Friday, June 28, 2013


I somehow landed on a Wikipedia page after looking for tumbling blocks quilt images and read about rhombille tiling for the first time.  Whuh?

You know, if Miss Watson had taught 9th grade geometry with quilt blocks, it might have been a little more interesting back in the day.  Well, to me, anyway.  Miss Watson herself was interesting in a quirky way.  She claimed her pale blue eyes were more light sensitive than most, so she had to wear sunglasses when using the overhead projector (talk about old school, are those even used anymore?).  I kind of felt bad for Miss Watson, in her polyester double knit shift dresses, for all the snickering that went on behind her back.  To me, there seemed a curious naivete about her, a shy girlishness only just beneath her delicate fifty-something features and wispy, mousey-brown hair.

Anyway, I have my hand piecing project ready.  You can expect a full report, particularly if it goes badly.  It ought to be interesting.

This recipe for brownies (discovered via Pinterest, where else) did not go badly.  If you're used to Betty Crocker mixes, this won't be the same, but for gluten-free, dairy-free, quasi-paleo eaters like me, it was awesome! I had to get the finished brownies into the freezer quickly (hence no pictures), before they all ended up "in ma belly."

I stumbled upon this video tonight on YouTube and was blown away.  Maybe mesmerized is a better word.  Wow.  Just, wow.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sunday Sundry 6-23-13

We went thrifting yesterday, more window shopping than anything, as I'm still trying to keep the inflow of stuff to a minimum.  I do keep an eye out for usable fabric, though.  Sometimes I find a bit of this or that, such as these pieces, which came home with me.

So I'm riffling through the remnants when Norm says, "Hey, you've got to come see this."

To which my first thought was, this better be good.  Because, you know, I'm looking at fabric, don't bug me with something dumb.

It was not dumb.  At all.

Looks like a ratty old chest, right?  But wait, there's more.  

Behold, the folding bar!

Isn't that cool?  Made by Rock-ola, which is famous for jukeboxes, but they made other things as well through the years, including the M1 carbine for the U.S. military during WWII.

At a hundred and a half, we left the bar behind, though we did hem and haw about it a little before walking away.

I spied these retro glasses, too.  Wouldn't they be awesome in the folding bar?  Loved 'em, but we left 'em. 

* * * * *
We live in the flight path of the medical helicopter that comes and goes from our local facility to transport critical patients to University Hospital in Madison.  I heard it land shortly before I went for a walk this evening.  My walk takes me right past the landing pad, and I got there just as they were loaded up and ready to lift off.

From an aeronautical standpoint, it is fun to watch.  But my thoughts were also on the family huddled outside the ER as it left with the precious cargo of their loved one.  

Nobody wants to have to ride in this bird, but it's good to know that when it's needed, it's there. 

* * * * *
If I don't paper piece the Flying Swallows block that I talked about in the last post (i.e., machine piece it instead), I may try English paper piecing some diamond shapes as a hand sewing project on vacation.  

I have been looking at vintage tumbling blocks quilts and others in one of my all-time favorite books, Quilts of Illusion by Laura Fisher.  I love optical illusion quilts!

Total quilt eye candy.  These are just a few sample pages.  Many of the photos are black and white, but that doesn't diminish their fascination, in my opinion.

It is mostly traditional quilts made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Amazing how these often scrappy quilts seem to come alive with movement and make me feel like doing a happy dance too.

Well, this was obviously another random brain dump, but that's the way it goes.  I'm dusting off the Sunday Sundry label for this entry.  It's been a while.

May your week be off to a great start!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Processing and Plans

I've been feeling somewhat scattered this week, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.  Sometimes when you've got ideas fluttering around, you just have to let them wander where they will.  Eventually, they will come together in formation, or at least that is the hope.

Let's talk about Pinterest.  Talk about a blessing and a curse!  Curse the time suckage and resultant guilt.

But bless all the wonderful things to see, explore, marvel/dream/laugh about, and pin!  In the short span of a couple weeks, I already have more inspiration than I'll need for a long time to come.

What I really probably need is a Pin-tervention—or at least a Pin-terruption.  I want to believe I just made those words up, but I bet if I went looking on Pinterest, there would probably be pin proof otherwise.

The upshot of it all is that I am inspired to try something based on a quilt I saw and repinned to my Vintage Quilts board.

It's currently for sale on ebay (and wow, cha-ching!).  I just love it.  It's apparently based on an old pattern called Flying Swallows.  I stared and stared at it until I about went cross-eyed trying to wrap my head around how it was made. 

Then, via the wonder of Pinterest, a free pattern sheet for making it appeared and the mystery was solved.  Man, I love the internet.

The pattern is for English Paper Piecing, which I have not done before.  All of you who have made hexies and whatnot over the past few years have been there, done that, but I stayed off the tracks while that train rolled on by, so this will be new territory for me.  As it happens, I have a little vacation coming up and have been thinking about taking along some hand sewing.  This may be it.

Then again, I know me.  I know how short the wick is on my patience and how easily I can burn through my level of interest.  An alternative would be to machine piece the block, and here is where I thank Google for providing a solution and instructions for doing just that.  Here is another variation and some history on the block itself.  I like that version too.

So I have options, is what I'm saying.  Plans and options.  It's a good start.

* * * * *
We made a good start 30 years ago this week, when Norm and I piled into his red Triumph TR7 and drove to the county courthouse to get hitched.

We didn't remember to take a camera, so all our wedding photos in the courthouse are courtesy of a Polaroid borrowed from a sheriff's detective.  You need "something borrowed" for your wedding, right?

Afterwards, we stopped by the law office where I was working at the time, and one of the ladies there had a camera.  I like that Norm is smiling here.  He's generally not an overly smiley guy.  I guess marrying my awesomeness must have put him over the moon (*cough*cough*choke*).  ;)

And here it is three decades later already.  Wow, time flies!

* * * * *
One other happy note. I helped my sister pack for a move this week (that's not the happy part, yet).  We were boxing up the kitchen dishes when she opened a cupboard and took out a set of Pyrex bowls and held them out in my direction.  "Do you want these?"

Like she really had to ask!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Thoroughly Modern Lily Quilt Pattern!

The Thoroughly Modern Lily pattern is now available!  It's pretty exciting to be able to say that at last!

Updated March 2023:  This pattern is available for free PDF download HERE.  Click the download icon at the top right side of the page that opens.

Custom acrylic templates for the Four-Lily Block used in this quilt are available at DMP Engraving.

Special thanks and heartfelt gratitude to Sandi of, whose skills and talents were an integral part of this quilt.  It all started with a kind comment, a generous gesture and email exchange, resulting in a beautiful quilt and pattern!

I hope that during the past couple weeks, many of you have had a chance to explore the tutorial for the Four-Lily block that forms the basis of this quilt.  The block tutorial will remain available here as an adjunct to the quilt pattern.  You can find the four-part tutorial anytime under the Tutorials tab at the top of the page. 

Whether you've made just one block or the whole quilt, I welcome your comments, questions, and photos.

Lastly, just for fun, here are a few outtakes from the quilt photo shoot last month.  My daughter and her friend were my assistants and chief quilt holder-uppers.  They had no idea when they visited on Mother's Day that I would put them to work, but I really appreciated their help.

It was a breezy day, so they held onto the edges of the quilt through the fence with their fingertips.  Right before I snapped the picture, I'd yell, "Hide your fingers!" As ridiculous as that sounds, I'm sure there was giggling and eye-rolling behind the fence.

Of course, the wind did its thing anyway.  I've got about a dozen more photos just like these.

Thanks to all for your encouragement and support during this process.  I am looking forward to getting my hands busy on some new things, finishing up some old, and hopefully blogging a bit more regularly again as well.

Friday, June 14, 2013

From Doodling to Done

When I'm on the phone at work, I sometimes doodle free-motion quilting designs in an old spiral notebook.  Not while I'm having a conversation, but when I'm on hold for a representative, which can be a few seconds or minutes.  I flip past the work notes to a back page and start scribbling.

Lately I've been doodling ideas for quilting the Four-Lily block, which I wanted to finish as a table mat or wall hanging.  I came up with various ideas for the different sections.  Unfortunately, the notebook I doodled in stays at work, so last night I recreated it on a piece of freezer paper, with an eye toward getting the scale right. I traced my block templates onto the paper.
There was no way I was going to try to freehand quilt that elongated tri-lobed shape in the lily parts, so I grabbed a red Pilot FriXion marking pen and drew it right onto the fabric.  Then I made a few more reference lines (and screwed up others).  It was kind of a mess around the center.
But it worked to keep me (mostly) on track when I went to quilt it.  I think I've mentioned this before, but I sort of suck at following the lines, even the ones I draw to be followed.  Here is the "after."  The marks disappeared completely with the heat of the iron.
The quilting shows up better on the back.
And here's the full view of the front.
I had never used this pen to mark a quilt design before, so this was a first, and I'm happy with the results.  I know the marks can come back again with very cold temps, so I'll be sure not to set any ice buckets on it.

Now I am looking forward to starting something new, or at least working on something different for a while.  Maybe a string quilt? Quilt one of my UFOs?  We'll see.

If you'd like to try making this block, the tutorial for it starts HERE (or see the Tutorials tab above).  Have fun!

Music to ease you toward the weekend!

June Finishes

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Four-Lily Block Tutorial - Part 4

We'll complete the Four-Lily block in this final part of the tutorial.  Just two seams to go and the block will be done!

In Part 2, we made one Center Unit:

In Part 3, we made two Lily/Corner Unit combinations:

Today we'll join all three pieces together to finish the block.

As you may have guessed, we'll need to mark, match, and pin before sewing.  Starting with the Lily/Corner combo, fold the piece in half, then in half again.  On the first fold, you don't really need to finger-press the fold at the edge (unless you want to), because we'll instead be using the seams that match up in the center to align the central portion of the block.  But do finger-press the second fold.  Do the same with the other Lily/Corner combo.

Do the same with the Center Unit. Fold in half with edges even along one long side; fold in half again and finger-press a crease at the fold.  Repeat the process for the other long side, aligning edges on that side, folding, and finger-pressing.
Open the pieces and mark the creases with your fabric marking pen.

Pin one of the Lily/Corner combos to the Center Unit, right sides together, with the Center Unit on top ("Thinking of U").  Start at the center, matching the seams there, and pin.  The seams should butt against each other.

Now pin the two ends of the pieces together. 

Match the remaining marks and pin, and then pin in between as necessary to keep the edges in place for sewing.

Sew this gently curved seam, keeping edges of pieces aligned, removing pins as you go, and maintaining a scant 1/4-inch seam allowance.  Finger-press the seam toward the Lilies.

Repeat the process to attach the other Lily/Corner combo to the other edge of the Center Unit.  With a dry iron, press seam toward Lilies and press the entire block.  Trim/square block to 16-1/2 inches.  That's it! 

Here is the very first Four-Lily sample block I made back in October 2012.  I was so thrilled that it turned out!

And here are some made while working on the Thoroughly Modern Lily quilt:

I hope you found this tutorial helpful.  Thanks so much for following along!

Updated March 2023:  You can now download a condensed PDF version of the Four-Lily Block Instructions, HERE.  Click the download symbol at the top of the page that opens.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Four-Lily Block Tutorial - Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of the Four-Lily Block Tutorial.  If you've been following along with Part 1 and Part 2, you know that we have tackled templates and conquered curves.  Today, we're going to win over Y-seams!

Although winning sometimes implies a struggle, and this is nothing of the sort.  In any case, if you haven't done one before, perhaps this will win you over to Y-seams.

We're going to put together the four Lily Units, which consist of Pieces B and C.  B is the triangular shaped piece and C is the piece that looks like a flower.

After we get the Lily Units together, we'll sew them on either side of the remaining two Corner Units made in Part 2.  We'll end up with two sections that look like this:

First, we need to take the Frixion marking pen (or whatever fabric marker you prefer) and make a dot 1/4-inch in from the edges at the point of triangular Piece B, and do the same 1/4-inch in from the edge at the "V" of Piece C.  

On lily-shaped Piece C, we need to stay-stitch for about a half inch on either side of the dot, about 1/4 inch from the edge at the "V."  The reason we do this is because we will need to clip to that dot later (don't do it yet), and stay-stitching helps stabilize the fabric in that spot.  Use a slightly smaller stitch length for this.

Then place Piece B right sides together on C, matching the center dots and matching it along right edge of C.  If cut precisely per the templates, these pieces should fit together just right; i.e., there shouldn't be anything to ease and no part of B should hang over the end of C.  Sew these pieces together, starting at the dot and stitching to the outside.

After sewing that seam, hold the background piece away at the "V" of the lily-shaped piece C, and clip to the dot of Piece C only.  Be careful not to clip through the stay-stitching.  Just Piece C gets clipped, nothing else.

Because you have made the clip, now it should be easy to simply pivot the fabric to align the other edges of Pieces B and C.  

At this point, I flip the piece over and pin from the other side, because we're going to sew again from the center dot to the outside.

And that's it!  No need to whine about Y-seams—you've done it!  YaY!

Now do that three more times for the other Lily Units.  Press the seams downward toward Piece C.  Again, use a DRY iron for all pressing.

Once you have all four Lily Units made, sew one on either side of a Corner Unit.  You will make two of these Lily Unit + Corner Unit + Lily Unit combos.

Again, we will use the fold, crease, mark, and match technique discussed previously.  For example, with the Corner Unit, fold the piece in half along the edge to be matched and finger-press a small crease at the folded edge.

Then fold it in half again and finger-press at the fold.  Repeat for the other edge of the Corner Unit.

Do the same with the Lily Unit.  Fold in half along edge to be matched, crease; fold in half again, crease.  (Note:  You only need to mark one edge of each Lily Unit, the edge to be sewn to the Corner Unit.)

Mark all the creases with a hash mark using your marking pen.

Sew one side of the Corner Unit to one of the Lily Units.  Remember "Thinking of U" to keep the U-shaped edge on top.

Match the marks at the centers of the pieces and pin.  Then match and pin the left and right ends.  Then match the remaining marks and pin.   

Sew these pieces together.  Again, take your time, keeping the edges aligned as they go under the presser foot, maintaining a scant 1/4-inch seam allowance, and removing pins as you come to them.

Finger-press toward the Lily Unit.  (If you choose to press with your iron at this point, be careful to avoid ironing over the registration marks on the other side of the Corner Unit, if you have used a Frixion pen, because they will vanish with heat.)

Repeat the process to sew the other Lily Unit to the other side of the Corner Unit.

Make a second Lily Unit + Corner Unit + Lily Unit combination.

We're almost there!  I hope everything has gone well for you so far.  

Coming up in final Part 4, we'll put every together and finish the block!