Yesterday I finished piecing Dragonfly Kisses, based on the pattern Chic Diamonds by Sew Kind of Wonderful:
I originally thought about using white or pale blue for the background but am so glad I went with the pale mint instead. It’s so refreshing, don’t you think?
Chic Diamonds was designed as a jelly-roll friendly pattern, since the pointed pieces (I call them blades) are made from 2½” strips that are sewn in pairs and then trimmed using the Quick Curve Ruler. Triangles cut from the strip pairs are saved and used in each block. Six blocks in the design are intentionally left blank as a design element, perhaps to give the eye a place to rest.
I decided early on not to use all the triangles, wanting to make my quilt less busy so a viewer’s eyes would be drawn to the X blocks (the kisses). I used only 20 triangles rather than the 240 called for in the pattern. And I put my triangles in the middle of the blank blocks rather than in the blocks with the blades. (Thanks to my friend Deborah for giving me that idea.) I like to think those triangles form the “chic diamonds” in my quilt.
The original design uses a 6 x 6 setting, finishing 54″ square. I went with a 5 x 6 setting using five blank blocks instead of six. I like the asymmetry of the look. And I added a narrow border of background fabric to float the outer blocks a bit, giving a bit more airiness to the design and making the top slightly bigger. It now measures 51″ x 60″ — a nice size for a throw or lap quilt.
Now to piece the backing. The dragonflies that gave my quilt its name are hard to spot among the narrow pieced blades so I’ll use my remaining strips of that fabric line (Dance of the Dragonfly by Kanvas Studio and Benartex) on the back.
I’m excited to report that I’ll be teaching Chic Diamonds (both the original design and my variation) at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop this fall. And rumor has it the Pine Needle is going to have kits available of Dragonfly Kisses!
While I ponder how to move forward on my Chipmunk Love quilt, based on the “Star-Crossed Lovers” class with Colleen Blackwood that I took last week in Sisters, Oregon, sewing continues on two other WIPs (works in progress).
I’ve made a few more wonky Greek key blocks using the pattern from the other class I took in Sisters last week, Karla Alexander’s “Rewind” using her new pattern of the same name. Here are the blocks I made before we came home . . .
. . . and the ones I have made since then:
These last blocks along with two from the first group were made by cutting the strips free-form rather than following Karla’s template.
Despite the wonkiness, all of the blocks look a little like the @ sign on a keyboard. Because of that I’ve decided to name my quilt Where It’s @.
I’m also working on a quilt based on Chic Diamonds, a new pattern from those talented sisters at Sew Kind of Wonderful. This design calls for the original Quick Curve Ruler, and it’s been enjoyable working with these easy no-pin curves. Here’s one of my blocks:
Aren’t those fabrics gorgeous? The prints on the dark side of each blade are from a brand new line of fabric called Dance of the Dragonfly. Designed by Maria Kalinowski for Kanvas Studio in association with Benartex, the fabrics are due in stores next month. The Pine Needle, where I teach, will be carrying several fabrics from the line. I paired the prints with batiks for my blocks.
I’m doing something a little different with the Chic Diamonds design. Here’s a hint: I’m naming my quilt Dragonfly Kisses. I’ll post a photo when I have the top together, which should be very soon.
Do you ever have a vision for a quilt project that doesn’t quite pan out? That’s what happened last Thursday, when I took a class called “Star-Crossed Lovers” in Sisters, Oregon. I love teacher Colleen Blackwood’s design, pictured here:
The quilt you see above is hanging in a quilt shop in Washington State so my classmates and I didn’t get to see it in person but Colleen had another version on hand:
(Both quilts were expertly quilted by Colleen on her domestic sewing machine.)
Note that each heart-within-a-heart contains a block that finishes at 12″ square. The background fabric for the inner heart is the same as the block background, so the block floats in the inner heart.
We students had the option to make our blocks in advance. I created two kaleidoscope blocks using Tula Pink’s Chipper fabric, making Chipper (the chipmunk) the focal point in both of them. I converted the octagonal kaleido blocks into circles, centering them in the 12″ square blocks. Here is the first block . . .
. . . and the second one:
My plan is to have one heart go from pink to orange and the other from orange to pink. Starting with the pink block, I chose several orange fabrics for a scrappy outer heart. In class I labored away cutting my fabrics — inner heart, outer heart, and background — and sewing the first large heart-within-a-heart block.
Later that evening, as I was sewing the last of the orange segments to the inner heart, I realized I had a problem. Two of them, in fact.
The first problem: there’s not enough contrast between the pink and orange fabrics; they are too similar in value. The orange polka dot fabric, which I initially thought might be too dark, seems just right to me now. I’m planning to remake the outer heart using just that fabric.
The second problem: my Chipper circle looks a little too small. It measures 9″ in diameter, not filling the 12″ squares as Colleen’s blocks do. So now I am thinking about reducing the scale of the hearts. Except for the center block, the entire quilt is constructed of squares that finish at 4″. If I reduce those squares to 3½”, the Chipper circles will appear larger in the inner hearts. But reducing the squares to 3½” means all of those sawtooth stars (43 of them) would have to finish at 3½” too. Do I really want to deal with that?
Another thought is to keep the center blocks the same size (12″) but add a second ring of color around the kaleidoscope blocks by inserting another circle. If I do that, it will preserve the original scale of Colleen’s design.
I put a lot of thought and effort into making my two chipmunk blocks and even have a quilt name picked out: Chipmunk Love. As much as I would like to continue working on this quilt, I’m reluctant to proceed until my path is clear. Now that I’m back at home, I’ll put the blocks up on my design wall and make sure I take a look at them a few times a day.
What a dilemma! Do you have any suggestions for me?
In my last post I showed you the cover of Karla’s pattern:
I spent yesterday within 10 feet of the original quilt and plum forgot to take any photos of it. I expect it will be on display this Saturday, July 9, at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, and I promise to take pictures of the real thing.
My friend Deborah and I took Karla’s class together, and we enjoyed every minute of it. Karla showed us how to make the Rewind block using the paper template and sewing guides included in the pattern.
Here is my first block . . .
. . . along with the second block, the reverse of the first:
These two blocks have been trimmed to 8½” square.
Do you see how the block looks like a wonky Greek key? Someone in class described the block as a cross between a Snail’s Trail block and a Log Cabin block, also an apt description.
Here are my third and fourth blocks:
Yes, the fourth block isn’t done. I should have finished it in class but I sewed a strip on the wrong side and trimmed it before realizing my mistake. After unsewing the strip, I discovered it was too short to use in its proper spot. Now I have to wait till I get home to cut a new strip and finish the block.
Deborah was speedy! She completed six blocks in class:
Isn’t it fun to see the same design using completely different fabrics? Deborah’s palette is a controlled red-blue-tan-white in light to medium/dark values.
For my quilt I chose a colorful mix of batiks:
After we got the hang of using her template, Karla showed us how to cut our blocks free-form, i.e. without a template but with a ruler to get straight lines. Here I have two of my “darks” with the cutting lines marked in white:
I would love to work on this all week but tomorrow brings another day . . . and another class: “Star-Crossed Lovers” taught by Colleen Blackwood. I hope you will check back to see what it looks like.
On Sunday I’m heading over to Central Oregon with my quilt group, the Quisters, for a week of sewing, including taking classes at Quilter’s Affair.
Do you know about Quilter’s Affair? It’s the week of classes put on by the Stitchin’ Post quilt shop in Sisters, Oregon, leading up to the biggest outdoor quilt show in the world. The show is always held on the second Saturday in July; this year it falls on July 9.
For Quilter’s Affair, the Stitchin’ Post brings in teachers from the U.S. and abroad to join a group of talented local and regional experts. I’m taking a class taught by fellow Oregonian Karla Alexander of Saginaw Quilts. I’ve met Karla, heard her lecture, and admired her designs, so it’s high time I took a class from her.
She’s teaching five classes at Quilter’s Affair. I’m taking the one based on her pattern Rewind:
Many of Karla’s designs are made by cleverly stacking, cutting, and sewing fabrics. Rewind is no exception. I was attracted to this pattern because of its resemblance to the classic Greek key design. Whereas the traditional Greek key is dignified, with straight lines and symmetry, Karla’s key (if I can call it that) is quirky and lighthearted, thanks to free form cutting, a freewheeling color palette, and funky fabrics.
I decided to raid my batik stash for this quilt. Instructions were to start with a family of colors and pick an equal number of lights and darks. I started with green — no surprise there — and randomly pulled other colors that go well with it. After cutting my 12″ squares, I layered them so that each fabric looks good with its neighbor on either side.
Here is my fabric pull:
Most of these squares are doubles, with a few singletons. For the class project 48 squares are needed. I wound up with 60, which gives me some leeway. In some cases a fabric works as a light with one neighbor but as a dark with the other. It will be interesting to see if this affects the construction process.
Taking this class will be extra fun because my fellow Quister Deborah is taking it, too. I wonder what fabrics she chose. Quilter’s Affair, here we come!
Reach for the Stars, the spectacular sampler quilt designed and made in 2012 by Terri Krysan of Lakeville, Minnesota, continues to enchant quilters all over the world. Terri’s quilt was pictured on the cover of the Oct./Nov. 2013 issue of Quilter’s Newsletter. My guess is that hundreds, if not thousands, of versions have been made — or at least started — since then.
Directions for the quilt were presented in a series beginning with that issue of Quilter’s Newsletter and ending with the Oct./Nov. 2014 issue. My version, named Catch a Falling Star, was completed early in 2015. During the year I spent making my quilt, I became part of an on-line community of Reach for the Stars makers that continues to this day.
About a year ago I heard from Annette Holder in Jonesboro, Tennessee, who was just starting her RFTS quilt and had a construction question. A couple of weeks later, Annette sent this picture of her center medallion and first five blocks:
In addition to the center medallion, Reach for the Stars contains 14 pieced blocks. Annette replaced some of the blocks in Terri’s original quilt with some more to her liking. (I did the same.)
Just a few days ago Annette sent me photos of her completed quilt top. It is gorgeous! See for yourself:
Here’s a view from a different angle:
Beautiful, Annette! I can’t wait to see it quilted.
Earlier this year I had the pleasure of meeting Judi Schwenk, a quilter from Vancouver, Washington — just across the bridge from my home in Portland, Oregon. Judi’s version of RFTS is called Shadows in the Fog:
Perfectly named, considering the misty blues and muted lavenders and greys in the quilt. Here’s a close-up of the center medallion, which also gives you a glimpse of the lovely swirly quilting motif:
This is a stunning achievement, given that Judi is a relatively new quiltmaker.
Chris Tabuteau of Melbourne, Australia is also a beginning quilter. She, too, created a fabulous version of Reach for the Stars. Chris bought a set of 40 Barbara Brackman Richmond Reds fabrics “on a bit of whim,” as she recalls. She thought a sampler quilt would allow her to use most of the fabrics and develop some sewing skills.
An avid gardener, Chris replaced some of the star blocks with her own very stylized adaptations of flower blocks. The result is Cottage Garden:
Can you believe this is Chris’s third quilt? This close-up shows her accurate piecing as well as the fine work of her longarm quilter:
Chris also pieced a lovely back, a finished quilt in itself . . .
. . . and made a set of pillowcases from the very last of the scraps:
Thank you, Annette, Judi, and Chris, for sharing your beautiful creations!
One of my friends wondered why I chose green for the binding over black. Black would have provided a strong dramatic frame for the quilt, it’s true. So why green?
First, I wanted to draw attention to the playful nature of the focus fabric used in the rings. That fabric (from the Doodle line by Alice Kennedy for Timeless Treasures) is mostly black and white with touches of lime green and light blue. The overlapping circles in the fabric remind me of ferris wheels and fireworks. A bright color seemed more appropriate than black for the happy mood I wanted to emphasize.
Second, instead of piecing a backing for the quilt with different fabrics, as I usually do, I used one piece, the same print used on the front. From a distance, the fabric reads primarily as black and white. If I had pieced the back I would have added quite a bit of lime green to liven it up. Since I wanted the quilt to be bright and cheerful from both sides, green binding was the obvious choice.
Oh, and then there is that third reason, which I think I’ve mentioned a few times before: green is my favorite color.
In keeping with the block design, fabric design, and quilt name, the label features — what else? — a double ring:
Ring Toss, my little quilt made from Sew Kind of Wonderful’sMini Rings pattern, is back from the quilter already. Take a look:
I asked Karlee Sandell of SewInspired2Day.com to quilt this for me, and I couldn’t be more pleased. I had been thinking of Karlee as an up-and-coming longarm quilter because she is quite new to the field, but it’s quite clear she has already arrived.
Here are some close-ups of her lovely quilting, first on an X block . . .
. . . and then on an O block:
The acanthus motif fills the center of the O block beautifully. And don’t you love the quilted “pearls” in the elongated oval between the rings?
For the green and black triangles that form an on-point square where the rings meet, Karlee designed her own quilting motif, intertwining rings that reinforce the theme of the quilt:
I have been trying all morning to photograph this quilt. Every time I place the quilt on a flat surface, my new cat Coco photobombs it:
Doesn’t she look innocent?
Ring Toss measures 33¼” square after quilting. Now it’s on to the binding and the label. I’m going to use the same lime green fabric for the binding that’s in the quilt; I think it will frame it nicely.
The Mini Rings quilt top I started last month is done and — as of today — off to be quilted. The top, measuring 34″ square, was made with a focus fabric from a Timeless Treasures line called Doodle, designed by Alice Kennedy.
The quilt is small enough that I could have quilted it myself on my domestic machine but I chose not to do that. You probably know that quilting is my least favorite part of the quiltmaking process. I decided I wanted the quilt to reflect the deft touch of a talented free motion longarm quilter. We seem to have a growing number of them in the Portland area.
I used a single piece of the focus fabric on the back, a portion of which is shown here:
Primarily black and white with touches of lime green and cool blue, the print features overlapping circles ranging from 1¼” to 2¾” in diameter. What do you see when you look at them? I see fireworks and ferris wheels, which makes me think of carnivals.
And that led me to the name for my quilt: Ring Toss. Isn’t that perfect? Or should I call it Mini Ring Toss?
This photo of Hood Canal in Washington State — those are the Olympic Mountains in the background — was taken from the deck of the house I stayed in last week. I was in Union, Washington to teach at a four-day quilt retreat organized by the Pine Needle. The deck of the house I shared with Geri, the owner of the Pine Needle, was built right over the water. I fell asleep to and woke to the sound of water gently lapping at the rocks on the shore.
The retreat itself was held at St Andrews House, a retreat and conference center run by the Episcopal Church of Western Washington:
Isn’t that a serene setting for a retreat? Here are a couple of closer views of the building:
A covered deck runs the entire length of the house on the water side, affording spectacular views of Hood Canal (technically a glacial fjord) and the Olympics.
One of the things I love about teaching is seeing what fabric combinations students bring to the sewing table. Here are the first few blocks:
On our last morning, we had an impromptu show and tell of our projects. Unfortunately, our California girls (Candyce, Jan, and Janice) had to leave very early to catch a flight home, and a couple of other participants had already packed their projects away, so I don’t have photos of those. Still, we have plenty of examples to show you.
Diana came to the retreat planning to make one test block. She liked her first block so well she decided to make an entire quilt! Here are her first six blocks:
Linda completed her quilt top! She fussy cut the center hexagons. The narrow containment border and wider floral border set off her blocks beautifully:
Sophia was very productive! Not only did she complete a Spinners top . . .
. . . she also made another block from Heather’s book, the block called Happy Dance . . .
. . . and this one called Chatter Box:
Donna made a set of placemats using the table topper design from the book — and had enough fabric leftover to make a table runner:
Those placemats will add a lively jolt of color to Donna’s table.
Carol S. also chose the table topper design, using a delightful holiday fabric featuring poinsettias and holly:
She made several, to be given as gifts. Lucky recipients!
Carol D. made kaleido-spinner blocks (my name for the Spinners block made with identically-cut triangles that surround the center hexagon) using a lovely stylized floral fabric:
Did you notice Carol’s Spinners blocks are on point? She is making a runner for a narrow table; her runner will be 13½” wide. If she had turned her blocks horizontally, the runner would measure 15½” wide.
Pam S.’s runner features playful prints spinning around solid gold:
I can’t help it; those fabrics make me smile.
Evelyn also made kaleido-spinner blocks. She’s making a quilt and is showing us the fabric she chose for the border. It’s going to look terrific next to the subtly textured aqua batik that surrounds the spinning triangles:
I can think of only one word to describe Tamara’s Spinners runner: elegant. Take a look:
The touches of metallic in the triangles and light background fabric, contrasting with that rich burgundy, contribute to the rich effect. Tamara fussy cut her triangles from a fabric I wouldn’t have thought of for a kaleido-spinner quilt:
Tamara will incorporate that fabric on the back of her runner.
Sharon fussy cut flowers for the center of her blocks from a beautiful fabric that looks like a watercolor painting. Here’s one of those blocks . . .
. . . and another:
She’s using a different colored batik in each of the triangles.
Debbie H. chose fabrics for her runner that match the décor of her dining room:
That creamy jacquard background fabric sets off her Spinners blocks so well. And her Y-seams are perfect!
Debbie S. pieced a king-size bed runner using lively tropical fabrics. She also made kaleido-spinner blocks:
Debbie put her own spin on the design by incorporating two fabrics in the top and bottom blocks (that stripe!), omitting the sashing strips, and adding an accent strip around the blocks. Debbie is a professional longarm quilter (AllQuilted LLC). I will be very interested to see how she quilts this vibrant runner.
While the retreat featured the Spinners pattern, the participants were free to work on whatever they wanted. Helen was finishing the binding on two spectacular small projects . . .
. . . and she was also working on her version of Shadowbox (pattern by Mountainpeek Creations):
That block on the far right has over 50 pieces in it. I can only imagine how many pieces the finished quilt will contain.
Thank you, Geri, for organizing a fabulous retreat filled with laughter, games, good food, and some very productive and creative sewing. Thank you, participants; you made teaching a pleasure. I hope to see you all again when we convene at the Pine Needle in October to show off our finished creations.