Did you know that March is National Craft Month? Not only that, March 18 is National Quilting Day.
But wait — there’s more!
March 18 is also Worldwide Quilting Day — a day to celebrate the art and craft of quilting with like-minded friends around the globe:
I follow quite a few quilters in other countries through Instagram (are you on Instagram too? You can find me here) so I am delighted to know quilters around the world are celebrating the same day we are.
National Quilting Day is always celebrated on the third Saturday of March, coinciding this year with two quilt shows in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area.
The 23rd annual “Airing of the Quilts” is this Friday and Saturday, March 17-18, at the Milwaukie Center, 5440 SE Kellogg Creek Drive in Milwaukie, Oregon. It’s a non-juried community quilt show exhibiting old and new quilts, traditional and non-traditional. Show hours are 9:00 am to 4:00 pm both days. For more information, visit www.MilwaukieCenterQuiltShow.org.
“Every Quilt Tells a Story” is the theme of the Metropolitan Patchwork Society’s one-day show Saturday, March 18, at the Beaverton Public Library, 12375 SW Fifth St., Beaverton, Oregon. Hours of the show are 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. This show is also non-juried and features quilts made primarily by MPS members.
I’m a member and have submitted two quilts I completed last year: Stella by Starlight . . .
. . . and Ring Toss:
If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll visit one or both of these quilt shows.
Quiltmakers are always being exhorted to support their local quilt shops. In the spirit of National Quilting Day and Worldwide Quilting Day, consider this a call to support your local quilt guilds as well.
Here’s to 2017! Specifically, here’s to lots of sewing and quilting in 2017. I’m already looking forward to several projects — and not just new ones. There’s a stack of UFOs beckoning that I am actually enthusiastic about tackling. But not today.
On this fresh new day of the year, I’m looking back on what I created in 2016. Rather than going in chronological order, I’m grouping my finishes by categories.
This was the year of the Junior Billie Bag, the quintessential quilter’s tote designed by Billie Mahorney. I made a bag for myself . . .
. . . and one for my friend Deborah . . .
. . . and one for my friend Miriam:
Next category: baby quilts. This is the first of two incorporating a charming giraffe-themed fabric panel:
Here’s the second one, using the same fabrics in a slightly different setting:
I didn’t use a pattern for these quilts, preferring to play with simple shapes (squares and rectangles) so that the giraffes on the fabric panels would be the focal point.
My third baby quilt of the year was this one using the pattern Just Can’t Cut It from All Washed Up Quilts:
All three were quilted by longarmer Sherry Wadley.
All by itself in the mini quilt category is Ring Toss, based on the pattern Mini Rings by Sew Kind of Wonderful:
Mini Rings was quilted by Karlee Sandell of SewInspired2Day. Oh, and that’s our new rescue kitty Princess Cordelia (Coco for short).
Lap quilts is the next category. Once again I used a Sew Kind of Wonderful design, adapting the pattern Chic Diamonds into this quilt I named Dragonfly Kisses:
It was quilted by Sherry Wadley.
The next quilt, Where It’s @, was started in July in a class with Karla Alexander of Saginaw Street Quilts. It’s based on her pattern Rewind. I really stepped outside my comfort zone with this quilt, and I absolutely love the result:
The last quilt in this category is Stella by Starlight, a “kaleido-spinner” using the Spinners block by Heather Peterson of Anka’s Treasures:
I call it a “kaleido-spinner” because the six equilateral triangles in each block were cut from identical repeats of the focus fabric, creating a kaleidoscope effect of sorts. The four small hexagon blocks are true kaleidoscope blocks.
Both Where It’s @ and Stella by Starlight were quilted by Karlee Sandell.
The next category is runners, both bed and table. I made one of each, using the same focus fabric in each (Wander by Joel Dewberry) and the same block design (Spinners by Anka’s Treasures) with completely different outcomes. Here is WanderLust I, the king size bed runner made with five blocks:
I liked the focus fabric so much I made the bed runner reversible:
The final category is a bit of a hodgepodge. I made a quilted cover for my stepmother’s new iPad Pro . . .
. . . and a cardholder for her bridge hands:
For my friend and fellow Quister (Quilt Sister) Vickie I made an iron caddy that doubles as a pressing mat . . .
. . . plus a matching 4″ x 4″ fabric box that she can use as a threadcatcher:
For myself I made some accessories to match my Junior Billie Bag: a rotary cutter coat made from my tutorial . . .
. . . and a scissors case . . .
. . . and a sewing caddy that sits upright in a Lucite stand:
A 4″ x 4″ fabric box (yes, it’s a threadcatcher) completes the ensemble:
As you have surmised, I’m crazy in love with that fabric line (Paradise by Alisse Coulter for Camelot Cottons). I expect you’ll see more of it in 2017, as I bought a lot when it was released a couple years ago.
I’m sending a shout out to the talented longarm quilters who transformed my 2016 quilt tops into beautiful quilts — Coleen Barnhardt, Karlee Sandell, Debbie Scroggy, and Sherry Wadley — and to you, my loyal blog readers, for your continuing interest and support of First Light Designs.
Here it is Friday afternoon on Christmas Eve and I was able to put the finishing touches on Stella by Starlight, my “kaleido-spinner” quilt, in time to take it outside for a few photos on the back deck before dusk. Stella by Starlight finished at 51½” x 71″.
As much as I enjoy sewing down binding, it has become quite a challenge since Coco the cat came into our lives in May. When I’m sitting in a chair with the quilt I’m binding draped around me, she thinks I have made a fort for her to play hide and seek in. Any little movement causes her to leap into action, pouncing wildly here and there, and I seriously worry she is going to do some damage to my quilt. I have to wait till she is napping so I can sneak in a little handwork:
Stella is bound in the same Cotton + Steel fabric (“Sprinkle”) that I used for the background. I love how the tiny white dots look like a sprinkling of stars in the night sky. That’s just one of several reasons why this quilt came to be named Stella by Starlight.
Here’s Stella from the back:
That strip of floral fabric is all I have left after making the kaleido-spinner and kaleidoscope blocks on the front. I also used it in my friend Miriam’s Junior Billie Bag.
See that little yellow hexagon in the lower right corner? That’s the label. Here’s a closer look:
The label is the same size and shape as the centers of the kaleido-spinner blocks on the front. Same fabric, too. (If you are interested in how I came up with the term “kaleido-spinner” to describe my blocks, you can check this post from October.)
Even though Stella contains only four true kaleidoscope blocks, I am including it in my series of kaleidoscope quilts. I believe this one is #11. The others are pictured in my Gallery under the subheadings Quilts and Table Runners/Wall Hangings.
I hope your next few days are full of fun, family, friends, and — of course! — fabric.
. . . is back from being custom quilted, and she is sparkling:
I wanted this one to be quilted entirely with free motion quilting. Karlee Sandell of sewinspired2day was up to the challenge, and I am so delighted with the result.
Karlee quilted free-form feathers in the bright yellow center hexagons and in the triangles that spin around the yellow centers:
Contrasting with the loops and curves in the feathers are the angled lines in the white trapezoids. And if you look very carefully, you can make out the swirls and pebbles that Karlee quilted in the background. Here’s a better look at those designs:
I love how the random swirls and pebbles play against the random white dots sprinkled on the black background.
Did you happen to notice the four small kaleidoscope blocks in Rows 2 and 4? Each one is quilted with a different design, a Karlee touch that pleased me immensely:
The fabric in the kaleido blocks is pretty busy so the quilting is easier to see from the back. Here’s the first block in Row 4 as seen from the back:
Yes, I used a starry fabric on the back of the quilt, too. A couple of them, in fact. Stars play such an important role in this quilt that I actually toyed with the idea of naming it Star Crazy.
Go back to the first photo for a moment. Focus on the middle block (Row 3). See how the white trapezoids form a hexagon and the black triangles around the hexagon form a six-pointed star? Stars everywhere you look!
Measuring 53½” x 73½” before quilting, Stella by Starlight now measures 52″ x 72″. I’m going to bind it in the same fabric used in the background so that all of the blocks continue to float in the night sky. I’ll post more photos when the quilt is bound and labeled. I have something fun planned for the label so I hope you will come back soon to check it out.
After settling on the name Stella by Starlight for my just completed kaleido-spinner quilt (subject of my last post), I made a simple pieced back for it using fabrics from my stash. I decided to stick to black fabrics for the back since the quilt will be quilted primarily with black thread.
A review of my stash yielded two prints that are perfectly in keeping with the theme of the quilt. How serendipitous! One features tiny white stars on a black background, while the other is a geometric print that from a distance looks like star clusters. Here is the completed back, which measures 60″ x 80″:
The strip of floral fabric near the middle is the focus fabric that created the one-of-a-kind kaleido-spinners in the quilt top:
I’m going to have Stella custom quilted by a local longarmer whose work is, well, stellar.
In my last post I showed you my latest kaleido-spinner project, noting that I planned to reverse the two large blocks in the fourth row. That’s been done, and this is what the quilt top looks like now:
The change was made to better balance the distribution of yellow in the quilt. That small hexagon kaleidoscope on the left side of the fourth row has very little yellow in it, so it needed some help from its neighboring blocks.
It’s a subtle but significant change. Here’s a look at the quilt top before and after:
I was concerned about the lack of color in that hexie kaleido block even before I added it to the quilt so I employed a Sharpie Ultra Fine Tip permanent marker to give it a boost:
This is a trick I learned from a quilt teacher, who referred to permanent markers used in this fashion as “quilter’s caulk.”
Here’s the block with the color added all around:
Sadly, much of the yellow on the outside edges disappeared because I had to trim the block before I added the side triangles and then I lost more of the color to the ¼” seam allowance:
I actually toyed with the idea of adding more yellow in the white flowers, practicing on a couple of scraps . . .
. . . before concluding I was taking my obsession with balance too far. And here’s the thing about using permanent markers on fabric: if you make a mistake, it won’t wash out.
So my kaleido-spinner quilt top is done. I have a small piece left of the original floral fabric to put on the back — people always want to see what the fabric looked like before it was cut into little pieces.
Oh, and my quilt now has a name. It’s Stella by Starlight.
Heather’s original design calls for six different fabrics in the triangles surrounding the center hexagon. I used six identical triangles in each Spinners block to get a kaleidoscope effect of sorts, coming up with the name “kaleido-spinner” to describe the effect.
You probably noticed something different in the quilt top pictured above: the four small kaleidoscope blocks in the second and fourth rows. I was originally going to put half-kaleido-spinner blocks there. But then I was perusing Heather’s blog, Trends and Traditions, several days ago and saw something very clever she had done.
Heather has a brand new booklet, Starstruck, coming out that features chevron fabrics in hexagon blocks; when sewn together in hexagons made of six 60° triangles, the chevron fabrics form stars. Some of the quilts featured in Heather’s book have half-size hexagons in the places where half-blocks would normally go. When I saw those quilts, I knew the concept would work very well in my quilt. So thank you, Heather, for your wonderful block design as well as the inspiration for the setting of this quilt!
Making the half-size kaleidoscope blocks fit properly turned out to be quite a challenge. The full-size kaleido-spinner blocks in my quilt finish at 15½” x 13½”. That means the half-size kaleidoscope blocks finish at 7¾” x 6¾” . On top of that, I opted to finish all of the setting triangles on the sides of the blocks with Y-seams to extend the width. I added 3″ strips at the top and bottom to float the blocks the same amount. The quilt top now measures about 53″ x 73″.
I hope you can tell from the photo that the black background isn’t a solid. It’s a tiny random white-on-black dot by Cotton + Steel called “Sprinkle” that reinforces the feeling that those kaleido blocks are spinning in a night sky. (Hmmm. Perhaps there’s a quilt name in that image. I’ll have to work on that.)
Now, a confession. I didn’t notice until I was cropping the photo above that I had reversed the two large blocks in the fourth row. I can’t believe I didn’t see that when I was sewing the rows together. Am I going to fix it? Yes, I am. I worked very hard when laying out the blocks to achieve a good balance of color and value. It feels “off” to me now. My obsessive-compulsive self will be much happier when that change has been made.
There’s one more thing I need to do to this quilt top before I can declare it truly done. That will be the subject of my next post.
P.S. Heather Peterson did not ask me to promote her new book. I just felt it was important to acknowledge her designs (block and setting) in the creation of my latest quilt top.
JBB? That’s the Junior Billie Bag, the most versatile quilter’s tote I’ve ever seen. I’m teaching a class on it at the Pine Needle, making one along with my students but staying a couple steps ahead to show them how the bag, designed years ago by Billie Mahorney, comes together. (You can see what a finished Junior Billie Bag looks like here, and you can see my first post about the JBB currently under construction here.)
The front and back panels are now quilted, with the lining and two sets of handles attached:
Back in August, before making the two blocks you see above, I used a strip of that bold floral fabric to make a test kaleidoscope block, thinking I might use it on a front or back panel:
It didn’t make the cut. I liked it but didn’t love it. Still, I thought there might be a way to use it in the Junior Billie Bag. And there was. I decided to incorporate the kaleido block into an exterior pocket.
A kaleidoscope block made of eight 45° triangles forms an octagon. I downsized it and converted it into a smaller circle, surrounding the circle in the brightest lemon yellow fabric I could find:
Here’s what it looks like now, made into a pocket attached to one of the side panels of the Junior Billie Bag:
The circle is 4⅝” in diameter and the pocket is 6″ deep.
See that band of black fabric at the top of the pocket? I used the same fabric to make a slightly deeper pocket (8″) on the other side panel:
I love how the wavy lines on the pocket fabric play against the lush floral you see above it.
In an upcoming post I’ll show you the pockets on the inside of the bag — lots of them, specifically sized for the tools quiltmakers use most. Please come back for a look.
Do you ever have a vision for a quilt project that doesn’t quite pan out? That’s what happened last Thursday, when I took a class called “Star-Crossed Lovers” in Sisters, Oregon. I love teacher Colleen Blackwood’s design, pictured here:
The quilt you see above is hanging in a quilt shop in Washington State so my classmates and I didn’t get to see it in person but Colleen had another version on hand:
(Both quilts were expertly quilted by Colleen on her domestic sewing machine.)
Note that each heart-within-a-heart contains a block that finishes at 12″ square. The background fabric for the inner heart is the same as the block background, so the block floats in the inner heart.
We students had the option to make our blocks in advance. I created two kaleidoscope blocks using Tula Pink’s Chipper fabric, making Chipper (the chipmunk) the focal point in both of them. I converted the octagonal kaleido blocks into circles, centering them in the 12″ square blocks. Here is the first block . . .
. . . and the second one:
My plan is to have one heart go from pink to orange and the other from orange to pink. Starting with the pink block, I chose several orange fabrics for a scrappy outer heart. In class I labored away cutting my fabrics — inner heart, outer heart, and background — and sewing the first large heart-within-a-heart block.
Later that evening, as I was sewing the last of the orange segments to the inner heart, I realized I had a problem. Two of them, in fact.
The first problem: there’s not enough contrast between the pink and orange fabrics; they are too similar in value. The orange polka dot fabric, which I initially thought might be too dark, seems just right to me now. I’m planning to remake the outer heart using just that fabric.
The second problem: my Chipper circle looks a little too small. It measures 9″ in diameter, not filling the 12″ squares as Colleen’s blocks do. So now I am thinking about reducing the scale of the hearts. Except for the center block, the entire quilt is constructed of squares that finish at 4″. If I reduce those squares to 3½”, the Chipper circles will appear larger in the inner hearts. But reducing the squares to 3½” means all of those sawtooth stars (43 of them) would have to finish at 3½” too. Do I really want to deal with that?
Another thought is to keep the center blocks the same size (12″) but add a second ring of color around the kaleidoscope blocks by inserting another circle. If I do that, it will preserve the original scale of Colleen’s design.
I put a lot of thought and effort into making my two chipmunk blocks and even have a quilt name picked out: Chipmunk Love. As much as I would like to continue working on this quilt, I’m reluctant to proceed until my path is clear. Now that I’m back at home, I’ll put the blocks up on my design wall and make sure I take a look at them a few times a day.
What a dilemma! Do you have any suggestions for me?
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!