Category Archives: update

Taming the Beast


“The Beast” is the temporary name I have affectionately given one of my new projects: a quilt based on Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s pattern Cascade (from her new book Modern Quilt Magic). Curved braid strips are cut from a template and then arranged to form a gradated wash of color.

Several challenges have presented themselves.

My color choices. As you can see in the photo above, Victoria’s quilt is a riot of color. I’m using a restricted palette of black, grey, gold, and white. Why this combo? I was drawn to a small group of fabrics at my local quilt shop that contained golds and greys and liked them enough to build a quilt around them. Normally I gravitate toward primary colors and floral prints so this is a quite a stretch.

Already I’m having trouble arranging the golds and greys because they don’t naturally blend with each other in the same way that, say, charcoal and medium grey do. Value is probably going to be more important than color in the long run. We’ll see.

Finished size. I wanted to make the twin size (72″ x 90″) but am going with a slightly smaller version that should finish around 63″ x 80″ or so. That decision was made because my design wall isn’t tall enough to accommodate all the curved braid strips. My sewing room and the spare room across the hall (“the Annex”) where my design wall hangs are on the second story of my Craftsman home, where the walls measure 81″ floor to ceiling.

I did replace my old design wall (a twin-size flannel sheet) with a queen-size batt. I finally have the luxury of a design wall that’s nice and wide. It’s also quite a bit longer than 81″ but the excess is rolled up at the bottom of the wall.

Layout, Part 1. Before sewing begins, every single curved braid strip in Cascade must be arranged on the design wall. There are two reasons for this. First, the placement of each curve is critical because of the carefully planned gradation. Second, the strips are sewn together from the bottom up. (I initially rebelled at this notion. Sewing from the bottom up seems so counter-intuitive. There must be a way to sew from the top down, I told myself. Well, there is a way but it involves partial seams. On curved pieces. Not a good idea, although I did seriously entertain it for a few minutes.)

Even with the adjustment to a shorter length, the curved strips will extend beyond the bottom of the design wall when I lay out the last rows. Think of all those ¼” seams that haven’t been sewn yet. Fortunately, the excess batting at the bottom of the wall can be unrolled onto the carpet to accommodate the bottom strips. Keeping Coco the cat away from them will pose another challenge. (Talk about taming the beast!)

Layout, Part 2. As if all that weren’t enough, I’ve thrown myself an added curve, so to speak. Look at Victoria’s quilt again in the photo above. See how most of the dark fabrics are concentrated in the upper left? I want my quilt to be visually weighted on the bottom right, so I’m reversing her layout. My quilt will still gradate from dark to light to dark again but the bottom half will be mostly medium darks and darks.

I’ve divided the quilt into three sections, roughly according to this diagram:


I think of the sections as waves. The letters on either side refer to value, ranging from D for Dark to L for Light. This is what the first wave looks like at the moment:

Look again at the diagram. See the horizontal lines at the top and bottom? The quilt is trimmed along those lines. I cropped the photo to give you an idea of what the top of mine will look like:


This could change dramatically before you see it again. That’s because of another challenge: every time I walk by the design wall, I pause to change the position of a curve . . . or two . . . or three. Then I have to stand back — employing “the 10-foot rule”– to see if the change was a good one. I’m still auditioning fabrics, too. I found three small pieces in a tub of scraps just yesterday that are being added to the mix. Some of the ones I initially chose have been eliminated.

I’m excited about where this is headed. It’s just going to take a while to get there.

 

 

 

Posted in curved braid quilt, update | 6 Comments

Old Fabric Crushes

I happened across one of my posts the other day that was written in October 2012, a little over five years ago when my blog was in its first year. I was writing about three fabric groupings in my stash that I was wild about even though I hadn’t yet decided yet what to make with them. What a pleasant surprise to discover that I have, in fact, used all three groupings!

The first was this one, a mix from several lines anchored by the red and aqua floral print in the center from Denyse Schmidt’s line, “Flea Market Fancy,” reissued earlier in 2012:

Several of the fabrics wound up in this sewing machine dust cover . . .

. . . and this set of king-size pillowcases, both made in 2013:


The second group was this one, primarily from the “Ainsley” line by Northcott Fabrics:

From this group came a small project, a kaleidoscopic table topper made in 2014 . . .


. . . and a large project, my queen-size sampler quilt Catch a Falling Star, completed in 2015:

The third group was from the “Scarlet” line by Pamela Mostek for Clothworks:


These fabrics remained in my stash until 2017, when I used them to make my current Junior Billie Bag . . .


. . . and matching accessories:


Now when I see a new group of fabrics I just can’t live without, I’ll remind myself that the fabric in my stash is indeed getting used. I’ll just need three additional lifetimes to sew my way through all of it. Can you relate?

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, home dec, Junior Billie Bag, kaleidoscope quilts, Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, roll-it-up pillowcases, sewing machine cover, sewing tool caddy, table topper, update, windmill block | 5 Comments

First Week, First Finish of 2018

Ah, how nice to end the first week of the year with a quilt finish. May I present . . . Bluebirds for Bethany:

Bethany (fourth of my six granddaughters in birth order) is a wife and mother of three little boys age five and under. The boys received quilts made by their great granny (me) when they were babies. I wanted Bethany to have her very own quilt, one that reflects her gentle personality, and I wanted it to be unabashedly feminine. Why? Because she is surrounded by menfolk! Even the family dog is male.

This quilt fits Bethany to a T. I already knew she loved the color scheme and fabrics because she commented on a smaller version I made last year as a baby quilt. I had more than enough pieces left over to construct another quilt. It was meant to be.

On the back of Bethany’s quilt I added a strip of half-square triangles and a very special label:

Here’s a close-up of the label:


I am so delighted with how this quilt turned out. I asked longarm quilter Karlee Sandell of SewInspired2Day to quilt it using the time-honored Baptist Fan motif. It’s a motif one sees frequently on quilts made as far back as the mid-19th century. Those quilts, of course, were quilted by hand. Today’s longarm quilters use digitized versions to great effect.

Notice how the curves of the fans soften the sharp angles of the pineapple blocks? That was one of my reasons for choosing the motif. Karlee did a beautiful quilting job, as usual, with an extraordinarily fast turnaround. (Thank you, Karlee!)

I chose a bright rose fabric for the binding, cutting it on the bias to show the crosshatch design to better advantage:

Stitching the binding to the back of the quilt by hand was hampered to some degree by a certain calico cat who thinks a quilt draped across a lap is a fort to burrow under:


I tried to schedule my binding sessions around Coco’s catnaps. As you can see, I wasn’t always successful.

Once the quilt was bound and labeled it went into the washer and dryer to give it that old-fashioned crinkly look and feel:

Now all I need to do is tie this quilt up with grosgrain ribbon and deliver it!

Finished size (after quilting, trimming, binding, and laundering): 57″ x 58″
Block design: from Karin Hellaby’s book Pineapple Plus
Focus fabric on front: Birdies by Pam Kitty Morning for Lakehouse Dry Goods
Background fabric: Kimberbell Basic White 8210 (white dots on white)
Other fabrics (from my stash): various blenders in blue, aqua, pink, and green
Focus fabric on back: bicycle toss by Gail Cadden for Timeless Treasures, #Gail-C 2794

 

 

 

Posted in family, pineapple quilt block, update | 5 Comments

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, friends! I hope 2018 is off to a good start for you. It certainly is for me — I’m on track for a quilt finish during the first week of the year. Today I attached the binding to the quilt I’m making for my granddaughter Bethany (it came back from the quilter in record time) and now I’m hand sewing the binding to the back. Some people find this part of the quiltmaking process a chore but it’s one I really enjoy.

Bethany knows she’s getting this quilt and has even seen photos of the top. I want her to be the first one to see the completed quilt, though, so for now here are a couple of sneak peeks. First, the quilting:

Isn’t that wonderful? The motif is Baptist Fan, a classic quilting design I’ve been wanting to use on a quilt for a long time. Here’s a look at the binding:

Such a beautiful shade of pink, don’t you think? It’s more like a deep rose than a fuchsia. I love how it looks against the fabric on the front of the quilt (birdies) and on the back (bicycles).

Okay, break time is over. Back to hand sewing. I can’t wait to show you the entire quilt!

 

 

 

Posted in family, pineapple quilt block, update | 4 Comments

It’s Party Time!

Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs is hosting a Best of 2017 Linky Party, inviting bloggers to highlight their top five posts of the year. It’s a fun way to look back over the last 12 months and identify some of the high points.

My top five are below, in reverse order. Clicking on the links will take you to the original posts.

5. Dutch Treat. Although I didn’t finish this quilt till June, I started it in January during an epic snowstorm that kept me and many Portlanders indoors for several days.

4. NYC and VFW. A trip to New York City with my twin sister in March combined many of the things I love in life: family, travel, theater, museums, and quilting. The quilting part? A visit to the Manhattan shop of Victoria Findlay Wolfe:


Victoria didn’t happen to be there that day but I had the pleasure of meeting her the following month in Paducah, Kentucky during AQS Quilt Week:

3. Terrazzo Tiles and Piccolo Terrazzo Tiles. Using the free pattern Mini Mod Tiles by Sew Kind of Wonderful, I made two versions:

The larger one was made by “supersizing” the original pattern, using the larger of the two curved rulers Sew Kind of Wonderful designed for cutting curves. I wrote a tutorial showing how I did it.

2. Junior Billie Bag. This was the first of two JBBs I made in 2017:

Designed over 20 years ago by Billie Mahorney, it’s a fabulous quilter’s tote personalized by each maker, starting with the design on the front and back panels and ending with the pockets inside and out. Two years ago Billie turned the teaching of her design over to me, and I make a bag every time I teach a class. This may be my favorite of the eight I have made so far.

Without consciously planning to, I wound up making a suite of accessories to go with my Junior Billie Bag:

(See the rotary cutter coat in the lower left corner? I wrote directions for it in 2014 and it remains my most popular tutorial. Every now and then when I see a huge spike in the number of views on my website/blog, I know it’s because someone provided a link to the tutorial.)

1 . Where It’s @. Much to my surprise and delight, this quilt won a second place ribbon at the Northwest Quilting Expo in Portland, Oregon in September:

The design is Rewind by Karla Alexander of Saginaw Street Quilts. I started the quilt in a class with Karla in Sisters, Oregon in July 2016. Getting a ribbon was honor enough but the award came with a check for $500. My first reaction? “Think how many yards of fabric I can buy with that!”

Well, this has been a nice little trip down memory lane. Do you want to join Cheryl’s party, too? The link is open until January 2. Be sure to check out the top five posts of the other quilting/blogging partygoers. And thank you for checking out mine!

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, family, Junior Billie Bag, Northwest Quilting Expo, QCR Mini, Quick Curve Ruler, Quilter's Affair, rotary cutter case, sewing tool caddy, tote bags, tutorial, update, windmill block, wonky Greek key | 5 Comments

Stash Diving

I found the perfect fabric in my stash for the back of granddaughter Bethany’s quilt. It’s this bicycle fabric from Timeless Treasures:

When I bought this fabric two or three years ago, I remember thinking it would be a good choice for a quilt back. I guess that’s why I bought several yards of it. Either that or it was the end of the bolt — a particular weakness of mine.

The backing fabric has two things going for it. First, it features all the colors used on the front of the quilt, and second, it possesses an equal amount of whimsy. (I’m big on whimsy.)

The front features birds scattered every which way, including upside down:


Bicycles scattered every which way, including upside down, are right in sync, don’t you think?

What’s more, I found the perfect binding fabric in my stash. Over the weekend I was going through my project tubs and discovered a lovely fuchsia fabric I had set aside for another quilt. I cut the binding on the bias to get maximum effect from the subtle cross-hatch design:


I have a date with a longarm quilter tomorrow. Bethany’s quilt could well be my first finish of 2018!

 

 

 

Posted in family, pineapple quilt block, update | 7 Comments

Speaking of Junior Billie Bags . . .

. . . (see my last post), I have another finished one to show you, the one I made alongside my students fall term at the Pine Needle. The class ended a few weeks ago but I didn’t put the last touches on the bag until today. It’s for my friend Vickie, who has a late November birthday, but she won’t get it for several more weeks because she’s traveling. You get to see it before she does.

Here are the front and back panels:

I decided early on to cut the binding fabric on the bias because I figured the striped fabric would provide a dramatic frame for the panels. Good call, don’t you think?

These pictures don’t give a sense of the depth of the bag — 7½” — so here’s a partial side view that also shows you the pockets I put on the outside:


That side has two pockets and the other side has one taller pocket cut from the same wavy stripe I used for the binding:

Coco is busy investigating the interior pockets, of which there are many.

A look inside:


It’s really hard to get a good shot of the interior of a finished Junior Billie Bag. This earlier photo should give you a notion of how many pockets there can be (totally up to the whim of the maker):

You can also see there’s a shorter set of handles. Those are tucked out of sight in the photos at the top of this post.

To sum up:

The Billie Bag was designed by Billie Mahorney, who taught for many years at the Pine Needle. The junior version measures 14″ wide, 17″ tall, and 7½” deep.

The panel with Friendship Star blocks was based on a design by Thelma Childers of Cupcakes’n’Daisies. Read here how I modified it for this project. The windmill block is a variation of one designed by Deb Eggers of the Cottage Rose for her pattern A Mid-Winter’s Night.

I started with fabrics from the “Dance of the Dragonfly” line by Benartex and Kanvas Fabrics, adding several batiks from my stash and one blender from P&B Textiles. There can be no doubt what the birthday girl’s favorite color is!

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, cats, Junior Billie Bag, Quisters (Quilt Sisters), tote bags, update, windmill block | 3 Comments

Completing the Ensemble

Here are two more accessories I just made to tuck into my Junior Billie Bag when I’m heading out for a class: a case for my 5″ Gingher scissors and a 4″ x 4″ fabric box used primarily as a thread catcher:

The scissors case and fabric box go with the rotary cutter coat and sewing tool caddy made recently from the same fabrics:


Isn’t this a charming group of accessories?


Everything fits inside my Junior Billie Bag with plenty of room to spare:

My quilter’s tote is loaded and ready to go.

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, Junior Billie Bag, rotary cutter case, tote bags, update, windmill block | 3 Comments

Snow Day Sew Day

Today happens to be a rare day with no appointments or errands to run so I’m treating it like a snow day. I’m spending the entire day in my sewing room, except for the time taken to write this post. On my agenda: working on a lap quilt for Granddaughter #4 (in birth order).

I have six granddaughters. When I took up quilting seriously a decade or so ago, my oldest granddaughters were already having babies so I started making quilts for the great grandchildren. The pineapple quilt I finished in October for Baby Alira was the twelfth one made for a great grandchild:

Baby Alira’s Quilt, 44″ Square (2017)

 

Now it’s time to make quilts for my granddaughters. I’m starting with #4, Bethany, for the simple reason that she told me how much she loved the fabrics I was using in Baby Alira’s quilt. Since I had plenty of fabric left over and shapes already cut, I decided to make a larger version of the same quilt for Bethany.

The pineapple blocks in Baby Alira’s quilt finish at 10″ square. By adding two more rounds, I wound up with blocks for Bethany’s quilt that will finish at 14″ square. Here are those blocks up on my design wall:

Bethany’s Blocks

Now it’s time to add the sashing and cornerstones, to be followed by borders. Do come back soon to check on my progress!

 

 

 

Posted in baby quilt, family, pineapple quilt block, update | 4 Comments

This and That

Look what came in the mail yesterday!


Isn’t that a gorgeous array of fabric? The prints are all from Jill Finley’s new line called “This and That” for Penny Rose Fabrics, a division of Riley Blake Designs.

I’ve been keeping my eyes out for this fabric since Jill introduced it on her blog, Jillily Studio, a few weeks ago. Not finding it at a local quilt shop, I ordered directly from her website last week. I bought almost every print in the line, that’s how much I love it.

And I have a project in mind already:


I’ve been wanting to make the quilt on the cover ever since spotting this book in Sisters, Oregon in July of 2016. Hazel’s Diary Quilt was designed, pieced, hand appliqued, and machine quilted by Shelly Pagliai of prairiemoonquilts.com.

The book contains lovely photos of this quilt (along with several other quilts and projects designed by Shelly) but guess what? I have seen the real thing! In April of this year I was lucky enough to be in Paducah, Kentucky with my quilt group, the Quisters, attending AQS QuiltWeek, the huge quilt show and vendor mall put on by the American Quilter’s Society. I turned a corner in one of the quilt display areas and this is what I saw:

Now it’s one thing to admire pictures of a quilt in a book. It’s quite another to be up close and personal with the actual quilt. I stood as close as the ropes would allow, studying fabrics, admiring Shelly’s beautiful piecing and appliqué skills, and taking in the beautiful free motion quilting. The quilt is 95″ square so there is a lot to look at.

Jill Finley’s fabrics will be the starting point for my own version of Hazel’s Diary Quilt. I’m quite sure I have other fabrics in my stash that will play well with them. I’m going to take my time with this project, making one or two blocks a month. Every block includes some hand appliqué, giving me ample opportunity to practice and improve upon that skill.

I like the idea of starting this project at the beginning of the year and letting it take me all the way to the end. But as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. We still have a couple weeks left of 2017, and I have a couple of projects to finish up in the time remaining.

 

 

 

Posted in appliqué, free motion quilting, Quisters (Quilt Sisters), update | 10 Comments