April is my favorite month of the year. It’s the month when the promise of spring in Portland is fully realized. Lawns are emerald green, and the profusion of colorful azaleas, tulips, and other blooming things makes my heart sing. Today is a gloriously sunny day, one of the first of the year warm enough for Portlanders to open all their windows and let the fresh air in. I can hear the sound of a lawnmower starting up and if I’m lucky it will be followed by the scent of new-mown grass.
In honor of spring I hung Under Paris Skies in the master bathroom:
This is the springtime version of my pattern Season to Taste, designed and made four years ago as part of a series based on the four seasons. The summer and fall versions are done but I must confess the one for winter hasn’t been made yet, though I do have the perfect fabric for it in my stash.
This is the first time Under Paris Skies has been on display in my house. All this time it’s been hanging in the Pine Needle, the quilt shop in Lake Oswego where I’ve been teaching the last eight years.
After 25 years running the Pine Needle, owner Geri retired and closed the shop at the end of March. Several of my quilts had been hanging in the shop, and all of them got to come home with me. (Happily, Geri is still involved in the quilt industry and the Pine Needle location is being taken over by a local family-owned sewing business. More on that in a future post after an official announcement has been made.)
Back to Under Paris Skies for a moment. First you have to imagine April in Paris. Think of Ella Fitzgerald singing “April in Paris, chestnuts in blossom, holiday tables under the trees . . .”
Those are real chestnuts in blossom, taken on my trip to Paris three years ago this month. If you look carefully you can see the Seine in the background. Now imagine clusters of people sitting outside at cafe tables, taking in the fresh air while sipping a citron presse or café crème, like the two below (apparently still waiting for their order to be taken):
All three blocks in this kaleidoscope quilt contain two different images of outdoor Parisian life, carefully fussy cut to fit in the confines of the triangles. Here’s another scene that always makes me smile:
When the rains return (which they will, because it wouldn’t be spring in Portland without them), I’ll look at these bright and cheerful scenes of Paris in anticipation of the next sunny day right here at home.
Earlier this week it hit me that I’ve finished only one project since 2018 began. Only one! Plenty of things started, of course. I decided to spend some time this week addressing that rather pathetic record.
I quilted Hip Hop, the wall hanging/table runner pieced in January using my Full Moon Rising pattern. The quilting motifs were suggested by the fabric, a lively aboriginal print featuring kangaroos hopping around in the bush. The kangaroos were fussy cut and centered in the circles, which are inset (not appliquéd).
Here’s a look at the entire quilt, measuring 15¾” x 58″ after quilting and trimming:
All told I used four different quilting motifs. You can see three of them in this close-up of Blocks 1 and 2 bordered by the end piece:
Block 1, with the turquoise background fabric, was quilted with uneven wavy lines patterned after the wavy lines in the fabric design. Block 2 was quilted in a simple loop-de-loop design suggested by the dotted batik background fabric. For the end pieces I quilted angled straight lines at random using my walking foot. All the quilting in the other blocks is free motion.
Here are Blocks 3 and 4, stippling in the dark blue background of Block 3 and a repeat of the waves in the turquoise fabric in Block 4:
Here are Blocks 5 and 6 and the other end piece, with repeated quilting motifs:
Still to do: outlining the kangaroo in each circle using white thread, just following the lines on the fabric. I already did it in Block 1, though it’s hard to see in the photos.
My binding is already cut and sewn. I’m using the turquoise fabric, cut on the bias to show off the wavy herringbone pattern to better advantage:
I’m very happy with this little piece and will be even happier when it is bound and labeled. Only then can I claim my second finish of the year.
I finished a UFO at Quilt Camp last week. It was the table runner I started as an experiment when I was teaching at the Pine Needle‘s quilt retreat in June. Remember this?
It’s a bit difficult to see from the photo but the outer edges of the runner were cut to match the curves inside. I wanted the binding on the quilt to echo the design, which you may recognize as Mini Mod Tiles, that marvelous free pattern from Sew Kind of Wonderful that has been the subject of several posts over the last few months.
I had just enough of the dark green batik fabric for the binding:
Didn’t that turn out nicely? I machine quilted it very simply with my walking foot, stitching in the ditch and adding a simple starburst in the center of the curved shapes featuring the focus fabric:
There wasn’t enough of the wintry blue print to cover the entire back so I inserted a strip of the blue polka dot:
I used light blue thread on the back to blend in so the runner is essentially reversible. The label can go in the very center, to be covered by a candle or bowl.
Binding the curved edges presented quite a challenge, as the angle is greater than 90 degrees plus you have the curve to deal with. Fortunately, Heather Peterson of Anka’s Treasures has a wonderful tutorial on her website that shows how to bind an outside edge greater than 90 degrees. Following her excellent instructions, I was able to bind those corners. Here’s a look at the pinning technique:
I don’t think I would ever have figured that out on my own. Thanks, Heather!
The runner measures 13″ x 38½”, a nice size for the center of a table or dresser. I’m giving it to my twin sister in Atlanta this weekend as a birthday/hostess gift; my husband and I are headed there later this week for our annual extended visit over Thanksgiving.
I’m very pleased with this variation on the Mini Mod Tiles design. And, having made two quilts (a mini and a supersized version) from the pattern, I am finally ready to put MMT behind me. Just in time, too! The Sew Kind of Wonderful team has come out with some marvelous new patterns. I have no doubt there is another Quick Curve Ruler quilt in my future.
Aren’t these lovely? They are the first group of Mini Mod Tile blocks coming from the second group of quilters attending the Pine Needle Quilt Shop’s retreat in western Washington last month. (You can read all about the first group’s output in my preceding post.) The blocks you see above were made by Sandra and Dena (top row) and Linda and Barbara B. (second row).
Here are the second group of blocks:
These were made by Lorri and Barbara S. (first row) and Liz and Roxanne (second row).
The venue for the retreat was St Andrews House on Hood Canal near Union, Washington. In my previous post I showed you the view of the Olympic Mountains from the long porch at St Andrews House. Here are some photos of the house itself starting with the porch, which runs along the back of the house:
The view from the parking lot:
The herb garden:
A pleasant shaded seating area:
Such a lovely retreat and conference center!
Now for more blocks. These blue and white blocks were made by Joyce . . .
. . . and these were made by Sue and Lisa:
So far all the blocks you’ve seen measure 11″ unfinished and were made with the QCR Mini, the small version of the original Quick Curve Ruler by Sew Kind of Wonderful. Kay was one of those making my “supersized” version of Mini Mod Tiles in which the blocks measure 18″ unfinished:
What about those three blocks on top? Kay was also working on a second project, making Ribbon Star blocks from the Missouri Star Quilt C0. It’s pretty clear Kay likes color!
Another quilter making colorful supersized blocks was Kristine:
Missy was making the mini version using a palette quite similar to Kristine’s:
Three of my students were using the original Quick Curve Ruler to make different designs by Sew Kind of Wonderful. Janna started with the free pattern Spring Fling from SKW but departed from the design to do her own thing. Here’s her first block:
Katie fell in love with the pattern Dancing Churndash designed by SKW for Cut Loose Press. Here are her first two blocks:
Delia chose SKW’s Chic Diamonds design:
With the second group of students I was much better at getting pictures of them with their projects toward the end of our time together. Here is Rosalie with her five beautiful blocks:
Barbara B. completed a runner . . .
. . . and had enough fabric left to make a mini Fun Poinsettia block:
Here’s Missy with her four blocks sewn together:
Do you see how there’s a fifth block in the center that is made up of partial blocks from the four? This is an example of a secondary block design being the same as the primary.
In addition to their blocks (shown behind them), Dena and Kristine made self-binding baby blankets in soft flannels:
Dena showed several quilters how she mitered the corners on her baby quilt. Joyce practiced the technique, making a square with mitered corners in addition to her lovely runner:
Another vision in blue and white is Roxanne’s quilt top:
Linda decided to change the 3 x 3 setting to 4 x 5 to make a bigger quilt. Here is half of her Mini Mod Tiles quilt sewn together:
Mini Mod Tiles looks wonderful in both traditional and modern fabrics. Here is Sandra with her four-block runner in soothing muted colors. . .
. . . and Lorri with her five-block runner using bright Tula Pink prints:
Lisa’s runner makes me think of pink lemonade:
Or maybe raspberry sorbet?
Liz completed her purple pansy runner and made a second one with a charming pinecone print:
Sue departed from the original design by incorporating sashing strips inside some of her blocks:
Remember Janna’s bright batik block? Here is her quilt top complete with narrow and wide borders:
Here is Katie with her four Dancing Churndash blocks:
Can you believe Katie is working on her very first quilt? Amazing! She has a bright future as a quiltmaker.
Katie’s sister Barbara S. was originally planning to make a runner but she liked her blocks so well she kept making them and wound up with a quilt top!
In this photo Kay has laid out her supersized blocks and is auditioning the scrappy connector strips between blocks:
Kay also made a few more fabulous Ribbon Star blocks:
During her time at the retreat Delia finished quilting a quilt begun in an improv class with Jean Wells:
The back is as interesting as the front:
It was all quilted on Delia’s domestic machine. She was on deadline: her quilt needed to be in the mail the following week to Sisters, Oregon where it will hang in the world’s largest outdoor quilt show on Saturday, July 7.
That’s the perfect segue to let you know I am in Sisters right now with my quilt group, the Quisters. We’ve taken classes this week put on by A Quilter’s Affair and we will all be at the quilt show tomorrow where a record 1,497 quilts will be hung for one day. Of course I will be keeping an eye out for Delia’s quilt.
I hope you have enjoyed seeing the beautiful blocks, runners, quilt tops, and other projects created by my students at the two Pine Needle retreats!
Don’t these quilters look happy? This photo was taken the first evening of the Pine Needle Quilt Shop‘s retreat last month in Union, Washington just after completing a pillowcase exchange. The retreat had a western theme, which is why you see cowboy hats, boots, and bandana prints on both people and pillowcases.
The retreat was held at St Andrews House, a retreat and conference center run by the Episcopal Church of Western Washington. I had the pleasure of teaching for the Pine Needle at St Andrews House last year and returned this year for two back-to-back retreats.
What a lovely spot for a sewing/quilting getaway! The house sits above Hood Canal and offers commanding views of the Olympic Mountains. This is what you see from the long porch that runs along one side of the main building:
I stayed with Geri, owner of the Pine Needle and organizer of the retreat, in Bayne Cottage, a little house below the retreat center also owned by the church. Every morning before walking up a short (but very steep) hill to the retreat center, I had coffee on the deck that sits right over the water when the tide is in. This was my view:
This is the quilt that appears on the SKW website. It was made with the QCR Mini, the smaller of the two specialty curve rulers designed by Sew Kind of Wonderful. The block finishes at 10½” and the entire quilt finishes at 35″. Did you know the pattern is a free download? You can find it here.
I decided to “supersize” the block so that the quilt could also be made with the original Quick Curve Ruler. That way I could offer my retreat students two options. Here are my two test blocks, one finishing at 10½” and the other finishing at 18″:
In no time at all, my students were sewing curves the Sew Kind of Wonderful way: no pinning! The fabrics are cut slightly oversize and trimmed so that when the block components are sewn together, they fit the way they’re supposed to.
Here are the first three blocks:
The blocks in the top row were made by Diane and Lynn. We were all dazzled by Diane’s choice of Kaffe Fassett prints combined with a bold text print for the background. Doesn’t Lynn’s block look like real tile? She chose the perfect batik for her focus fabric to get that effect. Lynn’s sister Karen made the block in the second row. She reversed the usual placement, using a lovely floral print for the background and a dark blue solid where a print would normally go.
As the first day progressed, the number of blocks on the wall quickly increased:
The new blocks were made by Denise (Asian fabrics in second row), Colleen (aboriginal fabrics in third row), Puff (autumn colors on the far right side of photo), Marti (marbled print with rust background in lower left), Tamara (rich purple batiks in bottom row), and me (blue and green holiday print in third row). As you can see with Puff’s two blocks on the right, one block was made with a contrasting center square and one without. Puff decided she liked the top version better.
I told the students, “Once you have your curves sewn and trimmed, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised how quickly the quilt goes together.” When I came to the classroom on the morning of the second day, I was flabbergasted to see a finished quilt top. Kay had finished hers the evening before!
As always, it’s so fun to see the different fabrics that students choose. Candyce’s blue and white fabrics are Shibori prints:
Susie’s focus fabrics are from the Marks line by Valori and Jean Wells. She found the perfect background fabric from another line to go with them:
Best friends Martha and Sandy wanted to make a different Sew Kind of Wonderful pattern, Metro Rings. That was fine with me, as I’ve made Metro Rings myself and could offer them some special tips. This block represents a joint effort, as they are using the same fabrics. See how the big block is made of four smaller ones? Two of them were made by Martha and the other two by Sandy. The four blocks haven’t been sewn together but you can see that their points of the triangles in the center are going to come together perfectly:
Here is Linda’s supersized version of Mini Mod Tiles, made in one of my favorite color combinations, green and purple:
I had suggested that students making the supersized version save their fabric scraps, as they’re large enough to be used in something else. Linda proved my point. She sewed four curvy scraps together and then trimmed them to make an hourglass block. Five hourglass blocks (see the center block?) then became part of a larger nine-patch star block:
Linda’s background fabric, from the Alison Glass Sun Print 2016 line, goes so well with her wild floral print.
Jan had a charm pack of 5″ squares in grey and white prints, pairing them with white and yellow to great effect:
Kitty used that same fresh color combination in her runner:
She added a border of her yellow accent fabric. See how the edges of the runner have been cut to match the curve? That was an option I suggested to accentuate the curve within the block. Kitty will bind her runner in the focus print which will give her runner nice definition.
Here is Kitty’s sister Puff with her lovely runner:
She’s going to make a set of napkins from the print to go along with the table runner.
We had three sets of sisters at this retreat! Marti came all the way from New York to join her sister Vicki. Here are their bold and beautiful supersized blocks:
I also cut curves on the runner I made at the retreat:
When I bind this in the dark green, the curved ends will really stand out.
My plan was to snap pictures on the last day of all the quilters with their projects but alas, that didn’t happen. Still, I think you have an idea of the many wonderful ways in which Mini Mod Tiles can be interpreted. Sometime this fall the Pine Needle will have a reunion for retreat participants. Many of these projects will be completed by then and I promise to get some good pictures.
In my next post you’ll see more versions of Mini Mod Tiles, including some supersized ones, made by the second group of retreat participants. Do come back to see!
Presenting . . . Mini Mod Tiles from Sew Kind of Wonderful:
The curves were cut with a specialty ruler called the QCR Mini — the smaller version of the Quick Curve Ruler from Sew Kind of Wonderful — and sewn with a pins-free technique. SKW has great patterns for sale on its website — and several free patterns, including Mod Mini Tiles. You can find all the free patterns here. The link to Mini Mod Tiles is here.
Using the original Quick Curve Ruler I made a “supersized” version of Mini Mod Tiles that I showed you in my last post. The quilt, named Terrazzo Tiles, is at the longarmer being quilted as I write this. Look for a reveal post in just a few days!
I’m teaching both sizes of this design at a quilt retreat coming up in a few days. A couple of my students are interested in making a wall hanging or table runner so I decided to play around with possible border treatments. Since a finished block of the original Mini Mod Tiles is 10½” wide, a border is clearly called for.
A plain border would certainly work but I thought it would be fun to incorporate the sashing design. This is a mock-up made by cutting up a photo of Terrazzo Tiles:
I used a gluestick to add cornerstones in each corner.
Then I wondered how it would look without the periwinkle squares along the outer edges so I covered them up:
Hmmm. That’s a little stark for my taste but the effect might be completely different if a lighter fabric were used where the black is used here.
Next I wondered how the edges would look if they were trimmed to match the curves in the focus fabric:
I am loving this! I think I’m on to something here. . .
Since I covered up the periwinkle squares in the second test, I restored them (sort of) with colored pencils to get a fourth test version:
Which do you like better, 3 or 4? Whether those border squares stay or go, the curved edges are definitely staying. A three-block runner like my mocked up version would finish at 13½” x 38″. A four-block version would finish at 13½” x 50 and a five-block at 13½” x 62″.
I’m eager to try this out with some holiday fabric that’s been in my stash for a few years. My Mini Mod Tiles mania continues!