“Mystery 2021” Progress

On Sunday, do you ever look at your calendar for the week ahead and think, “The next six days are packed with work, housekeeping, and social obligations. I am not going to have much time for sewing/quilting.” Since this was my realization last weekend, I chose to focus on just one project, my “Mystery 2021” designed by Edyta Sitar.

Edyta posted clues for 4″ patchwork blocks on her blog, Laundry Basket Quilts, for twelve days in May. The clues are no longer available, but she will soon combine the instructions into a pattern. As I completed the blocks, I placed them on my design wall. And this week’s task was sewing the blocks together in rows, and then sewing the rows together to make the entire quilt top.

“Mystery 2021” – half done

I finished joining the top half of the quilt on Wednesday at my church’s weekly sew day. The encouragement of my friends as well as the lovely blending of the quilt’s colors had me itching to finish the quilt top. But it wasn’t until Sunday afternoon that I had a few quiet hours to complete the lower half of the quilt and join the two halves together. I am so pleased with the outcome! The warm colors radiate from the center toward cool colors on the perimeter. Edyta facilitated this outward movement with “Double Four Patch” blocks, those with the tiny squares sewn on the diagonal.

“Mystery 2021” – designed by Edyta Sitar

This quilt was a fantastic project in which to use my extensive collection of Civil War reproduction prints and shirtings. Believe it or not, I still have plenty of hoarded prints . . . but I’ll need to shop for more background shirtings before sewing the next CW themed project.

Now to decide on a border. Do you have a color suggestion?

“Star-Crossed” BOM Lap Quilt

As an active member of Tarheel Quilters Guild, I enjoy participating in the block-of-the-month activity. The parameters are simple: 1) the BOM coordinator chooses, prints, and distributes a pattern, 2) guild members who wish to participate make one or more blocks in the size mandated and with the colors stipulated, 3) for every block I make, a slip of paper with my name on it goes “in the hat,” 4) at the next guild meeting, a winner’s name is drawn “from the hat,” 5) the winner takes all the blocks and rises to the challenge to make a quilt with them.

Star-Crossed Lap Quilt

Due to the pandemic of 2020 our guild did not often meet in person, and participation in the BOM activity was not up to par. If you are a quilt guild or club or bee member in your locale, I am sure your group experienced similar circumstances. For the month when “Star-Crossed” was the BOM, we mailed our blocks to the guild president, and she drew a winner’s name. I contributed two blocks and won eight!

After making a ninth block, I set them together in a three by three grid. With sashing and a border, this is the perfect size for a lap quilt for a veteran at the VA Hospital in Fayetteville, NC. The VA is one of the charities our guild sponsors.

A close look at the blocks reveals that some of the makers used two different reds/blues, and others used the same tone-on-tone. (Whether or not to use the same tone-on-tone was not stipulated in the instructions.) In my opinion, the blocks with two different fabrics manifest a subtle shading. The sashing between the blocks resembles a window with nine panes and adds depth to the quilt. Admittedly, the hues of the sashing and border are more muted than the blues, reds, and yellows of the blocks; I used what I found in my stash. But it’s not all bad; the subdued sashing and border allows the bright blocks to shine brilliantly.

While visiting Trinity last week, she set up her computerized Handi Quilter to stitch “Becker’s Shooting Star” edge to edge design with pale yellow thread. We felt pale yellow would blend nicely with all the colorful fabrics yet show up on the white background. Hooray for the red, white, and blue! And hooray for another finished UFO!

How did your guild, group, or bee maintain fellowship and momentum in the midst of “stay at home” orders?

Re-binding Complete

I machine pieced and hanquilted this Double Wedding Ring quilt almost twenty-five years ago. With loving use by my son and repeated washings in his small machine, the bias binding was worn through along the fold. This past winter I asked for the quilt, promising to replace the binding, thus extending the life of the quilt.

Originally, the quilt sported a blue print binding. Since I could not find a comparable muted blue fabric, I purchased a coordinating gold print. I cut bias strips 2 1/2″ wide, joined them, pressed the long bias strip in half width-wise, and sewed the binding to the front of the quilt. Then I hand stitched the fold of the binding to the back of the quilt.

And now it’s ready to resume its place on my son’s sofa or bed.

Kaleb’s Graduation Quilt

May 28 was a momentous day for our grandson, Kaleb. He graduated third in his class from Jonesboro High School. Of course he needs a quilt to take to college! And of course I made him one. The blocks are leftovers from the “Winter Blues” quilt I made earlier this year. Bonnie K. Hunter of quiltville.com designed the quilt, and I modified her design by cutting larger squares and arranging the blocks with a straight set rather than on-point.

I brought the quilt top to Texas to quilt on Trinity’s computerized longarm so we could use a thick polyester batting which she has on hand and which Kaleb prefers. As we searched for the perfect edge to edge design, I kept an eye out for something that would show up nicely in the alternate blocks. Something kind of elegant. But then I spotted a football surrounded by spikey grass. Perfect, because Kaleb enjoyed playing for his school last fall and will be a freshman on the team at Howard Payne University this coming fall.

I bound the quilt with the same contemporary fabric as the border. It is folded neatly in Kaleb’s room awaiting the pack-out for college in August.

“Options” #5 for BOM QAL

Sawtooth Stars

You are going to have so much fun making “Sawtooth Stars” for your “Options” quilt this month! I can’t wait to see the colors and fabrics you select for your blocks. And it will be interesting to see the patchwork variations you choose for the center 4″ square. For the instructions, click “Options BOM QAL” in the menu. Once on the page, scroll down to Block #5, Sawtooth Star.

Anita tested my instructions and sent a picture of her “Album” blocks and “Sawtooth Stars.” Study the blocks closely and you will see that the blocks are composed of the same units: corner squares that are just colored differently, Flying Geese that are colored differently and turned 180 degrees, and a central 4″ square for several patchwork variations.

Anita’s “Album” blocks and “Sawtooth Stars”

Good luck making your “Sawtooth Stars,” and please send me a picture of your blocks, aby.quilts@gmail.com. You can also post pictures on Instagram #optionsqal.

“Album” Block Wrap-up

Here we are at the end of May, and it’s time to say if you have completed Block #4 in our “Options” block of the month quilt along. I’ll draw a name from the comments as the winner of a quilting magazine.

Marianne’s Album Blocks

QAL participants have had sew much fun selecting fabrics for this block and planning variations in shading as well as designing the center square.

Have you wondered why this block was named “Album” by our quilting forebears? Imagine a quilt made only of “Album” blocks, and think of each block as a page in an autograph album or photograph album. Imagine that your friend is celebrating a special occasion or moving to another state. So that she will have a tangible reminder of her friends and family members, you organize a friendship quilt, asking each person to make a block and sign her name in the center square. Once the blocks are collected, sewn into a quilt top, and quilted, you invite the group to a farewell party for your friend and present the quilt to her as a album of remembrance.

With its 4″ center, “Album” is suitable for an “I Spy” quilt for the little one in your life. Surround fabric pictures of animals and familiar objects with bright colored patchwork for an engaging quilt. You could also crop and print photos on fabric for a memory quilt, recycling clothing or other textiles for the patchwork.

Please comment “Done” if you’ve completed your “Album” blocks.

“Jacob’s Nine-Patch” Published!

Have you seen the July/August 2021 issue of McCall’s Quilting magazine? It contains oodles of lovely projects perfect for summer sewing. And there are interesting quilt-y articles as well. Beginning on page 22, you will see my queen size quilt, “Jacob’s Nine-Patch.”

In a call for quilts, McCall’s editors asked for quilts that utilized different types of fabrics. While they probably meant “corduroy, seersucker, silk, and wool,” my brain wondered if 1930s reproduction fabrics could be successfully combined with vibrant, contemporary batiks. My idea was accepted, and I requested “General Store” fabric as well as yellow and blue batiks from Connecting Threads.

As for the design, here is the back story. About twenty years ago, in a guild meeting in Leavenworth, Kansas, a quilter showed a patchwork quilt that really caught my eye. After I complimented her on the design, she pointed out that it was “just a Jacob’s Ladder design with Nine-Patches instead of Four Patches.” Ah, ha! (This was prior to the invention of cell phones with cameras, so I am relying on my memory – I think her triangle squares were black and white, and the Nine-Patches were colorfully scrappy.) Fast forward twenty years, and I finally made a variation of my fellow guild member’s Jacob’s Ladder variation by alternating Ladder blocks with Star blocks.

I am pleased with the results of my fabric experiment. The batiks add a glow to the quilt without overpowering the small vintage style prints. As my thrifty grandma would have done, I pieced the Nine-Patch border with a mixture of prints, alternating dark and medium values. Finishing the quilt with blue paisley batik adds a vivid yet quieting frame, giving our eyes a place to rest from all the print-happy busyness.

Are you brave enough to mix different styles of fabric? Like Civil War reproduction with “grunge”? Or juvenile prints with shirtings? Or sweet florals with bouncy polka dots? I dare you!

EPP Project for a Road Trip

My husband and I are on our way to Texas to see our grandson, Kaleb, graduate from high school. Traveling by car from Lillington, North Carolina to Gatesville, Texas represents about twenty hours of time, much of it during daylight hours, prime time for hand stitching. I plan to hand stitch a binding on an “old” Double Wedding Ring quilt that needs repair. And I prepped hexagons for an English Paper Pieced wall quilt. The hexagon papers I am using are 1 1/2″ on each side, and the fabric is from the “Nana Mae V” line by Henry Glass.

Before leaving home, I experimented with machine stitching one of the rosettes onto its 10″ background square. If you zoom in, you can see the shallow zigzag stitch with neutral silk thread. In this experiment, I left the papers in the project. After machine stitching around the rosette, I cut away the background fabric and removed the papers. The machine stitching did pierce the papers, but only two were damaged beyond re-use. For the next rosette, I will try removing the papers prior to machine stitching, pressing the rosette well, and pinning it to the background square. I’ll keep you posted on the results.

The idea of machine stitching this EPP project is not original with me. I watched several videos on You Tube on the technique; click here to view one by Shabby Fabrics.

What is your hand stitching “road trip” project for this summer?

Inspiration at Pineapple Fabrics

Pineapple Fabrics in Archdale, NC is having a warehouse sale this weekend. Ladies from my church’s quilting group caravanned to the venue on Thursday and were amazed at the number of quilters and sewists who congregated for the event. The lines for cutting yardage and for paying for purchases were really long. But it was a friendly crowd with strangers comparing treasures while waiting. To be sure, we all were so excited to be out shopping and visiting with like-minded friends after a long season of quarantine.

It was fun to select several flat fold prints for backings and some neutral bolt ends of extra wide backing to use as backgrounds in future quilts. Even more inspirational was talking to both old and new friends while enjoying lunch at Carolina Diner.

Is fabric shopping and lunch with friends in your near future? I hope so!

“Album” Block – Blog Readers Share

We are on block #4 of the “Options” quilt along for 2021, and several participants have emailed pictures of their blocks.

First up are creations by Marianne K. The various red and black prints she used add so much interest. I love the arrangement of the corner HSTs in the block on the right; the white background fabric accentuates the diamond shape of the interior patchwork. Marianne sewed the trimmed “waste” triangles into miniature Pinwheels. Perhaps she will use them when setting all the quilt blocks together.

Tina R. also sent a picture of her blocks. Notice the variations in the center 4″ squares. Sew creative!

Helga H. continues with her neutral palette of gray and black (with a punch of red every now and then.) She achieves variety with the unusual textures of the prints, and she is fussy-cutting to fantastic advantage.

I would love to show a picture of your album blocks or of all the BOMs to date. Email a picture to aby.quilts@gmail.com. If you are new to the blog and would like to work on “Options” blocks throughout this year, it’s not too late to join the fun. Click on “Options BOM QAL” in the menu. You’ll navigate to a blog page with links to the instructions which I post on the first of each month. As an incentive, I draw a winner for a quilt magazine from the pool of all those who finish by the last day of the month.