Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Snow Day!!

If you visiting from the GROW YOUR BLOG hop, thanks for stopping by for a read!! 

As I headed into my studio early Sunday afternoon, the snow was falling and the neighborhood came alive with the neighbor boys playing in the snow while the men fired up their snowblowers and carried on shouting conversations across the street to one another.
The beginning of February finds me  closing in on a finished quilt top that has been in progress for perhaps 8 years?  I grabbed hold of the 2015 UFO Challenge over at http://www.allpeoplequilt.com/how-to-quilt/finishing/2015-ufo-challenge and my double/queen size version of my pattern, Marie's Scraps was the number drawn for January. 
 I wrote the pattern in the mid-1990's, revising it in 2005.  The inspiration was the quilts of Marie Cermak.  I never met Marie, but after she passed her family donated a pile of her quilts to a local hospice resale shop and one of my students brought them to my attention.  At once, I loved the spontaneity of her quilts!
Forgive the picture quality -- 20 year old pics!   The one above is symmetrical in layout but I guess it was too short and so she added that jumble of squares to make it work!
 I've created a story about Marie that I hope is close to the truth.  She was a prolific quilt maker (I recall the family donated 37 quilts to the shop) during an era, the late 40's through the early 70's, when piecing wasn't very popular, cotton fabric was becoming more difficult to find, and in an area of the country (suburban Cleveland) where quilters were likely far and few between.  Her style was practical and improvisational.  She used everything she could find and all her quilts were very similar -- vertical bands of simple patchwork blocks.  If she used templates to cut her pieces, they must have been cardboard which wore down as the size of the pieces was quite variable even though they were meant to go together.
My first sample of the quilt was made as a display sample for King's Road Imports of California in 1993.  And here it is.  Actually, I made two -- and happily I was able to keep one of them!
There are two aspects of this pattern that have contributed to its' success -- first, it's a great scrap quilt and second, it's a terrific skill builder.  There are lots of pieces to cut and to stitch and the simple repetition of those processes builds skills automatically.
The pattern is written to use with triangle paper or with Marti Michell's basic templates (Set A, or Set B, or Set Q -- depending on the size of the quilt) and the three different sizes are achieved by changing the size of the pieces, so the crib/lap robe size has the same number of pieces as the double/queen. 
I pieced this crib/lap robe size with a completely different fabric palette with a more controlled assortment of cheerful prints and white with black prints.
And so we come to the current version.  It is the scrappiest of the three.  It started life as lots of cutting and stitching demos during quilt shows and workshops.  That meant it came and went, came and went, came and went.  But a couple years ago, I stumbled across a border print which brought everything together and inspired the colors for the vertical sashing strips.
 Marie was pretty casual about joining the patchwork bands together.  I have spent too many years building my piecing skills to be quite so carefree so as I build the bands, I compare the length of them to one another and make slight adjustments as needed so they are all the same length.  It seems no matter how accurate my piecing is, the variety of fabrics and cross grain vs. lengthwise grain makes this necessary.

I use one band to check all the others (remember how garbled up the whispered message gets in the child's game "telephone"?) for more consistent results.  The pieced band on the right in the first picture today was my "guide" band.   You can see that I'm off a bit in the photo below!!  Taking a slighter deeper seam ever so often will adjust the band of flying geese at the top of this photo so it will match the "guide" band.
Once I've added the vertical sashing strips to each band, I use a ruler to mark the edge of the sashing to help me align the bands and sashing as I join them together.  You can see two of them along the upper edge of the periwinkle sashing strip to the left and to the right.  I use a ruler lined up with the seams (along the center of the picture) to do this marking.
Opps!!  I must have forgotten to compare it to the guide band before adding the vertical sashing strip but now that it's on, I'm reluctant to undo it.  So this band will be trimmed off at the end -- a little tribute to Marie who made everything fit together by trimming!
I'm ready to add the final borders this afternoon and make the backing!  This quilt top is going out to be quilted after which I plan to gift it to a local organization to be auctioned at their annual fundraiser this summer. 
Now I can go see which number is up for the month of February over at All People Quilt's challenge.

During the month of February, I'm also participating in the 4x7 Challenge over at http://www.berrybarndesigns.com/ -- I have 3 workshop projects in progress and working 30 minutes everyday is a good goal for me because I know once I sit down at my stitching, I always stay longer.  I don't expect to finish any of them since they will be "step" samples, but they all need to be farther along than they are at this moment!!

Enjoy your stitching today!!
Mary Huey


  1. Your quilt is amazing and I like it so much better than the original. May be the colors but the organization of it pleases my eye more. If you live where people have snow blowers you are probably tired of snow, but I've enjoyed looking at your picture. I actually dreamed it snowed here last night but this year will be a winter without a flake for us I think, nor any ice either.

    1. Thanks, Marti! Actually I'm not tired of the snow -- it's better than looking at brown mud!

  2. Love your quilts. They are what I've always called strippie quilts. Neat story about Marie and her quilts, too. I think your understanding of her quilting life is very likely accurate. How interesting that her family donated her quilts. I do hope they kept some for themselves, too!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Janine -- I hope they kept some of the quilts, too!!

  3. I love these quilts. I love the scrappy make-do look of Marie's original and your takes off of hers in your designs. Just wonderful.

    1. Thanks for visiting and the nice compliment, Cathy!