Imagine

Every now and then we hit a rough road. Sometimes we bring it on ourselves – happens to me all the time. Some times, it’s just life, you don’t deserve it but you get hit. Usually not just once.

I have a friend whose been hit a couple times in one year, and I want to give her a quilt. I’m finishing up this one, and for many reasons, it is just right for her. She can curl up under it as she reads. She can wrap it around her on a bad day. She can roll a dead body in it, no one the wiser . . . just kidding about that last part.

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I’ve taught this Sloppy Star so many times, I end up with more sloppy star quilts than I can use. I always love the colors – this one the colors of the sea – and it is wonderful to have some quilts I can give when needed. I’ve started making the stars 16″ x 16″; might as well make best use of the fat quarter, less scrap left over and larger, more adult quilts. The stars end up around 13 – 14 inches when squared.

Happy Ending: Art Nouveau

Heidi Shelton taught Stack and Whack in Ramstein back in 1999, and I took her class, cut out these blocks, and stitched them together. She had advised us to use bright fabrics, but I just felt like this art nouveau fabric would make great blocks with graceful flowing patterns.

I love the blocks. I love the blue backgrounds. I could hardly wait to get it all together, which went very quickly.

But once I got the blocks together, and hung it up on the project wall, it was just . . . so . . . . BLAH. I was almost sick, I was so disappointed. I looked at it for about a week, at a total loss. I couldn’t think of how to fix it. I added a wide outer border with the original fabric – I like to do that with a Stack and Whack, because the inner blocks look so different from the original fabric. Then I looked at it for about a week, folded it up and put it away.

I pulled it out and looked at it every now and then, at a loss. It is rare that I am so stumped.

Maybe a couple years later I pulled it out. I knew it needed something red, so I put a narrow red band as an inner border, and added an outer border. I didn’t really add a lot of border because I didn’t want the quilt to get too big.

At least every time I moved I would pull it out and ponder what to do. I often pulled it out and asked my quilting friends what they would do. No one really had an idea. “Add an applique!” one friend suggested.

By 2009, back in Doha, I had some time. I had decided on an applique pattern; I designed it myself. Yes, it took me a while, but that is because I wanted it to be consistent with the Art Nouveau feel of the fabric. I love irises, and I had this great hand-dye fabric, not my favorite color, but a color which would brighten the somber mood of the quilt. I used freezer paper and hand appliqued the iris.

Once again, it didn’t do it for me. I love the irises. Somehow, to me, they are not what this quilt needs, but I don’t know what is. And 13 years is long enough, time, I figured, to just get on with my life. I need to get this quilt finished and OUT.

Here is the hilarious part. I ended up teaching Stack and Whack when we started the Qatar Quilt Guild in Doha. It was quick, it thrilled the beginners, and gave me a chance to teach a lot of skills (rotary cutting, the 1/4 inch seam, chain piecing, etc.) and technique while they produced a quick, usable quilt. Every time I taught it, I ended up with another stack and whack for myself, so I ended up with a lot of them – while the first one I ever learned, this one, languished, unfinished, on a shelf in many quilt rooms as I tried to figure out what to do to make it work.

Finally, I just decided to finish it, unsatisfactory as it may be. Even finishing it was a problem for me, tension problems in the quilting of the border, lots of “unstitching” and restitching to get it right . . . will this never end??

Now the good part. I had my daughter-in-law in my quilt room to show her Sheherazade, but she couldn’t keep her eyes off the stack n whack.

“I love it!” she exclaimed. “It’s Art Nouveau!”

I thought of explaining all the things that made this an unsatisfactory quilt – to me – but then I shut my mouth and thought – one look, and she got it. She got the fabric, she got the iris applique, she totally got it. Guess who gets the quilt, thirteen years after I started it? :-)

My Bad ;-)

Like many quilters, I specialize in rationalization. As the last days of the year 2007 slipped away, I prepared for my January cutting and cleaning and organizing.  

As I was putting some fabric away, I came across an old friend I had forgotten. Hmmm. . . . . 6 repeats . . . . just enough to try that hexagon quilt technique again and see if I like the results any better . . . 

I had complained to my guild about the annoyance of working with one grain line and two bias lines when sewing these triangles together to form the hexagons and they said “Starch! starch! starch!” so I had a dilemma . . . here, in my hand is the perfect piece of material to try cutting out another hexagonal quilt.On the other hand, I could get a head start on the January cutting-up and organized. . .

I did what ANY hot blooded quilter would do – I got right to work on a new quilt top!

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Bottom line – This technique is fun, the starch helped, but two quilts later, I don’t like it any better than I did before in terms of results. This is just Stack n’ Whack with a twist, and that twist is the putting together the hexagons in rows, arranging the colors, etc.

I am never quite satisfied that my efforts in this technique are particularly artistic, and I am not particularly delighted with the quilt top, although there are times it takes me a while and then one day I realize I love the quilt. Sigh – now either I have to sandwich or cut. It’s January. It’s 2008. One drudgery or another (although once I get started I actually enjoy it.) 

French Sunshine

Wooo Hoooooo! Sometimes life just makes itself easy.

Last summer, just after I had started this blog, I showed my good friend from college days. We met in French class at a huge university, and ended up having three classes together – the only person I kept having the same classes with out of thousands.

By the grace of God, we have been friends ever since.

As she looked through quilts I had done, she came to the Stack N’ Whacks and said “WOW!”

I already knew I would be teaching a Stack N’ Whack class this year.

The following week, I came across the perfect fabric, and bought the rest of the bolt. How sweet it is. There was just exactly enough.

She lives where winters are long and dreary, and I wanted her to have warmth and sunshine in her quilt. I chose hot, wild colors to bring some tropical paradise into her long, wet winters. I am very happy with the result!

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Details:

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The quilt has flaws – just as I do. She will never notice. She will just think it is a great quilt. I thank God to be blessed with a friend like her.

Hexagon Technique

“What have you got that is new and exciting?” I asked my old friend who now owns her own quilt shop in Panama City Beach. I had fifteen minutes, my husband and son and my son’s wife were waiting out in the car and my quilt guild was looking for some new techniques.

“Let me show you!” she said, and pulled out this fabulous strip of triangles pieced together. “It makes something that looks very complicated very easy!”

Wooo Hooooo! My kind of technique! Her shop is Quilting By the Bay in Panama City and she always has the latest, coolest fabrics and the newest techniques to share.

This is a kind of Stack N’ Whack technique, only by piecing the triangles three and three, and then playing with colors and whirls until you find a pattern you like, you can sew the hexagons in straight rows, and still have an intricate whirl of hexagons. Very clever.

You still have bias edges to contend with, and it really takes the right fabric. I was happy with how this turned out, glad I had tried the new technique, but it took me ten inch borders to bring the quilt back into a true rectangle!

This is for another of my very good friends, who loves RED. She and I have walked through thick and thin together, and although this quilt, too, is flawed, she will love it because I made it for her. Aren’t I incredibly lucky to have such friends?

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Doha Fish Quilt

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This turned out to be one of my very favorite quilts. My challenge to myself was to find everything I needed for the quilt in Doha, Qatar. I found a wonderful shop, Anwar al Doha, which means The Lights of Doha, and there was the fish fabric and the mottled navy background fabric. Each block was so fantastic! I love this quilt!

I was using it to teach a class on Stack and Whack. Oh, did we have fun. Stack and Whack is a technique pioneered by Bethany Reynolds. You need wild fabrics, with a lot of variety in the background, to make them, but they give great immediate gratification to beginning quilters, and you can hide a multitude of mistakes in their bright and whacky design.

(I kept this one for myself!)