Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Orphan Annie Gets a Border

So this is Orphan Annie with the first border. From the start, I kept thinking that Dogtooth borders might be a good design, especially using the lightning design. That just sort of seemed like the thing to do and I haven't used that layout in forever! If I was thinking more about black or pink for the borders, well, that idea quickly got shut down.

First border on Orphan Annie
When it became evident that the quilt wanted more of those lighter shades of green, I didn't really know what to do. So many of them have been used up at this point! I scrambled around and eventually found some strips of the green batik, leftovers from a recent quilt backing. Thankfully, I had enough yardage of the blue fabric for the relief/contrast color.

Auditioning the borders
I picked a size of quarter triangle that looked 'about right' and just started cutting. Didn't worry about measurements to exactly fit to the quilt at all. After sewing several long lengths of triangles together, then it was time to audition.  To my disappointment, in the initial layout, nothing looked right except for the arrangement in the previous picture. Perhaps I was going to need to add coping strips all the way around to get the proper look?  It was almost enough for me to throw up my hands and try and start over, but you know how it goes. This was an orphan block quilt. Why does it have to look incredible? That gave me just enough impetuous to sew on the first border surround--all in a log cabin style, one border after another.

Orphan Annie is a completed quilt top!
When it came time to sew on the second border, I went ahead and did another 'layout', mostly just checking to see where each border might need to start--with a blue triangle or maybe a green? That's when I tried the 'lightning' dogtooth border look once again, and to my surprise...., it looked really good at the sides of the quilt. Like, amazingly good! Not all the way around the quilt, which is kinda odd, but still. Then I fiddled and fiddled and fiddled, trying to get the corners to look okay. Soooo frustrating. 

Loving the crazy pieced corners
It was only after a couple times of leaving and coming back that I realized the problem. I was attempting to get the corners to come together in perfect pairings and/or the lightning layout in perfect repeats. This quilt was actually wanting a more disordered and make-do look. When I let go and started cutting the edges and sewing the rows with that specific idea in mind, the last rows went together swimmingly. 

Looking across the quilt
And yes, there are definitely areas where the borders fall in a more precise arrangement. That's okay. But believe me, when I say it is totally by accident {and perhaps the fact that my triangles were all cut to the same size}. The thing that really struck me was how much I LOVE the make-do look and yet, over and over and over, I continually fight against that very look in my own quilts. Now, you might see something different in what I turn out, but never think that it just comes naturally. Oh no. It's all very much a work in progress around here!

Looking very cozy
My youngest brother and his wife recently sold their home by the river {hard to raise little kids by a whitewater river}and bought a small cattle farm. During the big move, they had to decide what to take, what to keep as the farmhouse there is fairly small. Anyway, long story short, they called me and asked if I would like to have this brand new sewing table {still in the box}. Yessss!!!

A new sewing table!
Since my sewing machine is slightly larger than the standard size, my husband had to cut a little bit more room in the opening. It's been interesting getting used to having my sewing machine flush with the sewing table and honestly, I'm still not 100% sure that I love that part. It sure looks good though! Always fun to get something new to try out, especially when there's no money involved!

Trying out the new sewing machine position
I finally went ahead and started chain piecing the wedges for the Grandma's Fan blocks, cut out sometime during the winter. There's a lot of blocks in the quilt {over 90?} and so I haven't been in a huge hurry. I'll probably sew the fans onto the background by hand, but now I'm dithering over which color to use in the background position. Lots of white in this quilt and mehh... you know how I feel about that!

Starting to sew the Grandma Fan blocks together
Got all the leaves cut out for the Flower Power blocks. Love the punchy vibe! It's a vintage floral I picked up at a quilt show many moons ago. The last time I used a chunk of this fabric, it was probably in 2018. Very good fabric, but the purple in it goes a very long ways. Wish I could get better pictures of these tulip blocks, but to date, they have been extremely uncooperative.

Flower Power blocks looking better with the leaves
In other news, we have had a rather rough couple of weeks. Some friends in our church were involved in a dispute of sorts and were killed in their home. During Covid, they got more and more interested in going off-grid and getting away from people, resulting in them buying property in a fairly remote area. It was all very shocking and so very, very sad as they were 'salt of the earth' sort of people and the least likely people you could imagine this happening to. 

Only one frame left to go!
Our church members took food, for over a week, to the daughter & husband in the home where she was housing the surviving grandmother and other grieving family members. The grandmother was also living at the remote location at the time of the tragedy, and had thankfully managed to run away and hide. She was severely traumatized as you can only imagine. It's surreal and mind blowing this could happen to such good people. There was lots to be done as to relocating animals and plants etc. and much more needed in the weeks ahead. Obviously the grandmother will not be comfortable living there now and the house will have to be cleaned up and sold. My husband was asked to officiate the memorial services and our church members rallied around and provided a dinner afterward, all on the Saturday of a holiday weekend. So much love and really, so very little we can do for them. It's hard when tragedy strikes close to home with people we genuinely care about. I cannot even imagine how devastating it would be to be the daughter, mother, father, grandparents in this situation. 

As usual, when times are hard and there is lots of heavy thinking to do, I tend to pick up the hoop and put in the hand quilting time. Many times through the years we've been married, my husband thinks longingly about living off grid and 'getting away from it all'. If nothing else, this event proved to us that when the world is in such a state of apprehension and turmoil, there is not a lot of safer places to be. I wasn't even going to mention any of this, but it has made me feel very sad, lethargic, helpless, moody--you name it. So yeah. Don't feel sorry for us. We're not the ones who got our lives upended in a brutal, senseless manner. We are absolutely, positively looking forward to getting to spend a week with our kids and grandkids here in a couple weeks. I'd say it's a very good time to bring on the hugs!


  1. I'm with you and cannot even imagine how the family deals with such a tragic situation. Hugs all around, Audrey, especially to your grandchildren. It's a super terrific way to get yourself grounded again when tragedies strike way too close to home. Love the border on Orphan Annie! Wondering what you have up your sleeve next! Ha! As for your "new" sewing table, may I suggest you find someone to cut a piece of plexiglass to fit the spaces in between your machine and table edges. I'm sure you will absolutely wonder how you ever sewed without it all being level!

  2. such tragedy - I hadn't heard anything in the news but then there are so many awful things happening all the time now they don't report on all of it. You don't say how many survived I hope more than the grandmother.

  3. Audrey, what a senseless tragedy; so very sad and shocking too. That poor woman has to be very traumatised. I'm happy to read about all the good too...folks coming together to comfort and help in any way they can. I wish all involved the strength to carry on somehow.
    Stitching, especially the kind of thoughtful process you engage in, is a balm and never more so than when something is troubling. You are making wonderful choices here.

  4. I'll echo Susie about getting some plexiglass cut that will fit around your machine and close up the remaining gaps. Even though you don't free motion quilt, just sewing those long seams for borders will be so much easier with the machine flush with the table. Even better if you can fit another table of the same height behind this table so the weight of the quilt stays supported. Orphan Annie is another splendid "make-do!" You and your husband and the entire church family need time to reflect and heal from this trauma as well as the immediate family. Spending the next week with your little granddaughters and the rest of your family will be healing balm for you. These are troubling times for all of us, we all need to keep hearts tuned to those who show signs of stress or despair.

  5. Where to begin here Audrey! So very sad to read about your friends from church losing their lives, also the trauma suffered by the family, I hope they can find some peace soon. On to quilty matters, your Orphan Annie quilt - I have fallen in love with this one! Words which I find perfect -
    "this quilt was actually wanting a more disordered and make-do look" the border couldn't be better.
    Flower Power blocks are looking stunning! Audrey, enjoy your visit from the family and your quilting and I agree with other comments, a plexiglass insert will have you happy in no time, I have these in my two machines.

  6. Audrey, yes, all tragedies are senseless and it seems like they just keep coming. I wish I had answers. I worry that they will become so commonplace we will just ignore them.
    Your quilts always inspire me.

  7. I so love your floral quilts! Very nice table for your machine. Lucky!! My husband made mine and we used the acrylic extension table as an inset for the machine. I am sure you can have plexiglas made for it.

  8. YES, absolutely, to the plexiglass insert to surround your dropped-down machine. I LOVE LOVE LOVE mine set up that way and it is difficult (and painful honestly) for me to sew with the machine on top of a table - only for short bursts, not for my preferred longer stitching sessions). Sadly, tragedy and horror is all too common and thankfully our stitching offers us a gentle way to hold onto to our sanity through it all. Your description of fighting with your preferred "make do" look vs. the work to accomplish that resonates so strongly with me . . . I spend much too much time dithering before I realize (once again) I just need to listen to my instincts and the voice of the quilt. They rarely let me down. Sending many hugs your way! Quiltdivajulie

  9. I think your corners look great! Thanks for sharing your process.
    God bless all involved in the tragedy. Life here on earth can be rough.

  10. Sorry for the loss and trauma you recently experienced; it’s crazy times in this world right now. Thank goodness we have sewing to calm and center us. Orphan Annie looks great! I’ve had several challenges getting dog tooth borders to come together - the key is to NOT be a perfectionist 🙂! I’ve been sewing with my machine set in flush with the table (Koala furniture) for 2 decades now and I love it! Good luck getting used to your new setup. Your new tulip project is looking good!

  11. That's such a tragedy and I'm sure the survivors are grateful for their extended church family in this time of need. Your quilts look great. The dog tooth borders are bold and perfect for the quilt - I've only done it once and just let the corners fall where they fell, lol. I don't have a machine that is level with the table, but my grandma did, and it was wonderufl.
    You need an insert so there's no break between machine and table.
    Enjoy your grandchildren!

  12. I'm so sorry to hear about your friends - life can be so cruel. I love the lightning bolts down the sides of your quilt. Maybe trying to be too accurate and then going for something less precise in the end is just part of your process now.

  13. Such tragedies are coming all to frequently now. Prayers for all affected. Hearts broken, lives torn. But love where you are going with your quilt.

  14. Yes, such an all too frequent tragedy, I'm at a loss for words. On quilty matters though, I love what's happening with your Orphan Annie quilt! The last border contrasts beautifully with the rest of the quilt!

  15. How good that your church can help the surviving family and that your husband delivered the eulogies. We need many changes in our country.
    Orphan Annie looks better all the time. Borders are the best. This one has such personality.

  16. Your quilt is beautiful. I love the quirky border. You are going to love having a flat bed when you quilt. It was life changing for my quilting life. I am glad the family had support from the community during this trying time.


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