Another Jennifer Reaching for the Stars!

Yes, a new member has joined the club of quilters around the country making Reach for the Stars, the sampler quilt pictured below. In addition to Jennifer Gwyn and Jennifer Thacker, both of Houston, Texas, we now have Jennifer Varney of Hudson, New Hampshire. Welcome, Jennifer!

Reach for the Stars, Designed by Terry Krysan of Lakeville, Minnesota


Jennifer V’s palette is pewter, gold, blue, and black. She is using two focus fabrics in her quilt: an ornate border print by Robert Kaufman that she bought recently and a colonial reproduction of silver and gold poinsettias on cream by Windham Fabrics that’s been in her stash for eight years – waiting for just the right project.

Here is Jennifer’s center medallion:

Jennifer V center medallion
Jennifer Varney’s Center Medallion

Wow! And now for her beautiful blocks:

Jennifer V block 1
Jennifer Varney’s Block 1


Jennifer V block 2
Jennifer Varney’s Block 2


Jennifer V block 3
Jennifer Varney’s Block 3


Jennifer V block 4
Jennifer Varney’s Block 4


Jennifer V block 5
Jennifer Varney’s Block 5

Jennifer noted an “oops” moment in Block 5, when she read the measurements without her glasses on. That little strip of dark fabric on each side will disappear when she adds a dark sashing strip to the block.

And now a look at Jennifer’s center medallion with all five of her blocks to date:

Jennifer V medallion and first four blocks
Jennifer Varney’s medallion and first five blocks


And finally, a close-up of some of her fabrics:

Jennifer V fabric closeup

Such sumptuous fabrics and rich colors!

Did you happen to notice that Jennifer’s blocks aren’t on point? She’s going to modify the pattern and use a straight setting. Why? As she explains it, “One, I don’t want to make it as big as the designer’s quilt, and two, that is what my fabrics are telling me.” I understand completely!

To see the most recent blocks of the Texas Jennifers as well as Sherri Crisp of Knoxville, Tennessee, check out Jennifer G’s blog, Seams Crazy. And please do check back in with me. I just may have another block to show you myself soon.




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

We’re Both Trying

A little play on words there. I’m trying to sew the binding on a quilt. She’s just trying.

2014-2 Theo
Theodora, the Cat with One White Whisker

Theo prevailed, of course. I stopped what I was doing to give her some love. She purred. Then she allowed me to put her down and get back to work.

We all know who rules the roost.



Posted in cats, update | 5 Comments

Gay Paree . . . and Pantone

The photos in yesterday’s post didn’t do justice to Gay Paree, the new Michael Miller fabric I just used in a kaleidoscope table runner. Gay Paree is a novelty fabric featuring slightly abstract scenes of Paris. There’s a young couple sitting at an outdoor café, a little girl buying flowers from a street vendor, another vendor selling baguettes, and a nun feeding birds. There’s also a smartly dressed woman walking her dogs — poodles, of course – near the Eiffel tower and a sailor kissing his sweetheart by a fountain. A whimsical panorama:

2014-02-24 03.19.15
Gay Paree by Michael Miller Fabrics


I fussy-cut six different images from the fabric and inserted them randomly, two to a block, in my table runner:

2014-2 kaleido runner side view red
Dawn’s Runner, Waiting to Be Quilted


You may be wondering what this Gay Paree fabric has to do with Pantone. Do you know about Pantone? It’s an American corporation best known for its standardized color reproduction system, known as PMS (Pantone Matching System). The system is used in a variety of industries where accurate color reproduction is really important — printing, of course, but also in the manufacture of paint and fabrics.

Every year Pantone declares a “Color of the Year,” which guides consumer-oriented companies — think florists, fashion designers, fabric manufacturers — in product design and future planning. I happened to be in a paint store the other day and stopped in front of a Pantone display, which featured the three most recent Colors of the Year. The 2012 Pantone Color of the Year — Tangerine Tango — was the very shade of orange-y red in my Gay Paree fabric! Take a look:

2014-02-24 03.20.15
Gay Paree/Tangerine Tango


It just so happens that Gay Paree comes in two other colorways: a bright emerald green and a vibrant orchid:

Gay Paree/Emerald and Radiant Orchid
Gay Paree in Emerald and Orchid Colorways


And it also just so happens that Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2013 is Emerald and 2014′s color is Radiant Orchid:

2014-2 Pantone emerald and orchid
Pantone’s 2013 and 2014 Colors of the Year


Coincidence? I think not! Savvy marketing? Mais oui!




Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 5 Comments

A Change of Pace

I’ve been taking a little break from Reach for the Stars (see previous post) to make a new kaleidoscope runner, a second version of the one in fall fabrics I showed you a few weeks ago. This runner features some delightful new Paris-themed fabrics from Michael Miller with a contemporary vibe. Take a look:

2014-2 kaleido runner side view red
Top Measures 18″ x 55″

This close-up of one block gives you a better look at the fabrics:

2014-2 kaleido runner block after
Block Finishes at 15″

The Parisian street scenes were fussy-cut from Gay Paree, the new line from Michael Miller, as was the Eiffel Tower, an older Michael Miller line. The navy-on-white and white-on-navy house prints are from the Maison line by Michael Miller, companion prints to Gay Paree. Fans of Violet Craft’s Waterfront Park collection for Michael Miller will recognize the two bright orange pieces from that line, and the remaining white-on-navy geometric is a Mini Mike from Michael Miller.

That bright orange accent strip is a batik and the outer sashing strip is Tangle by Marcia Derse for Windham Fabrics. My background fabric is a pale grey Color Weave by P&B Textiles. I usually piece my backs but I’m going to put an uncut length of the Gay Paree fabric on the back so that the Parisian street scenes can be seen in their entirety.

I’m going to quilt this little table runner/wall hanging with straight lines or maybe simple cross-hatching and bind it in the same orange batik I used for the accent strips.

Over the last few years I’ve made at least a dozen kaleidoscope quilts featuring octagons, all made from eight repeats of one fabric carefully stacked, pinned, and cut. This is the first time I’ve used eight different fabrics in a block. What fun!





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Reach for the Stars — Version 2

It’s official. I have decided to make a second version — along with my first — of Reach for the Stars, the sampler series quilt introduced in the Oct./Nov. 2013 issue of Quilter’s Newsletter magazine. Last week I started playing with fabrics in my stash from the William Morris-inspired lines by Barbara Brackman for Moda and wound up making a sample block, hoping to tempt my friend Colleen into dipping into her stash of Morris fabrics and joining the small band of quilters who are Reaching for the Stars. And my ploy worked! This quilt is now on Colleen’s to-do list.

Once I had one block made, I couldn’t resist the temptation to make another one. Here is my Block 2:

RFTS Wm Morris Block 2
Verson 2, Block 1

Do any of you recognize that print in the corner blocks? It’s been in my stash for at least 15 years. Here is Block 2 on point . . .

RFTS Wm Morris Block 2 on point
Properly on Point

. . . and here are Blocks 1 and 2 together:

RFTS Wm Morris Blocks 1 and 2 on point
Fussy-Cut Centers in Both Blocks


The palette is quite subdued, especially compared to the bright greens and aquas in my Version 1 . . .

RFTS medallion and 4 blocks
To Date: One Center Medallion and Four Blocks

. . . but I think Version 2 will be very pretty, don’t you?






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Sidetracked . . . by Reach for the Stars

Perhaps you thought this post would be about Block 5 in Reach for the Stars, the series quilt in Quilter’s Newsletter magazine that I — and a few likeminded quilters — embarked on a couple of months ago. I finished Block 4 last week and intended to start right away on the next one.

Instead I made a new Block 1 . . . out of a completely different set of fabrics:

2014-2 RFTS Block 1 Wm Morris
A New Block 1


Am I making a second version of Reach for the Stars? I’m not sure! Then why did I make this block? Well, my friend Colleen has been thinking about reaching for the stars, too. Her stash includes several pieces from the Morris Tapestry and Morris Apprentice lines of fabric, both by Barbara Brackman for Moda. I have a few (ahem) pieces of those fabrics myself. I wanted to see how they would play together in a block, perhaps giving Colleen a little boost to join our party.

Here is the block on point, with those birds of a feather properly oriented:

on point
On Point


And I’m not the only one with a new block to show off. Jennifer Thacker of Houston, Texas shared a photo of her Block 1:

2014-2 RFTS Jennifer T Block 1
Jennifer Thacker’s Block 1

Jennifer was able to find most of the fabrics used in designer Terry Krysan’s quilt, which graced the Oct./Nov. 2013 cover of Quilter’s Newsletter magazine. That paisley print in the center of the block — so rich and lush — is a substitute. I think it is even more beautiful than the original!






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Reach for the Stars: Block 4

Before I show you my Block 4, I must confess that I modified the design. I’m making Terry Krysan’s queen-size medallion sampler quilt, seen here in the pages of Quilter’s Newsletter magazine:


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

Terry Krysan’s quilt is a vision of loveliness in creams, tans and black fabrics. I’m using greens and blues instead of creams and tans in my version.

Here’s a shot of the original Block 4:

2014-2 RFTS Block 4 QN Mahoney

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

I just wasn’t loving the center of the block.  I saw that Terry Krysan incorporated circles in two of the 14 blocks that surround the center medallion so I decided to put a circle in the center of my Block 4:

2014-2 RFTS Block 4

That circle (fussy-cut, of course) is not appliquéd – it’s set in, using my favorite freezer-paper method. You may have also noticed that I changed the fabric placement slightly in the corner blocks to accentuate the solid black star points.

Here is my Block 4 on point:

2014-2 RFTS Block 4 on point


I hope you’re also following the progress of fellow Reach for the Stars quilters Jennifer G. and Jennifer T. in Texas and Sherri C. in Tennessee. You can see photos of their blocks on Jennifer G.’s blog, Seams Crazy.

And please check back in with me. It’s been snowing for three days — very unusual for Portland, Oregon. We are effectively snowed in — the perfect excuse to hunker down and start working on Block 5!




Posted in Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 8 Comments

February Finish

In my last post I mentioned a Work-in-Progress that needed some free-motion quilting (FMQ). Remember this?

2013-10, kaleido table runner 1
18″ x 56″ Before Quilting

Back in October, continuing my love affair with kaleidoscope quilts, I made three large kaleidoscope blocks from a piece of autumn-themed fabric from In the Beginning Fabrics (you can read about it here) and put them together into the table runner/wall hanging you see above. After assembling the quilt sandwich I did a fair amount of stitching in the ditch and then I put the piece aside. Why? Because FMQ is by far the most challenging aspect of the quilting process for me and it is far too easy to procrastinate.

This week I decided I absolutely had to finish it. And I did! I quilted a curvy motif in each triangle of the octagons — that’s 24 total, not counting the ones I made first on my practice quilt sandwich. Here’s a close-up of the quilting on my favorite block:

2014-2 Kaleido Wall Hanging quilting detail
Up Close and Personal


My inspiration for the quilting design came from the book Adaptable Quilting Designs by Sue Patten (American Quilter’s Society, 2010):

2014-2 Kaleido Wall Hanging quilt motif

I modified her design so that it would fit in my 45 degree triangles. The quilting lines are meant to cross each other so it’s a very forgiving design for a novice free-motion quilter like me.

Well, what can I say? My FMQ isn’t going to win any awards but I’m pleased with this effort. And I’m not going to get better unless I do more of it, right?

This post is labeled “February Finish” but in fact my little quilt isn’t done yet. It doesn’t have a label because I haven’t thought of a name. I’m thinking about making a second kaleidoscope runner like this one in spring fabrics, and then I can call them Spring Forward and Fall Back. Just kidding. Hmm. Maybe not!





Posted in free motion quilting, kaleidoscope quilts, update | 7 Comments

One Month Gone, One UFO Busted

The first month of 2014 has come and gone. Didn’t it go fast? It sure did for me! I got quite caught up in January making blocks for my Reach for the Stars sampler quilt (see the three posts directly under this one) but still managed to complete a five-year-old Unfinished Object.

That would be Checkerboard Square, designed by Alex Anderson and featuring her line of fabric, Never Enough Romance, for P&B Fabrics. My progress as of Jan. 12:

2014-1, 5 BlueWhite top in progress
Checkerboard Square, Underway


As of Jan. 30, the inner section of the quilt was pieced:

2014-2 Checkerboard Square before borders
58″ x 75″ Before Borders


And on the last day of the month I got the borders sewn on. I had to wait till today to photograph the completed top outdoors. I woke up to overcast skies and no breeze – perfect! — but by the time I was ready to take photos, the sun had come out and was reaching for the only part of the back deck — the arbor — where I could hang my quilt top. And a breeze had come along with the sun.

This is the best shot, taken between puffs of air that caused the quilt to billow:

2014-2 Checkerboard Square 2
Checkerboard Square Quilt Top, Finished

The top measures 75½” x 92½”. I added an inch and a half to the outer borders so it’s about 3″ longer and wider than the pattern measurements. Sometime in February I’ll make a backing (and think up a name) for this top.

As much as I’d love to start work on the next Reach for the Stars block, there’s a different Work-in-Progress calling my name, one that needs a little free motion quilting. I’m gearing up for it.

Thanks for stopping by!





Posted in Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 7 Comments

Reach for the Stars: Block 2

Yesterday I finished Block 2 of Reach for the Stars, a lovely sampler quilt featured in Quilter’s Newsletter, with directions spaced over seven issues beginning with Oct./Nov. 2013. The quilt, designed by Terry Krysan, features a center medallion surrounded by 14 blocks, all on point.

I’ve already posted pictures of my Blocks 1 and 3 and the center medallion. To refresh your memory:

2014-01-22 01.00.55
Reach for the Stars: My Blocks So Far


And here is Block 2:

2014-1 RTFS block 2 on point 1
Block Measures 17″ Across on Point


The magazine’s cutting and piecing directions are abbreviated at best, so I am studying each block in advance, challenging myself to figure out how to cut the fabrics and piece the components in a way that will yield the most accurate final block measurements.

Case in point: the hourglass blocks in the corner squares.

Each corner block contains two squares — one green and one blue, in my version – and two hourglass blocks, each composed of two blue and two green triangles.  The hourglass blocks are sewn to the squares, forming a 4″ finished square. Each hourglass block finishes at 2″ square.

The magazine calls for the hourglass sections to be cut from 3-1/4″ squares. To be precise, four quarter-square triangles cut from one square. Do you have any idea how small these triangles would be and how difficult it would be to sew the bias edges together and press them without any distortion? I know I couldn’t do it. I press with a heavy hand and am sure I would wind up with wonky hourglass blocks.

I hit upon the idea of cutting my hourglass blocks from 4-patches, “popping” the center seam open so the intersections would be nice and flat. Then I cut the 4-patches on the diagonal into 2-1/2″ squares:

2014-1 RFTS Block 2 4-patch to hourglass back
4-Patch and Hourglass From the Back . . .
2014-1 RFTS Block 2 4-patch to hourglass
. . . and from the Front

That hourglass block has bias edges but each edge is sewn to a straight-of-grain edge so no problem there. I’ll outline the full method if there is interest.

Jennifer Gwyn at Seams Crazy has finished her center medallion and made Block 1, and both are just beautiful! Be sure to take a look at her most recent posts. Sherri Crisp of Knoxville, Tennessee is sewing along with us, and Jennifer has a photo on her blog of Sherri’s center medallion. Simply gorgeous! Another quilter, Jennifer Thacker of Houston, Texas has started Reach for the Stars, too, and we are looking forward to seeing her blocks revealed.

The Feb./March 2014 issue of Quilter’s Newsletter is out now, with directions for Blocks 4, 5, and 6. I understand that Sherri is paper-piecing her RFTS blocks. As I look ahead to Block 5, I think I may give that method a try for part of the block. Stay tuned!




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