Tag Archives: Wind River Beauty

Drawer 7

My last post, Getting It Out in the Open, surveyed six of nine plastic drawers in my studio. Over the past several months, the drawers have been victims of entropy. “Entropy” is a great word. Do you know what it means? It is a physics term, a noun. One of its more general meanings is “a gradual decline into disorder.” Life is often like that, isn’t it?

In fact, the first six drawers were just about as ordered as they ever are. It’s the last three that have suffered. Here is Drawer 7, and this is where things start to get interesting.

First up is a few tidbits cut from some beautiful African fabric I bought a few years ago at a quilt show. I have a basic plan for these but haven’t gotten to them yet. That’s a basic oatmeal-colored carpet underneath it. 

Next, a semi-secret project I’ve had kicking around in my head for a few years. The photo did bizarre things to the color here, which I wasn’t able to correct. Nor was I motivated to try taking the picture again. The background fabric is a lovely blue ombre I purchased maybe last year. Not terribly long ago, but this year is quite a blur, so I’m not sure. It is intended to look like the sky at just past sunset, so if you can push that color into your brain, you’ll get what I see. Most of the images on the background will be darkened, not quite to silhouette, with a house or shed on the left and windmill on the right. The central image is the secret part, so you might not see it until someday rolls around and it is done.

Also in this drawer is my mask man. I still don’t have a good plan for it. 

Finally, the rest of the stuff in the drawer is various leftovers from the Wind River Beauty project. 

I really need to sort through it. The bigger pieces can be restashed and the little ones go to scraps. I finished the top in February and had it on the frame to quilt before the end of the month. Here it is, loaded and ready to go.

I wasn’t happy with how it was going, and I hated the backing fabric. (Note to self: don’t use backing fabric you hate just because it’s big enough and you don’t want to buy something new. It’s a false economy.) Also I needed to move along to the new grandbaby’s quilt, so I took it off and unstitched the quilting. When we got back from the baby trip, I loaded it again with a new back. Again I was unhappy with the stitching, so removed it and unstitched it again.

Right now, Wind RIver Beauty is the only unquilted top I have left from the year.

Two more drawers, and a few other things, left to review.



Wind River Beauty, Project Process Part 1

My recent post on project process summarized the steps in project development and implementation. As fancy as project flow charts can get, it really comes down to this, a simple set of procedures that can help you make a quilt, build a highway, or write a blog post. I’ll outline how these steps apply to making the Wind River Beauty quilt, one of my current projects.

Identify problem or objective
The problem to solve or objective to meet was to create a quilt using the New York Beauty block I made in a workshop last year. The original block I made, before modifying, is below.
The fabric in the center was fussy cut from a border stripe fabric. I experimented with the symmetry as shown in this video:

Potential solutions
When thinking of potential solutions to any problem, you can switch into brainstorming mode. Think of a lot of different options, at first without evaluating them as good or bad. When you get stuck, consult one of the many articles online for tips for more brainstorming. Remember, one of the best questions to ask is “what if?”

Making the block wasn’t difficult, but I wasn’t interested in making more. That meant any quilt using it would use only the one. It could be a small quilt like a table topper; a larger ungridded quilt, such as one using the block as one of many blocks of various sizes and designs; a larger gridded one, such as one using a number of other blocks the same size, but different designs; or my specialty, a medallion quilt, featuring the New York Beauty as a center block.

Honestly, I didn’t really brainstorm. I seriously only considered making a medallion quilt, as that was my intention as I made the block. There are still infinite options open within the category “medallion quilt,” so that decision alone didn’t determine my solution, but it did give it a framework.

Beyond that, I wanted to use and honor the fabric I purchased at a trading post on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, south of Yellowstone National Park. A traditional quilt style for some Native American groups is the Lone Star, also known as Star of Bethlehem. There were many quilts of this style for sale at the trading post. If you google “Lone Star” or “Star of Bethlehem,” you’ll see lots of beautiful examples. Here is an illustration from EQ8 of the basic format:

Constraints and resources
Prior to taking the workshop, I assumed that the block, if successful, would be used to center a quilt. The feature fabric mentioned above was both a resource and a primary constraint, since I had a limited amount of it.

In fact, fabric availability is often one of the biggest constraints for my quilts. I almost always start with stash, filling in by shopping only if needed. For this project, I had to create work-arounds for multiple fabrics. I designed my border treatment to use the limited length of the feature fabric. Some colors from the center block required substitution fabrics. The yellow used for the star’s background was a particular issue. The photo below shows two yellows I tried for background. The bright yellow in the lower left corner was too strong, while the soft butter yellow served as an appropriate foil for the stronger colors of the block and star points. You can also see two different purples, and two different rusts. (The color that might look like red in the star points is actually rust in real life. The colors, in general, do not show well in the photos.)

Besides materials, time and skills are both resources and constraints, too. There is no deadline for this project. In that sense, time is a relatively unlimited resource. My skills are a resource in the sense that I’m capable of the design and piecing for the quilt (although there were piecing problems, discussed in the next post.) However, my quilting skills are “intermediate” level. Over time I’ve chosen to do custom quilting more often for my quilts. As I do, I learn more and upgrade my abilities. But I still can’t do all the things I want to do for each project.


This post is long enough! I’ll share more about the execution of my plan in another post. Thanks as always for taking a look.