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!
“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’m calling it a “kaleido-spinner” block.
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!