I’m in Month 3 of my own personal 2018 Block of the Month (BOM) program and right on schedule. What you see above is Block 4 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, a stunning sampler quilt celebrating the life of a young woman coming of age in the 1950s in the American Midwest. The quilt was designed by Shelly Pagliai of Prairie Moon Quilts.
I’ve made Blocks 1 and 3, skipping Block 2 for now as it’s a heavily appliquéd border around a center medallion. That will come later, after I’ve finished making the rest of the individual star blocks and added their appliquéd centers. I’m using this project to hone my needleturn appliqué skills and I’m still very much in the rookie stage.
My Block 4 is looking a little bare right now without the appliquéd flower in the middle. The individual shapes are all cut and ready to be sewn, though, and I’m eager to get started. Producing just one block a month on Hazel’s Diary Quilt is giving me the time and freedom to work on other projects. It’s also keeping me from feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of appliqué called for in the quilt.
I hope you’ll check back in a few days to see how different the block looks with a lovely flower in the center.
I just finished Canasta, my second block in Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the sampler quilt I embarked upon last month:
Here’s my block on point, as it will be in the finished quilt:
Why the name Canasta? If you look at it carefully you’ll see that it’s based on the traditional block called Card Trick. The designer, Shelly Pagliai of Prairie Moon Quilts, started with traditional blocks like Card Trick, tweaked some of them, and added appliqué designs.
The result is a strikingly dramatic and original quilt:
That’s Shelly’s quilt. Isn’t it a beauty? Not only is it strikingly dramatic, it’s also challenging. The biggest challenge for me comes in the huge amount of appliqué, which I am choosing to do using the needleturn method.
I’ve taken a few needleturn appliqué courses in years past, including one last summer, but have never followed up with a project. Since beginning this quilt, I felt like I really needed a refresher so I signed up for a class online taught by Mary Sorensen through iquilt.com, part of the American Quilter’s Society. Mary Sorensen is a superb teacher.
That said, the green leaves in Canasta gave me absolute fits. I don’t know how many times I tried to make the leaves as Shelly designed them, with deep indentations in the scalloped side. Finally I realized I’m just not skilled enough yet to sew them properly. I altered the leaf template to make the scallops less pronounced and was finally able to appliqué them onto my block.
The yellow circle in the middle of the flower is much lighter than the black petals in the background so I interfaced it first, which precluded sewing it on via needleturn appliqué. Instead I basted around the fabric circle, pulling the raw edges tight around a template. Then I cut a tiny circle out of batting and tucked it under the circle before appliquéing it in place. It looks rather like a covered button.
Here are my first two blocks, Missouri Farm Life and Canasta, side by side:
Now measuring 12½” square, these blocks are ready for their sashing strips, which will increase their size to 18½” square.
Next up: the block Shelly named Coal Miner’s Granddaughter. My goal is one block a month. If I stay on track, I’ll have a finished quilt top by the end of the year. I might even be an old hand at needleturn by then!
You’re looking at slightly under half of the curved braid strips making up one of the projects now on my design wall. The design is Cascade by Victoria Findlay Wolfe of vfwquilts.com and the curved braid strips were cut using her acrylic template.
I’m calling this “the second wave” because I’m putting the curved strips up on my design wall in three sections. (You can see the first wave and read about my initial efforts here.) The second wave isn’t complete but I thought you might like to see how far I’ve gotten.
This is an experiment in gradations of value and color that is taking me far outside my comfort zone on so many levels. Right now I’m working with medium light to light strips but very soon the strips will start getting darker. The lower half of the quilt, especially on the right hand side, will be quite dark.
See that strip across the top of the photo above? That’s a piece of grosgrain ribbon pinned where the quilt top will be trimmed after the curved braid strips are sewn together. It helps me visualize what the top of the quilt will look like, something like this:
The position of several strips has changed since these photos were taken a couple of days ago. I’m finding the placement of gold and grey strips especially challenging. I will persevere . . . slowly . . . trusting that by the time the third wave is up I’ll be happy with the outcome.
While I ponder the placement of curves in this very modern quilt, I’m continuing to work on Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the lovely traditional sampler quilt designed by Shelly Pagliai that I recently started. I’m getting ready to appliqué flowers and leaves to the center square of a block called Canasta.
Needleturn appliqué — now that’s a good project to have on hand as the coverage of the winter Olympics commences. Will you be watching the Olympics? If so, will you have handwork to carry you through the commercials?
I have embarked on my second new project of the year, a sampler quilt called Hazel’s Diary Quilt from the book A Simple Life: Quilts Inspired by the ’50s by Shelly Pagliai of Prairie Moon Quilts. The book is a lovely tribute to Shelly’s mother, Hazel, who received a little red diary as a Christmas gift in 1950 when she was 14. Over the next few years Hazel faithfully recorded events in her life as a teenage girl growing up in rural Missouri. Her last entry was written the night before her wedding in October 1954. The book includes excerpts from Hazel’s diary with commentary by Shelly that puts the entries into historical context.
Included in the book are directions for seven quilts, a quilted tablecloth, and an embroidered dresser scarf. I’ve chosen to make the medallion quilt you see on the cover of the book. It’s a daunting project because it involves a lot of appliqué. Since one of my goals in life is to work on my needleturn appliqué skills, this project seems made to order. Am I up for the challenge? We shall see!
While the original Hazel’s Diary Quilt was made with vintage fabrics that evoke the 1950s, I am building my quilt around a new line called “This and That” by Jill Finley of Jillily Studio. In general I’ll be following Shelly’s color scheme of primary colors on a white background with black accents.
I have now pieced and appliquéd the first block. Before I show it to you, please take a look at the entire quilt:
This is Shelly’s quilt, which I was thrilled to see in person at the spring 2017 quilt show in Paducah, Kentucky put on by the American Quilter’s Society. You can see that the quilt is made of nine blocks set on point. Each block is surrounded by a scalloped border, and the block in the middle of the quilt is part of a center medallion that includes appliquéd vines, flowers, and leaves. The quilt measures 95″ square. Not only did Shelly design and make the quilt, she also machine quilted it. I am in awe.
Block 1, Missouri Farm Life, is based on the traditional Missouri Star block and includes an appliqued wildflower in the center. Here is Shelly’s Block 1:
The star design finishes at 12″ square but the block actually finishes at 18″ square with the addition of the sashing strips and scalloped border.
When a block is set on point, especially a star block, it changes the look. I decided I wanted my block on point to look like Shelly’s original block so I rotated the design 45 degrees before I made it.
Here’s how I did that. First I drew a rough sketch of the rotated block on graph paper:
(Thank you, Billie Mahorney, for teaching me how to draft quilt blocks!) Then I created the block in EQ7, a quilt software program:
The printed design measures 6″ square — half of the actual finished size — which makes it easy to measure individual components of the block. When I realized that the proportions of the rotated star were slightly different from the original star, I drew the original block in EQ7 to make it easier to compare measurements. Here are the two versions side by side, with the original on the left and the modified version on the right:
Shifting the orientation of the block also meant it needed to be sewn differently. Seeing the two versions side by side helped me determine the best way to construct my blocks and the proper size to cut the pieces. Since the center of my modified block is slightly smaller than the original, I knew I would also need to change the dimensions of the appliquéd wildflower in the center. A little quilt math revealed that my wildflower needed to be 92% of the original size.
Here’s my Missouri Farm Girl block (without the appliqué) as constructed . . .
. . . and here it is turned on point:
Now, here it is with the appliqué:
Isn’t that pretty?
I must confess that tiny black star in the center has not yet been appliquéd. I need a lot more practice before I tackle something that small and intricate. I did appliqué the petals and leaves using the needleturn method. Not perfect by any means but I think my skills will improve as my quilt progresses.
That’s why I’m also going to wait to appliqué the scalloped borders on all the pieced blocks as well as Block 2, the appliquéd blossoms and leaves in the center medallion. Instead I will move on to Block 3, a charming design called Canasta based on the traditional Card Trick block.