Back to the Double Nine Patch

At least I’m trying to work on it! The yard has been very demanding this year and the weeds have been dreadful. It hasn’t helped that we have bought a lot of perennials and shrubs to plant. And the vegetable gardens have been producing like mad. English peas, spinach and lettuce are done, but we’re enjoying snow peas and squashes and carrots. The baby tomatoes are still green; the big ones starting to flower. Strawberries are here for another week or so and peaches started awhile back. Life is good!

I can be very messy and scattered, but I am careful with quilting projects. I never throw away anything while I am working on a top. Nothing goes in the trash until the binding is sewn on the quilt. It’s a good practise and it’s made life easy to get back to making more wheels for the Double Nine Patch quilt. The original quilt had four wheels and now I need a total of nine, so I have been creating lots of colorways. This time around I’m not being so particular in the fabric choices! I’ve been rooting through the batik shelves and cutting wedges in colors/fabrics I like and pinning them up. And then I start moving them around to see who plays well together while referencing the four that are completed. This is the view from my desk area where it’s easy to see what goes with what.

More wheel colors

When I am happy with a color combination, I sew it together. (3 to go.) Slowly, but surely, I am making progress.

Making wheels

I went to the fabric store the other day and the fabric I used for the backgrounds of the original four is gone, so I chose a new one. That will mean some re-arranging of the original blocks, but it’s always fun to have to adapt. And really, the scrappier the better.

Blue & White Quilts

O my! I was digging through a box yesterday and came across three quilt tops. I dragged everything out and took them downstairs to the great room, where we have a new (blue) rug. Of course I knew they would look good with it – blue and white is a no-brainer. The question is – how many blue & white quilts does one woman need???

This pattern is called Delectable Stars and is from QNM January/February 2000 and was designed by Brenda Henning. I began these two quilts when we were living in an apartment in Chicago as I house hunted. That was 2005. I sewed on our little diningroom table during the day and cleared everything away before Peter got home. I called them “Chicago Blues”, after the jazz scene, not the way I was feeling. This is the baby version and the squares are 11.5″ . I just love the woven feel of this setting. The little rows of triangles are paper pieced and I do remember drafting them and then asking Peter to print out the papers for me at work.

Tiny Delectable Stars

What I do not recall is why I felt the need to make two sizes of them… The big squares are 18″. Perhaps if I continue to piece both sizes, I will do a different layout for each one. (Several other ideas for settings are shown in the article and they are all interesting.) We’ll see. It’s not as though I don’t have a million WIP’s!

Blue & white quilts

The spinning stars is a later UFO and in searching my blog, I see I started it in 2011. I was making another colorway of this design and I lost it – probably left in the trunk of a rental car. Here is a template you can buy from Pat Yamin. I just ordered another as the original must have been with the lost quilt.

Spinning stars

It is clear need to catalog my WIPs and decide which of them I may actually want to complete… I downloaded this quilt organizer from Stately Type – it might help. (They also have some very fun t-shirts for us creative types.) So little time, so many interesting things to do and so much yard work! ;-D

Dresden Star Designing

I am anxious to make something with the Dresden Star pattern, by Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts. It is an interesting pattern with an unusual construction technique. In Edyta’s class, we bought a kit, which included fabrics, the pattern and templates. At first look, I was fairly sure I didn’t like the fabrics but I figured I could work with them…

Dresden Star pieces

During lunch, I went to her booth and bought a few of her (lovely) batiks to add in. Even adding more fabrics didn’t do it…these ain’t my colors.

Dresden Star layout idea

I understand why teachers supply kits. With a kit, they know that you have everything you need to make the pattern with little fuss and bother. Many years ago, I was in a class where we needed a lot of fabrics for a very scrappy quilt pattern. A local woman showed up with a suitcase of fabric! She proudly laid the fabric pieces out on a table for the teacher to see and admire. The teacher was appalled as the woman had bought the whole Fall and Winter collections of Hoffman fabrics. It was 100 plus fat quarters! The upshot of this was that the woman spent the whole class fiddling with her stash and never got to sewing. She couldn’t make up her mind or perhaps couldn’t bear to cut into the fabric. I am certainly guilty of fretting over fabric choices so I have come to terms with kits. When I got home and looked at the class project, I knew that the colors were not going to work for me. So I finished up the Dresden Star that I started in class to practise more of the technique and think where I wanted to go next, color-wise.

In class, Edyta recommended a large, medium and a small print as well as a stripe and a dot. I really didn’t like the large prints, so I looked for  teeny, tiny and medium prints. And I think one of the many reasons I like her quilts is that she mixes batiks in as well. I cannot understand why quilters can’t just see batiks as fabrics! I thought it would be fun to use a batik flower fabric for the middle and dark purples for the stars.

Debbie's dresden star fabrics

Here is the final cutting. Much as I love those batiks, I decided that the flower-y middle was too busy!

Debbie's dresden star cutting

After sewing the star, I had a lot of trouble deciding on a background for it. I won’t show you all the fabrics I pulled out and auditioned! I wanted a background to blur or tone down the colors, because I think that’s what I like about Edyta’s quilt. This water-y batik seemed to do what I wanted. But I don’t love it…it doesn’t sing to me. I’m not sure what I will try next.

Debbie's Dresden Star



Procrastination – Sometimes A Good Thing!

There are UFO’s in several closets and I rummaged around last week to find this quilt for our bedroom which I was calling the double nine patch. Sometime ago, I picked out the background fabric and then tucked it away a closet.

Double nine patch background

Procrastination was a good thing in the case of this quilt, because a few weeks ago, Peter and I bought a new mattress. The old one was 25 years old!!! The sales lady kept explaining the features of all the mattresses on sale and we just looked at her, because ours was so basic. The men who came to bring the new one and take away the old one had been doing that job for 20 years. “I’ve never seen a mattress like this one!” they told us. (Needless to say, we are very much enjoying our comfortable new mattress.)

The point of all this is that the new box springs are much smaller, but the mattress is much, much thicker; so much so that the quilt we’re using does not tuck in at the bottom. It’s annoying because it means that every morning the bed needs to be completely re-made. Thus new quilt needs to be a good bit larger.

I put the pieces I’d already sewn on the mattress and moved them around and determined that the best thing to do is to make 9 wheels, instead of 4. Using the original design, there would have too much border. So back to the machine I go…

Nine wheels


Wheels in Progress…

I’ve been fiddling with color combinations. I pieced the bottom right one in a flash and feel like it is a bit bright and clear; my usual color choice. The pales in the double nine patches are grayer…


Instead of bending over the wheels on the floor, I finally laid the quilt pieces on the design wall. You actually can see in this photo, that I chose a warm colored batik for the background squares. I’m all about adding as much color and texture as possible, even if I am using a more subtle color scheme than usual. I am still not sure about the upper left wheel…

Design Wall Auditions

And it appears that I mindlessly pieced way too many squares before I chose the quilt design! I think they will make a nice border. I am enjoying these colors so I’m happy to piece more of them for the connector squares.

A border



Bedroom Quilt Middle Plans

Now that I have chosen the on-point quilt design, it didn’t take me long to choose what to put in the four middles. I had a similar design with empty squares saved in EQ7 using wheels in that area. I added the wheels in the center of this quilt to take a look.

Quilt with Middles

Next I wondered if I should add more wheels and was surprised to see that EQ7 cropped the circles! I like it but the design is very different; very busy. I like the medallion look of the top design.

More middles

The wheel I chose has 16 spokes, which means I can use 16, 8, 4 or 2 different fabrics. I auditioned some color ideas for backgrounds as well as wheels this morning and I think 4 different fabrics is plenty of variation. I want the wheels to be brighter than the nine patches, but just how bright remains to be seen.

Wheel one color ideas


Choosing fabrics is fun, but time-consuming. This quilt is going to be on our bed and I will be looking closely at it many times a day! Because I am a colorist, { a descriptor I have seen many people using recently}, where each color lies is enormously important. The last thing Peter wants to hear as we climb into bed is, “Do you think I should have used a blue-green instead there of the yellow-green?”!

It Was A Dark & Stormy Day…

Hooray! This Summer in South Carolina has been endlessly hot, humid and sunny. Yesterday the storm clouds arrived early in the morning and we had several downpours during the day. One was really violent with probably 50 mph winds and we lost power for about two hours. On a day like that, I declare it to be an indoor day. {When I lived in Singapore, except for Monsoon Season in January, it was mostly sunny, hot and humid. When we would have a cloudy day, my friend Beth and I would call each other up and discuss what we were going to do on our indoor day! When it’s nice out, you just feel the need to be doing something in the sun.}

Of course I decided to sew some more nine patches. Then, because I had so many of them, I sewed some double nines as well. When I completed nine double nines, I realized that if I use the medallion type layout, that I was done piecing. I put a fresh sheet on our bed and tried out the different layouts.

Here is a reminder of the first layout, the horizontal one. I’m adding these thumbnails in so you can see the whole design. It’s hard to lay squares out on the bed and really get the whole picture.

Master bedroom quilt idea 2

Obviously I can add more squares on each row, or leave it as is and have a large border. I like to make square, symmetrical quilts for our queen sized bed so that I can rotate them, for even wear. Cats, accidents, the sun from the window all “weather” a quilt.

Straight pattern

Here is the medallion layout.

Masterbedroom quilt idea 4

It’s just nine double nines with a border fabric (on the right) which is so pale that you can hardly see it! This design would be centered on the bed and have lots of border fabric to make it the correct size.

Medallion layout

And this is the four on point design…

Masterbedroom quilt idea 3

…with the whole bed covered in double nines on point.

Four on point layout

Peter helped me arrange the squares and we discussed the merits of each layout. He thinks I should make the middle design – the medallion one. (I like that one too!) He’s been noticing that the new Sweet Sixteen machine has been quiet this Summer as I dart in and out of the studio. Those big borders have lots of room for machine quilting. I hope I’m up to the task!

Next up – what to put in the medallion part of the quilt.

A Small Change of Pace!

I am diligently working on the appliqué part of the Orphan Blocks Mash-Up quilt. I plan and cut leaves and flowers during the day and I sew the leaves and stems during TV at night. I have been debating what piecing project to begin. We’ve had buckets of rain (and hail and tornado warnings!) so I’ve not been able to garden and I wanted to do get going…

There are so many quilts I’d like to make – I’m surprised when people say they have no inspiration because I have that in abundance! I thought it might be a good idea to work on some small quilts, to get these ideas out of my head and created in fabric. I opened up EQ7 and looked at block ideas and settled on a very old favorite. I’ve wanted to do a feathered star for forever and have started one several times. I decided to do a 15″ foundation pieced one and colored this simple design from EQ7.

Feathered Star top

I have taken a class on piecing it “the old-fashioned way”, actually sewing all those half square triangles and it was not enjoyable for me, so I printed the pattern out on a product called Fun-dation. I evidently discovered this when we lived in Japan, because the price tag on the package is in Yen! It is a very thin interfacing and you sew on it and leave it on the back of the quilt. For a project this small, tearing any sort of fabric would be annoying and tedious.


I picked out some arashi shibori and plain dyed fabrics to match and started sewing. Gosh, but the pieces were so tiny. I finished one edge and measured it. Looks like this star will be about 11″ finished! I checked back in my EQ7 sketchbook and it says 15″ – – – but, when I printed out the foundations I did not put in 15″ so that’s why it’s the wrong size. {duh} I blithely printed out their foundation pieces, using their divisions, not paying any attention to where the breaks were. (I wanted to get started!) Sadly for me, there is not one straight seam; they are all partial seams and very odd ones at that. This is some seriously nasty piecing and will take some study and patience to figure out…

Nasty feathered star



How Will I Piece the Quilt Together?

Perhaps some of you are wondering how I plan to piece all the orphan blocks together. I have made some similar quits in the past and learned a few lessons! This is a quilt I made for Great Nephew #2. I used a lot of novelty circus prints and sewed frames around them. And then I pieced them together. It was not fun, trying to make them all fit together.

Griffin's quilt

This is the next quilt that I made in the same vein. It’s funny animal prints, mostly by Nancy Wolff. This time I framed the animals as I liked with colored fabrics and then used a background fabric to sew them together. It was much easier to do and the neutral fabric hid some of the odd pieces.

My animal's quilt

So that is how I am approaching my Orphan Blocks Mash-Up. I have spent a lot of time moving the pieces around on the design wall and looking at the result and trying for a bit of balance. It can go together any number of ways, but now I am done fooling with it and working on getting this quilt top done! The first section I pieced is on at the bottom right of the quilt top. Early on I decided that the paper pieced flowers and leaf looked nice pieced around the appliquéd heart, and so it began.

Piecing start

And then I pieced the other two squares that I wanted to finish the bottom row. At this point, I took everything off the design wall including the backing, so that I could better see what I was doing. I have taken photographs every time I moved squares around, so I have references and won’t forget what the plan is.

Bottom row completed

And so it goes, trying to fit two or three pieces at a time, like a puzzle. I have been working away, doing a small section each day. I am close to being done, and here’s where it frankly gets ugly. That last row is going to be a bear to piece. I will cut the background pieces a lot larger and trim and measure and trim and …

Ugly piecing!

This top certainly won’t be the flattest one I’ve ever made because of all the partial seam piecing, but hopefully my skillful quilting will save the day. ;-D

Orphan Blocks From The Class Folder

In my search for more orphan blocks, I looked through my file drawer and found a useable group in my Paper Piecing Class folder. I taught this class to many, many ladies in Colorado and Illinois and so I have lots of half sewn pieces. The red bits are the start of another heart; ladies in Paper Piecing classes always want to make hearts and I like them too. There are a lot of fun ways to divide them. The blue pointed bits belong to a square that EQ7 calls Priscilla.  I have also seen it called World Without End. I really like it’s scrappiness.

Rocky Road to Kansas

Here is the EQ7 rendering that I found in the folder. After some fabric auditioning, I decided the middle should be just one fabric. After piecing the four points, it looked  busy enough without 2 more fabrics in the center and…


…I chose one that related to another of the orphan blocks.

Fabric Priscilla

And here is another square that paper piecers are anxious to learn to sew – it’s generally known as a twisted log cabin or spinner. This sunflower one I made when we lived in Shanghai, China for a class I was teaching to some Japanese women. They loved this version and had or make it exactly like mine.

Sunflower twisted Log Cabin

This one I found partially sewn in the folder and finished up the last few rows. It will go nicely in the orphan block quilt.

Orphan Block Quilt Spinner

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

When googling around looking for information on several blocks, I came across the most amazing resource! It’s the Quilter’s Design Board on Jinny Beyer’s website. It lists over 200 quilt squares and there are templates for several sizes of each square as well as piecing diagrams. When I began quilting, one of my first purchases was Jinny Beyer’s The Quilter’s Album of Blocks and Borders and it’s still my favorite resource. As I fiddled with the online design board, I realized that it contains many squares from the original book! Needless to say, this site is now on my bookmark bar.