Winter Stargazing

Stargazing in winter might seem ideal as you have more uninterrupted viewing hours.  However, shivering in a Kansas field doesn’t sound like best way to take in the stars.  I prefer to quilt! At least that hobby keeps us warm in the 60 degree winters…

Was anyone else part of the warm spell last week?  My kids were running around outside in sweatshirts complaining that they were hot.  Sigh.  It didn’t stay warm, so they are back inside, bouncing off the walls and each other.  We had to declare a moment of silence this evening for our sanity.

Last weekend was so productive!  Since the kids were enjoying an unseasonably warm day and my husband was working on a project, I was able to quilt.
(Pepper helped.)


Making up for lost time I managed to longarm a Minecraft quilt for the school auction, create a log cabin paper piece pattern for my friend, and finish a few small blocks and projects.  I’m saving some of the other projects for later posts, so no pics, but you can see the Winter Star block from the Farmgirl Vintage book.


One thing great about the Farmgirl patterns is that you rarely work with bias.  Take the star point for instance.  Instead of cutting parallelogram pieces on the bias, you start with a rectangle and sew two squares on, similar to creating quick half square triangles.    The bias is never exposed, so your block stays nice and squared up.   I love this!

If you only sew the desired line, you end up with triangle waste on each end.  However, if you are tricky you could create smaller half square triangle blocks for your next scrappy quilt by making a second seam line 1/2″ away from the first, and trim between the two stitch lines.  I really should do this more often!  They might be handy in scrappy or mini quilts.

I said no pictures, but I’d better share this mini that I finished from a BOM club my Mom has gifted me.  🙂  Prairie Point Quilt and Fabric Shop has a fun Tiny Dresden BOM program that started this month.  The pattern is for hand applique dresden with embroidered sayings.  Of course, I love my machines, so tried to figure out how to beautifully finish this mini using a scanner, custom digitizing and embroidery, and longarm quilting. Alas, the buttons were too small, so I had to hand stitch those on!   In February, I will give a run down on how my experiment worked and what I would do differently next time.




Contrary Wife

Contrary Wife… No, not me…  (Though, if the definition of contrary is “perversely inclined to disagree or do the opposite of what is expected or desired.”, then Yes, I might be that woman occasionally!)

Contrary Wife IS the next block in the Two Sisters sampler quilt.  There isn’t much to it.  Half square triangles paired with squares in a 9 block.   If you look closely, you will find that I alternated tones between the two.  Take a look at them in mono.   Which colors are your eyes more drawn to in each block?  I’m curious?

IMG_9539 (2).jpg

Here is a fun exercise.  Look at the picture in color, then close your eyes and give me a comment on what color you remember most from each block.  How does it compare to the way you view the mono image above?

You might wonder how I decided on my color scheme this time…  I wonder too.  I really just selected some colors that I thought looked nice together, that my daughter would like, and that weren’t too “matched” to my other blocks.

However, our minds are powerful.  If I compare my selection to known color combinations,  then I actually didn’t really stray from partial triads or complementary colors.  What do you think?  The only thing “contrary” about these blocks is that I swapped the intensity in the pattern between the two.  It shows up more in the mono image.

Colors:  (Color Wheel, Intensity, Proportion)
Pink / Gray  : When I look at the block, I “remember” the pink
image011Pink can also be thought of as magenta, or a primary color on the Cyan-Yellow-Magenta color wheel.  (See this one from Surrency Studios)
Grey is a mix of secondary colors, and can be created a multitude of different ways and goes well with just about anything (as long as it has the right tint).
Purple Turquoise  :  When I look at the block, I “remember” the turquoise. main-qimg-c6c88e61bb8be95c1dee8a46a82cc583-c

Purple and turquoise are equidistant from each other on the color wheel.  They produce high contrast while maintaining harmony.  If I was to add a third color (besides white), then I might select yellow-orange. (It does look nice on the yellow background…)



However, in both cases, my eye caught the less intense tones that were closest to primary colors.  Do you see them the same as me, or is it all in the eye of the beholder?  I’m sure a color expert could explain that to me.

I think if I ever have the chance, I should take some art classes.  I would either drive the art teacher crazy with them hoping I will pass through quickly, or I would find someone else with my love for the science of color.

Happy Quilting!

IMG_9539 (1).jpg



A Little Hen and Baking Bread

As a child (and as an adult) I was completely spoiled.  My mother loves to read, and encouraged us to read too.  For as long as I can remember we essentially had our own library of story books at our disposal.  Granted, that was easier than trying to return books to the library, but it also worked out better with a houseful of kids!

One set of books was the little golden books.  Remember the shiny golden binding with colorful pictures and classic stories?  One such book was The Little RED HEN, a Russian folktale published in the United states for the masses since 1940.

So, what do red hens and golden books have to do with quilting and baking?  Well, books have bindings, just like quilts, and this book had a little red hen, not dissimilar from the Mama Hen block I have made for my Farmgirl Vintage quilt!


I had to include a piece of the new chicken and egg fabric I found during my recent retreat to MSQC. It spoke to me. The print was a little larger than I had intended, but was fun to piece with the perfectly mottled mini flower fabric from Grandma’s stash.

Last weekend I took my daughter to a cooking class at the Culinary Center of Kansas City.  While I was there, I took a class too, on baking layer cinnamon bread and chocolate babka. Lessons in work ethic and personal initiative aside, it is probably a bad idea to take a tasty bread baking class while trying to stay on a low carb diet.   (Yes, I failed.  I ate the bread… just one, or two slices.)

To make up for my failing of baking homemade bread on a Saturday, I finished the day by starting  the binding on my Minecraft quilt.  img_9344No laziness here.  Stay tuned.  It will be “Epic”. For now, it is still piled on my living room tables until I can “mine” at night.


Sow and Sew

April and May have been real.  Real Busy, Real Life.  Low and High.
(Do you mind if I babble?)

The snow missed me this year, but I am digging myself out nonetheless.  The spring has brought birthday parties, work travel, outrageous taxes, home improvement, school events, contests, awards, death, and new life.   Would you believe me if I told you it all happened in that order?

In one more week, the current school session ends and summer begins.  What better way to celebrate life’s constant skirmish than to sow and sew?

I am a month “behind” in my personal block of the month club.  I have finished my next sister blocks, which I will write a separate blog on later.  I did get my hands dirty and planted some tomatoes, hot peppers, strawberries, and herbs in my garden.  With unseasonably warm weather, I even planted them before Mother’s day, which is akin to playing Russian roulette with mother nature.   I won! (so far)

Since I am a month behind with the quilting, I will write it off as a loss and move on.

In light of planting my garden and tending my flowers, my block from Lori Holt’s Farm Girl Vintage patterns this May is “Crops”.

As I mentioned before (I think), one of my goals with this quilt is to construct it from my stash, most of which was gifted to me by my Grandmother.  I almost broke down and bought fabric this month.  The biggest challenge in my stash is finding large enough pieces with small prints.  Much of her stash was cut into smaller pieces.  I wonder if this was because smaller pieces were easier to use with hand piecing?  I digress.

In the end, I held strong and supplemented Grandma’s stash with some of my own, a scrap from a project I made for my Sister, probably some fabric that was passed between my Mother and my Grandmother, and some pieces of my own that didn’t have a plan yet.

The block is simple to create with half square triangles, tipped with smaller triangles, then sashed.  It was almost therapeutic.  Note: The pattern wastes fabric after trimming.  The half square triangles are created with squares of every fabric.  I have sewn and saved them for later, but am not sure if they will be handy in the other blocks in the pattern.

My block is finished.  I really need to get my behind out in the sunshine to sow some more seeds and prepare my garden for some delightful fresh ingredients this summer.

I mentioned death.  One of my Grandmother’s passed away this month.   At her memorial service, we were asked to think of a memory to remind us of her.  One thing we had in common was flowers and plants.  She loved sharing with me the flowers in bloom and the critters that would visit her back patio and garden.  I think that I might take a break from sewing one day and see if her children would mind if I transplant some of her flowers to my yard as a memory of her.

Life’s balance is that my cousin and his wife welcomed a new baby girl to the family the same week.  (Congratulations to the new parents and grandparents!)

Happiness can be Sow and Sew.






Sister Susannah

The blocks in the Sister’s Ten Sampler this month are called Susannah.   Now, I cannot imagine having ten sisters, only only had two.  However, having sisters does make me think of the song “Sisters” by Irving Berlin, and that always makes me laugh.   It was made famous by Rosemary Clooney in White Christmas among others.    Here’s a funny tidbit.  Rosemary Clooney, the older sister, is actually 7 years younger than Vera-Ellen who played the younger!

The Susannah block is a windmill style block that uses a diamond in a square, and squares instead of triangles for the blades.

Like last months blocks, Grandmother’s Frame, I used a tool called “Ultimate 3-in-1 COLOR TOOL” by Joen Wolfrom.  It includes two filters or “value finders”, 24 color cards with swatches, and 5 color plans for each color.

Ives color wheel and Ultimate 3-in-1 color tool, by Joen Wolfrom, as seen at

To select colors for the Susannah blocks I used the following method:

  1.  What colors did I not use in the last two blocks?
    – I selected a yellow for block 1, and tangerine for block 2
  2.  For each color I used the color wheel
    – Complimentary colors directly opposite yellow are blue-violet, so I selected a split complementary on the violet side in the Mormor line- Complimentary colors directly opposite of orange are turquoise blue / cyan, so I selected a fabric in that range.
  3. Checked my values with filters.
    I wanted the centers to have a lighter value than my windmill vanes.
    – My background is white, and is the lightest value.
    Note: I selected colors that had more white space in the background for my complimenting colors, and more solid colors for my focus colors.  This worked very well to tie the new blocks to the previous ones created as turquoise and purple were also used in the last two blocks.IMG_8220     IMG_8223By selecting new focus colors for each set of blocks, and trying to use a focus color from a previous block, I think that it will help blend the blocks during final assembly.

SO…  What exactly is Hue or Value for any given fabric or color?
Value is the relative lightness or darkness of a color.

Contrast of value in your fabric selection helps separate object in space, while graduation of value might suggest a contour of the same surface.

Hue also has value.  But hue is the term used for the pure spectrum of colors, which appears in the color wheel.  Theoretically, all colors can be mixed from the three basic hues or primary colors. This post by Nick Pettit, “Value Texture & Color”  has some good descriptions.
Did you know there are different definitions of the three primaries?

“Painters Primaries” are the traditional red, blue, yellow colors we learned as children.
However, have you ever paid attention to your ink cartridges on a color printer?

“Printer’s Primaries” are magenta, cyan, and yellow.
But then there is what we see on a computer screen.

“Light Primaries” are red, blue, green.  The best description I have read for the change is the fact that light is mixed in with the colors.

These differences are challenging when doing digital photography.  When I was into photography as a hobby, I calibrated my monitor to the printer profiles so that I could get image prints that were a close match to what I saw on my screen.



This is the first time I have used any “scientific method” for selecting colors?
How am I doing?  

If anyone is interested, I could go into some details on color perception and how some commercial industry defines their specific colors, tints, shades, and tones.    When I worked in the sunglass industry, different manufacturers would create a color that was “unique” for their product.  We used a Spectrophotometer to identify the spectrum, or energy response, of the color under specific illumination and conditions.  If you ever wondered how calculus would be handy in the fashion industry, then you have discovered one.  The method is not just used for lense colors, but for lots of materials, including fabric!  If you like math, look up the CIE Color space on Wikipedia… 

300px-CIE1931xy_blank.svgCIE 1932 Color Space Chromaticity Diagram


Note:  I am not an affiliate for any products or tools I have talked about here.


Color Story

I am working on new blocks from a pattern called “Sisters’ Ten Sampler” in the book Sister Sampler Quilts.   My mom is doing the same quilt, but we are both using very different fabrics.   Gen X quilters did a BOM of this quilt back in 2013 and posted some tutorials that look pretty good, so I won’t repeat here.

The fabrics I chose from my stash are from the Mormor line by Lotta Jansdotter for Wyndham Fabrics.   The prints are a 1950’s / Modern look and would make good home decor prints, but will be applied in some very traditional block styles.

Grandmother’s Frame is the first block in the pattern.  Each month I plan to make two 12″ blocks with an identical pattern, but play with my color selections.  The pattern suggests fussy cutting the center square from a print.

I didn’t have any good prints to cut, so I added some raw edge appliqué cutouts I created with some fusible web and my Silhouette Cameo cutter.

Mormor line by Lotta Jansdotter

Have you ever used the red glasses to select colors for a quilt.  I’ve always wanted to walk around a fabric store wearing some.  You can’t choose colors or hues this way, but it would certainly help with choosing more variety in value or darkness.

I chose my colors for the first block without using the red or green value finders.  I was surprised how close the value was for the bright pink and the washed out grey in the block using the red filter.  I think the pink is simply too close to red to work well.  In this case, the green filter is probably more accurate for the pink and the red filter is more accurate for the teal.

If I graded my value selections in Light, Medium, Dark, then here are my grades;

Pink:  Medium to Dark
Teal:  Medium to Dark
Grey: Light

Grandmother’s Frame #1:

IMG_8110     IMG_8107     IMG_8097

The second time around, I auditioned my fabrics with the filters.  Originally, I selected a yellow fabric for the rose and the corners.  However, the value of the yellow was too close to the light blue in the block, so the detail was easily lost or washed out.  I switched it out for the dark grey to give the block more contrast.    I also swapped the direction of values at the corners for the sister block.

Grandmother’s Frame #2:

IMG_8114    IMG_8106    IMG_8096

For my next block, I will show you the tool I am using and the references it makes to the color wheel for selecting colors.





Lone Night Star – November

I am not sure where I have been for the last 2 months…
I have sewn, but not as much as usual. Since Thanksgiving we have visited family, celebrated a birthday, and generally enjoyed the season.  During a long weekend off from work, I have managed to reorganize my sewing room and finish the center of my Night Star quilt.  The center block, a Lone Star, is constructed using diamonds and triangles.  I like it.  The way the pattern uses all different colors and organizes them in color wheel order is very striking.

The important thing to remember during construction is to assemble the small triangles to the diamonds first, then add the larger triangles.  If you don’t do this, placement is much trickier.  I’m thankful that the Craftsy class mentioned this.

My end of year resolution is to assemble the quilt top.  Can I finish before he bell tolls?




Night Stars – October – 54/40 or Fight

I finished the October blocks true to form… at the end of the month.   I think it is the cutting that always slows me down.

This month I broke down and bought the Tri-Rec tools to cut my fabric.  The last 54/40 or fight block I made was for a QOV and I wasn’t happy with the outcome.  I think I tend to shave material off of my thin plastic or paper templates.  Since these angles are a little fussy, I added to my ruler collection.

The great thing about the Tri-Rec tool is that you cut off a small ear on one corner of the triangle that is used to align it to the edge of another.  The piecing was very quick.

I find you can never have too many shoes or rulers! 🙂

I need to adjust my seam allowances still.  Every block turned out 1/8″ too small.  At this point it is better that I am consistent.  I will adjust on the next quilt, right?

I like the look of the 8 pointed stars better than the four point bursts.  What about you?


Curve it Up – Block 8 – Fancy Fans

Whew… Too bad these fans don’t cool you off!Untitled-1The great thing about fancy fans is that if you make them meet in the center they will make Block 9 too, a curvy Dresden Plate!  Keep tuned for more in November.  It might take me four more to master this set.

The next time around I need to add some additional light fabrics.

Hint:  BE SURE TO MARK FROM YOUR SEAMS ACCURATELY.   (Otherwise you get to make an extra like I had to do.  There is something to be said for not piecing late at night.)  Keep cool!


Night Stars – September – Ohio Stars

I’m feeling lazy tonight.  My children are tucked in, and I have no energy to do anything.  I’m even posting this in my pajamas.  

I started this set of blocks early, but didn’t finish them until the retreat I attended at the Missouri Star Quilt Company.  

One of the fun parts to quilting is that it is a timeless, functional art.  I love seeing old well loved quilts in museums.  The September Blocks for the Night Stars quilt are Ohio Stars.  Quick internet research says that the block dates back to the 1800’s.   It is a simple quad triangle 9 block surrounding a central square.  It also said that it is known as a variable star, or a lone star.  It doesn’t remind me of the Texas Lone a star at all.   
Why was this a popular Amish design? Does anyone know?

I used traditional methods for piecing.  I have to admit, I wasn’t paying attention, and stitched the wrong side of all of my triangles on one block.  Lucky me, my mom was visiting to set up her latest quilt on the longarm.  While it stitched, we frogged.  Thanks mom!

 The more I work on this quilt, I think it would look great in civil war prints or the Kansas Troubles line.  (It would need a new name though)

Happy quilting!