Category Archives: kaleidoscope quilts

Grandma’s Surprise: A Kaleido Quilt Top

My quilt top based on the kaleidoscope block Grandma’s Surprise is finished:

2015-4, Currant Affairs 57in sq
Dawn’s Version of Grandma’s Surprise, 57″ with Borders

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:

Grandma's Surprise, Joyce Gieszler, 1 of 3
Grandma’s Surprise, 36″ square, made by Joyce Gieszler (2013)

 

My version, with just three fabrics, looks quite different, doesn’t it? It was inspired by this three-color version, also created by Joyce:

Grandma's Surprise, Joyce Gieszler, 2 of 3
Grandma’s Surprise, 36″ square, also made by Joyce Gieszler (2013)

 

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:

Grandma's Surprise, fabric detail
A Closer Look

 

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:

Black, White and Currant fabric from Henry Glass
Black White and Currant V by Color Principle for Henry Glass Fabrics

 

I’m going to call this quilt Currant Affairs.

 

 

 

Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 13 Comments

Slowly but Surely . . .

. . . my kaleidoscope quilt based on the block known as Grandma’s Surprise is coming together. Here are the first six blocks:

Grandma's Surprise, blocks 1-6
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:

Grandma's Surprise, blocks 1-6 and block 8

Isn’t it interesting that the circular shape emerging in the center is formed by spiky triangles?

 

 

 

Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 3 Comments

Lions and Lambs

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:

Grandma's Surprise, Joyce Gieszler, 2 of 3
Grandma’s Surprise, designed and made by Joyce Gieszler, 36″ square (2013)

 

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:

Grandma's Surprise, blocks 2 and 5
Blocks 2 and 5

 

Now I’ve added two blocks (Blocks 1 and 4) that go to the left of the first set:

Grandma's Surprise, blocks 1,2,4,5
Blocks 1 and 2 (first row) and Blocks 4 and 5 (second row)

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:

Grandma's Surprise, block in progress
Under Construction: Block 3

 

I’m going back upstairs to sew. I hope you’ll come back soon to see the rest of my quilt!

 

 

 

Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 7 Comments

Something in Common

Grandma's Surprise, both by Joyce Gieszler

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:

Grandma's Surprise, Joyce Gieszler, 3 of 3
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:

basic kaleidoscope block
The Grandma’s Surprise block takes that concept to the next level:

grandma's puzzle block

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:

center block, grandma's puzzle

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.

 

 

 

Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, Portland Modern Quilt Guild, update | 5 Comments

Quilting in Progress: Sun Flowers

Finally — a quilting plan is in place for Sun Flowers, the wall hanging I set aside in January:

2014-12, Sun Flowers
You may remember that Sun Flowers is the third of four kaleidoscope quilts I am making that represent the seasons of the year. The first two quilts, representing spring and fall, are Under Paris Skies and Autumn Reflections, each of which measures about 18″ x 55″:

Season to Taste high res pattern cover (2)
The quilting on Sun Flowers is a combination of straight line quilting with a walking foot and free-motion quilting (FMQ) in the eight triangles that form each octagon:

Sun Flowers, one block quilted

The straight lines don’t cross the kaleido blocks as they did in Under Paris Skies. My intent here is to make the lines look as if they are going behind the blocks. The swirly free-motion quilting motif is the same one I used on Autumn Reflections and wrote about here. I used 50-weight Aurifil thread in pale grey so the quilting would add texture but not stand out too much.

I couldn’t resist adding those buttons (not yet sewn on) for the photo. Layering the buttons creates a secondary sunflower, reinforcing the theme of the quilt.

You can see the FMQ design in the kaleido wedges more easily on the pieced back:

Sun Flowers, back of one block quilted-001

It feels good to be this far with the quilting. I have two more blocks to go but seem to have overcome my procrastination, always an issue where FMQ is concerned.

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

 

 

 

Posted in free motion quilting, kaleidoscope quilts, update | 3 Comments

Two Steps Forward . . .

. . . and one step back. That’s how the last few days have played out in my sewing room.

Two steps forward: the binding and label on Catch a Falling Star (my Reach for the Stars sampler quilt):

2015-01-14 22.54.34

Still to come: attaching a sleeve on the back (one step back). I’ve decided to enter Catch a Falling Star in a couple of local quilt shows this year, hence the need for a sleeve. Before the sleeve gets attached, though, this quilt is going to be photographed in a studio. That’s something I can’t do at home because I don’t have a suitable space for a full flat shot. Several readers have asked for a look at the entire quilt as well as more photos of Loretta Orsborn’s lovely quilting, and I promise they are forthcoming.

A couple days ago I decided to finish my Sun Flowers wall hanging. I pieced a backing and pin-basted the layers. Two steps forward. Without a quilting plan in mind I started stitching in the ditch on the horizontal seams. Then I stitched the vertical seams and sashing strips on one of the kaleidoscope blocks. At that point I decided what I really wanted to do with this little quilt was stitch diagonally across the surface. Those horizontal and vertical stitching lines had to go.

I picked out all of the quilting. BIG step back:

2015-01-14 01.33.45

It was actually a good thing I picked out the quilting because I had pin-basted the layers rather hastily and the back was not entirely smooth. With the quilting stitches removed, I was able to adjust the layers, and this time I thread-basted them. I put the quilt on my design wall and started thinking about my quilting plan.

Now I’m second-guessing my decision on the diagonal quilting. It seems to me it might distract from the kaleidoscope blocks, which are the star of the show. One thing’s for sure: this quilt is not going under the needle on my sewing machine until I have a plan firmly in place.

In the meantime, I’m going to start piecing the backing for another quilt. One step forward.

 

 

 

Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 4 Comments

4-Patch Twist Bed Runner

I finished piecing the bed runner I started a couple of weeks ago. (I wrote about it here and here.) When last you saw it, it looked like this, measuring about 34½” x 68″:

Olivia Twist 1

The plan was to increase the length so it would drop over the sides of a queen-size bed. I had very little of the background fabric left, though. (It’s hard to see from the photo that the background fabric is an inky blue and black batik print. I had only a yard to begin with — and I used every bit of it.) I inserted a 1½”-wide decorative strip at each end, working with the two fabrics used as lattice strips around the 4-Patch Wonder blocks in the interior.

Now the bed runner looks like this:

Olivia Twist vert OS

The inserts and end pieces added 10″ to the length. I trimmed a bit from the sides so now the bed runner measures 32″ x 78″.

My quilt already has a name: Olivia Twist. (Yes, that’s a nod to Charles Dickens.) The reasons behind the name? First, the focus fabric is from a line called A Garden for Olivia by In the Beginning Fabrics. Second, the quilt is based on the twist block that produces the wonderful interlocking design you see above. The twist block dates back to 1870, which by coincidence is the very year Charles Dickens died.

Now it’s on to the backing for this quilt. I have a good-sized piece of the focus fabric on hand for the back. People always want to know that the fabric looked like before it was cut up!

 

 

 

Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, bed runners, faux-kaleido quilts, kaleidoscope quilts, snowball blocks, update | 6 Comments

4-Patch Twist Update

It’s still in progress but here’s a shot of the bed runner quilt I’m working on:

Olivia Twist 1
Dawn’s Variation on 4-Patch Wonder with a Twist

Can you believe all the blocks came from the same focus fabric? I never tire of making these faux-kaleidoscope blocks. It’s so much fun to see the amazing variety of images created by stacking four repeats and cutting them into squares. For more information on the fabrics I used and the two simple blocks that created the interlocking twist design, see my previous post.

Right now my quilt top measures 34½” x 68″ but it’s going to be a little bit longer because I want more of a drop over the sides of the bed. I haven’t decided yet whether to simply add strips of background fabric to the short ends or incorporate a pieced element with color.

Hmmm. Maybe I should sleep on it.

 

 

 

Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, bed runners, faux-kaleido quilts, kaleidoscope quilts, snowball blocks, update | 4 Comments

Updating an Old Favorite

Recognize this quilt?

2011-9, It's All in the Twist, 57x65
It’s All in the Twist, 57″ x 65″ (2011)

 

It’s one of my favorites: It’s All in the Twist, made from my 4-Patch Wonder with a Twist pattern. The original quilt has been on display at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop for quite a spell. It was high time, I decided recently, to make a new version, so I started on one last week using these fabrics I showed you a couple of weeks ago:

fabrics
Pleasing Fabric Combo

 

The floral focus fabric is from a line called A Garden for Olivia designed by Lida Enche for In the Beginning Fabrics. I thought it would serve up some interesting and beautiful four-patch kaleidoscope blocks (I call them 4-Patch Wonder blocks) — and I was right. I paired the focus fabric with an aqua blender, also from In the Beginning Fabrics, and two batiks from my stash. The dark batik may look solid black in the photo but it’s actually a navy and black print.

The quilt design is deceptively simple: it starts with a snowball block and an alternating block, both finishing at 6″ square. When the blocks are joined together, you see snowballs surrounded by interlocking ribbons. Take a look at this 4-Patch Wonder snowball block between two alternating blocks:

4-Patch Wonder 1
Two Simple Blocks

 

Now see what happens when the blocks are butted up against each other:

4-Patch Wonder 2
Making the Connection

 

The illusion is complete when rows are sewn together. This is how far I’ve gotten doing just that:

4-Patch Twist in progress 800
4-Patch Twist in Progress

 

Isn’t that pretty?

This is my favorite part of quiltmaking: when you start sewing the rows together and can finally see if the reality matches the picture you had in your head when you chose the fabrics and settled on a design.

I’m departing from the original quilt in one other respect: instead of a throw, I’m making a bed runner. It seems to me the quilt world has been very slow to embrace the concept of bed runners. In 2014 I stayed in hotels seven times, ranging from my home state of Oregon to as far away as New York and Florida, and in every single one the beds were accented with bed runners.

It’s an idea whose time has come. I’m jumping on board! How about you?

 

 

 

Posted in bed runners, faux-kaleido quilts, kaleidoscope quilts, snowball blocks, update | 4 Comments

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 | 7 Comments