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Finished Object Friday – Quilting

After three months, I have finished the pet-friendly quilt that started with this fabric.

Inspired by Rayna Gillman’s improvisational piecing technique and using a combination of log cabin and strip pieced squares, I designed a pair of blocks I call Dog House, Cat Barn.

The blocks finish at 12 inches square. But how can they turn into a bed quilt? After mulling it over for awhile and making several sketches on graph paper, I found that I could fit four blocks across five rows to come up with a twin-size quilt. To create balance, I staggered the rows by four inches with a spacing strip, alternating between left side and right side every row.

I also felt that the balance would improve if the center row was different. Thus was conceived the Pet Condo construction project in “mid-town,” (if you will permit my flight of fancy.)

Four inches of sashing in a grey polka-dot fabric between the rows made a “street,” giving the animal neighbors a nice boulevard for walking over to visit. With my concept complete, I re-named the quilt Animal Friends.

Oh, another group of animal friends were introduced via the background fabric: Our hardworking and very dear bees.

The Animal Friends quilt measures 57 by 84 inches. It was quilted with a combination of walking foot “stitch in the ditch” and free motion stitching on my Bernina.

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SAHRR 2021 Last Round Celebration

GOTCHA. Okay, I have some personal business to share before I tell you about the last challenge of the Stay at Home Round Robin. Yes, today is my birthday. Mr. Mouse and I were celebrating this occasion, but he has a math problem for you. (I’m not telling my age. But I will give you a clue. I have a 12 year old grandson.) If you like math problems, chew on this: The first integer of my current age times the second integer plus 20 will give you how old I turned today. Good luck!

Now to the quilt top. At the end of the last round I had added log cabin squares to each corner. It looked like this:

Quilting Gail told us to add pinwheels.

SAHRR – Round # 7 ‹ Quilting Gail ‹ Reader —

I was happy to hear that because I like unity in my work. The center block has a sort-of pinwheel, and now I can echo that shape in the final border.

Of course, I had never made a pinwheel square before. Here is my first one.

The technique I chose was quick, but I ended up with bias edges on all sides of my pinwheel. This meant I needed to be very Careful Not to Stretch them out of shape. And I had 31 more to make, if I wanted the pinwheels on all sides.

Long story short, after careful cutting and lots of spray starch, the pinwheels were done. I sewed them into a border and attached the border gingerly to my quilt.

Close up of corner

My finished top is 60 inches square. I’m so pleased! Now I have until March 29th to get it quilted and bound before uploading images to the last link party. I also need to give this quilt a name. Two different thoughts come to mind:

  1. The spinning pinwheels, the combination of hot and cold colors and the scattered stars suggest to me “The Expanding Universe.”
  2. On the other hand, when I studied the patterns and shapes, I think of ancient maps, at a time when the far reaches of the earth were unknown. “The Earth is Flat.” or “Here be Monsters.”

I’d love to hear your choices. Also, anyone who does the math and guessed my age will receive a hand-painted postcard.

Posted in quilting

SAHRR Challenge #6 – Almost Done

This week’s assignment is Log Cabin block. I’m a fan of this block and find it useful in improvisational quilts and as a background for art quilts. When I woke up this morning, I had a good idea for incorporating this block into my design. So I got right to work on the challenge.

Because I have not yet sewn the wonky stars border on, I can still incorporate the log cabin blocks into it. My plan is to use the pale blue fabric and the flowered batik fabric to make four log cabins and attach them in the corners of the wonky star border. For the final challenge (whatever it may be) I will use the flowered batik as my primary fabric. This will tie what has come before to what comes next. Follow along and you will see.

Here are my four log cabins.

I used a one and one half inch center and cut the light and dark strips to finish at 3/4 inch. These are three rows of each color, giving me a finished block of 6 inches – the same as my light blue star border.

Next I got out my fabric paint and added a metallic motif to each center square.

I think they look like eyes in the heavens.

Laying each block with the pale blue to the inside and the batik fabric to the outside, I get this effect:

Lower right corner
Lower left corner

With the log cabin blocks done, I return to building the quilt sandwiches for the four sides. They will be about 12 inches wide each. This includes enough allowance for the quilting. At this point, I am expecting my quilt to finish out at around 60 inches square – a good size to use as a lap blanket.

Don’t forget to check in with the others who are building round robin quilts. They are showing a tremendous variety of styles and some ingenious solutions to the challenges.

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SAHRR #5 – The Stars Above Us

After putting in a few hours of sewing yesterday and today, I find that I have something to show for this round after all. First of all, here is my assortment of wonky stars.

There are two sets of four – the smallest will finish out at 3 inches, the larger at about 4 1/2. While it took some patience to stitch on the tiny scraps of star points, I found myself enjoying the process. And in the end, they are so darned cute! I also made them fiery stars, in hot shades of yellow, orange and red. They jump right out from the pale blue background.

As I stitched along, though, I found my stars getting less and less wonky!

First Star
Last star

The blue border will be six inches wide. This will give the eye a good break from the dark and busy center of the quilt while allowing the stars to shimmer. Here are the assembled borders laid in place.

This project is so big, it is almost impossible to take a decent picture.

As you can see, the border is not attached yet. I am in the process of quilting the center body. My plan is to make separate quilt sandwiches for each border, attach them and then finish up the quilting by working around the edges. Or perhaps I will quilt them before sewing them on. Anyone have a recommendation for me on how best to manage this step?

If you would like to see the work of other quilters doing this challenge, follow these links:

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Taking a Brief Pause from SAHRR 2021

After working out the details of Challenge #5 SAHRR 2021 (the wonky stars border) I paused before completing that border. My quilt is currently 39 inches square, and dangerously close to being too big to quilt on my Bernina. Therefore, I decided to start quilting the completed sections before adding any more fabric.

First task is cutting and layering the quilt sandwich. Getting the backing and batting smoothed out was a tricky chore since the quilt is too wide for my worktable. After I had managed it, I proceeded to hand baste every three or four inches – just enough to keep the layers from shifting while I sewed.

Yesterday I got about 1/2 way done with parallel rows of quilting. It looks like this on the back side.

I chose to hand embroider the central square, which emphasizes the shapes.

Still undecided on how to quilt those batik triangles.

The gray spokes were quilted in parallel lines about 1/2 inch apart.

Image showing machine quilting and hand basting.

I’ll continue to quilt until the section is finished. Then I hope I have time to sew on the wonky star border before being faced with Challenge #6.

Posted in quilting

Stay at Home Round Robin Challenge 5

Thinking about what I have done so far on the round robin quilt, I have concluded that the work needs some breathing room. A little space and lightness from the intense colors and diverse border designs will give the eye a place to rest. So for this challenge I had already decided to add a wider border of the light blue fabric.

Here you see the effect next to the checkerboard border.

I like that the light blue speaks to the blues in the checkerboard border while still providing much needed contrast in value. So I was pretty happy with the next prompt – Wonky Stars – suggested by pieceful quilter Wendy. Stay at Home Round Robin Border 5 – (

First of all, I like everything improv. Wendy gave us a link to a wonky star tutorial, and I recognized the same technique I already knew and had used in my tropical fish blocks for Under the Sea.

The pile of fabrics you see in my featured photo will form the substance of the stars. I will embed the stars at various places into the light blue border, which I expect to be at least 5 inches wide.

Today I got started.

Four blue patches with star points added
Central patch is one of my painted fabrics. The patches are sewn together in the photo
Wonky Star all sewn and pressed.

The first star is finished. Tomorrow I will start early and work in earnest to complete the round.

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SAHRR 21 Round 4 – Checkerboard

My week has been a bit full – which is quite a change of pace for me. Among other things, I received my first COVID-19 vaccine jab yesterday. (sore arm today.)

None the less, I have been working steadily on this week’s challenge – checkerboard. I quickly decided it was important to make a definitive break in the design. It is desirable to separate out the triangular rounds from the checkerboard border, which will be strongly square. To make this, I added a wide coping border in the dark grey fabric.

I like the way the geese triangles now look like stained glass pieces.

To me, the checkerboard border can be a mosaic tile border. To achieve this effect I chose to use all medium toned fabrics, including the flowered batik. Here is a small mock-up for my design, using 1 1/2 inch square pieces.

The first step is to cut and sew together several strips, then cut the strips cross-wise into paired squares. Here you see the three piles.

Next I joined these strips into four square blocks, then joined the blocks into long strips. It took me a while to make the first side. For one thing, I again failed to true up the blocks before attempting to sew on the border. Soon, however, I was fully in the swing of it. The first side…………

……. and finally, all sides completed. There are a total of 48 four-square blocks used.

I like it pretty well. Despite my best efforts, there are some ripples. (Thankfully there are no pleats.) I can try to smooth them out by removing, adjusting, and re-attaching the checkerboards.

I’m ready for the next challenge, although I will probably have to buy more fabric.

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All These Geese – Twist their Tails


Here I am, for the third day, working on Round 3 of the Stay Home Round Robin quilt challenge. Yesterday I wrote about my efforts to assemble flying geese blocks – a technique that was brand new to me.

I started with a quilt that looked like this:

To line all four sides with Flying Geese blocks, I would need to make 48. Thinking about how much time and effort I had already spent and considering that I needed another 24 blocks, I decided to change the design of this border.

What if I turned the blocks 90 degrees, and let the long side go parallel to the quilt edge? And while I was twisting the blocks around, what would happen if I alternated the direction – turn one left, the next right, and so on.

So that’s what I did. I made up more blocks anyway, because I needed certain colors for the new plan. Ditching the bright green geese, I went with my current palette of blue-green, orange and gold.

The quilt is now too big to stick on my bulletin board, so I am photographing on the floor. Here’s my round with the first three sides finished.

And here is the finished round.

I grouped the orange and yellow geese toward the corners, where they can have a conversation with the plus signs. And I laid the blue geese near the sides of the pale blue octagon. The result of this layout is a path for the eye to move all around the quilt, guided by the color groupings.

I feel very pleased. Maybe, just maybe the results were worth the effort.

If you would like to visit other quilters who are working on Stay At Home Round Robin quilts, you can follow these links:

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Goose Purgatory

It’s Week Four on the Stay at Home Round Robin. The prompt is Flying Geese block.

In the beginning, I was happy and excited. The flying geese block is one that I have never made, so this was going to be my opportunity to try it out. I had what I believed to be a good concept for this round. So what could go wrong?

I decided to make my geese 2 by 4 inches. To make it work, I needed to bring the quilt sides up to 24 inches. I sewed on a narrow border of flowered batik fabric.

This also helps to define the pale blue octagon – a secondary shape.

To get started with the Flying Geese, I viewed this video by Patches and Poodles for making them four-at-a-time.

Her instructions were crystal clear. On Tuesday I made the first group.

These looked just great. I calculated that I would need 12 units per side, for a total of 48. The realization of the quantity and time required gave me pause. I decided to get started the next day.

Today, I started by cutting lots of squares and sewing them into shapes using the technique I had learned on Tuesday. Soon I had quite a collection of geese.

Here they are sewn and pressed

The last step is to trim them to size. That’s when things started to go side-ways.

It seems that all of my lovely geese, over which I had labored for two hours, were 1/4 inch too small!!!!!!!! I had skipped over the instruction about pressing the seams open. Missing this step was enough to throw off the measurement that critical 1/4 inch. Thus began another three or four hours of re-working my flock of geese………………

By dinner time, I had managed to salvage about twenty -four goose blocks. A day has been spent and I am only half way done, with a wad of unworkable blocks left behind.

So I am bowed, but not beaten. I will go back into the fray tomorrow, starting with more fabric and a fresh rotary blade.

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SAHRR Round 2 – Angular Puzzle

On Monday I learned that the next prompt for the stay at home quiltalong was Plus Sign. As in the past round, several challenge participants had their additions up and posted on the first day. I was not so quick to get to work. First of all, I wasn’t sure where I should place a plus sign on my project. Secondly, I wasn’t sure what technique I wanted to use I considered all of these options in turns:

  • Nine patch blocks made with contrasting strips
  • Painted on, either freehand, stamped or stencilled
  • Applique
  • Reverse applique

As I awoke this morning, I had the answer – really, it came to me just as I got out bed! I remembered this little tool stuffed away in my sewing cabinet:

I would make plus sign appliques, but I would do it with fabric strips run through the bias tape maker. This tool folds under the raw edges making a very even tape, very quickly.

It turned out to be the only part of the project that was quick.

My first goal was to bring the gray X motif, which had a prominent place on this work, to a graceful close. To do this, I cut and pieced a border using the light blue and dark grey fabrics, with the grey piece matching the angle of the X already in progress.

Here are three of these borders, sewn and ready to be pressed.

When sewn in place, the grey X get its rectangular legs finished up.

Now I am ready to add the plus signs. It’s time for the floral batik fabric to make another appearance. I cut it into four triangles to finish the corners. It is here that the plus signs will appear.

Corner triangles and tape, ready to be fused together

One of the problems I had with using the plus sign motif is that it looked like a stubby, ungraceful pair of sticks to me. To solve this issue, I decided to elongate two sides of it. The long legs will come from the edges of the triangles, with the cross happening at a right angle in the corner.

All of this sounded very simple to me, in terms of the construction steps. This is where my lack of experience kicked in. After prepping the pieces, I started sewing them in place. Nothing would line up correctly! I measured each triangle, but didn’t find anything wrong with their angles. After spending an hour or so, sewing on and removing a few triangles, I finally realized that I had failed to true up the border edges. What a rookie mistake!

Eventually I sorted out the 90 and 45 degree edges and sewed everything together.

To see some of the other quilters’ work, you can visit their posts.