Baby Selene’s quilt is back from longarmer Sherry Wadley, who did a wonderful job, and I can’t wait to show you how it turned out. Here it is, trimmed and ready to be bound:
Take a closer look:
First notice the loops and swirls in the quilting motif. Then focus on the aqua and green print in the center of the photo. Those are tiny snails. (The print is from the Far Far Away collection designed by Heather Ross for Windham Fabrics.)
When I was auditioning quilting motifs with Sherry, I was waffling between three designs. My friend Colleen was with me at the time and pointed out that one of the designs was reminiscent of snails. She was absolutely right, and my decision was made at that instant. The quilting motif is called Sashay.
The loops and swirls in the quilting really show up on the back:
As mentioned in an earlier post, I’m going to bind this in the red cross-hatch fabric. I normally finish my quilts with a narrow ¼” binding but this quilt seems to call for a slightly wider binding — I’m thinking ½” — to highlight the red in the center of the pineapple blocks and the tiny red ladybugs in one of the other prints.
Selene’s quilt, based on Karin Hellaby’s Pineapple Plus design, will finish at about 49″ square. That’s a good size for a baby who is now officially a toddler.
Did you know that March is National Craft Month? Not only that, March 18 is National Quilting Day.
But wait — there’s more!
March 18 is also Worldwide Quilting Day — a day to celebrate the art and craft of quilting with like-minded friends around the globe:
I follow quite a few quilters in other countries through Instagram (are you on Instagram too? You can find me here) so I am delighted to know quilters around the world are celebrating the same day we are.
National Quilting Day is always celebrated on the third Saturday of March, coinciding this year with two quilt shows in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area.
The 23rd annual “Airing of the Quilts” is this Friday and Saturday, March 17-18, at the Milwaukie Center, 5440 SE Kellogg Creek Drive in Milwaukie, Oregon. It’s a non-juried community quilt show exhibiting old and new quilts, traditional and non-traditional. Show hours are 9:00 am to 4:00 pm both days. For more information, visit www.MilwaukieCenterQuiltShow.org.
“Every Quilt Tells a Story” is the theme of the Metropolitan Patchwork Society’s one-day show Saturday, March 18, at the Beaverton Public Library, 12375 SW Fifth St., Beaverton, Oregon. Hours of the show are 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. This show is also non-juried and features quilts made primarily by MPS members.
I’m a member and have submitted two quilts I completed last year: Stella by Starlight . . .
. . . and Ring Toss:
If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll visit one or both of these quilt shows.
Quiltmakers are always being exhorted to support their local quilt shops. In the spirit of National Quilting Day and Worldwide Quilting Day, consider this a call to support your local quilt guilds as well.
You’re looking at the center medallion and first five blocks of Annette Holder’s Reach for the Stars quilt. Annette lives in Jonesboro, Arkansas. We met online as part of a community of quilters making the dazzling sampler quilt designed by Terri Krysan that was featured as a series quilt in Quilter’s Newsletter magazine during 2013 and 2014.
By June of last year Annette had completed her quilt top:
A few weeks ago she sent me pictures of her completed quilt and I am delighted to share them with you. Look what she has the pleasure of sleeping under:
Like many of us who started with Terri Krysan’s sampler quilt design, Annette made some design modifications. She replaced one of the original blocks with this friendship star, whose center square shows off her beautiful paisley focus fabric:
Annette credits “Jana and her elves” at Jana’s Quilting in Jonesboro, Arkansas with the longarm quilting. Here are a few close-ups:
I spy a lot of stitching in the ditch to outline the blocks and give dimension to the quilt:
Annette named her quilt Oh My Stars.
If you’d like to see other versions of this stunning quilt design, take a look at my Reach for the Stars page on Pinterest. If you’ve made your own version, I would love to hear from you! You can email me at dawn (at) firstlightdesigns (dot) com.
I’m talking about the places on my red and white windmill quilt where the points of the windmills meet. Matching my points turned out to be much more challenging than I had anticipated.
Here’s why. Take a look at a complete block:
The seams in the Half Square Triangle (HST) corner blocks and in the center pinwheel are sewn at 45° angles . . .
. . . whereas the seams in the V blocks are sewn at sewn at 60° angles:
When a V block is sewn to an HST or pinwheel block, the seams don’t naturally “nest,” even when the seams are pressed in opposite directions. Accuracy in pinning and sewing is essential.
My individual blocks went together nicely. Joining the blocks to form rows and then sewing the rows together was where I ran into problems. I’m a pretty precise piecer but I found that getting my points to line up properly was not just a matter of careful pinning and stitching.
Eight seams come together where the outer points of the windmills meet in adjacent blocks. It’s very difficult to sew them together without some of the seams shifting ever so slightly. With the amount of contrast between light and dark fabrics, points and seams that are even a stitch or two out of alignment are going to stick out like sore thumbs.
The seam between Rows 1 and 2 gave me absolute fits. There was much ripping out and resewing of small sections, accompanied by much gnashing of teeth (and some unpardonable language). I finally resorted to pinning and basting two rows together, then going back to do corrective sewing on the problem points (ripping out, repinning, rebasting . . . multiple times) before sewing the entire seam with a shorter stitch length.
The horizontal seam in the center of the picture below shows two properly joined blocks:
On the back where the eight seams come together, the row seams were popped open to distribute the bulk, forming ½” square pinwheels:
I can now happily report that all of the frustration was worth it. Take a look at my finished quilt top:
Now that all of the blocks are joined, can you see the overlapping circles? You should be able to see both light and dark circles. They are illusions, as there are no curved seams in this quilt top. The quilt block is a variation of the classic Winding Ways block, which employs curved seams to form overlapping circles.
The pattern (A Midwinter’s Night by Cottage Rose) calls for borders with pieced cornerstones but I like the look of this without any borders at all. It measures 48½” x 60½”, a nice sized throw.
And I have a name for it. Because I think of the blocks as windmills, I’m going to call this quilt Dutch Treat. Some of my readers suggested I call it Coco’s Valentine, since my calico kitty seems to like it so much. Truth be told, Coco likes every quilt I make, never missing an opportunity to lounge on a quilt under construction or a finished one.
This is the final layout of my scrappy red and white windmill quilt:
The pinwheel centers were the last to go in, as they needed to be balanced with each other as well as inside their respective blocks. And it was a balancing act. First the windmills needed to be positioned so that no like red prints (which read as solids) were in adjacent blocks and then the pinwheels needed to be positioned in the same way. My other self-imposed rule was that the red prints in each pinwheel had to be different from the other reds in the same block.
Since I was working with a limited number of reds, this turned out to be quite a challenge. I wound up with two neighboring blocks with the same red in the pinwheels (not sayin’ where) but I’m not worried about it because the quilt top still looks balanced over-all.
Speaking of pinwheels, those little blocks look pretty cute from the back:
To flatten the center where eight seams intersect, I popped two seams open, creating a teeny tiny pinwheel which no one will ever see once the quilt top is sandwiched.
The pattern I am using is A MidWinter’s Night by Deb Eggers of the Cottage Rose. I made one small but significant change to her directions which is best explained by showing you a couple of photos. Here are the first two blocks I made, side by side:
See how the values are reversed in the two blocks so that the windmill is dark in the left block and light in the right? But notice that the dark and light values in the center pinwheels are in the very same position.
Doesn’t it stand to reason that the values in the pinwheel should be reversed as well? I removed the pinwheel in the left block above and replaced it with a pinwheel with reversed values. Now look at the two blocks:
Doesn’t that look better? I sure think so. I’m glad this occurred to me before I sewed 20 pinwheels together the same way.
I am hoping to get all of the blocks sewn together this weekend. I might even get the top completed. My efforts are somewhat hampered by this constant visitor to my sewing room:
Coco likes to make herself at home on my ironing board. She’s always very interested in what I’m doing:
See how she has placed her paw directly on the pieces I am trying to pin? With “help” like that, no wonder I sometimes feel my progress is too slow.
Me? Cranky? Yes, because until yesterday I hadn’t sat down at my sewing machine for 10 days. Ten days! That must be a record for me. It seems there are just too many other things going on right now. Such is the life of a busy retiree — but this retiree isn’t happy unless she gets to spend some quality time in her sewing room on a regular basis.
What I needed was a little red and white color therapy, and happily I got some:
What you see here is a jumble of pinwheels. These blocks will go into the windmill quilt I started last month.
Here are the pinwheels laid out in the order they will appear in the quilt:
That hole in the third row is because the pinwheel already got sewn into this block:
If all goes according to plan, I’ll post photos tomorrow of the entire quilt layout. Maybe I’ll even have some blocks sewn together. Now that would make me really happy.
I’ve been longing to get back to my windmill quilt and today, after a three-week break, I finally did. With Valentine’s Day coming up next week, it seems appropriate to be working with red and white fabrics.
You may recall I’m making this pattern by Deb Eggers:
“Controlled scrappy” is the look I’m going for, with a mix of reds for my darks and two red-on-white prints for my lights. Here’s a light and dark block side by side:
My plan is to use a few additional red-on-white prints for the pinwheels in the center of each windmill block. After making the two complete blocks you see above, I decided to hold off on final selection of fabrics for the pinwheels until after all of the blocks were laid out on my design wall. I wanted to be sure the red fabrics, some of which are brighter than others, were balanced across the quilt with no like fabrics touching in rows or columns. A bit obsessive-compulsive, perhaps? Oh, maybe just a bit . . .
I decided on a 4 x 5 setting, requiring 20 blocks, and sewed the outer strips of each block, leaving the middle strip unsewn because of the missing pinwheel centers. I was having difficulty laying out the partial blocks on my design wall until I hit upon the idea of using just one V block from each windmill block.
This is what I wound up with:
It’s just coincidental that laying the blocks out this way created some elongated hearts. Sweet!
Satisfied with the placement above, I laid all of the blocks out:
Oh, my — quilting sure makes a difference! Here’s a before and after shot of the windmill panel of the Junior Billie Bag I’m working on:
After stitching in the ditches, I quilted straight lines inside the red and gold shapes to emphasize the angles. In the black border strips I used a decorative stitch that mimics the little teardrop shapes in the fussy-cut center block:
That’s a very subtle touch (translation: you can hardly see it) but I like knowing it’s there. I also stitched around the veins of the leaves to hold the layers in the center together.
In the other panel (which I wrote about in an earlier post) I added some additional straight lines radiating from the center circle:
I also outline stitched around the red poppy and the center of the flower to hold those layers together.
Here are the front and back panels with the two sets of handles attached:
Am I pleased with my quilted panels? I’m crazy about them! Next up: side panels with exterior and interior pockets.
I didn’t have to look far to find a block design for the other main panel of my quilter’s tote known as the Junior Billie Bag:
It’s essentially the same block that’s in the red and white quilt I started a couple weeks ago. I swapped out the pinwheel center of that block with the fussy-cut square you see above, surrounding it with a narrow black accent strip.
I am loving the bold look of this block, which reminds me of a windmill. (My red and white blocks with the pinwheel centers look even more like windmills; there’s a quilt name in there somewhere.)
Here’s the latest windmill block with black border strips added to size it for my Billie Bag:
I’m mulling over the quilting possibilities. Maybe straight line quilting in the windmill block and free motion meandering in the black background strips?
Just for fun I positioned the block on point on my design wall (and cropped it here so it would be framed in black):
Striking, yes? It reminds me a bit of a Maltese cross. Wouldn’t it make an interesting quilt? Oh for another lifetime to make all of the quilts that are in my head!
Last year I taught the Junior Billie Bag class three times and made three bags. (You can see them at this link.) Now I’m teaching the class again and — yep, working on another bag myself.
This is the first of two quilted panels for my current JBB:
As much as I enjoy making these bags, I really don’t want to make one every single time I teach a class. I like to begin each class with a “deconstructed Billie Bag” to show my students how each element goes together. Then as the class progresses I’m able to demonstrate construction techniques and share my tips. At the end of the class I have a finished bag along with my students.
What might work instead is to have a partially constructed JBB on hand as a teaching tool. Then I wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. That said, I love these fabrics so much I can’t imagine not finishing this one. Look at these three fabrics from the Scarlet line designed by Pamela Mostek for Clothworks:
They’re not new — they’ve been in my stash since 2012. Every so often I would get them out and — I admit it — fondle them, thinking about how they might be used in a quilt. Inspiration on a quilt design is yet to come but in the meantime I’m using some of the yardage to make the wonderful quilter’s tote designed many years ago by Billie Mahorney.
The panel design is my own. I centered a poppy in an inset circle and sewed black strips all around to bring the panel to the proper size, adding red flanges for more drama. The directional gold print surrounding the center poppy is a Joel Dewberry design from another line. It looks like it was meant to go with the other fabrics.
I’ve pulled a few other fabrics from my stash for interior and exterior pockets:
Don’t you think the fabrics have an Arts and Crafts vibe? The Joel Dewberry print is directional and I’m having a bit of fun with that.
Now I have to decide what to put on the other panel. Oh, the possibilities!