Category Archives: update

Hazel’s Diary Quilt: Best.Christmas.Ever. (Block 6)

Here it is, Block 6 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt:

This block, named Best.Christmas.Ever. by its designer (Shelly Pagliai of Prairie Moon Quilts), isn’t quite finished in this shot. The appliqué in the center of the block includes a small circle on top of the black star. More on that below.

That black star represents my third effort. I was having a terrible time tucking the excess fabric underneath the points. My star points weren’t points at all — they were stubs. In despair I contacted Shelly, who suggested I reduce my seam allowance and make sure I snipped the seam allowance all the way to the inside points. Great advice, Shelly!

Two attempts later, I had the star you see above. It’s not perfect by any means. In fact, only one of the five star points is truly pointed but I’m okay with that. As a novice when it comes to needleturn appliqué, I know my skills will improve. My novice status was quite apparent when it came to sewing the circle onto the black star. The circle is tiny — about a half-inch in diameter. I tried three times without success. What to do? Why, use a button instead.

I have quite a collection of new and vintage buttons and it didn’t take long to find a winner:

The button actually has a raised star design on it. Take a look:

Isn’t that the perfect addition? (I’ll remove the button before it’s quilted and sew it back on later.)

Here’s a picture of my block on point, as it will appear in the finished quilt.

My completed blocks so far:

(Confession: that tiny black star in the upper left block isn’t sewn on yet. I just stuck it there to show you what the block is suppposed to look like. I’m seriously thinking about making a star out of black Ultrasuede and fusing it in place.)

Of the five blocks made, Best.Christmas.Ever. may be my favorite. It’s the only one so far that doesn’t include yellow and blue. Maybe that’s a sign I should put it in the center of my quilt.

Here’s a look at Shelly’s original quilt:

Isn’t that a stunner?

I’m a little behind on my self-imposed schedule of one block per month. My block for June is called Aunt Ruby’s Choice and I’m excited about getting started. The first task: picking fabrics. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Posted in appliqué, Hazel's Diary Quilt, needleturn appliqué, update | 5 Comments

More Quilty Inspiration . . .

. . . coming to you from the streets of Portugal.

It’s been a week since we flew back to the states from Portugal. Fortunately, I have many memories and lots of photos to remind me of the delightful time my husband and I spent cruising the Douro River and the many shore excursions we took to medieval hill towns and modern cities. Everywhere we went, images appeared that made me think of quilt blocks, appliqué designs, and even free motion quilting motifs.

When we got to Lisbon, our final destination in Portugal, the amount of gorgeous tile work I was seeing made my head spin. These three designs were on the walkway outside our hotel:


This one was on the floor of the main entrance to the hotel:


On the north bank of the Tagus River near the Monument to the Discoveries there’s a huge tile wind rose and map of the world charting Portuguese explorations. The map is embellished by wonderful designs that would look right at home on a quilt:

We visited the National Tile Museum dedicated to the azulejo, a glazed colored tile traditionally used in Spanish and Portuguese buildings. The museum houses examples dating from the 15th century to today. With the battery in my cell phone running low I took very few pictures but they’re enough to give you a sense of what I was seeing:

Tile work from the 21st century evoking a sampler quilt (a modern take on Dear Jane, perhaps?):

Half square triangles! Four-patch kaleidoscope blocks!

Inside the cafe at the museum:

Looking for the restrooms? They’re in this hallway:

Taking a city bus back to our hotel, we spied more contemporary tile work that may well have been made by the same artists whose work we saw at the museum:

Looking at these photos makes me very eager to get back to my various and sundry quilting projects. I hope to have something to show you very soon.

 

 

 

Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, appliqué, Dear Jane, faux-kaleido quilts, free motion quilting, kaleidoscope quilts, machine applique, needleturn appliqué, update | 9 Comments

I See Quilts

Bom dia from Portugal! My husband and I are in the heart of the Douro River Valley on a river cruise. Everywhere you look the terraced hills are covered with vines. We have visited some lovely wine estates and sampled some delicious wines and ports.

I’m finding plenty of inspiration for quilts. Here’s a small sample beginning with a photo taken while we were still in Spain.

An exterior window in the old Jewish quarter of Toledo . . .

A lovely motif, reminiscent of fleur de lis, at the Mateus Palace near Pinhăo, our second docking stop in Portugal:

Tile from the interior wall of a cafe in Lamego where we stopped after a museum visit for a glass of champagne (our Friday night tradition):

A cork-backed ceramic trivet from the Museu do Douro gift shop in Régua:


I’ll be on the lookout for more . . .

P.S. If you are on Instagram, check out the hashtag #iseequiltseverywhere. You’ll see a few of my posts.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in appliqué, family, update | 6 Comments

Missing Market

Over the last few days my fair city — Portland, Oregon — has filled with thousands of professionals in the quilt industry: fabric designers, quilt shop owners, pattern  designers, fabric and notions manufacturers, vendors, longarm quilters, professionals of every stripe. The occasion is International Quilt Market, the big trade show held twice a year. Fall Market is always held in Houston; Spring Market rotates among other cities.

As a quilt teacher and sole proprietor of First Light Designs, I’m eligible to attend. And where am I? Not in Portland. I’m Missing Market, a condition significant enough that others who also cannot go have created a #missingmarket profile on Instagram. But don’t feel too sorry for me. After two delightful days in New York City, the Dear Husband and I have arrived in Spain where we will join a group traveling down the Douro River on a small ship. We start in Madrid, board the vessel near Salamanca, and end in Lisbon, Portugal. Then it’s back to Manhattan for three nights before coming home in early June.

My plan was to bring a hand applique project or two along with me. I did finish piecing Block 6 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt and even got the center of the block marked for the applique . . .

. . . but that was as far as I got before running out of time.

With no handwork to occupy me in quiet moments on board ship, I need something quilt-related to tide me over till I get home, so I packed a book I had ordered from Canada that arrived just a few days before my departure:

This little book has 533 pages and weighs over two pounds! I will surely derive many ounces of pleasure from its pages during the journey down the Douro.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in appliqué, Hazel's Diary Quilt, needleturn appliqué, Quilt Market, update | 3 Comments

My Kind of Fun

Now that’s more like it!

In my last post, I was complaining a bit about doing some alteration work for my husband, only because it was taking me away from doing something I like much more: making quilt blocks.

Happily, I am back at it. In the photo above, you can see the components of Best.Christmas.Ever, Block 6 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the sampler quilt I’m working on this year.

Because I chose to rotate the block 90 degrees, I couldn’t use designer Shelly Pagliai’s directions in her book A Simple Life: Quilts Inspired by the 1950s. I had to draft a new version. In the illustration below you can see that the redrafted block is made up of four Hourglass blocks in red and white, four Hourglass blocks in green and white, and four blocks known as Cat’s Cradle. To the left of the illustration are the two sets of Hourglass blocks:


For the Cat’s Cradle blocks I was able to use a wonderful specialty ruler designed by Deb Heatherly for Creative Grids. The ruler eliminates the need to sew tiny triangles with bias edges. Instead you start out with two squares, two small rectangles, and one large rectangle. The yield: two Cat’s Cradle blocks, made slightly oversize and trimmed. I needed two sets:


Here’s my block, arranged on the ironing board:

Ready, set, sew!

 

 

 

Posted in appliqué, Hazel's Diary Quilt, needleturn appliqué, update | 2 Comments

Duty Calls

I would much rather be working on a quilt project but . . . duty calls. My sewing room has been temporarily transported into an alteration station while I convert three long-sleeved shirts with one pocket each into three short-sleeved shirts with two pockets each. All for the Dear Husband. We’re going on a trip later this month and he really is in need of some new duds.

In days of yore I could find shirts for him that had matching pockets. Alas, no more. Shirtmakers seem to have given up on this notion entirely — except for western shirts which often come not only with two pockets but also pocket flaps and pearl buttons. Not the DH’s style at all, though I personally like them.

It’s usually easier to make two matching pockets than to duplicate the single pocket the shirt comes with so I start out each project by picking the stitches out of the single pocket to remove it from the shirt. This is usually accompanied by some minor grumbling on my part. Then I cut off the sleeves at the elbow and make new pockets from the leftovers, using a pattern I made (years ago) from freezer paper:

I must admit I like the end result:


Two shirts down, one to go. Then it’s back to the fun stuff!

 

 

 

Posted in family, update | 10 Comments

In the Works: Block 6 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt

I’m getting ready to work on Best.Christmas.Ever., Block 6 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the sampler quilt I started working on in January. (See the original quilt in my first post about it here.) The plan is to incorporate the four fabrics you see above. I think the green and black holly print will go in the large green triangles you see in my color mock-up.

Here’s the original block created by Shelly Pagliai of Prairie Moon Quilts:

Don’t you love the addition of the appliquéd flower in the center of the block?

It’s important to note that the block you see above with the scalloped border measures 18″ finished. The star block in the middle finishes at 12″ and then strips of the white background fabric are added on all four sides to bring it up to 18″ before the scallop is appliquéd in place. Remember this, as those measurements will come up later in the post.

As with my first four blocks, I’m reorienting the design so that the block is positioned the way you see it above when turned on point in the finished quilt. Here are the original and modified blocks drawn in EQ7 software:


It’s easier for you to see what I’ve done if I turn the modified version on point:


The block design is the same but the proportions are different: the elements in the modified block are noticeably smaller.

The quilt math on this block turned out to be quite a challenge! The original block was made on a 6 x 6 grid whereas the modified block must be made on a 5 x 5 grid to duplicate the look within the space constraints. I know that sounds crazy but look at the pencil markings on the next photo to see what I mean:

See how the block on the left is a 6 x 6 grid and the one on the right is 5 x 5?

My block is going to finish at 12½” instead of 12″ for the simple reason that the block needs to be easily divisible by five to work with my 5 x 5 grid. Technically speaking, 12″ is divisible by five:  2.4″ is the magic number. But quilters work in eighths of an inch, not tenths of an inch. I didn’t want to go there although I considered it . . . briefly.

Now, think about a block that finishes ½” larger than all the other blocks. Normally that would be a deal breaker. Ah, but I have a plan. Since the 12″ star blocks are surrounded by strips of background fabric to make them finish at 18″, I think I can get away with making the strips a little narrower on this block to compensate for the fact that the star block is bigger.

The other thing I’m going to do is sew my seams with a full quarter-inch seam allowance instead of my usual scant quarter-inch. That should draw the block up by at least a quarter of an inch, meaning that this star block will actually finish at 12¼” — pretty darn close to the size it should be.

Still with me or have I confused you completely?

 

 

 

Posted in appliqué, Hazel's Diary Quilt, needleturn appliqué, update | 3 Comments

Hip Hop Hooray!

Rally ’round the maypole, folks — I have a May Day finish to report. It’s Hip Hop, my kangaroo table runner (or wall hanging — I haven’t decided which). There was just enough late afternoon light left on this overcast day in Portland to snap a photo outdoors:

In a prior post I described how I quilted the background of each block, some with a walking foot and some with free motion quilting.

The last thing I did was stitch an outline around each of the five kangaroos. I was lucky that the fabric (from the “Walkabout II” line by Paintbrush Studios) included five separate ‘roos so I could put a different one in each circle. In these close-ups you may be able to see the outline stitching as well as the stitching-in-the-ditch around the inset circles:


Last but not least, the label:


The label is a finished edge appliqué circle, my preferred method of making quilt labels. It’s fused in place but I will also appliqué around it by hand to make it really secure.

I’m really happy with my choice of turquoise for the binding. The acid green fabric used between the blocks would have been too strong, I think.

Hip Hop measures 16″ x 59″.

 

 

 

Posted in free motion quilting, home dec, table runner, update, wall hanging | 6 Comments

April in Paris — er, Portland

April is my favorite month of the year. It’s the month when the promise of spring in Portland is fully realized. Lawns are emerald green, and the profusion of colorful azaleas, tulips, and other blooming things makes my heart sing. Today is a gloriously sunny day, one of the first of the year warm enough for Portlanders to open all their windows and let the fresh air in. I can hear the sound of a lawnmower starting up and if I’m lucky it will be followed by the scent of new-mown grass.

In honor of spring I hung Under Paris Skies in the master bathroom:

This is the springtime version of my pattern Season to Taste, designed and made four years ago as part of a series based on the four seasons. The summer and fall versions are done but I must confess the one for winter hasn’t been made yet, though I do have the perfect fabric for it in my stash.

This is the first time Under Paris Skies has been on display in my house. All this time it’s been hanging in the Pine Needle, the quilt shop in Lake Oswego where I’ve been teaching the last eight years.

After 25 years running the Pine Needle, owner Geri retired and closed the shop at the end of March. Several of my quilts had been hanging in the shop, and all of them got to come home with me. (Happily, Geri is still involved in the quilt industry and the Pine Needle location is being taken over by a local family-owned sewing business. More on that in a future post after an official announcement has been made.)

Back to Under Paris Skies for a moment. First you have to imagine April in Paris. Think of Ella Fitzgerald singing “April in Paris, chestnuts in blossom, holiday tables under the trees . . .”

Those are real chestnuts in blossom, taken on my trip to Paris three years ago this month. If you look carefully you can see the Seine in the background. Now imagine clusters of people sitting outside at cafe tables, taking in the fresh air while sipping a citron presse or café crème, like the two below (apparently still waiting for their order to be taken):


All three blocks in this kaleidoscope quilt contain two different images of outdoor Parisian life, carefully fussy cut to fit in the confines of the triangles. Here’s another scene that always makes me smile:

When the rains return (which they will, because it wouldn’t be spring in Portland without them), I’ll look at these bright and cheerful scenes of Paris in anticipation of the next sunny day right here at home.

 

 

 

Posted in home dec, kaleidoscope quilts, Paris, table runner, update, wall hanging | 7 Comments

Hip Hop: Almost a Finish

Earlier this week it hit me that I’ve finished only one project since 2018 began. Only one! Plenty of things started, of course. I decided to spend some time this week addressing that rather pathetic record.

I quilted Hip Hop, the wall hanging/table runner pieced in January using my Full Moon Rising pattern. The quilting motifs were suggested by the fabric, a lively aboriginal print featuring kangaroos hopping around in the bush. The kangaroos were fussy cut and centered in the circles, which are inset (not appliquéd).

Here’s a look at the entire quilt, measuring 15¾” x 58″ after quilting and trimming:

All told I used four different quilting motifs. You can see three of them in this close-up of Blocks  1 and 2 bordered by the end piece:

Block 1, with the turquoise background fabric, was quilted with uneven wavy lines patterned after the wavy lines in the fabric design. Block 2 was quilted in a simple loop-de-loop design suggested by the dotted batik background fabric. For the end pieces I quilted angled straight lines at random using my walking foot. All the quilting in the other blocks is free motion.

Here are Blocks 3 and 4, stippling in the dark blue background of Block 3 and a repeat of the waves in the turquoise fabric in Block 4:

Here are Blocks 5 and 6 and the other end piece, with repeated quilting motifs:

Still to do: outlining the kangaroo in each circle using white thread, just following the lines on the fabric. I already did it in Block 1, though it’s hard to see in the photos.

My binding is already cut and sewn. I’m using the turquoise fabric, cut on the bias to show off the wavy herringbone pattern to better advantage:

I’m very happy with this little piece and will be even happier when it is bound and labeled. Only then can I claim my second finish of the year.

 

 

 

Posted in free motion quilting, home dec, table runner, update, wall hanging | 2 Comments