We did it! My neighbor Janice and I completed the alphabet quilt started by Janice’s good friend Susan, who did not live long enough to finish it herself. Susan was making this quilt for her baby granddaughter, also named Susan. She had all the letters of the alphabet appliquéd by hand onto 6″ squares of muslin but, sadly, died of ovarian cancer before she could sew the blocks together and finish the quilt. That labor of love fell to Janice, who enlisted my help.
Over the last couple of weeks Janice and I got together to determine a layout for the blocks and to choose sashing and binding fabrics. I wrote about the process in this post and this one.
Allow us to present Susan Elinor’s quilt:
Don’t you love how the red binding frames the quilt and draws your eye to the red letters?
In this close-up you can see the simple free-motion design quilted in the border:
The back of the quilt features a print from the Dick and Jane early reader books — a playful nod to the alphabet letters on the front and very much in keeping with the vintage calicos Susan had chosen for her appliquéd blocks:
The last step was sewing on the label:
Actually, there was one more step. Janice bought some little finger puppets and toys to put in the four blocks on the quilt containing pockets made from clothes Susan’s daughter Lea wore as a little girl. Look how cute these are!
This is how the quilt looks with the pockets filled:
Susan Elinor is one year old. She will miss the joy of growing up knowing her grandmother but she will have the joy of wrapping herself in a quilt hand-stitched with love by her grandmother. This quilt will be presented tomorrow to Lea and little Susan at the memorial service celebrating Susan’s life.
The baby quilt that my neighbor Janice and I are finishing on behalf of her late friend Susan is coming along nicely. The quilt will go to Susan’s granddaughter and namesake, Susan Elinor, who just turned one.
In my last post I showed you the blocks that Susan appliquéd by hand onto muslin squares. Here are those squares set off with simple muslin sashing:
In addition to the 26 alphabet blocks, four blocks contain embroidered pockets made from clothing worn by Susan’s daughter Lea (baby Susan’s mother) when she was a little girl.
I pulled several pieces of fabric from my stash so that Janice and I could audition the border fabric together:
We both liked the same fabric best — the aqua print on the middle left side (Sew Stitchy by Aneela Hoey for Moda Fabrics).
Here’s the quilt top with the border strips added in that fabric:
Next we looked at fabrics for the back. The print we chose is absolutely perfect for an alphabet quilt: it’s based on the Dick and Jane early reader books from the last century. It’s a directional design printed across the width of fabric so I inserted some strips of the aqua print border fabric to make the back long enough. Take a look:
Oh dear, that picture is not in focus. Here’s a better look at the fabrics:
According to the selvage, the fabric above was released in 1999. It’s called “go! with dick and jane” by Nicole de Leon for Alexander Henry Fabrics. It’s obviously been in my stash for a while.
Next up: quilting. I’m going to stitch-in-the-ditch around the alphabet blocks and free-motion quilt a loop-de-loop design in the borders. Janice and I both like the idea of finishing the quilt with red binding. She is going to do the handwork on the quilt (binding and label), and our plan is to have our project completed by the end of the week.
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:
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 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:
This quilt will help tie three generations of women together. I feel honored that Janice has asked me to help her finish it.
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:
Nope. I changed a few blocks around:
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:
But I like the look of those hourglass blocks placed horizontally 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.
Which look do you like better? If you’re so inclined, please tell me why. It’s very easy to leave a comment!
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:
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:
The back is pieced from leftover fabrics used on the front:
Last but not least: the label.
My little quilt is finished ahead of schedule. I’m ready for the parade!
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:
Here it is in its proper position 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.
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.
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:
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!
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:
(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:
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:
Coming soon: Block 13. Please come back to see it!
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.
I made this tote as a birthday present for my friend 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:
For good measure I added a pocket on the back side of the tote:
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:
When I was in Central Oregon last month for the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, I found this vintage yellow button for a dollar: