Hello out there, hello. Or should I say, “bonjour!”
I’ve been home from my woooonderful Paris trip for over a week now and have yet to get back into my sewing/quilting groove. Oh, I’ve washed and ironed several pieces of fabric pulled from my stack of recent purchases, and I’ve started prepping for a new class. I’ve even taught a class. But I have yet to sit down at my sewing machine. Unusual, most unusual. I usually return from a trip raring to sew.
I’m sure my sewing mojo will return shortly. In the meantime, since I’m still basking in the glow of all those happy Paris memories, I’ll share a few photos. My husband and I were there for three weeks, exchanging housing with a friend who stayed at our home and took care of our little cat Theodora while we took care of her big cat Buddy. The exchange worked out splendidly.
Some of the landmarks beginning (of course) with the Eiffel Tower, viewed on a rainy afternoon from the Trocadéro:
The Arch of Triumph (photo taken on the 70th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day:
The Museum of the Army of France (Napoleon’s final resting place):
The doors of Paris! They could be the subject of a photo essay. Here are just a couple of those pretty portals:
Stately old buildings, so many of them beautifully adorned with wrought iron balconies:
We ate our share of what the French call “sandwichs,” our favorite being jambon et emmental (ham and cheese) on baguettes, often enjoyed on a park bench after a museum exhibition or other outing. I also sampled French onion soup:
Carpaccio di manzo, in a French-Italian bistro near the Bastille Métro stop:
Cafe crème, our favorite mid-afternoon pick-me-up, never served without a square of dark chocolate on the saucer:
Standing in front of French patisseries eyeing the offerings in the window was a form of entertainment in itself:
We visited a number of small museums and saw some fascinating temporary exhibits, most of which were not the least bit crowded. An exhibit at the Biblioteque Nationale de France (French National Library) celebrating the 100th anniversary of chanteuse Edith Piaf’s birth:
Au Temps de Klimit: La Sécession à Vienne (In the Time of Klimit: the Vienna Secession), tracing the development in Viennese art from the end of the 19th century until the first years of Expressionism:
Inside this beautiful building, Palais Galliera, also known as the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris, a wonderful exhibition on milliner and couturier Jeanne Lanvin. She died in 1946 but her house of fashion survives, the oldest French one in existence:
I see now that I need to break this post up into two parts. I hope you will indulge me. Please come back to see several more pictures, including a few images that I took because of their potential as quilt blocks or quilting motifs.
My regular readers know all about this quilt. A year in the making, Catch a Falling Star is based on a design by Terri Krysan called Reach for the Stars that was offered in Quilter’s Newsletter over the course of seven issues, beginning with Oct./Nov. 2013 and ending with Oct./Nov. 2014.
Using my own color scheme, which is quite different from the original, I replaced three blocks and made a few changes to some of the other blocks. I also challenged myself to incorporate a fussy cut image into every block and redesigned the border to make it symmetrical.
The Jacobean floral fabric and a few others in the quilt are from the Ainsley line by Northcott Fabrics. The remaining fabrics came from my stash.
Many of my blog posts in 2014 are about the creation of this quilt. If you are interested in seeing how it came together, block by block, simply click on the “reach for the stars sampler quilt” link at the bottom of this post. All of the posts will come up in reverse chronological order. In particular I hope you will look at some of the close-ups of longarm quilter Loretta Orsborn‘s beautiful free-motion and digitized quilting designs.
But wait, there’s more! There are 10 other categories of quilts in the festival: mini, small, appliqué, art, hand quilted, home machine quilted, original design, ROYGBIV, scrappy, and viewer’s choice. Be sure to check them out. And prepare to be inspired!
. . . and, by all means, rain the very first day.” So says Sabrina Fairchild (Audrey Hepburn) in the classic 1954 movie, Sabrina, one of my all-time favorites.
I’m happy to report that I followed Sabrina’s instructions to the letter. The light rain falling on the day of our arrival was most welcome. The Dear Husband and I have the great good fortune to be spending three weeks in the City of Light. We are staying at the apartment of a friend, who is staying at our home in Portland during the same time frame.
As I write this, night is falling on the city, and from our dining room window we can look out and see the very top of the Eiffel Tower all lit up. The top of the Pantheon is also visible in the distance.
Under these circumstances, I hope you’ll forgive the lapse in posting. I’ll resume as soon as I’m back home. In the meantime, I’m enjoying la vie en rose. According to Sabrina, it means I’m looking at Paris (and the world) through rose colored glasses.
In my last post I commented on the issue with my latest quilt, Billie’s Star, not being perfectly square. Before quilting it measured 57″ square. After being quilted and bound, it finished at 56″ x 55.” The discrepancy was caused by the motif I chose, a wavy design across the horizontal surface of the quilt that caused the quilt to draw up more lengthwise:
Instead of trimming my quilt square before binding, I opted to keep the outer border strips the same size. In retrospect that may have been a mistake. I could easily have trimmed ½” off the two long sides so that the quilt finished at 55″ square.
Should I have done that? Would anybody else (besides my obsessive compulsive self) even notice that the border strips weren’t the same size?
Now I am wondering: how do other quiltmakers deal with this discrepancy? I would really love to know.
May I present Billie’s Star — pieced, quilted, bound, and labeled:
This is one of those “just for fun” quilts. It wasn’t planned at all. I simply gave into the urge one day in late January to play around with a large star block, using a lovely floral print left over from my previous project, a quilted bed runner. The quilt is named after my mentor and teacher Billie Mahorney, well known for her love of star motifs in quilts.
These stars blocks are 24″ square (including the dark blue rings around them). The quilt measures 56″ x 55″. It’s not a perfect square because the quilting I selected, gentle horizontal waves, caused the quilt to draw up on the lengthwise measurement. I could have trimmed it to be square but then the border strips wouldn’t have been even.
Leftover squares of the focus fabric went on the back:
The label is an inset circle in a square:
Billie’s Star is my fourth finished quilt of 2015. One a month! Can I possibly keep up this pace?
My quilt top based on the kaleidoscope block Grandma’s Surprise is finished:
It’s the result of a recent class I took from Joyce Gieszler, author of Then and Now Quilts (Kansas City Star Quilts, 2014). The Grandma’s Surprise quilt in Joyce’s book was made of Civil War reproduction fabrics:
My version, with just three fabrics, looks quite different, doesn’t it? It was inspired by this three-color version, also created by Joyce:
I put my red fabric where Joyce put her black because I wanted the red to dominate. And dominate it does!
My red fabric reads as a solid but it’s actually a blender from Timeless Treasures. I wish the texture of the red showed up better in my photos, as well as the very pale mottled grey, which looks white in the photos. Perhaps this close-up will help:
On my computer screen the red fabric has an orange cast but it’s really a true red, like a currant. The print fabric with the red flowers is part of the Black, White and Currant 5 line from Henry Glass. My friend AnnMarie gave me some large scraps from that line, including this wonderful print, which I will incorporate into the back:
. . . my kaleidoscope quilt based on the block known as Grandma’s Surprise is coming together. Here are the first six blocks:
I’m making this quilt in a class at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop taught by Joyce Gieszler, author of Then and Now Quilts, a new book from Kansas City Star Quilts. This quilt is one of the designs in Joyce’s book.
It’s fascinating to see how varied the fabric choices are among my fellow students, ranging from completely scrappy to batiks, 1930s reproduction fabrics, and prints from the Cotton and Steel collection. The block design lends itself beautifully to all of these. A couple other students besides me are using a limited color palette, and one student is using a gradated fabric to great effect. It was fun seeing the first blocks emerge at our class last Saturday.
I was unable to attend Part 2 of Joyce’s class this morning because of another commitment but I was determined to squeeze in some sewing time today. Happily, I managed to finish another block late this afternoon. It goes in the middle of the bottom row:
Isn’t it interesting that the circular shape emerging in the center is formed by spiky triangles?
March can’t make up its mind if it’s going out like a lion or a lamb, at least here in Portland. We’ve had bouts of sunshine today interspersed with rumbling thunder and heavy rain. It’s sunny as I write this but I see ominous clouds rolling in.
No matter. I’m happily ensconced in my sewing room working on a kaleidoscope quilt based on the block Grandma’s Surprise. It’s homework. I’m taking a class from Joyce Gieszler, whose book Then and Now Quilts (published last year by Kansas City Star Quilts) features a very scrappy quilt based on this block.
Joyce created a second version of Grandma’s Surprise using just three fabrics:
That’s my inspiration for the red, black, and pale grey quilt I’m making. The quilt has nine blocks, and I’m midway through the fifth block. Want to see my progress so far? Of course you do.
The quilt is based on a 3 x 3 grid: three rows and three columns. In the photo below you see the center block and the block directly above it:
Now I’ve added two blocks (Blocks 1 and 4) that go to the left of the first set:
You are looking at the upper left portion of the quilt. Can you see how the pale grey triangles in the outer blocks are starting to give the effect of a circle?
Here’s where I am with the fifth block, which goes in the Block 3 position in the upper right corner:
I’m going back upstairs to sew. I hope you’ll come back soon to see the rest of my quilt!
Aren’t these two quilts striking? They were both made by local designer and teacher Joyce Gieszler, whose book Then and Now Quilts was published last year by Kansas City Star Quilts. These quilts have something else in common: they are made from the very same block!
Now look at this third version, also made by Joyce:
Made with Cotton and Steel fabrics, this quilt is as contemporary as the the upper left quilt, made of Civil War reproduction fabrics, is traditional. I first saw this third version in January at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop’s Open House. Joyce was there introducing herself, her new book (which includes this design), and an upcoming class. I signed up for her class on the spot.
The block in these quilts is called Grandma’s Surprise. Deconstructed, it’s a kaleidoscope block. Well, you know how I love kaleido quilts. Is it any wonder I wanted to make one of my own?
When Joyce showed me a photo of the three-color quilt (upper right), I knew immediately that I wanted to make this version. I’m intrigued by the way color, value, and fabric placement completely change the look of a quilt. Joyce’s three versions illustrate this beautifully.
A basic kaleidoscope block is made of eight 45° triangles, forming an octagon, and finishes with four corner triangles to make a square:
The Grandma’s Surprise block takes that concept to the next level:
Do you see how four triangles fill the same space as one triangle in the basic version? It’s still a kaleidoscope block — but a more complex and sophisticated one.
The quilts are made of nine blocks in a 3 x 3 grid. In the two quilts at the top of the page, Joyce made 12″ blocks so the quilts finish at 36″ square. The Cotton and Steel version is made of 16″ blocks with a 3″ border, finishing at 54″ square.
For my three-color version of Grandma’s Surprise, I chose red, black, and a very pale grey. Here is my center block:
It measures 16½” unfinished. The black print is from the Black, White & Currant 5 line by Color Principle for Henry Glass & Co. At a recent Portland Modern Quilt Guild meeting, guildmate AnnMarie Cowley surprised me with several large pieces from this line left over from a quilt project of her own. (Thanks so much, AnnMarie!) I’m delighted to find a project that puts her gift to good use.