On Sunday I’m heading over to Central Oregon with my quilt group, the Quisters, for a week of sewing, including taking classes at Quilter’s Affair.
Do you know about Quilter’s Affair? It’s the week of classes put on by the Stitchin’ Post quilt shop in Sisters, Oregon, leading up to the biggest outdoor quilt show in the world. The show is always held on the second Saturday in July; this year it falls on July 9.
For Quilter’s Affair, the Stitchin’ Post brings in teachers from the U.S. and abroad to join a group of talented local and regional experts. I’m taking a class taught by fellow Oregonian Karla Alexander of Saginaw Quilts. I’ve met Karla, heard her lecture, and admired her designs, so it’s high time I took a class from her.
She’s teaching five classes at Quilter’s Affair. I’m taking the one based on her pattern Rewind:
Many of Karla’s designs are made by cleverly stacking, cutting, and sewing fabrics. Rewind is no exception. I was attracted to this pattern because of its resemblance to the classic Greek key design. Whereas the traditional Greek key is dignified, with straight lines and symmetry, Karla’s key (if I can call it that) is quirky and lighthearted, thanks to free form cutting, a freewheeling color palette, and funky fabrics.
I decided to raid my batik stash for this quilt. Instructions were to start with a family of colors and pick an equal number of lights and darks. I started with green — no surprise there — and randomly pulled other colors that go well with it. After cutting my 12″ squares, I layered them so that each fabric looks good with its neighbor on either side.
Here is my fabric pull:
Most of these squares are doubles, with a few singletons. For the class project 48 squares are needed. I wound up with 60, which gives me some leeway. In some cases a fabric works as a light with one neighbor but as a dark with the other. It will be interesting to see if this affects the construction process.
Taking this class will be extra fun because my fellow Quister Deborah is taking it, too. I wonder what fabrics she chose. Quilter’s Affair, here we come!
Reach for the Stars, the spectacular sampler quilt designed and made in 2012 by Terri Krysan of Lakeville, Minnesota, continues to enchant quilters all over the world. Terri’s quilt was pictured on the cover of the Oct./Nov. 2013 issue of Quilter’s Newsletter. My guess is that hundreds, if not thousands, of versions have been made — or at least started — since then.
Directions for the quilt were presented in a series beginning with that issue of Quilter’s Newsletter and ending with the Oct./Nov. 2014 issue. My version, named Catch a Falling Star, was completed early in 2015. During the year I spent making my quilt, I became part of an on-line community of Reach for the Stars makers that continues to this day.
About a year ago I heard from Annette Holder in Jonesboro, Tennessee, who was just starting her RFTS quilt and had a construction question. A couple of weeks later, Annette sent this picture of her center medallion and first five blocks:
In addition to the center medallion, Reach for the Stars contains 14 pieced blocks. Annette replaced some of the blocks in Terri’s original quilt with some more to her liking. (I did the same.)
Just a few days ago Annette sent me photos of her completed quilt top. It is gorgeous! See for yourself:
Here’s a view from a different angle:
Beautiful, Annette! I can’t wait to see it quilted.
Earlier this year I had the pleasure of meeting Judi Schwenk, a quilter from Vancouver, Washington — just across the bridge from my home in Portland, Oregon. Judi’s version of RFTS is called Shadows in the Fog:
Perfectly named, considering the misty blues and muted lavenders and greys in the quilt. Here’s a close-up of the center medallion, which also gives you a glimpse of the lovely swirly quilting motif:
This is a stunning achievement, given that Judi is a relatively new quiltmaker.
Chris Tabuteau of Melbourne, Australia is also a beginning quilter. She, too, created a fabulous version of Reach for the Stars. Chris bought a set of 40 Barbara Brackman Richmond Reds fabrics “on a bit of whim,” as she recalls. She thought a sampler quilt would allow her to use most of the fabrics and develop some sewing skills.
An avid gardener, Chris replaced some of the star blocks with her own very stylized adaptations of flower blocks. The result is Cottage Garden:
Can you believe this is Chris’s third quilt? This close-up shows her accurate piecing as well as the fine work of her longarm quilter:
Chris also pieced a lovely back, a finished quilt in itself . . .
. . . and made a set of pillowcases from the very last of the scraps:
Thank you, Annette, Judi, and Chris, for sharing your beautiful creations!
One of my friends wondered why I chose green for the binding over black. Black would have provided a strong dramatic frame for the quilt, it’s true. So why green?
First, I wanted to draw attention to the playful nature of the focus fabric used in the rings. That fabric (from the Doodle line by Alice Kennedy for Timeless Treasures) is mostly black and white with touches of lime green and light blue. The overlapping circles in the fabric remind me of ferris wheels and fireworks. A bright color seemed more appropriate than black for the happy mood I wanted to emphasize.
Second, instead of piecing a backing for the quilt with different fabrics, as I usually do, I used one piece, the same print used on the front. From a distance, the fabric reads primarily as black and white. If I had pieced the back I would have added quite a bit of lime green to liven it up. Since I wanted the quilt to be bright and cheerful from both sides, green binding was the obvious choice.
Oh, and then there is that third reason, which I think I’ve mentioned a few times before: green is my favorite color.
In keeping with the block design, fabric design, and quilt name, the label features — what else? — a double ring:
Ring Toss, my little quilt made from Sew Kind of Wonderful’sMini Rings pattern, is back from the quilter already. Take a look:
I asked Karlee Sandell of SewInspired2Day.com to quilt this for me, and I couldn’t be more pleased. I had been thinking of Karlee as an up-and-coming longarm quilter because she is quite new to the field, but it’s quite clear she has already arrived.
Here are some close-ups of her lovely quilting, first on an X block . . .
. . . and then on an O block:
The acanthus motif fills the center of the O block beautifully. And don’t you love the quilted “pearls” in the elongated oval between the rings?
For the green and black triangles that form an on-point square where the rings meet, Karlee designed her own quilting motif, intertwining rings that reinforce the theme of the quilt:
I have been trying all morning to photograph this quilt. Every time I place the quilt on a flat surface, my new cat Coco photobombs it:
Doesn’t she look innocent?
Ring Toss measures 33¼” square after quilting. Now it’s on to the binding and the label. I’m going to use the same lime green fabric for the binding that’s in the quilt; I think it will frame it nicely.
The Mini Rings quilt top I started last month is done and — as of today — off to be quilted. The top, measuring 34″ square, was made with a focus fabric from a Timeless Treasures line called Doodle, designed by Alice Kennedy.
The quilt is small enough that I could have quilted it myself on my domestic machine but I chose not to do that. You probably know that quilting is my least favorite part of the quiltmaking process. I decided I wanted the quilt to reflect the deft touch of a talented free motion longarm quilter. We seem to have a growing number of them in the Portland area.
I used a single piece of the focus fabric on the back, a portion of which is shown here:
Primarily black and white with touches of lime green and cool blue, the print features overlapping circles ranging from 1¼” to 2¾” in diameter. What do you see when you look at them? I see fireworks and ferris wheels, which makes me think of carnivals.
And that led me to the name for my quilt: Ring Toss. Isn’t that perfect? Or should I call it Mini Ring Toss?
This photo of Hood Canal in Washington State — those are the Olympic Mountains in the background — was taken from the deck of the house I stayed in last week. I was in Union, Washington to teach at a four-day quilt retreat organized by the Pine Needle. The deck of the house I shared with Geri, the owner of the Pine Needle, was built right over the water. I fell asleep to and woke to the sound of water gently lapping at the rocks on the shore.
The retreat itself was held at St Andrews House, a retreat and conference center run by the Episcopal Church of Western Washington:
Isn’t that a serene setting for a retreat? Here are a couple of closer views of the building:
A covered deck runs the entire length of the house on the water side, affording spectacular views of Hood Canal (technically a glacial fjord) and the Olympics.
One of the things I love about teaching is seeing what fabric combinations students bring to the sewing table. Here are the first few blocks:
On our last morning, we had an impromptu show and tell of our projects. Unfortunately, our California girls (Candyce, Jan, and Janice) had to leave very early to catch a flight home, and a couple of other participants had already packed their projects away, so I don’t have photos of those. Still, we have plenty of examples to show you.
Diana came to the retreat planning to make one test block. She liked her first block so well she decided to make an entire quilt! Here are her first six blocks:
Linda completed her quilt top! She fussy cut the center hexagons. The narrow containment border and wider floral border set off her blocks beautifully:
Sophia was very productive! Not only did she complete a Spinners top . . .
. . . she also made another block from Heather’s book, the block called Happy Dance . . .
. . . and this one called Chatter Box:
Donna made a set of placemats using the table topper design from the book — and had enough fabric leftover to make a table runner:
Those placemats will add a lively jolt of color to Donna’s table.
Carol S. also chose the table topper design, using a delightful holiday fabric featuring poinsettias and holly:
She made several, to be given as gifts. Lucky recipients!
Carol D. made kaleido-spinner blocks (my name for the Spinners block made with identically-cut triangles that surround the center hexagon) using a lovely stylized floral fabric:
Did you notice Carol’s Spinners blocks are on point? She is making a runner for a narrow table; her runner will be 13½” wide. If she had turned her blocks horizontally, the runner would measure 15½” wide.
Pam S.’s runner features playful prints spinning around solid gold:
I can’t help it; those fabrics make me smile.
Evelyn also made kaleido-spinner blocks. She’s making a quilt and is showing us the fabric she chose for the border. It’s going to look terrific next to the subtly textured aqua batik that surrounds the spinning triangles:
I can think of only one word to describe Tamara’s Spinners runner: elegant. Take a look:
The touches of metallic in the triangles and light background fabric, contrasting with that rich burgundy, contribute to the rich effect. Tamara fussy cut her triangles from a fabric I wouldn’t have thought of for a kaleido-spinner quilt:
Tamara will incorporate that fabric on the back of her runner.
Sharon fussy cut flowers for the center of her blocks from a beautiful fabric that looks like a watercolor painting. Here’s one of those blocks . . .
. . . and another:
She’s using a different colored batik in each of the triangles.
Debbie H. chose fabrics for her runner that match the décor of her dining room:
That creamy jacquard background fabric sets off her Spinners blocks so well. And her Y-seams are perfect!
Debbie S. pieced a king-size bed runner using lively tropical fabrics. She also made kaleido-spinner blocks:
Debbie put her own spin on the design by incorporating two fabrics in the top and bottom blocks (that stripe!), omitting the sashing strips, and adding an accent strip around the blocks. Debbie is a professional longarm quilter (AllQuilted LLC). I will be very interested to see how she quilts this vibrant runner.
While the retreat featured the Spinners pattern, the participants were free to work on whatever they wanted. Helen was finishing the binding on two spectacular small projects . . .
. . . and she was also working on her version of Shadowbox (pattern by Mountainpeek Creations):
That block on the far right has over 50 pieces in it. I can only imagine how many pieces the finished quilt will contain.
Thank you, Geri, for organizing a fabulous retreat filled with laughter, games, good food, and some very productive and creative sewing. Thank you, participants; you made teaching a pleasure. I hope to see you all again when we convene at the Pine Needle in October to show off our finished creations.
I’m heading off shortly to Hood Canal in Washington State for a quilt retreat organized by the Pine Needle, the quilt shop where I teach. On one evening I’m going to show my students how to make a rotary cutter coat based on my free pattern (tutorial here).
As I was gathering my materials yesterday, I realized I didn’t have a rotary cutter coat of my own. All the ones I have made were given away.
I fixed that in short order. Here is my (new) rotary cutter coat:
Just yesterday I showed you pictures of WanderLust, the king-size bed runner I picked up on Wednesday from longarm quilter Coleen Barnhardt of the Quilted Thistle. The bed runner needed to be bound and labeled — and that’s been done.
Are you surprised I got it bound so quickly? It would have taken me hours to stitch down the binding by hand. Confession: I took the easy way out and fused the binding in place in a matter of minutes with Steam-a-Seam-2, a double-stick fusible web.
I use Steam-a-Seam-2 occasionally on wall hangings and other small pieces that won’t get washed. It should be just fine for this bed runner that will be laundered but not as often as, say, a baby quilt. (Actually, a fusible web should never wash out or come undone if applied properly. I used it on this quilt because I was in a hurry to get it done; my preference is for a binding stitched down by hand.)
The label is a bit unconventional. In fact, it’s not a label at all. I mentioned yesterday that this quilt is reversible so I didn’t want to attach a label as I normally do. Here’s what I did instead:
Can you see where I wrote “WANDERLUST, DAWN WHITE, 2016 PORTLAND OR” in permanent ink? It’s hard to see (my plan) but it’s there. I like to include information on my labels about the patterns and designers but I skipped it in this case. Let this post be a permanent record that WanderLust was based on the pattern Spinners by Heather Mulder Peterson. Spinners is one of several delightful designs in her book On the Run Again (Anka’s Treasures, 2014).
My new cat Coco must really like this quilt. She photobombed it:
Oh, joy! It meant Coleen, an award-winning longarm quilter (the Quilted Thistle), was working on my quilt WanderLust, made from Heather Peterson’s Spinners pattern (from the book On the Run Again).
Later in the day Coleen let me know she was finished, and off I rushed to claim the quilt. It’s actually a king-size bed runner (measuring 20″ x 88″ after quilting) so it was a bit difficult to photograph. Here are a few shots taken on my back lawn yesterday afternoon:
I liked the floral fabric so much (it’s from Joel Dewberry’s Wander line, which is how this quilt got its name) that I made the bed runner reversible. Because of that I won’t put a label on it — but I may write some information on the back in very tiny letters.
Coleen’s free motion quilting is spectacular! Here are a few closeups:
Coleen and I chose a pale khaki thread with sheen. Because the quilt is reversible, I asked her to use the same thread on the back:
The fern-y batik I used on the front of the quilt is all but gone from my stash. Fortunately, I have enough of the dotted batik from the back to use for the binding:
Getting this bed runner bound is top priority, as I am teaching the Spinners pattern at the Pine Needle retreat this weekend, and I want to show a finished quilt. After that, I am sending WanderLust off to my sister Reigh, as it will look perfect at the foot of her king-size bed.
That shipment of Garden Pindot fabric by Michael Miller that I’m using as the background for my Mini Rings quilt finally arrived today. It shipped out 10 days ago, and I’d been wondering if it would ever arrive.
I think the wait was worth it:
That sticker was on the plastic bag my fabric was packed in. I ordered five yards — and received 11½ yards instead.
But that’s only part of the story. All I needed was a small amount of this white-on-white dot to finish my Mini Rings quilt:
I couldn’t find it locally so I decided to shop online. When I discovered that fabric.com had 11½ yards of this fabric available, I impulsively ordered it all, reasoning that it would serve as background for a great many quilts and I would never be in a situation where I would be using noticeably different dye lots in the same project.
Then fabric.com notified me that the yardage was not one continuous piece of fabric but rather several pieces in 1 yard, 1.5 yard, and 2 yard cuts. Did I still want the fabric? I decided to rein in my impulse purchase and modified my order to three pieces totaling five yards. The fabric shop altered my order and refigured the price.
When the box arrived today, I lifted it and thought, “Gee, this is awfully heavy for five yards of fabric.” Inside were eight cuts of fabric totaling 11½ yards. Talk about hitting the jackpot! Thank you, fabric.com!
Interestingly, two of the eight cuts are noticeably creamier than the others, so I will set them aside and make sure I don’t unwittingly combine them with the snowier ones.
Guess I won’t be running out of Garden Pindot anytime soon.