All the buzz about Bill Volckening’s soon-to-be-released book New York Beauty, Quilts from the Volckening Collection, published by Quiltmania in France, has inspired me to revisit the New York Beauty blocks I started making seven or eight years ago.
Here is one of my blocks . . .
. . . and another:
The designs for these blocks and 28 more are from the book New York Beauty: Traditional Blocks with Contemporary Variations, self-published by Karen K. Stone in 1995 (out of print now, I believe.) It contains paper foundations and freezer paper templates meant to be removed from the book. If the quiltmaker makes all 30 blocks shown in the book, there won’t be much left of the book!
I made 18 different blocks before putting the project aside. Just now I randomly stuck them up on my design wall:
Judging from some of the fabrics I see, this is one of my oldest UFOs. My collection of black, white, grey, and red fabrics has grown substantially since I last worked on this project!
I think it’s time to get back on track with my New York Beauty, don’t you?
My first errand of the day was a happy one: a trip to longarm quilter Nancy Stovall’s studio, Just Quilting, to pick up this quilt:
I asked Nancy to quilt gentle wavy lines horizontally across the quilt. I love the effect. Her quilting adds texture and visual interest yet lets the star blocks be the center of attention.
Here’s a close-up of the only block that features a butterfly:
The secondary star in the center of the quilt has a faux-kaleidoscope block in the center:
The quilt top started out a perfect 56½” square. After quilting and trimming, it measures 55¾” x 54¾” . This is the reason I don’t often make square quilts: they are rarely square after quilting. (But it looks square, doesn’t it?)
The back of the quilt includes leftover pieces of the focus fabric set on point:
At my request Nancy used the same pale blue thread on the back. It’s almost like having a reversible quilt. The batting is 80% cotton/20% wool, a low-loft blend I will surely ask for in the future.
I’ve named this quilt Billie’s Star because it was inspired by my quilt teacher and mentor, Billie Mahorney. Billie is very fond of stars and featured them in several of the classes I took from her between 2005 and 2009. She taught for over 20 years at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop in Lake Oswego, Oregon. It was a sad day for her legions of fans when she and her husband moved to Idaho to be close to grandchildren. Happily, she comes back to Oregon to visit now and then but her students sure do miss her.
To finish Billie’s Star, I’m going to bind it in the pale blue background fabric so the stars continue to float.
More than a week without a post. Are you wondering what happened to me? This is what I’ve been up to:
I’ve been in sunny Arizona following the Cactus League. For the uninitiated, the Cactus League is comprised of half of Major League Baseball’s teams, here for a month of spring training before the season officially opens next month. (The other half of the MLB teams are in Florida playing in the Grapefruit League.)
The DH — that’s Dear Husband, not Designated Hitter — and I came to Arizona for a five-day Road Scholar program on Spring Training that included tickets to four San Francisco Giants games. By tacking on games with other teams before and after the Road Scholar program, we’ve turned our eight-day trip into an eight-game marathon. Six down, two to go.
At the Giants-White Sox game Thursday evening at Camelback Ranch, comedian Will Ferrell dropped in — literally — to play for both sides. At the top of the ninth inning a helicopter descended into center field and deposited Ferrell, already decked out in a Chicago uniform. He went right into the lineup for the White Sox and hit a foul ball before striking out.
Before the bottom of the ninth began, Ferrell had been “traded” to the Giants. He emerged from the San Francisco dugout in catcher’s gear and took a short-lived turn behind the plate. Ferrell made appearances at four other parks on Thursday, wearing the uniforms of 10 MLB teams and playing all nine positions — quite a feat! His appearances, all part of a program to raise funds for cancer research, will be featured in an HBO special later this year.
I had hoped to visit a few quilt shops during the week but our Road Scholar program was packed with lectures and other activities along with the games. The program is over now, so my plan is to hit a couple of shops today and tomorrow before we fly home to Portland.
You know it’s a good weekend when it combines baseball and quilt shop hopping!
Finally — a quilting plan is in place for Sun Flowers, the wall hanging I set aside in January:
You may remember that Sun Flowers is the third of four kaleidoscope quilts I am making that represent the seasons of the year. The first two quilts, representing spring and fall, are Under Paris Skies and Autumn Reflections, each of which measures about 18″ x 55″:
The quilting on Sun Flowers is a combination of straight line quilting with a walking foot and free-motion quilting (FMQ) in the eight triangles that form each octagon:
The straight lines don’t cross the kaleido blocks as they did in Under Paris Skies. My intent here is to make the lines look as if they are going behind the blocks. The swirly free-motion quilting motif is the same one I used on Autumn Reflections and wrote about here. I used 50-weight Aurifil thread in pale grey so the quilting would add texture but not stand out too much.
I couldn’t resist adding those buttons (not yet sewn on) for the photo. Layering the buttons creates a secondary sunflower, reinforcing the theme of the quilt.
You can see the FMQ design in the kaleido wedges more easily on the pieced back:
It feels good to be this far with the quilting. I have two more blocks to go but seem to have overcome my procrastination, always an issue where FMQ is concerned.
Like so many in the quilting community, I am enchanted by the Snapshots quilt you see above, designed by the mother-daughter team of Bonnie Olaveson and Camille Roskelley. Each woman is a talented quilt designer in her own right; as Bonnie and Camille, they design fabric for Moda. They collaborated to design this sampler quilt celebrating moments of happiness in our lives. The quilt is the centerpiece of a year-long Quilt-Along organized by the Fat Quarter Shop and Moda Fabrics for the benefit of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
I willingly donated to this worthy cause and am downloading instructions as they are released on the 15th of each month, even though at this point I don’t plan to make the entire quilt. I do plan to make at least two blocks.
Many happy moments in my life have been spent in front of my sewing machine, so I knew as soon as I saw Snapshots that I would make February’s block, named “Sew On and Sew On” by the designers. Here is my version:
How do you like the “knobs” on my sewing machine? My color scheme was dictated by the piece of fabric in my stash that strip came from.
Bonnie and Camille’s block measures 12½” x 16½”. Since I’m not incorporating my block into a quilt, I added strips to the top and bottom and widened the side strips. My block measures 15″ x 17½”. I’m thinking about framing it and hanging it in my sewing room.
As the end of this month is mere hours away (how quickly it flew by!), I’m claiming this as my final February finish.
My quilt Catch a Falling Star, based on Minnesota quiltmaker Terri Krysan’s Reach for the Stars quilt, is currently hanging in the Pine Needle Quilt Shop where it is receiving very nice comments from customers.
Several people have asked how my quilt differs from Terri Krysan’s (other than the obvious difference of fabric choices) so I thought I would give you a look at both quilts side by side:
(Photo on left copyright Quilter’s Newsletter. Used with permission. Photo by Melissa Karlin Mahoney. Photo on right by Bill Volckening.)
The center medallion and three of the blocks were made following Terri’s design. From there I departed in ways both large and small. I’ll use the quilt outline below to explain those differences:
Blocks 1 and 2: no changes.
Block 3: incorporated fussy-cut images in outer part of block.
Block 4: changed center of block to a fussy-cut image enclosed in an inset circle. Moved to Block 11 position.
Block 5: no change.
Block 6: replaced pinwheel in center of block with a 4-Patch Wonder block. Moved to Block 7 position.
Block 7: eliminated appliquéd circles, incorporated fussy-cut image in center of block. Moved to Block 14 position.
Block 8: incorporated fussy-cut image in center of block and changed design of outer part to incorporate fussy-cut border stripe. Moved to Block 6 position.
Block 9: added four triangles to create a star. Moved to Block 13 position.
Block 10: replaced block completely with design spotted on a coffee mug.
Block 11: replaced block completely with a block I dreamed up (although it may well exist elsewhere). Moved to Block 4 position.
Block 12: made the center a square within a square and changed the color value in the corner four-patches to avoid having dark fabric in the points where they would bleed into the black sashing. Moved to Block 9 position.
Block 13: incorporated fussy-cut image into circle in center. My circle is inset rather than appliquéd. Moved to Block 8 position.
Block 14: replaced center of block with a double pinwheel block incorporating fussy-cut images. Moved to Block 12 position.
That’s it for the blocks, though I should note that Terri used fussy-cut images in seven of her 14 blocks. I challenged myself to incorporate fussy-cut images in all 14.
The setting triangles were made following Terri’s design but I altered the design of the checked border to make all four corners symmetrical. I’m very proud of that achievement.
Now you probably think all 14 blocks are different, don’t you? Not so! Two of the blocks are exactly the same design. They just look different because of the fabrics used. Can you spot which two are the same? Here’s a bigger photo of my quilt to help you look:
My first (but not my last) bedrunner quilt is back from the longarmer. It’s also bound, labeled, and ready to display. So satisfying to report another February finish! Here it is:
Olivia Twist, so named because of the floral focus fabric (A Garden for Olivia by In the Beginning Fabrics) and the twist block, measures 31″ x 76″ — a good size for the bottom of a double or queen-size bed. The design is adapted from my pattern 4-Patch Wonder with a Twist.
I’m delighted with the free-motion quilting done by Jolene Knight of Good Knight Quilts. I’ll bet you’d like to see some details, wouldn’t you? Happy to oblige.
In the 4-Patch Wonder blocks Jolene quilted a radiating blossom, repeating the same motif in the small black squares between blocks:
You can also see the whimsical leaf-and-loop motif she quilted in the lattice strips. Here’s another block:
In the background Jolene quilted a free-form spiral motif with pebbles here and there. Check this out:
(The background fabric looks almost purple in the photo above. In actuality it is a very dark navy and black batik print.)
On the back of the quilt is a full length piece of the focus fabric as well as three leftover 4-Patch Wonder blocks set on point:
In this close-up of the back, you can see more of Jolene’s playful free-motion quilting:
I’m already thinking about my next bedrunner quilt. My choice of pattern may surprise you. I hope you’ll check back in a few days to see what I have in mind.
A couple weeks ago I wrote about a reversible table runner I made for my sister Diane’s living room. The runner was made to cover a seam (for lack of a better word) created when two chests were placed back to back to create a larger table surface between two chairs. Here’s a look at the single chest Diane started with:
Even with the lamp placed at the very back of the chest, people sitting in the chairs had to crane their necks around the lamp to see each other when talking. The limited surface space made it difficult to have multiple items on the chest at the same, items such as a TV remote, a glass of wine, a cell phone, a book. In addition, the drawers in the chest were difficult to open from a sitting position because the chest was positioned so far back. You can understand why Diane considered this a design dilemma.
Her solution was to take a matching chest from another room and place it back to back with the first one, doubling the surface area, making it possible to move the lamp farther back toward the windows, and making the drawers in front more accessible. Sounded like a win-win-win to me. The only issue was the seam where the two chests met.
That’s where the table runner (and I) came in. Consulting by phone between Portland and Atlanta, Diane and I selected fabric from my stash and I proceeded to make this reversible runner that measures about 9½” x 41″:
It was very easy to make: two cotton prints, a layer of batting, simple cross-hatching for the quilting, and traditional double-fold binding. Soon it was on its way across the country. Here it is in place:
See how much farther back the lamp is? Much easier now for folks to converse. The toile fabric is in the up position in the picture above. Here’s another shot with the floral vine in the up position:
While auditioning fabrics, Diane and I kept the sofa pillows in mind:
Look how well these fabrics go together. I especially like the connection between the floral vine fabric on the runner and the pillow on the left:
This home dec mini makeover came with a bonus: because the chests are positioned back to back, there’s a set of drawers on both sides. Diane and Ed’s 5½-year-old grandson Edward gets the exclusive use of the drawers at the back for his own little stash of treasures and playthings:
Happy Friday the 13th! It’s a lucky day for me as I have not one but two finishes to report. Minutes ago I finished sewing the label on Toile Story:
Over the last few days I hand stitched 343″ of binding. My stitches are about three to the inch, meaning I took somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 stitches to finish the binding. And I enjoyed every one.
Toile Story measures 76″ x 91″. I may have to take it somewhere outside my home to get flat pictures of the front and back. Look for photos in a future post.
My second finish is this quilt top, which now measures 56½” square:
Adding plain borders to float the blocks was a good call. There was one thing I had to do before I could call the top done, though. I was bothered by something in the upper right block.
In this photo look at the upper left corner of the floral square:
See that little white spot? It’s part of the floral design but to me it looked like a hole in the fabric. Quilter’s caulk to the rescue:
One of my quilt teachers told me about quilter’s caulk, otherwise known as Sharpie Ultra Fine Point permanent marking pens. You can’t use colored ink to fill a gap or seam, which is the definition of the verb “to caulk,” but you can use it to color correct a seam or some other part of an item made with fabric.
With just a touch of my aqua Ultra-Fine Point Sharpie I made that hole disappear:
To see how I’ve used Quilter’s Caulk on other projects, check out this previous post from 2012.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. I hope you are doing something special with a loved one. My valentine is taking me to dinner at the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge in the Columbia Gorge. Lucky me!
Step 1. Make an 18½” star block. Why? Oh, just for fun. And to use up focus fabric left over from another project.
Step 2. Put a ring around it. Now it measures 24½”.
Step 3. Make three more blocks and put all four up on the design wall:
Step 4. Decide that it needs “something in the middle” to draw attention to the secondary star formed when the blocks are put together.
That’s where I was when last I posted about this project. Here’s where I am now:
Isn’t that a fun addition? Using triangles instead of squares, I made a 4-Patch Wonder block (my term for four fabric repeats layered, cut, and rotated to form a symmetrical design) and then added ¼”and ⅜”-wide sashing strips.
Here’s a close-up of that little faux-kaleidoscope block. With the sashing strips it measures 4″ square:
So what’s Step 5? Borders! I want to float those blocks so I’ll add border strips in the same blue background fabric. When I’m done my quilt top will measure 56½” square. Then it’s on to Step 6: piecing a backing.
And I vow not to start something else “just for fun” until I’ve finished the three quilts that got moved to the back burner when I started Seeing Stars.