Reach for the Stars: Sherri’s Blocks

Today I have the pleasure of sharing photos of three blocks made by Sherri Crisp of Knoxville, Tennessee. These blocks are part of Reach for the Stars, a queen-size sampler quilt that is also being made by several others. It’s almost like a Block of the Month (BOM) project, except that those of us making the quilt are getting instructions every other month from Quilter’s Newsletter magazine. We started last fall and, if everyone stays on track, we  should have our quilts pieced by the end of the year.

The April/May issue of Quilter’s Newsletter contained instructions for Blocks 7, 8, and 9. Here is Sherri’s Block 7:

Sherri's block 7
Sherri Crisp’s Block 7

Look how dramatic this block is set on point, as the directions call for:

Sherri's block 7 on point
Sherri’s Block 7 on Point


Block 8:

Sherri's Block 8
Sherri Crisp’s Block 8

Notice how the star shape changes when the block is set on point:

Sherri's Block 8 on point
Sherri’s Block 8 on Point

Sherri is paper-piecing most of her blocks, and I must say it shows. Look at those perfect star points!

Block 9:

Sherri's Block 9
Sherri’s Crisp’s Block 9

Block 9 on point:

Sherri's Block 9 on point
Sherri’s Block 9 on Point


Now just imagine these blocks added to the ones Sherri made earlier:

RFTS Sherri's medallion and blocks 1-6
Center Medallion and Blocks made by Sherri Crisp

Keep those blocks coming, Sherri — that is going to be one gorgeous quilt!





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Reach for the Stars: an Update from Jennifer V

Jennifer Varney of Hudson, New Hampshire — one of several quilters I have become friends with over the last few months through our shared desire to make a sampler quilt called Reach for the Stars – revised her center medallion recently.

You may recall from an earlier post that Jennifer plans to arrange her center medallion and blocks in a straight set, rather than on point as called for in the original quilt. Jennifer’s fabric choices include some elegant border prints and metallics in a palette of pewter, soft blue, gold, and black. Before I show you the revision, take a look at her original medallion block  (and take note of the four corner squares):

Jennifer V center medallion
Jennifer V’s Medallion Before

Nothing wrong with that medallion at all! In fact, it’s beautiful. Now take a look at the revised block:

Jennifer Thacker's revised center medallion
Jennifer V’s Medallion After

It’s better, isn’t it? Jennifer used the same fabric in the outer blocks that she used in the first version but fussy-cut the squares to highlight a different motif in the fabric. I agree with her that the change brings more light and balance to her medallion.

Directions for Reach for the Stars are coming in serialized fashion from Quilter’s Newsletter magazine. Thus far the magazine has provided directions for 12 blocks (plus the medallion). Jennifer fell a wee bit behind on the blocks but for a very good reason: she was getting another quilt ready for her local guild’s spring show — and it won a second place ribbon!

Allow me to present Lady Guinevere’s Quilt, designed and made by Jennifer Varney:

Jennifer T's quilt Lady Guinevere
It’s A Winner!

Jennifer fussy-cut border prints and pieced them into Night and Day blocks, which she then set on point. The outer edges of the quilt feature a gilded tapestry-look border print.  Lorri Wurtzler of Seventh Heaven Quilting in Nashua, New Hampshire custom quilted Jennifer’s quilt. Here’s a close-up of Lorri’s beautiful quilting:

Jennifer T's quilt, quilting detail
Beautiful Custom Quilting

The finished quilt measures 53″ square.

Congratulations, Jennifer! Now: back to work on Reach for the Stars?





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Spinning Away

My little Spinners table topper (from Heather Mulder Peterson’s new book On the Run Again) was a breeze to make. What took me a while was cutting out the pieces. The pattern calls for a 60° triangle ruler, which I don’t have (note to self: buy one!), so I cut out each triangle separately using the 60º marking on my favorite 4″ x 14″ acrylic ruler and the lines on my cutting mat.

Here is my top with the six triangles sewn to the hexagon in the middle:

Spinners topper in progress

So far so good! Here it is with the outer border:

Spinners top

The more I work with these Kate Spain fabrics (from her Sunnyside line for Moda Fabrics), the more I like them. Happily, I have quite a bit left of the fat quarter packet I started out with, so I may use the fabrics for another project in Heather’s book. I’m not sure what company makes the aqua solid, since the fat quarter didn’t have any selvage information, but I have enough of it to bind the topper.

Now comes the hard part: how to quilt it?




Posted in hexagons, table topper, update | 4 Comments

Topping it Off

I know I shouldn’t start something new but – I just can’t help myself! Heather Mulder Peterson’s newest book, On the Run Again, arrived in my mailbox a few days ago, and ever since then I’ve been oohing and aahing over the table runners and toppers pictured inside. Take a look at Granny Square Stars, the runner on the cover of the book:

On the Run Again book cover
Featured runner: Granny Square Stars, 18″ x 56″

Copyright Heather Mulder Peterson. Used with permission.

Wouldn’t that be fun to make? What a great way to use up scraps! I see it with dark stars in the centers. Granny Square Stars is definitely on my list but the one I am going to make first is a little table topper called Spinners:

Heather's Spinners Topper
Spinners, 18 1/2″ x 20 1/2″

Copyright Heather Mulder Peterson. Used with permission.

Anyone who loves hexagons as much as I do needs to make this design! As soon as I saw it, I knew what fabrics I would use. A few months ago I bought this combo of prints in the Sunnyside line by Kate Spain for Moda Fabrics:

2014-06-04 11.13.08

The way the fabrics were cleverly packaged by the shop, Pioneer Quilts, was a selling point. You can see why I can’t wait to get started!

If you’d like to see more of the charming toppers and runners featured in Heather’s new book, check out her blog, Trends and Traditions, which happens to be one of my very favorites.

I hope you’ll check back soon right here at First Light Designs to see the progress on my version of Spinners. Thanks for stopping by!




Posted in hexagons, table topper, update | 2 Comments

Reach for the Stars: Blocks 10 and 11

Eleven blocks down, three to go. I’m heading into the home stretch on my Reach for the Stars sampler quilt! Before I reveal my new blocks, let me refresh your memory with a photo of the original Reach for the Stars quilt designed by Terry Krysan of Lakeville, Minnesota:

RFTS by Terry Krysan
Reach for the Stars by Terry Krysan

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

So striking! Quilter’s Newsletter magazine is presenting instructions for this quilt in seven consecutive issues. The current issue is the fifth, with directions for Blocks 10-12.

Here is my Block 10:

RFTS Block 10
14″ Square with Sashing

My Block 10 bears no resemblance whatsoever to Block 10 in Terry Krysan’s quilt. I departed from her design because I found a block I liked better on — of all places – a coffee cup I’ve had for over 20 years:

2014-5 Nebraska coffee cup
Inspiration on a Coffee Cup

See the block just above the capital N of Nebraska? That’s my Block 10!

Here’s that block on point, as it will be in my finished quilt:

Block 10 on point
Block 10 on Point


It’s neighbor, Block 11, is also a renegade:

RFTS Block 11
Block 11, Straight

I dreamed this one up myself, though it’s probably been done before. The black squares in the corner blocks were an afterthought. I think the block is much more interesting with the addition of those 1″ squares, don’t you?

Here’s the block on point:

Block 11 on point
Block 11 on Point


Here are the blocks together. Did you notice that they both have fussy-cut centers?

RFTS Blocks 10 and 11 collage
Side by Side

I challenged myself to incorporate a fussy-cut element into each of my blocks without repeating any of the images.  It’s a good thing I have only three blocks left!




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

Banana Appeal

My quilt Banana Split has been back from the quilter for several weeks now. I finally got it bound and photographed, and now it’s ready to be presented to you:

Banana Split, 40 1/2″ x 50 1/2″ (2014)


If you look at the fabric in the centers of the stars, you can see where my quilt got its name. Here’s a close-up of one block:

Banana Split, close-up of one block
4-Patch Wonder Block, 11″ with Sashing

The centers are all 4-Patch Wonder blocks, my name for blocks made of four repeats yielding a faux-kaleidoscope effect.

Banana Split was beautifully quilted by Debbie Scroggy of All Quilted, LLC. I went to Debbie’s studio and together we selected the thread and the quilting motifs (spirals in the main body of the quilt and in the corners, and piano keys in the borders). I expected the thread of choice would be a pale yellow. Much to my surprise, it was a deep gold that looked the best when we pooled all of the contenders on the quilt top.

The thread had such a lovely sheen that I asked Debbie to put it on the back of the quilt, too:

Back of Banana Split


The panels on either side of the big star block above show the focus fabric I used on the 4-Patch Wonder blocks. The circle in the center is a kaleidoscope made from the same focus fabric. Here’s a close-up of the big star:

May-2014-Shoot-HR-2 - Copy
Dawn’s Big Block (18″ Square)

The more I look at this big block, the more I like it. I was just goofing around when I made it but now I think it has real possibilities. Four blocks would make a perfectly sized baby quilt. I’ll hold on to that thought, as I have a couple of baby quilts to make in the next few months.

In the meantime, I have plenty of works in progress that need attention, not to mention the stack of UFOs (Unfinished Objects) I am committed to whittling down this year. Happily, Banana Split is no longer in that category.




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder quilt, faux-kaleido quilts, kaleidoscope quilts, update | 2 Comments

Reach for the Stars: Simply S(m)ashing

Oh, my. What a difference sashing makes on my Reach for the Stars quilt-in-the-making! (Reach for the Stars is a queen-size sampler quilt designed by Terry Krysan of Lakeville, Minnesota, with directions coming via Quilter’s Newsletter magazine over the course of seven issues. The current issue (June/July 2014) contains directions for Blocks 10, 11, and 12.)

I had nine of the 14 blocks  pieced except for the sashing strips. I decided to add the strips before proceeding with the next blocks. Let’s have a look at my center medallion (with one of its two sashing strips) and my nine blocks without the sashing . . .

2014-4 RFTS so far
Dawn’s Blocks Before Sashing

. . . and now with the sashing:

2014-5 RFTS 9 blocks with sashing
Dawn’s Blocks With Sashing

Quite a difference, eh? It makes me eager to get started on the next blocks, even though I’m not wild about Blocks 10 and 11. I’ve already made changes to four of the blocks so far, and it looks like I will be doing the same with at least a couple more.

I was pondering what I might do about those blocks when my eyes fell on my coffee cup:

2014-5 Nebraska coffee cup

You just never know when and where inspiration will strike. I brought this cup home from a trip to Nebraska about 20 years ago. See how the quilt blocks are in the shape of the state of Nebraska? I’ve occasionally thought about making a similar quilt in the shape of my home state of Oregon. It never occurred to me that this cup might solve a design dilemma on a completely different project.

Check out those two blocks on the upper right, just to the right of the big heart block. They just might be making an appearance in my version of Reach for the Stars!




Posted in Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 3 Comments

Bertie Goes Traveling

Bertie, subject of the wool appliqué project I wrote about here, has flown across the Atlantic Ocean and back.

2014-5, Bertie in Progress
Bertie’s Year (July), designed by Bonnie Sullivan

The pieces above have all been whipstitched in place using single strands of embroidery floss. On the long flight back from Zurich to Newark, I intended to add the leaves and blueberries and maybe start embroidering Bertie’s legs. Instead I spend the 8½-hour flight binge-watching Season 4 of Downtown Abbey:

downtown abbey collage
Upstairs with the Earl of Grantham and Lady Mary, Downstairs with Anna and John Bates


My husband and I decided to break up the jet lag by spending a few days in New York City before heading home to the west coast. That gave me a chance to visit a certain shop on W. 25th Street:

2014-5, City Quilter bag
The City Quilter!

What did I buy, you ask? A couple pieces of “Grand Central,” a line from City Quilters that came out last year when Grand Central Station was celebrating its centennial:

Grand Central fabric from City Quilter
Grand Central fabric from City Quilter

The aqua fabric depicts constellations on the ceiling of Grand Central Station. I don’t know what I will make with these fabrics but I couldn’t resist them!




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Bathroom Renovation: Before and After

This post is long overdue. After all, the contractors finished our master bath renovation almost a year ago. When I posted the Week 12 photos last June, the bathroom was complete except for the plantation shutters and wall décor. My plan was to show before-and-after photos as soon as the shutters were installed. That day came and went, and now – lo! these many months later – I am ready for the final reveal.

In a way I’m glad I waited. It was great fun revisiting the renovation process as I scrolled through all of the photos taken during the 12 weeks of the renovation.

The biggest change was adding a custom shower in the northwest corner:

nw corner before and after
NW Corner, Before and After

The shower was an important addition to the bathroom. (Whoever heard of a master bath without one?)

Opposite the new shower, on the northeast side, we removed the big Jacuzzi tub and installed a vintage clawfoot tub:

NE Corner, After
NE Corner, Before and After

Much more befitting a home built in 1913, don’t you think? And the new single window opens, providing a delicious cross-ventilating breeze.

I was hoping to position the marble-topped vintage washstand (see first photo, above) against the half-wall opposite the clawfoot tub but it turned out to be a few inches too deep. After searching in vain for a narrow vintage table that would fit in that space, I had one made:

table between halfwall and tub
Console Table


On the wall opposite the table is a small stool made by the same craftsman:

2013-10, bath stool
Bath Stool

The wood is African mahogany.

A new custom vanity, mirror, and light fixtures updated the south end of the bathroom:

se corner before and after
SE Corner, Before and After

Much less fussy.

sw corner, before and after
SW Corner, Before and After

The wall on the right between the towel rack and the door is the perfect space to hang one of  my table runners (in this case Purple Haze, from my pattern Full Moon Rising II).

Even after a year, the novelty of having a renovated bathroom hasn’t worn off. Do I miss anything about the old bathroom? Surprisingly, yes. I feel a twinge of nostalgia for that floral wallpaper:

wallpaper 1
Birds, Blossoms, and Butterflies

I had a partial roll left over — can you believe I saved it for over 25 years? – so I lined the drawers of the vanity with it.




Posted in bathroom remodel, update | 4 Comments

Bewitched by Bertie

I tried to resist, really I did. For several years I was the only one in my quilt group, the Quisters, who didn’t do wool appliqué. Not that I wasn’t tempted or didn’t admire it. I just didn’t want another hobby on top of my quiltmaking obsession. Nor did I need another category of fabric — wool – vying for space with my quilting cottons.

All that changed when I saw Bertie’s Year on display at the Pine Needle’s Open House earlier this year:

Bertie's Year originals by bonnie sullivan
Bertie’s Year by Bonnie Sullivan


Designed and made by fellow Oregonian Bonnie Sullivan of All Through the Night (“Folk Art designs with a bit of whimsy”), Bertie’s Year is made up of a dozen 13″ x 17″ wool applique projects, one for each month of the year. The projects are bordered by different designs of half-square triangles made of Woolies flannel (designed by none other than Bonnie Sullivan for Maywood Studios). The monthly projects can stand alone or be combined into a quilt.

So am I going to make the entire quilt? Heavens, no! I’m just dipping my toe in the water. I’m going to make one month’s project to see how I like it. My Quisters promised I could raid their wool stashes, which are ample because they are also rug hookers.

The hard part was choosing the month. Every single one of the projects is absolutely charming. I finally decided to make the July project for the simple reason that it makes me smile every time I look at it. Here is Bertie perched on a slice of watermelon spitting a seed. He’s sporting a jaunty hat (probably made from a folded newspaper) and tucked under his wing is a little branch loaded with blueberries:

Bertie's Year July original by Bonnie Sullivan
Bertie’s Year — July

This little vignette speaks to me of summer, sunshine and good times with friends and family. Can you see now why I gave in to temptation?

This is how far I’ve gotten:

Bertie's Year July initial prep
Thanks for the Wool Scraps, Quisters!

The background is flannel the color of espresso and the appliqué pieces are wool scraps courtesy of my Quisters. Bertie is looking a little bare at the moment but that’s only temporary.

Of course I had to get a bundle of fat quarters in the Woolies flannels:

Bertie's Year July red flannels
Fabulous Flannel Fat Quarters


Bertie is coming along with me on an upcoming trip so I hope to have something to show you in the next few weeks. I am eager to get started!

Tell me, have you been bewitched by Bertie, too?




Posted in Quisters (Quilt Sisters), update, wool applique | 7 Comments