Piece O’Cake Amish-Inspired Quilts

I often look through the Piece O’Cake books at stores, sigh and don’t buy them. I love Love LOVE the photos, the authors’ designs and the layout of the books. I would love it if they just wrote a book with photos of all of their quilts in it. I don’t like the patterns. I don’t need or want to make the exact quilts that they have made. My dear friend, JulieZS, author of High Fiber Content, gave me Piece O’Cake’s book Amish-Inspired Quilts: Tradition with a Piece O’Cake Twist.

Every now and then, lately, I have had a few minutes to sit and read, so I have started to read it. Normally I don’t do this with quilt books. I look at the pictures and that’s it, under the assumption that all the text is basic and repeats from other books. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised when I started to read Amish-Inspired Quilts. First off, I liked the way Becky talked about her sons in the dedication, but mostly I liked the way they talked about using using solid fabrics.

I used to use a lot of solids. I liked the simplicity and the depth they created in quilts. They can be a bit harder to use if something doesn’t make them stand out. I have gotten away from using solids as I have progressed in my quiltmaking.

The authors say in the first section on color “These quilts feel bold. They often feel contemporary, which is a testament to their classic beauty. The design of the quilt itself is very important when working with solids. Solid fabric has no pattern–the visual texture is smooth. The riot of color that comes with prints, plaids, and stripes is not there. When you use only solid fabric in a quilt, each shape is clearly defined. The structure of the pattern is for all to see.”

I had a strong reaction to the above statement when I read it, because when I used solid fabrics, I was trying to take out some of the many variables of quiltmaking, so I could understand it. As my skills improved, I got away from the simplicity. Perhaps, lately, I have been trying to regain some simplicity by using simple patterns. Consider Thoughts on Dots.

From squares only, I have made it back to triangles with Serendipity Puzzle, but now I wonder if I didn’t go far enough into simplicity. Should I have tried squares and solids? We’ll see. It is never too late.

Life in Quiltmaking HELL!

All I have been dreaming about today is See’s candy. I had it for lunch and it didn’t make me feel better.

I got inspired by the QA challenge, “Creative Art Quilt Reader Challenge: “What’s in a Name?”, discussed in a recent issue. My idea fits perfectly into my Women’s Work series. The entry is due on March 1 (or thereabouts). I wanted to finish this project by the end of vacation. I have a scanner, so I thought it would be manageable. I’ll add a little techno-quilting wizardry, and some embellishments to the mix, send the thing off and be done with the project. Famous last words.

I scanned some Michael Miller fabric that I wanted to use (and can’t find more of IRL). When scanning it, I can see the weave and the images aren’t sharp. You can see how it looks at: http://home.netcom.com/~jlapac/WomensWorkFabric6.jpg.

I tried to sharpen it in Paint Shop Pro. No change. I copied it on to paper and then scanned it, but the same problem occurred. I am out of ideas on how to do this except for not using this fabric and trying to scrounge up some copyright free stove and household images somewhere else on the web.

I have asked some of my smarter friends, but if you have any ideas for how to fix this image (or rescanning tips) or web places for copyright free images, let me know in the comments. Your assistance would be appreciated.

To console my tattered quilting pride, I have been sewing on and off all day and am making some progress on Serendipity Puzzle.


I am at a point where I need to cut a few more of the colored triangles and a bit more of the background. I am waiting until I cut a bit more lavender, some of the yellow stripe and, perhaps, some more of the brown before I sew the remaining blocks together. I want to be able to rearrange the elements within the blocks before I sew them.

The progress that I made is some kind of miracle considering the way my sewing space looks. My sewing space is small in the best of circumstances (cutting area is about 2.5’x2.5′).

It has been full of boxes for 7 months due to the neverending construction going on downstairs. This is not ideal for sewing, but manageable. This week DH decided to redo his closet. Now my sewing space looks like this:


I am glad I have a space to sew, though.

As the UFOs Turn

As you can see from my previous blog posts, I have been sewing and making progress. Still, these seem to be new projects, so I thought I would inventory my UFOs and see what I was facing. One year (1996, I think) I buckled down and worked only on UFOs and finished 9 quilts. That was a record. Most, if not all, were already started and I didn’t quilt them all, but causing them to be quilted counts for something in my book.

This list in no way implies that I will discontinue starting new projects or finish any of these.

Here is my list of UFOs. You can see many of them over at Artquiltmaker.com.

  • Bullseye: finally found directions for doing the border the way I want it. Just need to do it
  • Garden from Pamela Allen class
  • He Tried to Make it Up to Her: needs back and to be quilted. St. JCN has to dig it out.
  • Her Eyes were Bigger than Her Stomach: needs a back and to be quilted. Very active quilt; probably not my best design, but a mile marker in the quiltmaking journey.
  • Kissy Fish: ongoing hand beading project
  • Leaf quilt: needs something that I don’t have; candidate for abandonment; sad, though, because it is a friendship quilt
  • Nosegay: top complete
  • Pointillist Palette 4: Night
  • QA Challenge Quilt: need to fuse the parts and rubber stamp the words.
  • See: started in a David Walker class. Needs fusing, stitching on of fused pieces and quilting
  • Self Portrait from Pamela Allen class
  • Serendipity Puzzle: on the design wall now. Five more blocks to piece.
  • Sharon’s quilt: blocks must be sewn together. After Serendipity Puzzle I will finish it. I don’t want a wedding quilt to be hanging around when a baby is due
  • Solid Star Friendship Quilt: need more friends so they can make stars for me in solids with black
  • Spiderweb: foundation pieced project, still piecing. Need to create the templates for the border blocks
  • The Tarts Come to Tea: need inspiration. Improvisational quilts are not the same experience when you do them alone
  • Thoughts on Dots: top complete
  • Women’s Work 2: needs focus.

Just for fun, here are the quilts on my mind. In some cases I have purchased fabric, but no sewing has been done, so they are not yet UFOs.

  • Denyse Schmidt Chocolate Boxes: see the post from August 11, 2006 to see the fabrics I will use.

This a pattern that can be purchased from Quiltworks Northwest.

  • San Mateo County Fair Dot quilt
  • Paper pieced Nativity scene: I downloaded this pattern when it was free a few years ago and have never gotten up the energy to be as organized as I need to be to make this, but I still want to make it. You can find the pattern at Paper Panache.com
  • Interlocking triangles #4: love the techniques and have at least one, if not two, idea[s] for more
  • Dot quilt with inset circles a la Ruth McDowell: more uses for dots and a good exercise in piecing
  • Feathered Star dot quilt from Summer issue of Quilts & More: more use for dots
  • Cross quilt: totally scrappy except for middle and background. I would also like this to be a handwork project that I can carry along with me.
  • Some kind of pink quilt with all the pink fabric I have been buying
  • Colorblocks 3: I want to use this pattern from Sandy Bonsib, but have silk fabric with a lucious sheen instead of the regular cottons. Background will be cotton sateen.
  • I Spy quilt for DS: hexagons and many of the triangles are cut. I just have to start piecing them. St. JCN comes to the rescue as she cut a zillion of the pieces.
  • Garden Quilt: I have been collecting photos and patterns of interesting flowers for years and have always wanted to make some kind of garden or flower quilt.
  • Jack’s Chain: I saw a quilt of this pattern years and years ago and have always wanted to make one.

The Best Quilts of 2006 According to Me

I went to the following quilt shows this year:

APNQ, Seattle, August 2006
EBHQ, Oakland, March 2006
PIQF, Santa Clara, October 2006
San Mateo County Fair, San Mateo, August 2006

Not enough, obviously, but they provided plenty of fabulous inspiration. People are still really pushing their machines to the limit.

St. JCN suggested that I put up pictures of the quilts I liked best from these shows and I think it is a good idea.

Rules:
1. My opinion is the only one that counts on this blog. You are welcome to post your opinion in the comments.
2. I did not visit every quilt show in the world, so these are the best quilts that I saw.
3. I did not take pictures of quilts that were not interesting to me, so these are the best of the quilts that I photographed.
4. If one of these is your quilt, I will be THRILLED to post your name, and, possibly, a link to your site or blog (at my discretion).
5. I probably would have picked different quilts if I had chosen them right after I saw the shows. As it is, I am at the whim of colors from a camera and the computer.
6. Subject to change at any time.

APNQ

Yes, this is made from a Piece O’Cake pattern. I don’t care, I love the pattern and the rendition this quiltmaker created is wonderful.

Here is a detail of the border, which I also love, because it reminds me of Mary Engelbreit designs.
Don’t you just love the dot flowers? Great use of fabrics as well.


Best use of puffy paint I have EVER seen. The fabrics are fantastic and used well also (look at this quilt with your head tilted to the left)

I like this one, because it is different. I could do without the brown, but I love the blocks. The person who made this made an effort and made a quilt that is different.
I am a sucker for Pineapples and this is an excellent use of the Pineapple pattern. It looks like some of the silks that I have.
This was part of the Beverly Dunivent special exhibit. I bought this pattern (reprinted by her) a few years ago after seeing it (and her) on Simply Quilts. I love this quilt. I don’t know if I will ever make it, but I love it. (look at this quilt with your head tilted to the left)

EBHQ

One thing I like about the EBHQ show is the way the members use clean lines and simple shapes in their piecing patterns wih interesting fabrics to make enaging quilts. It was very hard to choose the ‘best.’

I love basket quilts. I am pretty sure this quilt is by Mary Mashuta and she is a genius with stripes. the quilt does have that sweet look she uses so often. I guess it is the soft/pastelly colors.

This reminds me of IT3: Spiky Stars.

I think of Christmas applies when I see this. I like the scarlet used with the lime/icky green. I also like the fact that the quiltmaker added some oranges and pinks into the quilt to add interest. I would like to see how this color scheme worked with different patterns.

The blocks are very sharp. I also like the use of color. It reminds me of Colorblocks 2.

Fun and cheerful. May be a Freddy Moran or it may just be by someone who took her class or read her book. This is a fun link as well to Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran quilts.

Whimisical and I like the shapes of the various flowers. Great use of color and fabric.

Excellent repetition.
Icky colors, but fantastic quilting. See the detail below.

I like the individual blocks more than the overall quilt, but I do like the color scheme, because it is restful.

The blocks just suck me right in.


The triangles come across as really interesting shapes here. Reminds me of earthquakes as well.

PIQF
Each basket had a different flower in it. I believe that this one was done completely by hand. The attention to detail was wonderful.

An old Piece O’ cake pattern that I love. The signs on the houses and buildings were done in Spanish.

Fantastic water effect.

Wonderful colors and details.

I love Mariner’s compasses.

I also saw this at the San Mateo County Fair. I love the use of black and white.

Wonderful star pattern.

I am not one much for garments, but this piece is wonderfully funny. I am really glad it won a prize. So often, judges have no sense of humor.

I like the way the stars overlap and contain little surprises in the center. I would love to see this done in brights and black.

Ronda K. Beyer, It Ain’t Easy Being Green: Love the colors; the quilting was fantastic. It won one of the prizes.

I love the wheel patterns. Again, kind of muddy colors, however.

San Mateo County Fair

The San Mateo County Fair’s quilts seem to be populated in large part by the Peninsula Quilters Guild. The piecing, in large part, is wonderful and there are a lot of quilts that display excellent piecing skills as well as a good use of color.
This is probably my favorite quilt of the year. The pattern is simple, yet complex. It really is a good use of dotted prints. The variety of fabrics and the way it is not easy to tell how the pattern was put together makes for a quilt. I couldn’t stop looking at.


Detail of the above.

Again, nice repetition.

Laume and the Gift Bag Redux

Laume, one of my five readers, she of Beach Treasure Blog, wrote in the comment box:

This whole gift bag thing – I’m on the fence with it. On the plus side, the gift bags in the photos are so adorable I want won for ME! On the negative, even though it takes an insane amount of time, I do like so many things about wrapping paper. I like wrapping gifts. I get bored with the same paper year after year though, so wouldn’t fabric bags be even worse! But they would be traditional and I tend to get attached to all things traditional.
For a number of years I’ve had an insane amount of wrapping paper and ribbons and things-you-can-stick-on-packages to use up. Some I bought during my years of being addicted to after holiday shopping binges, some from my mom who gave me all her shopping binge excess when she moved. I’ve made a commitment to use it all up as best I can. I’m really excited because I’m almost completely out of wrapping paper this year and I don’t want to buy any new so I can start fresh with any idea or theme I want next year. I have whittled my box of ribbons and stuff down to half a box, still have lots of that. And don’t even ask me about my entire BOX of boxes of Yule cards – sigh. I might start giving those to my kids.
It does occur to me though that I’m always at a loss for the proper sized boxes for small items. Maybe making up some of this gift bags for smaller items would be a good thing.
What do you do if it’s a fragile item? Put it in a box and then in a bag?

Oh,and P.S. – because I obviously didn’t write enough in my first comment! – I also love the way the wrapping paper entertains my cats. They love “helping” me wrap. They love sitting and leaping from the piles of wrapped packages. They treat them like perches. I suspect that gift BAGS would be treated more like cat beds and would be all fuzzy and cat hair decorated by the time I handed them to their recipients. But most fun of all, I love how the orgy of unwrapping creates an entire room awash in boxes and paper and ribbons and my cats dive and swim and tunney in the great big sea of paper. I believe my cats wait in anticipation ALL YEAR for that one glorious night of wrapping paper bliss.

The extent of Laume’s comments demand that I write another whole blog post about gift bags. So, I will answer each of Laume’s section in order, unless I don’t feel like it:

1. This whole gift bag thing – I’m on the fence with it. On the plus side, the gift bags in the photos are so adorable I want won for ME! On the negative, even though it takes an insane amount of time, I do like so many things about wrapping paper. I like wrapping gifts. I get bored with the same paper year after year though, so wouldn’t fabric bags be even worse! But they would be traditional and I tend to get attached to all things traditional.

We use mostly gift bags, when they aren’t in storage, but we can’t get away from wrapping paper. Our wrapping paper does tend to last for a long time since we only use it for people we don’t think will get the gift bag thing.

We now have about 10 years worth of bags and I can’t remember all the fabric I used until I see it. My SIL commented that she had wrapped something in a bag I made in 1996. She wasn’t even in the picture then! I love that history aspect.

It is also great to use fabric that you don’t want to cut up, because you get to see it in all of is glory over and over. Also, I have no intention of making a Christmas quilt and there are so many wonderful Christmas fabrics that gift bags are a great excuse to buy cool Christmas fabric. Every year I make new bags to spice up the array of bags and use up more fabrics.

Of course, you can also make gift bags for other holidays and events and use up those large conversationals that you love, but will never use for a quilt.

2. For a number of years I’ve had an insane amount of wrapping paper and ribbons and things-you-can-stick-on-packages to use up. Some I bought during my years of being addicted to after holiday shopping binges, some from my mom who gave me all her shopping binge excess when she moved. I’ve made a commitment to use it all up as best I can. I’m really excited because I’m almost completely out of wrapping paper this year and I don’t want to buy any new so I can start fresh with any idea or theme I want next year. I have whittled my box of ribbons and stuff down to half a box, still have lots of that. And don’t even ask me about my entire BOX of boxes of Yule cards – sigh. I might start giving those to my kids.

Well, I can’t really help you with the boxes and boxes of gift wrapping supplies. I definitely think you should use them up…. or give them away. If you enjoy the gift wrapping process (which I absolutely DO NOT), then go for it. Gift wrap is good for little kids, too (though they do get the hang of opening gift bags soon enough). As I mentioned above, we still use gift paper for some gifts. I think gift bags, aside from the fabric acquisition benefits, are great for recycling and reusing. Very little mess in the house and the recycling bin does not overflow.

We still buy cards every year and send them out. They have nothing to do with gift bags except that I can choose to write nice notes to people in my cards rather than spending 3 or 4 days wrapping.

3. It does occur to me though that I’m always at a loss for the proper sized boxes for small items. Maybe making up some of this gift bags for smaller items would be a good thing.
What do you do if it’s a fragile item? Put it in a box and then in a bag?

Yes, boxes are good for small or fragile items and we do put them in the box and then into the gift bag. you can wrap fragile items in bubble wrap (or those pillow things that come from Amazon work, too) before they go in the gift bag. I have also been known to wrap fragile or small items in small gift bags and put them in a larger gift bag especially if they are a group. This is sort of an alternative to the whole gift basket idea.

One of the great things about gift bags is that the present can be any shape. I, once, made a special bag for a weed whacker! Large things take a lot of fabric, but make it easy to wrap as well. Just stuff the thing into the bag. It does take a little extra time to make those special gift bags.

4. Oh,and P.S. – because I obviously didn’t write enough in my first comment! – I also love the way the wrapping paper entertains my cats. They love “helping” me wrap. They love sitting and leaping from the piles of wrapped packages. They treat them like perches. I suspect that gift BAGS would be treated more like cat beds and would be all fuzzy and cat hair decorated by the time I handed them to their recipients. But most fun of all, I love how the orgy of unwrapping creates an entire room awash in boxes and paper and ribbons and my cats dive and swim and tunney in the great big sea of paper. I believe my cats wait in anticipation ALL YEAR for that one glorious night of wrapping paper bliss.

Make your comments long, if you want! I love it!

I am happy for your cats and their joy of the holiday season. We have no cats, so they don’t factor into the equation. We have Sparky the visiting fish and he is fine with the gift bags.

Just incorporate some bags into your traditions. You don’t have to convert all at once. It will get your into your sewing room during the holidays, which will lower your stress level and be a fast and satisfying project. You will also get lots of comments around the Christmas tree. They look so pretty under the tree.

Go forth and make gift bags!

Serendipity Puzzle Moves Forward

While I haven’t done a lot on Serendipity Puzzle, I have made a little progress. I cut a bunch of patches and then started creating the Flying Geese elements. I wanted to have enough to be able to move the elements around and have some choices for color.

The other day, I rearranged some of the elements to start some of the other blocks that I need.

I happened to slap the above patches up on the design wall and found that I really liked the color combination. Something about the progression from red to the green stripe appeals to me. I want to figure out a way to keep them near each other in a block

The good news is that I found out why the yellow pieces were causing me some problems. In the above photo, you can see (on the left) that the yellow point is really sticking out. It was quite a puzzle (no pun intended), but St. JCN helped me figure out that I had cut the squares too large. I switched rulers mid stream and was stuck on the cutting that I did for Thoughts on Dots and cut the same size (6.50″) for the yellow patch rather than the 6.25″ it should have been.

The offensive patch is still in the piece, but not for long. I will unsew it soon. I tossed the other too large triangles into the scrap basket, I can’t accidentally grab them. They will become something else someday.

Updated Blogroll

In case you hadn’t noticed, December and July seem to be bad months for blogging for me. Don’t give up! This, too, shall pass. Like everyone else I am busy, though trying to be relaxed about the whole holiday thing. The cards are done, except for a few “problems” and one where the card and address are never in the same place at the same time. We’ll get there. Presents, pies, TTSP!

Blogger seems to be bleeding quiltmakers. Both Deirdre and DebR of the famous Red Shoe Rambling have defected to other blog services. In any case, I have set up an account on WordPress as well, but haven’t moved everything there yet. Darn! Not a trendsetter this time. Stay tuned.