Friday, September 30, 2016

Feeble attempt........

I'm making a feeble attempt to have a finish in September.  It has been months since I've had a finish.  I helped a friend baste a quilt in the morning and then in the afternoon I quilted this 33" square wallhanging in vertical lines near the seam with Invisifil thread.  I thought maybe this dark stripe would be a good binding but I couldn't come to a decision last night.
I decided to search through some of my larger prints as possible candidates for the quilt I showed on yesterday's post.  Some of these are between 25 and 30 years old, a few are newer prints.  No decisions there either, just fun petting fabric.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Last 10..........

I sewed the last 10 Bento Box blocks yesterday so all I have to do now is slice them into quarters and choose 4 for each block.  I still have a stack of quarter blocks from previous sewing to use too.  Here is the post with the measurements I used.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

New book.........

I was rather tired yesterday after 2 days in a row of workshops and the days previous to them for prep work.  I visited great grandchildren in the morning and came home to a book in my mailbox.  This is my favorite quilt in the book.

It is Kathy Doughty's new book published by C&T.  I have made several quilts from the previous 2 books.  I noticed she used Marcia Derse fabric in the background triangles and I think I will too.  I have plenty of Kaffe stripes to use too.  My large prints will be different than the ones Kathy used.  

Our last free brush pickup of the year is next week so I did drag my pile of branches around to the driveway yesterday afternoon.  I will be scouting the backyard for more to cut before Monday.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

And a good time was had by all........

I give a lot of scraps  to my friend Rosemary and I give her orphan blocks that I now longer want.  She surprised me yesterday when she showed us what she did with the scrappy Kaleidoscope blocks that I gave to her last time.  Who would have guessed that they would be the same size as the paper pieced log cabin blocks she was working on.  This quilt top is big, about 85" x 100" and the blocks are about 6.75" square.  I will be helping her to baste it soon.
Jerry's quilt top was too long for my design walls (112").  It is the Blooming 9 patch.  It is a LOT of work to make one of these and it is sewn in diagonal rows.  This one is All Kaffe Fassett and Philip Jacobs fabrics.

This is the last Blooming 9 patch that I made (finished the last day of 2009) and I said I would probably not make another one.  After seeing Jerry's finished I think I will do another one.  I modified the pattern in "Tradition with a Twist" by Blanche Young so that it fits a queen size bed and shared my directions with Jerry.   I gifted this quilt to a family friend in October 2011.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Another bloom..........

I have nothing to show today.  I taught an all day color workshop yesterday and no photos there.  I was too busy with all of the students.  I could have taken photos of the cookies I baked last night but you have seen them before.  The art quilters are coming today and it is finally going to cool off and feel like fall.  We were in the mid 80s yesterday and it will be mid 60s today.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


While cleaning off tables in the basement I laid out 3 more Bento Box blocks.  Then I picked up all of the loose pieces so I could finish cleaning that table.
My daughter sent me a Selfie Stick to take photos of myself while creating my art.  There is a learning curve using it, trying to hold it steady when pressing the button.  The light is behind me here, not ideal but I have to keep practicing so I can take some in progress quilt shots with me in them.  

I baked one batch of cookies last night and will do the other batch tonight after my workshop.

Saturday, September 24, 2016


I finished separating the stacks of squares into kits and stacked all of the quilts in order for the workshop tomorrow.  I packed all of the other supplies too.

I mowed the grass yesterday afternoon.  There was a nice breeze and it wasn't too hot but it was humid.  While I was out there I was admiring the plants on my porch steps.  I'm wondering if all of the pots of begonias will be good houseplants for the winter.
They are so pretty and they are blooming continuously.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Progress on many things.............

I sewed 6 more blocks and cut them into quarters for the Bento Box quilt.  Then I assembled 3 blocks from some of the quarter blocks.  I have 10 more blocks to sew and cut into quarters so I hope I can get a few more sewn today.  I also have to mix 2 batches of cookie dough and vacuum the basement to prepare for Monday.

My living room has stacks of quilts and quilt tops that I will be taking to the workshop Sunday.

The coffee table is piled too and after taking this photo I pulled a bunch of wallhangings and they are piled on the couch now.  I need to figure out a way to pack them so that I have them in order and separated by categories.
This Aster is growing in the crack between the sidewalk and the steps.  I kept meaning to cut it down but when I saw it forming buds I decided to let it bloom first and then I'll cut it.

The ones that come up from seed aren't as dark of a purple as the original plant.  The bees and other insects like them just as well though.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

3 layouts

When I made my other Bento Box quilts several years ago using a different method this is the layout I used, with all of the blocks in the same position, light upper left corners.

I saw a Bento Box on the Internet somewhere in the past that used sashing between the blocks so I spaced them on the design wall to simulate sashing.  With both light and dark at the edges of the blocks it may be difficult to choose a sashing fabric.

The other layout I tried is with 4 dark corners together which automatically puts 4 light corners together too.  I was so sure I wouldn't like this layout but I think it is my favorite at this point.  When I get more blocks sewn I'll have a better idea which layout is best.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

12 blocks...........

I got 12 blocks sewn last night and cut into quarters.  The piles are 4 deep in the bottom row so there is enough to make 12 blocks.  The pieces above them are in stacks of 3 quarters because the 4th quarters are already sewn into 2 blocks.  I'll probably sew a few blocks today.  I have 16 more blocks to sew and slice into quarters.

I finished planting all of the hostas that I had in pots so they can spread their roots before the first frost and then freezing weather.  I planted 25 altogether in the last week.  Some are really small plants and others quite large.  With the tree gone from that area it is so nice and open and should look really great with all of the hostas next year.

Today I need to start piling all of the quilts and tops and kits and other supporting materials for the workshop that I'm teaching on Sunday.  Then the art quilters are coming Monday so I also need the basement cleaned up and cookies baked on Saturday.  It will be a busy few days.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


I spent several hours cutting a quilt kit for a friend yesterday.

The mailman is my friend.....he delivered these to me.  I spent Mother's Day money in May and pre-ordered them.  I haven't spent much time with them yet but they both look like good books.
The Sedum is turning pink and will soon be a deep rose color.  I rescued these plants from crowded locations last year and was so happy they did well with replanting last fall.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Bento Box progress...........

I got all of the strips cut for the remaining blocks.  This group is the light blocks......

and this is the dark blocks.

I only got 2 sewn but I'm not going to slice them into quarters until I get more sewn.

I did sew one more block together with the quarters from the original 8 blocks that I made.  I wanted to see what 2 looked like next to each other.

I have one spot I need to take out and try again.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Choosing batiks......

The first 8 blocks I pieced last week were from pretty much a random grab of squares and strips.  Now I want to plan out the other 27 blocks.  This is the group of 6.5" squares from which I will choose 27 pieces.
I have 7 drawers full of 2.5" strips that I cut on a regular basis.  I chose 27 out of 2 of the drawers.

This is the assortment I ended up with.
I will cut the strips into their segments and then pair them with a square.  At that point I'll go to the box of 1.5" strips and choose 27 of them and cut them into segments.  Then I will be ready to sew.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Digging, mowing, cataloging..........

I started out the day yesterday by digging out some purple Rose of Sharon volunteer bushes for my neighbors.  I continued to clean up that flower bed and then finished the mowing that I started the night before.  In the middle of the afternoon my tree trimmer guy came and got rid of bunches of dead or too low limbs on trees as well as 2 large parts of one of the Redbud trees.  The closest I came to sewing was adding a few more swatches to some of the cards that catalog the Kaffe fabrics.

I added 7 more fabrics to the Kaffe Fassett fabric catalog "page" on my right sidebar.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Three precious quilts come home...............

I made this quilt in 1993.  The quilt shop that I taught at had just become aware of Hoffman batiks a few years before that.  I was giving programs and workshops in many areas in northern IL at the time so I shopped at all of the quilt shops in the area and finally had a good selection.  I started out with 1/4 of the center portion thinking I was going to make a colorwash vest.  After I had made 3 sections and liked them together on a design wall I designed the 4th section to melt them all together.
Most of the batiks in that time period were pink, gray, purple and turquoise.  The name of this piece is "Cosmic Beauty".  I loved the crazy pieced columns on each side.  In fact I loved this piece so much it hurt to sell it but I needed the money.  That was in 1995 if my memory hasn't failed me.  My friend who purchased this one and 2 others has moved a couple times and thought it was time to send them back to me.  I am overwhelmed with her generosity.
She also purchased this one that was made in 1994.  It is called "Doorway to the Unknown".  I was going through a major change in my life at the time I made it.  I did a lot of crazy piecing during the early 1990s.  I put on facings instead of a binding on this piece.  The crazy pieced columns are mostly batik fabrics and all of the rest is regular quilting cotton prints.

This is the third piece that she purchased in 1999.  I started it in 1998 and at the end of that year I started experiencing a heart beat irregularity, a severe one.  In January 1999 I finally went to a doctor when I was afraid I was dying.  After all, we need our hearts and there was no heart disease in my family so this was scary.  The healing began but I still was scared and I had to hurry and finish this piece, one that I thought might be the last piece I was ever going to make.
I used Cherrywood hand dyed fabric for the stylized flowers that are free motion embroidered before the layers were assembled.

I made several pieces with this type of flowers but this is the best one.

They are generic flowers with a slight resemblance to the shapes of real flowers.

This photo in low light coming from the right shows the quilting.  At that time I free motion quilted all of my colorwash quilts with clear monofilament thread.  I quilted grass at the bottom and circular 4 and 5 petal groups in the top and meandering in the border.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A few more blocks............

I sewed borders around 2 more blocks and sliced them into quarters.  This gave me more variety to work with.  Both blocks on the left have parts from just 2 blocks.  The two on the right have parts from 4 blocks.
I sewed one block together.  It comes out 12" so it will be a 11.5" finished block.

I added 7 more fabrics to the Kaffe Fassett fabric catalog "page" on my right sidebar.  I am up to #100 now, 53 to go.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sample for new project............

I started with 6.5" squares and 1.5" strips (cut into 6.5" and 8.5" lengths) for the first round of the blocks.

Then I cut the 2.5" strips into 8.5" and 12.5" lengths.  I have the fabrics overlapped and lined up on the 1" marks of the mat so I can cut for all 4 blocks at one time.

Round 2 is sewn onto all of the blocks.


Then I cut each block individually in half in both directions.

I can use just 2 blocks and interchange the parts for 2 blocks for the quilt.

 As you can see you need to reverse the values in the blocks for it to be really effective.  If the center is light, the next round is dark, the last round is light.  If the center is dark, the next round is light and the last round is dark.  

If you always press your seams toward the darkest fabric, the seams will go in opposing directions when sewing this block together.

The option I had in mind when I started was cutting 4 blocks so I have 4 different corners in my new block. 

Some people call this block Bento Box.  The pattern I used for my Bento Box quilts had both rounds with the same size strips.  There are more variations in the strip widths if you start looking for these quilts on the internet and all of them are variations of Bento Box if we get technical about it.