Finally — a quilting plan is in place for Sun Flowers, the wall hanging I set aside in January:
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″:
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:
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:
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.
. . . 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):
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:
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.
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″:
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:
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!
It’s still in progress but here’s a shot of the bed runner quilt I’m working on:
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.
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:
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:
Now see what happens when the blocks are butted up against each other:
The illusion is complete when rows are sewn together. This is how far I’ve gotten doing just that:
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?
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:
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:
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?
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:
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:
I 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!
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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!