A Labor of Love

My neighbor Janice asked me to help her finish a quilt started by her dear friend Susan. Susan was working on an alphabet quilt for her baby granddaughter when she lost her battle with ovarian cancer last month. Knowing she wouldn’t be able to complete the quilt in the time she had left, Susan asked Janice to finish it.

Susan had hand-appliquéd the 26 letters of the alphabet onto 6″ squares of muslin. She had also appliquèed four pockets onto print squares; the pockets came from clothes that belonged to her daughter when she was a little girl.

The first thing Janice and I did was lay the blocks out in a 5 x 6 grid, with the four pocket blocks interspersed among the 26 alphabet blocks. We’re pretty sure that’s what Susan had in mind because she had already sewn the first row together:

Susan's blocks
Susan’s Blocks


The fabrics in the alphabet blocks are vintage calicos. The letters seem to have been randomly placed in the muslin squares, rather than centered, giving the blocks a delightfully whimsical appearance. Janice and I decided to separate the rows with sashing strips made from muslin, add muslin sashing strips all around the quilt, then finish it with a 3″ or 4″ border made from calico prints similar to the ones Susan used in her blocks. With a 4″ border, the quilt should finish at about 36″ x 51″.

A couple of the letters — j and m — were really too close to one edge of the squares they were attached to so I added strips of muslin and trimmed the blocks. Here is the m block, before and after:

Susan's m block, before and after
Repositioning the Letter


Susan had hand-stitched the first row together with ½” seams. Her stitches were so even I had to look closely to confirm that they were indeed done by hand! I opted to take the stitching out so that all the blocks can be sewn with ¼” seams. That will really help with the letters that are close to the edges of the muslin squares.

Here is the first row with its muslin sashing added:

Susan's quilt, first row
The First Row


This quilt will help tie three generations of women together. I feel honored that Janice has asked me to help her finish it.




Posted in baby quilt, family, update | 12 Comments

Reach for the Stars: Final Layout

When I showed you my completed Reach for the Stars blocks in my post of Aug. 18, I thought I had settled on a layout. Here’s a photo from that post:

RFTS potential layout
Layout Under Consideration


Nope. I changed a few blocks around:

RFTS final layout 3
The Winning Layout

Now it seems the heavier blocks — the ones that seem to fill up more space in the block, if you know what I mean — are more balanced, and I’m pleased with the distribution of greens and blues in the background. I’m so certain of this layout that I am ready to sew my blocks together!

I did discover a bit of a design dilemma after starting to make the setting triangles. They all contain a small hourglass block the same size as the ones in the center medallion. Terry Krysan, the designer of Reach for the Stars, calls for the hourglass blocks to be placed horizontally on the top and bottom of the quilt and vertically on the sides. Here’s what that looks like on my top:

RFTS vertical hourglass
Hourglass Blocks in Setting Triangles: Vertical on the Sides


But I like the look of those hourglass blocks placed horizontally on the sides:

RFTS hourglass horizontal
Hourglass Blocks in Setting Triangles: Horizontal on the Sides


This is the kind of design decision I can easily obsess over. My friends know what I mean.

I’d love to know what you think. Here are my two choices, side by side.

RFTS setting triangle options
Vertical (Left) or Horizontal (Right)?


Which look do you like better? If you’re so inclined, please tell me why. It’s very easy to leave a comment!




Posted in Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 24 Comments

Summer Sew-Along: Good Day Sunshine

Good Day Sunshine, my version of the new Dancing Churndash pattern, is ready for Show and Tell:

2014-8, Dancing Churndash, front
Good Day Sunshine, 43″ x 57.5″ (2014)


More accurately, it’s ready for Thelma’s Labor Day Parade. You see, at the beginning of summer Thelma of Cupcakes’n’Daisies started a Sew-Along, inviting quilters to make any quilt they wished using the Quick Curve Ruler (QCR) designed by Jenny Pedigo of Sew Kind of Wonderful. The only requirement was that the quilt be ready by Labor Day for a parade on Thelma’s blog.

I chose Dancing Churndash, one of three new patterns Jenny and her sister Helen Robinson designed for Cut Loose Press. I got a late start, as the pattern wasn’t available till late July, but the quilt went together quickly, and then I was lucky to find a long-arm quilter who could start working on it right away.

Good Day Sunshine, which gets its name from the Beatles song, was quilted by Jolene Knight of Good Knight Quilts. I met Jolene through the Portland Modern Quilt Guild and have seen examples of her fine work. I asked Jolene to quilt straight lines in the churn dash blocks and a not-too-dense free-motion fill in the white background. She chose one of my favorite quilting motifs, the spiral. Here’s a close-up:

2014-8 Dancing Churndash, quilting detail 2
Quilting Detail

I love the way the spirals play against the curves on the churn dash blocks and the straight lines in the center of the blocks. The quilting is playful, like the design itself.

The medium-dark grey binding, a close match to the fabric in the center of each churn dash block, frames the quilt:

2014-8 Dancing Churndash detail
A Few Shades of Grey


The back is pieced from leftover fabrics used on the front:

2014-8, Dancing Churndash, back
Scrappy Back


Last but not least: the label.

2014-8 Dancing Churndash label
Important Last Step


My little quilt is finished ahead of schedule. I’m ready for the parade!




Posted in Quick Curve Ruler, Sew-Along, update | 11 Comments

Reach for the Stars: Last Block

I’ve finished the last of the 14 blocks that surround the center medallion in my version of Reach for the Stars, the queen-size sampler quilt designed by Terry Krysan that I began working on last fall. The block below is actually Block 13 but it was the last one I made:

2014-8, Block 13
Dawn’s Last Reach for the Stars Block


Here it is in its proper position on point:

2014-8, RFTS Block 13 on point
On Point


I’ve been playing with the final arrangement of the blocks. Because I used a variety of blue, green, and black fabrics in the background of the blocks, my goal is to find the right balance of pattern and color across the quilt top.

RFTS potential layout
One Medallion and 14 Blocks

This may well be the final layout — but I reserve the right to change my mind. Once the setting triangles are in place, I think I’ll know for sure.

One thing I know for sure right now: it’s thrilling to be at this point in the process! I’m hoping to have the setting triangles done before the next issue of Quilter’s Newsletter arrives with the seventh and final set of instructions on the making of this series quilt.




Posted in Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 5 Comments

Reach for the Stars: Jenn V’s Blocks are Done

Jennifer Varney of Hudson, New Hampshire is the first in our little band of quiltmakers to finish making the blocks in her Reach for the Stars sampler quilt. RFTS has been featured since last fall as a series quilt in Quilter’s Newsletter magazine, with instructions coming in installments.

Jenn’s quilt top is gorgeous! Take a look:

Jenn V's RFTS top 56 x 56 (2)
Jennifer Varney’s Top


Jennifer did have a little advantage over the rest of us: she chose a straight set for her blocks rather than setting them on point. This meant that she needed to make 12 blocks instead of 14 and could also dispense with the setting triangles.

Right now Jenn’s top measures 56″ square. She is still pondering border ideas. Whatever she decides, she will wind up with a lovely lap-size quilt. Those of us making the on-point version designed by Terry Krysan of Lakeville, Minnesota (there’s a photo of it in the preceding post) will have a queen-size quilt.

I’m so inspired by Jenn V’s quilt top that I’m heading to my sewing room right now to work on my last block!




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

Reach for the Stars: Block 14 — Done!

My Reach for the Stars sampler quilt has been on the back burner the last couple of months. This is the series quilt that’s been featured in the past six issues of Quilter’s Newsletter magazine. To stay on track I need to make one more block (lucky #13) as well as the setting triangles before the next issue with the final set of instructions lands in my mailbox.

Before I show you my Block 14, take a look at the one in the original quilt designed by Terry Krysan of Lakeville, Minnesota. It’s in the lower right-hand corner:

RFTS by Terry Krysan
Terry Krysan’s Reach for the Stars, 86 3/4″ x 106 1/2″

(Used with permission. Copyright Quilter’s Newsletter. Photo by Melissa Karlin Mahoney.)

Her Block 14 is very simple: a Sawtooth Star with a fussy-cut center. The issue for me is that this block is too simple. Every other block contains some interesting design elements. For my Block 14 I kept the basic Sawtooth Star shape but added pinwheels in the center:

block 14 1
Dawn’s Block 14

I didn’t realize when I fussy-cut the print fabric that it would form a tiny pinwheel in the very center of the block. What a fun surprise!

Here is Block 14 on point, as it will be in the final version:

On Point


Coming soon: Block 13. Please come back to see it!




Posted in Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 6 Comments

Dancing Churndash aka Good Day Sunshine

My “entry” in the summertime Quick-Curve Ruler Sew-Along organized by Thelma of Cupcakes ‘n’ Daisies is coming along nicely:

Dancing Churndash 12 blocks
Top measures 45″ x 60″


The pattern is Dancing Churndash by Cut Loose Press. My plan was to make 20 blocks in a 4 x 5 setting but I’ve decided to stop with these 12 blocks. The reason? I’ll be teaching a class on this pattern at the Pine Needle in the fall, and I need to get my sample quilted and bound as soon as possible.

I considered adding borders but changed my mind after auditioning several different fabrics. Because the medium dark grey strips in the center of each block are so strong, I’m going to bind my quilt in the same shade and value of grey for balance.

Although there’s a lot of grey fabric in this quilt top, it’s offset by the bright and cheerful yellow prints. Each block makes me feel like I’m looking out a window on a sunny day. That’s what led me to name this little quilt Good Day Sunshine, after the 1966 Beatles song.




Posted in Quick Curve Ruler, Sew-Along, update | 7 Comments

Bow Tucks Tote

I made this tote as a birthday present for my friend Vivienne:

Viv's tote front
A Tote for Vivienne


The pattern is Bow Tucks Tote, designed by Penny Sturges of QuiltsIllustrated.com. A couple of months ago I saw this tote on display at Sew Creative, a quilt shop in Ashland, Oregon, and knew right away that I wanted to make one for Viv. In addition to being an exceptionally talented quilter and stitcher, Viv is an avid knitter, and I figured the tote would be a good size for a knitting project. It measures about 13″ wide, 11″ tall, and 5″ deep.

Inside the tote are pockets on all four sides:

Viv's Bow Tucks Tote, inside
A Peek Inside


For good measure I added a pocket on the back side of the tote:

Viv's tote back
Pockets Galore


In a departure from the directions, I used a contrasting fabric on the inside of the straps. I also made them a bit wider and longer.

Here’s a side view of the tote, which shows you how it got its name:

VIv's Bow Tucks Tote, side view
All Tied Up


When I was in Central Oregon last month for the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, I found this vintage yellow button for a dollar:

Viv's tote button detail
Vintage Button Trim

Don’t you agree it’s the perfect finishing touch?

Happy Birthday, Viv!




Posted in tote bags, update | 6 Comments

“Dancing Churndash” Progress Report

2014-07-29 21.58.13
Dawn’s First Four Blocks

Dancing Churndash
is the name of a new pattern from Cut Loose Press designed by Jenny Pedigo and Helen Robinson of Sew Kind of Wonderful. The pattern requires the Quick Curve Ruler, which I’ve used on several projects. The ruler is in play right now because I’m participating in a summertime Quick Curve Ruler Sew-Along organized by Miss Cupcake.

I am loving how easily these blocks come together. The blocks finish at 15″ so four of these with a border around them would make a nice-sized baby quilt. Wouldn’t a scalloped border be a nice touch?

I’m going bigger with this quilt, though. I have a stack of rectangles already cut, waiting their turn with the Quick Curve Ruler. Back to work!




Posted in Quick Curve Ruler, Sew-Along, update | 3 Comments

Joining the Quick Curve Ruler Sew-Along

I’m late to the party. At the beginning of summer Thelma of Cupcakes ‘n Daisies started a Sew-Along in which participants could make any design using the Quick Curve Ruler (QCR) by Sew Kind of Wonderful. No rules, only the goal of completing the project by Labor Day.

I knew right away that I wanted to join Thelma’s Sew-Along. I’m a huge fan of Sew Kind of Wonderful patterns, designed by sisters Jenny Pedigo and Helen Robinson. They recently designed some patterns for Cut Loose Press, and this one, Dancing Churndash, caught my eye:

dancing churndash quilt
Dancing Churndash. Pattern by Jenny Pedigo and Helen Robinson for Cut Loose Press.
(Photo used with permission.)

Do you recognize the classic churn dash block? Helen and Jenny gave it a playful contemporary spin. I couldn’t wait to make it. The only problem was that the pattern wasn’t yet available when the Sew-Along began in June. Last week the patterns came in at the Pine Needle and I quickly scooped one up.

Like Thelma, I always make a test block before embarking on a project. Here is my test block:

dancing churndash test block
Dawn’s test block, 15 1/2″ square

I’m using several fabrics from the Gray Matters line by Camelot Cottons plus some other greys and yellows in my stash. I reversed the values in Jenny and Helen’s version; my background is white and the narrow center strips are dark.

For the narrow center strips I used a Daiwabo cotton sateen that gradates from medium dark grey at the selvage ends to very pale grey in the center. The strips are a little too dark, I think. I may replace them with strips cut a bit farther away from the selvages, hence lighter.

Even so, I’m happy with my test block. The pattern calls for a 3 x 3 grid of 15″ blocks, with the quilt finishing at 45″ square. I’m thinking about making a 4 x 5 grid so that my quilt finishes at 60″ x 75″ — a nice lap size. I might even put borders on it to make it larger.

Thelma has already finished her Quick Curve Ruler quilt top, and so have a few others who joined her Sew-Along. Despite my late start I should be able to get my quilt top done before the deadline. After all, Labor Day is still five weeks away!




Posted in gradated fabric, Quick Curve Ruler, Sew-Along, update | 2 Comments