Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Still here . . . .

My spontaneous one-week hiatus from Through Rose-colored Trifocals turned into three weeks?  Not sure how that happened?  Too busy stitching?  Too busy birding?  Perhaps.

I have been stitching steadily -- if you watch me on Instagram (@hueymary), you've seen some hexie machine piecing, a few bindings, a bit of birding, and some progress on some ancient UFO's.

Last August, you saw this lovely blue and yellow quilt as I shared how I layer quilts on a table -- you can read that complete post HERE
 Then it sat for several months until I started to quilt it in January.  I thought I would finish it in January once I settled on a simple "maze" for the wonky log cabin style blocks, then while when considering a design for the setting triangles, I stalled out.
Feathers were the original idea but in the end, I settled into a more comfortable design that I'm confident about being able to execute -- a whimsical flower with simple leaves and tendrils.  Surely I'll finish it in February!?!
After another long pause and sketching out several border design ideas, I decided on a simple Greek key style border which echos the "mazes" in the central blocks.
It took a few days of experimenting on graph paper to figure out the path and find the right proportions.
I was thrilled with the strategy I developed and so I'm going to share it in a progression of pictures that I hope will inspire you.  
After drawing two of the "key" motifs onto the border with a Clover Chaco Liner, I stumbled into a way to add some painter's tape "lines" to my Fine Line tool enabling me to bypass most of the marking.
The long tape line (horizontal in this picture) will dictate the space between the lines of the repeat and the short vertical pieces indicate the length of the longest line within each repeat.
A complete repeat is a square unit in my design and sits centered from side to side on the border.
Follow along as I stitch one repeat.
The tape running parallel to the edge of the tool is lined up on the seamline between the narrow yellow border and the outer blue border.
This motif begins at the horizontal tape mark . . . .  
. . . . and stops at the edge of the last horizontal tape mark. 
I rotated the Fine Line tool 90 degrees and stitched to the right . . . .  
. . . . stopping at the right edge of the left hand piece of tape in the photo below. 
Then I moved the tool and used two of the lines inscribed on the tool to measure the distance of the third line which was stitched away from myself. 
This is the end of that line . . . . .  
. . . . and now I stitch left 1/3 of the way across the open space.  I have moved the tool out of the way in this picture so you can see where I'm going.  The interesting thing I noticed after stitching several of the motifs is that I have the visual ability to judge 1/3 of that distance pretty accurately.
Now I shifted the tool into a vertical position and stitch towards myself 1/2 of the distance to the opposite line -- again, I have the visual ability to "eyeball" that distance without actually measuring it!
Rotate again and stitch left stopping at the halfway point. 
Now stitch away from myself (slightly different camera angle). 
 I missed one picture here, but the route is to stitch to the right until I reached the right side limit of the previous motif.
To get to the next motif, I again used the tape marks to maintain a consistent distance down the right side of the border. 
Here's the stop point for that line.  Rotate the tool to the horizontal and stitch left until I arrive back at the left side of the design.  
Here I am back at the beginning of a motif -- repeat, repeat, repeat.
The key was to set up the pattern on graph paper and draw through it to find the easiest sequence.  Using the tape to set up the repeatable distances eliminated most of the marking so the stitching went smoothly and it only took two work sessions to complete the borders.

Realizing that I'm able to visually judge 1/3 or 1/2 of any space saved time and energy because I didn't need to draw out each line of the design.  I'm sure if you took a ruler to my motifs, there are some spacing irregularities within each key, but as long as the lines are straight and the outer edges consistent, the brain sees my complete design as being just fine.  
Then there is the organic appeal of the slight and largely unnoticeable imperfections.
Ready to bind (finally)!!
Of course, there was none of that beautiful blue batik left for a binding and "matching" blues is always a challenge so to maintain momentum on this 13 year old project, I went with a yellow binding!!  Machine stitched on both sides.
Here's the finished quilt ready to be washed and brighten up my living room as spring begins! 
This finish puts me under the 90 UFO's mark for certain and there are three more ancient UFO's in the mill -- two are layered for machine quilting and a third just moved from "still appliqueing" to "ready to make a backing"!!  
Progress is good!!

While today is the first official day of spring, judging from the ice we found along the shore line of Lake Erie on today's birding adventure, we aren't done with winter.
Still time to stitch, stitch, stitch before the garden begins to lure me outside!
Enjoy the changing seasons!!


  1. That picture looks like a future quilt that should hang next to your "lichen quilt." Margaret

  2. Thank you for demonstrating how a straight ruler can be used to reduce marking. I'm beginning to appreciate the dozen quilting rulers I bought (secondhand) last year, and have rarely used. I've enjoyed the great bird photos on IG!

  3. Hi Mary,
    I love seeing all these details about your stitching with rulers process! I am thinking you were able to move between each square in one continuous motion. So cool!! Thank you for sharing this. ~smile~ Roseanne

  4. I think the yellow binding is more fun that a matching blue anyway. :)
    Our first day of autumn was almost 100F. I suspect that seasons are a bit like babies – they arrive when they are ready and not to a fixed schedule.