Simply Dashing — that’s the name of my latest quilt, shown here:
Recognize the classic Churn Dash block? It got a makeover in this quilt. I combined the Churn Dash block with a 4-Patch Wonder block (my name for a block made of four repeats cut into squares and rotated to create a faux kaleidoscope image), added an alternate block, and set all the blocks on point. I think the result is — well, simply dashing.
This quilt came together very quickly. It all started when I stopped at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop about a month ago to see a new line of fabric that Geri, the owner, was ordering for the shop. She wondered if one of the prints was suitable for a quilt made with 4-Patch Wonder blocks. Oh, yes.
Take a look at the fabric, in two colorways, from the Balinesia line by Benartex:
I wasn’t planning to start a new quilt but . . . it didn’t take long to convince me I should. In just a few minutes I had zeroed in on the rich purple colorway, selected some batiks and background fabric to set it off, and was walking out of the shop with an armful of fabric and a pledge to Geri to do something with it within a couple of weeks.
Making the 4-Patch Wonder Blocks was fun. It always is. Like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. This is what I got:
Each block has four possible looks, depending on how you rotate the four squares.
Here’s a look at the quilt top on my design wall:
I considered an elaborate border but decided I really liked the look of the blocks floating in space.
On to the next decision: how to have it quilted? I wanted something moderately dense because of the large amount of plain background. Debbie Scroggy of All Quilted, LLC worked her longarm magic with a curvy edge-to-edge design that echoes the flowers and leaves in the focus fabric and softens the straight lines and edges of the Churn Dash blocks. I’ll show you some close-ups in my next post.
The finished quilt measures 58″ x 74″ — a good sized throw. I think it will look wonderful draped over the sofa in my living room but for the time being it will hang in the Pine Needle.
This weekend I made three and a half pairs of pillowcases. Two of the pairs are gifts so I can’t show them off until they’ve been delivered. The third pair is for the Portland White House. And the single case? On a whim I made it today to take with me when I go away to Quilt Camp in the fall.
I haven’t made pillowcases in a couple of years. Would you believe I had to go to my own tutorial to be reminded of a couple key steps?
As you can see, these cases feature a contrasting accent strip and a narrow folded flange. What you can’t see is that there are no exposed seams on the inside of the cases, first because of the “roll it up” method that encases the raw edges of the bottom band in a seam and then the French seam that finishes the case.
That blue and white floral print (Blue Palace by Johnny Karwan for Clothworks Textiles) has been in my stash for about six years. Regular readers who know of my fondness for accumulating fabric — witness my last post — will be glad to know I am using at least some of it!
Last year I bought a few pieces of fabric from a fun line called Sewing Box by Gina Martin for Moda. It features zippers and snaps and straight pins — very whimsical. Here’s the pillowcase made from that fabric:
The snaps on the folded flange fabric are just a quarter of an inch in diameter. Take a closer look:
If you haven’t made pillowcases before, I recommend you give it a try. They make wonderful gifts, and it’s always a pleasure to sleep on one you’ve made yourself. I’m sleeping on a new one tonight.
Overcome by fabric lust once again. Totally captivated (make that seduced) by a new line of fabrics.
I like to support my local quilt shops, buying a yard here, a couple yards there of fabrics I really like, ones that I am quite certain will wind up in quilts or other sewn items some day. They may spend several years in my stash but the idea really is to use them. I don’t go on spending sprees very often, especially online, so when it does happen, it catches me by surprise.
This latest episode of yielding to temptation? It all started a couple weeks ago when I opened the weekly email newsletter from Hawthorne Threads and saw this group of fabrics from Camelot Cottons among the new lines featured:
Designed by Alisse Coulter, the line of fabrics is called Paradise, and I fell for it immediately.
Something about the colors and designs reeled me in. The pink and orange feels fresh combined with dark purple and gray; the florals, leaves, and medallions strike me as whimsical yet sophisticated. This fabric makes me happy just to look at it. I had to have some!
But which ones to get? And how much of each? Without a specific project in mind, I was in a quandary. I didn’t want to wait too long to decide in case there was a run on the fabric and I missed out completely. In the end, I picked 12 of the 18 fabrics in the line, getting a yard of some and two yards of others. I made myself stop when I got to 20 yards.
Today’s mail brought my (heavy) box of fabric from Hawthorne Threads. Oh, what fun it was to open it! Here are my pretty new fabrics, all laid out on my ironing board to admire:
Would you please excuse me now? I need to go pet some fabric.
Bonnie (15) and Beatrice (12), the youngest of my six granddaughters, left for San Francisco yesterday morning after a weeklong visit here in Portland with their grandpa and me. I wish they could have stayed longer.
We managed to make the most of our time together. The highlight for all of us was seeing the Tony Award-winning musical Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Broadway Rose Theatre Company. It was terrific!
Bonnie has performed in youth community theater for several years and is studying classical voice at School of the Arts, a public high school in San Francisco. She’ll be a sophomore in the fall. Beatrice is a gymnast and ballet dancer; she’s going into the seventh grade. Both girls love the theater, so we always try to incorporate at least one play or musical into their annual visits.
What else did we do? Let’s see . . . we went for walks in the neighborhood, swam at a community center pool, baked Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies, enjoyed a picnic in Millennium Park with my dear friend Anne, and got in some school clothes shopping.
The girls always do something special just with their grandpa. This year he took the girls to Lan Su Chinese Garden followed by a walk on the Eastbank Esplanade, a pedestrian and bicycle path along the east shore of the Willamette River. They were pretty tuckered out by the time they got home. Fortunately, I had dinner waiting, which we ate out on the back deck. It was a lovely midsummer evening in Portland, made extra special by the presence of our girls.
A sewing project is usually on the agenda when Bonnie and Bea visit. Beatrice was keen to make a fabric basket like the birthday baskets I made for two friends, based on the 1 Hour Basket tutorial from Hearts and Bees. She picked two colorful fabrics from my stash and got to work.
Here she is pressing the basket straps . . .
. . . and topstitching them:
The instructions call for interfacing the outside fabric with fusible fleece. We decided to interface the lining fabric and handles as well to add more body to the basket.
Here Beatrice is boxing the corners of her basket:
After sewing the outer basket and the lining together, she was ready for the fun part — pulling the basket through the hole left in the lining:
The “aha” moment:
Now all that was left to do was tuck the lining back inside the basket, press around the top edges and topstitch them. Because the extra layer of fleece added bulk at the top, Beatrice topstitched ½” away from the top edge.
Here’s Bea with her finished basket:
It measures about 9½” wide, 6½” tall, and 5½” deep. A look at the inside:
Bea used ¼”-wide Steam-a-Seam 2 to fuse closed the opening in the center seam where the basket was pulled through the lining. It gives it a nice finished look.
Here’s a close-up of Beatrice’s basket:
Didn’t she do a beautiful job?
And what was Bonnie doing while all this sewing was going on? She was making beautiful music! Out of storage came my trusty Yamaha guitar, bought in the 1970s when I had long hair and played folk music. (Yes, friends, that was a long time ago.) The guitar is still in great condition, and it was a pleasure to hear Bonnie playing it — she’s teaching herself how — and singing. I’m sorry I didn’t get a picture of her doing both.
“The most vivid day of the year in Sisters” — that’s how one quilt group describes the second Saturday of the year, when the little town of Sisters in Central Oregon is covered in quilts. That’s the day of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, now in its 40th year.
Forty years! Little did Jean Wells Keenan know that summer day in 1975 when she hung a few quilts outside her quilt shop, the Stitchin’ Post, that a great tradition had just been born. This year some 1400 quilts were on display, extending far beyond the quilt shop to buildings up and down the main street and two blocks in on either side.
Here is a representative sample, shown pretty much in the order I snapped them:
Something for every taste, wouldn’t you say?
I took so many photos at the quilt show that I’m dividing my show-and-tell posts into two segments. I do hope you’ll come back for more.
I made these fabric baskets a few months ago for Deborah and Peggy, my fellow Quisters (Quilt Sisters). Their birthdays are in March but they didn’t receive their baskets until very recently, which is why I held off posting pictures. (The Quisters try to meet every month but this spring and summer our schedules have just not been meshing. We’re working on that.)
Kelly of kelbysews, one half of the design team Hearts and Bees, posted a tutorial in the spring for the 1 Hour Basket. The tutorial is available as a pdf digital download from Craftsy. In no time at all photos began popping up everywhere on Instagram. When I saw them, I knew right away I wanted to make birthday baskets for Deborah and Peggy.
I made one change in the tutorial directions: I lined the handles with the same fabric used for the basket lining. Here’s a close-up of Deborah’s basket:
On Peg’s basket, I turned the handles inside out because I liked the look of the contrasting fabric on the outside:
The baskets are perfectly sized to hold a bundle of fat quarters, so of course I tucked some into each basket before wrapping it up.
Two years ago today my friend Lee Fowler died, succumbing to a rare form of cancer called leiomyosarcoma. Lee was a nationally recognized quilt artist, designer, and teacher who also loved to knit, craft, hike, garden, and travel.
The first quilt blog I ever followed was Lee’s. It was called The Polkadot Debutante, so named because she absolutely loved polkadots and because she actually had been a debutante — in the true Southern tradition in which a young woman on the threshold of adulthood is formally introduced to society at a ball or cotillion. That experience was decades removed from the woman with the hearty laugh who collected ceramic monsters, loved the color orange, and dressed up in outlandish Halloween costumes she made herself.
Lee was also a professional longarm machine quilter. I met her in 2009 when she was recommended to me as a longarmer especially skilled in free motion quilting. I didn’t know it at the time but she was already fighting cancer. She quilted three quilts for me before the progression of the disease forced her to retire from longarm quilting for clients. However, she continued to quilt, knit, craft, and enjoy the great outdoors right up to the end of her days.
For the last two years of Lee’s life, she was a member of our small quilt group, the Quisters (short for Quilt Sisters). Lee and I represented the Portland contingent; Peggy, Deborah, Vickie, and Vivienne were the Salem contingent. Every month or two, the six of us would get together at one of our homes to sew, chat, laugh, eat homemade desserts, and share our latest crafty and quilty creations.
I well remember the last time all six Quisters were at my house. It was June 28, 2013, two weeks to the day before Lee died. A few weeks earlier, with time running out, Lee had put out a request to her many quilting friends asking for help in creating a quilt she had always wanted to make: a Pickle Dish quilt.
Now, this pattern is not for the faint of heart. Take a look at the basic block:
A block is made up of four quarter blocks, each usually featuring nine rings made up of wedges (trapezoids). The rings are joined to other curved pieces. One block typically contains 88 pieces.
Lee had seen a Pickle Dish quilt made by Australian designer Kathy Doughty in the Fielke/Doughty book Material Obsession 2 (STC Craft, 2009). The quilt pictured in the book hung in the 2013 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show:
Lee started planning her own version. She figured that if enough friends agreed to make a ring or two using fabrics from their stashes, she could combine the rings with fabrics from her stash and create a scrappy Pickle Dish quilt in reasonably short order. Her request was that those of us making blocks choose fabrics with bright colors and – of course – polkadots.
Before long Pickle Dish units by the dozen were flowing Lee’s way and she was at work putting the blocks together. With a bit more help from a close cadre of friends working at her home, she completed the quilt top in June. Janet Fogg quilted it and finished the binding the day before the gathering at my house.
The Quisters were among the very first to see Lee’s finished quilt. The big reveal:
Isn’t it stunning? Lee took a vast array of blocks made by 25 different people and created a colorful, cohesive quilt that sparkles with the kind of energy and vibrance that characterized her quilting – and her life, for that matter.
The ring I made for Lee’s quilt is the fuchsia and lime green one in the top center of this picture:
At the service in August 2013 celebrating her life, Lee’s Pickle Dish quilt was on display. Most of us who worked on it were at the service, and Lee’s husband Rick LePage managed to round us all up for a photo:
Rick dubbed us the Pickle Dish Gang. Then he announced that Lee’s quilt was going traveling. Each one of us would have Lee’s Pickle Dish quilt in our own home for a month. Can you imagine how thrilled we all were?
Ever since then, I have been patiently waiting my turn. And now it has come. Lee’s quilt was delivered to me last Sunday when I arrived in Sisters, Oregon for a weeklong getaway with my Quisters, and it will have pride of place in my home until it’s time to hand it off to the next member of the Pickle Dish Gang.
A small park at the east edge of Sisters served as a backdrop for some pictures of Lee’s gorgeous quilt. Here’s my favorite:
I treasure my memories of Lee and will always treasure the time that her Pickle Dish quilt was mine for a month.
It’s the center medallion of my quilt Catch a Falling Star, based on Terri Krysan’s Reach for the Stars star sampler quilt. During all of 2014 I was engrossed in making this quilt. Regular readers were with me each step of the way.
Here’s my quilt, 84″ x 105″, reduced to a thumbnail:
Back in February 2014, after making the center medallion and a couple of blocks in the quilt you see above, I started playing around with a different set of fabrics — Barbara Brackman’s Morris Tapestry line for Moda. I made a couple of test blocks to see how I liked the focus fabric:
I liked it.
I decided then and there to make a second version. Those two blocks were as far as I got, though. Now, several months after finishing Catch a Falling Star, I have returned to that idea.
Here is the center of medallion of my Reach for the Falling Stars, Version 2 quilt:
You must think I’m crazy. Or maybe just star crazy.
Ah, but there’s a method to my madness. You see, I am not going to make the 14 blocks that surround the center medallion. My Version 2 of Reach for the Stars is going to be a bedrunner. I’m going to choose my six favorite blocks from the 14 I made for Catch a Falling Star. I replaced a couple of blocks in Terri Krysan’s quilt design for some I liked better, and at least one of those will wind up in my Version 2.
Either I’m a committed quiltmaker or I should just be committed. What do you think?
See that foot? It’s the darning/free motion quilting foot for my Janome sewing machine. I’ve had this sewing machine for 10 years and have used it quite a bit for free motion quilting but today I did something with it that I’ve never done before: I used it for darning.
Decades ago I bought this vintage dresser scarf at an estate sale in Portland:
It’s the kind of find that quickens the heart of any lover of vintage linens. (Of course it didn’t have a hole in it at the time.) It measures 17″ x 64″ and, in addition to the inset initials, features beautifully crocheted edging all around and this lovely design on both ends:
I’ve used it on a side table in my dining room ever since I brought it home. (My initials, by the way, are DW. I don’t think I even know anyone with the initials AH.)
Over time the scarf developed a pinhole, which eventually turned into a hole the size of a pencil eraser:
Something definitely needed to be done. After practicing my darning skills on a scrap of fabric (up and down, back and forth, in a crosshatch pattern), I was ready to work on the real thing:
I put a scrap of tissue paper underneath the runner before stitching to help stabilize the cloth. This is what it looked like from the back:
The tissue paper peeled away easily, just as you’d expect.
Now freshly laundered and ironed, the scarf is back in its proper spot in the dining room:
Flush with success, I proceeded to mend holes in another vintage linen, a round jacquard tablecloth 84″ in diameter that I got for $10 at a garage sale in my neighborhood some years ago. It was badly yellowed with age but otherwise seemed to be in good condition. It washed up beautifully, and I have used it many times over the years on the round patio table on our back deck. Like the dresser scarf and other well loved linens in my collection, the cloth had developed holes over time from extensive use and repeated launderings.
Here’s a before and after shot of one of the holes:
The tablecloth is so big I drew lines around the holes so I could locate them more easily when the bulk of the tablecloth was under and around my sewing machine. (Those colored lines were made with a Frixion pen; the lines disappear with the touch of hot iron.) I also stitched over some pinholes before they had a chance to turn into larger holes.