This is one Mean Old Lady!

This is one Mean Old Lady!
Self-portrait: 'Quilter on Fire'

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Fixing a Block that is just a wee bit off.....

I have just finished a 10.5" block (to finish at 10" once it's joined in a quilt.)'s a little off.
Sorry about the glare!  but as you can see, it's about 1/8th inch off where the dark green print is under the ruler.  That inaccuracy will be hidden in the seam allowance, but I like a clean edge when I am joining blocks, or else distortion can build in.
Here is the fix I've come up with for these little glitches:

You will need a piece of freezer paper and your 'paper scissors,' because I *know* you would not cut paper with your fabric scissors, right?  Cut a strip or two the length of the block and about 3/4" wide.  It need not be neat.

Put the block face down on the ironing board and lay the freezer paper strip along the edge, overlapping the edge but covering the area where you have come up short.  Press it.  You can see that I had two places where the measurement was slight shy.
Peel the whole shebang up and go to your cutting board.  

Put the ruler over your block and square it up, freezer paper and all; then cut away the excess.  You have now created a clean edge and have an accurate block.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Bowtie Block

The National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY, has posted a FaceBook BOM and invited quilters (from all over the world) to join.  (For the uninitiated, BOM is Block of the Month.)
The first block, designed by "Mr. Domestic" was an old favorite, the BOWTIE.

Mr. Boudreaux designed several blocks using the bowtie design, but his method was English Paper Piecing.  First, this is a very simple block to make in the usual way (cut, stitch, press, voila!)  Secondly, since the final quilt is going to be a sampler (using many methods and possibly a variety of fabrics/colors, the EPP block is not going to join easily.  Thirdly, Mr. Domestic suggests using glue to stick the fabric pieces to the paper shapes--something I would never do.  (My latest quilt, "Big Bang Theory" was created with EPP, and glue would have been very problematic had I used it.)  

A lot of newer quilters (and those of us with arthritis) are joining the Group, so I am posting my approach to making the block (and having it come out the right size.)  I am altering the suggested colors and design as well.  (This will be superfluous for experienced quilters, so feel free to breeze on past!)  I'm going into a lot of detail, not to insult anyone's intelligence or experience, but because there are multiple places where one can go wrong and come out with a disappointing result.....and you can guess how I know this....)

 Precision in measuring and cutting is essential.  Large squares are 3" (for 2.5" finished size) and the small squares are 1.5" (to finish at 1", in theory....but we are going to use only part of these smaller cuts.)  For each block, you will need one 3" square  of background fabric and one 3" print fabric square, plus two 1.5" print squares.  

A line is drawn diagonally from corner to corner on the wrong side of the small print square, which is then placed right sides together on one corner of the large background square.  I used a FriXion pen, medium point,  in a color that shows up well; the marks will disappear when I press the pieces.

And YES, you will want to pin so that handling the pieces and the action of the machine will not distort or displace them.  Go to the machine and stitch  not ON, but *just outside* the line, (i.e., the corner side) using fine thread in your machine and bobbin.  When you turn the triangle flap up, the thread and the fold take up some space, and you want to maintain the size of the 3" square.

Gently PRESS, check, and then if all is well, cut away the excess.  These tiny pieces are pretty much waste, but this method helps with precision and is easier than cutting and handling so many tiny pieces.  Some quilters call this 'the snowball method.'

 You will be doing this twice to create one bowtie unit.
Here is the right side of the piece you just created.  It will now be paired with a large print square.  

I like to pin.  The more precision you build into the process, the better your blocks will be.  I do not always use my walking foot for piecing, because I have a 'regular' quarter inch foot for my machine, but I thought I would see if it made any difference for me.  (Some people swear by it.)

 I am making multiple units, so I am feeding a batch through the machine.  I have altered the needle position so that I will get a "scant quarter inch" seam.  

First I joined the pairs, and then I put two pairs together to complete the bowtie unit.  Because the BOM calls for 10" blocks, I will need four units for the block.  

And here it is, pressed and checked for accuracy.  Each unit is 5.5" because we must allow for the quarter-inch seams.  I'll join four of these units to make one block.
The End.  

Monday, February 5, 2018

    Our horse-loving daughter, Laura, created endless horse pictures, played with model horses, dreamed of someday owning a horse.  That wish came true when she acquired a paint mare named Chloe; unfortunately, skittish Chloe spooked and threw Laura early last month--broken wrist, badly wrenched leg, bruises galore.  During the time she spent with us, recuperating, she and I went through several storage boxes filled with childhood art and schoolwork done by Laura and brother Nathaniel.  

This series of hand-drawn cartoon panels, entitled "Goof-Up," tells a story.....somewhat prescient!  

"How pathetic," the horse thinks, as the happy-go-lucky person approaches.

A thundercloud conveys the horse's mood as the rider stands on the mounting block.

The horse acts!

Emotions are on display!  The hapless rider lands in the stock tank while the horse celebrates.

The End!

Sunday, August 6, 2017


I'm publishing this belatedly--somehow overlooked it, as I haven't been blogging regularly.  That rascally FaceBook gets more than its fair share of attention!

Wes Lacewell and Beth Levi Win 2017 Arkansas Crossword Puzzle and Sudoku Championships

Wes Lacewell of Little Rock, a manager with the Division of Building Authority at the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, won the 10th annual Arkansas State Crossword Puzzle Championship Sunday afternoon at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. It was his third title having won previously in 2008 and 2009.  Beth Levi, a clinical professor at the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law, won the Sudoku competition for the eighth time. She also won in 2015 and 2016.

Retired Judge and Clinton Center volunteer Ellen Brantley was second in the crossword contest. Brantley is a two-time winner and this year marks her fourth time to finish second. Angelo Turturro, who is retired and lives in North Little Rock, was third.

Little Rock ophthalmologist Jim Deer finished second in the Sudoku competition. Robert Crook, senior database administrator with Talisys, a software and solutions firm in Little Rock, was third.

The championships were conducted by Little Rock District Judge Vic Fleming who constructs puzzles for the New York Times and other major publications. Deb Amlen, editor of the Wordplay crossword column in the New York Times, was the featured speaker.

The Clinton School has hosted the competition since its founding in 2007.


My friend Glenn and I have participated in this contest several times, and Glenn has been a first-place winner!  This year's event was part of the Arkansas Literary Festival and took place at Sturgis Hall, part of The Clinton Presidential Library Center.  A big storm the night before had knocked out the power to the building, and a very loud alarm was going off continuously.  The fire department finally got the darned thing turned down to a constant, faint beep beep that continued throughout the contest rounds.  A warm-up activity--matching puzzle quotes to famous names--was won by "The Three Wise Women"--a trio that included Glenn and myself.  I was fourth or fifth place in the crossword line-up, but there were so many puzzle books donated for prizes that I came home with two!  

Yay, puzzles!

"Big Bang Theory"

This is my most recent quilt--entered in the Hot Springs Quilt Show 2017.  

Each entry was required to include a brief description of the quilt, its inspiration, and so forth.  Here is what I wrote:

I began making these English paper-pieced stars more than 12 years ago, as a fairly inexperienced quilter.  (I progressed from hand-traced freezer-paper construction to computer-printed freezer paper to die-cut paper pieces from a commercial vendor; there were some sizing differences....)   For me it was a way to try a new technique and use small amounts of exciting fabrics like batiks.  

My design ideas going into the project were fuzzy "maybes,"  but as time passed ...and passed...our exploratory probes traveled into space to visit distant planets and the Hubble telescope sent amazing images of distant nebuli. I became interested in representing Outer Space in fabric, using my stars to illustrate "The Big Bang Theory."

I went through a number of  possible arrangements.  Then I had to construct all of the (English paper-pieced) background for the stars and come up with a way to join all of this into a quilt top using my machine (or else plan for it to take a century.)  

Can you find the Black Hole and the Star that has 'gone out'?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Quilts for a Grand-Nephew

My baby brother (now 65) has become a grand-dad; that means my older sister and I are now great-aunts!  It is always a thrill when the Younger Generation produces the Next Generation.  As soon as I heard the happy news of great expectations, I inquired of nephew Ben and his lovely wife Amy whether any of her family were quilters (and planning a baby quilt.)  Nope!  So I got the go-ahead to make a quilt using blues!  

I sorted through my blue fabric stash until I had a nice combination; I did add a couple of fabrics during the Hot Springs quilt show, and I found a sailboat print (Moda Fabrics, from the 'Passport' design line.)  The design was in my head long before I started constructing.  This was my first time making 'Lady of the Lake' blocks, and of course it all took me longer than I had hoped....and the baby arrived one jump ahead of completion.  That was fine, though, as I could add his birthdate and stats to the quilt label!

One critique from my quilting circle:  "Elaine, NObody is going to use that quilt for a baby!  Just put a hanging sleeve on it!"
So I made the second quilt.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Recent works

I have been blogging less and quilting more--not least because I need to complete many projects that have languished for too long.  A recent NQA show in Little Rock spurred me on; I entered three pieces--


This is 'Rooster and Plaids,' and I gave up about 50 squares from a quilt I had planned and worked on for more than a year....simply because I pinned the central medallion up on the wall right over the plaid blocks--and loved the look!  
This one is a take-off
on a Gauguin Tahitian landscape....made in response to a challenge ('landscape with a tree and a bird') and quite the learning experience to create.  Took me way longer than I had planned/hoped/expected.

This one might look a little nutty.  Each square was appliqued with a small heart shape over the course of, well, about 12 years of PTA meetings.  The fabrics were from clothes I made daughter Laura, a maternity dress, my first quilt, and God only knows where else.  They didn't 'belong' together, there was no master plan, and I was in despair of ever making them work together.....and then Sharyn Craig came to our guild in Little Rock and opened my eyes!  This setting is called 'Twist and Turn,' and it made the blocks dance and work together.  It's far from a perfect quilt, but it's priceless! 

None of these quilts garnered any recognition, but I hope that people enjoyed seeing them.

My criterion for a successful quilt is this:  does it make me smile? 

These do.

Rose 'Crepuscular'

Asparagus bed--post harvest

Lake Conway Mutti und Kinder