Saturday, October 21, 2017

Quilting Baseball

We're one game away from the World Series so today's the day to start quilting the Phillies! First things first. Some stitch-in-the-ditch along the sashing just to keep areas a bit more enclosed. For about one-millisecond I considered quilting individual areas: the uniform, glove, background, etc. Nope. Too crazy. This is not a wall- or art-quilt. It will get heavy use by someone who will love it but perhaps not take perfect care of it. Let's go for sturdy instead.

QuiltDivaJulie made Zinderella recently with Baptist Fans. Oh, how beautiful. I've tried them before, not very successfully. She kindly sent me some pointers and I gave it another try.

On this first ballplayer I kept forgetting the design and made headbands instead of fans. Oh, well. There are eight more players.

Quilting the first baseball player
The second block worked out much better. Neither the lighting nor my eyesight is perfect so I overshot the eighth-inch gap I imagined before each fan blade. Mine go right up to the fan and travel over to the next spot. Sometimes I miscounted the number of blades in the fan but overall, it looks good. Thanks so much for the advice, Julie!

Phillies ballplayers in their home pinstripe uniforms stand of fields of green, ready to play ball.
Better Baptist Fan quilting on the second baseball player

I chose Presencia grey cotton thread for all the free motion and am very pleased with the thread and the color. Grey blends well with all these colors. Presencia is truly a long-staple Egyptian cotton: strong and low-lint. Over the years I've found that if thread does not explicitly state long-staple Egyptian, it creates more lint than I want.

Last week DH and I visited Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York. We deliberately planned the ferry crossing. Interestingly both captain and crew were women. There was a basket of local apples for sale on the honor system so we both enjoyed one. New England apples are a treat to all the senses. Tart, crispy, aromatic. Nothing tops locally grown.

Larabees-Ticonderoga ferry landing

Hotels and taverns formerly existed at the landing but have been burned or destroyed over the years. This building still stands, made from stones taken from Fort Ticonderoga across the lake. It may be a home now but still has the pulley to lift cargo to the top floor.

Larabee's Point Lakehouse

Originally built by the French, Fort Ticonderoga's star-shaped walls are typical defensive structures.  Due to the north-south mountain ranges and lakes, the fort occupies the strategic location between Canada and Boston/NYC. It's at the three-mile portage between Lakes Champlain and George. Unfortunately it could be bombarded from several mountains, a fact which the British used to capture it twice - once during the French and Indian Wars (aka the Seven Years War) and again in 1777.

Fort Ticonderoga appears as a small white line on the left peninsula in this panoramic view from the top of Mount Defiance

Panoramic view of Lake Champlain and Ft. Ticonderoga from Mount Defiance
Ethan Allen's Green Mountain Boys captured the fort in a surprise attack in May 1775. The cannon were shipped overland to break the siege of Boston forcing a British retreat - an early and major American victory.

While Americans hoped to encourage or coerce Canadians to join the Revolution, they used the fort as a staging point. British also used this passage to transport soldiers and materiel until General Burgoyne, trying to end the war by splitting the American forces, was surrounded at Saratoga when his troops from the south and west didn't arrive. His surrender, later commemorated in the Burgoyne Surrounded quilt pattern, marked the fort's decline as there were no more British troops to ferry south.

In 1820, the property was acquired by William Pell. His great-grandson, Stephen Pell, restored it and founded the non-profit association that runs it today.

Outside view of enlisted barracks at Ft. Ticonderoga

Each year the Fort highlights a different year from history down to the clothing, food, armaments, and occupants. Once past the gates, it became 1758 when the French held off a far superior British attack. The staff cast a four-pound cannon, built the carriage, and set it off daily - in French with an docent adding explanations in English.

Every guide seemed to hold a Master's degree in history or languages. Details flowed. As we walked around the Fort, they expounded on the socio-political realities and ramifications of events here and in France. I spent half an hour with the soldier guide above this barracks (four men to each mattress) while he made a new pair of breeches for a comrade. He used white thread to sew the blue and red boiled wool uniform. No matching thread in this era. The uniforms must have been hot in summer although he said the linen underclothes helped wick away sweat. {Hmm. Not sure that would be enough for me.}

Enlisted barracks, Ft. Ticonderoga, NY
The 2018 season opens in May with a two-day reenactment of Ethan Allen's attack. Visitors can watch from Mount Defiance and other strategic points. I'd love to be there, wouldn't you?


The next AHIQ linkup is this Tuesday. Kaja has a clever idea for year's end. Check it out and link up your utility/improv work.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Rabbit Quilted and Bound

This quilt has nothing to do with rabbits. Challenged by Mel Beach, I pulled the made-fabric out of storage. Because "What the $%#* was I thinking?" when I moved it four different times.

Since the fabric is made of one-inch finished strips, the most straightforward quilting seemed to be stitch in the ditch. I used smoke YLI nylon monofilament for the top and white cotton thread in the bobbin.

It's bound with one-inch wide (finished) single fold. Smaller didn't look right. While I wanted to use facing, I'm not sure who will get this quilt. It seems better to leave options open so it can be a wall or toddler quilt.



The binding is a Marimekko remnant fabric from Crate and Barrel.

Black and orange Negative/Positive quilt
All it needs is a name. Any ideas?

Quilt Details
Size: 45" x 45"
Design: Negative/Positive Strips 'n Curves from Louisa Smith
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: YLI nylon monofilament and white Gutermann cotton
Quilting: Stitch in the ditch with walking foot

Previous posts:
  1. Made fabric found in storage
  2. Arranging the blocks
  3. Sewing the top. BTW, this post includes details of switching your blog to HTTPS. Increase internet security for everyone by updating your blog today.

Wind Phone

Recently I heard a podcast about the Wind Phone in Osaka, Japan. A man mourning his cousin installed a booth with an unconnected rotary phone to 'speak' with him. Following the 2012 tsunami others began using it to talk with their own departed loved ones. Grief blankets the world today. The lives of too many people have been cut short. Perhaps we could repurpose some of our old phone booths to bring closure to families.

This American Life, Episode 597: One Last Thing Before I Go. Without knowing how long this link will work, you can currently listen to it here.

Linking to Lorna's Let's Bee Social  and Finish it up Friday. Many interesting quilts.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Putting the Top Together and Switching to HTTPS on Blogger

Another week, another disaster. This time California wildfires. My brother helped with some in Colorado earlier this year. There are opportunities for each of us to help somewhere. This planet is our only home; everyone is a neighbor.

I moved the blocks to the design wall as I sewed the diagonals. Arranging blocks in front of the oven won't work two days in a row. ;-)

Blocks sewn and transferred to the design wall

Switch to HTTPS

As we use technology we need to keep our hardware and software as secure as possible. Fantastic programmers are constantly finding solutions to weaknesses in the system. They report how to plug those holes. With phones, tablets, and computers it's frequently added to the system updates but we still have to push the button. Not to update is like refusing to wear your seatbelt.

We are all aware of the recent Equifax hack that stole millions of records. Current reports suggest hackers got in because Equifax failed to update a security patch for over a month. Through the years bloggers have been hacked; their links suddenly point to porn sites or their entire site sends you to a scam page instead. Fortunately there's an easy fix if you use Blogger. Simply switch to HTTPS, that's Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure.

The "secure" is the important part because data can't be altered during transfer (your links won't be hacked) and users are sure they are communicating with your website (no man-in-the-middle attacks where a hacker redirects your entire site.

In Blogger, go to Settings then Basic. Click on "Yes" under HTTPS to HTTPS Redirect.


Hooray. You're safer already but you're not done. You'll probably see a "mixed message" note. This is a tedious but important repair. Get some coffee and expect to spend some time. How much time? That depends on how many links need fixing. Google has a page explaining how to repair mixed content for Blogger on Chrome. (This is what I use; I'm not a programmer.)

The first part reads:

Here's where you find JavaScript Console:



Here's what a mixed content message looks like. It's color coded. No, I don't know what all the other stuff means.

You must find that code in on your site and fix it. {Google has more information on discerning whether it's coming from a single page or is on multiple pages. Read the link above for that information.} If it's someone else's gadget, send them an email asking them to repair it. I could repair some; others need someone else to fix. I've given them a deadline.

Once you finish your old posts and pages, it's easier to avoid these errors in future. Here's how.

Yes, that code looks like the foreign language it is. But we can learn to understand the parts we need to repair. It's like learning to use SpellCheck. Good luck and "let's be careful out there."

EDIT: I prefer to create and edit my posts in Chrome. It and Blogger are both Google products so I expect fewer interface issues. You can check JavaScript in Safari. It's in the Develop menu.




If you can't find Develop, turn it on by going to Preferences...




and then clicking the Advanced tab.













JavaScript appears at the bottom of the screen. The correction process should be the same as with Chrome but I'm not certain of the details.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Arranging the Rabbit

I cut template pieces until there was no more fabric. I'm not making any more either since this was leftover from a previous, more colorful quilt. The remaining made-fabric was mainly black, grey/white, brown, and orange. There’s another section of yellow and green that may make a third quilt. That’s enough for now. The point is to use it up and move on, not create more. Although the templates lend themselves to some esoteric arrangements,  I'm going to lay them out as circles. First step is to simply set them all out. Here's version 1.

Version 1 of orange & black Strips 'n Curves

The orange rows are too heavy on bottom. So version 2 moves the orange up the right side a bit.

Version 2 of orange & black Strips 'n Curves

Still needs work. Version 3.

Version 3 of orange & black Strips 'n Curves

And version 4.

Version 4 of orange & black Strips 'n Curves
The orange is going too far up the right side but I like the top right ring rotation. Lots to think about.

One more issue. Somehow... this is laid out in front of the oven. We're going out to dinner tonight! I must remember this trick for the future. Feel free to use it yourself. ;-)

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Pulling a Rabbit Out of my Hat

Of course, it's not a rabbit. It's {yet another} forgotten leftover. And it's {sort of} understandable.

Once upon a time... I took a Strips 'n Curves workshop with Louisa Smith. It was only one day and either I missed those directions or she didn't exactly give us yardage amounts but I took way too much fabric. Way, way, way too much.

Louisa is and upbeat, organized teacher who loves color and curved pieces. In this workshop we cut 1.5" strips and sewed them into sheets of fabric shading from one color to the next. Throughout the day, all I did was sew those strips. Unlike the other, smarter participants, I never got around to cutting any blocks during the class. But I listened well. Within a couple of months I actually finished and gifted the first quilt - a queen-size safari quilt for my dear sister. There was enough leftover made-fabric for another one or two lap quilts. {Did I mention I cut way too much fabric?}

Mel Beach recently challenged to our guild. "Pull out one or more fabrics that cause you to wonder: What the $%#* was I thinking when I purchased this fabric?" I've moved this made-fabric four times. Not to different rooms; different cities. Since Louisa is coming to speak and teach Double Visions Quilts, it seemed this should be finished. Now. Two birds with one stone.

Working so quickly, I forgot to take photos. The fabric is simply shaded strips that are then cut with templates. It's not hard but requires accuracy in sewing the strips and cutting the pieces since you need to line the seam lines up for best results. On the plus side, that many seams means you can usually nudge any that are out of alignment.

At least the fabric was already made so I started by cutting with templates until I ran out of strips.

Strips 'n Curves Negative/Positive units ready to sew together
This quilt is most effective when the seam lines match. While not difficult it takes time to pin them all. First you pin along the curves, then the diagonal of the block.

Matching seam lines by inning curves and diagonals 

I can't remember how long it took to make the strip fabric but it took two afternoons to cut the pieces and three more to sew them into blocks. Next steps will be to pin the blocks into rows, and finally the rows into the top.

We watched the Giants final homestand last weekend. They won't be in the postseason (they're in the cellar) but it's always a good day for baseball. I've particularly enjoyed getting to know some quilters and their favorite teams this year: Patty's Indians (great winning streak) and Julie's Red Sox (also my grandson's team.) Both teams are in the playoffs. October baseball is special. I'll be watching.

Discovering shared interests with someone creates more connections and helps us see others as complete people. Our world needs those bridges. Getting to know new people is a great benefit of blogging.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Butterfly Block Progress: Kaleidoscope of Butterflies 21

Butterflies still flitter around our area but they have been difficult to photograph. A friend has mounds of lavender in her yard attracting loads of bees. If you listen quietly they make the most relaxing hum.

I'm continuing my own butterfly blocks. Just a few each month. Making a few each month is also relaxing. I've no clear idea about a final quilt so I'm enjoying taking my time over these. Here's what I have so far.

Simple butterfly quilt blocks
September Butterflies
There was enough of the light blue in the top right to center wings for one butterfly. It looks like eyes, doesn't it? I posted the pattern here last month if you'd like to join me.

Take a look at Cathy's Kaleidoscope of Butterflies quilt made using a free online pattern, Ghost Moth. Lovely. Barbara Mahan shared a glorious quilt, West Pine Elfin Butterfly, on her guild's website. The site is www(dot)diablovalleyquilters(dot)org/member-quilts(dot)html. So many ways to celebrate butterflies.


Good Night Lights

Have you seen the story about Good Night Lights by the Providence Journals? That's providencejournal(dot)com/news/20161223/goodnight-lights-magical-spectacle-for-hasbro-patients. People in Providence, RI, blink their lights at bedtime to support and encourage sick children. Started by the hospital's volunteer cartoonist, ordinary people, police, and firemen now line up in sight of the hospital to shine their lights. And the children blink their own flashlights back.

Enjoy the day, Ann


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

AHIQ25: Use Your Words

Today's the last day for this invitation to use your words on quilts but it won't be my last time to use this technique. Summer vacations put quilting on hold but hopefully you had some time to work on a project or at least to think about a future project. There are so many ways to incorporate words and letters: applique or pieced, free-hand or accurately.

I've been focusing more on the mechanical "how" of adding words but what you choose to add is even more important. What moves you to creativity? A poem, a family scene, a political commentary? There is no ambiguity about your meaning when it's written.


Phillies Quilt Back

This is becoming a two-sided quilt. I made the words into sentences, added a new phrase, and now need to fit them all into a back. It must be large enough yet not cut any words off so I pieced it with the top underneath.

Pulling all my neutrals, I first placed smaller bits where they might best fill in. I'm finding I like the effect of turning the corner with the same fabric. Look at the white above and to the right of Phillies for an example. Odd, because my original idea was to NOT sew same fabrics together.

Arranging sentences to fill a quilt back

Probably because they were left-adjusted on the wall, that arrangement became my favorite. Except the "for who" line was too long. I considered right adjusting the answering line but... No, that's too much trouble.

There was one puzzle piece, the stripe below "my teammates" which required partial seams. Not too hard. Fortunately, I had switched to ruler use and squaring the fabric as soon as the words were together. It was easy to determine the size of that rectangular bit.

At this point, the back is still too small by about ten-inches lengthwise and fifteen-inches widthwise. Since I've never been very interested in matching front and back (and don't want to risk cutting off any letters) I intend to frame the sentences. Here are three fabrics I considered for for a border. While I like the black and white best, I don't want anything to compete with the words. The red might disguise the beginning letters too much. What's left? White.

Choosing fabrics to frame the quilt back

Unfortunately there wasn't quite enough white so the lower right has the last bit of that white-and-blue from the sashing plus two shirting remnants. I know one is from a trip to NYC but have no idea where there other came from.

Phillies baseball quilt back features team phrases
Finished back for Phillies quilt

Yes, I'm deliberately cutting off the top line again to give the recipient privacy. Above his name is a band of white. The top and back are ready to go and the back is larger than the front by at least two-inches on each side. Hopefully this will make basting a breeze.

What does the front look like? Here it is, covering the design wall.

Phillies baseball player quilt in red, blue and white
Philadelphia Phillies quilt
Woo hoo. I'm ready to baste and quilt!

PS: I know there are two sixes on the shirts. One is for a Phillies player while the other played at LSU (Louisiana State University) when the FO was there. {Actually, three of these numbers represent LSU players.}

Enjoy the day, Ann


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Applique Numbers

Although they make me laugh, these ballplayers are missing something. There's too much empty space on their uniforms. And in the yard. I haven't figured out what to do about the grass but..

Phillies ballplayers in unnumbered jerseys

I bothered FO {that's Future Owner} for a list of his favorite players and their numbers. With a serious drop dead date and threat to add Giants players to the quilt. Ha. I'd feel guilty but it worked. He sent the list, I graphed the numbers and appliqued them to the chests. I thought they were perfectly straight but these two are slightly aslant. Whoops. It adds to the folk-art charm, right?

Player numbers appliqued on jerseys of Phillies baseball quilt.
Adding numbers to the Phillies ballplayer jerseys
All that's left is slow, careful cutting. I'm out of the pinstripe so can't make a mistake here. Sure wish I'd numbered the jerseys before sewing the uniforms. It would have been much easier.

This coming Tuesday is AHIQ linkup. Are you ready to share your words? I am! And I can't wait to see what everyone else has done.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Bloggers Quilt Festival Entry

The online festival slipped my mind until I saw Linda and Audrey's entries. They looked so lovely I had to post along with them. So here's my Spiderweb quilt.

Spiderweb string quilt
This quilt started with the vintage floral that make the background stars in the center. I drafted my own version of the Spiderweb block so I could play with the web layouts. By encircling the outer ring with a single color and including more shades of that color inside the webs they sparkle like jewels.  (The photo below shows the true colors of the quilt.)

Spiderweb string quilt, detail

Taking the vintage background as a sign I decided to applique a border, something I haven't done in years. What fun to make a beefy vine for the cardinals to sit on. Colors like no leaf ever added more joy. It's all machine applique. The vine is a tube; the leaves and birds were treated by Lara's method in Crafted Applique.

The quilt needed more {at least, to me} so there are rows of casually cut triangles in two sizes.

Then I started quilting: spiderwebs and spirals inside,
Spiderweb and spiral quilting designs

feathers, loops, and free motion doodles in the borders. Those loops were a blast. And very easy. I marked the midline so I'd close each loop in time and just went for it.



Thanks to Amy for again hosting and arranging all the details for this Bloggers Quilt Festival.

Previous posts about this quilt here.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Quilting TATW

Trip Around the World quilts are simply grids - like those we can mark for fancy quilting. At two-inches, they are just a bit larger than usual. So I decided to quilt orange peel on this one. I don't have to mark, it's a change from the diagonal grid I often use, and I want to see what it looks like at this scale.

Gentle curves with walking foot create Orange Peel design

I used the regular straight stitch with a walking foot and turned on the half-speed button. I'm a pedal-to-the-metal kinda gal. Actually I turned it on by accident and found it really helped the curves. Starting at a four-corner intersection, I angled the foot left while counting to two slowly, then center for another two, then right for two back to the next intersection. {That's lots more than two stitches. It just helped me keep a symmetrical arc.)

Once the serpentines were completed in one direction, I rotated the quilt ninety degrees and sewed the same curves on the other side of the blocks.

Quilting curves on all sides to finish the squares

They are not perfect but they are improving. Another nice surprise is how quickly this top becomes a quilt. Since I mostly make large quilts, it's a pleasant change to imagine a finish in the next few days.

If  you want more walking foot quilting ideas from an approachable, enthusiastic teacher check out Mel Beach at Piece, Love & Happiness. She always has a new tidbit to share.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Bunches of Backs and Some Improv

Doubling Down on Backs

All summer long {Beach Boys version here} I've been giddily making quilt tops with no thought to the rest of the work involved. Now reality sets in. Seven quilts in the queue and five were sewn this summer.  Fortunately I picked up several quilt batts on sale.

The next step is to make some backs. The easiest way is to lay the top on the floor and cover it with fabric. Here's a glimpse of the newest five.

Quilt backs ready to pin baste

I have very low standards for backs. As long as the fabric is good quality and the combination doesn't make me sick, it's a go. Older fabrics preferred since this is a great way to use 'em up and move 'em out. {Rawhide!}

Not the most exciting part, but an important step in the process. Now to pin, quilt and bind them.

Improv Pillow-to-be

I've been admiring Chris English on Instagram. Like Kaja he works with vintage shirts but makes pillows instead of quilts. My small group is sold on experimenting with improvisation and, although we probably don't have his exact process, we sure are having fun.

These are three shirts DH "retired", cut into strips: a faded denim-colored corduroy, a plaid, and a solid white. They are all 100% cotton but the white is also no-iron. They mean it. It hardly holds pressing at all. Hopefully, quilting will take care of that.


Clockwise from the lower left: cut shirts into strips, sewed strips into sets, cut and sewed strips together. Stopping now until our next work day.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Piecing Sentences

Still working on the Phillies quilt but I have progressed to the back where I'm adding pieced words. And it's so much fun. Why did I hesitate so long before trying it?

After piecing his name one letter at a time, I totaled each remaining letter and sewed batches. It worked well until the m's. There are two, right next to each other. For some reason I pieced them exactly the same. It looks a little dorky. Oh, well. Dorky is good.


Of course, adding these sentences to the back is a major point but, as importantly, the back needs to be filled. So why cut fabric from the sentence below when I'll just sew more back onto it? Instead, I simply straightened the seam line between the two words and squared up the perimeter.



I thought this would be enough but it still needs something else. One more sentence or phrase.


The "For who?" quotes Aaron Rowand who played fearlessly for the Phillies until signing with the Giants in 2008 and helping them win the 2010 World Series. {Yes. I searched until I found a great quote that has a link to the Giants. Even if they are in the cellar this year.}

Linking with Lorna at Let's Bee Social.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, September 9, 2017

CCII Sewn at Last

Taking a break from the outer border of Chinese Coins II: Stacked Bricks was a smart move. I needed time away from it but hadn't realized it has been over a month. I am trying to marry conflicting guidelines: 1) give quilts enough time to evolve and 2) quit tucking projects away for years.

This quilt originated with a photo of Nettie Young's Stacked Bricks. Link in this post. Interestingly, Monica at Lakeview Stitching was concurrently inspired by Nettie's quilt. Although they all different, I can see the relationship between them.

Fabric strips arranged vertically in this Chinese Coin quilt variation
Chinese Coins II: Stacked Bricks top

Several pennants were replaced. It wasn't difficult but certainly was a pain in the neck.  As each pennant was removed, I laid it over another and then trimmed the new one to fit exactly.

Cutting new pennants to fit the old

Layering and slicing sets of strips worked very well until I moved pennants around. When I changed my mind about their order I realized I'd created a mess. The angles and curves are slightly different for each and required lots of adjustments to keep the border level. For examples of places where true freehand works well, look at Stephie's Fete and Sujata's Endless Mountains. Stephie uses freehand to make all her pennants different. Sujata actually maintained the order of cutting in her outer border. {She chose fabric order well.} For someone like me who changes her mind frequently, cutting with a ruler at a set angle would have been a more rational choice. I am going to try layering/slicing/rotating again but swear to determine all the colors before cutting anything.

By the time I reached the corners I simply needed a fail-safe method. I  squared up the corners of extra pennants, laid them on large background squares {at least two-inches larger than the finished size}, and cut both sides. {The mid-section of light fabric went straight to the scrap bag.}

Cutting corner squares

Now it needs a back, quilting, and binding.

So many people stricken with disasters. Floods in Texas, Florida, the Caribbean, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Fires throughout the North American West. Magnitude-8 earthquake in Mexico; aftershocks expected. Heat wave in Europe.

Sometimes we come to gratitude too late. It's only after blessing has passed on that we realize what we had.


Let's all lend a hand. We will need one someday, too.

Linking to Linda's Sew, Stitch, Snap, Share 12.

Enjoy the day, Ann