Tag Archives: Fun

Day 15 100daygreenmanproject

As it turns out, not making is hard. I like to make, which is one of the reasons this 100 day project is important to me. MAKING sometimes gets in the way of ASKING “what if?” and TRYING something to find out. The 100 Day Project, for me, is about trying, and about asking. But making is very satisfying! I like the sense of product as much as I like the sense of process.

Last week on Day 7, I took a six-hour workshop and tried (see, TRYING!) working quickly and intensely, without time for hesitation. The technique was different for me, with gluing colorful scraps onto a background and then freely stitching them down. I haven’t done a lot of appliqué of any kind, and none of that before. I also used fusible web to appliqué a word.

Later that week, still infused with enthusiasm, I tried (TRYING!) designing a Claddagh ring emblem. I used fusible web for it, as well. There are other things I will try on it, including weaving leaves around the ring and machine stitching the appliqué down. However, I ran out of fusible, and I had no stabilizer.

Our local JoAnn Fabric store is moving and the current location is in liquidation. The store is quickly emptying and they were out of the products I need. The only other local places to buy these supplies are a Hobby Lobby (I don’t shop there) and a WalMart (rarely shop there, either.) Instead, I ordered the items online, along with new pins (Dritz Super-Fine Sharp pins!) and machine needles. It will be a few days until they show up.


The Green Man project has been in slow-mo for the last week, but he hasn’t been abandoned. I reviewed my fabrics and found them wanting. A trip to the best shop around here for what I want will wait a few more days. I pulled out all my books on story quilts so I can page through them. I spend a lot of time thinking about him.

However, not making is hard. Sunday I decided to make.

Do you have orphan blocks? Orphan blocks are single blocks (or occasionally sets of them) from projects that have been abandoned. Sometimes they are test blocks, used to try out a technique or pattern. You might create an orphan block by signing up for a block-of-the-month and then deciding not to continue. Or maybe you made one great block out of twelve for a block quilt, but you found you didn’t enjoy the process.

I don’t have a lot of orphans but I’ll admit to a few. (And no, I don’t count single blocks as UFOs. They are not projects. They are just another resource like other kinds of fabric. There is no shame attached to them.) One of them came from a workshop I took about a year ago. The workshop was to learn to create a particular pieced block. (I won’t do that again. For me, workshops can be valuable for learning how to do something new, or practice techniques or skills, not for learning to create a particular teacher’s pattern with traditional piecing.)

Ahem… One of my few orphans was from that workshop. I liked it — bright, colorful, strong contrast, you know, all the characteristics I like. But I was not about to make more.

Sunday morning I pulled fabrics to make that orphan into a medallion quilt top. The block is the center within the narrow red-line border.

Fiesta! Unquilted top. Approximately 62″ x 62″. April 17, 2018.

This was easy and quick. I finished the top a whole 48 hours after starting. There was almost no math involved. (See my post on setting a block on point.) ANYONE can do this type of medallion. No, it’s not my most spectacular, but it’s gonna be a heckuva lap quilt for someone.

The piano keys border was cut from scraps. I cut them widths between 1.5″ and 2″, depending on what the scrap could give me. I cut them to 5″ long, or left them in long segments if they were long enough, to be trimmed up later. When I finished assembling the sides of piano keys, I cut each border segment to 4.5″ wide, to finish at 4″. Trimming both sides of the border gave me an even edge to stitch.

The bright gold setting points happened partly because I had enough of that fabric. The other things I had didn’t suit, because they were too dull or just the wrong color. The green setting triangles and border were chosen for similar reason.

The great striped border? I bought a yard of that recently when I visited my sister.

It’s called Fiesta! It was fun to make. One of the reasons it was fun was because I didn’t hesitate on decisions. I used what I had and what worked. The construction was simple with hardly any piecing.

I have three yards of another green print to use on the back. It’s not enough, so I’ll use most of the rest of the top’s green to add a strip. And guess what! I have a length of binding from the same fabric that should be long enough to finish this. If it’s not, I’ll cobble together binding strip remnants of reds, blues, and greens.

And tomorrow I’ll start on the Green Man again. This time, I’ll work on a chicken. Yeah, that’s the lovely thing about how I defined my project: even a chicken counts. 🙂


Green Man Project First 8 days

Today is the ninth day of my 100 day journey through the Green Man. I’m not actually working on him today; instead, I’m writing this update.

My intention is to explore techniques of creating a Green Man medallion quilt, and my greater motivation is to learn more and better ways of telling stories through quilts. I don’t believe that a quilt needs to be an “art” quilt in order to convey meaning. And I don’t believe a piece of art (or craft) needs to be representational to do that, either. Even representational art can be brushed off as merely pretty (as if being pretty is a bad thing) rather than meaningful. Stories are told in many different ways, and meaning conveyed depends as much on the audience as on the teller of the story.

But the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is repeated for a reason. Pictures create a shorthand. And learning how to draw a picture to help tell stories is a worthy endeavor.

With no further ado, here is a bit about my progress in that direction.

My friend, with whom I am bartering work, wants a quilt representing a Green Man. This is a figure with mythology intertwined with both pagan and Christian background. In general, the symbolism represents humans’ interrelationship with nature. Images of the Green Man on ancient Christian churches across Britain and France show how tangled the early Church’s religious messages were with non-Christian beliefs.

My goal will be to express the Green Man as mankind tied to nature, as my friend is with her small family farm.

I began by noticing the printed design on my bedroom curtains. I thought a face could easily fit into the lower part of one of the motifs.

That, and a photo of the friend’s husband, led to this:

I didn’t love the upper part, or what I think of as a crown. I also wasn’t comfortable with copying the fabric designer’s motif so nearly. I wanted a crown with proportion a little more comfortable for the face, and also a more original composition.

I rearranged some elements and changed others. Then I traced it onto freezer paper with a Sharpie marker and cut away the background. I pressed it onto solid black fabric, leading to this:

But that does a poor job giving a notion of what color would do to the appearance. I decided to try again tracing with pencil and coloring with crayons. This certainly isn’t the color set I will use, (and really, they photographed badly,) but it gives me a notion of where to start. This photo uses my dark green cutting mat as the background, rather than black fabric. I like the dark green but want some depth of value on it.

I’m pretty happy with the notion of this now. The real question is how to execute it. I’ve ruled out using wool applique, because I want my fabrics to be richer with pattern. However, I’ve also ruled out using only batiks. Other printed and solid fabrics will have their place, both in the center block and in the rest of the quilt.

My workshop Monday with Kim Lapacek also gave me new tools for storytelling. Whether or not the techniques show up in this quilt, my imagination has been broadened.


The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. We traveled to see family; I finished four quilts with binding and gave two of them away; I gave away another; I began the 100 Day Project and successfully made it through the first seven (eight now!) days; I cleaned up my own guild presentations flyer and created one to represent my guild; and I took a full-day workshop.

Hopefully I’ll get around to talking about all of those things, other than the family trip, of course! But today I want to tell you about the workshop. Yesterday my guild (Old Capitol Quilters Guild, based in Iowa City, IA) hosted Kim Lapacek, best known for her Project Quilting challenges and the amazing Dresden Neighborhood pattern. (Kim, give me a link to your pattern for sale, please!)

Kim led a workshop in the style of her Project Quilting challenges. Nine guild members spent the day inspired by her take-no-prisoners style of quilt-making. She goes ALL OUT, with techniques, embellishments, color, and pattern. As our challenge, she provided fat-quarters of base fabric as well as two more fabric pieces to each of us. We were to create and FINISH a quilt top in the six-hour time slot, using those two printed fabrics and NO straight-edge ruler. In addition, we were given a limit on how much fabric we could bring — only the amount that fits in a brown paper lunch sack. (I eat a big lunch…) Also the fabric pieces we brought were supposed to be scraps, less than a fat quarter. While that lays a lot of constraints down, the subject or direction of our individual projects was completely up to each of us.

As she spoke, my thoughts turned to a project I’ve wanted to make for about a year-and-a-half. Inspired partly by her own “amazing technicolor dream heart quilt,” I decided to use a rainbow color scheme. Mine was not because of my love of all colors, but rather my intention to recognize LGBTQ rights as basic human and civil rights. It might be a poor shorthand, but it is eye-catching.

The verbal message is plain in black letters.

A guild friend asked me what I am resisting. I said I’m resisting racism, sexism, disenfranchisement, sexual assault as a norm, … Though I stopped at that in telling her, certainly my resistance is more inclusive.

From a technique standpoint, I used a piece of muslin about 28″ x 31″ as the backing. (This is bigger than the one Kim gave me. We joked that I was disqualified from the challenge for that, and for bringing a slightly bigger bag of fabric than she was picturing.) I drew lines through the center to divide the piece into eight wedge sections. My first take on filling the sections was to start “improv-piecing” green bits together. Quickly it was clear that would take too much time.

As an alternative, I got out my bottle of Elmer’s school glue. In the green section I made a wavy line of glue and started adhering bits of fabric. When the green section was covered in green fabric, I stitched down the bits in straight-ish lines, trying to move along most of the edges but not being very fussy about it. After all, this needed to be FAST to meet the completion part of the challenge.

I continued around my rainbow, adding in teal/turquoise and compressing the indigo/violet. After adding each section, I pressed it with my hot iron.

Once all the colors were on, I used fusible web and a strip of black fabric to create the letters and attach them. Yes, I remembered to draw the letters in reverse!

Make no mistake, the glue did leave a mess. I needed to wash the table top where I did the glue work, and I cleaned up my machine, where the glue-y fabric rubbed along it under the presser foot. Also I cleaned the bobbin area, to pull out any remnants of dried glue underneath. I do still need to wash the presser foot and change the needle. For the future, if I do this again, I’ll use my less-valuable sewing machine.

My project is not done, after all. I have a concept for the outer edge of the muslin, still uncovered by color. Also I need to decide whether I will quilt it or simply leave it as a poster for myself.

The workshop was the MOST FUN I’ve had at a workshop. With encouragement and inspiration, Kim helped me unlock a portion of my brain. I wonder what else is in there… 🙂

Auction Haul

I can’t keep up… I tell people I will contact them (Mary, Jill… ) and don’t. I intend to do some financial paperwork (taxes?!?) and don’t. I plan to write blog posts, design quilts…

On the other hand, yesterday Jim and I got a lot of housecleaning done. While I wouldn’t put that in the category of FUN!, it does make me feel in better control somehow.

Last week my guild had an auction. It’s a great opportunity to donate quilty items to support a good cause. My guild provides quilting education through speakers and workshops; we encourage our area 4H quilters with prizes at the county fair; and most of all, we provide 150-200 (or more!) quilts and other items every year to the local community. At our auction in 2016 we made almost $2000. This year’s might have done even better.

Besides a good way to donate things, it’s also GREAT for buying! We sold completed quilt tops,  boatloads of fabric, a new sewing machine, two large cutting mats and many rulers, hundreds of books and patterns, a broad pressing surface, and notions galore. Items for sale were separated into lots. The lowest sale price for a lot was $5. The highest price was $300 for that sewing machine.

I bought four lots and a book for a total of $67. What did I get for my money? A haul!

Lotsa fabric, an interesting small quilt top, and a book. I did good.

Catching Up (Again)

Do you feel like you’re in catch-up mode a lot? I sure do. And it’s CRAZY, because my life includes few deadlines, and almost all the obligations I have are self-imposed.

Right now I’m catching up from being gone several days. Jim and I were invited to a satellite launch at Kennedy Space Center (Cape Canaveral) in Florida. It was Thursday, March 1. Without reservation I can say it was thrilling to be there, to witness in person. And I’ll also say, it was like watching a football game — you can see it a lot better on teevee than you can in person! 🙂 We’ll have more to say in a few days on our joint blog, Our View From Iowa. For right now I’ll tease you with this picture.

While we were still in the area, we took a drive through a wildlife preserve. I’m a lot more used to wildlife in the northern states than in Florida. We saw several of these ancient beasts.

Before we left on that jaunt, I finished the three “retreat” tops and their backs, and I made two of the bindings. They are now ready to quilt. The cool (and frightening) thing is, I upgraded my longarm. Yes, after intermittent fits over the last few years (my fits? or the machine’s?) I decided the old one had to go. I didn’t expect delivery of the new one until this week, but lo and behold, it was ready sooner. And honest-to-gosh, I’ve barely looked at it since then. Oh yes, I am eager to get started, but other things have been higher priority.

And my EQ7 software took to crashing after my computer’s operating system was updated. After some miscommunication between the EQ company and me, I did figure out a work-around. However, I’ve decided to upgrade my design software, too. And until I do, another project is on hold. Aye-yi-yi, as my friend Kristin would say.

Earlier this week I visited another guild to share information about the Mill Girls, textile workers in New England in the early 1800s. It was fun and gratifying — they were a terrific group. But my schedule has been kind of crazy.

AND THE MOST FUN OF ALL!!! I now have another cold, more difficult than the last two. (Yeah, all three colds in about two months. Maybe then I’ll be done with it for a while.)

So yeah, I’m catching up. This week I finally got back to sewing. My house quilt has been patiently waiting for weeks. There were (way more than) a couple of choices for what to do next. I could either maintain the proportions as square, or I could elongate it. Most of my quilts are square. I LIKE square quilts. But sometimes ya gotta do something different, and certainly this project is easier than many to make that transition.

I made 10 variable star blocks and cut non-square spacer blocks to put between them. Using spacers is a great solution for dealing with size problems, and also when a border of all pieced blocks is too busy. Variable stars have 17 patches each. That’s a lot of patches in a small block finishing at 5″, and spacers will show them off better.

This photo just gives a feel for how that will look.

After attaching the strips of stars top and bottom, I’ll frame the whole with another narrow border. At that point it will probably be time for some of the dozens of flying geese I already made for this quilt, back when it was going to be a strip quilt, not a medallion.

All of this reminds me of a post from three years ago, about something I overheard. It was short, so I will copy it here in its entirety: 

[Overheard] at the Chicago International Quilt Festival, one woman talking to another:

First woman, “I haven’t finished anything recently. Life got in the way.”

Second woman, “That’s the good news!”

Often I hear of “life” as an interruption to some other pursuit, like quilting, writing, or keeping up with television programs. It often connotes that something bad has happened, requiring our time, energy, and attention. It could be that a relative needs care, or we’ve been ill, or the college bills demand finding a second job.

But those aren’t interruptions, are they? Aren’t those the things we’re here for, taking care of others and ourselves? We are connected. Our relationships are (or should be) primary. That, of course, includes the relationship with ourselves. And the leisure pursuits are the luxury. To put it another way, the relationships are the sustenance. The hobbies are the dessert.

So the good news is that life gets in the way sometimes, that we have enough to sustain us that we can enjoy the treat when it’s available.