Over the last few days my fair city — Portland, Oregon — has filled with thousands of professionals in the quilt industry: fabric designers, quilt shop owners, pattern designers, fabric and notions manufacturers, vendors, longarm quilters, professionals of every stripe. The occasion is Spring Quilt Market, the big show open only to those in the trade.
As a quilt teacher and sole proprietor of First Light Designs, I’m eligible to attend. And where am I? Not in Portland. I’m Missing Market, a condition significant enough that others who also cannot go have created a #missingmarket profile on Instagram. But don’t feel too sorry for me. After two delightful days in New York City, the Dear Husband and I have arrived in Spain where we will join a group traveling down the Douro River on a small ship. We start in Madrid, board the vessel in Salamanca, and end in Lisbon, Portugal. Then it’s back to Manhattan for three nights before coming home in early June.
My plan was to bring a hand applique project or two along with me. I did finish piecing Block 6 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt and even got the center of the block marked for the applique . . .
. . . but that was as far as I got before running out of time.
With no handwork to occupy me in quiet moments on board ship, I need something quilt-related to tide me over till I get home, so I packed a book I had ordered from Canada that arrived just a few days before my departure:
This little book has 533 pages and weighs over two pounds! I will surely derive many ounces of pleasure from its pages during the journey down the Douro.
In my last post, I was complaining a bit about doing some alteration work for my husband, only because it was taking me away from doing something I like much more: making quilt blocks.
Happily, I am back at it. In the photo above, you can see the components of Best.Christmas.Ever, Block 6 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the sampler quilt I’m working on this year.
Because I chose to rotate the block 90 degrees, I couldn’t use designer Shelly Pagliai’s directions in her book A Simple Life: Quilts Inspired by the 1950s. I had to draft a new version. In the illustration below you can see that the redrafted block is made up of four Hourglass blocks in red and white, four Hourglass blocks in green and white, and four blocks known as Cat’s Cradle. To the left of the illustration are the two sets of Hourglass blocks:
For the Cat’s Cradle blocks I was able to use a wonderful specialty ruler designed by Deb Heatherly for Creative Grids. The ruler eliminates the need to sew tiny triangles with bias edges. Instead you start out with two squares, two small rectangles, and one large rectangle. The yield: two Cat’s Cradle blocks, made slightly oversize and trimmed. I needed two sets:
I would much rather be working on a quilt project but . . . duty calls. My sewing room has been temporarily transported into an alteration station while I convert three long-sleeved shirts with one pocket each into three short-sleeved shirts with two pockets each. All for the Dear Husband. We’re going on a trip later this month and he really is in need of some new duds.
In days of yore I could find shirts for him that had matching pockets. Alas, no more. Shirtmakers seem to have given up on this notion entirely — except for western shirts which often come not only with two pockets but also pocket flaps and pearl buttons. Not the DH’s style at all, though I personally like them.
It’s usually easier to make two matching pockets than to duplicate the single pocket the shirt comes with so I start out each project by picking the stitches out of the single pocket to remove it from the shirt. This is usually accompanied by some minor grumbling on my part. Then I cut off the sleeves at the elbow and make new pockets from the leftovers, using a pattern I made (years ago) from freezer paper:
I must admit I like the end result:
Two shirts down, one to go. Then it’s back to the fun stuff!
I’m getting ready to work on Best.Christmas.Ever, Block 6 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the sampler quilt I started working on in January. (See the original quilt in my first post about it here.) The plan is to incorporate the four fabrics you see above. I think the green and black holly print will go in the large green triangles you see in my color mock-up.
Don’t you love the addition of the appliquéd flower in the center of the block?
It’s important to note that the block you see above with the scalloped border measures 18″ finished. The star block in the middle finishes at 12″ and then strips of the white background fabric are added on all four sides to bring it up to 18″ before the scallop is appliquéd in place. Remember this, as those measurements will come up later in the post.
As with my first four blocks, I’m reorienting the design so that the block is positioned the way you see it above when turned on point in the finished quilt. Here are the original and modified blocks drawn in EQ7 software:
It’s easier for you to see what I’ve done if I turn the modified version on point:
The block design is the same but the proportions are different: the elements in the modified block are noticeably smaller.
The quilt math on this block turned out to be quite a challenge! The original block was made on a 6 x 6 grid whereas the modified block must be made on a 5 x 5 grid to duplicate the look within the space constraints. I know that sounds crazy but look at the pencil markings on the next photo to see what I mean:
See how the block on the left is a 6 x 6 grid and the one on the right is 5 x 5?
My block is going to finish at 12½” instead of 12″ for the simple reason that the block needs to be easily divisible by five to work with my 5 x 5 grid. Technically speaking, 12″ is divisible by five: 2.4″ is the magic number. But quilters work in eighths of an inch, not tenths of an inch. I didn’t want to go there although I considered it . . . briefly.
Now, think about a block that finishes ½” larger than all the other blocks. Normally that would be a deal breaker. Ah, but I have a plan. Since the 12″ star blocks are surrounded by strips of background fabric to make them finish at 18″, I think I can get away with making the strips a little narrower on this block to compensate for the fact that the star block is bigger.
The other thing I’m going to do is sew my seams with a full quarter-inch seam allowance instead of my usual scant quarter-inch. That should draw the block up by at least a quarter of an inch, meaning that this star block will actually finish at 12¼” — pretty darn close to the size it should be.
Rally ’round the maypole, folks — I have a May Day finish to report. It’s Hip Hop, my kangaroo table runner (or wall hanging — I haven’t decided which). There was just enough late afternoon light left on this overcast day in Portland to snap a photo outdoors:
In a prior post I described how I quilted the background of each block, some with a walking foot and some with free motion quilting.
The last thing I did was stitch an outline around each of the five kangaroos. I was lucky that the fabric (from the “Walkabout II” line by Paintbrush Studios) included five separate ‘roos so I could put a different one in each circle. In these close-ups you may be able to see the outline stitching as well as the stitching-in-the-ditch around the inset circles:
Last but not least, the label:
The label is a finished edge appliqué circle, my preferred method of making quilt labels. It’s fused in place but I will also appliqué around it by hand to make it really secure.
I’m really happy with my choice of turquoise for the binding. The acid green fabric used between the blocks would have been too strong, I think.
April is my favorite month of the year. It’s the month when the promise of spring in Portland is fully realized. Lawns are emerald green, and the profusion of colorful azaleas, tulips, and other blooming things makes my heart sing. Today is a gloriously sunny day, one of the first of the year warm enough for Portlanders to open all their windows and let the fresh air in. I can hear the sound of a lawnmower starting up and if I’m lucky it will be followed by the scent of new-mown grass.
In honor of spring I hung Under Paris Skies in the master bathroom:
This is the springtime version of my pattern Season to Taste, designed and made four years ago as part of a series based on the four seasons. The summer and fall versions are done but I must confess the one for winter hasn’t been made yet, though I do have the perfect fabric for it in my stash.
This is the first time Under Paris Skies has been on display in my house. All this time it’s been hanging in the Pine Needle, the quilt shop in Lake Oswego where I’ve been teaching the last eight years.
After 25 years running the Pine Needle, owner Geri retired and closed the shop at the end of March. Several of my quilts had been hanging in the shop, and all of them got to come home with me. (Happily, Geri is still involved in the quilt industry and the Pine Needle location is being taken over by a local family-owned sewing business. More on that in a future post after an official announcement has been made.)
Back to Under Paris Skies for a moment. First you have to imagine April in Paris. Think of Ella Fitzgerald singing “April in Paris, chestnuts in blossom, holiday tables under the trees . . .”
Those are real chestnuts in blossom, taken on my trip to Paris three years ago this month. If you look carefully you can see the Seine in the background. Now imagine clusters of people sitting outside at cafe tables, taking in the fresh air while sipping a citron presse or café crème, like the two below (apparently still waiting for their order to be taken):
All three blocks in this kaleidoscope quilt contain two different images of outdoor Parisian life, carefully fussy cut to fit in the confines of the triangles. Here’s another scene that always makes me smile:
When the rains return (which they will, because it wouldn’t be spring in Portland without them), I’ll look at these bright and cheerful scenes of Paris in anticipation of the next sunny day right here at home.
Earlier this week it hit me that I’ve finished only one project since 2018 began. Only one! Plenty of things started, of course. I decided to spend some time this week addressing that rather pathetic record.
I quilted Hip Hop, the wall hanging/table runner pieced in January using my Full Moon Rising pattern. The quilting motifs were suggested by the fabric, a lively aboriginal print featuring kangaroos hopping around in the bush. The kangaroos were fussy cut and centered in the circles, which are inset (not appliquéd).
Here’s a look at the entire quilt, measuring 15¾” x 58″ after quilting and trimming:
All told I used four different quilting motifs. You can see three of them in this close-up of Blocks 1 and 2 bordered by the end piece:
Block 1, with the turquoise background fabric, was quilted with uneven wavy lines patterned after the wavy lines in the fabric design. Block 2 was quilted in a simple loop-de-loop design suggested by the dotted batik background fabric. For the end pieces I quilted angled straight lines at random using my walking foot. All the quilting in the other blocks is free motion.
Here are Blocks 3 and 4, stippling in the dark blue background of Block 3 and a repeat of the waves in the turquoise fabric in Block 4:
Here are Blocks 5 and 6 and the other end piece, with repeated quilting motifs:
Still to do: outlining the kangaroo in each circle using white thread, just following the lines on the fabric. I already did it in Block 1, though it’s hard to see in the photos.
My binding is already cut and sewn. I’m using the turquoise fabric, cut on the bias to show off the wavy herringbone pattern to better advantage:
I’m very happy with this little piece and will be even happier when it is bound and labeled. Only then can I claim my second finish of the year.
New York City? Yes. My husband and I got back last night from a quick five-day trip to Manhattan to celebrate our wedding anniversary. While packing for the trip I had tossed a couple of quilt magazines in my carry-on bag. One happened to be the July/August 2014 issue of McCall’s Quilting.
Flipping through the pages of the magazine, which I probably hadn’t opened in years, my eyes landed on this advertisement for a new line of fabric, “Midnight” by Studio 3 for Quilting Treasures, to be released in the summer of 2014:
“Hmm,” I said to myself, “I don’t remember seeing this ad before. I really like these fabrics!” I do love the drama of black and white prints, especially with the addition of a bright accent color. “I wonder if they’re even available anymore, four years after their release,” I mused.
So . . . after getting settled into our hotel room in Midtown, I picked up my iPad and did a search for the fabric. Lo and behold, I was able to find almost every fabric in the line! You know what happened next, friends: I had a little shopping accident.
Look what was waiting for me when I got home:
And that’s not all.
While I was in New York, I paid a visit to VWF Quilts, the shop of quilt artist Victoria Findlay Wolfe. I got to say hello to Victoria and chat with her about one of my Works-in-Progress based on her Cascade pattern. She designs for Studio 37 Fabrics, a division of Marcus Fabrics, and has an amazing array of fabrics packed into her shop. I added these four to my stash:
The three on the right are from her “Futurum” line and I am already regretting putting back another bolt from the line without purchasing any. (Thank goodness for mail order!)
Speaking of mail order, there was one more package waiting for me when I got home, a purchase I had made a few days before departing for New York. This purchase I can attribute to Anne W., a fellow cat lover and member of the Portland Modern Quilt Guild. (If you are on Instagram you can find her at @pdxannie.) She posted a picture of some adorable Paris-themed fabric featuring cats and I impulsively ordered a couple of yards.
No buyer’s remorse here, though. I love this fabric! And look at all the goodies from the new-to-me shop called Sunny Day Supply that came with it:
That’s a postcard in the upper right hand of the photo (with a handwritten message on the other side from the owners, Mary and Shawn, thanking me for my purchase) along with charm squares and buttons and a postage stamp, all wrapped so sweetly. What a charming shop, with amazing customer service.
And the trip to NYC? Braving unseasonably cold weather, my husband and I managed to pack in four plays . . .
. . . and several museum visits, including the Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), always a source of great exhibits:
It’s one of our regular stops, along with the Museum of the City of New York and the New York Public Library. Had the weather been warmer, we would have taken in a New York Yankees or Mets game as well. Next time!
By the way, our wedding anniversary is #37 and it actually falls today. On the agenda: a leisurely dinner out, where we will celebrate — with champagne, of course! — the fact that we have spent nearly four decades together.
. . . and Other Things. That’s the name of Block 5 in Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the sampler quilt I’m currently working on. I’m pacing myself: a block a month. Except that I’m ahead for the month of April.
As I’ve done with all my blocks so far, I rotated the design 90° so that when the block is set on point in the finished quilt, it looks like Shelly Pagliai’s original design.
Here is Shelly’s original Block 5, complete with scalloped border:
She tweaked the traditional Corn and Beans quilt block and added an appliquéd wildflower to the center. That’s the and Other Things part of her block name.
Here is my block sans appliqué, sashing strips, and scalloped border:
Don’t those fabrics play well together? The blue and white print is from Jill Finley’s new line called “This and That.” She designs for Penny Rose Fabrics. The yellow raindrop fabric is from an old line called “Kate’s Umbrella” designed by Felicity Miller for Westminster Fibers. It’s been in my stash for the better part of a decade. I have a feeling this quilt is going to be quite a mash-up of new and old fabrics.
When you set my latest block on point, it looks like this:
Now you can see its position relative to Shelly’s original design.
April’s block was more challenging to make than you might think. For starters, rotating the design changed the dimensions of the individual pieces. My half square triangles (HSTs) finished at 2⅛” and other measurements were equally odd. I was able to determine the sizes of my components by drawing the blocks in EQ7 software:
The drawing is 6″ finished so all I had to do was double the measurements since the actual block is 12″ finished (before sashing). Those squares composed of Half Square Triangles measure 1-1/16″ in the diagram.
Coloring the block in EQ7 helped me keep the blue/white and yellow/white HSTs in proper position for sewing:
Getting all those points to match required careful cutting, pinning, and sewing. And I resorted to pressing most of the seams open (something I rarely do) to get the seams nice and flat.
Now I’m ready to work on the appliquéd center. No foolin’.