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:
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!
“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:
The second one:
And the third one:
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:
A new spin, both literally and figuratively. 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.
The first day of 2016 is here! It’s a time for looking ahead but also a time for looking back. Specifically, looking back at what I accomplished in my sewing room in 2015. I never accomplish as much as I think I will, especially when it comes to finished quilts, but I have to remember that I made a variety of small pieces and craft items last year in addition to quilts. It will be fun to revisit them as well.
First up, the quilts.
My first finish of 2015 was Catch a Falling Star, based on Terri Krysan’s star sampler, Reach for the Stars:
Then came Toile Story (73″ x 89″), started in 2009 but not finished till 2015. Designed by Alex Anderson and featuring fabrics she designed as well, Toile Story was quilted by Debbie Scroggy of All Quilted LLC:
Next: Olivia Twist, a 31″ x 76″ bed runner made using my own 4-Patch Wonder with a Twist pattern. It was quilted by Jolene Knight of Good Knight Quilts:
Using leftover fabric from Olivia Twist, I made Billie’s Star (56″ x 55″), an original design inspired by my favorite quilt teacher Billie Mahorney, who taught me a lot about drafting and sewing star blocks:
Next came Simply Dashing (58″ x 74″), a simple design that combines 4-Patch Wonder blocks (my name for four-patch kaleidoscope blocks) and Churn Dash blocks set on point. Simply Dashing was featured on the cover of the Pine Needle Quilt Shop’s fall 2015 catalog. Quilted by Debbie Scroggy of All Quilted LLC.
Pieced in 2014, I finished Sun Flowers, a wall hanging based on my Season to Taste pattern. It’s #9 in my series of kaleidoscope quilts and the third of four quilts I’m making to reflect the seasons of the year. It measures 18½” x 55½”:
My final quilt finish of 2015 was Loose Leaf, begun in a workshop with fiber artist Pat Pauly. Made from her New Big Leaf design, it finishes at 24½” square:
I quilted the last two pieces myself but was happy to have the larger quilts go out to some extremely talented longarm quilters.
In my next post I’ll show you the array of Pretty Little Things I made in 2015.
It hardly seems possible but eight months have passed since I last worked on Sun Flowers, pictured above. It’s the third of four kaleidoscope wall hangings I’m making of my Season to Taste pattern — one version for each season of the year. This is the summer version, made from a lively floral print from Camelot Cottons.
I had quilted straight lines in the grey background and free-motion quilted a swirly design in one of the kaleidoscope blocks. That was as far as I got back in March. I quilted the last two blocks on Friday and finished binding the piece today. Here it is quilted, bound — and buttoned:
Yes, buttoned. In the center of each block are two layered buttons, adding a bit of whimsy:
The back is pieced of leftovers and includes a sizeable piece of the original focus fabric:
I love to feature the focus fabric on the backs of my quilts, especially when I’ve used it to make kaleidoscope blocks.
Sun Flowers (18″ x 55″) is now hanging in the master bath:
It’s a cheerful and colorful addition to the Portland White House. On the greyest of days in Portland — and we have many of those in fall and winter — it will be a spot of sunshine.
Seeing one of your own designs interpreted by another quilter is one of the pleasures and rewards of designing quilts. Last weekend I was at the Pine Needle, the local quilt shop where I teach, and was thrilled to see Maxine Borosund’s version of my pattern Season to Taste:
Isn’t that stunning? Season to Taste can be a table runner or a wall hanging, depending on the maker’s point of view and intended use of the finished piece. Maxine’s version is a table runner.
The triangles that form the octagon can be made with a variety of fabrics, like Maxine’s, or from one fabric for a true kaleidoscope effect. You can see both options on the cover of the pattern:
Maxine added a design element to her quilt that I just love: a very thin flange right next to the bound edges. Take a look at this close-up:
See that narrow strip of chartreuse right next to the binding? She did a beautiful job on the flange, as well as the seams in the eight triangles where the thin chartreuse accent strips and outer black strips meet. Everything lines up perfectly, the sign of a quilter who sews with care and precision.
I asked Maxine to pose with her table runner so I could post a picture at this site:
Thank you, Maxine. Your table runner is beautiful!
This is a book report, not a review. A review suggests impartiality, and I can’t be impartial because Marie Deatherage, the author of Pieces of Portland, is a friend of mine. But even if I didn’t know her, I would be rhapsodizing about this book because it is about two things near and dear to me: quilts and Portland.
This photo, appearing on page 20, pretty much sums up the appeal of the book for me:
My family moved to Portland, Oregon when I was seven years old. That means I have spent the better part of 60 years in this city. I have watched it grow, have grown along with it. It is, quite simply, my city. Author Marie Deatherage and photographer Joyce Brekke, whose beautiful photographs enhance almost every page, have created a unique and wonderful book that explains in words and pictures everything I love about Portland.
Trained as a geographer, Marie has also been a college instructor, foundation grant administrator, disability rights advocate, and writer. She has drawn on those experiences — plus four decades of living in Portland — in writing this book. Joyce took up several hobbies, including world travel and photography, after retiring from a career in law. Originally from the Midwest, she settled in the Pacific Northwest and now lives across the river from Portland in Vancouver, Washington. Friends since their college days at the University of Chicago, Marie and Joyce share several interests, including quilting.
In 2011, in preparation for a one-woman quilt show by Marie, the two sought out landmarks and iconic places in Portland to use as backdrops for Joyce’s photos of Marie’s quilts. An idea for a book was born — but not the book you see pictured above. The original concept of a coffee table book featuring quilts photographed in Portland became something much more. The subtitle of the book says it all: An Inside Look at America’s Weirdest City.
In prose that is sometimes serious, sometimes wry, often humorous, frequently irreverent, and occasionally deeply personal, Marie writes about every topic under the sun that touches on Portland. Bridges. Urban farming. Politics. History. Flora and fauna. Food and drink. The environment. Parks. Neighborhoods. Fashion. People of Portland, past and present.
And, of course, the things that make Portland weird. Like the Unipiper, a street performer who plays the bagpipes while riding a unicycle. Like the miniature toy horses that appear in old neighborhoods tied to the cast iron rings that were attached to curbs back in Portland’s horse and buggy days when folks needed to tether their horses.
Like the roll of carpet recently removed from Portland International Airport (PDX) that was “appointed” grand marshal of the 2015 Rose Festival Starlight Parade. Here’s a photo of that carpet before it was removed from PDX:
Whatever the subject, Joyce’s photos cleverly illustrate Marie’s words — with quilts. Lots of them. Take a look at pages 170 and 171:
On the left facing page are photos of two famous statues in Portland: Allow Me (aka Umbrella Man) in Pioneer Courthouse Square and former Portland Mayor Vera Katz on the Eastbank Esplanade along the Willamette River, both artfully draped in quilts made by Marie. On the right facing page is the People’s Bike Library of Portland, a monument to the bike culture of Portland.
I love the fact that Marie’s kaleidoscope quilt — a favorite design of mine — evokes the spinning wheels of a bicycle:
Marie made most of the quilts in the book but there are several by Joyce and a few by Marie’s mother and grandmother. An annotated quilt index provides information on each quilt, allowing credit to be given to the designer, piecer, and/or professional quilter, and revealing the inspiration behind many of the quilts.
Published earlier in 2015 by Quiltlandia, Pieces of Portland was officially launched in July. In late June, the week before the launch party, Marie accepted an eleventh hour invitation to be a replacement guest speaker at a meeting of the Westside Modern Quilt Club held at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop in Lake Oswego. She brought armloads of quilts and boxes of books so fresh from the printer they hadn’t even been opened yet.
Marie told the assembled quilters about the making of the book as well as the stories behind many of the quilts that appear in the book. It was a marvelous trunk show. When well over half the quilters in the packed classroom bought copies of her book on the spot (which Marie graciously signed), I knew Pieces of Portland was a winner.
Now Pieces of Portland (258 pages with 400 full color photos) is available locally at Powell’s Books and just about every local quilt shop in the metropolitan area, including cool cottons in my own neighborhood. It’s also at New Seasons Market (a quilt book at a grocery store? How very Portland.). It’s coming soon to the Made in Oregon stores, and I have a very strong hunch it will be distributed much more widely very soon. You can order directly from the publisher by clicking here.
I’m so happy that I have my own autographed copy of Pieces of Portland! I have several people in mind who will be receiving copies in the near future. It’s the perfect gift for someone who loves quilting or Portland. Or both.
Marie and Joyce did not ask me to write about their book. I was motivated to do so by a desire to spread the word in Portland and beyond about a unique book that opens windows on a city and a craft that I love.
My quilt top based on the kaleidoscope block Grandma’s Surprise is finished:
It’s the result of a recent class I took from Joyce Gieszler, author of Then and Now Quilts (Kansas City Star Quilts, 2014). The Grandma’s Surprise quilt in Joyce’s book was made of Civil War reproduction fabrics:
My version, with just three fabrics, looks quite different, doesn’t it? It was inspired by this three-color version, also created by Joyce:
I put my red fabric where Joyce put her black because I wanted the red to dominate. And dominate it does!
My red fabric reads as a solid but it’s actually a blender from Timeless Treasures. I wish the texture of the red showed up better in my photos, as well as the very pale mottled grey, which looks white in the photos. Perhaps this close-up will help:
On my computer screen the red fabric has an orange cast but it’s really a true red, like a currant. The print fabric with the red flowers is part of the Black, White and Currant 5 line from Henry Glass. My friend AnnMarie gave me some large scraps from that line, including this wonderful print, which I will incorporate into the back:
. . . my kaleidoscope quilt based on the block known as Grandma’s Surprise is coming together. Here are the first six blocks:
I’m making this quilt in a class at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop taught by Joyce Gieszler, author of Then and Now Quilts, a new book from Kansas City Star Quilts. This quilt is one of the designs in Joyce’s book.
It’s fascinating to see how varied the fabric choices are among my fellow students, ranging from completely scrappy to batiks, 1930s reproduction fabrics, and prints from the Cotton and Steel collection. The block design lends itself beautifully to all of these. A couple other students besides me are using a limited color palette, and one student is using a gradated fabric to great effect. It was fun seeing the first blocks emerge at our class last Saturday.
I was unable to attend Part 2 of Joyce’s class this morning because of another commitment but I was determined to squeeze in some sewing time today. Happily, I managed to finish another block late this afternoon. It goes in the middle of the bottom row:
Isn’t it interesting that the circular shape emerging in the center is formed by spiky triangles?
March can’t make up its mind if it’s going out like a lion or a lamb, at least here in Portland. We’ve had bouts of sunshine today interspersed with rumbling thunder and heavy rain. It’s sunny as I write this but I see ominous clouds rolling in.
No matter. I’m happily ensconced in my sewing room working on a kaleidoscope quilt based on the block Grandma’s Surprise. It’s homework. I’m taking a class from Joyce Gieszler, whose book Then and Now Quilts (published last year by Kansas City Star Quilts) features a very scrappy quilt based on this block.
Joyce created a second version of Grandma’s Surprise using just three fabrics:
That’s my inspiration for the red, black, and pale grey quilt I’m making. The quilt has nine blocks, and I’m midway through the fifth block. Want to see my progress so far? Of course you do.
The quilt is based on a 3 x 3 grid: three rows and three columns. In the photo below you see the center block and the block directly above it:
Now I’ve added two blocks (Blocks 1 and 4) that go to the left of the first set:
You are looking at the upper left portion of the quilt. Can you see how the pale grey triangles in the outer blocks are starting to give the effect of a circle?
Here’s where I am with the fifth block, which goes in the Block 3 position in the upper right corner:
I’m going back upstairs to sew. I hope you’ll come back soon to see the rest of my quilt!
Aren’t these two quilts striking? They were both made by local designer and teacher Joyce Gieszler, whose book Then and Now Quilts was published last year by Kansas City Star Quilts. These quilts have something else in common: they are made from the very same block!
Now look at this third version, also made by Joyce:
Made with Cotton and Steel fabrics, this quilt is as contemporary as the the upper left quilt, made of Civil War reproduction fabrics, is traditional. I first saw this third version in January at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop’s Open House. Joyce was there introducing herself, her new book (which includes this design), and an upcoming class. I signed up for her class on the spot.
The block in these quilts is called Grandma’s Surprise. Deconstructed, it’s a kaleidoscope block. Well, you know how I love kaleido quilts. Is it any wonder I wanted to make one of my own?
When Joyce showed me a photo of the three-color quilt (upper right), I knew immediately that I wanted to make this version. I’m intrigued by the way color, value, and fabric placement completely change the look of a quilt. Joyce’s three versions illustrate this beautifully.
A basic kaleidoscope block is made of eight 45° triangles, forming an octagon, and finishes with four corner triangles to make a square:
The Grandma’s Surprise block takes that concept to the next level:
Do you see how four triangles fill the same space as one triangle in the basic version? It’s still a kaleidoscope block — but a more complex and sophisticated one.
The quilts are made of nine blocks in a 3 x 3 grid. In the two quilts at the top of the page, Joyce made 12″ blocks so the quilts finish at 36″ square. The Cotton and Steel version is made of 16″ blocks with a 3″ border, finishing at 54″ square.
For my three-color version of Grandma’s Surprise, I chose red, black, and a very pale grey. Here is my center block:
It measures 16½” unfinished. The black print is from the Black, White & Currant 5 line by Color Principle for Henry Glass & Co. At a recent Portland Modern Quilt Guild meeting, guildmate AnnMarie Cowley surprised me with several large pieces from this line left over from a quilt project of her own. (Thanks so much, AnnMarie!) I’m delighted to find a project that puts her gift to good use.