Friday Finish: A New Kaleido-Spinner Project

Regular readers will recognize the block — it’s Heather Peterson’s Spinners block from her book On the Run Again (Anka’s Treasures, 2014). I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of this block. In the last few months it’s shown up in a wall hanging/table runner, a king size bed runner, and one side of a Junior Billie Bag. I even taught Spinners at a quilt retreat in June.

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.




Posted in bed runners, Billie Bag, hexagons, Junior Billie Bag, kaleido-spinner, kaleidoscope quilts, update, wall hanging | 5 Comments

Reach for the Stars: Four More Finishes

I’m excited to share pictures of four more versions of Reach for the Stars, Terri Krysan’s stunning star sampler quilt that was featured in Quilter’s Newsletter magazine three years ago. By writing about the construction of Catch a Falling Star, my own version, on this blog throughout 2014 and into 2015, I became acquainted with other Reach for the Stars quiltmakers locally and from as far away as Australia.

We have all become fast friends, bonding over our love of quiltmaking and our fascination with Terri’s design (even if some of us decided to modify it a bit, swapping out certain blocks or making changes in the border, for example.

Candy L. from Colonie, New York, is one of my newer cyberspace quilting friends. She recently finished this beautiful version of Reach for the Stars in blues, yellows, and greens on a crisp white background:

Did you notice the fussy-cut butterflies? If you look closely, you can also see the feather quilting motif in this close-up of the center medallion:

The next three Reach for the Stars (RFTS) quilts were made by quilters I know from teaching at the Pine Needle in Lake Oswego, Oregon. First up: Lana K., who started with a lovely floral print that allowed her to expand her color palette to include a range of colors. Note how just a few touches of pink and gold act as foils against the main blue and green color scheme:

Lana made this quilt as a raffle item for her grandson’s school. The winning bid came in at $2,000! I know how much time, effort, and money went into the making of that beautiful quilt. What a generous heart Lana has! If I had made that quilt, it would have been very difficult for me to part with it.

Joie L.’s quilt features a deep purple and forest green color scheme, with pops of fuchsia and lime to liven it up. Joie wanted her quilt to be wider and not quite as long as the original design, so she modified the borders in a clever way to make that happen:

Sharon S. did something unexpected and wonderful with her version of Reach for the Stars:


Doesn’t her multicolored checkerboard border make you think of harlequins, those colorful characters from Italian commedia dell’arte dressed in checkered costumes? Sharon’s border ties all of the colors in the individual blocks together in a bold and innovative way.

I’ll continue to publish photos as more of my friends from near and far finish their versions of Reach for the Stars, so please stop by from time to time. If you type in “reach for the stars” in the SEARCH ME box on the right side of my home page, you will be taken to all of my RFTS posts in chronological order.




Posted in Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 1 Comment

JBB Update: Moving Right Along

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.




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, Billie Bag, faux-kaleido quilts, Junior Billie Bag, kaleido-spinner, kaleidoscope quilts, tote bags, update | 7 Comments

Deal Me In!

Do you play bridge? I like to play poker and pinochle but I must confess that bridge completely mystifies me. My stepmother, Shirley, is a champion bridge player. She qualifies as a Ruby Life Master in the American Contract Bridge League’s masterpoint ranking system, so she must be pretty good. She’s actually gone on cruises where she taught bridge and had all her expenses paid. Sweet!

So what’s an avid bridge player to do when she has arthritis in her hands and finds it difficult to hold a full bridge hand of 13 cards? If she has a stepdaughter who likes to sew, she asks her to make a card holder. And that’s exactly what I did for Shirley. This is what it looks like:


The cardholder measures approximately 14″ x 8″. The bottom is divided into two sections, with each section easily holding two suits.

The top of the card holder is divided into four sections, each of which contains some evenly divided #12 shot to weight the holder at the top.

On the back of the card holder, at the top, I stitched a length of anti-skid grip-cloth fabric (the kind used on the bottom of children’s pajama feet) to keep the holder from slipping on the table top:

When Shirley sits at the table to play her bridge hand, this is what it looks like:

Shirley’s cards are out of sight of the players on either side of her but easy for her to see and pull out to play.

I didn’t just dream up this design. A friend of Shirley’s had made a similar one for her but it didn’t have the gripper fabric on the back and was made of just one layer of fabric. I used two layers, interfacing one layer for additional stability, and made a couple of other small changes at Shirley’s request.

I’m very pleased with how it turned out, and my stepmom is delighted. As my sister Diane would say, “elegantly simple and simply elegant!”




Posted in family, update | 6 Comments

An iPad Pro Cover for Someone Special

The “someone special” is my stepmother Shirley, aka the Irish Princess. That’s what my dad calls her. They’ve been married well over 50 years, and I think she has earned the title.

Shirley asked me to make a quilted case for her new iPad Pro. She got the 9.7″-inch size, the smaller of two sizes the iPad Pro comes in. When I asked about fabric colors for the case, she simply asked for “something with green.”

“No problem!” said I, knowing I have more greens in my stash than any other color. I picked a brightly colored leaf print on a black background and then chose four other prints containing green for the lining, pockets, and binding.

Here’s a look at Shirley’s iPad Pro cover along with a mock tablet measuring 6⅝” x 9½” that I cut from a piece of foam core similar in thickness to the real thing:

When folded, as in the photo above, the cover measures 8″ x 10½”.

Here’s what the cover looks like on the inside:

The striped pocket on the upper inside holds the charger cord; the lower pocket in the leaf print is divided. The wide side is for earphones, the narrow one for a stylus or pen.

Now for the back of the cover:

See those two green elastic strips? They come around to the front to hold the case together when it needs to be closed, say for travel:

In their original position the elastic strips help hold the iPad Pro in place if Shirley wants to lay it on a flat surface to use it. The back of the cover is fortified with Peltex, a very stiff interfacing.

Shirley’s iPad Pro cover is modeled on one I made in 2013 for my iPad Mini. I made a few other versions, pictured here, for family and friends:

2013-3, iPad Mini covers

All I needed to do to make this one for Shirley was to change the dimensions.




Posted in family, iPad cover, update | 7 Comments

Under Construction: A New Junior Billie Bag

Another Junior Billie Bag?

I’ve already finished two this year, one for myself and one for a friend. Now I’m making a third one. The reason? I’m teaching a class that begins tomorrow at the Pine Needle. I made my first Billie Bag, designed by Billie Mahorney, about 10 years ago, and found it very challenging. It’s definitely not for beginners.

Now that I am teaching Billie’s design (in a slightly smaller version), I find that the easiest way to give my students the confidence to make their own totes is to demystify the process by showing how the individual components go together. I call it a “deconstructed Billie Bag” but in truth it’s a Billie Bag under construction.

I guess every time I teach this class I will wind up with a new Junior Billie Bag. This one is going to a friend as a surprise.

What you are seeing in the photo above are the front and back panels, the side panels/bottom unit, two sizes of straps, and some of the interior pockets. In a few weeks’ time, you will see a finished quilter’s tote measuring 14″ x 17″, with a generous 7½” depth to accommodate a 6″ x 24″ acrylic ruler.

I started out with two 12½” blocks to which strips were added to make two panels that will be trimmed to the proper size after quilting:


The panel on the left is yet another version of the Spinners block, from the book On the Run Again by Heather Peterson of Anka’s Treasures, that I’ve used in some other projects this year. The one on the right is a traditional star block that I jazzed up with a four-patch kaleidoscope (what I call a 4-Patch Wonder block).

Isn’t that a great black-white-yellow floral print? I found it last summer at a quilt shop in Central Oregon and bought the end of the bolt. It’s by Studio 8 for Quilting Treasures. I paired it with one of Cotton + Steel’s Basics from 2015: “Sprinkle,” designed by Sarah Watts. (I love the Sprinkle design so much I bought it in two other colors.)

My biggest challenge in making this Junior Billie Bag will be keeping Coco out of my sewing room:


She’s a frequent visitor. Need I say more?




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, Billie Bag, cats, faux-kaleido quilts, Junior Billie Bag, kaleido-spinner, tote bags, update | 12 Comments

One Lovely Blog Award


Among the blogs I follow regularly is I Think Sew: Quilty Musings by Gail Lizette. Gail is an award-winning quilter I met a few years ago through the Portland Modern Quilt Guild. She makes quilts that are deeply personal and strikingly original. If you are a fan of hexagon quilts, I encourage you to check out the ones that Gail has designed and created. Here is a link to her most recent one, Hexie Hummingbird.

Gail surprised me a few days ago by nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award, which has been described as “sort of like a chain letter with a nice sentiment.” That’s because someone nominated her for the same award and she is paying it forward by nominating others, according to the rules established by the award’s creators. Thank you, Gail, for thinking of me!

The Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you, and give a link to his/her blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Display the image of the award on your post.
  • List seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate (up to) 15 bloggers for this award, and notify them to let them know you have nominated them.

So . . . seven facts about me:

  1. I have a fraternal twin sister, whom I adore. I am eight minutes older, and I never let her forget it.
  2. I like to listen to standards and smooth jazz while sewing, although sometimes I’m in the mood for Gordon Lightfoot or ’70s rock.
  3. I love wordplay — puns, plays on words, word games, you name it. If you look at the names of my quilts, you’ll see what I mean.
  4. All of my cats are named after royalty. (Sometimes literary royalty. My current cat is Cordelia (Coco for short). Do you recognize the name? Hint: Cordelia was the daughter of a king in a Shakespeare play.)
  5. I have always loved being tall. At my peak I was 5′ 10¼”, same as my mother. I have shrunk to 5 foot 9 but I still claim to be 5 foot 10.
  6. For as long as I can remember, green has been my favorite color. Almost every one of my quilts has a bit of green in it.
  7. I am an incurable optimist, and I am grateful for every day. (Okay, that’s two facts but I had to get them both in.)

Now I am to nominate a few blogs for the One Lovely Blog Award. I nominate

Nicole at Sister’s Choice

Cindy at Hyacinth Quilt Designs

Barb at Block and Border

Kristin at Kristin LaFlamme Textile Art

Anne at Springleaf Studios

Why these blogs? They belong to quilters whose work I admire. I like the way they express themselves on their blogs. I learn from them. Their styles run the gamut from traditional to modern so they reflect the current quilting scene. These quilters also share bits of their personal lives, which adds an interesting dimension to their posts. I love reading about their quilts, of course, but I also love reading about their homes, family, pets, do-it-yourself projects, travels, and, occasionally, travails.

I know one of these quilters personally. The others I know only from their blogs. I often think how fun it would be to chat with them over a cup of coffee or glass of wine.

The One Lovely Blog Award has been circulating for a few years, although no one seems to know who started it or when. I arrived on the blogging scene quite late (2012) so it’s possible some of these quilters have participated before. With so many former bloggers abandoning their posts (play on words intended) in favor of Instagram, I’m grateful that the quiltmakers listed above (some of whom do Instagram also) still take the time to share their creativity and feed our souls through beautiful pictures and thoughtful words.




Posted in update | 5 Comments

Still on Rewind

Thank you all so much for  your comments on my Refresh and Swoon blocks! To be honest, I was dubious about my Swoon block. I wasn’t sure I had used the leaf print to its best advantage but several of you liked what you saw here and on my Instagram feed, so I’m pressing forward with two separate baby quilts.

At the same time, I don’t want to lose the momentum I have going on my Where It’s @ quilt, begun in July in a Rewind class with Karla Alexander, so I’ve made two more pairs. Here is the first pair . . .

rewind block aug 2016
. . . and the second:

rewind blocks late aug 2016
These two sets were made by stacking four layers of fabric and cutting the wonky Greek key blocks freehand. It’s one of the fun techniques I learned in Karla’s class. The squares start out at 12″ square and the unfinished blocks measure 8½” square.

I used the bright green fabric above as the darker of two values, whereas in an earlier pair of blocks it served as the lighter of two values, the darker being purple. Here are the two sets of blocks together:

rewind blocks compared aug 2016

So far I have 30 of the 48 blocks I need for the quilt. I can’t predict how these blocks will look when I am ready to put them all together but I sure am enjoying the process.

Are you planning to get some sewing in over the long Labor Day weekend? It seems strange to be writing those words: Labor Day weekend. A lot of folks think of Labor Day as the end of summer but don’t forget — we have almost three weeks before the Autumnal Equinox. I’m hoping for a few more al fresco dinners on the back deck.




Posted in Quilter's Affair, update, wonky Greek key | 1 Comment

How Refresh-ing!

Here it is, my first test block using a new grouping of fabrics I wrote about in my last post:
swoon block late aug 2016
The pattern is Refresh, designed by Deb Mulder for Anka’s Treasures. The instructions were written for an 18″ block but I resized it to 16″. Wonder why? Well, I like to make my block components — in this case half square triangles, flying geese, and hourglass blocks — slightly oversize and then trim them to just the right size. The directions for Refresh didn’t call for that, and I found it easier to figure the math for a slightly smaller block.

The other pattern I am considering for this fabric grouping is Swoon, surely one of the most popular patterns in the quilt universe. The original Swoon pattern, designed by Camille Roskelley of Thimble Blossoms, creates 24″ blocks. She has since added three other versions in different block sizes: Swoon Sixteen (16″ blocks, of course), Mini Swoon (8″ blocks), and Patchwork Swoon, one huge block that finishes at 72″ square.

I bought Camille’s Mini Swoon pattern last year but wanted this block to finish at 16″, the same size as my Refresh block, so I resized it as well. Here is my Swoon test block:

Swoon block aug 2016
What do you think? Do you like one better than the other?

I’m making two baby quilts, both for little girls. I can either make both quilts from one pattern or do one of each. Because the blocks are so large, each quilt takes only four blocks (plus sashing and borders). I could be a fourth of the way done if I opt for both patterns.




Posted in baby quilt, family, update | 14 Comments

New Fabric Crush

2016-08-23 16.27.37
A few weeks ago a line of fabrics from Maywood Studio called “Neutral Ground” came into the Pine Needle, the quilt shop where I teach. The line features a contemporary rendering of leaves and florals in shades of grey and aqua on a greyish-white background, with sprinklings of silver metallic. I was sorely tempted but withstood the siren call.

Then an unrelated line of fabric by Riley Blake Designs, “Knock on Wood,” came into the shop. The colors blended beautifully with the other line, although the overall themes of the lines couldn’t be more different. That uneven stripe on the left and the uneven block print on the right in the photo above are the Riley Blakes.

Combined with a couple of fabrics from other lines, I suddenly had a grouping of fabrics I could get excited about. Excited enough to buy them? Well . . . yes!

I was preparing to tuck them away, vowing not to start something new until I had finished at least two other quilt tops, when I realized these fabrics would be perfect for the two girl-baby quilts I still need to make this year. I went through the patterns I’ve purchased over the last few years and pulled out several candidates. Those have been narrowed down to two. As soon as I have the first test block made, I’ll share it with you.

That uneven block print is the wild card in the mix. I’m not positive it will work with the other fabrics but I’m going to give it a go.

I can’t wait to get started!




Posted in baby quilt, update | 6 Comments