where thread needed to be ripped out (because the quilting was so awful looking) and when I got going, I ripped out a lot. There were also lots of threads to weave into the quilt. (Perfect football watching work!)

Ending threads

There actually isn’t much left to quilt, so if all goes well, I will have the first finish of The New Year soon…


Tommy Lee Turkey Top Completed!

Thanks for yesterday’s comments, both publicly and privately! I got up to the studio this morning and studied Tommy Lee for a while… In the end, at the last possible moment, I did remove the two lighter browns and for the third time, added some very dark values. Now I’m not sure that the dark greens under his body work….I meant it to look like a shadow. But I’m not pulling that out.

One more seam

This photo shows him hot off the sewing machine and pressed as well as could be done.

Paper still behind the top

With freezer paper piecing, you actually sew beside the paper so it is easy to remove – a real plus as it is easy to get rid of a section that I don’t like by simply pulling off the paper pattern. (Here’s a nice tutorial, should you be interested.) When I was sure everything was as I wanted it, I removed the papers and pressed again. You can see why the pressing becomes more and more difficult…

Removing the paper


Ta da! Here he is, free of paper, steamed and fairly smooth. Next up is deciding whether he needs a border. And of course I need to square up the sides and think about the quilting. First finished top of the year, ;-D

Tommy Lee Turkey Top


Turkey Quilt Top Progress

If Tommy Lee Turkey had eyes, the poor guy would have been glaring at me each time I entered the studio and ignored him! I started him November 22 and really planned on having the top done for Thanksgiving. But I was diverted, and diverted. So now that it’s the New Year and my time is my own, he moved to the top of the to do list.

If you look at the last post, you can see that I’ve had to work on the large center area. I really thought there was a day or two of work to do, but I’ve been sewing on it for the better part of three days. Because I chose to make a different breed than the pattern suggested, I had to figure out what was happening with the feather colors in each area; I’d look at the pattern and then at a photo of a Bourbon Red Turkey. The outer tail feathers were easy to do, but then it took me a bit more ripping out for me to realize that the colors keep spiraling around. A color out-of-place made the tail look odd.

I saved the face area for last. Turkeys have interesting colored faces; they are milky white/blue/pink. Here’s a section using a funny pink batik and it looks okay. But what about the two lighter browns on his back? Hmmmmm….. Does it look like he has a jacket or a vest on? This picture shows the second set of colors I have tried.

Pink neck

Here you can see that all the smaller units are pieced and now it’s time to sew the large sections together. What about those two browns – still debating! That’s all for today – I am worn out.

Sewing big pieces





Cleaning Up The Christmas Clutter

…and organizing for the New Year.

Christmas was a bit of a blur. After a fun two days, I came down with a stomach thing on the 27th and felt unwell for several days. Was it a bug? Was it excess sugar or turkey or good cheer? I can’t say, but I dozed on the couch, draped in the new Christmas Quilt and ate toast and rice, while the tins of cookies languished…

We took the tree down today, which always makes me sad. I love walking into the great room and seeing it, slowly winking at me with its brightly colored lights… I know it’s late to show a picture, but it was an especially pretty tree.

2014 tree

Santas and snowmen need to be collected and linens washed and stored and the Merry Christmas to Me quilt still needs to be washed – it’s been very rainy recently. The  studio is where we wrap presents and the paper and ribbon and tape have been tucked away. Next I pondered: “how do I re-arrange the studio to include the new Sweet 16?”. I very much like my Koala sewing table because it is so flexible and can be arranged in many ways. I decided that I need the maximum table space for cutting and spreading out patterns, so I closed that part of the Koala, and put my office table parallel to it. Then the Sweet 16 fits nicely beside it.

Reorg 1

That didn’t last long! I came in the studio this morning and looked at that arrangement and realized that it did not use the table to the best advantage. Although it looks “tidy” and there is lots of floor space with the table parallel to the sewing table, it’s really better to have it perpendicular. This way, I can move around the table to work on things and when I start storing containers underneath, they will be easy to access. I think this is good!

Reorg 2

And look what I am working on again, poor guy!

Turkey work

Piecing a Turkey: A Good Looking Breast!

The Bourbon Red turkey has white wing tips and I chose some creamy beiges for them. And as I mentioned, I divided up some of the ground sections so that I could use more fabrics for interest and texture.

Wing tips

I am happy with the grass fabrics I’m using, but today I auditioned some possibilities for the sky. I want a watery sort of Fall sky and these blues look good to me. The beiges I used for the wing tips might not have enough contrast, so perhaps when I sew the outer ring on the tail feathers I should select whiter whites.

Sky possibilities

The next section is an important one; it includes some sky and the all important breast, which is a large area and will start to define the bird’s color. Once I decide I like those browns, then I can color the tail feathers. If you look back at the design, the colors are in sequence so it will be easy going.

The breast!

He’s starting to look like a turkey – yippee!

{And now I must stop for today because the trainer for my new Sweet 16 is coming!!!}

Piecing a Turkey

I have been wanting to start something new in the studio but trying not to – – – I do have a lot of UFO’s. Then I came across this turkey pattern that I have had forever. This certainly is turkey season and an appropriate time to work on him.

Turkey pattern

The photograph of the completed project (as the title says!) shows a wild turkey, who has some black and white areas and some browns. I have a lot of browns left over from various Colorado quilts and really wanted to use them. So I started a little online research pertaining to turkey breeds. It turns out that there are some spectacularly colored birds. Along the way I discovered that the story of Benjamin Franklin wanting the National Bird to be a turkey is a myth. Here is quite a fun article about the topic with an excerpt from Ben himself weighing in on the “character” of a bald eagle!!!

But getting back to the turkey breeds, I think my favorite is the White Holland, but I don’t want to try to piece him…so I have chosen the Bourbon Red. He is a lovely guy with lots of brown in his body and white tips on his wings and tail fan. We’ll see how that looks. {Perhaps this turkey will end up being a special breed only found on the shores of Lake Robinson.}

This is a turkey I saw when I was at Sauder Village some years ago. He is a black turkey but that name does not do him justice. The many colors in his feathers were absolutely iridescent in the hot Summer sun. When I went over to the enclosure, all the turkeys were inside. I was disappointed, but then they started coming out. This guy walked over to me and fanned out his tail. Puffing up all those feathers makes a noise {!!!) perhaps like a feather fan opening, a p-f-f-f-f. Those guys absolutely knew how amazing they were.

Sauder Village turkey

This guy walked by me and swung his head. Look at his snood! Did you know that thing is called a snood? Here’s a guide to the parts of a turkey. I discovered that the red stuff is called caruncle, not the wattle. The wattle is right underneath the chin. {There will be a test on this next Thursday.}


Back to the task at hand. The packet includes a paper piecing pattern and the directions indicate that I was to use the thick white paper to piece on. That will be unpleasant to do, so I am transferring the pattern on to freezer paper, as I piece each area.

Freezer paper pattern


I wanted to start piecing the head and caruncle, but decided to “back into” the design and work on the feet. I thought they might be red or orange, but they are a beige color. Unlike the pattern shown, I want to have grass and sky and picked out some fabrics that might work. I have also sub divided some of the background areas so that I can use more fabrics.

And here are his feet and some grass! This is so fun.

Turkey feet