More lotto blocks

So the lotto block for our March Modern Quilt Guild meeting was the Tic-Tac-Toe block. I posted a picture earlier of my sample blocks:

I was so thrilled to see the completed blocks at the meeting last week! They looked gorgeous.

Don’t you love the oranges and pinks? I think they look fabulous. Such a cheerful collection of blocks. The guild member who won them, Celeste, seemed genuinely thrilled to be taking them home. I hope she will bring back the finished piece to show at a future meeting.

Trying to keep things interested, I challenged everyone to try some improv curved piecing for our next lotto block. Here are my samples.

Can’t wait to see what we get for our April block collection.

The nice thing about doing the block lottos, I think, is that it is an opportunity to try a new pattern or technique without making a big commitment. If you make a block or two and don’t like doing it, then you can stop. If you decide that you like the blocks, however, you might feel motivated to make a whole bunch and create your own quilt.I hope others are seeing it that way, too, and will be motivated to try all the blocks.

This certainly fits with my plan to keep challenging myself to try new things in 2017!


Rockin’ the blocks

Yes, I have made progress on my Balinese quilt, but I’m not posting about that today. Instead, I’m going to show a few pictures of individual blocks I’ve made/worked on lately.

So, last year I joined a modern guild in my area. I love it! It’s a small group, so hands-on activities are a little easier to manage. In the months before I joined, the group decided to do a round robin, where everyone started with a block they had made themselves and a tin of fabric — then the tins were circulated through the group, so each month members added a new block to a different tin. It looked like so much fun, I wish I had joined a little earlier so I could have had a chance to join in.

At our December meeting, the participants had their big reveal. Some really cool projects came out of those tins! But due to some mix up, one quilter got fewer blocks than expected. I think her tin was misplaced. However, since then, another participant and I both offered to make her an extra block, so now she should have a full return. Her theme was “Wonky Log Cabin” in black, grey, red fabrics. Here’s the block I made for her:

travelling quilt block

Now, a wonky log cabin usually means that the “logs” are uneven, cut on angles, etc. I didn’t do that. I hope she doesn’t mind! I’ve got this thing about using little pieces, so I made my block wonky by doing some improv piecing in the logs. I thought it would make the block unique – and hopefully in a good way. Oh well, if she hates it, she can always use it on the back!

I also noticed that there was one very small block already made in the tin. I decided to add to it, whilst it was in my possession – because the rules say that you can add to other blocks if you want to! So here’s that block:

block I added to.jpg

Originally, it was the red centre, with the grey and white fabrics around it. I added the red/white, and black/grey rounds. This one is a more typical wonky log cabin. I let her know that I was finished with her tin, and she is stopping by this afternoon to pick it up – fingers crossed that my additions are good surprises for her!

Now, in the modern guild, the one requirement is that every person participates actively in the guild. That has turned out to be no problem from me, because I’m the sort of person who has a hard time sitting on my hands when I get an idea or see something that could be done. One thing I noticed, in looking at other websites, was that other modern guilds often do block lotteries – so I decided to organize one in our guild.

The February meeting was our first opportunity for a block lotto. I sent out the pattern in advance (Wonky Star), and anyone who wanted to participate made one (or more) blocks. Each block entered in the lotto translated into one ballet, so if a participant made 5 blocks, she got five ballots. Here’s a picture of most of the stars for that lotto (I took another, final photo of all the stars, but it turned out blurry).

Feb 2017 block lottery.jpgMy two stars are in the second column from the right, the second and third stars from the top – one has a green centre, the other has green tips. I think it was a pretty cool collection. I didn’t win – truthfully, I didn’t even put in a ballot for myself. I didn’t think it would be fun for others if I, the organizer, won the first lottery! I may enter in future, though.

I’ve already tested the pattern for the March block lotto. It was suggested by another guild member, and the pattern is called Tic Tac Toe.

Mar 2017 lotto block - tic tac toe.jpg

What do you think of the orange and pink? I thought it was really fun and funky, and cheerful for this dreary time of year. Unlike the wonky star, this pattern requires exact piecing: but I think it looks really cool, especially once you start putting blocks together.

Now, my idea is to keep trying different things – new techniques, different colour combos, etc. We’ve had two blocks in a row with solid white backgrounds, so now I’ll be trying to mix it up with something different. I hope others keep participating, because I can imagine having a lot of fun with this! Let’s see what I can come up with for April’s lotto…

Seeing stars

You may remember that I finished piecing my scrappy diamonds some time ago. My next step was to turn the diamonds into 8-point stars. But I dragged my feet about it, because I was afraid it would be difficult to piece them. Turns out – not!

I took the scrappy diamonds to my sewing group last Wednesday, knowing that if they were the only thing I took, I’d be forced to work on them. (Another woman from the group apparently makes a habit of bringing projects she hates, for the same reason.) I brought along the diamond template, which has holes for marking the “start” and “stop” points. Very convenient! So glad I splurged and bought the template.

scrappy star.jpgSo it went like this. I pressed 8 diamonds nice and flat, with all seams going the same way. I laid them out in a star, the way I liked them. Then, working in pairs, I lay one diamond on top of the other, marked the start and stop points, carefully stitched from the tip (start) to the side (stop), then finger-pressed the seam to the left. When I had four pairs sewn, I kept going, putting one pair on top of the other, marking the start/stop on the rightmost pair, and stitching. Then I had two halves: I sewed from the middle to the outside on both sides, and opened the star, pressing that middle seam nice and flat. Wow! It worked!

Trail MixThe only thing is, I find I really don’t want to make the Edyta Sitar pattern anymore. The original Trail Mix looks so busy – and those blocks with diamonds around a big square look so clunky!

As you can see, in her pattern, the 8 point point stars are only in the four corners – I did contemplate replacing her quilt middle (9 chunky blocks) with 25 8-point stars. Another student from the online class had done that, and it looked WAY better. But still very traditional. And kind of boxy.

another quilt 2

Here’s a picture of the student’s version, and yes, I greatly prefer it to the original Trail Mix. But in setting the stars that way, you end up with these white boxes of fabric between the stars, which I don’t love. My eyes seem to super-focus on the white spaces. But what’s the alternative?

My friend Karen suggested leaving every other space “blank”, and perhaps quilting in the outline of a star. That’s an idea.


I started laying the stars out on my design wall, to consider this possibility. Also, if I dropped the border and ran the stars right to the edge – perhaps even have some half-stars at the edges  – it might look more modern. Certainly less cluttered, freer. What do you think? I’m liking it.

I already have triangles cut and pieced for the original Trail Mix border, but they could go on another quilt. Or on the back. I will have to take some measurements, draw some sketches, and see what I can come up with.