That’s what my twin sister Diane said when she saw a photo of the quilting on my latest quilt, September Song, newly back from the longarm quilter. See for yourself:
Here’s the funny thing: I picked the swirly motif — an edge-to-edge design called “Curlicue” by TK Quilting & Design II — for two reasons.
First, I almost always choose a quilting motif with curves when my quilt blocks have a lot of straight or diagonal lines. These leaves are made mostly of rectangles with foldover corners (also known as stitch-and-flip corners).
Second, I loved the way the quilting design mimicked the curves in one of the two main focus fabrics:
It never occurred to me that the quilt design would also evoke a “swirling fall breeze,” but Diane’s comment was spot on. I immediately thought of the times I have seen a single leaf caught in an updraft, causing it to spin slowly down to earth. Maybe that’s what designer Margot Languedoc of the Pattern Basket had in mind when she named her pattern Forest Floor.
I think the quilting design on September Song is absolutely perfect, don’t you? As usual, Karlee at SewInspired2Day did a lovely job quilting this for me.
I also appreciate how the quilting lines stand out in the small star in the center of each leaf block:
The back was pieced from leftovers of my two focus fabrics with a few other prints used on the front:
The plan was to try a new piecing technique for the backing using a length of fabric cut corner to corner on the bias but my quilt top was too large to make it work well. I’ll save that technique to explore on a smaller quilt.
September Song measures 53″ x 58″ after quilting and trimming. I’m going to bind it with one of the barn red prints I used on the front. Happily, I have just enough of the tone-on-tone print that has a swirly effect, carrying my “swirling fall breeze” theme to its ultimate conclusion.
Today is Worldwide Quilting Day and guess how I am celebrating? By buying fabric! I just ordered 11 prints from Katarina Roccella’s latest line of fabric, “Mindscape.” She designs for Art Gallery Fabrics, known for producing premium cottons with a soft and silky hand. Take a look at the full line of “Mindscape”:
Something about it just captivated me.
Truth be told, I’ve been trying to talk myself out of buying this fabric since I learned about it last month. Of course you know the reason: I already have enough fabric in my stash to last me three lifetimes. I certainly don’t need to acquire any more.
But every time Katarina posted about “Mindscape” on her Instagram page, I kept coming back to look. Without a pattern in mind, I wouldn’t know how much fabric to order so I just kept looking. Today I took the plunge because I didn’t want to decide down the road to order and then find out some of the fabrics were no longer available.
One of the aims of Worldwide Quilting Day is to encourage quilters to support their local quilt shops. I buy most of my fabric locally, not only to support the shops but also to be able to see the fabrics in person and touch them. The ones I ordered today are from Hawthorne Supply Company, a family-owned business in upstate New York. I guess you can say I’m supporting someone’s local quilt shop!
That’s the name I’ve given to my latest quilt (which is actually only a quilt top at the moment):
“September Song” is a ballad dating back to 1938 — well before my time! The music was written by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Maxwell Anderson. I was introduced to the song in 1965 as a teenager when I bought a Frank Sinatra album (which I still have) called “September of My Years.”
The song is about a man approaching the autumn of his years looking back on his younger self. The line from “September Song” that kept going through my head as I was making the blocks is this one: “When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame . . .” I hope the oranges and golds in the fabrics evoke that image.
The quilt is a bit of a departure for me. This is not a palette that ordinarly draws me in. And I am not one of those people whose favorite season is fall. In truth, autumn makes me feel wistful and a little melancholy. I really don’t like to see the trees lose all their leaves (although I do love the look of newly fallen leaves scattered on wet pavement).
These two prints from unrelated fabric lines provided my inspiration:
The pattern I used was the Pattern Basket’s Forest Floor, a rather contemporary interpretation of a traditional leaf block. I made my blocks a bit larger and used a 3 x 4 setting with 12 blocks rather than the 4 x 5 setting with 20 blocks the pattern calls for. My quilt top measures 53 ½” x 68 ½” — a nice sized throw.
Next up for me is a pieced backing using a new technique I just learned about from a fellow quilter. That should be fun, and maybe it will distract from the rain and snow my fair city has been bombarded with these last few weeks.
I admit I was skeptical. I wasn’t at all sure at the outset that I liked the combination of falling leaf blocks made from the two main focus fabrics I showed you in my last post. (I often have doubts at the beginning of a project that the fabrics and designs I have chosen will pan out as the project progresses. Does that ever happen to you?)
But it seems I was jumping the gun. After letting the blocks sit on my design wall for a few days, after considering the perceptive comments of my readers (almost all of whom really liked the fabrics together), after adding the sashing strips to the blocks up on the design wall, and after rearranging the blocks so that the leaves fell every which way, I realized I really liked the result!
Other considerations came into play. I started out with two patterns by different quilt designers employing essentially the same leaf design. As a reminder, here they are:
On the left is Maple Stars, a traditional design by Kim Diehl as seen in her new book, Simple Double-Dipped Quilts. On the right is the Pattern Basket’s stand alone pattern, Forest Floor. I was leaning toward a variation of Kim Diehl’s design in which four blocks are arranged with the stems pointing toward the center joined by a smaller Sawtooth Star block. The variation was used in her design for a bed runner.
But as my blocks stayed up on my design wall, I came to realize that the more contemporary version seen in Forest Floor, in which the leaf blocks are scattered on a plain background, was better suited to my fabric choices. When I realized I didn’t have enough of that buttery yellow background fabric to make both versions, the die, as they say, was cast.
Once I get the border strips added, my quilt top will measure approximately 53″ x 68″ — a good size for a lap robe or throw. What’s more, I already have a quilt motif and a name for this quilt in mind. After all of that initial indecision, it feels good to know what lies ahead. And another thing that lies ahead is a bed runner made with Kim Diehl’s design!
. . . on my way to the design wall. Actually, it happened at the design wall. After making a few more leaf blocks using both of my focus fabrics, I arranged two of each on the wall and stepped back to take a look:
I was so sure these two fabrics would look wonderful together in a quilt but now I’m not so sure. . .
I tried adding a couple more blocks:
Still not loving it. The way I have these blocks arranged is not necessarily the final setting; the goal was to see how the colors and patterns played together from a distance of 10 feet (the so-called 10-foot rule).
I tried grouping four blocks using just one of the focus fabrics:
This grouping is much more pleasing to my eye. Try to visualize it with sashing strips and another small star where the four stems come together. That’s one of the potential layouts and the one I’m leaning toward at this point.
I hasten to add that I still love the blocks with the darker print focus fabric. Am I going to wind up with two separate quilts? Maybe! For now, though, I’m going to continue making the other blocks until I wind up with 12, which is what is needed for a bed runner.
And who knows? Maybe the idea of alternating the two focus fabrics in a quilt will grow on me. I’d love to know what you think!
We’re only a few day into February and it’s turning out to be every bit as busy as January. I’ve only managed to make three more blocks for my new project, an autumn leaf quilt — but the blocks are beauties, as you shall soon see!
It feels like I’m moving at a snail’s pace but the fact is that my sewing time has been limited lately. The Dear Husband and I had a lovely week with visiting relatives from the East Coast. We went on some outings and worked on family history together. It turns out that our relatives are also voracious readers so while they (and the DH) were relaxing in the living room with books in hand, I managed to hie to my sewing room a few times to work on blocks.
Take a look:
In case you missed my last post, here are the first two blocks:
I gravitate toward primary colors so this palette is not one I normally work with, yet I am loving the look of the warm oranges, golds, and rusts against the two focus fabrics in the maple leaves.
I haven’t decided yet which design direction I will go with my quilt. On the one hand, I like the look of the floating leaves in Forest Floor. On the other hand, I like the way the stems of the leaves in Maple Stars touch smaller Sawtooth Stars. Kim Diehl also included an alternate design for a bedrunner where four stems meet at a single Sawtooth Star, a look that I absolutely love. The bedrunner can be made with just 12 blocks.
My plan is to make several more star blocks before deciding. I’m heading out of town for a few days so I will continue to ponder my choices as I anticipate my return to my sewing room. Do check back in, please!
Ah, as in turning over a new leaf? No no. As in making a leaf block. As in starting a new project. And this is happening during the first month of the New Year, when many quilters are going through their bins of Unfinished Objects (UFOs) and Works in Progress (WIPs), making charts and even joining challenges to tick those projects off their list.
Alas, I am not one of those quilters. I do have a few (ahem) UFOs I plan to tackle this year but this particular project has been percolating in my mind since last August, when I first saw Forest Floor, a new pattern from Margot Languedoc of the Pattern Basket, on Instagram. The very same day I saw a picture on Instagram of a quilt by Kim Diehl called Maple Stars featured in her new book, Simple Double-Dipped Quilts, published by Martingale Publishing. Both designers inserted a Sawtooth Star in the center of a Maple Leaf block. The settings are different but the idea is the same.
A few weeks later two fabrics from unrelated lines caught my eye at Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego, where I teach. Yielding to impulse — oh, how good I am at that! — I bought some yardage without a clue as to what I would do with it:
I looked at the two prints frequently, waiting for inspiration. A couple of weeks ago my musings on combining these fabrics in a quilt of leaves finally coalesced. I pulled some golds and oranges out of my stash to audition them with the two focus fabrics:
Then I realized I had some barn reds and rusts that might work, too:
For the background I pulled a creamy yellow from my stash that I’ve had for years and years. So far I’ve made only two blocks. Here’s the second one:
(I’ve cropped the seam allowances to show you what the blocks will look like finished.)
I haven’t used the second focus fabric yet. But I have a plan.
After buying a pdf copy of Forest Floor, I decided to buy the Kim Diehl book as well because I wanted to compare the patterns and instructions of the two designers. Martingale has recently ceased publication and print versions on the website are sold out but I was able to purchase an eBook version of Kim Diehl’s book for $9 and printed only the pages I needed to get her instructions for Maple Stars.
Both designers created their blocks to finish at 10″ square. I resized my blocks to finish at 12½” square. That may seem an odd size until you consider that the Maple Leaf block is on a 5 x 5 grid, which means that the finished size must be easily divisible by five. I have a fondness for blocks that finish at 12″ square — neither too large nor too small. It just so happens that a 12″ block is perfect for the front/back panels on a Junior Billie Bag — and 12½” blocks work, too.
Could my blocks be making an appearance on a future Junior Billie Bag (JBB)? Probably not these blocks, because I have a quilt in mind. But I do love the idea of this block design appearing on a future JBB. Time will tell.
In the meantime, I am trying to carve time from what has turned out to be a very busy month to make a couple more blocks before February arrives. Wish me luck!
The answer is “yes” — but there’s a surprise involved. When you take a quilt off the wall that was hung with Command Strips, the strips stay on the wall — not the quilt! And there is no residue whatsoever on the back of the quilt.
I discovered something else quite by accident: if you’re planning to take one quilt down and put up another one of the same or slightly wider width, you can reuse the strips that are already attached to the wall. Serendipity!
On one wall in our main floor bath I took down Uptown Funk (now on loan to a quilt guild for an upcoming workshop) . . .
I saw that I had hung Uptown Funk using Medium-size Command Strips, which measure ¾” x 2¾”. All I had to do was separate the top strip from the bottom strip of each pair on the wall. You will remember from my previous post that the strips work in pairs, with the Velcro-like textured sides coming together with an audible click. It’s quite easy to separate them, leaving one half of the pair on the wall with the Velcro-like side exposed:
I took three new strips from the package (each strip is half of a pair) . . .
. . . and pressed each Velcro-like side to its mate on the wall. Then I peeled off the paper backing to expose the adhesive and pressed Loose Leaf into place. Easy as pie! It took less than two minutes.
If you’re the least bit apprehensive about attaching adhesive strips to either your wall or your quilt, I have a suggestion. Start with one pair of Command Strips. Remove the paper backing from one strip and attach it to the back of one of your quilts. Remove the paper backing from the other strip and attach it to a wall in an inconspicuous place — perhaps behind a door or a piece of furniture. Leave both strips in place for a week or two. Then remove the strips, remembering to pull straight down and very slowly on the rounded tab . . .
. . . until the strips completely separate from the fabric and the wall.
Pulling slowly and straight down on the tab is what loosens the bond between the adhesive and whatever it is attached to (fabric or wall). If you pull the tab out from the wall instead of straight down, you run the risk of pulling part of the wall or paper off with the tab. (This has never happened to me, by the way). If you pull too fast, the strip will snap you like a rubber band when it comes off. (This has happened to me but it won’t ever again, I assure you.)
I predict that trying this experiment will give you the confidence to hang your own quilts with Command Strips.
Happy New Year!! I’m starting the year with a bit of practical magic: using Command Picture Hanging Strips from 3M to change out the wall hanging in my master bath. Command Strips have a sticky Velcro-like texture on one side and adhesive on the other side covered by paper backing. The strips are assembled in pairs, with adhesive facing out on both sides and the Velcro-like sides in the middle, like a sandwich. When the paper backings are removed, one adhesive side attaches to the wall and the other side to the back of the quilt — without leaving a trace on either when they are removed. Seriously!
I have several wall hangings that I like to rotate more or less according to the seasons. Dark Moon, pictured on the left below, went up in December as my choice for winter but as the New Year rang in I was longing for something brighter. It took fewer than five minutes to swap out Dark Moon for Hip Hop:
Hip Hop features five different kangaroos gamboling on an Australian aboriginal print background. The playful ‘roos and bright colors are definitely lightening my mood during these gray and rainy days in Portland:
But I digress. Let me show you how very easy it is to hang quilts using these Command Picture Hanging Strips.
Packaging varies. I bought a “value pack” containing four small and eight medium pairs of command strips:
The strips come in Small (holding up to four pounds), Medium (up to 12 pounds) and Large (up to 16 pounds). As mentioned above, the strips are geared for picture frames but they are eminently suitable for quilts. The size Small is more than sufficient for my wall hanging, which weighs much less than four pounds. FYI, Hip Hop measures 16″ x 59″.
These are the four pairs of small Command Strips, front and back:
The strips are separated by pulling them apart (very easy). I’m using three pairs for my wall hanging:
Each strip is ¾” wide and 2⅛” long. Before removing the paper backing, I press two sticky sides together to form a pair, causing them to make an audible clicking sound as they connect. This is what they look like from the side:
I peel off one set of paper backing pieces and place the strips sticky side down right next to the binding at the top back of my quilt — one strip on each end and one in the middle:
Then I remove the second set of paper backing pieces . . .
. . . turn the quilt around, and place it on the wall, pressing firmly from the right side of the quilt. I actually run my fingers up and down where the Command Strips are for a good 30 seconds, pressing the runner firmly against the strips for good adhesion. Note: this wall hanging is going on a painted sheetrock wall. I have also used the strips successfully on wallpapered walls (although the instructions say not to do this with picture frames) and on lath and plaster walls in my 1913 home.
Oh, and one more thing: I want to show you how to remove the strips from the wall after you’ve taken the wall hanging down. This shot was taken after I took Dark Moon off the wall:
All you do is grasp the rounded tab at the bottom and pull gently, firmly and — this is important! — slowly straight down from the strip. That tab will stretch a good 12″ or more before the entire strip releases from the wall, leaving no trace behind of the adhesive. If you pull too fast or too hard, the strip snaps like a rubber band. Ouch! You only do that once, believe me.
Note: I have no affiliation with 3M, the maker of Command Strips. I’m strictly a consumer, recommending this product based on personal experience. As far as I know, there is no other comparable product on the market. Using this method to display quilts on my walls has eliminated the need to mar the surface of the walls with nails or screws in order to hang rods or other hardware.
About the wall hangings: both are original designs. Hip Hop was made using my first pattern, Full Moon Rising. Dark Moon was made from my second pattern, Full Moon Rising II. If interested, you can look at the front and back of the patterns on the Patterns page on my website.
A final thought: I think this post qualifies as a tutorial. I’m adding it to the Tutorials page on my website. It’s Tutorial #23. Maybe you should check out the other ones!
It’s that time of year again. Cheryl Brickey of Meadow Mist Designs is inviting bloggers to share their top five posts of the year in her “Best of 2022 Linky Party.” This is the eighth consecutive year Cheryl has hosted this linky party and my fifth year participating.
Clicking on the links will take you to the original posts where you can see more photos and read about my creative process.
Isabella’s Quilt, made for a new great grandchild, was adapted from the pattern Star Stream Quilt by Sally Davies of Chasing Tigers. I chose to make only a portion of the original design, using just two stars and enlarging them for maximum graphic effect. Instead of using one fabric for the background, I used several greens from my ample stash to create a low volume effect.
Number 2. ArcticStars (I liked Isabella’s Quilt so much I made a second version!)
Made to be a throw size, the quilt features two additional stars, with each star containing a fussycut image from the “Icy World” line by Gareth Lucas for Windham Fabrics. Here are a couple of close-ups:
I love sleeping on pillowcases made from beautiful cottons. These cases were made using the “Capri” line designed by Katarina Roccella for Art Gallery Fabrics. (I used the burrito or roll-it-up method for the pillowcases, using my own tutorial which you can find here.)
My very first finish of 2022 was this mini quilt using the delightfully whimsical pattern Dresden Neighborhood by Kim Lapacek of Persimon Dreams. I used scraps from Corey Yoder’s “Holliberry” line from 2021 plus a few other red and green fabrics culled from my stash. I embellished the quilt with a few strategically placed vintage buttons. The link above the photo will take you to the post in which I explained (with lots of photos) how I converted my little quilt from a square to a circle.
Thank you so much for visiting First Light Designs. And thank you, Cheryl, for getting the party going. Be sure to check out the top five posts of the other quilting/blogging partygoers. If you’re a quilter, you can join Cheryl’s Best of 2022 Linky Party, too. The link is open until January 2.