Framing Squares

In a recent comment, I mentioned that I love the naming of things. Quilts give me the opportunity to find the exactly perfect name, and I think I did it with this quilt. It’s called “Framing Squares” which, for you non-builders, is a tool used in the construction business. My neighbor’s son just graduated from high school and spent a good chunk of the last year working with his building arts class to construct a house for Habitat for Humanity. He has a summer job with the contractor they worked with on the house. I looked at the names of the inspiration quilts and loved the name 4-Squared, but of course I couldn’t steal that. I thought about squares, and that made me think of construction, which led to Framing Squares. Perfect!

Framing Squares

Mom and I have been working on the quilt steadily for the past two weeks, although we originally conceived it a year ago after we finished the Good & Plenty quilt for another neighbor’s graduation. We gave the quilt to Ryan on Saturday, and he was suitably appreciative. Ryan’s a great kid (can I still call an 18 year old a kid?), and has helped us out with yard work and snow removal since he was little. For the past several years he hasn’t allowed us to pay him for any of the work he does (seriously, he gets a little obstinate when he refuses), so we were happy to be able to make the quilt for him.

We adapted a label technique from Jennifer Can Quilt, although instead of leaving it loose, attached only in the binding, we decided to attached it on all sides. It fits the theme of Framing Squares, too!

Framing Squares label

These are the same fabrics I’m using on my Family Basket blocks, and I just love how they look together!

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Backseat Saints

I have to interrupt this quilting blog for a brief announcement:

My books arrived!!!

Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson

One of my favorite authors, Joshilyn Jackson (pronounced “Joss”ilyn), has a new book available in hardback. The title is Backseat Saints, and it’s her fourth novel. I checked out the first three from the library, and when the new one came out I took the opportunity to purchase the others as well. How big a goony-fan am I? Well, Mom and I are road-tripping on Thursday so we can meet her at a reading and book signing at Next Chapter Bookshop in Mequon, WI. Yes, I am a bigdumbdork, but I’m looking forward to it so much that I don’t even care how silly I sound. Of course, since I took the day off work, we’re going to make a day of it and maybe hit a few quilt shops on the way.

Any readers out there? I strongly recommend you jump right on the Backseat Saints bandwagon. She’s even made the New York Times bestsellers list! You can read her blog at Faster Than Kudzu. Don’t forget her first three books, gods in Alabama, Between, Georgia, and The Girl Who Stopped Swimming.

Baker’s Dozen

(Thanks for the title, Nancy!)

How exciting is this? Nancy, Near Philadelphia has been making my basket blocks, and after mastering Block 12, she decided to create her OWN basket block pattern. She made the first block and promptly sent a picture of it to me so I could ooh and aah over… would it be my grandbaby? Well, it’s as close as I’m probably ever going to get, so sure, we’ll call it that. She came up with the fantastic idea of making a basket within a basket. Isn’t that clever? She also very kindly gave me permission to write up the instructions and share it with you. So here, in honor of Nancy, Near Philadelphia, is Nancy’s Basket – “Sisterly Love.”

Block 13

Click on the block to download the PDF, and it has been added to the basket patterns in the columns at the right. You’ll notice it’s in a completely different colorway from the other blocks. That’s because I did it in the colors that Nancy is using – caramel and indigo. Click on over to her blog to see her beautiful basket blocks!

Way to go, Nancy!

MMMQG June sewing day

Yesterday was our Milwaukee-Madison Modern Quilt Guild meeting, at a wonderful quilt shop in Jefferson, WI called Tea & Textiles (sorry, no website). Jeanne from Grey Cat Quilts and I carpooled, as usual. Unfortunately, we only had one other person join us, but on the plus side, it was Cheryl of Cheryl’s Chatelaine. This is the first time she was able to attend a meeting, and I’m really glad she did! As we worked on some paper piecing, we discovered that a couple of years ago we took the same class from Karen K. Stone at the International Quilt Festival in Chicago. How funny is that?

In addition to a nice day sewing (and shopping, of course), Jeanne and I went to lunch at a place called Urban’s, just down the street from the shop. It looks like any other family diner, but I was impressed with the variety of items on the menu. For small town Wisconsin, that had a number of vegetarian offerings, and some creative burgers. We both ended up getting the Sour Cream Burger. It sounds odd, but it was a burger with caramelized onions, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms and a big dollop of sour cream. It was AMAZING. I had it without the mushrooms, and when I took my first bite, I promptly dribbled cheese and onions and sour cream all over my hands and face. We ate the burgers with a knife and fork, which worked surprisingly well because the buns were fresh and not too big. We’ll definitely be going back – although in the future we might have to split a burger.

Although I took my camera, I forgot to use it, so not a single photo of our sewing day. The room was set up so eight or ten people could sew, with cutting mats at each place and several irons around the room. There were even four sewing machines available if anyone needed to use one. She was incredibly accommodating, with a refrigerator and coffee maker for our use, as well as menus from all of the local restaurants. She even handed us a remote control for the thermostat and told us to set it however we liked! We didn’t make use of it quite as soon as we should have, as the further you moved into the room, the warmer it was. That was our own fault, though (plus I tend to be warm wherever I am). All in all, I’d love to use the Tea & Textiles sewing room again, especially considering that she did not charge us a fee for the use of the room.

Blog Makeover

I was getting tired of the appearance of my blog, especially the way it cropped photos on the right side, so I’m doing some re-vamping. Okay, so it probably isn’t a good idea to be doing it NOW, at 12:30 a.m., when I have to be up and alert tomorrow. However, we’re getting a slightly later start to the Milwaukee-Madison Modern Quilt Guild sewing day than we had originally planned (we being Jeanne from Grey Cat Quilts and I), so I can sleep a little longer in the morning.

I changed the theme (and the header), which required some shuffling of links because this is a 2 column theme and the old one was a 3 column theme. I noticed that there are a LOT of block patterns (and a few quilts) hanging out on the right side, and I decided to create a page of Patterns. I’ll keep more recent links on the side, but I’m going to copy them to the Patterns page as well. The older ones will probably disappear from the main page eventually.

Check it out and let me know if anything looks funny. Remember, it’s 12:30 in the morning – I’m probably missing some important stuff!

Modify Tradition swap mini received

Ohmigosh, I just realized that I forgot to post photos of the wonderful mini I received from Jennifer, who Can Quilt for the Modify Tradition swap!

Modify Tradition Swap received

It’s such a wonderful little quilt, and encompasses everything that Modify Tradition stands for. The very traditional schoolhouse blocks are made from very modern neon pinks and yellows. In fact, when I look at the quilt (it’s on the wall right next to my computer, so I look at it a lot!), it makes me think of highlighters. The yellow almost glows! The turquoise sashing sets the blocks off nicely and the quilting is understated but effective. The binding is absolutely perfect (how does she get those corners?!), and the label is inspired (it’s sewn into the binding – read more at her blog).

MT Swap received label

You know what’s my favorite thing about it, though? The teeny tiny pink square at the center. I don’t know why, but it just makes me smile.

However, BUTTERCUP’s favorite part of the quilt (because I wouldn’t let her sit on it) was the package it came in. She loves boxes, and when I held open the envelope, she tried to crawl in, so I sliced open the bottom and put it over her. She settled in, quite satisfied with herself for being inside a “box.”

Buttercup mail 4

Buttercup mail 3

Buttercup mail 1

Buttercup mail 2

If at first you don’t succeed

Block 12 was a challenge for me, because the handle was pieced in a way that can be tricky. My mom did a quilt that had similar piecing and she fought with it for days before deciding it was “good enough.” This from a woman who has been known to pick out quilting stitches for three HOURS because the back was a little loopy. I finally settled on paper piecing it because I knew that it would be accurate and relatively straightforward.

However, not everyone has experience with paper (or foundation) piecing. I encouraged people to download the tutorial I had posted, but it isn’t a technique that is easy to learn “hands off.” (In fact, on Saturday Jeanne of Grey Cat Quilts and I are co-teaching the technique at our Milwaukee-Madison Modern Quilt Guilt meeting.)

I’ve been eagerly following Nancy, Near Philadelphia as she creates block after basket block using my patterns as well as several others. She’s doing a beautiful caramel and indigo (I like just saying those words!) basket quilt. Unfortunately, she’s never foundation pieced before and this pattern stumped her. She sent me a very nice email explaining why I wouldn’t be seeing her version of block 12, and I… well, I took it as a challenge. There had to be a way to piece this painlessly! The problem was figuring out exactly where to “line up” the triangles. The 1/4″ seam allowance is a little strange when lining up two triangles in different directions. About five minutes later, it occurred to me that if I just DREW the seam lines, the problem would disappear.

So I did! I made a test handle, photographing the steps along the way, and I put together a PDF with alternate piecing instructions for just the handles. You can download the PDF here if you prefer not to paper piece.

Thank you, Nancy, for making me think about this just a little bit more!