Author Archives: Dawn

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 | 6 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!

 

 

 

Posted in cherry blossom quilt, update | 4 Comments

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:

 

 

 

Posted in cherry blossom quilt, update | 8 Comments

No Contest

My cherry blossom quilt is back from the longarm quilter and the quilting on it is oh so pretty! My thanks to Karlee of SewInspired2Day for another lovely job.

As soon as the quilt was trimmed, I spread it out to take some photos. Look who came along at just that very moment:

She was under the quilt just before this was taken:

How about a  close-up? No, not of Coco! Look at the loops and swirls dancing across the surface of the quilt. Doesn’t it make you think of cherry blossoms caught in a breeze? The very essence of spring, right?

The quilt design is called “Embellish” by Quilts Complete. Notice how it echoes the swirls in two of the four fabrics: the green tone-on-tone paisley and the bright pink fabric used in the first border:

I asked Karlee to quilt this with a very pale grey thread. My reasoning? White thread would show up too much on the green fabrics. I always want the quilting to provide subtle texture so I tend to choose thread colors that blend rather than stand out. For me the fabric is always the star.

Here’s a look at the back of the quilt, featuring two leftover blocks on point and one complacent cat:

What about the binding? I auditioned these three fabrics:

The top two are already in the quilt. The third is a stripe from the same line as the cherry blossom focus fabrics, namely “Orchard” by Jill Finley of Jillily Studio. She designs for Riley Blake Designs. Now I happen to like a striped binding. In fact, the only thing I like better than a striped binding is a bias striped binding. So I cut a bias strip and placed it along one edge to get a better sense of how it would look:

The verdict? No contest!

 

 

 

Posted in cats, cherry blossom quilt, update | 6 Comments

Next Batch of Blocks

I’m popping in to show you blocks 15-20 in my current WIP (Work-in-Progress) based on the pattern Floating Squares and my stash of cheddar and indigo fabrics:

Here are all 20 blocks, arranged to spread the cheddar, indigo, and cream fabrics more or less evenly across the surface of the quilt:

I’ve decided to make 10 more blocks for a 5 x 6 layout. I’ll have to be very careful in selecting the remaining fabric combos. Four blocks will have cheddar in the outer triangles and the remaining six blocks will be divided between indigo and cream outer triangles. My goal is to get a mix of prints in such a way that neighboring blocks will not share fabrics. My problem is that I have a plethora of cheddar prints and several indigos but only two cream prints remaining from the 2015 “Cheddar and Indigo” line by Penny Rose Studio for  Riley Blake Designs.

While I haven’t decided on a final layout yet — blocks as laid out in the pattern? blocks on point? blocks separated with lattice? — I’m definitely leaning in one direction. Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind when I have 10 more blocks.

Block production has slowed as the weather has improved. The Dear Husband and I are in full weeding/planting mode at the moment. Is it okay to hope for rain?

 

 

 

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

A Value-able Lesson

Here are my two latest Floating Squares blocks:

Aren’t they pretty? You’ll notice the one on the right has a fussycut center from the same print as an earlier block but in a different colorway. I wish I had more of the one dark and one light outer triangle fabric but I only had enough scraps to finish those two blocks.

When I first started making these Economy blocks using leftover indigo and cheddar fabrics from a previous quilt, I quickly realized that the cheddar fabrics were dominating the blocks. Remember my first six? Here they are again:

You’ll recall I thought of turning the blocks on point and alternating plain blocks of a creamy white background to lower the cheddar factor . . .

. . . but I wanted to make a few more blocks before coming to any firm conclusions about what direction to head.

Well, now there are 14 blocks:

Let me say first that I love these blocks individually. But collectively? They still feel a bit overpowering. And I’ve figured out why. Yes, the cheddar is dominant but there’s something else:  my palette of indigo, cheddar, and cream represents dark, medium, and light values. Nothing in between! No medium lights, no medium darks. There is nothing in the overall palette to soften the sharp contrast between dark, medium, and light.

Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing — but it is something I hadn’t considered when I chose the fabrics. If you take a look at the fabrics Taunya of Carried Away Quilting used on her pattern cover quilt . . .

. . . you’ll notice that the overall effect of the quilt is soft because of the variation of values used across the quilt. I see several medium lights and medium darks in addition to the usual dark, medium, and light values.

I will not be able to achieve that softness with my fabrics so I need to consider my options. I’ve already considered putting my blocks on point and alternating with plain blocks of creamy white. If you go back to the first photo, you’ll notice the block on the left includes a creamy tone-on-tone paisley print in the first set of triangles. I believe there’s enough of that fabric from my stash to make alternating blocks as well as setting triangles.

Another possibility is to separate the blocks with sashing strips of the same creamy white. Not a bad idea. Certainly worthy of consideration.

Yet a third is to add one more row of triangles to my floating squares, using indigo or cream where the cheddar triangles would normally go. That would relegate the cheddar to the center squares and first set of triangles. Also not a bad idea because it would tone down the cheddar factor considerably. But it would also create a larger block, one that finishes at around 13″ rather than 9″. Of course putting the 9″ squares on point would do the very same thing.

I’m going to make a few more blocks (because it’s so much fun!) and continue to ponder my options. Lest you think I’m disappointed at the possibility of changing course with the quilt design, let me assure you I am not. Even experienced quilters can be caught off guard. This has been a valuable lesson for me in considering fabric values — and sometimes these kinds of lessons result in quilts that surpass original expectations.

Regardless of the outcome, I am going to love this quilt.

 

 

 

Posted in cheddar and indigo, economy block, floating squares, square-in-a-square, update | 5 Comments

Jacks, Anyone?

Making their appearance are three more cheddar and indigo blocks made from the *free* Floating Squares pattern by CarriedAwayQuilting:

As I showed you in my last post, two sets of squares of three different fabrics yield six blocks, none of them the same. I only had enough of the light background fabric to make one set of squares so my yield is only three. No matter; I have plenty of other fabrics to keep me going.

The design in that light fabric reminds me so much of the game of jacks. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’re probably not a Baby Boomer like me (born between 1946 and 1964). The game of jacks was a favorite of mine as a kid; my twin Diane and I would play for hours.

As I was happily sewing these blocks today, I wondered if anyone born in subsequent generations would even knows about jacks. Out of curiosity, I googled “game of jacks” just now and — wonder of wonders — you can actually buy new sets. This is what jacks look like:

The object of the game is to bounce the ball and pick up a jack before the ball bounces again. I’m tempted to buy a set to have on hand when Diane comes to visit next.

But I digress. I have one more block to show you:

This one was made with a fussycut center. The blossoms are oriented so that they’ll still look good if I wind up putting the blocks on point:

I’m having so much fun playing with these cheddar and indigo fabrics! Several sets of squares have already been cut and are just waiting to be transformed into quilt blocks. Although Floating Squares is a simple pattern, there’s a bit of a challenge in finding just the right balance of small, medium, and large-scale prints in each block.

More anon!

 

 

 

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

Floating Squares

Earlier this month Taunja of CarriedAwayQuilting released a free pattern called Floating Squares:

As you can see, I downloaded it.

It’s a fresh and clever take on the traditional Economy block, also known as Square-in-a-Square. Each block is made up of a center square surrounded by triangles. By making the triangles that surround the center square a bit larger, the square “floats” in the block because its points don’t touch the next seam.

As Taunja notes in her pattern, this means you don’t have to match points when the squares are sewn together, and you also avoid the possibility of cutting off points. I don’t have a problem with either of those things because I pin and sew carefully. Still, I was drawn to the design because of its ease of construction and slightly airy look.

Her pattern calls for 21 fat quarters. I don’t have many fat quarters in my stash (because I seem incapable of buying pieces of fabric less than a yard in length). As I was pondering what fabrics I might use for some test blocks, my eye fell on one of my very favorite quilts, Scattered Stars, made in 2020 from a collection of fabrics from the “Cheddar and Indigo” line by Penny Rose Studio for Riley Blake Fabrics:

After finishing Scattered Stars, it was plain to see that there was enough fabric left over to make one or even two more quilts.

Although not fully committed to making another cheddar and indigo quilt, I decided to make a few blocks anyway. Three fat quarters yields six 9½” blocks. I started with these three fabrics . . .

. . . and here are the results:

Oh my! That’s a lot of cheddar. Too much cheddar?

Let’s see what putting them on point looks like:

Imagine that with a creamy white fabric in the alternating blocks. Oh yeah!

Before making any final decisions about settings, I’m going to make another set of six blocks using three different fabrics. The blocks go together easily, and Taunya’s pattern is beautifully written and illlustrated.

There is one change I will make in constructing the next six blocks, though. To maximize the use of fat quarters, Taunja’s instructions call for four triangles to be cut from one square, meaning twice on the diagonal. This results in the outer edges of each triangle being on the bias. (Because of this, I starched each block after the second round of triangles was added before squaring it up to 9½”.) Since I’m cutting my fabrics from yardage, I’ll use squares that have been cut only once on the diagonal, which will make the outer edges of each triangle on the straight of grain.

To see more photos of the beautiful quilt on Taunja’s pattern cover, read her blog post here. The post includes a link to download the free pattern.

 

Posted in cheddar and indigo, economy block, floating squares, square-in-a-square, update | 8 Comments