X & Plus Block — DOUBLE-SIZE!

In 2013, I had my International Stashes Bee make me X & + blocks, using Badskirt Amy’s tutorial. Her tutorial makes 8″ unfinished (7.5″ finished) blocks. The Bee members used a lot of text fabrics and bright colors, and I LOVE the blocks; but it’s still a WIP.

Then, I saw THIS quilt by Karen:

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Karen of CapitolaQuilter

When I saw that photo, I was SO grateful that I hadn’t pieced my quilt top yet–because I want a quilt like that to hang on my high, cathedral-ceiling wall in my living room! So, I’m asking my Sew Sisters Bee to make me 15.5″ (unfinished) blocks to go with my smaller blocks.

Karen did a great tutorial for her big blocks, but hers finish at 24″–too big to be companion size with my 7.5″ blocks. Her tutorial includes a GREAT tip for getting eight bonus HSTs (it was definitely a “why didn’t I think of that?” moment!).

SO anyway… for me it was back to the drawing board, to figure out cutting sizes for a block to finish at 15″ (15.5″ unfinished). Here you go:

15″ X & Plus Block cutting:
Plus Center (navy floral) = two 3″ squares and one 3″ x 8″ rectangle
Plus Ends (green print) = four 3″ x 4.25″ rectangles
Background (text print) = eight 4.75″ squares
X (tree print) = four 6.75″ squares (THIS SHOULD ACTUALLY BE 4 DIFFERENT FABRICS, I cut mine from the same print because each piece of my fabric varied so much)
X&+Block1Draw a diagonal line down the center of the wrong side of the 4.75″ squares. Match up to a 6.75″ square, right sides together (RST), sew along drawn line:X&+Block2

Trim seam to 1/4″, and press open toward smaller triangle. Repeat for opposite corner as shown here to complete each corner X unit (your corner unit should measure 6.75″ square):

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TIP: You can chain piece all of the center lines on one side, then the center lines on the other side to make this go together a little quicker.

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Sew two 3″ x 4.25″ green print rectangle to the two 3″ navy floral squares RST, press seam open. Add a corner X unit to each side of the green/navy floral units as shown above.

Sew a 3″ x 4.25″ green print rectangle to 3″ x 8″ navy floral rectangle. Join three sections to complete your block. Square up to 15.5″ if needed.

Here is my finished block along with the smaller blocks from my 2013 Bee:

X&+Block5I look forward to getting this pieced together and hung on my wall!

(EDITED: Vicki pointed out to me that I had the block sizes mixed up (good catch!)–the post is now edited; my blocks are 8″ unfinished and 15.5″ unfinished).

Happy sewing,

Doris

 

I have it Sew Together (yeah, right)

Social media drives trends in every area nowadays, including sewing and crafting. Remember when everyone was making Swoon quilts and Granny Square quilts (in 2012)? I tend to avoid projects when everyone else is making them–sometimes, I get around to making them eventually a few years behind everyone else (I’m starting my first Swoon quilt next week!).

Such is the case with my Sew Together bag. I bought the pattern and the fabric after watching Terri, Stephanie and Cindy make theirs together at retreat last summer. I didn’t get around to making it until November, when my friend Jill taught a class on it at a local quilt shop. (Note: Doris dislikes reading patterns. If you take a class, you don’t have to read the pattern!)

Fun to make and really, not as complicated as you might think. My sewing themed fabrics and pretty colored zippers:FabricsZippersThe zippers are done:

SewTogether1Sides attached (note the cute little tag, added from some printed twill tape I bought a few years ago):

SewTogether3My finished bag:

SewTogether4And the bags we all completed in class:

SewTogetherAllMost people I know that have made this bag have made more than one. There was one available in our MQG holiday swap this year (filled with chocolate no less) it was a coveted gift! They do make great gifts, good for stashing makeup, sewing notions, drawing tools, etc. You can get the pattern here. How SewDemented ever came up with this, I have no idea… but I’m glad she did! Elizabeth came up with a worksheet for downsizing it into a smaller bag. Smart, and she did so without “giving away” the pattern. I haven’t tried the smaller version yet, but I plan to!

Have you made a Sew Together bag yet?

 

A message of support

In August, my friend Karen and I checked out an installation of The Monument Quilt in downtown Des Moines. It’s a powerful project to experience. The Monument Quilt (this link has many more photos from across the country) is a crowd-sourced collection of thousands of stories from survivors of rape and abuse, with the purpose of creating a culture where survivors are publicly supported, rather than publicly shamed.

I studied art and art history in college and graduate school, and I’ve always appreciated that art has the potential to deliver difficult messages and instill understanding and compassion across cultures.

The full installation originally took place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and since then, parts of the quilt have been displayed all over the country. This image of the mall in Washington is wonderful (one of support materials distributed when the quilt is displayed):

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The portions displayed in Des Moines included the same message:

IMG_6014The quilt has interactive components, one can create their own 48″ x 48″ panel to submit to the project, or share their story at one of the installations by adding to an existing panel:

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IMG_6002Some of the stories are shared behind pieces of fabric (a flap that can be lifted); allowing the viewer to choose whether or not they want to read the survivor’s words… These stories have the potential to be emotionally draining, difficult to “hear”. There are volunteer “supporters” on hand for viewers to talk to about what they are feeling as they view the installation.

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The myriad of fabrics, mediums, colors, images and words create beautiful and strong messages. If you have the opportunity to visit this project in person, I highly recommend it.

The Des Moines installation as photographed from above (photo by Eric D. Sammon):

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“Your Positivity Truly Inspires Me”

 

An Iowa Quilt

When we saw the Sum of Many Parts exhibit last January, we also saw the Iowa Sesquicentennial Quilt on display at the State Historical Society. I don’t believe I’d ever seen it before. The log cabin border is stunning, and the quilting is great:

ISQuiltFullIowa became a state in 1846, the Sesquicentennial (150 years) was celebrated in 1996. Each of the 99 counties submitted a block in the shape and scale of their county. Some are embroidered, some appliqued, some just drawn or inked on:

ISQuiltDetail1Polk County is where Des Moines is located (orange block with star on it) and we have a beautiful state capitol building which is in the center of the block. Madison County is famous for its covered bridges

ISQuiltDetail2The one with the John Deere logo is where I grew up, Black Hawk County, home of John Deere Tractor Works and the University of Northern Iowa and named for Sauk war chief Black Hawk.

ISQuiltDetail3This little quilted heart on the Iowa County block is very small, but it really stands out. The hand embroidered sites in the Keokuk County block impressed me as well:

ISQuiltDetail4The background quilting is full a different motifs, corn stalks, stars, banners, eagles, wild roses (our state flower), a goldfinch (the state bird)…

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ISQuiltDetail7I was glad we got to see this, I’m not sure if it is on a semi-permanent display or not. But Frank and I both enjoyed looking it over for little details and surprises.

Happy Birthday to my big brother, Steve, today!

Doris

 

Sum of Many Parts

I mentioned in this post, that Frank and I were headed to see a quilt exhibit when he took that photo of me on our front steps. It was an exhibit on display at the Iowa State Historical Society briefly last winter.

This exhibit traveled to six cities in China between Sept. 2012 and Sept. 2013 as a showcase of American textile traditions created by 25 American quilters. Des Moines, Iowa was its first stop in the United States. And, though my photos were taken in January 2014, the exhibit is still traveling and as a matter of fact, opens today at the The Foundry Art Centre in St. Charles, MO. QuiltsatEntryThe three quilts shown above are by Alicia Avila, Edna Patterson-Petty and the one on the bottom right is by Caryl Bryer Fallert.

This Star Quilt by Patricia Renault Stuen (a Chippewa) is made in the tradition of Plains Indians; stars are favored by the Indians in part because the design reflects their beliefs associated with the solar system.StuenQuilt

Louisiana Bendolph is a member of the Gee’s Bend Quilt Collective and a native of Alabama. Her quilt, Housetop Variation, was pieced by her, and then, as is their tradition, women from the collective work together to hand quilt the piece:BendolphQuilt

Patricia Cox’s Floral Fantasy is hand-appliqued and hand-quilted in the Baltimore Album style. Patricia lives in Minnesota.

CoxQuilt

Hawaiian quilts–so totally unique and steeped in tradition! Each of Patricia Lei Murray’s quilts tells a story about her family or community heritage. Ku’u Kanae I ka La’l o ka Malu is dedicated to her father.

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This is Rise & Shine, Inner City by Martha Ginn from Mississippi:GinnQuiltShe made the Y-units and then laid them out in gradating colors to piece them together.

I was entranced by these next few quilts. Tomboy Bride by Betty J. Collins of Tennessee is a piecing masterpiece! It is hand-pieced and hand-quilted using more than 120 different fabrics. This is a traditional block pattern that would have decorated a wedding quilt.CollinsQuilt1

The Red One, My Charm Quilt by Beth Donaldson, sang to me. I love a good red quilt and what a great hexagon layout:

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This is Subtle Sixties by Linda Roy, hard to photograph as it was in a dark corner, but the detail on this quilt is astonishing. There is couching, ruched flowers, yo-yos, reverse-applique, metallic thread art, teeny-weeny quilting stitches… you name it. All expertly executed.AppliqueQuilt1

AppliqueQuilt2If you get a chance to see this in St Charles, MO this Spring or Summer… or next up, Winter Park, FL, don’t miss out. These quilts are amazing and the narrative of the exhibit is so well executed.

Just as I finished writing this post, I discovered there is a Flickr Gallery of all of the quilts–better pics than some of mine and the quilts I missed snapping a photo of are included there.

 

National Quilting Day

Yes, there is one, it was yesterday… and it’s no joke. Quilting isn’t just your grandma’s past-time anymore… Today, quilting is a $3.58 billion industry in the United States with 21.3 million quilters, nationwide. 14% of U.S. households are home to at least one active quilter.

The internet has contributed to the explosion of this industry, through on-line shopping, but also by connecting quilters from all areas of the globe. I have quilting friends in India, the U.K., Australia, mainland Europe & Asia. I’ve met some in person, many I’ve gotten to know through my blog (as well as their’s) and through email and social media. I know my family, friends and co-workers think I’m nuts when I get excited for a weekend that I plan to spend quilting. They just. don’t. get. it. But these quilt retreat weekends have been some of the best weekends of my life.

MaryDorisCindyIn the summer of 2010, I took a giant leap of faith (for an introverted homebody like myself, anyway) and met up with a dozen quilt bloggers from all over the United States, at Grubers Retreat Center in St. Cloud, MN.  We hit it off, and had so much fun, we made the weekend an annual event! Every July, we trek to Minnesota from Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, Missouri, Florida and California for a weekend with fellow quilters that became instant friends five years ago. It’s a shame we don’t all live in the same neighborhood.

Group1This is the group that gave me this quilt last year at our retreat. We keep extending a little more time to the weekend each year, because three days together is just not enough.  In July 2014, we were missing Shelly from Missouri and Michelle from Georgia. However, Michelle paid us a visit via FaceTime and her sister’s iPad:

FaceTimeMichelleWe have a lot of fun chatting, laughing, eating good food, drinking (occasionally), sharing, learning from one another… it’s sort of like a slumber party for grown-ups. We even manage to get some sewing done:

CollageCindy

Cindy worked with these gorgeous shot cottons and she made a Sew Together Bag along with Stephanie and Terri.CollageTerri

Terri sewed with beautiful Anna Maria Horner Pretty Potent fabrics all weekend–stunning! She also brought me a box of Sandi Henderson fabrics that I need to get around to playing with one of these days! CollageStephanie

Stephanie was working on a Tula Pink quilt kit that turned out wonderfully. She also brought her quilt from last year back for show-n-tell (bottom right pic). These are the Sew Together Bags that Cindy, Terri and Stephanie completed over the weekend:

CollageSewTogetherBagsCollageAmandaAmanda was playing with a new fabric line (which I cannot recall the name of!) and of course, her giant scrap basket she brings along each year!

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I worked a pattern from Sew Kind of Wonderful’s new book, and I have to admit it hasn’t made much progress since that July weekend. The fabric collection is Vintage Summer for Blend Fabrics (something I saw at Quilt Market in KC and could not pass up!!!)CollageToniToni (who never really took to blogging) finished up a top she had worked on the year before, such bright and cheerful colors!

CollageRene

Rene worked on piecing her Quilting Bee blocks together–a fabulous quilt! (I love the contradiction of technology at Rene’s workstation!) ;-)CollageMaryMary always produces like crazy at these retreats–she finished the Plus quilt top, and made a pretty good dent in the Heather Ross apple core quilt. (it’s the backdrop in our group photo above). The beautiful Marcelle Medallion (top left) is what she brought for show-n-tell.

We also have a tradition of exchanging “happies” at these retreats, just a little something for no reason but to make someone happy.

2014HappiesCollageTerri gave us each notecards with her own graphic design on them, Cindy made us giant pincushions with storage pockets, Mary made us patchwork bags and homemade caramels (yum!), Toni and I gave everyone a matching towel/potholder set, Rene made us journals and we all got a flamingo FQ from her, Amanda’s happy included a spool of Aurifil and the adorable little “happy” flags, and Stephanie gave us each a mini duffle–adorable.

Each year we talk about how a long weekend isn’t long enough, and we need to have a winter retreat, too. Maybe one year we will get that organized… but this year, three of us had a mini-retreat, meeting in Brunswick, MO (home of the giant Pecan) in early December:

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That would be Shelly and Stephanie showing some love to the pecan.PecanMarker

This was the weekend I finished piecing the quilt tops I started in October. We sewed and stayed in the Sew Sweet Quit Shop Retreat Center (which I HIGHLY recommend). Stephanie and I also had the pleasure of attending the Pecan Valley Quilt Guild holiday party with Shelly–they are such a fun group, we had a great time. StephDorisShellyI very much enjoyed getting to see some of these friends in between July retreats! There is always the possibility of a winter retreat in California or Florida, too. ;-)

Keeping my fingers crossed that this July all TEN of us will be able to be together again! Counting down the days…

Happy sewing,

Doris