Ugly fabric challenge, underway…

I've been considering the pile of ugly fabrics and how to make them happy together. These are scraps so, of course, a scrap quilt came to mind. The problem was how to combine them. 

I think the most successful scrap quilts are made from a simple two 'something' combination. One color/value playing against (or with) another color/value. I sometimes use a more complicated system when I am working with fabrics of my own choosing but the ugly fabric challenge is not that. These pieces of fabric are all over the map and they don't really like each other. What to do?

I decided to treat everything ugly as one half of my 'system'. I set them against white. White is clean and clear and lighter than everything else in the pile. Ugly = darker, white = light.

I decided to keep the design simple, using only 2" half square triangles (HSTs). I found a dandy tool for making the triangles and I'll share that with you in a later post.

I decided to try 3 different settings. Initially I placed the HSTs on the wall in three different patterns, paying no attention to the color of the ugly fabrics involved:


UglyHST-02 copy

UglyHST-01 copy

Not perfect (practically awful), but the third set is easier to look at. However, I'd like the finished quilt to be better than 'easy to look at' so I decided to try grouping like colors together…

UglyHST-06 copy

UglyHST-05 copy

UglyHST-04 copy

In all of these settings, adding order to the chaos makes the pattern hold together better. Each one is more pleasing to the eye that it was before. I still prefer the 3rd set and that's how I will proceed. I have a lot of HST to sew together. I think it would be fun to applique circles or yoyos inside the white squares – and if I have time, I might do that.

Some time back Dianne, a faithful reader, asked me to talk more about clear vs. gray colors. This is a good time to do that. If you look at the set above, can you tell what's clear and what's gray? I'll bet you can but just so there's no mistake, the orange in the lower right corner is very clear – and there are other clear colors in the block.

There are some very gray fabrics. The one that sticks out the most to me is the upper right corner HST found in the lower left block, above. It's a purplish-gray-burgundy and it sort of looks like mud. Contrast that with the pink diagonally across from it. Gray vs clear. Something else you might notice is the clear colors come forward in space, gray colors recede or push farther away from you. You can use this in your quilts to imply dimension.

Most of the other fabrics lean either clear or gray in varying degrees. Often the clarity of a color depends on what it is next to. Value, too, is determined by what other values are nearby. Dianne (and anyone else who was curious), I hope that helps!


More clicking…

I do not watch basketball and March Madness makes me yawn. However, this is too good to not share.


You can vote on the daily match-up here. Today I chose Princess Leia over Padme Amidala. Duh.

The Star Wars creators are very good at keeping the story alive. I saw the first movies when they were new. Our boys grew up on the videos and can recite a lot of the dialog (as can Steve and I). And now the grandkids are into Star Wars. Jack especially likes the new, animated stories. The boy is so into Star Wars Legos that buying him something new is hard – he has everything already. Good thing they keep making more. I don't begrudge the money I spend on this stuff – it's good fun!

Clicking around…

Clicking around has got to be more productive than just hanging around, don't you think?

I've spent the last many days at my computer, mostly working. I made two videos, one of which is uploaded. It shows you how to find the center of, and number, an applique pattern that comes to you 'naked'. Our patterns are always numbered, but some are not and I have had students ask me how to deal with it. This video explains it all. You can find it here, at with a link to how to sew a 'wheel' off-the-block that I mention in the video.


I did surf a little as I worked and I ran across this site. (You'll see a link to it in the right column, under It's All About Color, Color Palettes.) Click and a page opens. Move your mouse, colors change. Find a color you like, click. That color is fixed and a new one opens at right. Move your mouse, click, a new color opens. If you like the 'magic' color that appears, click your mouse – don't move it.

How can you use this? Well, it will make you smile and that might be enough. What if you are planning a quilt? You could work out a palette. Take a screenshot of it, preserving the mix of colors that you love. This is also a fun way to choose colors for just about anything. (If you have a mac, you can take a screenshot by hitting command-shift-4. Way cool.)

I also found this site. Beverly Ash Gilbert is not someone I've run across before. She's a beader and she has some great color wheels. I think I need to order them. I especially like the color wheels with the grayer colors because I don't see them that often. If you favor a grayer palette, these wheels could come in very handy. I've added this site to the Color list at right so we can all find her again.

I found more as I clicked around and I'll write about what I found soon. For now, it's nearly dinner time and I must sign off. I love dinner! It's one of the 3 best meals of the day :-).



I must be honest: I've had every iPad ever made. I try to resist but I cannot. My husband and son and grandkids have my older iPads. I am currently the happy owner of the iPad mini and when the new one comes out, I know I will have one. Why? It will be faster and clearer! 

I love being able to carry so much in a tiny package. I love electronic books. My oldest son, Chris (the literature PhD student) does not agree. He's right that there are times when paper trumps electric. This video is a good illustration of that. It's short and funny (not as funny as the goats or the test drive, but still funny) and worth a click.

Le papier ne sera jamais mort / Paper is not dead on ! from INfluencia on Vimeo.

I will acknowledge that some things are better in paper (toilet paper for one). Children's books, art books, magazines I want to cut up… all better in paper. But my current read (Wool) is just fine as an ebook. I bought it from Apple iBooks and darned if I didn't just find out that there are more books! That's a good thing because I know I'm going to want to read more when I finish this one.


What if…

…what if social media as we know it had been around back in the day? Frank Haenen, a Dutch designer, has played around with that idea. Of course, Marilyn would have used an iPhone… and she probably would have tweeted both text and photos.


Queen Elizabeth could have an iPhone… If she does, I wonder how she uses it? Does a queen ever dial anyone up? Or snap photos of the grandkids?


I'm less sure about Karl Marx. Although he might has sent pointed, political/philosophical tweets.


I found the link to these images at Hubblog. You'll find Hubblog in my favorite blogs list at right. Hubblog is not written in English. Did you know that you can go to Google Translate to have a website translated? It's not a perfect translation, but it is decipherable. I don't use Google Translate often, but when I really want to know what the words say, it's handy.

Spring break…

Steve just finished his spring break. We didn't plan to do projects but it is actually spring in north Texas and projects sort of over-took us. I don't remember how the week started – I think I got some sewing done. And I hired Hector and his crew to clean weed and cut back the dead stuff in our yard. Money extremely well-spent. On Thursday the weather turned warm and bright and we decided that we should mulch the newly wonderful yard. 

I finally remembered to take a picture after two pickup loads when we moved to the new pile. Before…




It took about 5 hours, 8 loads of mulch more or less. We lost count. But the yard looks great and I managed to take off one of the three pounds I gained when I was teaching recently.

Friday I went to the Dallas Museum of Art with Chris and Lorna and the kids. It was fun! We worked tag team with Jack (who is a bit rambunctious for a museum) and Bear, who just wants to sleep and eat. Bear spent a lot of time in the sling attached to either Chris or Lorna. And then I got to carry him because I am not wearing the sling. Been there, done that.


Jack did better outside. And there was ART outside which was nice.

DMA-JackAndElanor-02 copy

Of course, sometimes ART looks like something in a playground. I took the next photo before my brain kicked in, and before the nice lady said 'get off of that!!!'


Honestly, I love this photo :-).

Jack was not the kid who ran into the cellophane streamers onto the field of pink chalk dust (otherwase known as ART) who caused that piece to be locked down. That artwork was asking to be walked into.

On Saturday Steve and I talked about the projects we have committed to for the summer (so many, and mostly not at our house). And then Steve pointed out that he is in charge of the move into the new science building and he's going to be busy all of June. Oh, my. I realized that the job of painting the soffits and eaves at Mom's was on me. I volunteered to do it. I can do it. This was my project and I needed to own it. And then I thought… why wait? It's cool now. Do it now. So I spent half of Saturday and all of Sunday scraping and painting.

I wish I could say that I did this job with a song in my heart and a smile on my face. No. I did not. I had a determined look and music plugged into my ears. I took ibuprofen and am going to have to take more. But the job is now done and now I can smile! I was too tired to take a photo. You just have to imagine it. Mom's house looks better and she's happy to have this job, that I thought would be done a year ago, is now done. There's a bit more to do at Mom's but Steve and I are on that one together. It's easier with two.