Friday, April 29, 2016

along the way to Lotus

On our way home from Ikea Charlotte in February, I made this sketch of a graphic on their street sign.  (Leave it to Ikea to ensure even their street signs are inspiring...)

Lotus block version 4.0

Of course, it struck me as a charming quilt block.  I could see drunkard's path curves put to good use to create something flowerlike with a Scandinavian flavor.  Pretty tempting, no?

I like sewing curves, but am not as fond of cutting them.  Fortunately, there's an Accuquilt cutting die that cuts the drunkard's path block.  I procured one from Sew Vac Direct, my sewing machine and supplies sponsor and figured that, combined with my Go! baby cutter, this would make quick work of the job.

Well, it didn't go quite that easily.  When I received the cutting die I realized that it wasn't an exact match to the block design.  If you examine the sketch you'll see that the circle in the center fills out the center, with "background" only showing in the arched corners.  Essentially, the curve goes right to the edge of the "blocks".  The cutting die, by contrast, surrounds the curve with a good 1" of background at the thinnest points.

Earlier this week I worked out two possible versions of the block.  The version on the left uses the Accuquilt cutting die with no modifications.  You can see that the circle in the center of the block is now cushioned by background.  Also the outer petals of the flower are spaced away from each other.  The version on the right uses hand cut drunkard's path shapes designed to have minimal background cushion beyond the curves.

I shared these sketches on Instagram to get some feedback (thanks for that!).  About 75% of responders preferred the block on the right.  That didn't surprise me, since it is far more similar to the Ikea sign which originally caught my eye.  But those who preferred the block on the left had a good point - the extra background allows the shape to breathe.  Hmm...

Lotus block version 4.0

Yesterday I made this test block.  I used the Accuquilt cutting die, which greatly speeds the process, but trimmed the drunkard's paths before assembling to create a hybrid of my left vs. right versions.

Lotus block version 3.0

In effect, this is version 3.0.  But when I was finished my block, I was so disappointed I truly considered scrapping the whole idea.  Just then my friend arrived for Thursday night yoga and gave me the push I needed to unpick and remake the block one more time.

Lotus block version 4.0

Lotus block version 4.0

I'm super excited about this final rendition!  A bit more drunkard's path trimming yields a block with a shape almost identical to the street sign, but with background surrounding the whole flower to give it room to breathe.  I think it brings together the best of my first two versions:  shape, negative space and using the die cutter!  The only minor drawback is that using the cutter creates some unnecessary fabric waste, but then again die cutters usually do.  It's the price we sometimes pay for speed.

What do you think?  I am hoping you like it because I plan to share this as a free pattern.  I'll write instruction options for using the Accuquilt cutting die as well as a downloadable hand-cutting template for those who prefer it.

Cool Melon fabrics for my Lotus quilt

I'm planning to make a 9-block baby quilt with these Cool Melon fabrics.  Short and sweet and finished in a jiffy.  Want to join me?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Cool Melon {a mosaic contest}

Slow down a minute, my friend, and ponder with me in color...

Melons are paradoxical.  Warm coral, goldenrod, pinky peach, and orange hemmed in by cool, minty greens.  They call to us from the center of summer, so sweet and wet, like a fresh bouquet punctuated by tender, moist leaves.  Dripping.

Cool Melon {a mosaic contest}
teapot bouquet, hexagon quilt, sorbet, sunflowers, geometric poster, lady

Like summer, cool melon is nostalgic.  It's pretty as a picture framed with vibrant, growing life.  It's a bowl of sorbet exploding with fruity flavor, each bite sweet and surprisingly cool.  The best times, however fleeting, treasured away.

Cool Melon {a mosaic contest}
mum wallpaper, hexagons, cool drink, popsicles, mason jar bouquet

My favorite melon greens lean towards teal.  Colors like the darkest kale or an icy honeydew marry so well with creamy cantaloupe and peachy orange.  It's a softened green + orange, a modern gender neutral.

Cool Melon {a mosaic contest}
tile floor, pillows, house, crochet, bed quilt

But watermelons.... watermelons are for girls.  Pink, blushing to red.  Deep rind green.  This cool melon flaunts a classic, ladylike style.  Cool and pretty.  Wet and sugary sweet.

Cool Melon {a mosaic contest}
washi tape, halved melons, bird, gingham patchwork, balled melons

Just the thought of a melon sends a little shiver down my spine.  They are instantly cool and refreshing, yet they ripen in the heat of the year and split open to reveal sunset colors.  It's the green of them that performs this magic, just as a treasure box shields its prize.  Cool melon is a delightful surprise.

And now I want one.

I invite you to join us for a Fabric Mosaic contest sponsored by Gotham Quilts.

Carefully craft your mosaic of 9 fabrics from among the offerings at Gotham Quilts. Choose fabrics to express your interpretation of Cool Melon.  Your collection of fabrics can feature a very controlled color scheme or a bouquet of melon colors.  Just make sure to include that all-important green to cool off your collection.

Once you have your fabrics, the free Mosaic Maker tool makes it a snap to create a mosaic.  Copy and paste image url's from Gotham Quilts.  To find url's first go to the item page, then right click on the image you want and choose "copy image URL".

To enter the contest, add your mosaic image to our collection here.  If it suits you, link to a blog post explaining your choices - that helps us spread the word about our contest.  But no blog post is required (you can put your image url in the url space).  Anyone can enter, anywhere in the world.

***Important Tip*** If possible, share your mosaic so that when it's loaded to the link up and you click on your mosaic, it takes viewers to see a larger version. This makes it so much easier for me to see your mosaic and consider it as a finalist!  Hosting your mosaic in a public place (such as Flickr or a blog) and linking the URL works beautifully!

Add your mosaic by midnight May 8th.  You can make up to 2 mosaics!  On Monday the 9th, I'll open voting.   We'll have two winners!  The 2 Top Mosaics will earn a complete fat quarter set of their mosaic fabrics!!!  Winners announced May 11th.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 25, 2016

a Still Point in the Turning World {quilt + pattern}

Today I am excited to present a finished quilt and pattern!

a Still Point in the Turning World

“At the Still Point of the Turning World,” a compelling turn of phrase by T. S. Elliot, was my inspiration for this quilt. Among the sharp contrast of dark against light you will find a solitary still point, a peaceful place or a lonely place depending upon your story.

But step back from the patchwork for a wider perspective and see how the design pops, twists and dances into so many different patterns. There are large six-point stars and squished stars. There's a pinwheel fan surrounded by shaded squares. There is movement upon movement and a radiating design, originating from that simple still point.

crafting a Still Point

This complex and impressive pattern is made possible by 2 y-seams per block.  If you have never sewn a y-seam before, this is the perfect opportunity to learn!  I have broken down the block construction into a detailed, photo-rich tutorial.  This pattern is ideal for an intermediate quilter who has sewn something with angles before, such as a triangle quilt or any of the projects from my Angled class.  That said, the pattern does not assume understanding of angled sewing principles, but rather demonstrates each step clearly.

a Still Point in the Turning World

The pattern includes a printable Block Map and blank Color Sheet to enable you to replicate the color zones to create a "still point" like mine or to experiment with your own color story.

a Still Point in the Turning World

I made up my quilt back from scrap play piecings and stash cuts.

a Still Point in the Turning World

a Still Point in the Turning World

My quilting emphasizes the still point star and each color zone with diagonal lines radiating and turning from that still point. 

This quilt has been a pleasure to bring to life, from discovering and fine tuning the block assembly to alighting on the idea to create color zones to trimming each block to an exacting 8.5" square.  The pattern strategically oversizes the original cut shapes so that the sewn block can be trimmed to precision.  That's right, you don't have to sew to precision!  I think you'll appreciate that part too!

Still Point quilt top

Still Point quilt pattern is a 26-page pdf pattern available for purchase now in my pattern shop.  Thank you for your encouragement along the way.  I hope you enjoy your own journey with motion and meaning!

Friday, April 22, 2016

done Good {Together Circle}

do. Good Stitches is a modern online community that quilts for good.  Over the years the bee has grown and grown, so that these days I find myself struggling to keep current with all the beautiful work being done.  I'm taking up the habit of cheering for them from here, in the way of finished object posts.  Every month or so, I'll share some "done Good".  Today, Together Circle takes the spotlight!

In June, Ursi (aka by Niveas) served as lead quilter for the Together Circle. Quilter's take turns setting a vision for the monthly bee quilt, usually defining the block style, colors and block size.  Ursi had fallen in love with Jodi's version of the Star Crossed block and created her own blocks as samples:

All the small pieces of this block lend themselves well to a scrappy look.  And, any scrappy style block tends to be a good candidate for a quilting bee!  With all the fabric variety that naturally occurs when we each sew from our own stash, the results are bound to be true scrappy.

To create some unity in her bee mates' blocks, Ursi asked them to be inspired by this bit of color inspiration from Design Seeds.   I think she found just the right jumping off point to capture fireworks at sunset!  Each member was asked to make and send (2) blocks to Ursi, whose task it would be to assemble the quilt top and complete the quilt.

Well, I for one love how it's come together!  The finished quilt is so colorful and dynamic.  It has that classic, scrappy patchwork charm that few could resist.  In contrast, the back is almost minimalist, the perfect foil. 

Together Circle is a mainly UK-based circle which donates quilts to charities in their communities.  This quilt was donated by Ursi to a women's shelter in her hometown in Switzerland.  

Well done!  Congratulations to Together host Mary (The Wool Palace) and the entire Together circle, Flickr names: carol @the running hare, by niveas, sarah.duckegg, svea p, finallywakingup, Jo Jo 33, suespatch12, Wendy Booth-Boyd and kellys korner. 

p.s. Learn about do. Good Stitches here.  While quilts of all styles are wonderful acts of charity, this bee intends to bring together active Flickr-users who enjoy sewing with modern fabrics.  To join the wait list, please use this form.  Right now we're in need of new quilters!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

just for color

a peachy quilt top

Distraction indeed, but a pretty sort.  This peachy quilt top has been stealing time from my Still Point project.  I decided today to complete this quilt top so I can set her aside and out of sight for the time being.  I'm determined to finish my Still Point quilt and pattern this week!

a peachy quilt top

Peachy is a quilt all about color.  There were no other motivations for me - not a pattern, not a symbol, not any sort of commitment to others.  It is good to do one just for color now and then.  I followed the Bonnie Lass pattern from Quilt Lovely and particularly like the way the on point blocks are framed with background triangles.  That detail enabled me to emphasize the whole point.  Peach!  Solid is Kona Peach and print is Cotton & Steel Sprinkle in Peaches, both in stock at Fat Quarter Shop.

a peachy quilt top

Each block is a swirl of prints with a peachy background, but with the blocks all together they create peach swirls at the joins.  My strategic placement of some low value prints created creamy swirl sparkles here and there.  Idea courtesy of the design wall.  How did I ever do without one?

a peachy quilt top

a peachy quilt top

Now I do declare this distraction needs to be tabled for the time being!  Maybe with less distractions I'll find a little more momentum for the things I'd most like to accomplish...

Monday, April 18, 2016

Scrap Work

First, thank you all for your generous response to my last post on grieving.  I took time this weekend to read and process your comments.  So many were precious or helpful, for which I am grateful both for myself and for the others who will read and benefit from our words.

scrapping together a quilt back

I did a little sewing this weekend too.  These are my cutting scraps from A Still Point in a Turning World. The bulk of them are little triangles arising from cutting diamonds or triangles from width-of-fabric strips.  Because I am not the least bit tired of seeing these colors and prints together, I decided to make some pieced fabrics to use on the quilt back.

scrapping together a quilt back

First I sewed the triangles into a bajillian half square triangle blocks.  These tiny things are about 2" square, but I refused to trim them.  Miniature sewing has never been my thing.  Instead, I joined them together preserving points as much as possible and creating...

scrapping together a quilt back

This zigzag strip about 38" long!  Wowee!  Behold the power of little things.

scrapping together a quilt back

With the rest of my scraps, I created two other improv-ish works.  This one was created from some of the extra diamonds and bigger triangles.

scrapping together a quilt back

Together with my Still Point test block and some misc. stash fabrics, we have a quilt back.   I do typically make my quilt backs from random stash fabrics.  By using up fabrics that have been hanging out in my stash for awhile or are especially suited to quilt backs (because of large scale prints, for example), I keep my collection of on hand fabrics fresh.  And if I remember to incorporate quilt top scraps into the quilt back.... well, that's all the better!

scrapping together a quilt back

Last night I basted the layers together with Warm & Natural batting and 505 basting spray.  The setting sun cast a brilliant pool of light on the basted quilt top that I couldn't resist sharing here.  Such a dramatic beauty is light against dark.

Friday, April 15, 2016

how to grieve {a tutorial}


*Spend lots of time alone.  Alone is the best way to cry, to sob your heart out focused entirely on your loss, to heave, to gasp, to wail, to be as loud and dramatic as you feel, to observe how this loss is etched on your life uniquely in a texture others will never quite understand.

*Spend some time with friends.  With friends is the best way to cry.  To see your grief mirrored in another one's tears is validation, comfort and love.  If you are lucky they will walk with you awhile and help the tears fall.

*Allow yourself silence to welcome the pain.  As your mind wanders, turning over the what ifs and whys, you will find your vigil broken time and again by the world going on.  The dog needs feeding; the lawn mower roars; the trees bloom and shoot out new leaves.  Draw a blanket of silence around you to create space for your grief, but notice how life pushes back... relentlessly.

*Don't do anything until you are ready - opening the condolences cards, throwing out the flowers, packing up that special room.  You will not know you are ready until you are ready.  It is another mystery of completeness, the wherefore is elusive, but suddenly you arrive.

*Respect the power of final things.  Each task you have left to do for your lost loved one is loaded with meaning.  It declares "here is death" once again.  Don't attempt to sort through her clothes between laundry and dusting on cleaning day.  Carve out a time to savor, to notice the sorrow of these last things, to grieve each little death. 

*Don't believe that finality brings peace.  There is no finality.  Grief goes on and on, becoming quieter and better behaved, but truly a lifelong companion.  So hang pictures of your loved one, make a little shrine of her sweet things, speak the name, wish that others would speak it more often.  There is no getting through or beyond, just an altered life to craft from this dust.

*Seek the community of the likewise bereaved.  For us quiet types, read and read their memoirs.  Explore the edges of your pain as it is reflected back to you in their stories - different, but the same.  Find new bits to appreciate about your own sorry lot; find new words and fresh tears for its tragedy too.  Take note of what you learn from each story.  They are markers of your past and of your journey now, onward.

*Draw out the process.  There is no greater healing in speed.  Pick up your needle to stitch through the memories, but put it aside if the project progresses to soon.  Say to yourself you will do this or do that to honor her memory, but let yourself save them for later if you like.  These intentions are little dates with your loved one saved for a time when your heart needs to visit.

*And when you are most desperate, run, run, run across the meadow, out into the forest as the sun sets.  Find yourself stumbling with wet eyes, gasping and out of breath before the tree where you scattered her ashes.  Go there to be as near to her as you can and feel how terribly she is not there.  How she is never closer now than in your mind and heart.  Death is too terrible to be believed.


postscript  Of course this tutorial only applies 100% if you are Rachel Marie Hauser.  I write today to acknowledge my grief and to prevent any misconception, especially to readers who are also grieving, that I have "moved on."  Our culture is uncomfortable with suffering, with grief and with death, and prefers to lock such realities away.  In consequence, when we face these things we find ourselves in uncharted territory without a guide.  It has been my privilege to share my heart here, unedited.  Thank you and may you be blessed.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bluebird Sew Off winners!

Congratulations to the two ladies who took the vote in Bluebird Sew Off!  Thanks to the generosity of Mad About Patchwork and Pink Door Fabrics, each winner will be receiving a $75 fabric shopping spree!

Our Quilts winner is...

Flocks of Stars by Jodi of Tales of Cloth!

And our Other winner is...

A photo posted by Tina Schrader (@fishkoppca) on

Curvy Purse by Tina of FishKopp!

Both winners were born outside the United States.  How amazing it is to be connecting far and wide over our love of special fabrics and that creative spark.  Thanks to both our sponsors for being hospitable to international entries.

Enjoy, friends!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Brokenfull Heart quilt

Brokenfull Heart, hand quilted

How do you know when to stop?  When to stop trying?  When to stop pushing?  When to resist adding another line of quilting?  We hope to arrive at a sense of completeness, and often we do.  But, the wherefore and why is elusive, mysterious.

Brokenfull Heart, hand quilted

Over the past two months I have been hand quilting this petite quilt, my Brokenfull Heart.  I relished it, not wanting to sense the end.  If I could quilt and quilt and quilt so long, my heart might mend in the process.  I had a sense, a very quiet sense, that this quilt was for Eleni, in some way, but that I would not keep it.  I would let it go.  I would make it almost as pretty as she was and send it off to (hopefully) belong to some other little girl.  And that would be good, truly good to my soul.

Brokenfull Heart, hand quilted

From time to time I'd ask a friend's opinion.  Is this done yet?  More quilting still?  Ok, good.

But last night was different.  I finished the last row and didn't ask, I declared.  It is done.  That mysterious sense of completion.  Here.  Now.  Ripe and ready and right.

Brokenfull Heart, hand quilted

Brokenfull Heart, hand quilted

As with my Eleni, I gave my very best to this quilt - my best fabrics, my creative heart and much time.  When we give our best we can keep living no matter what happens.  We can love ourselves and accept peace, because our best is all we can ever be meant to give.

 Brokenfull Heart, hand quilted

Brokenfull Heart is now listed in my Etsy shop.  Quilt top fabrics mainly by Anna Maria Horner, set in Freespirit solids and backed with Mustang Rose Border from Cotton & Steel. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

::Time to Vote:: Bluebird Sew Off

Bluebird Sew OffAre you a decisive type?  Sure about what you like?  Ready with an opinion?  Ok, good. I need your help!  Today we have to choose two winners, one from each category, for our Bluebird Sew Off.

Looking over your entries, I couldn't help but notice, being a color-oriented type, how many of us paired Bluebird's true blues with bright, saturated summer hues.  There's a little romper with sunshine yellow trim, a pretty set of potholders patched with grassy green, a simply perfect baby quilt with bright pink random squares, and more loveliness along these lines.

Blues are stunning all alone, but friendly to literally every other color.  With Bluebird we went bright!  It must be that these fabrics have an inherently cheery disposition.

Without any further ado, here are our finalists in each category.  Please be sure to vote for your favorite Quilt and your favorite Other entry.  Enjoy!


Bluebird Arrows by Katie Quilts

A photo posted by Katie (@katiequilts) on

Swoop Jenny by The Lilac Cat

A photo posted by The lilac cat (@thelilaccat) on

Flocks of Stars by Jodi of Tales of Cloth

Bubbles the Octopus by Ella of Throw a Wench in the Works



Curvy Purse by Tina of FishKopp

A photo posted by Tina Schrader (@fishkoppca) on

Runner by Courtney of Petit Lyons


Dwell Pillow by Michelle of City House Quilts

Ugly Christmas Sweater by Cedar Quilts

Voting open now through midnight, eastern time, on Wednesday, April 13th! Thanks for choosing your favorites! And thanks to everyone who participated. I know that the satisfaction of your finish is reward enough!
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