Sunday, January 30, 2011

Penrose Tiles

Here are some basic directions and links to templates and patterns that I've uploaded to Google docs. They are pdf files created by my scanner.

There are a few things to keep in mind when making a quilt from these tiles. First, there are only two blocks. They are diamond shaped blocks with two angles. The fat tile has 72 and 108 degree angles. The skinny tile has 36 and 144 degree angles. The sides are all equal. To figure out how to arrange the tiles, you can either use one of my patterns, or go to the wikipedia page on Penrose tiles and learn how they behave. They can only be arranged in specific ways if they are to completely fill out an area.

Templates for the tiles (pdf files on Google docs):

Three patterns:

Basic Penrose pattern (the one I used for the small stars)

Once the arrangement is determined, there are two rules for sewing the tiles together. The first rule is to only stitch from start to end of each edge. Do not stitch past the start or end into the seam allowance. For this reason, it is sometimes actually easier to hand piece these patterns, especially when smaller templates are used. Each edge has to be stitched separately - you cannot go from one edge to another on a machine.

The second rule is that all edges that meet at a point have to be pressed in the same direction - either clockwise or counterclockwise. This means that the edges at the adjacent points are all pressed in the opposite direction. The result is that each tile will have two edges pressed in and two pressed out. This is the only way to get these creatures to lie flat! Here is a picture of the back of a small Penrose tiling that I stitched together a long time ago. I photocopied the back and have scanned it to post here. The construction technique is similar to that of the tumbling blocks pattern.

Pluto Star

I guess this is Cindy's quilt too. It hangs in her bedroom over her bed. It is a large wall hanging, not a bed quilt. She named it "Pluto Star" after the large shape in the center. I had named the outer stars - clockwise from upper left - marigold star, sun star, tapestry star, fireworks star, sunset star, earth star, violet star, blueberry star, diamond star, ocean star, forest star and salad star.

This quilt started out as a project in which I was going to make twelve large scale blocks, each of them a single wall hanging. I had the pieces cut out. The theme was analogous color schemes. Each star was one color plus the colors to the left and right on the color wheel - for example yellow, yellow green and yellow orange. The first star was the red-violet star, which I called earth star. It was the Hoffman challenge from quite a few years ago.

Well that project sat in pieces for years, until I got the idea to cut the pieces down to scale and make small stars to go on one large quilt. If you look closely you can see the color wheel theme is repeated in the outermost lights and darks of the center star. The individual blocks were hand pieced and quilted. The borders were machine quilted.

This is the only quilt I have that has won a ribbon in a show with judges. I don't enter that many, but I entered this one in a show in Lancaster, Massachusetts. I won a second place ribbon in the traditional wall hanging category, which is ironic because Penrose tiles are anything but traditional, having been discovered by the mathematician Roger Penrose in the 1970s. (The winner in that category happened to be a virtuoso tour de force of thirteen Sunbonnet Sues, arranged exactly the same way my Penrose blocks were arranged, each one playing a different musical instrument.)
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Friday, January 28, 2011

Cindy's Sampler Quilt

Earlier this month I requilted Cindy's baby quilt. This entry is a picture of the previous quilt I made for her. It was a few years in the making. I finished it completely last summer during some free time in which I finished several UFOs. From top to bottom, left to right, the blocks are: 1. Reversed Squares, using a quick piecing technique I thought up. 2. Scraps from a project at my old guild, the Herring Run Quilters' Guild in Hanover, Massachusetts. 3. Scraps from a pillow I made for my mother-in-law. 4. Blue Penrose tiles, given a pink Penrose tile setting (because it is the pink part of the quilt). 5. A big Penrose tiling. 6. My favorite block - a one patch of second generation leftovers from a watercolor quilt. 7. A block exchange with a woman from France, who solicited blocks in Quilters' Newsletter magazine. 8 & 9. Same as 2. 10. Hmong squares and nine-patches that were part of a guild exchange. 11. Butterfly batiks (Cindy's favorite block). 12. Five Penrose tiles. 13. A copy of the block I traded with the French woman. 14. A sawtooth star experiment. 15. Another Penrose tiling. 16. Copy of a guild raffle block - everyone would bring in a block, and one lucky person would take them all home. I wanted a copy in case I didn't win. Which I didn't, that time!
My girls took turns going through my block stash, choosing their favorites, and this was the collection that Cindy chose.
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

January UFO is finished!

Luckily for me the drawing for January was an easy UFO. I restitched the quilting, pulled out the obvious broken stitches, and gave it a gentle wash. Some precious baby barf stains remain to remind me of those wonderful years.
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The official list of 2011 UFOs scheduled for completion

1. Shirt plaids or mystery top - mystery top done
2. Sheer quilt
3. Sunset watercolor
4. Lily’s baby quilt, or charity baby quilt - both done
5. “New Orleans” wall quilt
6. Fix Cindy’s baby quilt (requilt) - done
7. Pastel rectangle - done
8. Fall Colors - done
9. Amish block sampler - done
10. Rebind Alchemical Blue - done
11. Finish quilting on Cathy’s quilt - done
12. Stinky strips top

January - #6 - Finished.
February - #10 - Finished.
March - #1 - I chose mystery top, and finished it.
April - #4 - Lily's baby quilt. Finished (charity quilt was finished earlier).
May - #9 - Amish block sampler. Finished using free motion quilting.
June - #8 - Might be the hardest project. Done! Wow.
July - #2 - Maybe this one is harder. Sheer quilt. Pieced, but took #11 to Texas instead.
August - #7 - Finished.
September - #11 - so I will finish #2.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Progress on the January UFO

Here are before and after pictures of the quilting on this quilt. Originally, the top thread broke everywhere because the thread was sewn on way too tight. The back thread was intact, so I loaded up a bobbin with variegated pastel rayon thread and machine quilted over the broken stitches from the back. I wasn't sure if it would work, but it went very well. I had to fill the bobbin about eight times because of the thickness of the thread. Last weekend I stitched one bobbin's worth. Today I told myself that if I didn't do one more bobbin, then I wasn't serious about finishing this quilt. So I got up to the sewing machine and finished the whole thing! The next step is to pull out some of the old thread. Not all of it, just the bits that are obvious.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Welcome 2011!

First a big thank-you to Judy of the 2011 UFO challenge and all the quilters who have great blogs. I have been quilting for over twenty years, and it's about time I record my work. I have meant to be doing that all along, but somehow it has remained on my to-do list. Until now!

I am going to start my post with the unlikely story of the first quilt that was chosen at random for completion in 2011. I finished this quilt, more or less, when my youngest daughter was born. It was her baby quilt. I had a friend do the machine quilting, and shortly after the first wash, the stitches began to break. It was quilted with a very high upper thread tension. I got the idea to requilt it using a relatively thick decorative thread wound on the bobbin. I have had the thread for many years! My baby is almost a teenager.

I will update this post when I'm done. So far I have requilted using one bobbin's worth of thread. I estimate I will need about eight total - but the sun has gone down today, and I don't want to work in the dark.