Category Archives: kaleidoscope quilts

Sun Flowers

Last week was remarkable for the amount of time I didn’t spend in my sewing room. The week was completely taken up with appointments, errands, holiday shopping and decorating, a couple of parties, and — it must be admitted — way too many Scrabble games.

At least I got the blocks put together for my Season to Taste table runner:

2014-12, Sun Flowers
Sun Flowers, 18″ x 56″

I’m making a version of Season to Taste for each of the four seasons. This one is the summer version, and I’m going to call it Sun Flowers. The pale gray background fabric (from the Painter’s Canvas line by Laura Gunn for Michael Miller) reminds me of a summer sky at first light.

The kaleidoscope blocks went together very easily but I am unhappy that the centers of the middle and bottom blocks don’t match exactly. It appears a couple of the repeats were just a smidge off when I cut through the eight layers of my focus fabric. With a kaleido block, being off even a sixteenth of an inch can make a difference.

Since Sun Flowers is destined to be a wall hanging, I’m going to place a vintage yellow button in the center of each kaleidoscope block. I auditioned a few buttons in my collection:

kaleido block with buttons
Middle block
kaleido with buttons 2
Bottom Block

I’m going to pretend that adding the buttons was a design choice rather than a ploy to cover my cutting error. You won’t tell anyone, will you?




Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 6 Comments

Planning Ahead

Our wonderful two-week visit with family in Atlanta is coming to a close. On Monday morning I’ll be back home in Oregon, in my sewing room, and I’m already thinking about what I want to work on.

Remember this kaleidoscope block that I made back in June?

Last month I made two more blocks. Here are the three of them together:

three kaleido blocks
I’m going to make them into a table/runner wall hanging using my Season to Taste pattern. I’ve made a fall and spring version; this will be the summer version. Just before leaving for Atlanta two weeks ago I ordered some more of the yellow polka dot fabric — it should be waiting for me when I get home.

Also on my mind are these luscious fabrics:

fabricsI have a plan for them but will make a test block or two before sharing it.

I’ve been in home dec mode this last couple of weeks so it will be good to get back to quiltmaking!




Posted in family, kaleidoscope quilts, update | 3 Comments

New Pattern: Season to Taste

Last week I wrapped up Part 2 of a kaleidoscope table runner class at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop. The class sprang from two table runners I had made earlier this year — same design but totally different outcomes because of the fabric choices. I wrote about them in this post in March.

Both runners appear on the cover of my latest pattern, Season to Taste:

Season to Taste pattern cover july 2014-page-002
Dawn’s newest pattern

That’s Autumn Reflections on the left and a springtime version, Under Paris Skies, on the right. I’m thinking about making a summer and winter version, which will give me a quartet of seasonal table runners made from the same pattern, each very different from one another.

My summer version may already be in the works. For the kaleido block I was demonstrating in class, I used this floral fabric from the Gray Matters collection by Jacqueline Savage Mcfee for Camelot Cottons:

floral gray matters camelot cottons
Gray Matters, Camelot Cottons

Yes, there’s a lot of gray in this piece of fabric but it’s offset by a sunny yellow and bright gold. The white brightens it up even more. I bought a piece of the floral last year and was so excited when it was reissued this year along with some fabulous companion fabrics. Between the Pine Needle and Hawthorne Threads, I picked up several pieces in the line that will definitely find their way into another quilt.

Are you curious to see what this print looks like as a kaleido block? Well, here ’tis:

Dawn’s Sunny Kaleido Block





Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 8 Comments

Banana Appeal

My quilt Banana Split has been back from the quilter for several weeks now. I finally got it bound and photographed, and now it’s ready to be presented to you:

Banana Split, 40 1/2″ x 50 1/2″ (2014)


If you look at the fabric in the centers of the stars, you can see where my quilt got its name. Here’s a close-up of one block:

Banana Split, close-up of one block
4-Patch Wonder Block, 11″ with Sashing

The centers are all 4-Patch Wonder blocks, my name for blocks made of four repeats yielding a faux-kaleidoscope effect.

Banana Split was beautifully quilted by Debbie Scroggy of All Quilted, LLC. I went to Debbie’s studio and together we selected the thread and the quilting motifs (spirals in the main body of the quilt and in the corners, and piano keys in the borders). I expected the thread of choice would be a pale yellow. Much to my surprise, it was a deep gold that looked the best when we pooled all of the contenders on the quilt top.

The thread had such a lovely sheen that I asked Debbie to put it on the back of the quilt, too:

Back of Banana Split


The panels on either side of the big star block above show the focus fabric I used on the 4-Patch Wonder blocks. The circle in the center is a kaleidoscope made from the same focus fabric. Here’s a close-up of the big star:

May-2014-Shoot-HR-2 - Copy
Dawn’s Big Block (18″ Square)

The more I look at this big block, the more I like it. I was just goofing around when I made it but now I think it has real possibilities. Four blocks would make a perfectly sized baby quilt. I’ll hold on to that thought, as I have a couple of baby quilts to make in the next few months.

In the meantime, I have plenty of works in progress that need attention, not to mention the stack of UFOs (Unfinished Objects) I am committed to whittling down this year. Happily, Banana Split is no longer in that category.




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder quilt, faux-kaleido quilts, kaleidoscope quilts, update | 2 Comments

Sous le Ciel de Paris

That’s French for “Under Paris Skies.” It’s the name of a song I bet you’d recognize if I hummed a few bars. It’s also the name of my newly finished little quilt:

2014-03-04 23.28.23

Under Paris Skies measures about 18″ x 55″. I used eight different fabrics in the octagons, five of them fussy-cut. No matter which way you turn the quilt, you see vignettes of Parisians young and old enjoying a spring day in the City of Light. There’s an Eiffel Tower in each block, too.

The quilt below, which I finished a few weeks ago, is the same size and design but has a completely different look, more like a real kaleidoscope viewed through a tube made of bits of colored glass or paper. When the tube is rotated, the reflections produce changing patterns that are visible through an eyehole.

Fall Kaleido horizontal

This quilt is named Autumn Reflections. The focus fabric, from the Autumn Harvest line by Jason Yenter for In the Beginning Fabrics, has pumpkins on it, big leaves, and grapes or berries. You’d never know it from looking at the finished blocks, though. Interesting how cutting up the focus fabric into 45 degree wedges completely changes what you see.

I’m going to be teaching a class in June on this design. Students can make their quilt with eight repeats of fabric, as in the autumn version, or eight different fabrics, as in the spring version. Vive le différence!







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Gay Paree . . . and Pantone

The photos in yesterday’s post didn’t do justice to Gay Paree, the new Michael Miller fabric I just used in a kaleidoscope table runner. Gay Paree is a novelty fabric featuring slightly abstract scenes of Paris. There’s a young couple sitting at an outdoor café, a little girl buying flowers from a street vendor, another vendor selling baguettes, and a nun feeding birds. There’s also a smartly dressed woman walking her dogs — poodles, of course — near the Eiffel tower and a sailor kissing his sweetheart by a fountain. A whimsical panorama:

2014-02-24 03.19.15
Gay Paree by Michael Miller Fabrics


I fussy-cut six different images from the fabric and inserted them randomly, two to a block, in my table runner:

2014-2 kaleido runner side view red
Dawn’s Runner, Waiting to Be Quilted


You may be wondering what this Gay Paree fabric has to do with Pantone. Do you know about Pantone? It’s an American corporation best known for its standardized color reproduction system, known as PMS (Pantone Matching System). The system is used in a variety of industries where accurate color reproduction is really important — printing, of course, but also in the manufacture of paint and fabrics.

Every year Pantone declares a “Color of the Year,” which guides consumer-oriented companies — think florists, fashion designers, fabric manufacturers — in product design and future planning. I happened to be in a paint store the other day and stopped in front of a Pantone display, which featured the three most recent Colors of the Year. The 2012 Pantone Color of the Year — Tangerine Tango — was the very shade of orange-y red in my Gay Paree fabric! Take a look:

2014-02-24 03.20.15
Gay Paree/Tangerine Tango


It just so happens that Gay Paree comes in two other colorways: a bright emerald green and a vibrant orchid:

Gay Paree/Emerald and Radiant Orchid
Gay Paree in Emerald and Orchid Colorways


And it also just so happens that Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2013 is Emerald and 2014’s color is Radiant Orchid:

2014-2 Pantone emerald and orchid
Pantone’s 2013 and 2014 Colors of the Year


Coincidence? I think not! Savvy marketing? Mais oui!




Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 5 Comments

A Change of Pace

I’ve been taking a little break from Reach for the Stars (see previous post) to make a new kaleidoscope runner, a second version of the one in fall fabrics I showed you a few weeks ago. This runner features some delightful new Paris-themed fabrics from Michael Miller with a contemporary vibe. Take a look:

2014-2 kaleido runner side view red
Top Measures 18″ x 55″

This close-up of one block gives you a better look at the fabrics:

2014-2 kaleido runner block after
Block Finishes at 15″

The Parisian street scenes were fussy-cut from Gay Paree, the new line from Michael Miller, as was the Eiffel Tower, an older Michael Miller line. The navy-on-white and white-on-navy house prints are from the Maison line by Michael Miller, companion prints to Gay Paree. Fans of Violet Craft’s Waterfront Park collection for Michael Miller will recognize the two bright orange pieces from that line, and the remaining white-on-navy geometric is a Mini Mike from Michael Miller.

That bright orange accent strip is a batik and the outer sashing strip is Tangle by Marcia Derse for Windham Fabrics. My background fabric is a pale grey Color Weave by P&B Textiles. I usually piece my backs but I’m going to put an uncut length of the Gay Paree fabric on the back so that the Parisian street scenes can be seen in their entirety.

I’m going to quilt this little table runner/wall hanging with straight lines or maybe simple cross-hatching and bind it in the same orange batik I used for the accent strips.

Over the last few years I’ve made at least a dozen kaleidoscope quilts featuring octagons, all made from eight repeats of one fabric carefully stacked, pinned, and cut. This is the first time I’ve used eight different fabrics in a block. What fun!





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February Finish

In my last post I mentioned a Work-in-Progress that needed some free-motion quilting (FMQ). Remember this?

2013-10, kaleido table runner 1
18″ x 56″ Before Quilting

Back in October, continuing my love affair with kaleidoscope quilts, I made three large kaleidoscope blocks from a piece of autumn-themed fabric from In the Beginning Fabrics (you can read about it here) and put them together into the table runner/wall hanging you see above. After assembling the quilt sandwich I did a fair amount of stitching in the ditch and then I put the piece aside. Why? Because FMQ is by far the most challenging aspect of the quilting process for me and it is far too easy to procrastinate.

This week I decided I absolutely had to finish it. And I did! I quilted a curvy motif in each triangle of the octagons — that’s 24 total, not counting the ones I made first on my practice quilt sandwich. Here’s a close-up of the quilting on my favorite block:

2014-2 Kaleido Wall Hanging quilting detail
Up Close and Personal


My inspiration for the quilting design came from the book Adaptable Quilting Designs by Sue Patten (American Quilter’s Society, 2010):

2014-2 Kaleido Wall Hanging quilt motif

I modified her design so that it would fit in my 45 degree triangles. The quilting lines are meant to cross each other so it’s a very forgiving design for a novice free-motion quilter like me.

Well, what can I say? My FMQ isn’t going to win any awards but I’m pleased with this effort. And I’m not going to get better unless I do more of it, right?

This post is labeled “February Finish” but in fact my little quilt isn’t done yet. It doesn’t have a label because I haven’t thought of a name. I’m thinking about making a second kaleidoscope runner like this one in spring fabrics, and then I can call them Spring Forward and Fall Back. Just kidding. Hmm. Maybe not!





Posted in free motion quilting, kaleidoscope quilts, update | 7 Comments

Lyra’s Quilt

Hydrangea Kaleidoscopes, 47" x 54"
Hydrangea Kaleido quilt top, 47″ x 54″

Remember this quilt? I was working on it back in February (you can read about it here) when I learned that my brother’s son and his wife were expecting their first child, due in August. They didn’t want to know the sex of the baby until it arrived. In the back of my mind I was thinking that if the baby were a girl, this might become her quilt.

At the end of August, their daughter was born. I was still considering this quilt for her but didn’t decide for sure until it came back from long-arm quilter Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting. Then I knew it would be perfect for a sweet little girl. Nancy quilted a sunburst motif in the center of each kaleidoscope block and a tessellating clamshell design in the background. Take a look:

2013-11, Lyra's quilt
44″ x 51″ After Quilting


On the back I put a big strip of the hydrangea focus fabric and converted a leftover kaleido block into a circle:

2013-11, Lyra's quilt, back
44″ x 51″ After Quilting


On this detail photo of the back you can get a better look at the quilted sunburst:

2013-11, Lyra's quilt, detail of quilting
Quilting Detail


The label was made using a compact disc (described in my tutorial here):

2013-11, Lyra's quilt label 1

The photo above, which gives you a better look at the tessellating clamshell motif, was taken after the quilt was washed, giving it that soft puckery look.

Lyra’s quilt will soon be on its way to her. I hope she likes it!





Posted in baby quilt, family, kaleidoscope quilts, quilt labels, update | 3 Comments

Rubber Ball

I’ve been bouncing from project to project this week like the proverbial rubber ball and boy, has it been fun! First I made this little fabric box, using directions from my friend Viv:

2013-10, little fabric box
Fabric Box, 4″ Square

I think Viv’s directions were adapted from a tutorial she found on the Internet. She made a box for me last year that I use all the time. In my sewing room it catches threads. When I go to a quilt class, it holds notions. So versatile and cute!

Then I made a pair of king-size pillowcases for my twin sister, Diane:

2013-10, pcases for Diane
Another Pair of Pillowcases for My Twin

My husband and I are spending two whole weeks with Diane and her husband around Thanksgiving; these cases will be a hostess gift. She fell in love with the fabrics when she saw them made into this sewing machine dust cover so I’m pretty confident the cases will be a hit.

Next I sewed those three kaleidoscope blocks from a couple of weeks ago into a table runner/wall hanging:

2013-10, kaleido table runner 1
18″ x 56″

Isn’t it amazing that all three blocks were made from the same focus fabric? I’m going to put a solid piece of that fabric on the back.

Last but not least, I pulled some black and white fabrics from my stash to make this test block using the pattern “Metro Rings” by Jenny Pedigo of Sew Kind of Wonderful and her Quick-Curve Ruler©:

2013-10, metro rings test block 1
19″ Metro Rings Block

This is Jenny’s modern take on the traditional wedding ring block. Those curved rings are made from strip sets! It’s the fourth design of hers I’ve made using her Quick-Curve Ruler, and I continue to be amazed and delighted at how versatile the ruler is. I’m especially excited about this quilt-to-come because I’ll be teaching a class on it at the Pine Needle in January 2014.




Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 8 Comments