The 9 Patch 4 Patch Quilt

Several ideas spinning through my head, so I hit the stash to see what would make it to the top of the heap. Bingo! Bright colors and I wanted to make a baby quilt, so ding! ding! ding! we have a winner!!!!

Except that these brights all had a black background. I had used them in a couple of other quilts several years ago, that I thought would be good baby quilts. Not so much for babies, with all the black, but okay for an older kid.

Black brights

Today I decided to try and use them up. I added a couple of reds and lots of white and went back to my favorite wonky nine patch blocks.

Baby Blanche 1

I figured out a way to really production-piece these and made a huge stack in only a couple of hours. The slices and angles are not as varied this way, but in the big picture, it works out fine.

Then I had to spend some time doing the most boring part of this process–trimming the wonky blocks to size. Sigh!

Baby Blanche 2

Finally, I was able to get them all put up on the design wall.

Baby Blanche 3

EEEEEEK! What a jumbled, eye-popping mess! And I really thought it was going to be a quick put-together-and-done quilt. What to do…what to do…head back to the stash and look for something for sashing, I guess.

Man, oh, man, this using up the the stash thing is awesome! I had a big roll of binding that I had never used and it was perfect! But I didn’t want to take forever sewing sashing to each block, and that would have made the quilt twin size, not baby size. That’s when I came up with the idea of combining the 9 patches into 4 patches and sashing those.

Baby Blanche 5

Now don’t think I sew sashing like that…it’s just pinned up on the design wall, ready for assembly. The blacks, added reds, whites and the yellow are combining for a bright and happy baby quilt.

Baby Blanche 4

I had just barely enough of the yellow for the sashing–about 6 inches to spare–and I had originally thought the roll was so huge I’d still have enough for the binding, too! Guess I’ll have to go stash diving again for something appropriate. I’m really liking this Use-Up-The-Stash Self Help Program I’m on!


Last of the group…

I’ve made several pieces for our group exhibition application that is coming up in May. Our theme is Portals and I showed you the lazy girl’s bookcase, made with great striped fabric, getting ready for my portal…books. I’m not very good at drawing, but I came up with some line drawings that would work for what I wanted.

I enlarged the drawings, traced my books onto tissue paper, and stitched a single line of thread. Tissue paper is quite easy to remove, except for those teeny, tiny spaces where the lines are close together!

Book quilt 1

This was done on just the top and gave me a very good outline to follow.

Book quilt 2

The next step was getting it layered and quilted…simple lines to outline the books and straight lines to fill in the bookshelf framing. Then the fun part! I have a great white cotton yarn that I couched down to make a bold line drawing of each book.

Book quilt 3

The final decision was finishing the edge—binding? Facing? Something funky?

Book quilt 4

I stepped away for a little bit of thinking time and ended up deciding to go with a traditional binding. Black, so it really doesn’t show up and there’s no distraction from the center.

Book quilt 5

It might be kind of a clichè piece, but I like it. And I’m not going to make any more pieces for this exhibit…I have gardening and painting to do! There may not be another post for a few days…there is manual labor to be done and I’m just the ‘man’ who can do it!!!


Deadlines help!

For the big-time procrastinator there is nothing like a deadline for finishing things! Even if the deadline is self-imposed, it becomes a real goal.

Our local Annual Art Walk was Friday night and I was one of the artists. It’s mostly a showcase situation, not so much for sales, but it’s fun and I like to talk to people about what I do. It’s not like I have a shortage of things to show, but you always want to have new things. That was my impetus for finishing up my last few Weekly Special pieces. I didn’t rush into it, though. That’s not the Procrastinator’s Way. I waited until the day before the show to mount them!

So, here they are, ready to go…

WS Apr finish 8  WS Apr finish 2 WS Apr finish 3 WS Apr finish 5 WS Apr finish 7

These two found new homes.

WS Apr finish 1

I’m gonna miss my little ladies, but it means I can go searching for some more unique beads to use!

WS Apr finish 4

Obviously, I need some kind of deadline to actually finish things up. As soon as I get a few more in the next set ready to go, I’ll have to look at the calendar and pick a date and reason to get them totally finished. It actually works!!!

Inspiration strikes…

Roaming around in the back of my mind is the theme one of my groups is working on, Portals. I was not happy with the the last piece I made and I’ve been trying to come up with an idea for another one. My first idea was for a maze, but it ended up more Halloween themed than Portal!

Books and libraries have always been synonymous with Portals and imagination to me, so I’ve been trying to figure out a quilt using that. And inspiration struck…

I really didn’t want to do the boring work that would make a bookshelf-looking piece, but I wanted a bookshelf background. Stash to the rescue and now I have my background. It almost made itself!

Bookshelf quilt 1

There will be a top layer over this of a sheer fabric, portraying an open book………..somehow! My stash didn’t give me the sheer and my drawing skills are not good for making a book, but I’ll get it all figured out. The idea is full-blown in my head now, so it’s just a matter of making it happen! Just need to let it percolate and come up with the right technique to finish it off.

And then stitching—joy, joy, joy!

Amazing–a finished top!

My text quilt start growing quickly when I remembered to keep it simple. Here are all the ‘pieces parts’ on the wall waiting for assembly.

Text quilt 9

I don’t think about how it will all come together when I’m placing components on the design wall. I’m only concentrating on how I feel about the look of the piece. Getting the pieces actually sewn together sometimes requires some deep thinking and creative seaming. On this one, I got it all figured out except for this one problem area. (In the green square)

Text quilt 10

Totally surrounded by partial seams, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it work. So it was obviously time to take a break and go out to lunch with friends! When I came home, everything just went together beautifully and now the top is DONE!

Text quilt final

This quilt will never be one that I point to as an example of good improv piecing or good design, but it will serve it’s purpose well, I’m sure. Often, I put a quilt top together and then just set it on the shelf. That’s how I ended up with almost 20 UFO’s on that shelf! This time, I’m going to get it quilted right away…and I’m going to use some of my felted wool for the backing, and no batting needed. Use up the stash, right? And I have lots of wool to use up, too! I’ll let you know how that works out!

And as I was putting the wool in the washer to felt, I had a sudden inspiration for another piece……..hmmmm. Sounds like a tale for next time!

Making it easy on myself…

Sometimes I’m not too smart. I’m trying to use up my stash with the text fabrics and work improvisationally, of course. So I start in on those big, curvy pieces and the plan is to have more curves. My mind is thinking in terms of curvy strip sets and putting blocks together with more curvy strips….WHOA, NELLIE!!!

All of those curves take extra time. No quick multiples, every seam an individual special cut. This is supposed to use up the stash, not become a long-term project. So I asked myself if perhaps I might remember how to use straight line cutting and sewing and stacking fabric. C’mon, Kathy…this is going to be a full size quilt, not a little artsy number. Be realistic.

So I went with some of my standard improv blocks.

Print quilt 5

A few cross-cut blocks, but I tried to complicate things again and use 4 fabrics for each block instead of just one. No, no, no…simplify!

Going with one of the easiest, quickest blocks…

Print quilt 4

the wacky nine-patch. It will look good with those bigger blocks.

Here’s the start of block one…

Print quilt 6

…and how they finish up. It’s funny how the corners meet up so closely when you don’t want them to!

Print quilt 7

Still a lot of fabric on the table, including a bundle of fat eighths. Aha! Connecting strips made with those low-volume prints.

I’ll answer your question before you ask it…yes, these can be made ‘production style’ with chain piecing. (I know you were wondering that!) The secret is just consistency in stacking and sewing the pieces.

Print quilt 8

If you keep them all in the piles they started with, it’s no different than chain piecing 2″ squares for four patches. This is a stack of 11 fabrics, just over 6″ high. When sewn, I’ll trim them even and cut into 3″ wide strips, so I’ll have plenty to edge those large blocks. That’s as far as I got today, with planning and with sewing.

The next step will be to get what I have constructed so far onto the design wall and begin finalizing the layout. I have more red that I would like to incorporate and quite a bit of a particular black/white that I want to use as a unifying fabric.

Sometimes you need to apply a little common sense to your own work! Using up the stash is the goal and simple, quick sewing will accomplish that. Make it easy on yourself, especally if it’s a quilt whose planned life is to sit on the couch and warm me up on cold winter days! I need it done before the snow flies again!

KEQ meeting

KEQ-Knot Even Quilters—that’s my art quilting small group. Before it had the KEQ name, we called it Wacky Quilters and that’s what we still call the group around my house!

We had our meeting this week and since I’ve been doing lots of embroidery, that’s what we took a look at this time. Most of the ladies have done embroidery at some point, but not for a long, long time. And two of them do their sewing left-handed, so it was good that they could help each other out with instructions written for right handers!

KEQ embroidery 1

We talked about needles and threads and fabrics and hoops and stabilizers and then got down to a quick practice session with some basic stitches.

KEQ embroidery 2

Examples helped everyone see how these basic stitches can be varied and used to have lots of fun with stitching. And, of course, practice, practice, practice!

Then we got to the fun part of the meeting–show and tell!

Betty made this absolutely gorgeous bag, for our crayon challenge. Her color was lavendar. It is stunning!

KEQ embroidery 3

Then she made this yellow piece, just for fun!

KEQ embroidery 4

Trish is using our crayon challenge to work out a small sample of something she wishes to create in a larger format. It has a hole in it and is really, really cool!

KEQ embroidery 5

None of the rest of us had anything done for the crayon challenge. We didn’t really have a deadline, but we are also great procrastinators! Hopefully, we’ll have some more pieces done for next meeting.

Mary Lee brought a piece that will be entered in a show that I think is just spectacular.

KEQ embroidery 6

She brought several other pieces, but this is the only one I took a picture of.

This group is so talented and I love being part of it. Our members have such varied interests that someone is always bringing in something new and exciting. Can’t wait to see what happens next month!