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Butterfly Gardens and Quilt Shops

Back in April, my daughter and I had participated in the annual Quilt Shop Hop. We had dutifully gotten our “passports” stamped at each shop we visited and mailed them off to the coordinator in May. This would allow us to take part in the drawing for various prizes based on the number of shops stamped on our card. Near the beginning of June, I received a letter from the Shop Hop coordinator that I had won one of the third place prizes. The down-side was that I had to go to the shop to pick it up which was a 2 hour ride from our home.

Since the shop just happened to be near Acadia National Park, we decided to make a day of it and found some moderate hiking trails nearby. We would visit the quilt store first (of course) and then head to the trails. I fully expected that when we got to the shop, I would be given a quilting tool or some fabric and we could go on our way, but when I got there I discovered that I could pick out $100 worth of anything in the store! Wow! This was going to take longer than I anticipated. I was like a kid in a candy shop. I circled the store multiple times, while I selected fabric. My husband encouraged me to go over the allotted amount and increase my stash saying that I always bought too little of what I needed. Imagine a spouse encouraging a quilter to buy more fabric! He really is a keeper. When I was done I had a wide piece of red fabric to back my current project, 3 yards of a blue fabric, 3 yards of a green “fossil fern” fabric and 2 cool red, orangey bundles of 10 fat quarters. Mission accomplished.

After we left the shop, we crossed the street towards the Charlotte Rhoades Butterfly Garden. I had been told about this place by a friend who works at one of the campgrounds near Acadia. He mentioned that he and his wife would get coffee and just sit in the garden enjoying the views. The minute we stepped in the garden, I understood why they liked this little gem. The garden was small but I could just imagine the abundance of blooms and butterflies at the height of the summer, not to mention the benches situated with great view of the water.

We wandered around for a few minutes admiring the early Spring blossoms and the sculpture of a rather large caterpillar sitting on a boulder before continuing on towards the trail.

 

Triangles

Except for a very few warm days, May was very wet and cold. So much so, that hiking and other outdoor explorations were pretty much nonexistent. I don’t often plan a quilt during the summer months but with the weather not cooperating, it was the perfect time to plan a new project.

After delivering my last big quilt project to friends during our April trip to Long Island, I decided that another friend was due for a comforter. During our visit she had mentioned changing her domestic colors to more “tropical and sunny” colors to remind her of Florida. So a few weeks ago, I casually tried to discover her color scheme. Unfortunately when asked, she merely stated that her kitchen would be teal. Huh. Well that didn’t work, so I flat out had to tell her that she was next in line for a quilt and what colors would she prefer. I got “oh, how sweet…..” but no colors. After going around a few more times, I finally got blues, teals and yellows. Now I could begin.

Playing with some designs on my quilt design software package I narrowed in on several designs. First I arranged a log cabin pattern with a star in the center but it didn’t grab me. Then I tried a Rosebud block both in a straight set and on point but I wasn’t feeling it that either. Finally, I started playing with various triangle combinations until I came up with a ribbon design. After adding some appropriate colors to the design I was satisfied. The color choices could lend itself to being named, “tropical adventures”, or “sun, sand and sea”. The ribbon design made me think of “friendship twist”, or given our sense of humor, “twisted friendship”.

The finished size of the blocks proved a bit too large to be able to use my collection of fat quarters, so unfortunately I needed to acquire additional fabric. Somehow, I managed to find a variety of fabrics that contained some kind of sea-type pattern that would fit the theme of this quilt. I was now ready for the construction phase of the project.

I thought that there might be some way to cut and create the quarter-square triangle portion of the block, similar to the method used to create half-square triangle blocks but alas that did not happen. I needed all the dark colors to end up on the same side of the block, but no matter what variation of construction I tried the results were always the same; pieces that were mirror images of each other. The only thing I could do was cut the appropriate size square, divide said square into quarter square triangles and create the necessary finished block piece by piece. If anyone knows of a better way to construct a split quarter-square, half-square triangle block I would be happy to hear about it.

Once I had constructed a few blocks I assembled the first two rows. I must say I was pleased with the design and the color scheme.

Designing a Quilt Back

After completing the quilt top for my big project of 2017, I surveyed the remaining fabric and thought it might be really nice if I could take the remnants and design something for the back. I knew I did not have enough for the entire back but I should be able to do something creative before shopping for additional supplies.

I turned towards my EQ7 quilt design software and reviewed my options under the various libraries. Here, I discovered a quilt layout section that included an option for medallion quilts. I selected a churn dash design  and proceeded to play with fabric placement from my leftover stash. There was enough of the floral print to use as one 35 inch square with fabric to spare for the corners.

Unfortunately, no matter how I arranged the remaining fabrics, I did not have enough to complete the process. If I used the brown in the corners, I did not have enough for the border.  Figuring I would use the brown only in the border, I tried putting the pink or the blue in the corners in place of the brown, but that did not leave me enough for the inside strips of those colors. In addition, I did not have enough of the remaining material to make the binding.

As it happened to be April and the Maine quilt shop hop was in progress, my daughter and I decided it would be necessary to go on a road trip in search of border fabric. The brown would be hard to match, so I decided that maybe I could find a green that might compliment the green from the front of the quilt. This would not be a problem since the two greens would be on opposite sides of the quilt. We visited three quilt stores that day and I successfully found a perfect color at one store and a suitable fabric for binding at another shop.

The next day I finished the backing but now I had no place large enough to take a decent photograph. One of the advantages of taking on large projects in the winter is that the snow serves as a nice back drop for these types of photos. While crocuses were in full bloom, coltsfoot flowers were peeking through the earth and the yards in the rest of our neighborhood were devoid of snow during this second weekend of April, our property still had plenty to spare. It was enough for me to get my picture.

The assembly was now done and ready for quilting. I think this one will be the first quilt I send out to a professional longarm quilter. Fortunately, my daughter fits the bill for that.

Design to Construction

After spending time playing around with my EQ7 quilt design software and creating test blocks to determine the accuracy of the software’s cutting measurements, it was time to move on to the construction phase of this year’s big quilt project. I still was uncertain about the amount of fabric required for the border, but I figured I would construct the bulk of the quilt top before tackling the border problem.

I’m not sure if it was the thrill of the quilt design package or the sudden awareness of accurate measurements but I found that I proceeded with extra caution during the construction of the blocks. I needed four different blocks to create this quilt and with each block, I took additional time with measuring before and after cutting. I have found that the more pieces needed to construct a block, the greater the chances of ending up with the finished block being the wrong size, so when I approached the nine patch block, I measured and trimmed during each part of the assembly process. Finally, the blocks were assembled. Miracle of miracles, they all measured within acceptable tolerance of 11.5 inches. Hurrah!

When I laid out the blocks to prepare for the final assembly, I found that something just didn’t feel right about the design. Something seemed a little disjointed with the flow of the pattern. I studied the quilt for a minute before rotating the corner pieces so that the blue fabric made a continuous circular path around the outer edge of my creation. This one little change made the whole thing more aesthetically pleasing. Now it was time for the final assembly.

Once the rows were constructed, I proceeded on to the inner borders. Everything was going according to plan. It was now time to figure out the outer border. I measured the green fabric once more and decided to lower that outer edge by an inch to a final border of 5.5 inches. After cutting the necessary strips to construct the border, I was left with two one inch strips of green fabric. Very close, but still enough to complete the quilt top.

After completing the top, I studied the final product once more. I must say I was very pleased with the results. I surveyed the fabric left over from the construction and decided I would try to do something with the remaining pink, brown, blue and floral pieces for the backing. But that must wait for another posting.

A New Toy

It was that time of year again, when it was time to plan my next big quilt project. With the weekend temperatures in the single digits and very windy, no one was really motivated to set out on a hiking adventure. There was also the fact that a mid-March snowstorm was raging outside with an expected 12 to 18 inches of snow predicted. Of course the storm left us with the hope that we would be able to get in a final snowshoe event after the storm was over, but until the weather improved, it was best to work on a new quilt. This time around, I had a new toy to help me through the design phase.

Watching my attempts at drawing out my ideas on graph paper before ditching that and going on to use a combination of Microsoft Word, Excel and Paint, my husband had an inspiration for my birthday. Unfortunately, it lacked the element of surprise when the postman handed me, not the usual brown Amazon package but a cellophane wrapped box that someone had pulled off the shelf and slapped on a mailing label. I knew that box was my present for it had EQ7 Quilt Design Software printed on it. I texted a thank you to my spouse and promised that I would not tear of the cellophane until he came home.

Once the software was installed, I started playing with designs immediately (after all, every engineer knows that you play with the software first, then read the directions). In addition to being able to create your own blocks, the package included lots of set blocks, from traditional to modern, as well as border and sashing blocks. I selected some blocks and proceeded to remove or add lines to the blocks in order to create new shapes.

One of the best features about this software package, was the ability to scan my own fabrics into the package so that I could actually see the finished product. This feature made me realize that my original idea of using the beige floral print in the outer border just did not work for me. I played around with my other fabric choices and quickly decided that a green border would be best. When showing off my new toy to my daughter, she quickly rotated the pink blocks so that now I had a star in around the center portion of the quilt. That was much better than my haphazard arrangement.

Playing around a little more I noticed that when I set the block size, I could then see the yardage requirements and the cutting sizes for the blocks. What a great feature! But when I told someone I knew about my new software, she told me to be careful of the measurements generated by the program because they could be off. With this in mind, I decided I should make test blocks to test the accuracy of the cutting diagrams. Except for adding an 1/8 of an inch to the triangles, I kept all the other measurements the same and was pleased to find that I ended up with 11.5 inch blocks as planned.

The yardage requirements indicated that I would not have enough of the green for the border. I played with adding cornerstones and center pieces to fudge the green but everything I did still came up with needing a minimum of 2.25 yards of green fabric for the whole quilt and of course I only had 2 yards of the required fabric. For now, I hope that the package is generous with the fabric requirements but I have a feeling that I will need to buy another suitable green fabric for the border. Hmm! Shopping for new fabric is not a bad thing, is it?