Category Archives: update

Under Construction: A New Junior Billie Bag

Another Junior Billie Bag?

I’ve already finished two this year, one for myself and one for a friend. Now I’m making a third one. The reason? I’m teaching a class that begins tomorrow at the Pine Needle. I made my first Billie Bag, designed by Billie Mahorney, about 10 years ago, and found it very challenging. It’s definitely not for beginners.

Now that I am teaching Billie’s design (in a slightly smaller version), I find that the easiest way to give my students the confidence to make their own totes is to demystify the process by showing how the individual components go together. I call it a “deconstructed Billie Bag” but in truth it’s a Billie Bag under construction.

I guess every time I teach this class I will wind up with a new Junior Billie Bag. This one is going to a friend as a surprise.

jr-billie-bag-sept-2016
What you are seeing in the photo above are the front and back panels, the side panels/bottom unit, two sizes of straps, and some of the interior pockets. In a few weeks’ time, you will see a finished quilter’s tote measuring 14″ x 17″, with a generous 7½” depth to accommodate a 6″ x 24″ acrylic ruler.

I started out with two 12½” blocks to which strips were added to make two panels that will be trimmed to the proper size after quilting:

jr-billie-bag-front-and-back-panels-sept-2016

The panel on the left is yet another version of the Spinners block, from the book On the Run Again by Heather Peterson of Anka’s Treasures, that I’ve used in some other projects this year. The one on the right is a traditional star block that I jazzed up with a four-patch kaleidoscope (what I call a 4-Patch Wonder block).

Isn’t that a great black-white-yellow floral print? I found it last summer at a quilt shop in Central Oregon and bought the end of the bolt. It’s by Studio 8 for Quilting Treasures. I paired it with one of Cotton + Steel’s Basics from 2015: “Sprinkle,” designed by Sarah Watts. (I love the Sprinkle design so much I bought it in two other colors.)

My biggest challenge in making this Junior Billie Bag will be keeping Coco out of my sewing room:

coco-with-latest-jr-billie-bag

She’s a frequent visitor. Need I say more?

 

 

 

Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, Billie Bag, cats, faux-kaleido quilts, Junior Billie Bag, kaleido-spinner, tote bags, update | 10 Comments

One Lovely Blog Award

one-loveley-blogger

Among the blogs I follow regularly is I Think Sew: Quilty Musings by Gail Lizette. Gail is an award-winning quilter I met a few years ago through the Portland Modern Quilt Guild. She makes quilts that are deeply personal and strikingly original. If you are a fan of hexagon quilts, I encourage you to check out the ones that Gail has designed and created. Here is a link to her most recent one, Hexie Hummingbird.

Gail surprised me a few days ago by nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award, which has been described as “sort of like a chain letter with a nice sentiment.” That’s because someone nominated her for the same award and she is paying it forward by nominating others, according to the rules established by the award’s creators. Thank you, Gail, for thinking of me!

The Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you, and give a link to his/her blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Display the image of the award on your post.
  • List seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate (up to) 15 bloggers for this award, and notify them to let them know you have nominated them.

So . . . seven facts about me:

  1. I have a fraternal twin sister, whom I adore. I am eight minutes older, and I never let her forget it.
  2. I like to listen to standards and smooth jazz while sewing, although sometimes I’m in the mood for Gordon Lightfoot or ’70s rock.
  3. I love wordplay — puns, plays on words, word games, you name it. If you look at the names of my quilts, you’ll see what I mean.
  4. All of my cats are named after royalty. (Sometimes literary royalty. My current cat is Cordelia (Coco for short). Do you recognize the name? Hint: Cordelia was the daughter of a king in a Shakespeare play.)
  5. I have always loved being tall. At my peak I was 5′ 10¼”, same as my mother. I have shrunk to 5 foot 9 but I still claim to be 5 foot 10.
  6. For as long as I can remember, green has been my favorite color. Almost every one of my quilts has a bit of green in it.
  7. I am an incurable optimist, and I am grateful for every day. (Okay, that’s two facts but I had to get them both in.)

Now I am to nominate a few blogs for the One Lovely Blog Award. I nominate

Nicole at Sister’s Choice

Cindy at Hyacinth Quilt Designs

Barb at Block and Border

Kristin at Kristin LaFlamme Textile Art

Anne at Springleaf Studios

Why these blogs? They belong to quilters whose work I admire. I like the way they express themselves on their blogs. I learn from them. Their styles run the gamut from traditional to modern so they reflect the current quilting scene. These quilters also share bits of their personal lives, which adds an interesting dimension to their posts. I love reading about their quilts, of course, but I also love reading about their homes, family, pets, do-it-yourself projects, travels, and, occasionally, travails.

I know one of these quilters personally. The others I know only from their blogs. I often think how fun it would be to chat with them over a cup of coffee or glass of wine.

The One Lovely Blog Award has been circulating for a few years, although no one seems to know who started it or when. I arrived on the blogging scene quite late (2012) so it’s possible some of these quilters have participated before. With so many former bloggers abandoning their posts (play on words intended) in favor of Instagram, I’m grateful that the quiltmakers listed above (some of whom do Instagram also) still take the time to share their creativity and feed our souls through beautiful pictures and thoughtful words.

 

 

 

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Still on Rewind

Thank you all so much for  your comments on my Refresh and Swoon blocks! To be honest, I was dubious about my Swoon block. I wasn’t sure I had used the leaf print to its best advantage but several of you liked what you saw here and on my Instagram feed, so I’m pressing forward with two separate baby quilts.

At the same time, I don’t want to lose the momentum I have going on my Where It’s @ quilt, begun in July in a Rewind class with Karla Alexander, so I’ve made two more pairs. Here is the first pair . . .

rewind block aug 2016
. . . and the second:

rewind blocks late aug 2016
These two sets were made by stacking four layers of fabric and cutting the wonky Greek key blocks freehand. It’s one of the fun techniques I learned in Karla’s class. The squares start out at 12″ square and the unfinished blocks measure 8½” square.

I used the bright green fabric above as the darker of two values, whereas in an earlier pair of blocks it served as the lighter of two values, the darker being purple. Here are the two sets of blocks together:

rewind blocks compared aug 2016

So far I have 30 of the 48 blocks I need for the quilt. I can’t predict how these blocks will look when I am ready to put them all together but I sure am enjoying the process.

Are you planning to get some sewing in over the long Labor Day weekend? It seems strange to be writing those words: Labor Day weekend. A lot of folks think of Labor Day as the end of summer but don’t forget — we have almost three weeks before the Autumnal Equinox. I’m hoping for a few more al fresco dinners on the back deck.

 

 

 

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How Refresh-ing!

Here it is, my first test block using a new grouping of fabrics I wrote about in my last post:
swoon block late aug 2016
The pattern is Refresh, designed by Deb Mulder for Anka’s Treasures. The instructions were written for an 18″ block but I resized it to 16″. Wonder why? Well, I like to make my block components — in this case half square triangles, flying geese, and hourglass blocks — slightly oversize and then trim them to just the right size. The directions for Refresh didn’t call for that, and I found it easier to figure the math for a slightly smaller block.

The other pattern I am considering for this fabric grouping is Swoon, surely one of the most popular patterns in the quilt universe. The original Swoon pattern, designed by Camille Roskelley of Thimble Blossoms, creates 24″ blocks. She has since added three other versions in different block sizes: Swoon Sixteen (16″ blocks, of course), Mini Swoon (8″ blocks), and Patchwork Swoon, one huge block that finishes at 72″ square.

I bought Camille’s Mini Swoon pattern last year but wanted this block to finish at 16″, the same size as my Refresh block, so I resized it as well. Here is my Swoon test block:

Swoon block aug 2016
What do you think? Do you like one better than the other?

I’m making two baby quilts, both for little girls. I can either make both quilts from one pattern or do one of each. Because the blocks are so large, each quilt takes only four blocks (plus sashing and borders). I could be a fourth of the way done if I opt for both patterns.

 

 

 

Posted in baby quilt, family, update | 14 Comments

New Fabric Crush

2016-08-23 16.27.37
A few weeks ago a line of fabrics from Maywood Studio called “Neutral Ground” came into the Pine Needle, the quilt shop where I teach. The line features a contemporary rendering of leaves and florals in shades of grey and aqua on a greyish-white background, with sprinklings of silver metallic. I was sorely tempted but withstood the siren call.

Then an unrelated line of fabric by Riley Blake Designs, “Knock on Wood,” came into the shop. The colors blended beautifully with the other line, although the overall themes of the lines couldn’t be more different. That uneven stripe on the left and the uneven block print on the right in the photo above are the Riley Blakes.

Combined with a couple of fabrics from other lines, I suddenly had a grouping of fabrics I could get excited about. Excited enough to buy them? Well . . . yes!

I was preparing to tuck them away, vowing not to start something new until I had finished at least two other quilt tops, when I realized these fabrics would be perfect for the two girl-baby quilts I still need to make this year. I went through the patterns I’ve purchased over the last few years and pulled out several candidates. Those have been narrowed down to two. As soon as I have the first test block made, I’ll share it with you.

That uneven block print is the wild card in the mix. I’m not positive it will work with the other fabrics but I’m going to give it a go.

I can’t wait to get started!

 

 

 

Posted in baby quilt, update | 6 Comments

Rx for Rulers

If you’ve been quilting a while, you probably have a good-sized number of acrylic rulers on hand, the ones you use every day for cutting fabric and trimming blocks plus the specialty rulers you use on occasion. And let’s not forget the ones you bought (but maybe haven’t used yet) because they promised a faster, easier, more accurate way of cutting fabric or making a block.

With a few exceptions, these rulers tend to slip and slide on fabrics. How many of you have experienced a shift in position just as you were running your rotary cutter along a ruler’s edge? My hand is in the air.

Enter a product that may already be in your first aid kit or medicine cabinet. It’s a flexible clear 1″-wide surgical tape called Nexcare made by 3M. My friend and fellow quilter Kathy Anderson told me about it and now I’m passing the word on to all my friends who quilt.

Here’s what the package looks like. If you look carefully, you can see I have applied it to my go-to 4″ x 14″ Omnigrid ruler.

Rx for rulers 1

For years I used a product called Invisigrip on the back of my rulers. Made by Omnigrid, it’s a roll of clear film that comes attached to a paper backing. You cut it into strips, peel the paper backing away, and apply the film to the back of rulers. Invisigrip works very well at keeping rulers from sliding on fabric but it does have a couple of disadvantages.

First, the film can loosen from the back of the ruler over time and need replacing. Second, after a package has been open a while, it becomes stale. That is, it becomes impossible to separate the film from the paper backing, rendering the rest of the roll unusable. I tried sealing the roll in a Ziploc bag between applications but it still got stale.

I found myself buying a new package almost every time I got a new ruler. Over the years I have spent a fair amount of money on this product. NexCare tape is much less expensive — I think I paid around $4.50 for this double-roll package containing 20 yards — and it is very easy to apply.

All you have to do is unroll the length of tape you need, cut it with scissors, and apply it to the back of the ruler. But, being a bit of a neatnik when it comes to my sewing tools, I like to use my rotary cutter to cut straight lines so the tape lines up with the lines on my rulers. In the photos below I’m putting it on the back of a specialty ruler that I use a lot, the Quick Curve Ruler.

I place the ruler wrong side up on my cutting mat. (I put the ruler on a piece of fabric here just so you can see the markings better.) Below the ruler I unroll a length of tape the same length as the ruler, following the marking lines on the cutting mat, and press the tape onto the mat:

Rx for rulers 2

Next I trim the ends of the tape with my rotary cutter, allowing a ¼” margin between the end of the tape and the edges of the ruler. I use a stiletto (a bamboo skewer, actually) to lift up the edges of the tape where it was trimmed . . .

Rx for rulers 3

. . . and then peel the strip of tape off the mat.

Using the markings on the ruler itself as a guide, I lay the strip of tape on the ruler, positioning it a quarter of an inch from the edges, and press it in place with my fingertips. Here you can see that I added strips to the top of the ruler, leaving the area around the hanging hole clear, and added an extra stabilizing strip under the curve cut-out.

Rx for rulers 4

You can put strips around all four sides of the ruler if you wish. You can put them anywhere, for that matter. Because the cutting channel on the Quick Curve Ruler comes within a half-inch of the sides, I opted not to put strips there, adding the stabilizing strip in the center instead.

When I’m ready to use the ruler, I can see clearly through the tape:

Rx for rulers 5
Pretty nifty, don’t you think?

 

 

 

Posted in Quick Curve Ruler, tutorial, update | 6 Comments

Quilting up a Storm

I wish I could say that I have been quilting up a storm — but no, that happens to be the name of the raffle quilt I didn’t win:

Quilting Up a Storm OCQG raffle quilt 2016
Quilting Up a Storm ( 51½” x 66½”), made by members of the OCQG

Isn’t it a beauty? It was made by  members of the Oregon Coastal Quilters Guild, inspired by the artwork of Dennis McGregor. The quilt was on display for the two full days of the guild’s 26th annual quilt show, Quilts by the Sea, held earlier this month in Newport, Oregon.

The next best thing to winning the raffle quilt was admiring it in person, along with the 235 or so other quilts on display at the show. Here are a few of the ones that caught my eye:

For Kennedy, made by Cindy McEntee and quilted by Lisa Taylor:

For Kennedy made by Cindy McEntee quilted by Lisa Taylor
Flower Baskets, made and hand-quilted by Toni Brodie:

Flower Baskets by Toni Brodie
Mistletoe & Holly, made and quilted by Deborah Cagle:

Mistletoe & Holly made and quilted by Deborah Cagle Salem ORDeborah is one of my fellow Quisters (Quilt Sisters). She made this quilt as a gift for our friend Peggy, also a Quister, and then made a second version for herself — all in the space of one year!

This quilt, Thirty-Something Shades of Red, was made by Velma Freudenthal, the guild’s featured quilter:

Thirty-Something Shades of Red by featured quilter
Endless Chain, also made by Velma Freudenthal:

Endless Chain by featured quilter
Prairie Sweets, made by Nancy Terhaar and quilted by Lisa Taylor:

Prairie Sweets by Nancy Terhaar quilted by Lisa Taylor
Roses are Red . . . and White, made by Nan Scott and quilted by Lisa Taylor:

Roses are Red . . . and White by Nan Scott quilted by Lisa Taylor

Detail of Roses are Red . . . and White:

quilt shows Sisters and Newport 2016 182
Prints Charming
, made and quilted by Jean Amundson:

Prints Charming by Jean Amundson
Detail of Prints Charming:

detail of Prints Charming by Jean Amundson


Koi in the Garden
, made by Sue Clark and quilted by Lisa Taylor:

Koi in the Garden made by Sue Clark quilted by Lisa Taylor


Gennifer Flowers
, made by Nancy Terhaar and quilted by Lisa Taylor:

Gennifer Flowers by Nancy Terhaar


Soldier’s Waltz
, made by Maureen Gallant and quilted by Lisa Taylor:

Soldiers Waltz by Barbara Gallant quilted by Lisa Taylor
Detail of quilting on Soldier’s Waltz:

Soldiers Waltz by Barbara Gallant detail of quilting by Lisa Taylor


Star, 
also made by Maureen Gallant and quilted by Lisa Taylor:

Star by Maureen Gallant quilted by Lisa Taylor

Carpenter’s Square
, made by Judy McCoy and quilted by Jennifer Rinehart:

Carpenter's Square by Judy McCoy quilted by Jennifer Rinehart

View from the Lighthouse
, made by Jacque VanDamme and quilted by Cindy Young:

The View from the Lighthouse by Jacque VanDamme quilted by Cindy YoungDid you recognize the lighthouse in the center of the quilt? It’s the same panel by Dennis McGregor used in the Oregon Coastal Quilters Guild’s raffle quilt. The original painting was commissioned by the guild for its 25th anniversary show last year.

The guild had a display of mini quilts that included these charming ones:

wall of mini quilts OCQG Aug 2016
Here’s a close-up of Flower Pot, made by Lorna Myers:

Flower Pot by Lorna Myers (mini)
Rounding out this post are a few more of the quilts I liked:

Breaking Amish, made by Marge Hoyt and quilted by Lisa Taylor:

Breaking Amish by Marge Hoyt quilted by Lisa Taylor


My Butterfly Collection
, made by Betty Wilson:

My Butterfly Collection by Betty Wilson


Ring of Fire
, made and quilted by Linda MacKown:

Ring of Fire by Linda MacKown
and Royal Chanticleer, made and quilted (and beautifully embellished) by Linda MacKown:

Royal Chanticleer made, quilted, embellished by Linda MacKown
It was a terrific show, beautifully organized and presented, and my Quisters and I enjoyed our brief getaway to the Oregon Coast. I have a feeling this will become an annual event.

 

 

 

Posted in Quisters (Quilt Sisters), update | 6 Comments

Where I’m @ on Rewind

Rewind blocks mid august
Isn’t that a pretty jumble of batiks? I’m almost half done with the wonky Greek key blocks for my Rewind quilt, the one designed by Karla Alexander that I started in a class with her last month in Sisters, Oregon as part of Quilter’s Affair 2016.

I need 48 blocks to make the design pictured here:

RewindP436FB_lg

I’m working in sets of four, stacking my squares and drawing my cutting lines freehand the way Karla showed us in class. Here are my two most recent sets:

Rewind blocks freeform

More freeform Rewind blocks

In the pair of green/gold blocks directly above, take a look at the gold print, which reminds me of spots on a giraffe. Do you see how the giraffe fabric is the dark in those blocks and the green is the light? I used that same giraffe print in one of my early pairs, and in those blocks it was the lighter of the two:

2016-08-12 11.30.28

Here are the two sets of blocks together, with the giraffe print reading dark/light in the top row and light/dark in the second row:

Rewind blocks with giraffe fabric
My quilt is going to be called Where It’s @.  I’ll bet you can figure out why.

 

 

 

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Short Seattle Sojourn

The Dear Husband and I got back yesterday from a three-day trip to Seattle, occasioned by the Detroit Tigers coming to town to play the Seattle Mariners in a three-game stand. The DH, a Michigander by birth, roots for the Tigers. I root for the Mariners, but both of us appreciate a good play in baseball, regardless of which side makes it.

We boarded Amtrak in Portland Monday morning for the relaxing 3½-hour train ride to Seattle’s King Street Station. It’s been three years since the grand waiting room in King Street Station was restored to its original 1906 glory but I never tire of taking in the view:

Seattle King St Station aug 2016
Here’s a close-up of the ornamental plaster ceiling . . .

Seattle King St Station ornamental plaster ceiling aug 2016
. . . and the fluted Corinthian columns:

Seattle King St Station fluted Corinthian column aug 2016
Did you happen to notice the glass mosaic tiles on the column in the picture above? That design on the edge of the column would make a striking quilt block, don’t you think?

Seattle King St Station tile detail aug 2016If the design shows up on a quilt of mine, you’ll know where I got the inspiration.

More quilt inspiration can be found at Union Station, right next door to King Street Station. Originally a train station, the building was restored about 15 years ago after sitting empty for three decades. It’s now the headquarters of Sound Transit, providing express bus, commuter rail, and light rail service in the region, but the grand hall can be rented out for weddings and other events:

Seattle Union Station interior aug 2016
What about that quilty inspiration? Look no farther than your feet:

Seattle Union Station tile floor detail aug 2016

Seattle inside Union Station aug 2016

On Tuesday we visited my best friend from college, who served us an elegant lunch in her gracious home. We were in a suburb of Seattle but I felt like we had stepped into a bistro in Provence:

Seattle lunch at sandy's in kirkland wa aug 2016
Here’s a look from the other side of the room:

Seattle lunch at sandy's in kirkland aug 2016
Isn’t that a beautifully set table? Sandy served an elegant cold spinach soup made from a Julia Child recipe. We sipped wine (Vouvray) and water from vintage glasses, which of course made them taste that much better. The roses on the table are from Sandy’s gorgeous garden.

No trip to Seattle would be complete without a stroll through Pike Place Market, so the DH and I did that on our last full day:

Seattle pike place mkt aug 2016

Seattle pike place market fish aug 2016

Seattle pike place mkt produce aug 2016

Seattle pike place mkt flowers aug 2016
I always make it a point to visit Undercover Quilts, which recently moved to a new location at the north end of Pike Place Market:

Seattle at Underground Quilts aug 2016
Did I support my local quilt shop? Why, yes, I did.

A few blocks away I stopped in at AllSaints, a clothing store on Fifth Avenue — not to shop for clothes but to admire the décor. Over 500 vintage sewing machines line the exterior windows and interior walls of this store:

Seattle allsaints store aug 2016

I was in my element!

Seattle at AllSaints aug 2016

Mindful that our sojourn to Seattle was for baseball, I took this picture of Safeco Field from our hotel room, directly across the street from the stadium:

seattle safeco field aug 2016
On Thursday morning, we were homeward bound on Amtrak. It was a terrific little getaway, and we’ll do it again next year when the Tigers come back to Seattle to play baseball. Oh, by the way, the Mariners won all three games.

A couple of days before leaving for Seattle, I went over to the Oregon coast with my quilt group, the Quisters, to see the 26th annual Quilts by the Sea show presented by the Oregon Coastal Quilt Guild. In my next post I’ll show you some of my favorite quilts from that show.

 

 

 

Posted in family, Quisters (Quilt Sisters), update | 14 Comments

A Quilt Finish: Dragonfly Kisses

. . . and here it is, bound and labeled:

2016-8, Dragonfly Kisses

Dragonfly Kisses measures 50″ x 59″, a good size for a throw. The design is a variation of Chic Diamonds by Sew Kind of Wonderful. I believe this is the seventh or eighth quilt I have made using the Quick Curve Ruler, also made by SKW.

Here’s a close-up of the label, made with my favorite method using a compact disc for a pattern:

2016-8, Dragonfly Kisses label

See that dragonfly just to the left of the label? There’s one in the lower right corner, too. That fabric is one of six I used from the “Dance of the Dragonfly” fabric line, due in quilt shops this month. The fabric line was designed by Maria Kalinowski for Kanvas Studio in association with Benartex. (Something tells me I need more of this fabric, which comes in an equally beautiful plum/olive green colorway.)

Linking up with Kelly of My Quilt Infatuation on Needle and Thread Thursday.

 

 

 

Posted in Quick Curve Ruler, quilt labels, update | 12 Comments