A month ago today I was in Sisters, Oregon with Vincent van Gogh. And I have the picture to prove it:
I must say, even with a bandaged ear Vincent is looking pretty cheerful. Not at all like the unsmiling tormented soul we see in his self portraits.
So what’s this all about? In 2017 Cherrywood Fabrics issued a challenge for quiltmakers to interpret the paintings and life of Vincent van Gogh in a 20″ square quilt. Contestants were required to use three saturated blues and one black — all hand dyed fabrics by Cherrywood — in their creations. The company received 465 submissions and ultimately selected 200 to be included in two traveling exhibits, one called “the Dutch Gallery” and the other “the French Gallery” to represent the time van Gogh spent in his home country and the country where he spent the last years of his life.
The 2018 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show included a special (indoor) exhibit of the French Gallery. I went to the exhibit near the end of the day and quickly snapped a few photos of the quilts in groups:
I’m amazed at the artistry, creativity, and skill displayed by these quiltmakers. I could have spent hours at this exhibit and probably would have had I arrived there earlier in the day.
If you look carefully at the last photo, you’ll catch a glimpse of “Vincent” between the first and second vertical panels. He was standing against a backdrop of The Starry Night holding an empty frame and a bouquet of sunflowers. His colleague was encouraging viewers to stop for a photo op. So I did.
The dates and venues of both traveling exhibits can be seen here along with the names of the quiltmakers and close-ups of the quilts made by the five winners of the challenge. If you get a chance to see either one, I highly recommend it.
Having viewed the French Gallery, I am now very keen to view the Dutch Gallery. I see that it will be in Spokane, Washington Oct. 19-21, at the Washington State Quilters Show. That’s only 350 miles from my home in Portland, Oregon. Road trip?!
Before more time flies by I want to show you some of the projects my friends and I were working on in Sisters, Oregon during the week leading up to the July 14 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. Normally the group consists of the Quisters (Quilt Sisters), a small group I’ve been a part of for many years. This year Quisters Peggy and Vickie couldn’t make it. Happily, two other good friends, Nancy and Vivienne, were able to take their places.
All four of us took classes during the week organized by Quilter’s Affair. When we weren’t in class, we were back at our rented house sewing in the bonus room over the garage. Here’s Deborah, who just finished layering a darling baby quilt made from the pattern Just Can’t Cut It:
See the blocks with dinosaurs? She’s planning to quilt dinosaur tracks onto the quilt. Won’t that be cute?
Deborah was also working on hand appliqué blocks for her Vintage Moments quilt designed by Marsha McCloskey. The quilt finishes at 90″ square so it’s a large and very ambitious undertaking. She brought along the center medallion as inspiration:
Here’s Nancy with a newly completed quilt top:
The pattern, called High Fashion, is from the book More Layer Cake, Jelly Roll & Charm Quilts by Pam and Nicky Lintott (F & W Media International, 2011). Nancy’s handbag quilt was made from a Layer Cake, a set of 10-inch squares from a line of fabrics made by Moda.
Nancy was also working on a second design in the book called Twisted Braid:
This one is made from a Jelly Roll, pre-cut strips of fabric 2½” wide, also from a line of fabric by Moda.
I don’t normally work with pre-cuts because I like to wash my fabrics before using them. However, exceptions can be made! During one of the Quilter’s Affair events, I won a door prize: the Charm Pack you see below. It’s a set of 5-inch squares from the fabric line “Blue Carolina” by Riley Blake:
It’s pictured with the book mentioned above because I’m thinking of making a smaller version of the cover quilt from this Charm Pack. If I do, I’ll shorten the handbags so they look more like baskets.
Vivienne was working on a very scrappy Trip Around the World quilt made with squares that will finish at one inch. I wish I had a photo to show you but I’m sorry to say I didn’t get any pictures of Viv with her project. She does such beautiful work! I have never seen such perfectly stitched and pressed blocks. In the evenings Viv was knitting a beautiful and intricate scarf and again I missed out on getting photos. I hope she will forgive me.
As for moi, I finished piecing a top based on Corey Yoder’s Idyllic block:
Those blocks range in size from 14″ to 21″ square.
I also experimented with Dancing Churndash, the delightful pattern Jenny Pedigo and Helen Robinson of Sew Kind of Wonderful designed for Cut Loose Press in 2014:
I used up all of the focus fabric I had from a previous project but I like this checkerboard effect well enough to make an entire quilt out of another set of black-on-white and white-on-black companion prints.
Speaking of Jenny Pedigo and Helen Robinson, they were part of Quilter’s Affair, giving a lecture and trunk show during the week and demonstrating the Quick Curve Ruler on the day of the quilt show. I had the pleasure of meeting Helen last year and was delighted to meet Jenny this year. Here I am flanked by Jenny on the left and Helen on the right:
I’ve been a fan of Jenny’s since since she introduced the Quick Curve Ruler several years ago. To date I’ve made 10 quilts using Sew Kind of Wonderful patterns and there are more on the horizon because the SKW sisters keep coming out with tempting new designs.
Coming up in my next post: pictures of quilts from the 2018 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show that caught my eye.
Domestic Bliss is the name designer Shelly Pagliai gave Block 8 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the sampler quilt I’m making over the course of this year. It’s also the block I assigned myself for July. (In my previous post I showed you my June block, a month late in the making. I haven’t added the appliquéd center on that one yet but forged ahead with July’s block when I was sewing with my friends last week in Sisters, Oregon.)
Here is Shelly’s original version of Domestic Bliss . . .
. . . and here’s what I have so far:
I love the look of this block on point, as it will be in the finished quilt, so I didn’t rotate the design 45° as I have for the first few blocks I’ve made for this quilt. Here’s my Block 8 on point:
I just got back from eight days in Sisters, Oregon — home of the “Largest Outdoor Quilt Show in the World.” Three friends and I rented a house in town so we could work on our own projects, take classes at Quilter’s Affair (five days of classes taught in Sisters by local, national, and international teachers), enjoy the July 14 quilt show, and have one more full day of sewing before heading home. You can expect my next few posts to be about the quilt show and some of the projects my friends and I worked on.
First up, a block I made to get back on schedule with my goal of making a block a month in Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the stunning samper quilt designed by Shelly Pagliai of Prairie Moon Quilts. I didn’t get my June block done so I have two to make in July.
This block is Aunt Ruby’s Choice, with directions in Shelly’s book A Simple Life: Quilts Inspired by the ’50s. Here is Shelly’s original block . . .
. . . and here is my block — minus the white sashing strips around the block, the center appliquéd flower, and the outer appliquéd scalloped border around the block:
As I’ve done with the first five blocks made so far, I redrafted the block so that when it’s set on point (as in the finished quilt) it will look like Shelly’s original design. Here’s the block next to my rough sketch on graph paper . . .
. . . and here it is on point:
I followed Shelly’s color scheme pretty closely on this one. The prints are from two lines of fabric designed by Jill Finley of Jillily Studio. Don’t they play nicely together?
The next block in the quilt is called Domestic Bliss. Do come back soon for a look.
This block, named Best.Christmas.Ever. by its designer (Shelly Pagliai of Prairie Moon Quilts), isn’t quite finished in this shot. The appliqué in the center of the block includes a small circle on top of the black star. More on that below.
That black star represents my third effort. I was having a terrible time tucking the excess fabric underneath the points. My star points weren’t points at all — they were stubs. In despair I contacted Shelly, who suggested I reduce my seam allowance and make sure I snipped the seam allowance all the way to the inside points. Great advice, Shelly!
Two attempts later, I had the star you see above. It’s not perfect by any means. In fact, only one of the five star points is truly pointed but I’m okay with that. As a novice when it comes to needleturn appliqué, I know my skills will improve. My novice status was quite apparent when it came to sewing the circle onto the black star. The circle is tiny — about a half-inch in diameter. I tried three times without success. What to do? Why, use a button instead.
I have quite a collection of new and vintage buttons and it didn’t take long to find a winner:
The button actually has a raised star design on it. Take a look:
Isn’t that the perfect addition? (I’ll remove the button before it’s quilted and sew it back on later.)
Here’s a picture of my block on point, as it will appear in the finished quilt.
My completed blocks so far:
(Confession: that tiny black star in the upper left block isn’t sewn on yet. I just stuck it there to show you what the block is suppposed to look like. I’m seriously thinking about making a star out of black Ultrasuede and fusing it in place.)
Of the five blocks made, Best.Christmas.Ever. may be my favorite. It’s the only one so far that doesn’t include yellow and blue. Maybe that’s a sign I should put it in the center of my quilt.
Here’s a look at Shelly’s original quilt:
Isn’t that a stunner?
I’m a little behind on my self-imposed schedule of one block per month. My block for June is called Aunt Ruby’s Choice and I’m excited about getting started. The first task: picking fabrics. Stay tuned!
It’s been a week since we flew back to the states from Portugal. Fortunately, I have many memories and lots of photos to remind me of the delightful time my husband and I spent cruising the Douro River and the many shore excursions we took to medieval hill towns and modern cities. Everywhere we went, images appeared that made me think of quilt blocks, appliqué designs, and even free motion quilting motifs.
When we got to Lisbon, our final destination in Portugal, the amount of gorgeous tile work I was seeing made my head spin. These three designs were on the walkway outside our hotel:
This one was on the floor of the main entrance to the hotel:
On the north bank of the Tagus River near the Monument to the Discoveries there’s a huge tile wind rose and map of the world charting Portuguese explorations. The map is embellished by wonderful designs that would look right at home on a quilt:
We visited the National Tile Museum dedicated to the azulejo, a glazed colored tile traditionally used in Spanish and Portuguese buildings. The museum houses examples dating from the 15th century to today. With the battery in my cell phone running low I took very few pictures but they’re enough to give you a sense of what I was seeing:
Tile work from the 21st century evoking a sampler quilt (a modern take on Dear Jane, perhaps?):
Bom dia from Portugal! My husband and I are in the heart of the Douro River Valley on a river cruise. Everywhere you look the terraced hills are covered with vines. We have visited some lovely wine estates and sampled some delicious wines and ports.
I’m finding plenty of inspiration for quilts. Here’s a small sample beginning with a photo taken while we were still in Spain.
An exterior window in the old Jewish quarter of Toledo . . .
A lovely motif, reminiscent of fleur de lis, at the Mateus Palace near Pinhăo, our second docking stop in Portugal:
Tile from the interior wall of a cafe in Lamego where we stopped after a museum visit for a glass of champagne (our Friday night tradition):
A cork-backed ceramic trivet from the Museu do Douro gift shop in Régua:
I’ll be on the lookout for more . . .
P.S. If you are on Instagram, check out the hashtag #iseequiltseverywhere. You’ll see a few of my posts.
Over the last few days my fair city — Portland, Oregon — has filled with thousands of professionals in the quilt industry: fabric designers, quilt shop owners, pattern designers, fabric and notions manufacturers, vendors, longarm quilters, professionals of every stripe. The occasion is International Quilt Market, the big trade show held twice a year. Fall Market is always held in Houston; Spring Market rotates among other cities.
As a quilt teacher and sole proprietor of First Light Designs, I’m eligible to attend. And where am I? Not in Portland. I’m Missing Market, a condition significant enough that others who also cannot go have created a #missingmarket profile on Instagram. But don’t feel too sorry for me. After two delightful days in New York City, the Dear Husband and I have arrived in Spain where we will join a group traveling down the Douro River on a small ship. We start in Madrid, board the vessel near Salamanca, and end in Lisbon, Portugal. Then it’s back to Manhattan for three nights before coming home in early June.
My plan was to bring a hand applique project or two along with me. I did finish piecing Block 6 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt and even got the center of the block marked for the applique . . .
. . . but that was as far as I got before running out of time.
With no handwork to occupy me in quiet moments on board ship, I need something quilt-related to tide me over till I get home, so I packed a book I had ordered from Canada that arrived just a few days before my departure:
This little book has 533 pages and weighs over two pounds! I will surely derive many ounces of pleasure from its pages during the journey down the Douro.
In my last post, I was complaining a bit about doing some alteration work for my husband, only because it was taking me away from doing something I like much more: making quilt blocks.
Happily, I am back at it. In the photo above, you can see the components of Best.Christmas.Ever, Block 6 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the sampler quilt I’m working on this year.
Because I chose to rotate the block 90 degrees, I couldn’t use designer Shelly Pagliai’s directions in her book A Simple Life: Quilts Inspired by the 1950s. I had to draft a new version. In the illustration below you can see that the redrafted block is made up of four Hourglass blocks in red and white, four Hourglass blocks in green and white, and four blocks known as Cat’s Cradle. To the left of the illustration are the two sets of Hourglass blocks:
For the Cat’s Cradle blocks I was able to use a wonderful specialty ruler designed by Deb Heatherly for Creative Grids. The ruler eliminates the need to sew tiny triangles with bias edges. Instead you start out with two squares, two small rectangles, and one large rectangle. The yield: two Cat’s Cradle blocks, made slightly oversize and trimmed. I needed two sets:
I’m getting ready to work on Best.Christmas.Ever., Block 6 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the sampler quilt I started working on in January. (See the original quilt in my first post about it here.) The plan is to incorporate the four fabrics you see above. I think the green and black holly print will go in the large green triangles you see in my color mock-up.
Don’t you love the addition of the appliquéd flower in the center of the block?
It’s important to note that the block you see above with the scalloped border measures 18″ finished. The star block in the middle finishes at 12″ and then strips of the white background fabric are added on all four sides to bring it up to 18″ before the scallop is appliquéd in place. Remember this, as those measurements will come up later in the post.
As with my first four blocks, I’m reorienting the design so that the block is positioned the way you see it above when turned on point in the finished quilt. Here are the original and modified blocks drawn in EQ7 software:
It’s easier for you to see what I’ve done if I turn the modified version on point:
The block design is the same but the proportions are different: the elements in the modified block are noticeably smaller.
The quilt math on this block turned out to be quite a challenge! The original block was made on a 6 x 6 grid whereas the modified block must be made on a 5 x 5 grid to duplicate the look within the space constraints. I know that sounds crazy but look at the pencil markings on the next photo to see what I mean:
See how the block on the left is a 6 x 6 grid and the one on the right is 5 x 5?
My block is going to finish at 12½” instead of 12″ for the simple reason that the block needs to be easily divisible by five to work with my 5 x 5 grid. Technically speaking, 12″ is divisible by five: 2.4″ is the magic number. But quilters work in eighths of an inch, not tenths of an inch. I didn’t want to go there although I considered it . . . briefly.
Now, think about a block that finishes ½” larger than all the other blocks. Normally that would be a deal breaker. Ah, but I have a plan. Since the 12″ star blocks are surrounded by strips of background fabric to make them finish at 18″, I think I can get away with making the strips a little narrower on this block to compensate for the fact that the star block is bigger.
The other thing I’m going to do is sew my seams with a full quarter-inch seam allowance instead of my usual scant quarter-inch. That should draw the block up by at least a quarter of an inch, meaning that this star block will actually finish at 12¼” — pretty darn close to the size it should be.