Author Archives: Dawn

Blogger’s Quilt Festival: Large Quilt Category

Here it is, my entry in the Spring 2015 Blogger’s Quilt Festival hosted by Amy Ellis of Amy’s Creative Side:

Catch a Falling Star (2015)
Catch a Falling Star, 84″ x 105″ (2015)


My regular readers know all about this quilt. A year in the making, Catch a Falling Star is based on a design by Terri Krysan called Reach for the Stars that was offered in Quilter’s Newsletter over the course of seven issues, beginning with Oct./Nov. 2013 and ending with Oct./Nov. 2014.

Using my own color scheme, which is quite different from the original, I replaced three blocks and made a few changes to some of the other blocks. I also challenged myself to incorporate a fussy cut image into every block and redesigned the border to make it symmetrical.

The Jacobean floral fabric and a few others in the quilt are from the Ainsley line by Northcott Fabrics. The remaining fabrics came from my stash.

Many of my blog posts in 2014 are about the creation of this quilt. If you are interested in seeing how it came together, block by block, type “reach for the stars” into the search box on the upper right side of the home page; the posts will come up in reverse  chronological order. In particular I hope you will look at some of the close-ups of longarm quilter Loretta Orsborn‘s beautiful free-motion and digitized quilting designs.

My quilt is entered in the large quilt category. To see some of the other large quilts entered in the festival, check out this link:

But wait, there’s more! There are 10 other categories of quilts in the festival: mini, small, appliqué, art, hand quilted, home machine quilted, original design, ROYGBIV, scrappy, and viewer’s choice. Be sure to check them out. And prepare to be inspired!





Posted in Bloggers Quilt Festival, Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 8 Comments

“Never an umbrella in Paris . . .

. . .  and, by all means, rain the very first day.” So says Sabrina Fairchild (Audrey Hepburn) in the classic 1954 movie, Sabrina, one of my all-time favorites.

I’m  happy to report that I followed Sabrina’s instructions to the letter. The light rain falling on the day of our arrival was most welcome. The Dear Husband and I have the great good fortune to be spending three weeks in the City of Light. We are staying at the apartment of a friend, who is staying at our home in Portland during the same time frame.

As I write this, night is falling on the city, and from our dining room window we can look out and see the very top of the Eiffel Tower all lit up. The top of the Pantheon is also visible in the distance.

Under these circumstances, I hope you’ll forgive the lapse in posting. I’ll resume as soon as I’m back home. In the meantime, I’m enjoying  la vie en rose. According to Sabrina, it means I’m looking at Paris (and the world) through rose colored glasses.






Posted in update | 9 Comments

What a Square!

In my last post I commented on the issue with my latest quilt, Billie’s Starnot being perfectly square. Before quilting it measured 57″ square. After being quilted and bound, it finished at 56″ x 55.” The discrepancy was caused by the motif I chose, a wavy design across the horizontal surface of the quilt that caused the quilt to draw up more lengthwise:

2015-4, Billie's Star, 55x54 (2)

Instead of trimming my quilt square before binding, I opted to keep the outer border strips the same size. In retrospect that may have been a mistake. I could easily have trimmed ½” off the two long sides so that the quilt finished at 55″ square.

Should I have done that? Would anybody else (besides my obsessive compulsive self) even notice that the border strips weren’t the same size?

Now I am wondering: how do other quiltmakers deal with this discrepancy? I would really love to know.




Posted in update | 6 Comments

A Friday Finish: Billie’s Star

May I present Billie’s Star  — pieced, quilted, bound, and labeled:

2015-4, Billie's Star, 55x54
This is one of those “just for fun” quilts. It wasn’t planned at all. I simply gave into the urge one day in late January to play around with a large star block, using a lovely floral print left over from my previous project, a quilted bed runner. The quilt is named after my mentor and teacher Billie Mahorney, well known for her love of star motifs in quilts.

These stars blocks are 24″ square (including the dark blue rings around them). The quilt measures 56″ x 55″. It’s not a perfect square because the quilting I selected, gentle horizontal waves, caused the quilt to draw up on the lengthwise measurement. I could have trimmed it to be square but then the border strips wouldn’t have been even.

Leftover squares of the focus fabric went on the back:

201504, Billie's Star back, 55x54
The label is an inset circle in a square:

2015-4, Billie's Star (label)

Billie’s Star
is my fourth finished quilt of 2015. One a month! Can I possibly keep up this pace?




Posted in update | 4 Comments

Grandma’s Surprise: A Kaleido Quilt Top

My quilt top based on the kaleidoscope block Grandma’s Surprise is finished:

2015-4, Currant Affairs 57in sq
Dawn’s Version of Grandma’s Surprise, 57″ with Borders

It’s the result of a recent class I took from Joyce Gieszler, author of Then and Now Quilts (Kansas City Star Quilts, 2014). The Grandma’s Surprise quilt in Joyce’s book was made of Civil War reproduction fabrics:

Grandma's Surprise, Joyce Gieszler, 1 of 3
Grandma’s Surprise, 36″ square, made by Joyce Gieszler (2013)


My version, with just three fabrics, looks quite different, doesn’t it? It was inspired by this three-color version, also created by Joyce:

Grandma's Surprise, Joyce Gieszler, 2 of 3
Grandma’s Surprise, 36″ square, also made by Joyce Gieszler (2013)


I put my red fabric where Joyce put her black because I wanted the red to dominate. And dominate it does!

My red fabric reads as a solid but it’s actually a blender from Timeless Treasures. I wish the texture of the red showed up better in my photos, as well as the very pale mottled grey, which looks white in the photos. Perhaps this close-up will help:

Grandma's Surprise, fabric detail
A Closer Look


On my computer screen the red fabric has an orange cast but it’s really a true red, like a currant. The print fabric with the red flowers is part of the Black, White and Currant 5 line from Henry Glass. My friend AnnMarie gave me some large scraps from that line, including this wonderful print, which I will incorporate into the back:

Black, White and Currant fabric from Henry Glass
Black White and Currant V by Color Principle for Henry Glass Fabrics


I’m going to call this quilt Currant Affairs.




Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 13 Comments

Slowly but Surely . . .

. . . my kaleidoscope quilt based on the block known as Grandma’s Surprise is coming together. Here are the first six blocks:

Grandma's Surprise, blocks 1-6
I’m making this quilt in a class at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop taught by Joyce Gieszler, author of Then and Now Quilts, a new book from Kansas City Star Quilts. This quilt is one of the designs in Joyce’s book.

It’s fascinating to see how varied the fabric choices are among my fellow students, ranging from completely scrappy to batiks, 1930s reproduction fabrics, and prints from the Cotton and Steel collection. The block design lends itself beautifully to all of these. A couple other students besides me are using a limited color palette, and one student is using a gradated fabric to great effect. It was fun seeing the first blocks emerge at our class last Saturday.

I was unable to attend Part 2 of Joyce’s class this morning because of another commitment but I was determined to squeeze in some sewing time today. Happily, I managed to finish another block late this afternoon. It goes in the middle of the bottom row:

Grandma's Surprise, blocks 1-6 and block 8

Isn’t it interesting that the circular shape emerging in the center is formed by spiky triangles?




Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 3 Comments

Lions and Lambs

March can’t make up its mind if it’s going out like a lion or a lamb, at least here in Portland. We’ve had bouts of sunshine today interspersed with rumbling thunder and heavy rain. It’s sunny as I write this but I see ominous clouds rolling in.

No matter. I’m happily ensconced in my sewing room working on a kaleidoscope quilt based on the block Grandma’s Surprise. It’s homework. I’m taking a class from Joyce Gieszler, whose book Then and Now Quilts (published last year by Kansas City Star Quilts) features a very scrappy quilt based on this block.

Joyce created a second version of Grandma’s Surprise using just three fabrics:

Grandma's Surprise, Joyce Gieszler, 2 of 3
Grandma’s Surprise, designed and made by Joyce Gieszler, 36″ square (2013)


That’s my inspiration for the red, black, and pale grey quilt I’m making. The quilt has nine blocks, and I’m midway through the fifth block. Want to see my progress so far? Of course you do.

The quilt is based on a 3 x 3 grid: three rows and three columns. In the photo below you see the center block and the block directly above it:

Grandma's Surprise, blocks 2 and 5
Blocks 2 and 5


Now I’ve added two blocks (Blocks 1 and 4) that go to the left of the first set:

Grandma's Surprise, blocks 1,2,4,5
Blocks 1 and 2 (first row) and Blocks 4 and 5 (second row)

You are looking at the upper left portion of the quilt. Can you see how the pale grey triangles in the outer blocks are starting to give the effect of a circle?

Here’s where I am with the fifth block, which goes in the Block 3 position in the upper right corner:

Grandma's Surprise, block in progress
Under Construction: Block 3


I’m going back upstairs to sew. I hope you’ll come back soon to see the rest of my quilt!




Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 7 Comments

Something in Common

Grandma's Surprise, both by Joyce Gieszler

Aren’t these two quilts striking? They were both made by local designer and teacher Joyce Gieszler, whose book Then and Now Quilts was published last year by Kansas City Star Quilts. These quilts have something else in common: they are made from the very same block!

Now look at this third version, also made by Joyce:

Grandma's Surprise, Joyce Gieszler, 3 of 3
Made with Cotton and Steel fabrics, this quilt is as contemporary as the the upper left quilt, made of Civil War reproduction fabrics, is traditional. I first saw this third version in January at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop’s Open House. Joyce was there introducing herself, her new book (which includes this design), and an upcoming class. I signed up for her class on the spot.

The block in these quilts is called Grandma’s Surprise.  Deconstructed, it’s a kaleidoscope block. Well, you know how I love kaleido quilts. Is it any wonder I wanted to make one of my own?

When Joyce showed me a photo of the three-color quilt (upper right), I knew immediately that I wanted to make this version. I’m intrigued by the way color, value, and fabric placement completely change the look of a quilt. Joyce’s three versions illustrate this beautifully.

A basic kaleidoscope block is made of eight 45° triangles, forming an octagon, and finishes with four corner triangles to make a square:

basic kaleidoscope block
The Grandma’s Surprise block takes that concept to the next level:

grandma's puzzle block

Do you see how four triangles fill the same space as one triangle in the basic version? It’s still a kaleidoscope block — but a more complex and sophisticated one.

The quilts are made of nine blocks in a 3 x 3 grid. In the two quilts at the top of the page, Joyce made 12″ blocks so the quilts finish at 36″ square. The Cotton and Steel version is made of 16″ blocks with a 3″ border, finishing at 54″ square.

For my three-color version of Grandma’s Surprise, I chose red, black, and a very pale grey. Here is my center block:

center block, grandma's puzzle

It measures 16½” unfinished. The black print is from the Black, White & Currant 5 line by Color Principle for Henry Glass & Co. At a recent Portland Modern Quilt Guild meeting, guildmate AnnMarie Cowley surprised me with several large pieces from this line left over from a quilt project of her own. (Thanks so much, AnnMarie!) I’m delighted to find a project that puts her gift to good use.




Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, Portland Modern Quilt Guild, update | 5 Comments

Binding Billie’s Star

Today I’m linking up with Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation, who hosts a Needle and Thread Thursday (NTT) link party each week. I discovered Kelly’s blog a few weeks ago and have been enjoying it immensely.

My project du jour? Hand sewing the binding to the back of Billie’s Star:

binding Billie's Star
I use just three straight pins when I sew my binding to the back, taking them out as I stitch and then moving them ahead to the next section. Billie Mahorney (after whom this quilt is named) taught me that years ago. I’ve tried other methods from time to time but always return to this way. Do you have a favorite method of stitching your bindings down?




Posted in update | 5 Comments

Putting a Spring in My Step

Late to the party. Auntie Em at Quilt Crossing wrote a post on Monday about a rainbow color challenge on Instagram last week that I missed completely. The challenge, issued by Paul and Lianne of Swirly Designs, was to post a photo a day showing the tools and supplies used in crafting, with each day’s post featuring a specific color of the rainbow. Auntie Em did the red-orange-yellow-green-blue-violet of the challenge. She went on to play with pink, turquoise, and black, and wound up with a nine-photo collage worthy of framing.

Not only did I miss the Instagram challenge, I also missed posting Tuesday on St. Patrick’s Day. Late to the party again.

Since today is the first day of spring — my favorite season — I’m celebrating with a photo that references 1) the Instagram challenge, 2) St. Patrick’s Day, 3) the advent of spring, and 4) my favorite color:

Have a wonderful weekend!




Posted in update | 3 Comments