Category Archives: table topper

Pine Needle Retreat 2017: Group One

Don’t these quilters look happy? This photo was taken the first evening of the Pine Needle Quilt Shop‘s retreat last month in Union, Washington just after completing a pillowcase exchange. The retreat had a western theme, which is why you see cowboy hats, boots, and bandana prints on both people and pillowcases.

The retreat was held at St Andrews House, a retreat and conference center run by the Episcopal Church of Western Washington. I had the pleasure of teaching for the Pine Needle at St Andrews House last year and returned this year for two back-to-back retreats.

What a lovely spot for a sewing/quilting getaway! The house sits above Hood Canal and offers commanding views of the Olympic Mountains. This is what you see from the long porch that runs along one side of the main building:

I stayed with Geri, owner of the Pine Needle and organizer of the retreat, in Bayne Cottage, a little house below the retreat center also owned by the church. Every morning before walking up a short (but very steep) hill to the retreat center, I had coffee on the deck that sits right over the water when the tide is in. This was my view:

The design I chose for this year’s retreat was Mini Mod Tiles by Sew Kind of Wonderful:


This is the quilt that appears on the SKW website. It was made with the QCR Mini, the smaller of the two specialty curve rulers designed by Sew Kind of Wonderful. The block finishes at 10½” and the entire quilt finishes at 35″. Did you know the pattern is a free download? You can find it here.

I decided to “supersize” the block so that the quilt could also be made with the original Quick Curve Ruler. That way I could offer my retreat students two options. Here are my two test blocks, one finishing at 10½” and the other finishing at 18″:

In no time at all, my students were sewing curves the Sew Kind of Wonderful way: no pinning! The fabrics are cut slightly oversize and trimmed so that when the block components are sewn together, they fit the way they’re supposed to.

Here are the first three blocks:

The blocks in the top row were made by Diane and Lynn. We were all dazzled by Diane’s choice of Kaffe Fassett prints combined with a bold text print for the background. Doesn’t Lynn’s block look like real tile? She chose the perfect batik for her focus fabric to get that effect. Lynn’s sister Karen made the block in the second row. She reversed the usual placement, using a lovely floral print for the background and a dark blue solid where a print would normally go.

As the first day progressed, the number of blocks on the wall quickly increased:

The new blocks were made by Denise (Asian fabrics in second row), Colleen (aboriginal fabrics in third row), Puff (autumn colors on the far right side of photo), Marti (marbled print with rust background in lower left), Tamara (rich purple batiks in bottom row), and me (blue and green holiday print in third row). As you can see with Puff’s two blocks on the right, one block was made with a contrasting center square and one without. Puff decided she liked the top version better.

I told the students, “Once you have your curves sewn and trimmed, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised how quickly the quilt goes together.” When I came to the classroom on the morning of the second day, I was flabbergasted to see a finished quilt top. Kay had finished hers the evening before!


As always, it’s so fun to see the different fabrics that students choose. Candyce’s blue and white fabrics are Shibori prints:


Susie’s focus fabrics are from the Marks line by Valori and Jean Wells. She found the perfect background fabric from another line to go with them:


Best friends Martha and Sandy wanted to make a different Sew Kind of Wonderful pattern, Metro Rings. That was fine with me, as I’ve made Metro Rings myself and could offer them some special tips. This block represents a joint effort, as they are using the same fabrics. See how the big block is made of four smaller ones? Two of them were made by Martha and the other two by Sandy. The four blocks haven’t been sewn together but you can see that their points of the triangles in the center are going to come together perfectly:


Here is Linda’s supersized version of Mini Mod Tiles, made in one of my favorite color combinations, green and purple:


I had suggested that students making the supersized version save their fabric scraps, as they’re large enough to be used in something else. Linda proved my point. She sewed four curvy scraps together and then trimmed them to make an hourglass block. Five hourglass blocks (see the center block?) then became part of a larger nine-patch star block:

Linda’s background fabric, from the Alison Glass Sun Print 2016 line, goes so well with her wild floral print.

Jan had a charm pack of 5″ squares in grey and white prints, pairing them with white and yellow to great effect:

Kitty used that same fresh color combination in her runner:

She added a border of her yellow accent fabric. See how the edges of the runner have been cut to match the curve? That was an option I suggested to accentuate the curve within the block. Kitty will bind her runner in the focus print which will give her runner nice definition.

Here is Kitty’s sister Puff with her lovely runner:

She’s going to make a set of napkins from the print to go along with the table runner.

We had three sets of sisters at this retreat! Marti came all the way from New York to join her sister Vicki. Here are their bold and beautiful supersized blocks:

I also cut curves on the runner I made at the retreat:


When I bind this in the dark green, the curved ends will really stand out.

My plan was to snap pictures on the last day of all the quilters with their projects but alas, that didn’t happen. Still, I think you have an idea of the many wonderful ways in which Mini Mod Tiles can be interpreted. Sometime this fall the Pine Needle will have a reunion for retreat participants. Many of these projects will be completed by then and I promise to get some good pictures.

In my next post you’ll see more versions of Mini Mod Tiles, including some supersized ones, made by the second group of retreat participants. Do come back to see!

 

 

 

Posted in QCR Mini, Quick Curve Ruler, table runner, table topper, update | 2 Comments

Pine Needle Retreat 2016

Talk about a room with a view!

Hood Canal

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:

St Andrews House, Hood Canal
Isn’t that a serene setting for a retreat? Here are a couple of closer views of the building:

St Andrews House Hood Canal 1

St Andrews House Hood Canal 2

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.

The pattern I selected for the retreat was Spinners, from the book On the Run Again by Heather Mulder Peterson (Anka’s Treasures, 2014). Spinners is one of 11 designs in the book, so participants got a bonanza of designs when they signed up.

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:

Spinners first 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:

Spinners Diana

Linda completed her quilt top! She fussy cut the center hexagons. The narrow containment border and wider floral border set off her blocks beautifully:

Spinners Linda Lake

Sophia was very productive! Not only did she complete a Spinners top . . .

Spinners Sofia
. . . she also made another block from Heather’s book, the block called Happy Dance . . .

Sofia with Happy Dance . . . and this one called Chatter Box:

Sofia with block
Donna made a set of placemats using the table topper design from the book — and had enough fabric leftover to make a table runner:

Spinners Donna

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:

Spinners Carol Stark
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:

Spinners Carol Dyer
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:

Spinners Pam Snyder

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:

Spinners Evelyn Bonney
I can think of only one word to describe Tamara’s Spinners runner: elegant. Take a look:

Spinners Tamara Brockett
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:

Spinners Tamara Brockett with focus fabric

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 . . .

Spinners Sharon Justus
. . . and another:

Spinners Sharon Justus block 2
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:

Spinners Debbie

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:

Spinners Debbie ScroggyDebbie 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 . . .

Helen with Convergence

Helen's project
. . . and she was also working on her version of Shadowbox (pattern by Mountainpeek Creations):

Helen's quilt

Colleen worked on her 6″ Farm Girl Vintage blocks, designed by Lori Holt of Bee in My Bonnet:

Colleen with Farmgirl Vintage
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.

 

 

 

Posted in bed runners, hexagons, kaleido-spinner, table topper, update, wall hanging | 13 Comments

May Day Finish: A Kaleido-Spinner Top

Happy May Day! Can you believe four months have passed since we rang in the New Year? Time sure flies when you’re having fun.

I’ve been playing with Heather Peterson’s Spinners pattern, from her book On the Run Again (Anka’s Treasures, 2014). I’ve chosen this pattern to teach next month at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop‘s retreat on Hood Canal in Washington State. I want to show my students a few different ways Spinners can be interpreted based on fabric and color choices as well as size of finished project.

My latest experiment is a three-block table runner or wall hanging in which I cut the six 60° triangles in each block from six repeats of fabric. In my last post I showed you the first block I made using that technique.

Here is the three-block runner, with the first block I made in the center:

kaleido spinner horizontal
Runner Measures 20″ x 54″

How fun is that? The blocks are all made from the same focus fabric: Moon Garden, from the line Wander by Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit Fabrics.

It’s difficult to envision what a block will look like when you first cut the triangles; that’s part of the appeal for me of making kaleidoscope quilts. This isn’t a true kaleidoscope quilt because the triangles don’t meet in the center to form a  hexagon. They spin around the center hexagon instead (which is why I’m calling this top a kaleido-spinner). Even so, the outcome of each block is a surprise.

Since some of my students may be minimalists or modern quilters, I’m going to make a sample block in solids or mostly solids. I’m already thinking about how a modern quiltmaker might treat the negative space when it comes to quilting.

I’m also still thinking about making placemats using this pattern. We don’t use placemats at the Portland White House because there is always a tablecloth on our dining room table (yes, made by me). But I have the perfect fabric in mind, one of those fabrics I bought a lot of a few years ago because I liked it so well. And the perfect fabric to make coordinating napkins is also in my stash. All in good time . . .

In the meantime, I am going to enjoy this spectacular May Day in Portland, Oregon. I hope you are enjoying sunshine and warm temperatures wherever you are!

 

 

 

Posted in faux-kaleido quilts, kaleido-spinner, kaleidoscope quilts, table topper, update, wall hanging | 3 Comments

A Different Spin

wander horizontal
Moon Garden in the Midnight Palette

Recognize this fabric? It’s called Moon Garden, from Joel Dewberry’s line Wander. I’ve used it in small amounts in the bed runner I showed you yesterday, the one I made using the pattern Spinners by Heather Peterson of Anka’s Treasures:

spinners bed runner 20.5 x 90
Bed Runner Measures 20″ x 90″

“Ho hum,” you must be thinking. “That’s old news.” Yes indeed, but since bringing that beautiful floral fabric home earlier this month I have been fixated on using it in Heather’s pattern in a different way. I hinted as much in an earlier post about this fabric.

You already know that I am, to put it mildly, fond of kaleidoscope quilts. I’ve finished at least 10 quilts containing kaleidoscope blocks. All of them were made of eight 45° triangles forming an octagon. Until today I had never made a kaleidoscope block composed of six 60° triangles forming a hexagon.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the Spinners block contains six 60° triangles. Instead of meeting in the middle to form a kaleidoscopic image, however, the triangles “spin” around a center hexagon. That didn’t stop me from testing my idea that six identical triangles placed in a Spinners block would produce an interesting effect.

Before I show you my Spinners block, take a look at the kaleidoscope blocks I could have made. Because the triangles are equilateral, any of the three points can go in the center, providing three different outcomes.

Here’s the first one:

Kaleido Spinner block a

The second one:

Kaleido Spinner block b

And the third one:

Kaleido Spinner block c

I like them all but am partial to the first one. A quilt made of these blocks and more would be very striking, to be sure. The floral print lends itself beautifully to kaleidoscope blocks. But we’re headed in a different direction this time. Take a look:

Kaleido Spinner block
Block Measures 15½” x 13½” Unfinished

A new spin, both literally and figuratively. I’m calling it a “kaleido-spinner” block.

I placed the block on a piece of dark blue fabric so the block would stand out and I like the effect so well I’m going to use that fabric. I’ll make a couple more blocks before deciding whether to make a wall hanging or keep going to make a quilt.

What do you think? I’m pretty excited about it!

 

 

 

Posted in faux-kaleido quilts, hexagons, kaleidoscope quilts, table topper, update, wall hanging | 6 Comments

Cutting it Close

The three-block table runner I made several days ago (and wrote about here) has expanded to a five-block bed runner:

spinners bed runner 20.5 x 90It now measures 20″ x 90″ — long enough for a king size bed. I was going to size it for a queen bed but I had just enough of the batik background fabric to make it longer. Someone very dear to me loves this color combo, and I have a feeling this bed runner will look wonderful on her king size bed.

When I say I had “just enough” fabric, I wasn’t kidding. This is what was left over:

spinners background fabric

I would have liked to bind the bed runner in the same batik fabric. It’s been in my stash for a while so I doubt I could find more of it now. Oh well. I’m just glad I had enough to complete the top.

Next up: I need to make a backing and get the bed runner quilted. Before it is sent to its new home, it will be used as a class sample for a retreat I’m teaching at in June.

The hexagonal block in this bed runner is called Spinners. Designed by Heather Mulder Peterson of Anka’s Treasures, it appears in her book On the Run Again (Anka’s Treasures, 2014). Heather shows Spinners as a one-block table topper and a three-block table runner or wall hanging. I converted it to a bed runner and have been also playing around with some settings for quilts.

Measuring 15½” x 13½”, the Spinners block is the perfect size for a placemat. Another idea for my retreat students to consider. Or me!

 

 

 

Posted in bed runners, hexagons, table topper, update | 3 Comments

WanderLust

In my last post I showed you a floral from Joel Dewberry’s Wander line for Free Spirit Fabrics and mentioned I would be using it in a new project. Here is the first block from that project:

Spinners block
Isn’t that pretty? The pattern, called Spinners, is from Heather Mulder Peterson’s book On the Run Again (Anka’s Treasures, 2014), a collection of 15 runners and table toppers. (I made a table topper from this design back in June 2014 and wrote about it here.)

You may be wondering why I have embarked on a new project. After all, my list of WIPs and UFOs is long enough without adding another to the mix. I actually have a very good reason, and I’m excited about it: In June I am going to teach at a retreat for the Pine Needle Quilt Shop.

Spinners is the pattern I have chosen for the 24 students coming along with me. They signed up for the retreat before they knew what the pattern would be! The “big reveal” was held last night at a special meeting for the retreat participants, which is why I had to wait till today to share these photos.

Here is the runner I made using three blocks:

Spinners runner horizontal

The spinning hexagons include two other fabrics from the Wander line along with fabrics from other lines that work well with the floral. The batik for the sashing and setting triangles came from my stash. I extended the setting triangles so the blocks would float.

Right now the runner measures 20½” x 49½” — but I’m not done yet. I’m going to add two more blocks to make it a bed runner. It will be about 81″ or so in length, the perfect length for a queen size bed. With wider strips at the ends, it could be sized for a king size bed.

Look again at the photo above. Don’t those hexagon blocks look great on point? They would be beautiful arranged this way in a quilt, an option I have presented to my students. They can choose to make a table topper from a single block, a table runner or wall hanging from three blocks, a bed runner from five blocks, or a quilt with 12 blocks.

I have one more idea to bring to the table. (My students got a preview last night.) I will let you know very soon what that idea is. Here’s a hint: it involves using that fabulous floral print in the Spinners block in a much more prominent way.

wander horizontal
I’ll post a picture as soon as I carve out some time to make another block.

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

 

 

 

Posted in bed runners, hexagons, table topper, update | 8 Comments

Pretty Little Things

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:

runner completed

Here is the runner in situ in her living room in Atlanta:

Scott find round box for remotes in place
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.

a pair of baskets
Pillowcases! I make several every year. Here are cases I made as a hostess gift for my friend Anna in Paris . . .

pcases for Anna and Joe

. . . and a pair made for the Portland White House:

pcases for 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:

pcases for Kathy and Paul's guest house
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:

dog pillow front

This sewing-themed fabric became a singleton pillowcase for me to take to Quilt Camp:

Dawn's quilt camp pcase
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:

pcases for Diane and Ed
By the way, all of the pillowcases above were made following my tutorial, Perfect Pillowcases.

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:

flannel coasters print

The coasters are reversible. Below are the backs of the coasters you see above. Just for fun I changed orientation of the herringbone weave:

flannel coasters brown

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 . . .

coasters teal and purple
. . . and I tucked in this set of four as part of my sister Diane’s Christmas present:

flannel coasters red
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:

tablecloth
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:

tablecloth with setting

Oh, there’s a tutorial for those napkins, too: Make Mine Mitered.

How satisfying to have a visual record of what I made last year! Thanks so much for taking this look back with me. And now it’s time to head back to my sewing room and get started on my 2016 projects.

Avanti!

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, mitered corners, Quisters (Quilt Sisters), roll-it-up pillowcases, table napkins, table topper, update | 3 Comments

Spinning Away

My little Spinners table topper (from Heather Mulder Peterson’s new book On the Run Again) was a breeze to make. What took me a while was cutting out the pieces. The pattern calls for a 60° triangle ruler, which I don’t have (note to self: buy one!), so I cut out each triangle separately using the 60º marking on my favorite 4″ x 14″ acrylic ruler and the lines on my cutting mat.

Here is my top with the six triangles sewn to the hexagon in the middle:

Spinners topper in progress

So far so good! Here it is with the outer border:


Spinners top

The more I work with these Kate Spain fabrics (from her Sunnyside line for Moda Fabrics), the more I like them. Happily, I have quite a bit left of the fat quarter packet I started out with, so I may use the fabrics for another project in Heather’s book. I’m not sure what company makes the aqua solid, since the fat quarter didn’t have any selvage information, but I have enough of it to bind the topper.

Now comes the hard part: how to quilt it?

 

 

 

Posted in hexagons, table topper, update | 4 Comments

Topping it Off

I know I shouldn’t start something new but — I just can’t help myself! Heather Mulder Peterson’s newest book, On the Run Again, arrived in my mailbox a few days ago, and ever since then I’ve been oohing and aahing over the table runners and toppers pictured inside. Take a look at Granny Square Stars, the runner on the cover of the book:

On the Run Again book cover
Featured runner: Granny Square Stars, 18″ x 56″

Copyright Heather Mulder Peterson. Used with permission.

Wouldn’t that be fun to make? What a great way to use up scraps! I see it with dark stars in the centers. Granny Square Stars is definitely on my list but the one I am going to make first is a little table topper called Spinners:

Heather's Spinners Topper
Spinners, 18 1/2″ x 20 1/2″

Copyright Heather Mulder Peterson. Used with permission.

Anyone who loves hexagons as much as I do needs to make this design! As soon as I saw it, I knew what fabrics I would use. A few months ago I bought this combo of prints in the Sunnyside line by Kate Spain for Moda Fabrics:

2014-06-04 11.13.08

The way the fabrics were cleverly packaged by the shop, Pioneer Quilts, was a selling point. You can see why I can’t wait to get started!

If you’d like to see more of the charming toppers and runners featured in Heather’s new book, check out her blog, Trends and Traditions, which happens to be one of my very favorites.

I hope you’ll check back soon right here at First Light Designs to see the progress on my version of Spinners. Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

Posted in hexagons, table topper, update | 2 Comments

Mission Accomplished

I’ve been working on a quilt top based on the pattern Urban Tiles by Jenny Pedigo of Sew Kind of Wonderful. The top is done, and here it is:

UrbanTiles 600
Urban Tiles Quilt Top, 58½” Square

 

This was fun to work on because the fabrics are so bright and cheerful. I could see this as a table topper or a little girl’s quilt.

Now to consider quilting motifs. . . . I could go with an all-over design. On the other hand, maybe I should choose a motif that highlights the secondary design in the white fabric around the blocks. What do you think?

 

 

 

Posted in table topper, update | 4 Comments