Category Archives: leaf block

It’s A Wrap: September Song

September Song is complete. It’s in the washing machine as I write this. I couldn’t wait to show it to you, even if it’s not in its absolute finished condition. (You know how I love the puckery look of a freshly laundered quilt.)

Once the label was made . . .

. . . I fused it to the back of the quilt and then stitched around the outer edge by hand:

Don’t you think September Song looks good on my couch? I may have to add it to my rotation. As I was taking photos, You-Know-Who came along to fulfill her usual role of photobomber:

Don’t be fooled, though. Coco couldn’t care less about my quilt. She’s giving me that look because she thinks it’s dinnertime.




Posted in cats, leaf block, quilt labels, update | 10 Comments

Opening Day

Cue the music to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” That’s right, today is the official opening day of Major League Baseball. Several games are being televised all day long and into the evening. At some point the Dear Husband and I will settle in front of the TV for at least one game. That will be a great time for me to continue binding September Song, my current Work-in-Progress:

Progress has been slow, as I have been very busy these last weeks with volunteer committee work and running a household. It seems every day has a task or an obligation that keeps me from my sewing room. But binding? I can work on that in just about any room in the house, and even a few minutes with needle and thread produces a measurable result. I’m really loving the way the brick red vine print I’m using for the binding is framing the quilt. It stands out nicely against the buttery yellow background fabric, don’t you think?

Unlike some quiltmakers, I enjoy hand binding my quilts. It’s a slow contemplative process, allowing me to enjoy each moment and let my mind wander. What will I do with my latest fabric acquisitions? Do I want to try a new recipe for dinner tonight? Will it ever warm up enough to work in the garden? What songs should I add to my playlists? What’s the next project on my spring cleaning list? You get the idea.

I usually listen to music when I’m sewing but I have an app on my iPad that allows me to listen to any live minor league or major league game. Chances are the next few times I am ensconced in my sewing room, I’ll either be listening to songs from the Great American Songbook or a baseball game. Go Mariners!




Posted in family, leaf block, update | 5 Comments

“A Swirling Fall Breeze”

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 brick red prints I used on the front. Happily, I have just enough of the tone-on-tone print with tiny vines, carrying my “swirling fall breeze” theme to its ultimate conclusion.




Posted in family, leaf block, stitch-and-flip corners, update | 8 Comments

September Song

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” x 68” — 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.




Posted in leaf block, update | 7 Comments

Jumping the Gun

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!




Posted in bed runners, leaf block, update | 4 Comments

A Funny Thing Happened . . .

. . . 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!




Posted in bed runners, leaf block, update | 9 Comments

At a Snail’s Pace

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.

The leaf block is virtually the same in the two patterns I purchased, Forest Floor by the Pattern Basket and Maple Stars by Kim Diehl, the latter being a design in her latest book, Simple Double-Dipped Quilts:

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!




Posted in bed runners, family, home dec, leaf block, update | 6 Comments

A New Leaf

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!




Posted in Billie Bag, Junior Billie Bag, leaf block, update | 3 Comments