In my last post I commented on the issue with my latest quilt, Billie’s Star, not 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:
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.
May I present Billie’s Star — pieced, quilted, bound, and labeled:
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:
The label is an inset circle in a square:
Billie’s Star is my fourth finished quilt of 2015. One a month! Can I possibly keep up this pace?
My quilt top based on the kaleidoscope block Grandma’s Surprise is finished:
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:
My version, with just three fabrics, looks quite different, doesn’t it? It was inspired by this three-color version, also created by Joyce:
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:
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:
. . . my kaleidoscope quilt based on the block known as Grandma’s Surprise is coming together. Here are the first six blocks:
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:
Isn’t it interesting that the circular shape emerging in the center is formed by spiky triangles?
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:
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:
Now I’ve added two blocks (Blocks 1 and 4) that go to the left of the first set:
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:
I’m going back upstairs to sew. I hope you’ll come back soon to see the rest of my quilt!
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:
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:
The Grandma’s Surprise block takes that concept to the next level:
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:
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.
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:
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?
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:
All the buzz about Bill Volckening’s soon-to-be-released book New York Beauty, Quilts from the Volckening Collection, published by Quiltmania in France, has inspired me to revisit the New York Beauty blocks I started making seven or eight years ago.
Here is one of my blocks . . .
. . . and another:
The designs for these blocks and 28 more are from the book New York Beauty: Traditional Blocks with Contemporary Variations, self-published by Karen K. Stone in 1995 (out of print now, I believe.) It contains paper foundations and freezer paper templates meant to be removed from the book. If the quiltmaker makes all 30 blocks shown in the book, there won’t be much left of the book!
I made 18 different blocks before putting the project aside. Just now I randomly stuck them up on my design wall:
Judging from some of the fabrics I see, this is one of my oldest UFOs. My collection of black, white, grey, and red fabrics has grown substantially since I last worked on this project!
I think it’s time to get back on track with my New York Beauty, don’t you?
My first errand of the day was a happy one: a trip to longarm quilter Nancy Stovall’s studio, Just Quilting, to pick up this quilt:
I asked Nancy to quilt gentle wavy lines horizontally across the quilt. I love the effect. Her quilting adds texture and visual interest yet lets the star blocks be the center of attention.
Here’s a close-up of the only block that features a butterfly:
The secondary star in the center of the quilt has a faux-kaleidoscope block in the center:
The quilt top started out a perfect 56½” square. After quilting and trimming, it measures 55¾” x 54¾” . This is the reason I don’t often make square quilts: they are rarely square after quilting. (But it looks square, doesn’t it?)
The back of the quilt includes leftover pieces of the focus fabric set on point:
At my request Nancy used the same pale blue thread on the back. It’s almost like having a reversible quilt. The batting is 80% cotton/20% wool, a low-loft blend I will surely ask for in the future.
I’ve named this quilt Billie’s Star because it was inspired by my quilt teacher and mentor, Billie Mahorney. Billie is very fond of stars and featured them in several of the classes I took from her between 2005 and 2009. She taught for over 20 years at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop in Lake Oswego, Oregon. It was a sad day for her legions of fans when she and her husband moved to Idaho to be close to grandchildren. Happily, she comes back to Oregon to visit now and then but her students sure do miss her.
To finish Billie’s Star, I’m going to bind it in the pale blue background fabric so the stars continue to float.