S-l-o-w Progress on the WIPs

I am slowly getting the binding tacked down on my cheddar and indigo quilt. It’s a process I enjoy but between my household duties, helping the Dear Husband in the garden, and dealing with other obligations, finding time to sit down for even a few minutes at a time to sew has been challenging. I haven’t even gotten around to piecing a backing yet for the Picnic Quilt (the second of my current Works-in-Progress).

On a positive note, I’ve come up with a name for my cheddar and indigo quilt:

What do you think?

I’d been casting around for a name that included both cheddar and indigo. If the name also referenced the quilt design, that would be even better. The free pattern Floating Squares is based on the traditional square-in-a-square block, which creates both squares and diamonds, and I added cornerstones between the blocks. Every block contains 90 degree angles. That’s a lot of corners.

At the same time I was musing on corners, I was reviewing my stash of cheddar fabrics, deciding which one to use for the label. I chose the one by Zen Chic featuring a street map of Barcelona. That’s when the name At the Corner of Cheddar and Indigo popped into my head. I ran the name by my twin Diane who immediately gave it her seal of approval. (Thanks, Nubs!) That prompted me to steal some time to whip up a label. Sewing the label on is always the last step for me in making a quilt; now I have some extra incentive to get the rest of the binding tacked down.




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Update on the Picnic Quilt

The top I made using the free pattern Ribbon Box from Cloud 9 Fabrics is finished!  Before I show it to you, take a look at the top before I corrected a mistake:

(Pay no attention to the feline photobomber in the lower right corner.)

What’s the mistake, you ask? This: I sewed one of the pieces upside down. Compare the two versions and see if you can spot my booboo:

(Hint: look in the lower left section.)

It may not be obvious at first glance but I saw it immediately after taking the top photo. The mistake occurs at the bottom of the first vertical ribbon, the black print with all of the fruits on it. If you look at the watermelon wedges, which to me are the ones that immediately draw the eye, you’ll see that the wedge in the bottom section is upside down compared to the wedges in the rest of the ribbon. It’s a directional print so it’s important that the print be oriented the same way so the ribbon appears to be woven from a single piece. (In the fourth vertical ribbon featuring the same print on an aqua background, I deliberately oriented the print in the opposite way; you can tell by looking at those watermelon wedges.)

It was a simple matter to unsew four seams in order to turn the rectangle of fabric around and resew the seams. It’s possible very few people would have noticed it but it would have driven me crazy if I hadn’t fixed it.

Another thing I did (which almost did drive me crazy) was match the seams in a couple of sections of ribbon so as not to interrupt the design. Here’s the fourth vertical ribbon with one matched seam . . .

. . . and the first vertical seam with two matched seams:

Can you spot the seams? They should be almost invisible.

In my previous post I mentioned making changes to the way the quilt is constructed. It has to do with sewing the quilt together in sections rather than in strictly horizontal rows. It enabled me to eliminate 17 seams! I’ll tell you all about it in my next post along with some important considerations regarding fabric choices, cutting instructions, and arranging the ribbons. If I ever make the pattern again — and I just might! — I will surely be keeping these considerations in mind.




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Taking the Plunge

Remember those “picnic quilt” fabrics I showed you a couple of weeks ago? Here’s a reminder:

You can read the post about my fabric selections here if you wish to revisit it.

My plan was to make a test block of the pattern I had in mind. I usually do this to confirm that my vision for a quilt is sound and that the fabrics work well with the pattern design. Turns out making a test block was impossible — because the quilt design is not made of blocks.

I’ll show you what I mean. This was the pattern that inspired my purchase of fabrics:

It’s a free pattern from Cloud 9 Fabrics called Ribbon Box. I saw it recently on a website advertising a new line of fabric for Cloud 9 called “Hidden Thicket” by Leah Duncan. Eight prints from the line were showcased in the design featuring four vertical and four horizontal “ribbons” weaving in and out. It’s on the small side for a lap quilt or throw, finishing at 45″ x 59″.

Over the last few years I’ve seen several quilt patterns with interweaving ribbons but none of them grabbed me like this one did. A bit more research revealed an earlier version, also a free pattern from Cloud 9 Fabrics, dating to 2014 and a subsequent version dating to 2017. Designed by Michelle Engel Bencsko, the first quilt featured 12 different prints — six vertical and six horizontal ribbons — and the second one featured six prints used twice, both quilts finishing at 55″ x 63″. This is the 2017 version:

I much prefer the most recent version and decided to make it — with one significant change. I’m making my quilt larger by adding 3″ to every side of the quilt. My version will finish at 51″ x 65″ — still a bit small on the throw/lap quilt side but it will certainly suffice.

Since making a test block was not doable, I had to commit to forging ahead with the entire quilt. Friends, I took the plunge. Here’s a little over half of it:

That black floral  fabric at the bottom of the picture (the third horizontal ribbon) was an afterthought. I played around with the eight fabrics you saw in the first photo and determined that I needed another dark print to achieve the balance I was seeking in value and scale. This one is a companion print from the “Fruit Loop” line by BasicGrey for Moda. I found all of these fabrics at Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego OR, where I teach.

I can’t wait to show you the rest of the quilt. I’m almost done with it but garden duty is pulling me away. When I return with the finished quilt top, I’ll tell you about a major change I made in the way the quilt is constructed. I think you’ll be interested in the whys and wherefores!




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Cheddar and Indigo Quilt: Quilted, Trimmed, and Ready to Bind

It’s always a happy day when I get to pick up a quilt from my longarm quilter. Karlee of SewInspired2Day does such nice work. Because this quilt features a very traditional block (known as Economy and Square-in-a-Square), I chose a very traditional quilt motif: Baptist Fan. I love the look of the curved quilting lines on the straight edges of the diamonds and squares.

Here’s a look at the entire quilt after trimming:

The trimmed quilt measures 62½” x 71½”. I cut the border strips extra wide (6½”), giving me the option of trimming them after quilting if I wanted them narrower but I find I like them just the way they are.

Although the prints from the “Cheddar and Indigo” line by Penny Rose Studio for Riley Blake Designs are traditional, I did sneak in a couple of modern prints, most notably the cheddar in this block:

It’s called Barcelona City Map from the “Barcelona” line by Zen Chic by Moda. I used some of it in 2020 while making Scattered Stars, my first indigo and cheddar quilt, and liked it so much I replaced it in my stash — and bought the same print in three other colors!

The indigo print in this block was a vintage find, produced back in the day when selvages carried little or no information at all about the fabric designer or manufacturer:

The selvage on this fabric reads “© Springs Ind., Inc.” Out of curiosity, I googled that just now and much to my surprise a website popped up with a brief but fascinating history of Springs Industries, a cotton textile company founded in 1887 by Samuel Elliott White of Fort Mill, South Carolina. You can read about it here. The website is run by the Institute for Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina.

Here’s a look at the back of the quilt . . .

. . . and a detail shot:

I’m going to bind my quilt in an indigo blender by Maywood that reads as a solid. It’s a fabric I use so often I buy it by the bolt.

The only decision remaining is what to name this quilt. The quilt is based on the free pattern Floating Squares by Carried Away Quilting. The only thing I have come up with so far is “Diamonds and Squares Afloat” which is descriptive but not very clever. If any of you have suggestions, I’m all ears.




Posted in cheddar and indigo, economy block, floating squares, square-in-a-square, update | 3 Comments

Here Comes Summer!

My recently completed quilt was all about Celebrating Spring; in fact, that’s the name I gave it. My new project, as it happens, is all about celebrating summer. Just look at these lovely prints:

Do they shout “Here comes summer!” to you, too? I’m already thinking about this as “the picnic quilt.”

Two lines are represented in this grouping:

The five prints on the left are from the “Fruit Loop” line by BasicGrey for Moda. The three on the right are from the “Strawberry Lemonade” line by Sherri and Chelsi, also for Moda. They sure play nicely together!

All of the prints are sitting on my background fabric, a subtle aqua-on-white swirly design. You can’t really see the design in the first photo so here’s a close-up of it paired with my favorite print from the line:

The background fabric is also from the “Fruit Loop” line. The selvages on the Fruit Loop fabrics carry a rather odd message:

By the way, I bought that fruit slice print in three colorways, shown here . . .

. . . but didn’t include the top one in my final fabric pull because it felt overpowering. I do love seeing them together, though. Isn’t it interesting how the same design can indicate different things solely on the basis of color? Here we have watermelon slices, lemon slices, and apple slices. If I wind up not using the watermelon slices on the front of my quilt, they will most likely put in an appearance on the quilt back.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I have to make the top first. The fabrics have all been washed, ironed, and folded — and I can’t wait to start cutting into them! I do have a pattern in mind but I’m not going to tip my hand until I’ve made a test block to confirm my choice.




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Cheddar and Indigo and . . . Calico?

There you have it: 42 cornerstones attached to my Floating Squares quilt top:

I’m loving the look but what a pain it was getting those seams lined up. I daresay it will be a while before I opt for 1″ square cornerstones again.

One more thing to do: add borders! Here is my finished quilt top:

Right now the top measures 63½” x 73½” — a good size for a lap quilt. I can envision napping under it. Coco is apparently ready to nap on top of it:




Posted in cats, cheddar and indigo, economy block, floating squares, square-in-a-square, update | 7 Comments

It’s a Wrap: Celebrating Spring

Finally — a quilt finish! May I present Celebrating Spring, a tribute to my favorite season of the year:

I started this project in early March, anticipating that my enjoyment of working with two lovely cherry blossom prints would be enhanced when the real things burst into bloom in Portland later in the month. Friends, I was not disappointed.

Weeks after the real cherry blossoms had faded, I finished the piecing and sent the quilt top off to a talented longarm quilter:

I made a bias striped binding to frame the quilt. . .

. . .and added my signature round label:

Here’s a look at the back, which features two leftover blocks set on point:

It’s been a challenge photographing this quilt because the colors look so different depending on the light and time of today. This afternoon I took this picture after Celebrating Spring had made its way through the washer and dryer:

To sum up:

Celebrating Spring is based on the pattern Town Square by Fabric Café. I made the quilt larger and downsized the block from 15″ to 12″

• The two cherry blossom fabrics and the striped binding are from the “Orchard” line by Jill Finley of Jillily Studio for Riley Blake Designs

• The two green fabrics were pulled from my stash

•Karlee Sandell of SewInspired2Day quilted Celebrating Spring with an edge-to-edge motif called “Embellish” by Quilts Complete

•The quilt finishes (after laundering) at 60″ x 71″

Happy Spring!




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Floating Squares, Floating Cornerstones

The weather in Portland has been so lovely the last week that I’ve spent very little time in my sewing room. Instead I’ve been outdoors helping the Dear Husband in the garden. We’re still clearing weeds but the good news is we’re gaining ground. And the vegetables, flowers, and shrubs planted so far are all doing nicely.

All I have to show you for my sewing time over the last few days are the sashing strips and cornerstones sewn to three of the six rows in my current project based on the free pattern Floating Squares by Taunja of Carried Away Quilting:

I had forgotten just how fiddly cornerstones can be! Sashing strips without cornerstones would’ve been a breeze — no seams to match between each block. These cornerstones finish at 1″ and that means there’s no room for error in attaching them. If you’re off by even a couple of threads, the seams won’t line up properly — and it will be very obvious.

After attaching the first sashing strip, I had to take part of the stitching out, make my cornerstones just a wee bit smaller, and resew the seam:

With subsequent sashing strips, I made the adjustments before sewing the strip on. There were at least a couple of cornerstones on each row that had to be tweaked like this.

Think about the math. There are four cornerstones in each row. Each sashing strip goes between two rows of blocks (except the top and bottom ones) so that means there are 16 seams to match per row. Each intersection has to be pinned very carefully to make sure the seams nest properly. When I’m done with the horizontal strips, I’ll have two more to add to the sides.

The beauty of Taunja’s Floating Squares pattern is that the points in each block float inside the block rather than go all the way to the seamline so matching the points where the blocks and rows are sewn together is not needed. By deciding to add cornerstones to my sashing, I’m adding many hours of additional work. The irony is not lost on me. But I’m not sorry I made this choice because I think my finished quilt will be the better for it.




Posted in cheddar and indigo, economy block, family, square-in-a-square, update | 4 Comments

Floating Squares Update

The final 10 Floating Squares blocks have been made and added to the previous 20 to complete my 5 x 6 layout. It took several days of wandering in and out of the Annex (the room across the hall from my sewing room) and rearranging squares on my design wall to get to this point:

While I’m very happy with the balance of blocks in terms of color and scale, the feeling remains that the blocks need to be separated to tone down the cheddar factor.

If you’ve been following my progress on this from the beginning, you’ll recall that my options to achieve this were to 1) turn the blocks on point and alternate with plain cream blocks, 2) separate the blocks with sashing strips, or 3) add another round of triangles to each block using indigo or cream fabrics but not the cheddar.

I was predisposed to setting the blocks on point and alternating them with plain blocks but surprised myself by deciding on a simple 1″ lattice between blocks and rows. To test it before cutting and sewing strips I separated the blocks on my design wall:

This is so much more pleasing to my eye!

Here are the first three rows with sashing strips added between the blocks:

Totally on the right track. But it turns out I wasn’t quite finished tinkering with the design. What would it look like, I wondered, if I added cornerstones between the blocks? And what if they were cheddar? They would be tiny — only 1″ finished — so it might work.

I cut some 1″ test squares out of scraps and stuck them up on the design wall:

Oh my! I love this look. Isn’t it funny? I changed the layout of the quilt to soften the effect of the strong cheddar and then turned right around and added cheddar back into the mix.




Posted in cheddar and indigo, economy block, floating squares, square-in-a-square, update | 6 Comments

Binding Has Commenced!

I love reaching this stage in quiltmaking. My cherry blossom quilt has been pieced, quilted, and trimmed. Now it’s time for the binding. For this quilt my bias binding strips were cut 2½” wide and I’m sewing the binding on with a ⅜” seam. I usually favor a quarter-inch binding but I wanted this lovely green stripe to stand out a bit more. The stripes remind me of blades of grass — yet another reminder of spring and very fitting for the name I have given this quilt, Celebrating Spring.

When it came time to join the ends of the binding, I figured it would be possible to match the stripes with careful cutting and stitching, especially because the stripes are very narrow. Notice where I made bias cuts in the left and right hand tails of the binding:

By playing around with binding scraps beforehand, I determined that the tails, when cut this way, would produce an almost invisible seam without interrupting the design. See what you think:

The seamline should be subtle but obvious. If you don’t see it right away, look at the left “dog ear” — that triangle sticking up along the raw edge.

After stitching the rest of the binding to the quilt and then turning the binding away from the quilt, the seamline is even harder to see:

Just in case you don’t see it, look at the very tip of the bamboo stiletto:

Now I can sit back and enjoy the slow process of tacking the binding by hand to the back of the quilt:




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