Category Archives: 4-Patch Wonder

“Y’all Come!”

The Pine Needle Quilt Shop in Lake Oswego, Oregon is having its annual Fall Festival this Friday and Saturday, Sept. 11 and 12. The Pine Needle is my home away from home. I teach there, meet friends there, buy fabric there. When I get into my car to head to the Pine Needle, I don’t even need to steer; my car seems to know the way. Just kidding, of course, but it gives you an idea of the amount of time I spend there.

Those of us who teach at the Pine Needle will be on hand Friday and Saturday to tell you about our new classes and demonstrate popular quilting products. My new quilt, Simply Dashing, is one of the first quilts you see when you come into the shop:

Simply Dashing at the PN
Simply Dashing at the Pine Needle


Not only that, it made the cover of the Pine Needle’s fall catalog:

800 pixels
I’m a Cover Girl!


The Pine Needle does a brisk mail order business, sending out thousands of catalogs to  quilters who don’t live close enough to visit the shop in person. It tickles me to think my quilt is the first thing these people will see when they pull the catalog out of their mailbox.

I usually try to come up with a little quilt or craft project to share with the people who come to the Pine Needle’s open houses. Since the shop is well known for its extensive inventory of flannels, my Fall Festival project is a flannel coaster in the shape of an overstuffed armchair, inspired by a felt coaster I bought some 30 years ago at a holiday craft sale.

Here’s a peek at some coasters I made with the wonderful Woolies flannels by Bonnie Sullivan for Maywood Studios:

flannel coasters for TPN
Cozy Flannel Armchair Coasters

Aren’t these cute? And very practical, too, because they’re reversible. The pattern and instructions are free with any flannel purchase. A quarter yard each of two flannels is enough to make four coasters.

During Open House the Pine Needle is doing lots of drawings for prizes — including a $50 gift basket each day. A few sets of my Cozy Flannel Armchair Coasters will be raffled off as well. Do come if you are in the neighborhood. I’d love to see you — and you just might be a winner!




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, faux-kaleido quilts, update | 7 Comments

Simply Dashing: A Few More Photos

Following up on my last post, I have a few more photos to show you of my new quilt, Simply Dashing (60″ x 76″ before quilting, 58″ x 74″ after quilting). I took photos late this afternoon on the back deck. It was difficult to get any good still shots, as a light wind kept the quilt in motion, billowing in and out as it hung from the arbor. This was the straightest shot I was able to get:

Simply Dashing Aug 2015 (2)
It does give you a good look at the lovely edge-to-edge quilting done by longarmer Debbie Scroggy of All Quilted LLC. The batting is Tuscany Wool by Hobbs, a blend of 80% cotton/20% wool that’s lightweight, drapes beautifully, and provides a bit of extra loft to give the quilting definition.

As usual, I put my favorite block in the upper left hand corner:

Simply Dashing Aug 2015 block 1

Isn’t it interesting how turning a block on point gives it a completely different look? You have to tilt your head at an angle to see that it’s a Churn Dash block.

Here’s a look at the back of Simply Dashing:

Simply Dashing Aug 2015 back of quilt
That block you see on the back was a test block that I ultimately rejected:

Simply Dashing Aug 2015 block on back
Don’t get me wrong: I love this block. It’s from the pattern Cosmic Delight by Freckled Whimsy. I will make a quilt from this pattern someday. The issue here is that the center square finished at 3″, not large enough to do justice to the focus fabric. The square in this block turned out well but I could tell I wouldn’t be getting enough contrast with additional 3″ square faux kaleido blocks.

A leftover strip of focus fabric on the back shows where all those faux kaleido 4-Patch Wonder blocks on the front came from:

Simply Dashing Aug 2015 focus fabric Balinesia by Benartex
Last but not least, the label:

Simply Dashing Aug 2015 label and quilting detail

Initially I was planning to float the blocks completely by binding the quilt in the pale yellow background fabric. In the end I went with a high contrast ½”-inch wide binding. The blocks still float but now they’re within a frame. A good decision, I think.

I mentioned in my last post that after hanging for a while in the Pine Needle Quilt Shop, Simply Dashing will go on the back of the sofa in my living room. Here’s a preview:

Simply Dashing on sofa at White House
I love living with quilts, don’t you?




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, faux-kaleido quilts, update | 6 Comments

Simply Dashing

Simply Dashing — that’s the name of my latest quilt, shown here:

Simply Dashing 58 x 74
Simply Dashing, 58″ x 74″ (2015)

Recognize the classic Churn Dash block? It got a makeover in this quilt. I combined the Churn Dash block with a 4-Patch Wonder block (my name for a block made of four repeats cut into squares and rotated to create a faux kaleidoscope image), added an alternate block, and set all the blocks on point. I think the result is — well, simply dashing.

This quilt came together very quickly. It all started when I stopped at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop about a month ago to see a new line of fabric that Geri, the owner, was ordering for the shop. She wondered if one of the prints was suitable for a quilt made with 4-Patch Wonder blocks. Oh, yes.

Take a look at the fabric, in two colorways, from the Balinesia line by Benartex:

balinesia fabric by benartex-002

I wasn’t planning to start a new quilt but . . . it didn’t take long to convince me I should. In just a few minutes I had zeroed in on the rich purple colorway, selected some batiks and background fabric to set it off, and was walking out of the shop with an armful of fabric and a pledge to Geri to do something with it within a couple of weeks.

Making the 4-Patch Wonder Blocks was fun. It always is. Like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. This is what I got:

4-PW blocks Balinesia-001
Each block has four possible looks, depending on how you rotate the four squares.

Here’s a look at the quilt top on my design wall:

Simply Dashing top 59 x 76
I considered an elaborate border but decided I really liked the look of the blocks floating in space.

On to the next decision:  how to have it quilted? I wanted something moderately dense because of the large amount of plain background. Debbie Scroggy of All Quilted, LLC worked her longarm magic with a curvy edge-to-edge design that echoes the flowers and leaves in the focus fabric and softens the straight lines and edges of the Churn Dash blocks. I’ll show you some close-ups in my next post.

The finished quilt measures 58″ x 74″ — a good sized throw. I think it will look wonderful draped over the sofa in my living room but for the time being it will hang in the Pine Needle.

Linking up with Kelly on Needle and Thread Thursday (NTT).




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, faux-kaleido quilts, update | 5 Comments

What a Deal!

At the meeting of the Metropolitan Patchwork Society last night, I bought $5 worth of raffle tickets. The MPS raises money for speaker fees by raffling off donated fabrics, bundling them in pleasing combinations according to color or theme, sometimes adding a book or pattern to sweeten the deal. It’s a terrific way to raise money, destash, or take home a prize, depending on whether you’re the guild, the fabric donor, or the lucky recipient. I’d say that’s a win-win-win.

Last night about a dozen bundles of fabric were being raffled. I was particularly taken with this one:

2015-6, fabric bundle
A Beautiful Bundle


Reader, you know what’s coming:  I won it!

The largest piece was this lush hydrangea and berries print designed by Holly Holderman for Lakehouse Fabrics:

2015-6, fabric bundle 2
Bountiful Blossoms and Berries


When I got home and measured this piece, I discovered it was 4¼ yards long. What a bonanza! The other three pieces were considerably smaller, but I still wound up with over seven yards of beautiful fabric. For five dollars. Wow.

When this fabric line came out a few years ago, I bought a piece of it in the pink colorway and eventually made this quilt from my 4-Patch Wonder pattern:

framboise august 2012
Framboise, 69″ x 84″ (2012)


This quilt, named Framboise, is one of my favorites. (You can read about the making of it in this post.) Here’s a shot of Framboise with the beautiful McKenzie River in central Oregon as a backdrop:

Framboise, 66" x 80", August 2012
Framboise au Naturel


Framboise is currently on the bed in the guest room so I get a glimpse of it every time I walk by the room.

What will I make with my new blue hydrangea fabric? I haven’t a clue. I’m just happy that it’s now in my stash along with the other three pieces in the bundle.




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, faux-kaleido quilts, update | 4 Comments

Reach for the Stars: Side by Side

My quilt Catch a Falling Star, based on Minnesota quiltmaker Terri Krysan’s Reach for the Stars quilt, is currently hanging in the Pine Needle Quilt Shop where it is receiving very nice comments from customers.

Several people have asked how my quilt differs from Terri Krysan’s (other than the obvious difference of fabric choices) so I thought I would give you a look at both quilts side by side:

Reach for the Stars3
Left, Terri Krysan’s original quilt “Reach for the Stars” (86¾” x 106½”), 2012. Right, Dawn’s version, “Catch a Falling Star” (84″ x 105″), 2015.

(Photo on left copyright Quilter’s Newsletter. Used with permission. Photo by Melissa Karlin Mahoney. Photo on right by Bill Volckening.)

The center medallion and three of the blocks were made following Terri’s design. From there I departed in ways both large and small. I’ll use the quilt outline below to explain those differences:medallion quilt layout

Blocks 1 and 2: no changes.

Block 3: incorporated fussy-cut images in outer part of block.

Block 4: changed center of block to a fussy-cut image enclosed in an inset circle. Moved to Block 11 position.

Block 5: no change.

Block 6: replaced pinwheel in center of block with a 4-Patch Wonder block. Moved to Block 7 position.

Block 7: eliminated appliquéd circles, incorporated fussy-cut image in center of block. Moved to Block 14 position.

Block 8: incorporated fussy-cut image in center of block and changed design of outer part to incorporate fussy-cut border stripe. Moved to Block 6 position.

Block 9: added four triangles to create a star. Moved to Block 13 position.

Block 10: replaced block completely with design spotted on a coffee mug.

Block 11: replaced block completely with a block I dreamed up (although it may well exist elsewhere). Moved to Block 4 position.

Block 12: made the center a square within a square and changed the color value in the corner four-patches to avoid having dark fabric in the points where they would bleed into the black sashing. Moved to Block 9 position.

Block 13: incorporated fussy-cut image into circle in center. My circle is inset rather than appliquéd. Moved to Block 8 position.

Block 14: replaced center of block with a double pinwheel block incorporating fussy-cut images. Moved to Block 12 position.

That’s it for the blocks, though I should note that Terri used fussy-cut images in seven of her 14 blocks. I challenged myself to incorporate fussy-cut images in all 14.

The setting triangles were made following Terri’s design but I altered the design of the checked border to make all four corners symmetrical. I’m very proud of that achievement.

Now you probably think all 14 blocks are different, don’t you? Not so! Two of the blocks are exactly the same design. They just look different because of the fabrics used. Can you spot which two are the same? Here’s a bigger photo of my quilt to help you look:

CAFS front BV photo 800Happy hunting!




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 5 Comments

Another February Finish: Olivia Twist

My first (but not my last) bedrunner quilt is back from the longarmer. It’s also bound, labeled, and ready to display. So satisfying to report another February finish! Here it is:

Olivia Twist front (2)

Olivia Twist, so named because of the floral focus fabric (A Garden for Olivia by In the Beginning Fabrics) and the twist block, measures 31″ x 76″ — a good size for the bottom of a double or queen-size bed. The design is adapted from my pattern 4-Patch Wonder with a Twist.

I’m delighted with the free-motion quilting done by Jolene Knight of Good Knight Quilts. I’ll bet you’d like to see some details, wouldn’t you? Happy to oblige.

In the 4-Patch Wonder blocks Jolene quilted a radiating blossom, repeating the same motif in the small black squares between blocks:

Olivia Twist quilting detail front 2
You can also see the whimsical leaf-and-loop motif she quilted in the lattice strips. Here’s another block:

Olivia Twist, quilting detail on front
In the background Jolene quilted a free-form spiral motif with pebbles here and there. Check this out:

Olivia Twist, quilting detail background

(The background fabric looks almost purple in the photo above. In actuality it is a very dark navy and black batik print.)

On the back of the quilt is a full length piece of the focus fabric as well as three leftover 4-Patch Wonder blocks set on point:

Olivia Twist back

In this close-up of the back, you can see more of Jolene’s playful free-motion quilting:

Olivia Twist, quilting detail on back
I’m already thinking about my next bedrunner quilt. My choice of pattern may surprise you. I hope you’ll check back in a few days to see what I have in mind.




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, bed runners, faux-kaleido quilts, free motion quilting, update | 4 Comments

Star Steps

Step 1. Make an 18½” star block. Why? Oh, just for fun. And to use up focus fabric left over from another project.

2015-1 Long Pointed Star 800

Step 2
. Put a ring around it. Now it measures 24½”.

Seeing Stars block

Step 3
. Make three more blocks and put all four up on the design wall:

Billie's Star

Step 4
. Decide that it needs “something in the middle” to draw attention to the secondary star formed when the blocks are put together.

That’s where I was when last I posted about this project. Here’s where I am now:

Billie's Star 1
Isn’t that a fun addition? Using triangles instead of squares, I made a 4-Patch Wonder block (my term for four fabric repeats layered, cut, and rotated to form a symmetrical design) and then added ¼”and ⅜”-wide sashing strips.

Here’s a close-up of that little faux-kaleidoscope block. With the sashing strips it measures 4″ square:

Billie's Star center
So what’s Step 5? Borders! I want to float those blocks so I’ll add border strips in the same blue background fabric. When I’m done my quilt top will measure 56½” square. Then it’s on to Step 6: piecing a backing.

And I vow not to start something else “just for fun” until I’ve finished the three quilts that got moved to the back burner when I started Seeing Stars.




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, faux-kaleido quilts, update | 6 Comments

4-Patch Twist Bed Runner

I finished piecing the bed runner I started a couple of weeks ago. (I wrote about it here and here.) When last you saw it, it looked like this, measuring about 34½” x 68″:

Olivia Twist 1

The plan was to increase the length so it would drop over the sides of a queen-size bed. I had very little of the background fabric left, though. (It’s hard to see from the photo that the background fabric is an inky blue and black batik print. I had only a yard to begin with — and I used every bit of it.) I inserted a 1½”-wide decorative strip at each end, working with the two fabrics used as lattice strips around the 4-Patch Wonder blocks in the interior.

Now the bed runner looks like this:

Olivia Twist vert OS

The inserts and end pieces added 10″ to the length. I trimmed a bit from the sides so now the bed runner measures 32″ x 78″.

My quilt already has a name: Olivia Twist. (Yes, that’s a nod to Charles Dickens.) The reasons behind the name? First, the focus fabric is from a line called A Garden for Olivia by In the Beginning Fabrics. Second, the quilt is based on the twist block that produces the wonderful interlocking design you see above. The twist block dates back to 1870, which by coincidence is the very year Charles Dickens died.

Now it’s on to the backing for this quilt. I have a good-sized piece of the focus fabric on hand for the back. People always want to know that the fabric looked like before it was cut up!




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, bed runners, faux-kaleido quilts, kaleidoscope quilts, snowball blocks, update | 6 Comments

4-Patch Twist Update

It’s still in progress but here’s a shot of the bed runner quilt I’m working on:

Olivia Twist 1
Dawn’s Variation on 4-Patch Wonder with a Twist

Can you believe all the blocks came from the same focus fabric? I never tire of making these faux-kaleidoscope blocks. It’s so much fun to see the amazing variety of images created by stacking four repeats and cutting them into squares. For more information on the fabrics I used and the two simple blocks that created the interlocking twist design, see my previous post.

Right now my quilt top measures 34½” x 68″ but it’s going to be a little bit longer because I want more of a drop over the sides of the bed. I haven’t decided yet whether to simply add strips of background fabric to the short ends or incorporate a pieced element with color.

Hmmm. Maybe I should sleep on it.




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, bed runners, faux-kaleido quilts, kaleidoscope quilts, snowball blocks, update | 4 Comments

Banana Appeal

My quilt Banana Split has been back from the quilter for several weeks now. I finally got it bound and photographed, and now it’s ready to be presented to you:

Banana Split, 40 1/2″ x 50 1/2″ (2014)


If you look at the fabric in the centers of the stars, you can see where my quilt got its name. Here’s a close-up of one block:

Banana Split, close-up of one block
4-Patch Wonder Block, 11″ with Sashing

The centers are all 4-Patch Wonder blocks, my name for blocks made of four repeats yielding a faux-kaleidoscope effect.

Banana Split was beautifully quilted by Debbie Scroggy of All Quilted, LLC. I went to Debbie’s studio and together we selected the thread and the quilting motifs (spirals in the main body of the quilt and in the corners, and piano keys in the borders). I expected the thread of choice would be a pale yellow. Much to my surprise, it was a deep gold that looked the best when we pooled all of the contenders on the quilt top.

The thread had such a lovely sheen that I asked Debbie to put it on the back of the quilt, too:

Back of Banana Split


The panels on either side of the big star block above show the focus fabric I used on the 4-Patch Wonder blocks. The circle in the center is a kaleidoscope made from the same focus fabric. Here’s a close-up of the big star:

May-2014-Shoot-HR-2 - Copy
Dawn’s Big Block (18″ Square)

The more I look at this big block, the more I like it. I was just goofing around when I made it but now I think it has real possibilities. Four blocks would make a perfectly sized baby quilt. I’ll hold on to that thought, as I have a couple of baby quilts to make in the next few months.

In the meantime, I have plenty of works in progress that need attention, not to mention the stack of UFOs (Unfinished Objects) I am committed to whittling down this year. Happily, Banana Split is no longer in that category.




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, faux-kaleido quilts, kaleidoscope quilts, update | 2 Comments