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!
Time for a progress report on the quilter’s tote that I’m making for my friend Deborah’s birthday. Known as the Junior Billie Bag, it’s a scaled down version of the tote designed several years ago by my teacher and mentor Billie Mahorney. I’m making Deborah’s bag alongside the students in my two Junior Billie Bag classes at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop. It really helps to have the individual components on hand so I can show my students exactly how a bag goes together. It will measure 14″ x 17″ x 7½” when finished.
The pockets on the inside and outside of the bag are customized to fit a quiltermaker’s favorite rulers and tools. I’m hoping that the pocket sizes I chose for Deborah’s bag will be a good fit for her. Here’s a look at the inside pockets on the side panels . . .
and the outside pockets on the side panels:
Both outside pockets are trimmed with the solid red French General fabric loved by so many quiltmakers.
Now have a look at the inside of the bag with the side panels pinned to one of the front/back panels:
All told, this bag has 20 pockets. That’s a lot of pockets!
When I first wrote about Deborah’s Junior Billie Bag (you can read that post here), I hadn’t yet quilted the second front/back panel. The original plan was to do some free motion quilting but I opted instead for a modified chevron that extends the lines of the star points:
It’s a nice counterpoint to the serpentine stitching on the first front/back panel:
I’m having a lot of fun working on this bag and am happy to report that I am entering the home stretch. Deborah won’t have to wait too much longer to claim her birthday present!
This quilter’s tote, a slightly smaller version of the one designed by Billie Mahorney close to 20 years ago, is a birthday present for my friend and fellow Quister (Quilt Sister) Deborah, who recently reached one of those milestone birthdays ending in zero. When Deborah opened her birthday present last week, it was in pieces but she was still happy because she’s seen mine and knows what hers is going to look like when it’s done.
I’m teaching two classes at the Pine Needle right now on how to make a Junior Billie Bag, and I’m using Deborah’s bag to show my students the steps in construction. That’s why her bag wasn’t completed before her big day. All the individual components have been made: front and back panels, side and bottom panels, pockets, long and short straps, and binding. My students can see exactly how it comes together before they take the same steps on their bags. And they can choose whatever designs they want for the front and back panels so each bag is truly unique.
The panel on the right in the photo above is ready for some free motion quilting in the outer strips of solid red. As you can see, the panel on the left was quilted with a simple serpentine stitch in the red fabric around the Churn Dash block. The red fabric, by the way, is some French General by Moda that’s been in my stash for a few years just waiting for the right project. I did use some of it a couple of years ago, along with some of the same fabrics you see above, when I made this sewing machine dust cover for Deborah:
At the time I had no idea I would be making her a coordinating Junior Billie Bag down the road. I’m so glad I had plenty of fabric left over from that first project.
If you’d like to see what a Junior Billie Bag looks like completed, click on this link to see the one I finished in January. Deborah’s Junior Billie Bag, which will measure 14″ x 17″ x 7½” when finished, should be in her hands by this time next month.
Last week came and went so fast my head is spinning. I did something quilt-related every day — but I spent no time at all in front of my sewing machine.
A quick recap: On Sunday, Wednesday, and Saturday, I taught at the Pine Needle.
On Tuesday I gave a presentation and trunk show to the Tualatin Valley Quilt Guild. As I was driving to Sherwood Tuesday evening through a torrential downpour, I couldn’t help but think, “Who’s going to venture out on such a dark and stormy night just to see my quilts?” Happily, the answer was: almost every member of the guild. (Thank you, TVQG members, for giving me such a warm welcome!)
On Thursday I had a lesson on my new Janome Horizon 8900QCP sewing machine. I say “new” but I actually bought the machine last July. It’s taken me this long to get that lesson scheduled. I’m so glad I did because some questions I had about using the machine were very well answered, and I can’t wait to try out some new feet I purchased.
On Friday I met my quilt group, the Quisters, at the Stitches in Bloom Quilt Show in Silverton, Oregon. The show is held every January at the Oregon Garden. One of my quilts has hung in the show every year since 2010 — until this year. I plum forgot to enter! We had a wonderful day together, including a celebratory birthday lunch.
Did I miss a day? Oh, yes. Monday was prep day for my classes and quilt guild presentation.
So what did I do today? I cleaned my house! Now I’m ready for the coming week, and I hope to spend lots of time in my sewing room. The first of four baby quilts in progress is back from the quilter so the very first thing on my list is to attach the binding using one of the new feet I bought for my Janome Horizon.
Then — and only then — I’m going to do something with this:
This beautiful little bundle of half-yard cuts is from the debut line of fabric by Mary Fons for Springs Creative. Called Small Wonders: World Piece, the complete line of fabrics includes small-scale prints inspired by six countries. I was especially drawn to the fabrics you see above, representing India.
In fact, as soon as I saw this bundle at the Pine Needle, I knew exactly what I was going to do with it. I hope you’ll stop back in a few days to find out.
This is Part Two of a two-part post on what I accomplished in my sewing room during 2015. Part One featured my finished quilts (unquilted tops don’t count) and can be seen here. Most everything else qualifies as a Pretty Little Thing, so let’s take a look at the Pretty Little Things I made in 2015:
This 9″ x 41″ reversible runner was made for my sister Diane’s living room to cover a “seam” created when two small chests were placed back to back to make a larger unit:
Here is the runner in situ in her living room in Atlanta:
To celebrate the spring birthdays of my friends and fellow Quisters (Quilt Sisters) Deborah and Peggy, I made these fabric baskets based on the 1 Hour Basket Tutorial from Hearts and Bees. The baskets measure about 9½” wide, 6½” tall, and 5½” deep.
Pillowcases! I make several every year. Here are cases I made as a hostess gift for my friend Anna in Paris . . .
. . . and a pair made for the Portland White House:
Of all the pillowcases I have made for my own home, these are the ones my husband likes best.
My sister Diane commissioned me to make a pair of pillowcases to give as a hostess gift to friends in Maine:
Her friends have a darling little terrier named Lucy who got her own little pillowcase (and pillow). It measures 6″ x 12″ and goes in her doggie bed:
This sewing-themed fabric became a singleton pillowcase for me to take to Quilt Camp:
I drew my sister Diane’s name in our annual sibling draw for Christmas. When I asked her for ideas on what I could get her, she said, “Dawn pillowcases, of course!” I made her these king size pillowcases from my batik stash:
For the annual fall Open House at the Pine Needle, the quilt shop where I teach, I made these Cozy Flannel Armchair Coasters, inspired by coasters bought at a craft sale 30 years ago:
The coasters are reversible. Below are the backs of the coasters you see above. Just for fun I changed orientation of the herringbone weave:
The coasters were a big hit so I made some more as gifts. My friend Beth got these for her birthday in her favorite colors . . .
. . . and I tucked in this set of four as part of my sister Diane’s Christmas present:
My last non-quilt project for the year isn’t small and didn’t get made in my sewing room but I’m including it here anyway. It’s the two-fabric tablecloth I made for my sister Diane’s dining room while visiting her over Thanksgiving:
The tablecloth goes with the 16 mitered-corner napkins I made for her a couple of years ago out of the same large floral print used in the border. Here’s one of those napkins in a place setting:
Earlier this week I relinquished my temporary custody of Lee Fowler’s Pickle Dish quilt. It was the last quilt Lee made, finished just a couple of weeks before she died in 2013, and I was one of 25 friends who helped her make it. I wrote about it here. At the memorial service, Lee’s husband Rick LePage announced that each person who helped with the quilt would get to have it in her home for a few weeks.
In July this year, while I was in Sisters, Oregon with my quilt group, the Quisters, Lee’s quilt was passed on to me. As a member of the Pickle Dish Gang — the name Rick gave to the group of quilters who worked with Lee on the quilt — I had been waiting patiently for my turn.
As soon as I got home I put it over the couch in my living room . . .
. . . and can honestly say that I looked at it several times a day the entire time it was here. It was a vivid reminder of Lee’s friendship and of the love that the members of the Pickle Dish Gang had for her.
A handmade book accompanies the quilt as it makes its way from one member to the next, so that each of us can write a personal message. At the end of the quilt’s journey, it will be returned to Lee’s family along with the quilt. In my entry I included this photo, taken at Creekside Park in Sisters in July:
Everyone who knew Lee knew how much this quilt meant to her. It means a lot to me, too, and I am so glad I got to be a part of its creation.
I made these fabric baskets a few months ago for Deborah and Peggy, my fellow Quisters (Quilt Sisters). Their birthdays are in March but they didn’t receive their baskets until very recently, which is why I held off posting pictures. (The Quisters try to meet every month but this spring and summer our schedules have just not been meshing. We’re working on that.)
Kelly of kelbysews, one half of the design team Hearts and Bees, posted a tutorial in the spring for the 1 Hour Basket. The tutorial is available as a pdf digital download from Craftsy. In no time at all photos began popping up everywhere on Instagram. When I saw them, I knew right away I wanted to make birthday baskets for Deborah and Peggy.
I made one change in the tutorial directions: I lined the handles with the same fabric used for the basket lining. Here’s a close-up of Deborah’s basket:
On Peg’s basket, I turned the handles inside out because I liked the look of the contrasting fabric on the outside:
The baskets are perfectly sized to hold a bundle of fat quarters, so of course I tucked some into each basket before wrapping it up.
Two years ago today my friend Lee Fowler died, succumbing to a rare form of cancer called leiomyosarcoma. Lee was a nationally recognized quilt artist, designer, and teacher who also loved to knit, craft, hike, garden, and travel.
The first quilt blog I ever followed was Lee’s. It was called The Polkadot Debutante, so named because she absolutely loved polkadots and because she actually had been a debutante — in the true Southern tradition in which a young woman on the threshold of adulthood is formally introduced to society at a ball or cotillion. That experience was decades removed from the woman with the hearty laugh who collected ceramic monsters, loved the color orange, and dressed up in outlandish Halloween costumes she made herself.
Lee was also a professional longarm machine quilter. I met her in 2009 when she was recommended to me as a longarmer especially skilled in free motion quilting. I didn’t know it at the time but she was already fighting cancer. She quilted three quilts for me before the progression of the disease forced her to retire from longarm quilting for clients. However, she continued to quilt, knit, craft, and enjoy the great outdoors right up to the end of her days.
For the last two years of Lee’s life, she was a member of our small quilt group, the Quisters (short for Quilt Sisters). Lee and I represented the Portland contingent; Peggy, Deborah, Vickie, and Vivienne were the Salem contingent. Every month or two, the six of us would get together at one of our homes to sew, chat, laugh, eat homemade desserts, and share our latest crafty and quilty creations.
I well remember the last time all six Quisters were at my house. It was June 28, 2013, two weeks to the day before Lee died. A few weeks earlier, with time running out, Lee had put out a request to her many quilting friends asking for help in creating a quilt she had always wanted to make: a Pickle Dish quilt.
Now, this pattern is not for the faint of heart. Take a look at the basic block:
A block is made up of four quarter blocks, each usually featuring nine rings made up of wedges (trapezoids). The rings are joined to other curved pieces. One block typically contains 88 pieces.
Lee had seen a Pickle Dish quilt made by Australian designer Kathy Doughty in the Fielke/Doughty book Material Obsession 2 (STC Craft, 2009). The quilt pictured in the book hung in the 2013 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show:
Lee started planning her own version. She figured that if enough friends agreed to make a ring or two using fabrics from their stashes, she could combine the rings with fabrics from her stash and create a scrappy Pickle Dish quilt in reasonably short order. Her request was that those of us making blocks choose fabrics with bright colors and – of course – polkadots.
Before long Pickle Dish units by the dozen were flowing Lee’s way and she was at work putting the blocks together. With a bit more help from a close cadre of friends working at her home, she completed the quilt top in June. Janet Fogg quilted it and finished the binding the day before the gathering at my house.
The Quisters were among the very first to see Lee’s finished quilt. The big reveal:
Isn’t it stunning? Lee took a vast array of blocks made by 25 different people and created a colorful, cohesive quilt that sparkles with the kind of energy and vibrance that characterized her quilting – and her life, for that matter.
The ring I made for Lee’s quilt is the fuchsia and lime green one in the top center of this picture:
At the service in August 2013 celebrating her life, Lee’s Pickle Dish quilt was on display. Most of us who worked on it were at the service, and Lee’s husband Rick LePage managed to round us all up for a photo:
Rick dubbed us the Pickle Dish Gang. Then he announced that Lee’s quilt was going traveling. Each one of us would have Lee’s Pickle Dish quilt in our own home for a month. Can you imagine how thrilled we all were?
Ever since then, I have been patiently waiting my turn. And now it has come. Lee’s quilt was delivered to me last Sunday when I arrived in Sisters, Oregon for a weeklong getaway with my Quisters, and it will have pride of place in my home until it’s time to hand it off to the next member of the Pickle Dish Gang.
A small park at the east edge of Sisters served as a backdrop for some pictures of Lee’s gorgeous quilt. Here’s my favorite:
I treasure my memories of Lee and will always treasure the time that her Pickle Dish quilt was mine for a month.
Where does one begin when faced with the prospect of trying to view 1300 quilts in the space of a single day? Saturday morning, July 12 — the day of the 2014 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, Oregon — my quilt group, the Quisters, and I headed straight to the Teachers Tent. On display were dozens of quilts made by the talented men and women who taught during Quilter’s Affair, the week of classes preceding the quilt show.
Among my favorites were these:
I’m sorry that the image above isn’t sharper.
Sarah made Cannery Pier Hotel, Astoria by paper-piecing fabric onto 2″ and 3″-wide strips of calculator paper. I learned her method during Quilter’s Affair in her “Cityscapes” class — what fun! I’ve put my little project on hold for the time being but will definitely return to it.
As you can see, the morning sun was shining behind the quilt above. By the time I got to some other quilts, including those of Julie Herman of Jaybird Quilts and Sheila Sinclair Snyder of licensetoquilt.com, they were completely backlit by the sun. I planned to return to the Teachers Tent later in the day to get photos of their quilts. When midafternoon rolled around, I was on the opposite side of town. The temperature was in the mid-90s. I was hot, tired, and thirsty, and — yep, you guessed it — I didn’t make it back.
I did take many more pictures throughout the day, though, as my friends and I strolled around Sisters. I’ll post them soon, so please stop back by. In the meantime, I’d love to know which of the quilts above you like best — and why.
In the week leading up to the second Saturday in July, when the town of Sisters, Oregon hosts the world’s largest outdoor quilt show, the Stitchin’ Post quilt shop in Sisters puts on classes taught by local, national, and international quiltmakers and artists. This week of classes is called Quilter’s Affair. For several years my quilt group, the Quisters, has rented a house in Sisters and attended classes. One of our members, Vivienne, taught four classes this year.
I thought you might enjoy a look at what we started creating in some of our classes. Vickie took Vivienne’s class Rhumba, making some spirited blocks in a variety of batiks:
The blocks are constructed using an improvisational piecing method, then trimmed to size. Vickie is going to set her blocks as above, with the stripes alternating direction in each block. Here’s a look at Viv’s original quilt top, employing a different setting:
(That photo was taken last summer at my house, at a gathering of the Quisters.)
. . . while Peggy’s version is made of lots of different batiks:
I stepped way outside my comfort zone to take a class from Laura Wasilowski, known for her whimsical art quilts made using hand-dyed fused fabrics and embellished with embroidery. In her “Stitch After Fusing” class, we made a small flower quilt using her hand-dyed fabric. My flowers and leaves are a bit strange but I really like my little flower pot:
(I tried a few different stitches, which is why you see those strands of perle cotton — hand-dyed by Laura — hanging down the front.) I’ve never been a fan of raw-edge appliqué but I may be undergoing a conversion.
Our Quilter’s Affair week whipped by at lightning speed. Saturday, July 12, was a different story. It was the day of the 39th Annual Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. We spent a leisurely day walking around town seeing as many of the 1300 or so quilts as we could manage between 8:30 am and 4:00 pm. What a fabulous show!
I took lots of photos but haven’t had a chance to organize them yet. My twin sister Diane is visiting from Atlanta, Georgia, and now we are heading off to a family reunion in eastern Oregon. I’m planning at least a couple of posts showing off the quilts from the Sisters quilt show so I hope you’ll check back soon.