Checkerboard Curves, my quilt made from the pattern Dancing Churndash, is back from the quilter and I’m doing a happy dance:
I’ve been watching the Instagram feed of longarmer Karlee Sandell (SewInspired2Day), who has quilted several quilts for me. “Swan Song,” a quilting design she used recently, was on my short list for this quilt. After consulting with Karlee, it moved to the top of the list.
Can you see how the curves and circles in the quilting design mimic the curves and circles in the prints? The effect is so lighthearted and whimsical. Let me show you a couple of close-ups. Here’s a positive block (black print on white background) . . .
. . . and a negative block (white print on black background):
You may not realize it but the thread I picked isn’t white, it’s a very pale grey. I knew it would give definition to the quilting on the white background without being too strong. Likewise, I knew the grey thread would slightly soften the impact of the quilting on the black background. Perhaps you can see that if you go back and look at the two blocks above.
I’m pretty tickled with how the quilting looks on the back of the quilt as well:
Just enough quilting to provide texture without interfering with the playful print:
Originally I was thinking about custom quilting for Checkerboard Curves. I would have gone with black thread in the five negative blocks and white in the four positive ones. Know why I didn’t? The back of the quilt! I liked the print so much I didn’t want to cover it up with dense patches of black thread.
When trimming the quilt I left a quarter-inch margin all around. That’s because I’m going to frame the quilt with half-inch binding in solid lime to match the half-inch wide strips in the center of each block. With the binding added Checkerboard Curves will measure about 44″ square.
I may go with a lime green label, too, just for the fun of it.
Back in July I was playing around with the pattern Dancing Churndash, using positive and negative prints in black and white:
I liked the checkerboard effect immensely but only had enough of the prints to make these four blocks, having used most of the fabric years before in a couple of other projects.
Not to worry. I just (ahem) happen to have several other sets of positive/negative black and white prints in my stash. I pulled out one of those sets to make a quilt I’ve already named Checkerboard Curves. It’s easy to see why:
Dancing Churndash was designed for Cut Loose Press by Jenny Pedigo and Helen Robinson of Sew Kind of Wonderful. The traditional Churn Dash block is one of my favorites, and I love Jenny and Helen’s contemporary curvy take on it. (In fact, this is my second version of Dancing Churndash. You can see the first one here.)
The top above measures 44″ square. I generally make quilts that are at least lap size and thought about adding borders to this one to make it larger. In the end I decided to keep it simple and will finish it with lime green binding after it’s been quilted.
For the backing I did a little more stash diving and came up with this Timeless Treasures print from a few years ago featuring stylish young women walking their dogs in New York City and picnicking in Central Park:
I had just enough length for the backing but needed to add to the width to make it work:
Isn’t that cute?
The photo above was taken yesterday just as the light was beginning to wane. Coco the Cat was keeping my husband company while he was weeding in the backyard but she came over immediately to investigate:
These safe and stylish scissors cases look complicated but they are surprisingly easy to make. Each case is made from a little quilt sandwich that’s bound, folded in half on the diagonal, and stitched with one seam. If you’ve ever bound a quilt using double-fold binding (also known as French binding), you’ll have no trouble making one of these cases. They make wonderful gifts as well as delightful additions to your own sewing basket.
All you need are two squares of contrasting fabric, one square of batting, and a length of 2″-wide binding (straight grain or bias, your choice) in a third fabric:
Bits of ribbon, small pony tail elastic bands, and vintage buttons combine to make charming fasteners. These are completely optional, however. Even though I usually put a loop and button on my scissors cases, I tend to leave the top flap open so I can easily see if the scissors are there when I look into my quilter’s tote.
If you start with 7″ squares, you’ll wind up with a scissors case that measures about 5″ x 10″. This case was made with 6″ squares and measures about 4″ x 8″ opened . . .
. . . and about 4″ x 6¼” closed:
I like this size best for my 5″ Ginghers.
(If you’re not sure what size square you need for the scissors you have in mind, experiment with squares cut from sheets of paper. Fold the paper using the instructions below as a guide. Insert your scissors into your paper “case” and test the fit.)
This tutorial is for the slightly larger case using 7″ squares but can easily be modified for the 6″ size.
Scissors Case from First Light Designs
Finished size: about 5” x 10” (from top point of flap)
Materials (2) 7” squares of cotton
(1) 7” square of light to medium weight batting
36” of binding fabric cut 2” wide and pressed in half lengthwise
Optional: small ponytail elastic band or 4” length of ⅛” – ¼” wide satin or grosgrain ribbon
Optional: ¼”wide Steam-a-Seam fusible web
Recommendation: use a walking foot for construction
Step 1. Layer the cotton squares and batting as for a quilt and staystitch ⅛” from the outside edges:
In the photo above, the darker print is the outside of the case and the two-toned gold fabric is the lining.
If using a loop and button closure, stitch a loop in one corner on the lining side, keeping stitching inside the seam allowance:
I used a small ponytail elastic on this case but you could also use narrow ribbon as I did in the two cases at the top of this post.
Step 2. Still working on the lining side, position the binding strip halfway down the side from the loop:
Note how the edge of the binding has been folded at a right angle and how I added a few stitches inside the seam allowance to secure the binding to the edge of the quilt sandwich.
Step 3. Leaving enough room to tuck the other binding tail into the fold, begin stitching the binding with a scant ¼” seam, stopping ¼” from the end in order to miter the corner:
When you come to the fourth corner, be careful not to catch the loop in the binding seams when you miter that corner:
Step 4. Tuck the left tail into the fold of the right tail . . .
. . . and finish stitching the seam, starting and ending a few stitches beyond the original stitching.
Step 5. Turn the binding to the right side and stitch by hand or fuse in place using ¼”-wide Steam-a-Seam 2 (not Steam-a-Seam 2 Lite). If using fusible web, take care not to melt ponytail elastic with hot iron!
Step 6. Fold the case in half diagonally and mark a stitching line 1¼” in from the upper right corner, tapering to the bottom as close to the binding at the bottom as you can get. (Note: loop is in the upper left corner). The pins in the photo below show the stitching line:
Stitch, backstitching at both ends:
Note that you stitch through the binding at the top of the seam and taper down toward the corner with the stitching ending right next to the binding. Try using a zipper foot for this line of stitching if the walking foot skips stitches. The stitching will not show when the flaps are folded back. (If using 6″ squares, mark your stitching line 1″ in from the right edge rather than 1¼”.)
Open up the seam and press flat as shown below. Sew button on seam line (test placement by holding top flap down to see where loop is in relation to button).
Domestic Bliss, Block 8 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt is finished. I followed designer Shelly Pagliai’s instructions for making the block but changed her appliqué design in order to preserve the fussy cut images in the large dark triangles. I also enlarged the two hearts in the center and changed their orientation slightly. You’ll see what I mean when you look at Shelly’s original block:
I’m happy with the how my block turned out but I really struggled with the appliqué on the four outer hearts. I can see that one of the hearts has a couple of little points where there should be only curves. At first I thought it was fine but the more I look at it the more I know it has to be replaced. The fabric is a Michael Miller Fairy Frost and I’m wondering if the slightly metallic finish makes it harder to needleturn the fabric.
For now, Domestic Bliss is up on my design wall with the other six blocks I’ve made so far:
That’s not the final setting; I just put the blocks up in the order they were made. Two more blocks to go and then I will add white sashing strips and a red scalloped border — needleturned! — around each one.
After posting a picture a few days ago of Aunt Ruby’s Choice, Block 7 in Hazel’s Diary Quilt, I decided to make a change. I replaced the triangles in the outermost row with the subtle black and white swirly print you see here:
I’m much happier with the block now. Why? I think I used too much of the floral fabric in the earlier version. The block had too much going on in it. The red Sawtooth Star is more prominent in this version and the bright yellow seems to be holding its own against the floral print. Take a look at both versions and tell me if you agree:
Lest you think the block has too much black in it now, let me point out that it will have 3″ white sashing strips all around it and a red scalloped edge. That will soften the black considerably.
I’ve also been working on Block 8, Domestic Bliss. The appliqué is prepped and ready to go:
I made some changes to the appliqué design, mainly because of those fussycut corners, and I think I’m going to love the result.
A month ago today I was in Sisters, Oregon with Vincent van Gogh. And I have the picture to prove it:
I must say, even with a bandaged ear Vincent is looking pretty cheerful. Not at all like the unsmiling tormented soul we see in his self portraits.
So what’s this all about? In 2017 Cherrywood Fabrics issued a challenge for quiltmakers to interpret the paintings and life of Vincent van Gogh in a 20″ square quilt. Contestants were required to use three saturated blues and one black — all hand dyed fabrics by Cherrywood — in their creations. The company received 465 submissions and ultimately selected 200 to be included in two traveling exhibits, one called “the Dutch Gallery” and the other “the French Gallery” to represent the time van Gogh spent in his home country and the country where he spent the last years of his life.
The 2018 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show included a special (indoor) exhibit of the French Gallery. I went to the exhibit near the end of the day and quickly snapped a few photos of the quilts in groups:
I’m amazed at the artistry, creativity, and skill displayed by these quiltmakers. I could have spent hours at this exhibit and probably would have had I arrived there earlier in the day.
If you look carefully at the last photo, you’ll catch a glimpse of “Vincent” between the first and second vertical panels. He was standing against a backdrop of The Starry Night holding an empty frame and a bouquet of sunflowers. His colleague was encouraging viewers to stop for a photo op. So I did.
The dates and venues of both traveling exhibits can be seen here along with the names of the quiltmakers and close-ups of the quilts made by the five winners of the challenge. If you get a chance to see either one, I highly recommend it.
Having viewed the French Gallery, I am now very keen to view the Dutch Gallery. I see that it will be in Spokane, Washington Oct. 19-21, at the Washington State Quilters Show. That’s only 350 miles from my home in Portland, Oregon. Road trip?!
Here, without further delay, are just a few of the quilts that caught my eye at the 2018 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show on the 14th of July. On that day the tiny town of Sisters in central Oregon filled with 10,000 quilt lovers and other sightseers who strolled around town on a very hot day looking at the quilts displayed on the outside of buildings along the town’s main and side streets. With 1300 quilts on display, it was impossible to see every single one but we all did our best.
The first 10 you see below were made by quiltmakers who taught during Quilter’s Affair, the five days of classes and special events preceding the Saturday show. These quilts were on display in the Teachers Tent.
That’s quite an eclectic group of quilts, isn’t it? The quilts outside the Teachers Tent were just as varied in design and technique. Take a look:
The Portland Modern Quilt Guild had a special exhibit of word quilts, the result of a challenge the guild issued to its members. My favorite was this one:
My photo of the label identifying the following quilt was too fuzzy to read. If anyone reading this post knows who made and quilted this quilt, please let me know, and I will update the information:
This next quilt has a special story. It was made by Jane Humphrey of Escondido CA, who lost her home — and a lifetime of fabric and quilt projects — in the 2007 Witch Creek Fire in San Diego. In her own words, “I naturally had to start rebuilding both. A pretty daunting task at 81. So much new, pretty fabric to buy! When I saw this pattern in the May/June 2010 issue of Quiltmaker, I immediately knew it was the quilt to make with all my new fabrics. That was the most fun, choosing the fabrics that would look delicious together! It was a difficult pattern for me but rewarding. At 92 now, I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. I have too much new fabric!”
Here is Jane’s lovely — and lively — quilt:
The last quilt I want to show you wasn’t in the quilt show. In fact, it’s not quite finished but it’s so spectacular I just had to share it with you — with the permission of its maker, Frances Barnes of Portland OR:
I first saw this quilt in June, when I was teaching at a quilt retreat in Washington State. Frances brought it along to work on. She’s quilting it by hand using a utility stitch. I didn’t get a picture of it at the retreat so when I ran into Frances during a Quilter’s Affair class and saw she had the quilt with her, I jumped at the chance to take a photo.
The quilt was inspired by Sujata Shah, author of Cultural Fusion Quilts: A Melting Pot of Piecing Traditions (C&T Publishing, 2014). Sujata was a guest speaker at last year’s Quilter’s Affair, and both Frances and I bought her book after hearing Sujata speak and seeing a selection of her colorful quilts made using free-form blocks.
Then last fall Frances saw the cover of Issue #10 of Simply Moderne magazine, featuring a quilt called Paper Beads designed by Sujata Shah:
Paper Beads is composed of free-form string quilt blocks. Frances combined Paper Beads with blocks from the Cultural Fusion Quilts book and came up with the vibrant quilt you see above. Who knows? Maybe it will be in next year’s Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show!
Before more time flies by I want to show you some of the projects my friends and I were working on in Sisters, Oregon during the week leading up to the July 14 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. Normally the group consists of the Quisters (Quilt Sisters), a small group I’ve been a part of for many years. This year Quisters Peggy and Vickie couldn’t make it. Happily, two other good friends, Nancy and Vivienne, were able to take their places.
All four of us took classes during the week organized by Quilter’s Affair. When we weren’t in class, we were back at our rented house sewing in the bonus room over the garage. Here’s Deborah, who just finished layering a darling baby quilt made from the pattern Just Can’t Cut It:
See the blocks with dinosaurs? She’s planning to quilt dinosaur tracks onto the quilt. Won’t that be cute?
Deborah was also working on hand appliqué blocks for her Vintage Moments quilt designed by Marsha McCloskey. The quilt finishes at 90″ square so it’s a large and very ambitious undertaking. She brought along the center medallion as inspiration:
Here’s Nancy with a newly completed quilt top:
The pattern, called High Fashion, is from the book More Layer Cake, Jelly Roll & Charm Quilts by Pam and Nicky Lintott (F & W Media International, 2011). Nancy’s handbag quilt was made from a Layer Cake, a set of 10-inch squares from a line of fabrics made by Moda.
Nancy was also working on a second design in the book called Twisted Braid:
This one is made from a Jelly Roll, pre-cut strips of fabric 2½” wide, also from a line of fabric by Moda.
I don’t normally work with pre-cuts because I like to wash my fabrics before using them. However, exceptions can be made! During one of the Quilter’s Affair events, I won a door prize: the Charm Pack you see below. It’s a set of 5-inch squares from the fabric line “Blue Carolina” by Riley Blake:
It’s pictured with the book mentioned above because I’m thinking of making a smaller version of the cover quilt from this Charm Pack. If I do, I’ll shorten the handbags so they look more like baskets.
Vivienne was working on a very scrappy Trip Around the World quilt made with squares that will finish at one inch. I wish I had a photo to show you but I’m sorry to say I didn’t get any pictures of Viv with her project. She does such beautiful work! I have never seen such perfectly stitched and pressed blocks. In the evenings Viv was knitting a beautiful and intricate scarf and again I missed out on getting photos. I hope she will forgive me.
As for moi, I finished piecing a top based on Corey Yoder’s Idyllic block:
Those blocks range in size from 14″ to 21″ square.
I also experimented with Dancing Churndash, the delightful pattern Jenny Pedigo and Helen Robinson of Sew Kind of Wonderful designed for Cut Loose Press in 2014:
I used up all of the focus fabric I had from a previous project but I like this checkerboard effect well enough to make an entire quilt out of another set of black-on-white and white-on-black companion prints.
Speaking of Jenny Pedigo and Helen Robinson, they were part of Quilter’s Affair, giving a lecture and trunk show during the week and demonstrating the Quick Curve Ruler on the day of the quilt show. I had the pleasure of meeting Helen last year and was delighted to meet Jenny this year. Here I am flanked by Jenny on the left and Helen on the right:
I’ve been a fan of Jenny’s since since she introduced the Quick Curve Ruler several years ago. To date I’ve made 10 quilts using Sew Kind of Wonderful patterns and there are more on the horizon because the SKW sisters keep coming out with tempting new designs.
Coming up in my next post: pictures of quilts from the 2018 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show that caught my eye.
Take a look at my latest quilt, finished late this afternoon:
When you look at the octagonal blocks, do you see bicycle wheels and spokes? I do. That’s why I named this quilt Spokesong, after the play by Irish playright Stewart Parker. Set in a bicycle shop in Belfast, the play is about the troubles in Northern Ireland and the progress of civilization using the history of the bicycle as a framing device. I saw a delightful production of this “play with music” in the early 1980s and it came to mind when I was trying to think of a name.
My quilt is based on the pattern Idyllic by Corey Yoder of Coriander Quilts. (It’s the pattern I taught at last month’s Pine Needle quilt retreats on Hood Canal in Washington.) I changed the pattern a bit by simplifying three blocks.
The floral prints are from a line of fabric called “Paradise” designed by Alisse Courter for Camelot Fabrics. I ran off in high spirits one day three years ago and bought a lot of fabric from this line. It has made its way into several projects since then, and I used up more of it on the back of this one:
Karlee Sandell of SewInspired2Day did a beautiful job quilting Spokesong for me on her longarm. I love how the wavy lines of the edge-to-edge design called Serpentine almost make the quilt shimmer:
Did you notice the shape of the label?
Here’s a closer look:
Coco made herself right at home during the photo session:
If she wasn’t on top of the quilt, she was under it:
Domestic Bliss is the name designer Shelly Pagliai gave Block 8 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the sampler quilt I’m making over the course of this year. It’s also the block I assigned myself for July. (In my previous post I showed you my June block, a month late in the making. I haven’t added the appliquéd center on that one yet but forged ahead with July’s block when I was sewing with my friends last week in Sisters, Oregon.)
Here is Shelly’s original version of Domestic Bliss . . .
. . . and here’s what I have so far:
I love the look of this block on point, as it will be in the finished quilt, so I didn’t rotate the design 45° as I have for the first few blocks I’ve made for this quilt. Here’s my Block 8 on point: