T-Bud Co. Quilts Ohio: June Ohio Star

June’s Ohio Star symbolizes the tri-state geography of the Cincinnati metropolitan area, which includes part of Kentucky and Indiana in addition to Ohio.

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June’s Ohio Star Quilt Block

If you fly into Cincinnati, you’ll know that you don’t actually arrive in Ohio. Instead, you land across the river in Kentucky. If you drive the I-275 loop that defines the Greater Cincinnati area, you’ll travel through three states: Ohio, of course, Kentucky, and a smidge of Indiana. Cincinnati belongs to a tri-state area and it doesn’t go unnoticed. For my June Ohio Star, I decided to pay tribute to this geographic quirk.

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Detail of tri-state-themed Ohio Star quilt block.

I spent four and a half years working in Kentucky. That is, I drove approximately 40 miles one way, crossing the Ohio River, to a job only a few miles across the border. There, I worked with people from all three states. I tend to think of the part of Kentucky that lands in the Greater Cincinnati area as “Kentucky-Light” or maybe even “Ohio-Light.” I crossed state lines to get to work, but it didn’t feel like I was in a different state.

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Detail of tri-state-themed Ohio Star quilt block.

For the duration of my job in Kentucky, the consensus was that Kentuckians didn’t want to live in Ohio and Ohioans didn’t want to live in Kentucky. (A lot of people had river-hopped in one direction or another and had made their final choice. My 80-mile round-trip commute was hard on me and a few times my husband mused that maybe we should move to Kentucky to be closer. I always said no. Because the job would never last that long (I was right), and because I moved here to live in Ohio, not Kentucky. No offense, Kentucky. Although, I feel that way about other parts of Ohio and even Indiana. Presented with two job layoffs in my short career, and thus going through extensive job searches, nearby cities always seem to hold dream jobs: Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis. But, when push comes to shove, I moved here to live in Cincinnati, not another city. And, if I’m going to move 2 hours away, I might as well move back to Alaska.

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Detail of tri-state-themed Ohio Star quilt block.

My block is subtle this month. I broke the 9-patch into three sections and gave each one a color. Purple for Ohio. Blue for Kentucky. Green for Indiana. I like to think of the center white block as Cincinnati itself. The points of the star are Cincinnati’s influence extending beyond the city limits and into different states and counties, beyond the I-275 loop. All of the fabrics are from my stash, and I have to say, I love the colors!

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June’s Ohio Star Quilt Block

T-Bud Co. Quilts Ohio: May Ohio Star

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May’s Ohio Star Quilt Block

May’s Ohio Star quilt block is a cardinal, Ohio’s state bird. I didn’t choose a cardinal because of that status, but because I love spotting these birds. I don’t recall seeing a cardinal until I moved to Ohio.

The males’ bright red color is hard to miss. Regardless of the season, seeing the vibrant flash of a male cardinal is a treat. Cardinals have distinct characteristics—head crest and bold orange-red beak—so it’s easy to identify the lady cardinals even though they are a dull brown-red color.

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Detail of cardinal-themed Ohio Star quilt block.

And that’s it! I like them. They’re not even special to Ohio. Six other states have designated the cardinal as their bird.

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Detail of cardinal-themed Ohio Star quilt block.

That’s what I’m learning while I reflect on my 10 years in Ohio. The things I like best about the area aren’t especially significant or symbolic or unique. In fact, a lot of them are commonplace. But, I think that’s important, because if I can enjoy every day, then I can enjoy every year.

 

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Detail of cardinal-themed Ohio Star quilt block.

This block gave me a bit of trouble during assembly. I had a minimal amount of the solid red fabric, so I had to be careful with my cutting. (If you look closely, you might spot a sliver of selvedge.) And, I couldn’t 100% follow the Ohio Star tutorial that I’ve been using. I started there, but quickly realized I needed to break out the seam ripper. I also cut some triangles before they were stitched. It worked out, though. This will probably be my most radical Ohio Star quilt block. I relied heavily on my creative license, but the 9-patch of 4 quarter square triangle blocks and 5 solid blocks is there. The only thing I would do differently is maybe angle the left most block in the middle row. The cardinal is looking a little blocky.

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May’s Ohio Star Quilt Block

T-Bud Co. Quilts Ohio: April Ohio Star

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April’s Ohio Star Quilt Block

You sure as heck didn’t think I was going to leave Charley Harper out of my Ohio Star quilt, right? Of course, his art is my inspiration for April’s Ohio Star quilt block! As a Cincinnati icon, his work is delightfully everywhere.

Do you remember that huge book by Todd Oldham? It was published in June of 2007. I moved to Cincinnati in 2008. Todd Oldham was/is a design prophet. This 2007 The New York Times article reported his selection as creative director for Old Navy, just after creating hip products for brands like, ahem, Target. When you’re in your early 20s, like I was, you think Target is the epitome of hip design. Todd Oldham shining a “teeny flashlight” on Charley Harper’s work, was no small thing. Enter adoring fans, like me.

Here’s a video of Todd Oldham interviewing Harper for funsies.

AND! I recently spotted Todd Oldham’s book on Lisa Congdon’s studio bookshelf in a picture she posted to Instagram stories! And, c’mon, Lisa Congdon is a conduit of coolness: her art is amazing and her books are interesting. I could go on, but let’s get back to Charley.

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Do you see it? Smack dab in the middle!

You don’t need anyone (even Todd Oldham or Lisa Congdon!) to tell you to like Charley Harper’s work. Take one look and you’ll be mesmerized. I love the geometric shapes—the simplification. So, you can bet your buttons that during the beginning of my tenure in Ohio, I was excited to discover Charley Harper’s Cincinnati roots! When I first moved here, I noticed a distinct lack of hometown pride. Sure, Cincinnatians seemed proud to have been born and raised here, but they had a “it’s just Cincinnati” attitude. Look, Cincinnati is tucked into the corner of the state—commingling with Northern Kentucky and Indiana. The Tyler Davidson Fountain will never be as luminous as our western neighbor Chicago’s Cloud Gate, also known as “The Bean”. Cincinnati will never be NYC cool. (As if there was ever a chance, I’m sure some NYC-ers would snicker.) But, Charley Harper is pretty awesome—and on a national level. He’s not just locally known. And, that’s something to be proud of. Heck, who cares if anyone else knows about Charley Harper? His work is so widely appreciated in this town, you can find it in a lot of places. You’ll find a mural of Homecoming (Bluebirds) downtown. (Go downtown Cincinnati to see a lot of great murals.)

Head to Winton Woods and you’ll see his artwork in the park.

Swing by the John Weld Peck Federal building downtown to see an amazing tile mosaic.

See? Everywhere. And, I for one, am not mad about it.

Last year, Birch Fabrics came out with a new Charley Harper collection: Western Birds. I knew that I needed to incorporate this fabric into my Ohio Star quilt. But, I’m going to be honest, I was late to the game to purchase this fabric, so it was kind of hard to find. And, the patterns are pretty large scale. Not so ideal for a 12” 9-patch quilt block (so I have learned). Before stitching the 9 squares together, I was majorly hesitating. As in, I was going to scrap the entire block. I figured I would only stitch it together because I had all the squares cut out.

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Detail of the needle-turn appliquéd bird.

Then, I figured I could needle-turn appliqué one of the birds onto the front. I’m still not 100% pleased with it. I wanted it to be leafier—to have the alternating trunks and leaves create the feeling of lush trees. Yup, that did NOT happen. BUT! I’m happy enough with it to keep in my Ohio Star quilt and to share it with you! Sometimes, it’s not a win-lose situation! Huzzah!

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April’s Ohio Star Quilt Block

Upcycled Baby Bodysuit: Reds T-Shirt

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Reds t-shirt made with an upcycled baby bodysuit.

I recently endeavored to upcycle an old baby bodysuit. I have reinvented a dress into a skirt. And, I’ve ungendered kids clothes before. I love doing this because I’m conscious of the fast fashion versus slow fashion issue, but also kids grow fast, so I have a lot of good (okay, maybe slightly stained) baby and kids clothes. Not to mention, I enjoy a good sewing project!

Living in the Greater Cincinnati area, my kids are default Reds baseball fans. It’s a thing to wear Reds gear on opening day (March 29, 2018). I’ll never forget my first opening day. I was wearing red Converse sneakers (because I worked at a design/branding agency) and a guy in the elevator as I rode up in the morning commented, “I see you’re wearing your shoes for opening day.” I had no idea what he was talking about. I can’t remember if I just agreed to be agreeable or asked him to explain.

Because kids are always growing, they can’t necessarily wear the same Reds t-shirt year after year. Here’s where the upcycling comes in. I took a Reds baby bodysuit that had a few smudges and cutout the graphic and appliqued it onto a new t-shirt!

Here’s what I did.

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The baby bodysuit. There are smudges on it that the camera didn’t quite pick up.

After choosing the bodysuit, I went to my nearby craft store and purchased a red t-shirt. This is probably a no-no if I want to truly upcycle old baby clothes. To be pure, I would have found a red t-shirt at a thrift shop. Oh well, I’m trying!

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New red t-shirt. I washed it first, because I wash everything first.

Next, I ironed some fusible web to the backside of the image on the bodysuit and cut it out.

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Fusible web being ironed onto the backside of the graphic.

 

I wasn’t completely sure how to center the Reds applique. My ruler was handy, so I placed it right at the armpits and then had a way to center the applique both horizontally and vertically.

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Ruler placed from armpit to armpit to help find the “center.”

I then ironed on the applique. Now, while I was ironing, I forgot where I was for a moment and started going to town on the applique with the hot iron. Um, that graphic is a rubbery paint. So, yes, it got a little messy. Thank goodness I came back to earth and placed a cloth between the graphic and the iron. (Reminder for next time!)

Finally, I zigzag stitched around the perimeter of the applique to really secure it.

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Quick zigzag stitch. Bonus! I already had the red thread!

Voila! A brand new Reds t-shirt ready to show some team spirit! My kid has already worn it once and it washed well. Huzzah! Go Redlegs!

 

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The final product: Kids’ Reds t-shirt ready for opening day.

T-Bud Co. Quilts Ohio: March Ohio Star

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March’s Ohio Star Quilt Block

My Ohio Star quilt block for March represents how spring arrives in Southwestern Ohio. It’s no secret that January, February, March, and I don’t get along. Long nights, cold weather, and post-holiday blues mean that even the consolation prize of my birthday and Valentine’s Day don’t cheer me up. But, sometime in March, I start to gain hope.

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Love the juicy hues of purple. And my points aren’t too shabby on this block.

For me, this timing is unique to Cincinnati, Ohio. For sure when I was in Alaska, I had to wait much longer—April, quite possibly May—for the signal that warmer, brighter days were ahead. In Atlanta, the winter felt like a blip on the calendar. Fall and spring were such drawn out occasions, that I was never really sure that winter had occurred. Atlanta’s spring began early in the year, giving summer a head start: enough time to heat up into scorching temperatures. In Cincinnati, March ushers in the hope of spring. I’ve seen snow here during this month, this year included, so it has the potential to come in like a lion and out like a lamb. But, a promise is still made.

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Daffodils, probably. When you don’t plant the bulbs, every spring is a surprise!

It is around this time that mornings are noticeably lighter (before the time change) and the evenings last longer (after the time change). The daffodils, hyacinths, and crocuses send out green shoots, if not flowers. The thermometer climbs. The birds are chirpier, issuing the official announcement of their return.

Unrelated to nature, or maybe it is, Lent begins and usually some portion of it is in March. That means Friday church fish fries and Easter candy in the grocery stores. Not that I claim to be Catholic (or any other religion), but I have grown to enjoy and support the fish fry at the nearby Catholic church, taking advantage of their drive-thru for one dinner during the season. I also can’t resist Easter candy.

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The math getting that single QST of green was mind-bending for me.

So here is my block. The single green triangle is meant to be like a spring flower pushing through last year’s mulch. I chose purple, because I like it. Ha! It was a new challenge to use the same color in three tints and shades. I bought those batiks at my local quilt shop, The Quilter’s Studio of Loveland. The light purple was a fat quarter my daughter slipped into my basket at Joann Fabrics when we were shopping for my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt. (The green also came from Joann Fabrics.)

I like how this one turned out. But, I may like how the weather is starting to transform into spring better!

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March’s Ohio Star Quilt Block