Thursday, January 18, 2018

Wavelength Gets a QA Check

It may not have been obvious in other photos of the Wavelength Quilt, but these colors in the quilt are really intense and vivid.  Here, my cat Millie gives the flimsy the once-over.

I am happy with the way I have started pressing the blocks has really made a difference in how the quilt lies flat. Here's a view just before I pressed the last seam.

I've made a page showing all the scrap slab quilts in the same place, so you can compare them. It is very interesting how the selection and placement of the black and white side triangles contributes to the different "feeling" of each quilt.  I think it proves that having a wide selection of those fabrics improves your design options.

If you want to make a scrap slab quilt, you can get my tutorial here, at my Etsy shop. 

I'm going to take a little break and may be off line for a few days. I'll be reading, cleaning the office at home, watching tennis, and getting ready for my next class, free pieced birds at Quilted Threads in Henniker NH on January 27th.

And I've got to start writing my next series of tutorials - about how I make free pieced letters!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Seams To Me

This seam pressing thing worked well. I do not press seams open on the blocks, but when I sew rows of them together on the scrap slabs quilt, I do tend to press those open.

Yes, this works.

This is now in three giant pieces. Two more long vertical seams and the quilt will have reached flimsy status. The quilt measures about 60-1/2" wide by 73" tall. (154 x 185 cm). 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Pointed Story

Usually, where you join more than four pieces of fabric together in a seam, it's going to get bulky.

I tried to press everything to one side on one block, and to the other side in the block it would join, but that didn't really work as well as had hoped.

I am not sure if this was better than the way I was doing it before.

Which produced an unsightly bump on the front of the quilt. Of course it would disappear when quilted, but pressing was always a pain and I was still unhappy with it.  But I felt I was on the right track.

So I tried it the other way around. Instead of pressing the first side flat, and the second side over, I pressed the first piece over...

And then pressed the second side flat. As you can see it lies much flatter than the very first photo. I'll know for sure when I sew that row of blocks next to another one where the pieces have been assembled the same way.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Wavelength Progresses

I'm sewing the Wavelength quilt together, and have eight of the ten vertical rows sewn together, and the left most four vertical rows are now one big piece. It's looking good, and I am happy with it.

If you want to make a scrap slab triangle quilt like this one, you can find the tutorial here, at my Etsy shop. It's an instant download, so be sure to download the file when you complete your transaction.

Sunday, January 14, 2018


Late in December we had a three week long cold streak where temperatures didn't get above freezing. Two of those weeks the temps didn't get higher than 10 F. But this week that all changed. The temps got much higher than normal, and two nights it didn't even fall below freezing, which for January here in New England is a very big deal.  Then we had a lot of rain, which melted so much of our snow. Yesterday the temperatures hit 59F and when I drove home at 5:30 PM it was terrifyingly foggy and the visibility was the worst I have ever experienced. Today that is all going to change. The temps will fall and everything will freeze.

So I wanted to go grocery shopping early before the roads got icy.  I wanted to make some Orange Beef so I needed a Rib-Eye steak. Not exactly the cheapest steak there is. I got to the grocery store about 8:20 AM, and was a bit surprised when I reached into the meat counter and saw this:

Yeah, that price reads $1.37. The usual price for Rib-Eye steak is $13.95 per pound

This is clearly not a package of chicken thighs. I picked it up, and another wrongly priced package, brought them to the meat counter, and asked to see the manager. The meat guy at the counter went to get her.

"I'd love to pay dollar thirty seven cents for this," I started, "but I know that isn't the right price.  Here is another package that is also priced wrong." I handed them over.

The manager looked from package to package. "Thank you," she said. "Thank you."

"I think she should get them for that price for her honesty," the meat guy said.

"I do too," the manager replied. "Thank you."

"Are you sure?" I asked. "Are you really sure? I don't mind paying the right price."

They both smiled, "Have a great day, and thank you."

So I got a great deal on the steak and walking away I wondered how many people in this day and age would have done what I did.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Wavelength Waving

I've sewn rows 1 and 2 together and rows 3 an 4 together. Then I sewed the blocks together for rows 5 and 6.  But I can see the light black and white side triangles are in fact doing the waving effect I want them to do, so I am pretty excited.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Five Rows

I stayed up late and finished the fifth long vertical row. I think the black and white side triangles are going to do what I want them to do.  But then I noticed this:

See that long narrow green triangle at the top?

It's supposed to be pointing DOWN, not UP.


HOWEVER... That is such a COOL shape! I am going to have to play with that in another quilt! (See: even mistakes can be inspirational!)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Oops and Not Oops

This is an oops. I sewed the wrong side of the polka dot fabric to the other one. I did not get out the seam ripper. I just kept on going. Nobody will notice, so I just left it alone.

This is not an Oops. This is intentional. As I was moving the template around to find a way to cut this shape, I noticed I could fit this little kitty cat head in the shape perfectly.  So I did.  It's in the Wavelength quilt somewhere.

It's getting there. This particular layout - with the blocks forming diamonds - is difficult to press flat on the back, so I am experimenting with getting the seams in each vertical row to go in opposite directions. The only way to remember is to put them on the design wall wrong side up. (And to sew the blocks one at a time.)

I'm not sure if this is going to work out, particularly where the sharp points join, but we'll see.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

My Friend Kathy French

This is me with my friend Kathy French when she visited me in November 2015. We met online somewhere in early 2012 when she was working on her quilt, Roses for Rosita. It's original, and all free pieced. She didn't use any templates or patterns. I was blown away and we became friends pretty quick.

Kathy visited me in August 2012 and we spent our time talking quilts for two days. This is one of the incredible free pieced houses she made. You can read about this visit here. 

Kathy was deaf, but she wore hearing aids and could read lips. When she talked, she had the flat, distinctive sound of a deaf person talking. I had to pay attention to face her when I talked, and speak distinctly. When I told her I hoped the noise of my busy street wouldn't keep her awake at night, she replied that it didn't matter, because she couldn't hear it anyway.

Kathy and I kept in touch by email (she couldn't speak on the phone, obviously) and when my friend Julie Sefton asked me about quilters who might be interested in testing her process notes for her book, Build-a-Barn, and join the Secret Society of Barn Builders, I immediately suggested Kathy.

 This is Kathy's barn. It's the barn attached to her house in Belfast Maine.

 I visited Kathy in the summer of 2015 and spent four days with her. We had a blast, as you can see. We walked all around her town of Belfast, talked quilts, looked at quilts, took pictures of quilts, cooked, shopped, ate ice cream, drove around looking at barns, got lost, got found, and laughed some more.

One morning I woke up early and explored Kathy's studio. This is the drawing she made before she made her barn block.

This is the real barn. Yeah. Kathy was GOOD!

In 2016 Kathy visited me Thanksgiving weekend. We barely had any time together, but we took the photo at the top of this post. It was the last time we were together. Last June she wrote that she had developed Stage 4 lung cancer that spread into organs, bones, and brain. The cancer was so aggressive that radiation, chemotherapy, and other treatments failed to stop or slow down the spreading. Kathy had never smoked.

Late last September I wrote to Kathy and asked how she was. I wished her happy birthday and told her I missed her and loved her. She told me had stopped treatment because it was getting worse with the Chemo, not better.

I waited to hear from her again, and when I heard nothing, I wrote again last week. Her husband replied that she died peacefully on November 1.

I'm sad, and I'm pissed. I lost a great friend, and I miss her. I learned a lot from her and was amazed by her work ethic and how hard she worked to learn what she didn't know.

But I'm really glad I got to know her.

Kathy blogged here, Quilted Under the Influence.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Wavelength Develops

In case you didn't see it yesterday, here is the final layout for my newest scrap slab triangles quilt, Wavelength.

The colors in this photo are as true as I can get with a photograph. If you want anything truer to life, you'll have to come to visit me at my house.

Here's the inspiration for the quilt. It's a baby toy, and just goes to prove you can find inspiration anywhere. You just have to look. If you read my blog regularly, then you've heard me say this over and over and over. If all you've done is just READ, then I want you to keep your eyes open today and really NOTICE when something catches your attention. You'll probably be walking past it before it hits you. Turn around. Take a picture. Try to notice more. And stop and look whenever that little alarm goes off next.

I sewed the blocks together that form the two vertical rows on the far left, but haven't sewn the two of them to each other yet. I'm eager to see if my arrangement of the black and white side triangles works.

(I'm writing this while watching the Golden Globe Awards. I've just listened to Oprah Winfrey's amazing speech. It's here. If you didn't hear it live, go see it. Really.)

If you want to make your own Scrap Slab Triangle quilt, you can find my tutorial here, at my Etsy shop.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

More Wavelength

I made more of the limey green blocks and got them up on the wall.  I knew I'd have to make more orange blocks, so I put up some old yellow ones as placeholders, and put up some dark blue block as placeholders as well. This gave me a sort of guideline as to how I was doing.

To be successful, I believe this quilt needs at least five colors. This one will have Orange, an intense Pink (which is really a light red violet), Red Violet, a Limey Yellow Green, and a dark Blue Blue Green (which is a teal that has more blue in it than green).

When I'm on a roll, I just sew and forget to take pictures. Last night and this morning, I was on a roll.

This is where the quilt is going. It's very much a quilt with a contrast in hot and cold colors. In this case the orange is the only hot color, the yellow green is slightly warm and all the rest are cool.

It's really amazing how the colors change the feel of any of these quilts.

If you'd like to make a scrap slab triangle quilt like this one, get the tutorial at my Etsy shop, here. It's an instant download so be sure to download the file before you exit.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Red Globe

My pal Julie sent me this beautiful hand blown glass globe as a Christmas present. I have hung it in one of the windows of my sewing studio. It is quite gorgeous when the sun hits it.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Working on Wavelength

I've started making the blocks for the Wavelength quilt. I started with the deep purple. I sewed while the snowstorm swirled outside. A snowstorm is nice because the light is bright white and even, so the colors in this photo are more "true" than the others.

Here I added some hot pinks. This photo was taken as the light was fading, so it looks a bit yellowish.

I added the acid green blocks.

Here I've added the half blocks on the very top and bottom.

I've got to make some dark blue green blocks, and more pinks and oranges, so this is still very much in flux.

I've read several comments about my collection of black on white fabrics. Here they are, all 43 of them, all different. I love black and white. It's probably my favorite color combination. (Every cat I have ever owned has been black and white.) So when I see a black and white fabric I like, I buy it. For these scrap slab triangle quilts, the more black and whites you have, the better off you are. When I teach this class, I encourage my students to swap with each other so they will have a bigger selection from which to work.

What do I look for when I buy these? I want a variety of prints - some dense and some sparse; some geometric, and some organic. Some large prints, and some small ones. What I try to avoid is a print that reads as grey, or a print that is equally black and white. I buy them on line, and wherever I find them.

I feed my stash, what can I say?

If you want to make a scrap slab triangle quilt like this one, you can get my tutorial here, at my Etsy shop. It's an instant download, so be sure to download it before you log out of your purchase.

Thursday, January 4, 2018


I worked all evening on laying out the rest of the black and white side triangles, and came to a startling conclusion. That if I was going to go "there" I had to go all the way.

"There" was making the black and white side triangles an important part of the design of this quilt. If I am going to make those triangles do the wave, like they are doing now, I had to be willing to complete the pattern they make. This means the top and bottom edges of the quilt will feature half sized colored triangles.

Oh well. I am not interested in making the same quilt over and over again. I always want to push ideas around, and if I am going to do that, then nothing is sacred. I have to be willing to go the extra mile, to go past the edge other people can see, to break the often self-imposed rules we make for ourselves.

Now I get to fill the holes. I'm excited about that! I am in the path of the big snowstorm that is barrelling up the East Coast of the US. Our area is expected to receive between 8 to 12 inches of snow. I'm going to be in the sewing studio having a grand time. (Let's hope I don't lose power.)

These are the colors I will use to make the scrappy triangles that will fill in the "holes" of this quilt, which is tentatively named "Wavelength," unless my pal Julie, Champion Quilt Namer, comes up with something better.