Reach for the Stars: Jenn Varney’s Quilt

Ladies and gentlemen, we have another Reach for the Stars quilt finish! Jennifer Varney of Hudson, New Hampshire is one of several quilters across the country I met virtually last year as we each worked on our own version of a star sampler quilt designed by Terri Krysan and featured as a series project in Quilter’s Newsletter. Over the course of 2014 our little band of stargazers shared pictures, compared notes, and cheered each other on.

We all made changes — some great, some small — to the design. Jenn chose to make a smaller quilt with fewer blocks and to use a straight set rather than putting her blocks on point. Here is her finished quilt:

JV's RFTS quilt-001
The muted browns and blues are offset by shots of metallic gold, giving the quilt such a rich look. The center medallion shows this off especially well:

JV's center medallion
Lorri Wurtzler of Seventh Heaven Quilting in Nashua, New Hampshire did the longarm quilting. I hope you can see Lorri’s lovely quilting in this close-up . . .

JV's RFTS block detail
. . . and this one:

JV's RFTS quilt detail
By changing the setting, Jennifer reduced the number of blocks (not counting the center medallion) from 16 to 12. If my math is correct, her quilt measures about 60″ square, perfect for a lap quilt or throw. And wouldn’t it look terrific on a wall?




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WIP Wednesday: Seeing Stars

Yesterday was a play day. Instead of pulling a UFO from the sewing room closet — my original intention — or finishing the pieced back for my Olivia Twist bed runner, I made a star block using some of the leftover focus fabric from Olivia Twist. I have enough of the fabric (A Garden for Olivia by In the Beginning Fabrics) to make another quilt. Apparently that is what I am doing.

This is what I have so far:

2015-1 Long Pointed Star 800
Obviously I have stars on the brain. After finishing my star sampler quilt, Catch a Falling Star, you would think I’d be ready for something new. I’m actually playing around with a new quilt design. Right now my block measures 18½” but it will finish at 24″.

Linking up with Lee at  Freshly Pieced.




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Reach for the Stars: Front and Back

I’m excited to show you a full frontal shot of Catch a Falling Star (CAFS), my sampler quilt based on Terri Krysan’s Reach for the Stars quilt. CAFS was photographed last week by Bill Volckening, quiltmaker, collector, author, historian, and blogger, to name a few of his pursuits. I have no wall or floor space in my home large enough to capture the entire quilt, which measures 84″ x 105″ after quilting, in a photo. Fortunately, there was plenty of room in Bill’s studio.

Here is Catch a Falling Star from the front: CAFS front BV photo 800and from the back:

CAFS back BV photo 800In a future post I’ll take you on a little tour of Catch a Falling Star, block by block. I’ll show you some close-ups of Loretta Orsborn’s lovely quilting and share a couple of fun facts about the making of the quilt.




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Two Steps Forward . . .

. . . and one step back. That’s how the last few days have played out in my sewing room.

Two steps forward: the binding and label on Catch a Falling Star (my Reach for the Stars sampler quilt):

2015-01-14 22.54.34

Still to come: attaching a sleeve on the back (one step back). I’ve decided to enter Catch a Falling Star in a couple of local quilt shows this year, hence the need for a sleeve. Before the sleeve gets attached, though, this quilt is going to be photographed in a studio. That’s something I can’t do at home because I don’t have a suitable space for a full flat shot. Several readers have asked for a look at the entire quilt as well as more photos of Loretta Orsborn’s lovely quilting, and I promise they are forthcoming.

A couple days ago I decided to finish my Sun Flowers wall hanging. I pieced a backing and pin-basted the layers. Two steps forward. Without a quilting plan in mind I started stitching in the ditch on the horizontal seams. Then I stitched the vertical seams and sashing strips on one of the kaleidoscope blocks. At that point I decided what I really wanted to do with this little quilt was stitch diagonally across the surface. Those horizontal and vertical stitching lines had to go.

I picked out all of the quilting. BIG step back:

2015-01-14 01.33.45

It was actually a good thing I picked out the quilting because I had pin-basted the layers rather hastily and the back was not entirely smooth. With the quilting stitches removed, I was able to adjust the layers, and this time I thread-basted them. I put the quilt on my design wall and started thinking about my quilting plan.

Now I’m second-guessing my decision on the diagonal quilting. It seems to me it might distract from the kaleidoscope blocks, which are the star of the show. One thing’s for sure: this quilt is not going under the needle on my sewing machine until I have a plan firmly in place.

In the meantime, I’m going to start piecing the backing for another quilt. One step forward.




Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 4 Comments

4-Patch Twist Bed Runner

I finished piecing the bed runner I started a couple of weeks ago. (I wrote about it here and here.) When last you saw it, it looked like this, measuring about 34½” x 68″:

Olivia Twist 1

The plan was to increase the length so it would drop over the sides of a queen-size bed. I had very little of the background fabric left, though. (It’s hard to see from the photo that the background fabric is an inky blue and black batik print. I had only a yard to begin with — and I used every bit of it.) I inserted a 1½”-wide decorative strip at each end, working with the two fabrics used as lattice strips around the 4-Patch Wonder blocks in the interior.

Now the bed runner looks like this:

Olivia Twist vert OS

The inserts and end pieces added 10″ to the length. I trimmed a bit from the sides so now the bed runner measures 32″ x 78″.

My quilt already has a name: Olivia Twist. (Yes, that’s a nod to Charles Dickens.) The reasons behind the name? First, the focus fabric is from a line called A Garden for Olivia by In the Beginning Fabrics. Second, the quilt is based on the twist block that produces the wonderful interlocking design you see above. The twist block dates back to 1870, which by coincidence is the very year Charles Dickens died.

Now it’s on to the backing for this quilt. I have a good-sized piece of the focus fabric on hand for the back. People always want to know that the fabric looked like before it was cut up!




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, bed runners, faux-kaleido quilts, kaleidoscope quilts, snowball blocks, update | 6 Comments

Reach for the Stars: Quilting Details

Would you like to see more pictures of Catch a Falling Star, my series sampler quilt based on Terri Krysan’s Reach for the Stars? Ah, I thought so.

Let’s start with a shot of the entire quilt (you’ll see close-ups of longarm quilter Loretta Orsborn’s beautiful work in subsequent photos):

whole quiltYou’re looking at it from the side because I couldn’t squeeze myself into the room in order to take a proper shot looking at the quilt from top to bottom.

Here’s the center medallion . . .

center medallion

. . . with a close-up of the free-motion feathers quilted in the black star points:

free motion feathers in center medallion
The 10 blocks sashed in black and the center of the medallion have one digitized motif and the four blocks sashed in green have a different one. Here is Block 2, sashed in black. . .

block 2, sashed in black
. . . and Block 10 sashed in green:

block 10, sashed in green
All of the quilting in the sashing strips is free-motion.

This is one of the side setting triangles:

setting triangle
Notice the design quilted in the hourglass blocks (there are four in the center medallion and one in each of the side setting triangles):

hourglass block

Loretta used the same motif in the border squares:

9-patch in border
She free-motion quilted feathers all around the outer border:

FM feathers in corner
The straight lines in part of the border give the eye some visual relief from all the quilted curves. Those straight lines are used in the interior of the quilt as well, tying the quilting elements together. You’ll see what I mean when you take another look at a side setting triangle:

setting triangle
And isn’t that vine motif graceful? Here it is in one inner corner:

green vine
Finally, here is a portion of the back of the quilt, where the black fabric allows you to see lots of quilting detail. You can also see the two focus fabrics I used for the fussy-cut images in each of the blocks on the front:

portion of back

Once Catch a Falling Star is bound, I’ll take proper full-length photos of both sides. The binding is attached, by the way, and I’m now gearing up to stitch it down by hand . . . all 378″ of it.




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Reach for the Stars: Quilted!

The New Year has gotten off to a grand start. Yesterday I picked up Catch a Falling Starmy version of Terri Krysan’s Reach for the Stars sampler quiltfrom longarm quilter Loretta Orsborn of Orsborn Specialty Quilting, and I have been swooning with delight ever since. I’ve long admired Loretta’s quilting skills, having seen several examples of her work in quilt shows over the last few years, and was overjoyed when she agreed to work her magic on my quilt. She is equally skilled at digitized and free-motion quilting, and I was eager to have both on display.

On the day I took my quilt top and backing to Loretta’s studio, we spent at least two hours looking at quilting motifs, discussing options, and choosing threads. We made a lot of decisions but I gave Loretta carte blanche to make changes and asked her to incorporate as much free motion quilting as she desired.

Take a look at her lovely work:

photo 2

photo 1

More pictures to come, I promise. These are the photos Loretta sent me when she finished the quilting. The battery on my brand new digital camera is charging as I write this. As soon as the camera is ready to use, I’ll take lots of photos and get them posted. In the meantime, I’m going to start working on the binding.




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Be It Resolved

ball drop times square
The Ball in Times Square (2007)


I’ll bet you think I’m making resolutions for 2015. Nope, not at all. I made a resolution just yesterday, and I have until the ball drops at midnight in Time Square tonight to fulfill it. That only gives me till 9:00 pm, as I live on the west coast some 3,000 miles from New York City.

So what about that resolution? Well, in February of this year I finished a quilt top that had been lingering in my stack of unfinished objects (UFOs) for five years. This is the one:

2014-2 Checkerboard Square 2
Top Measures 75½” x 92½”

The pattern is Checkerboard Square by Alex Anderson, and the fabrics are from her line called Never Enough Romance for P&B Textiles.

My plan back in February was to make a pieced backing from the leftover fabrics and finish the quilt right away. Instead, I got caught up in other projects and, well, you know how that goes . . . no longer a UFO, now a WIP (work in progress). And a WIP it remained until yesterday, when I was reviewing my 2014 blog posts to see what I had accomplished during the year. I saw my post of Feb. 2 with the picture of this quilt — and I resolved then and there to piece a backing before the year ended.

goose in the pond blockBecause of the amount of fabric I had left over, I decided to incorporate a very large Goose in the Pond block into the backing. It’s one of my very favorite traditional blocks, despite the fact that I’ve never made one before. (On my quilt bucket list is a red and white quilt, and the odds are good that I will choose this block when I’m ready to make it.)

Here is my jumbo Goose in the Pond block with two rows of sashing around it:

goose in the pond
Quilt Back in Progress

My Goose block finished at 37½” square. With the two rows of sashing, it now measures 50″ square. What I have here could easily be a quilt in its own right but I am committed to finishing it as a backing . . . this evening.

By the time the ball drops in Time Square tonight, I plan to be sitting in the TV room with a glass of champagne in one hand, my little cat Theodora in my lap, and my Dear Husband sitting next to me.

Thank you for stopping by my website/blog in 2014. I hope to see you next year!





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4-Patch Twist Update

It’s still in progress but here’s a shot of the bed runner quilt I’m working on:

Olivia Twist 1
Dawn’s Variation on 4-Patch Wonder with a Twist

Can you believe all the blocks came from the same focus fabric? I never tire of making these faux-kaleidoscope blocks. It’s so much fun to see the amazing variety of images created by stacking four repeats and cutting them into squares. For more information on the fabrics I used and the two simple blocks that created the interlocking twist design, see my previous post.

Right now my quilt top measures 34½” x 68″ but it’s going to be a little bit longer because I want more of a drop over the sides of the bed. I haven’t decided yet whether to simply add strips of background fabric to the short ends or incorporate a pieced element with color.

Hmmm. Maybe I should sleep on it.




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, bed runners, faux-kaleido quilts, kaleidoscope quilts, snowball blocks, update | 4 Comments

Updating an Old Favorite

Recognize this quilt?

2011-9, It's All in the Twist, 57x65
It’s All in the Twist, 57″ x 65″ (2011)


It’s one of my favorites: It’s All in the Twist, made from my 4-Patch Wonder with a Twist pattern. The original quilt has been on display at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop for quite a spell. It was high time, I decided recently, to make a new version, so I started on one last week using these fabrics I showed you a couple of weeks ago:

Pleasing Fabric Combo


The floral focus fabric is from a line called A Garden for Olivia designed by Lida Enche for In the Beginning Fabrics. I thought it would serve up some interesting and beautiful four-patch kaleidoscope blocks (I call them 4-Patch Wonder blocks) — and I was right. I paired the focus fabric with an aqua blender, also from In the Beginning Fabrics, and two batiks from my stash. The dark batik may look solid black in the photo but it’s actually a navy and black print.

The quilt design is deceptively simple: it starts with a snowball block and an alternating block, both finishing at 6″ square. When the blocks are joined together, you see snowballs surrounded by interlocking ribbons. Take a look at this 4-Patch Wonder snowball block between two alternating blocks:

4-Patch Wonder 1
Two Simple Blocks


Now see what happens when the blocks are butted up against each other:

4-Patch Wonder 2
Making the Connection


The illusion is complete when rows are sewn together. This is how far I’ve gotten doing just that:

4-Patch Twist in progress 800
4-Patch Twist in Progress


Isn’t that pretty?

This is my favorite part of quiltmaking: when you start sewing the rows together and can finally see if the reality matches the picture you had in your head when you chose the fabrics and settled on a design.

I’m departing from the original quilt in one other respect: instead of a throw, I’m making a bed runner. It seems to me the quilt world has been very slow to embrace the concept of bed runners. In 2014 I stayed in hotels seven times, ranging from my home state of Oregon to as far away as New York and Florida, and in every single one the beds were accented with bed runners.

It’s an idea whose time has come. I’m jumping on board! How about you?




Posted in bed runners, faux-kaleido quilts, kaleidoscope quilts, snowball blocks, update | 4 Comments