My Design Wall is Full!

Here is what my design wall looks like today! There is a lot going on…

The right hand side has to do with my two upcoming workshops at Greenville Center for Creative Arts. The first, covering hexies and Grandmother’s Flower Garden is on Saturday. Six pointed stars is in July. Click here to get more info.

At the top right, you can see a quilt emerging, made up of (hand pieced) half hexagons. There are many ways to sew them together, but this is by far my favorite. It’s such a strong graphic design. The two plain colored areas in each block are my hand dyed fabrics and I have them strewn all over the floor as I pick them out.

The black stars in the middle are six pointed stars hand pieced in a Seven Sister sort of design. Below them is a pattern, first published in Godey’s Ladies Book in the mid 1800’s, called bricks. It is also a 60 degree diamond, but the “sides” of the brick shape are elongated.

The left hand side of the board is devoted to a deconstructed lone star. Using Moda precut fabrics, I have cut out stacks of 2.5″ x 5.5″ fabrics to sew on a Quiltsmart base. I hope to be giving a talk about how to make this amazing design at Island Quilters this Fall. Lots more coming about this project!














Finally A Finished Quilt Top!

@#%*?&#! And whew! Piecing the Jack’s Chain quilt took way longer than I planned. I certainly let other projects get in the way of finishing this top, but happily it is mostly done.

One thing slowing me down, was that the thread on my sewing machine began breaking again. I threaded and re-threaded and re-threaded the machine. I wound a new bobbin, or two! I tried different threads. I changed the needles several times. And finally, I went out and bought Dual Duty thread!!!!!! I am a bit of a purist and I like to sew with cotton thread on cotton fabrics, but I have run out of patience. The threads are breaking in between the chain sewing I am doing. I would say it was the quality of the thread, but as I said, I did try several brands. The bottom thread still seems to be breaking between the chaining, but the Dual Duty on the top is holding. Any ideas on why that might be happening?

I have declared that the top is done. I cannot make myself sew one more nine patch square at this point, so the nice pattern will only be on the center on the bed. (I cropped the picture above so that it looks like the pattern covers the whole bed.) I have had it on and off of the guest room bed the last few days and it just looks stupid – like a project half done. So instead of a bed quilt, I will finish it as a lap quilt. Now I just need to decide on borders.

And here is a close-up of some of the squares. The nine patches are mostly bright hand dyed fabrics, though I did add some of my batik stash. I’m relieved to have made the decision to down-size it and it certainly will be easier and faster to quilt. I will add it to the big stack of tops to be quilted!


An Exciting Friday Finish!!!

It has been excessively hot and humid here; we’ve had days and days of over 90 degree heat. The gardens are growing away and though it’s time to re-plant some veggies, they don’t need my attention. And of course the weeds are growing too, but oh well. So I’ve been indoors more, working on the Double Nine Patch quilt top. Sewing the squares together on the diagonal means that they get quite large and unwieldy and do not fit on the design board anymore.

Double nine patch sewing

This middle strip is 104″ long and if you are good at geometry, you get that!

Too big for design wall!

Those of you who follow my blog know that I don’t often finish projects, so this is A Red Letter Day. The Double Nine Patch top is nearly done! In looking through my blog posts, I found that I started it last July, so this isn’t a bad finish for me…

Triple Nines!

To complete the top, I need to decide how long the border strips will be, so that the quilt will tuck under our thick new mattress. The color inspiration was the scrap of fabric on the headboard. Though the windows have shutters and don’t need curtains, I plan to make some to break up all the wall space. {And re-paint the walls…}

Triple Nines color inspiration

I actually finished on Thursday and was all set to photograph the quilt on our bed – but – His Nibs was napping and I didn’t want to bother him. ;-D

Gizmo's nap

I’m doing a little happy dance now…

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.

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


Laundry Basket Quilt Class

I’m not sure when I started to notice quilts by Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts. I really don’t look at quilt patterns – it is rare that I buy one (I like to draft my own) and am always confused when someone tells me “I just finished a “blah-blah-blah quilt”, the latest quilt design by so-and-so.

When looking at the AQS Phoenix class list, I was delighted to see that Edyta Sitar would be teaching a star class. In the morning, she explained the construction and design of many star shapes, and this was the class project, called Dresden Star. It’s quite an interesting variation and before I found this class, I spent a good amount of time, to no avail, trying to figure out how to piece it.

Laundry Basket Quilts Dresden Star

Edyta brought many quilts for us to look at and I discovered this pattern, called Dresden Bloom, a variation of the Dresden Star. O happy day! Everything about this quilt just sings to me – the pattern, the colors, the setting – and I couldn’t wait to get going!

Laundry Basket Quilts Dresden Bloom

First though, here are some other great star pattern ideas. Edyta called this one a Twirling Star. I envision it in much brighter colors…perhaps a Summer throw in red, white and blue… or red, blue and yellow…

Laundry Basket Quilts Twirling Star

And this one is quite the beauty, and it’s called American Beauty! I have to look over my notes as I can’t remember how it’s constructed. (It’s a more complex variation of a simpler star.) We were encouraged to take as many pictures as we wanted and attach them to the pattern sheets so we would remember each pattern and I need to do that.

Laundry Basket Quilts American Beauty

But back to the Dresden Star. It has 16 points, which means 16 different fabrics can be used ( or 8 or 4 or 2). Here is the fabric pack that I got. Edyta explained that in order to get a nice assortment of fabrics she chooses a small, medium and large print as well as a stripe and a dot. It works for me!

Dresden Star fabrics

The lighting in the room was very odd, and made everything look a bit freak-ish. This is the best shot I got of Edyta, holding up the string piecing of my table mate. This was a whole day class and it went by much too quickly. I have taken a lot of classes with many teachers over the years, and Edyta is truly superb. She’s patient and funny and knowledgeable. She managed a class of 25 with no trouble and believe me when an instructor can’t do that it’s a loooong day! Her instructions were very clear and she repeated them as many times as we needed to hear them. Unlike many teachers, she was on her feet and working with us during the whole class. If she is teaching anywhere near you, I would suggest you sign up ASAP.

Edyta Sitar

In case you too are obsessed with the Dresden Bloom quilt, here is a close-up so you can see the wonderful quilting and fabric choices. Feel free to drool…

Laundry Basket Quilt Dresden Bloom close-up



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.

Itchin’ to Stitch!

I have been working outside for months. Not complaining, just saying. It’s so hot now, I keep thinking I won’t work outside so much, but the gardens call to me, there’s always something to do or pick! I go into the studio to read e-mail, write posts and browse Pinterest, but I miss creating. At times like this I need a mindless sewing project. I did a little shopping at one of the quilt shows I recently attended and picked out all these cool, pale batiks. I am always very influenced by where we live and all this hot weather makes me want to have cool colors around me. Aren’t they wonderful?


So what do I mean by mindless sewing? Something I can do for a few minutes and then move on. I decided on a double nine patch. I’ve had some ideas floating around in my head for a new quilt for our bedroom. A coooool quilt! Here are some nine patches mindlessly sewn… ;-D

Lots of nine patches!

And here are a few double nine patches sewn together. I know that you can’t see the background fabric I am using in the double nines. I bought it quite awhile ago – it has small concentric circles in pale grey or green. I know it reads like white, but it’s not white. I rarely use white.

Some Double Nines

So I had a bunch of squares done and thought I should get on EQ7 to decide on a layout. That’s what I like best to do with that software is play with layouts. In The Dark Ages, I colored patterns on graph paper, which I really still like to do. Then I would give them to Peter who would photocopy them in the office. When he brought them home, I would cut the squares out and lay them all over the floor and ponder ideas. And then one of the cats (Widget or Schminky in those days) would run through and that would be that!

Here is one idea, a horizontal layout. Lots of double nines and lots of empty squares for something. The double nines are about 14″ and all the quilt designs are drawn to be about 84″. The top of the bed is about 60″ so I want the quilt to look nice on that space.

Master bedroom quilt idea 2

And here are the double nines on point. I am always surprised at how different this looks and how the math changes. Geometry – not my best subject!

Masterbedroom quilt idea 4

In this version, the top and sides of the queen sized bed would be covered with the double nines. In the one above, the nine double nines { ;-D } would be centered on the top of the bed with a lot of background around them. It is almost like a medallion type design. The blank lavender squares will have something in them as well, which I will think about once I choose the layout.

Masterbedroom quilt idea 3

So as I piece and garden and swim, I can think about what layout I like. What are your thoughts???





Feathered Star Success!

Feathered star success!


The tiny feathered star top is done! The partial seam piecing wasn’t too bad and I only had trouble with one seam; the last one of course! I had to do what I always tell my students – only rip out three times. Because of the Fun-dation, it’s all quite square with no wonkiness. I could not have pieced such small half square triangles accurately without it.

It finished up at 10″ and then I added a bit of background around the star so that the points really show. I would have liked to have made the border of arashi shibori, but all the pieces I have are narrow, so I chose this bo maki fabric. There is a big hunk of it and there was plenty of room to fussy cut. I think it works well with the middle. Finished size, 17″.

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