Pink Isn’t Easy

Have you ever noticed that some colors are easier to work into quilt blocks than others? For instance, red is hard to work with because if you try to add lighter shades they end up being pink and, vice versa, as they get dark they become maroon or brownish red. No wonder red and white quilts have been so popular over the years.

I’ve always considered pink to be an easy color to work with. However, when sorting through my scraps I noticed that it’s hard to find enough prints that do not blend into each other.

With my first block, for a 10-inch finished strip set made only with my dwindling supply of 2-1/2-inch strips, I had to use a variety contrasting prints in order to get good separation of the strips.

For my scrappy improv block it was easier because I had more scraps to choose from. But once again I had to rely on a variety of prints rather than a color range.

Thanks to a few Kaffe Fassett scraps, which gave some size variation, I am happy with the way this turned out.

I am also able to check a gray scale view see the actual values of the blocks. If you are not sure about your choices, see if you can do the gray scale on your blocks.

So the lesson I learned with pink was that there are a number of types of contrast we can use to give life to our quilts. Do you recall the quilt fabrics we had back in the 1980s? Mine seem to have been mostly little floral prints. Today we are so fortunate to have such a vast variety of fabric choices.

The more I learn about color, the more I realize the importance of contrast. It really does make a difference in the success of my quilting work.

This is the last moderately cool day we are going to be having for at least a week, with temperatures predicted in the 90s. I hope I can make good use of my indoor time working on my quilting.

I’m linking up with Angela at Cynthia at

The Second Time Around

When I was trying to think of what to make in pink for this month, I realized I had been looking at something for years without noticing it.

In the 1980s I was experimenting with a lot of different quilting projects. One of the things I tried was paper piecing, making tumbling blocks. At the time I made several of them in muted tones and didn’t know what to do with them. I happened to come across a striped fabric containing the same range of colors. This was just the size for a wall hanging. So I scattered the blocks on the striped background and stitched them down. Then I machine quilted it.

Stitching the shadow lines of the blocks first was very effective, then stitching the stripes themselves.

It just so happened that I made this at the time my daughter was leaving to go to college, so I named the quilt “My Baby’s Gone and Left Me”.

For the last seven years this has been hanging in my bathroom where I can see it every day. The bathroom colors are coordinated with it.

This summer is the second time around for this theme because her daughter is going off to college in the fall. I’m happy that she is going to be attending the University of Wisconsin here in Madison, living on campus, not gone hundreds of miles away.

So this proud grandma is delighted that I will be seeing my granddaughter several times during the year while she is close to home.

I’m linking up with Angela at Cynthia at

Beautiful in Blue

There is nothing I would rather do than brag about my granddaughter. She graduated from high school and I am so proud of her achievements in academics as well as leadership. Sarah will be attending the University of Wisconsin, majoring in biochemistry and computer science.

She and her mother made her prom dress of beautiful blue satin. They even made a blue bow tie for Tony, her date.

Notice the physics textbook she is using as a weight to hold down the fabric!

Her lovely corsage was perfect for the gown.

The weather that evening was beautiful when they went for photos in the park.

They could not resist having some fun at the playground.

Finally they posed with their friends before taking off for a wonderful evening.

Photos tell a story better than words and Sarah’s graduation is something I will hold in my heart forever.

I’m linking up with Angela at Cynthia at

A Mystery Quilt

Well, it is actually a top, but definitely a mystery to me. I have no idea where or when I got it. I just found it in the back of a closet shelf yesterday.

It is about 70 x 70 inches, made entirely of solids except for some black squares with a tiny linear print.

The fabric itself is not the usual quilter cotton. It has a sheen to it on the top surface only, as if it is glazed. On magnification, it has a herringbone weave, which makes a one-way pattern.

The 4-patch squares are 2 inches unfinished. It is machine stitched. This closeup includes a raw edge.

I love the diagonal pattern of the half square triangles and the soft colors overall.

If any of you can give me any help with the mystery, please do so. Could it be Amish?

I’m linking up with Angela at Cynthia at

Beautiful Blue

I have two reasons for loving dark blue this month. First is that my brand new Pfaff ambition 610 is finally here in its new home.

I had originally been considering a Viking because I like the body shape with lots of room for the quilt and other features. When I got to the store I took a look at the Pfaff, which was in the same price range.

The thing that sold me on it immediately was the built in walking foot mechanism. I’ve had so much difficulty trying to attach my walking foot that I would avoid using it if at all possible. In fact, on the last Project Linus quilt in May I had pulled the quilt through the machine rather than bother with the attachment.

This machine has everything I wanted and more. it has so many bells and whistles that it will take a while to learn how to use it. It’s appropriate that I received it now during Angela’s blue month.

The first project I did was an 8 1/2-inch scrappy improv block.

Now I’m really excited about being able to do free motion quilting and other things that I haven’t attempted up to this point. So I’ll be keeping you posted.

I’m linking up with Angela at Cynthia at

Three from the Past

Tragedy struck in my sewing room a couple of weeks ago. My machine died. 😢….It was not heartbreaking. This was the machine my daughter passed on to me when my previous machine came to an untimely end. It has been a good machine for a few years, a computerized Brother with many good features. I was able to do pretty much anything I wanted to do with it, however it had a few drawbacks. The harp was only about 6.5 inches wide and I had not tried free motion quilting.

The lever to lower the feed dogs was on the backside of the machine, quite unreachable with my customized SewEZ table. When I finally decided to get at that lever, it was stuck. With a friend’s help I got it moved to lower the feed dogs but now the lever was stuck in that position.

What is a quilter to do without a sewing machine? Buy a new one, of course! 😁 I had been looking online with this in mind for quite a while and had narrowed it down to the features I wanted. On Memorial Day my daughter and I went shopping for one. Fortunately, I found exactly what I wanted in my price range. It had to be ordered and I expected it to come in this week, but it turned out that yesterday it had not left the factory, so now I have another week of waiting.

So last week, as a faithful blogger since 2012, with nothing new to share, I posted about my first and oldest quilt. Now I would like to share a series of wall hangings that I made in the 1980’s. I used a quilt block that I found in a Michael James book. I really liked the diagonal movement in the basic block, which I repeated twelve times.

The starting point was a piece of tie-dyed fabric which I had dyed years before. I made plastic templates and began adding any type of fabric that seemed to work, including satins and a plaid. It reminded me of sitting around a campfire at night, so I called it Firelight. I stitched in the ditch.

The second piece I made was to continue the theme of light, Moonlight.

Here I pulled out all the stops in order to produce the gleam of moonlight on the snow.

For the shadows I used dark purple and blue cottons as well as velvets and a few prints.

Now my final challenge was Sunlight. The rays of the sun slanted down between the branches of a tree.

On the dollar rack at a thrift shop I found a silk sheath dress. It had a leafy print which was perfect, so it got chopped up and added the touch I needed. Yellow ribbons slanting down provided the rays of sunshine.

There was much trial and error on the design wall. I learned a lot about color. For instance, I bought a fat quarter of dark green for the shade. When I added it, it stood out like a sore thumb, dull and boring, so it was discarded.

The most important insight I had about color was the difference between pure hues and grayed ones, which for the most part don’t mix, so I used purple rather than brown, black or gray for the shadows.

This series is one of my favorites. If my new sewing machine does not come by next weekend I will be sharing another series of wall hangings.

GREAT NEWS – my machine has arrived in the store and I’ll be picking it up on Monday. Wahoo!

I’m linking up with Angela at Cynthia at

My First Quilt

I grew up in New England and never recall seeing a quilt until I moved to California after college graduation. It’s probably because quilting was not a popular pastime in New England as it was in the Midwest and the southern states. The New England textile mills were a main industry there and so woven coverlets were traditional. All that changed when I was married and looking for some antique silver to match the pieces handed down in my family.

I was also looking for decorations for my color scheme which included rosy red carpet in the bedroom. I entered one antique shop in Palo Alto and found a quilt in rose as well as green and orange in a floral design. It was folded and draped over a chair. The price was only $30 and I decided to buy it for our double bed.

I have never seen this type of quilt before, but I thought it might be old, from about the 1930s. I had seen pictures of floral quilts made during that time period. I put it through the washer and dryer and we used it every day on our bed, with two kids climbing all over it.

To satisfy my curiosity about the quilt I began to try to find out more about quilts in general. The ones I saw done in red and green usually had been made around Baltimore Maryland. Mine was not at all as expertly made as those. As you notice, there are differences in the design of the blocks and in each of the borders. Some have more detail and one of the borders has no appliqué at all.

I began to study the details of the quilt itself to find some clues. The red fabric had some worn areas which didn’t appear to be from wear, but breakdown of the cloth itself.

I learned that this breakdown was caused by a mordant such as iron used in the dyeing process to obtain the red color. The binding was in a solid true colorfast red and was obviously applied at a later date, probably to replace an earlier worn out one.

The stitching was not very fine in the quilting and the appliqué was done with a blanket stitch.

In between the branches are sets of three quilted hearts. I learned that these were used in a bride’s quilt.

When I held the quilt up to the light I could see several little seeds in the filler, which meant that it had not been run through a cotton gin or only a very early model.

The final clue to its age was the design, which was a variation of the Harrison Rose pattern. This was named for William Henry Harrison, a popular military leader, who became president in 1841 and died after only 31 days in office.

All of these clues led me to realize that the quilt dated back to pre-Civil War days, a century earlier than I had first supposed.

Because of all these details I like to imagine that the quilt was made for a bride back in the southern states, who came by covered wagon to California during the Gold Rush in the 1840s.

Needless to say, I no longer put it through the washer and dryer and now keep it very well protected in a pillowcase so it can breathe.

Thus my interest in old quilts began many years ago and I have collected quite a few 19th century quilts since then. The clues to the age of the quilts can usually be found in the fabrics and the method of construction. It’s like solving one of my favorite mystery novels.

I didn’t begin quilting myself until about 1980, but that’s a story for another day. If any of you are interested in dating quilts, let me know and we can share stories.

I’m linking up with Angela at Cynthia at