Tag Archives: Stash

Anticipation for 2020 (Looking Back)

It’s been almost 13 months since I’ve posted here! Between breast cancer treatment in 2019 and general world craziness in 2020, writing and posting slipped off my list of things to do. And while I’m not going to make any promises to either you or me, I’d like to come back and write here from time to time. I’ve always loved the interaction with you, the format to document my quilting work, and a way to ponder out loud how I think about a broad range of quilting and making topics.

Before the end of 2019 (another year in which I barely blogged,) I began writing this post, “Anticipation for 2020.” It included the following list of things to enjoy in 2020, not in order of importance:

  • travel with Jim
  • fencing lessons
  • skydiving
  • granddaughter’s college graduation
  • Houston’s International Quilt Festival
  • finally stepping down from the guild’s program committee
  • getting some upper body strength back
  • hiking more
  • finishing some quilts, starting some quilts
  • entering quilts in the Iowa State Fair

We all know how that went!

In fact, I did resign from my local guild’s program committee! And I did attend granddaughter’s graduation via Zoom.

And I did finish some quilts and start some quilts. So overall, I guess it was an entirely successful year!

I want to share a few of the quilts I finished in 2020. Today’s post will look at Cimarron.

Cimarron. Designed, pieced, and quilted by me. Approx. 48″ x 48″. Made in 2020.

This quilt started with a fat quarter of aqua and cinnamon print, which my daughter gave me. The color combination was striking and unusual, and it inspired me to build out from there. You can see that inspiration fabric in the very center, as well as sprinkled out from there.

I wanted a white fabric for brightness, and to highlight the tiny bits of white in the feature fabric and in the other center “background” fabric. I always look to stash first and found the white below. The print on it is actually a strong red but in fine lines. The “right side” of fabric shows how red it is. Using the wrong side makes it show as speckled pattern more than color.

I quilted it using a very pale aqua thread, So Fine 50 weight from Superior Threads. So Fine is my go-to thread for almost all quilting. I also use it for piecing more often than not. The quilting design is a free-motion panto-like design of swirls and bumps.

The quilt is named “Cimarron.” The colors and shapes reminded me of a fresh river running through mountains. The Cimarron River flows from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in northern New Mexico, and the name stuck to the quilt.

Moving Toward the End of the Year

I was enjoying writing and posting more, and then got side-tracked for several days with a couple of things. Back now, with some unrelated thoughts.

  1. Do any of you other WordPress users look at your spam folder regularly? What kind of spam comments do you get? Most of mine are links (presumably — I’ve never checked them!) for lesbian porn. Why? Why any porn?
  2. Do you ever feel like no good deed goes unpunished? That’s not really fair, as I think I did a few good deeds over the last week and mostly they went great. Jim and I found a wallet and were able to return it to the owner; a young woman with a toddler in full-meltdown mode needed a kind word and an arm around her shoulder; I pulled together an ad hoc presentation on quilts and quilting for an adult English learners class, and they seemed to enjoy it, as did I. In truth, I need to get over my momentary annoyance and remember, “this is just something I don’t need to worry about.” That thinking helps me a lot, in a wide variety of circumstances!
  3. My guild had our last meeting of the calendar year last Monday, and it was fun. We had a special Christmas show & tell, so people could bring couch throws or tree skirts or baby quilts or whatever quilted holiday objects they want. I shared one, which I’ll tell you more about below. We also had cookies. I ate too many and remembered why I don’t eat a lot of sweets. ugh…
  4. I’m not making Christmas presents this year, unlike some others. No pillowcases, no throw quilts, no table runners, no placemats, no stockings. No. (Now I just need to keep reminding myself of that. I’m NOT making Christmas presents this year. I’m not making Christmas presents this year. I’m not…)
  5. My studio is a Mess. Yes, “mess” with a capital M. So many things out that need to be put away. So many pieces of paper, a lot of it quilt guild stuff, but a lot of it my own. Fabrics that need to be restashed, books that need to be reshelved… Maybe my next task needs to be cleaning, since I’m not making Christmas presents this year.
  6. Speaking of stash, I recently saw a post on the use of the word “stash.” I can’t find the post again or I’d link it. Anyway, the writer seemed to object to the word, because of the connotation that a stash is something to be hidden or to be ashamed of, like your stash of drugs. I don’t know about that. I have a stash of migraine drugs and I’m not ashamed to admit it! While i do think words are important, and certainly I have no shame about my fabric “collection,” (a word she seemed to prefer,) I think “stash” in terms of quilting is just part of quilting jargon and not something to get twisted about. Also, I DO NOT “collect” fabric. It is a raw material in my process, not something to display as a pretty thing on my shelves, like my rabbits. What do you think of the word “stash?”
  7. I’ve been thinking about my Word of the Year and will share about how that went in a later post.

This morning I finished a quilt, which I shared at my guild meeting on Monday. It’s a two-sided Christmas table runner.

Christmas Houses. 47.5″ x 21″. Modified pattern of Amish Houses by Monique (Dillard) Jacobs of Open Gate Quilts. Free pattern for the full lap-throw size. https://www.opengatequilts.com/pdf-patterns/free-amish-homes-pattern

I made an adaptation of Monique Jacobs’ Amish Houses quilt. Free pattern available at this link. She is a talented designer and my guild is hosting her in June. She’ll be teaching the pattern in a workshop. My version provides a sample for my guild-mates, and also shows that you can make this pattern in beautiful Amish-style solids, or in fabrics of your choice. The pattern instructions are clear and it went together beautifully.

Because it’s a table runner, when I quilted it I figured the backing fabric didn’t matter. I pulled a piece from my stash (YES, my stash, not collection!) that hasn’t been very useful to me. It is white with small, pale-pink roses on it. hmm. Well, it worked fine as a backing but frankly looked terrible. Plain muslin would have been better, but I didn’t have any pieces big enough. I decided to make a false back to cover the pink flowers. And since I rarely do things the simple way, I appliquéd big, simple snowflakes on it.

The snowflakes are just 60° diamonds that I cut out three at a time from white Kona Snow. I used a piece of freezer paper as the template for them, starting with the largest ones and then trimming the freezer paper smaller for the other two. I spritzed the white pieces with basting spray and arranged them, then appliquéd with a narrow zigzag. This morning I finished the binding, securing the false back to the rest of it.

Christmas Houses back. 47.5″ x 21″. My design.

Currently my dining room table is covered with presents that need to be wrapped and mailed. Once it is visible again, this runner will decorate it. Because it isn’t very specifically Christmasy, it will work well until Spring.

If you made it to the end of this long post, thanks so much for reading! I hope your December is going well. It certainly is going fast!

My Favorite Fabric Purchase in 2018

You know those big dinner salads you can get at some restaurants? The greens cover a platter, and there are a variety of toppings, and at least two condiment containers for the dressing. You can eat and eat and eat and eat. Your dinner companions can finish their entree as you just keep eating, with little apparent progress on your meal. Using fabric stash is like that, with the added problem of the server coming ’round and putting more salad on your plate now and then.

Some people measure stash in and stash used over a period of time, a calculation that is not interesting to me. Since all my fabric collection is in a fairly small space, it’s easy to see when it’s increased or decreased. Most years in October, I do a “state of the stash” post to review it. This year I didn’t, but the text of the post would be similar: It changed! I have a bit more! or a bit less!

As I look at this quickly-passing year, I do notice how my stash has changed. It is a bit smaller than a year ago, and I didn’t buy a huge amount this year. As always, most of my projects relied heavily on stash rather than new purchases. And as always, my favorite fabric purchases are those I used right away. 

I did buy mostly new for two projects. Georgia’s graduation quilt is from white and light grey, at her request. I rarely use grey, and white is not typical, either, so this was a rather hard quilt to make. I don’t remember the size, but it covers her queen-sized bed nicely, so something like 96″ square.

Georgia’s graduation quilt. Queen-bed sized. May 2018. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Almost all of the grey got used up in Georgia’s quilt. The leftover greys became the back of Heather’s baby quilt. Leftover white went on the front.

Another project that required new fabric was the wedding quilt for Son and his bride. To make Hands and Hearts, I needed to buy solid black Kona for the background, and a variety of batiks for the hands. The green batik in the wreath and corner Celtic knots was from stash, as were the components in the Claddagh ring and the fussy-cut hearts. The hearts actually came from something purchased in 2007, so it’s one of the older pieces in my cupboard.

Hands and Hearts. 29″ x 29″. July 2018. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

It would be hard to pick a specific favorite fabric from 2018. Since I don’t think of myself as a fabric collector, the best fabrics are those that are most useful. Sometimes that means they’re quite ordinary. Solid white, solid black, pastel batiks, grey and white prints. None of these are exciting, but the quilts they made were gifts of love.

Five Quilts in Four Weeks

Between the middle of September and four weeks later, I started and finished four quilts, and I also put the binding on a fifth one. This isn’t my preferred way of working but deadlines piled up on me. Here is a quick run down:

When I returned home from a high school reunion, Jim informed me that brother-in-law Dan was granted an “honor flight.” According to the website, “Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. We transport our heroes to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials.” Dan’s trip to DC was scheduled for less than two weeks later. I wanted to make him a quilt. Coincidentally, another brother-in-law, Sonny, was also taking a flight in mid-October. One quilt wouldn’t do; I would make two of them.

When I need to  make a quilt in a hurry, I often design it using Electric Quilt software. Currently I’m using EQ8 (version 8.) I designed similar quilts for both men. The medallion format with which I’m so familiar uses block “borders” for these, making sizing simple.

Dan’s Honor Quilt. September 2018. About 66″ square. Photo by Jim Ruebush. Border blocks (hourglasses and puss-in-the-corner) finish at 8″.

Sonny’s Honor Quilt. October 2019. About 61″ square. Photo by Jim Ruebush. Border blocks (rail fences) finish at 6″.

Both quilts were easy to execute, but Sonny’s was actually much simpler. It uses all one block style, alternating blue and red, and solid white as the only background fabric. The only complexity in Sonny’s quilt, in terms of the block borders, is the blocks combining half-square triangles and rail fences. It took a bit for me to work it out, but in truth it was really easy to do. If I ever make them again, I’ll show you how.

I used all stash for both quilts, except borders and backs. Both used lots of smaller pieces for the blues and reds.

In the midst of making these, I realized my sweet neighbor Heather’s baby shower was in early October. I planned to make a quilt for the baby, but he isn’t due until December, so I wasn’t in a hurry. With the shower coming up, that changed things!

I used the same rail fence blocks that were so quick for Sonny’s quilt. Once the front was finished, I gleaned leftover parts from another project to make the back, turning the quilt into a two-sided quilt. All fabric was from stash.

Heather’s baby quilt, front. October 2018. About 46″ square. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Heather’s baby quilt, back. October 2018. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

The fourth quilt was a hostess gift. Jim and I went to Peru! (We’ll write about our trip soon, on Our View From Iowa.) One of the meals during our tour was at a family home. The tour company recommends bringing a small gift for the hostess. It’s a way to connect with the family, as well as show gratitude and have a way to say something about your own home.

My original plan was to take a small wall-hanging that’s already finished, but it wouldn’t fit nicely in our carry-on suitcases. Instead I started a new one, with the primary design being a map of Iowa. The fabrics chosen represented the corn and soybeans grown here, as well as the broad blue skies. Using a quickly-traced outline of Iowa, I cut the assembled cloth to size and appliquéd it to a background fabric. On the left (west) and right (east) sides of the map, the blue stitching represents the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Hand-stitching through the map, and machine-quilting through the background, completed the design. On the back I adhered a label, written in Spanish, to explain what the image is and how it represents Iowa.

Un Mapa de Iowa. October 2018. About 15″ wide.

Last but not least, I also put a binding on a VA hospital quilt, which was finished except for that. It will be donated at my next guild meeting. No photo of the finished quilt.

It was a busy month for quilting, and as you may or may not have noticed, I didn’t write here at all during that time. As soon as the Iowa map quilt was finished, we left for Peru, giving another two week gap. One thing to note is, the longer I go without writing, the harder it is to get started again. Hopefully this will break the ice and I can shift into semi-regular posts again.

Thanks as always for reading.

The Kitty Economy Block Quilt

More than four years ago, I published a post on making an economy block. One aspect of quilting many struggle with is the math. The linked post outlines all the math in steps, and also provides a cheat sheet for a number of block sizes.

To show the steps, I fussy-cut a kitty from a bit of fabric and surrounded her with corners of a lively pink and yellow print. Those were set again with a bright pink and white gingham.

This block measures 7″ finished! Just as I wanted.

Cute block, huh? But with the quilts I make, not very easy to use. After all, the finished size is only 7″. For a block quilt, I’d need a lot more blocks (in pinks! or other pastels!) to make it useful. For a medallion quilt, 7″ is pretty small for a center.

When I started prepping for my February retreat, I dug through my drawer with orphan blocks and other parts. This block called to me, so I pulled it out and considered how to use it. By framing it with the yellow floral print, I enlarged the center, and the striped border extended it visually even more.

As I said in the linked retreat post, “One thing I enjoyed while cutting these pieces is completely finishing a few of these fabrics, aside from small scraps. That amazing stripe? That’s all there is of it. And the dainty but whimsical floral on yellow background? Gone. I’ve loved having them and using them, but as mentioned, I don’t make many quilts in pastels and twee prints. It won’t hurt to use them up.”

And use them up I did. Here is the finished quilt.

A Kitty for Charlotte. 39″ x 39″. Finished April 2018. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

From a design standpoint, the small center block is okay, given the size of the quilt. One reason it works is because the 4-patches with pink gingham point at the center, directing the eye there. Also, there is not a lot of other “design” to distract from it.

Using the powder blue frames and other blue patches helps moderate the warmth (and monotony) of the pinks and yellows. The dark pink gingham repeats the dark pink in the kitty’s dress and bonnet. Also it provides some value contrast to the paler pastels. Spreading the gingham out across the quilt, and binding it with the same, helps provide balance.

Jim and I have friends with a baby girl named Charlotte, whom we have not yet met. The family lives just around the corner from us. This quilt seems like a good way to welcome Charlotte to the neighborhood.