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Mainely Tipping Points

Posts Tagged ‘Rhea Butler

Turkey Tracks: I’m Obsessed: Hand Sewing

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Turkey Tracks:  November 18, 2013

I’m Obsessed


Hand Sewing

It’s official.

I’m obsessed with hand sewing.  I have one project going and two more planned.  And I can’t wait for dark to fall so I can settle in and hand sew while watching something fun on the television.  Though just at the moment I’m hand-quilting the clam shell quilt which is, as yet, nameless, but not homeless.  And, I’m putting the binding on the Winding Ways/Wheels of Mystery quilt which I’m naming “Earth.”

I think my obsession all started with Bonnie Hunter’s numerous posts on her hexie projects.  Hexies are all the rage in quilting these days, which I’m sure most quilters know.  And these projects are NOT your grandmother’s flower garden variety.

Or, maybe it was seeing the gorgeous quilt that Rhea Butler of Alewives quilting, in Damariscotta Mills, Maine, from Kathy Doughty and Sarah Fielke’s MATERIAL OBSESSION 2 book.  (Those gals are from Australia, the home of fantastic quilting.)

I did a hexie project a while back–a challenge to depict a grocery store product–I chose Green Hive Honey, a local raw, unheated honey.  That quilt was called “A Thousand Flowers” since that’s what it takes to make a ridiculously small bit of raw honey.  (You can search for it elsewhere on the blog.)  I found sewing the hexies tedious–especially the whip stitching that joined them.  And the stitches showed in a way I didn’t like.

BUT, But, But!  There is a better way to do this whole process.  And I began to discover that only recently with Micky Dupre and Bonnie Hunter’s book, RING AROUND THE HEXIES:  A Collaboration Celebration.

Hexie blocks

You can English Paper Piece the hexies and then the way you join them is NOT with whip stitching.  I’m posting a video from Leah Davis that’s a close-up of her hands piecing hexies in the “new” way in a separate post.  (Ask and you shall receive from the universe.)

So, Bonnie makes a pieced quilt, leaving, in the above case, blank black squares on-point.  Micky pieces a hexie formation–and she manipulates the hexies to get interesting color changes–and appliques her arrangement onto the quilt.  They are beautiful.  The resulting quilt is beautiful.

But, I think my own obsession stemmed from Rhea Butler’s quilt from MATERIAL OBSESSIONS–hanging in Alewives.  And somehow I did not take a picture of the whole quilt.

Kite Block book

That quilt is made of large hexies–all constructed from a kite-shape (a quadrilateral) that when combined forms a hexie.

Here are some examples of those bigger blocks.  You can see the “kite” in the dark, outer prints with circles–it takes two “kites” to form that dark patch.  The outer neutral fabric is also made of the “kite” shape.  The red dotted fabric is used to link a line of blocks together–it’s a large diamond shape.

Kite Template block

And, here hyou can see the kite shape a bit better:

Kite block 2

These big hexies are joined with interesting geometric shapes and lavish, BIG borders from contemporary fabrics.

Here’s fabric for my first try at these blocks–and you can see the kite template.  The dark fabric will be used on the outer ring.  I suspect the peach fabric will form the inner ring.

Kite Block fabrics

I was going to do these by hand, but Rhea says they sew well on the machine, too.  So, I’ll play around.

BUT, if I’m not going to hand-sew these, what is going to occupy my fingers?

This project I suspect:

Take a hexie and pull out the sides, and you get a “honeycomb” hexie.  And back in the day in England, a woman named Lucy Boston used that shape to construct the most amazing quilts.  Rhea Butler was already playing with this honeycomb hexie when I saw her last.

Here’s the book, done by Linda Franz, and a packet of honeycomb papers.  One varies the block by varying the fabric color within the block.

Honeycomb blocks

Whatever I do I’ll pull from the stash.

So, on to Leah Day’s excellent video.

Turkey Tracks: Quilts, Quilts, Quilts: “Star Light, Star Bright”

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Turkey Tracks:  February 12, 2012

Quilts, Quilts, Quilts:  “Star Light, Star Bright”

I’m still quilting like a madwoman.

And, having such a good time making creative use of 10 years of scrap fabric cut into useable pieces.

I sent off three quilts this week.

Here’s “Star Light, Star Bright”–a baby quilt made for a little boy–Meyer James Kelly–who will be born any minute now.  The bed gives you some size references.

 These blocks are in the “La, La Log Cabin” style, taught to Coastal Quilters by Rhea Butler of Alewives Quilting in Damariscotta, Maine.  For the centers, which are deliberately cut “wonky” so the block develops “wonky,” are a set of blocks from a Wynkin, Blikin, and Nod line of fabric that I used in another baby quilt.  I loved the blocks so much that I couldn’t bear to toss what was left.  I had to make two star blocks–I traced the star on a blue fabric, fused it to the star print, and blanket-stitched around it.

Here’s an upright view:

Here’s a close-up of one of the “Wynkin, Blinkin, and Nod ” blocks–there were different pictures in the blocks:

I quilted with a big meander pattern broken by stars–so it will be soft–and tried one of my curved templates in the border.

I love the orange binding with blue stars.  That fabric was a find.

The backing is plain–and I’ve been printing labels and hand sewing them on to the back of the quilt.  I like it that I can put in little sayings, poems, how the quilt emerged for me, and so forth–even pictures!  You can see both backing and the label in this pic:

So fun!  So happy!

Written by louisaenright

February 12, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Turkey Tracks: Sun, Sea, Sand Quilt

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Turkey Tracks:  November 15, 2011

Sun, Sea, Sand Quilt

Well, here it is all finished–a La La Log Cabin method, as designed by Rhea Butler of Alewives Quilting in Damariscotta Mills, Maine.

Basically, you start with a funky center, build out, and trim up your blocks to a set size.  I trimmed these at 12 inches.

This kind of quilt is a fabulous way to knock back your stash–and I’m on a mission to do that these days.  For every quilt I plan and BUY, I’m trying to make–at least the tops–out of my stash–where many beautiful, beautiful fabrics reside.

This quilt is made entirely out of batiks.  I did buy the backing, which I loved at first sight.  But I got the fabric 20% off–thanks to a sale at Alewives!

Note, too, the light binding.  I almost always finish with a dark binding, but this quilt seemed to want to just keep going and not be bound by a dark line…   It’s certainly full of good, good energy, isn’t it?

Here’s a close up of the binding effect:

Here’s a close-up detail:

And, here’s what the long-arm looks like with a quilt loaded and being quilted:

One can quilt from the front of the machine–which one does if one is working with templates or one’s own designs.  If one is working from a paper pattern–called a pantograph–the quilting is done from the back of the machine.  One follows the pattern with a laser light beam.

I wanted a quilting pattern that was curvy, since there are so many straight lines in the quilt.

Lucy is a Handi-Quilter, Avante.  She has an 18-inch throat, which gives me lots of room for big patterns.  And, it means one doesn’t have to roll up the quilt so often.

I love this machine.  The learning curve has been awesome–and I’m only now feeling like I’m getting some bit of competency.  Working with a long-arm is very different from working with a domestic machine.  I still struggle with getting the tension to behave–but that’s a learning curve, too.  The bobbin adjustments are opposite a domestic machine, for one thing.  But, I learn nothing more than learning all about something new–so I’m quite happy.  And, of course, my ability to make LOTS of quilt tops–I LOVE TO PIECE–is getting fed every day.


Written by louisaenright

November 15, 2011 at 11:30 am

Turkey Tracks: October Update

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Turkey Tracks:  October 27, 2011

October Update

We’ve had the loveliest Indian Summer here on Mid-Coast Maine.  But, as we move into November, the weather is suddenly colder and our thoughts are turning toward getting out warmer clothes.  We’ve nearly finished winterizing and final harvesting.  It’s actually a lot to do.  But all the pots, except one by the garage door that  John can’t part with yet, have been emptied, cleaned, and stored.  And, all the porch furniture has been stored in the garage.  The hot tub has been emptied, cleaned, and been filled with fresh water.  The chicken coop has been moved and all the bedding cleaned.  I’ve put straw around it for the winter.  I’ve planted next year’s garlic and mulched the strawberries.

We’ve put up the boardwalk, and John has cleaned it.  The wood grows mold over the summer, as it’s in the shade on the north side of the garage.  That mold is incredibly slippery and dangerous.

You can see, too, that the garden has been bedded down with straw.   THat’s a roll of 2-foot chicken wire we’ll put around the low side to keep the chickens from scratching the straw out into the grass.  I like them to scratch in the garden; it breaks up the straw and blends it into the topsoil.

The cold frame is full of a last crop of lettuce and radish plants.  See…

The leeks I planted did very well this year.  I left some of the smaller ones in the garden and covered them with straw to overwinter.  The cabbages were small.  We had a really rainy, cool August, so I think they didn’t get enough sunshine.  They’re tasty though!  And we’ve been enjoying leek and potato soup infused with carrots and cabbage, cooked until veggies are tender, and made smooth with a hand-held blender.  Often I throw in some of the last of the parsley chopped fine.  Serve with a big chunk of butter or a swirl of heavy cream.  It’s the classic French recipe, actually.

We’ve strawed the front bed, fenced it, and trimmed back all the raspberries, bayberry bushes, and rugosa roses.  So, the chicken briar patch is gone.  The chickens miss it, too, especially as our driveway hawk has been stalking them lately.

Nancy and Sally are molting big time, and they are sad to behold.  Nancy is the most extreme at the moment.  She has big feather quills coming in all around her neck though.  Chicken feathers are almost all protein, so it takes a lot of energy for a chicken to molt.  They don’t lay while molting, and since Pearl has not started laying (???), we have no blue eggs.  Nancy misses her tail feathers I think.

My Roo, aka as Pretty Pierre, is really coming into his own.  Not a leaf drops in the yard that he isn’t right there to see what it is.

My friend Carole Whelan of Birds and Bees Farm sent me a picture of her new rooster, a Splash Maran.  Isn’t he a pretty fellow?

Friday nights bring the added joy of picking up a pizza made in Rose’s wood-burning oven.  (Rose and Peter Thomas, The Vegetable Shed, Lincolnville, Maine.)  Rich smoky flavors play over the vegetables from her farm–over meat and cheese and sauce she’d added or made.  What a treat!

This picture is overexposed with the camera’s flash, but you get the point.  Are we spoiled or what?

Finally, I’m working on a new quilt–based on Rhea Butler’s method, called La La Log Cabin.  Rhea is from Alewives quilting in Damariscotta Mills.  Here’s a picture of the quilt taking shape on the design wall.  It’s all being made from batiks in my stash:

Turkey Tracks: Alewives Visits Camden Quilters

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Turkey Tracks:  February 17, 2011

Alewives Visits Camden Quilters

Rhea Butler and her mother, Barbara Neeson, came from Alewives quilt shop in Damariscotta Mills, (http://www.alewivesfabrics.com) for our February 12th meeting.  Barbara owns Alewives, and Rhea is the resident quilt artist and designer. 


 Rhea’s on the left, Barbara is in the middle, and CQ member Barb Melchiskey is on the right. 

 Rhea taught us how to make her copyrighted “La La Log Cabin” block and quilt, which derives from a long history of improvisational quilting—which, for Rhea, includes such quilting as that of the Gee Bend quilters and Denise Schmidt of Bridgeport, CT.  This pattern is meant to be made from your stash fabrics, though you could certainly buy new fabrics as well.  Above, you see a soft blue/green version.

 Rhea loves color and starts her blocks with an overall sense of how she wants the finished quilt to look.  She wanted the big quilt she brought to demonstrate her La La Block to “glow,” and it did.  See?


Barb Melchiskey, Sylvia Lundevall, Eleanor Greenwood, and Patty Courtney.

Rhea used neutrals and added bits of red and green.  She tries to put interesting, clever, or meaningful fabrics into the center of her blocks.  She also loves to mix textures and to employ whimsical bits of cloth, such as the little colored dots on the edges of fabric selvages.  And she tears fabric into strips and roughly cuts centers with just sissors, which helps to give her blocks an interesting “off-center,” funky look.  Rhea used three harmonious fabrics in shades of yellow/gold for the backing, layered in from side to side in big swaths.  

 Rhea provided us with a free pattern for her block/quilt, which is typical of her and Barbara’s generosity.  We had a wonderful meeting with her, and I suspect many of our members will produce  La La Cabin quilts.  I know I will as I’m on a mission to use up more of my stash and will definitely make one.

 Rhea also keeps a lively, interesting blog:  http://alewivesgirl.blogspot.com.

Written by louisaenright

February 17, 2011 at 4:18 pm