Often when I finish a quilt, there are one or two things I would have done differently. Not with this one. I love every block, I’m happy with every modification I made to Terri’s original design, and I’m thrilled to pieces with the combination of computerized and free-motion quilting done by Loretta Orsborn.
Instructions for Reach for the Stars appeared in seven consecutive issues of Quilters Newsletter Magazine, beginning with the Oct./Nov. 2013 issue and ending with the Oct./Nov. 2014 issue. Sadly, QNM is no longer in publication.
Almost every month I receive a request from a quilter wanting to know how to get directions for Reach for the Stars. A few years ago I could point to eBay or Etsy for the needed issues but copies are getting harder to find. My advice nowadays is to check with a local quilt guild to see if any member has these seven issues and would be willing to lend or sell them to the person wanting to make the quilt.
Catch a Falling Star was my first ever sampler quilt. I wasn’t sure I would ever make another one. But I did. You’ll see that one when I reach Week 10 of Throwback Thursday.
Thanks for joining me on my weekly trip down Memory Lane!
It’s been almost two weeks since the Dear Husband and I returned from our annual Thanksgiving trip to Georgia. I’m afraid I don’t have much to show for it in terms of sewing. Quite ironic, as the few things I have worked on fall squarely in the “simple sewing” camp.
I converted a one-pocket long-sleeved shirt for the DH into a two-pocket short-sleeved shirt. The pockets were made from the bottom part of the sleeves:
I hope you can see the pocket! I matched the plaid pretty carefully.
New napkins for the Portland White House (we don’t use paper napkins):
Pillowcases for the Portland White House featuring the same toile fabric I used in the pillowcases made when I was in Georgia (which I wrote about here):
These are ready to go in my linen closet. Judging by the look on Coco’s face, I may not get them away from her:
That simple paisley table topper I made for sister Diane over Thanksgiving is getting a re-do. It was just two pieces of fabric sewn right sides together, turned, and topstitched around the edges. Trouble was, the two layers of fabric didn’t lie completely flat. I convinced Diane I had to take the table topper home and remake it, this time stitching the layers together and adding a simple binding.
Here’s the paisley fabric with two choices for binding pulled from my stash:
We’re going with the one on the bottom left. Diane and I both like the way the linear squares play off the paisley, and it’s a better color match. I think the binding will look even better cut on the bias.
Once I’m done with that, I absolutely must make the DH a new bathrobe. The one I made him several years ago is practically in tatters. I picked up a cotton print a few months ago with his bathrobe in mind. I’ll trim it with a navy blue blender from Maywood:
It’s been a while since I made a garment. I’ll be pulling my serger out of the sewing room closet and refreshing my memory on how it works. Wish me luck!
Aren’t these lovely? They are the first group of Mini Mod Tile blocks coming from the second group of quilters attending the Pine Needle Quilt Shop’s retreat in western Washington last month. (You can read all about the first group’s output in my preceding post.) The blocks you see above were made by Sandra and Dena (top row) and Linda and Barbara B. (second row).
Here are the second group of blocks:
These were made by Lorri and Barbara S. (first row) and Liz and Roxanne (second row).
The venue for the retreat was St Andrews House on Hood Canal near Union, Washington. In my previous post I showed you the view of the Olympic Mountains from the long porch at St Andrews House. Here are some photos of the house itself starting with the porch, which runs along the back of the house:
The view from the parking lot:
The herb garden:
A pleasant shaded seating area:
Such a lovely retreat and conference center!
Now for more blocks. These blue and white blocks were made by Joyce . . .
. . . and these were made by Sue and Lisa:
So far all the blocks you’ve seen measure 11″ unfinished and were made with the QCR Mini, the small version of the original Quick Curve Ruler by Sew Kind of Wonderful. Kay was one of those making my “supersized” version of Mini Mod Tiles in which the blocks measure 18″ unfinished:
What about those three blocks on top? Kay was also working on a second project, making Ribbon Star blocks from the Missouri Star Quilt C0. It’s pretty clear Kay likes color!
Another quilter making colorful supersized blocks was Kristine:
Missy was making the mini version using a palette quite similar to Kristine’s:
Three of my students were using the original Quick Curve Ruler to make different designs by Sew Kind of Wonderful. Janna started with the free pattern Spring Fling from SKW but departed from the design to do her own thing. Here’s her first block:
Katie fell in love with the pattern Dancing Churndash designed by SKW for Cut Loose Press. Here are her first two blocks:
Delia chose SKW’s Chic Diamonds design:
With the second group of students I was much better at getting pictures of them with their projects toward the end of our time together. Here is Rosalie with her five beautiful blocks:
Barbara B. completed a runner . . .
. . . and had enough fabric left to make a mini Fun Poinsettia block:
Here’s Missy with her four blocks sewn together:
Do you see how there’s a fifth block in the center that is made up of partial blocks from the four? This is an example of a secondary block design being the same as the primary.
In addition to their blocks (shown behind them), Dena and Kristine made self-binding baby blankets in soft flannels:
Dena showed several quilters how she mitered the corners on her baby quilt. Joyce practiced the technique, making a square with mitered corners in addition to her lovely runner:
Another vision in blue and white is Roxanne’s quilt top:
Linda decided to change the 3 x 3 setting to 4 x 5 to make a bigger quilt. Here is half of her Mini Mod Tiles quilt sewn together:
Mini Mod Tiles looks wonderful in both traditional and modern fabrics. Here is Sandra with her four-block runner in soothing muted colors. . .
. . . and Lorri with her five-block runner using bright Tula Pink prints:
Lisa’s runner makes me think of pink lemonade:
Or maybe raspberry sorbet?
Liz completed her purple pansy runner and made a second one with a charming pinecone print:
Sue departed from the original design by incorporating sashing strips inside some of her blocks:
Remember Janna’s bright batik block? Here is her quilt top complete with narrow and wide borders:
Here is Katie with her four Dancing Churndash blocks:
Can you believe Katie is working on her very first quilt? Amazing! She has a bright future as a quiltmaker.
Katie’s sister Barbara S. was originally planning to make a runner but she liked her blocks so well she kept making them and wound up with a quilt top!
In this photo Kay has laid out her supersized blocks and is auditioning the scrappy connector strips between blocks:
Kay also made a few more fabulous Ribbon Star blocks:
During her time at the retreat Delia finished quilting a quilt begun in an improv class with Jean Wells:
The back is as interesting as the front:
It was all quilted on Delia’s domestic machine. She was on deadline: her quilt needed to be in the mail the following week to Sisters, Oregon where it will hang in the world’s largest outdoor quilt show on Saturday, July 7.
That’s the perfect segue to let you know I am in Sisters right now with my quilt group, the Quisters. We’ve taken classes this week put on by A Quilter’s Affair and we will all be at the quilt show tomorrow where a record 1,497 quilts will be hung for one day. Of course I will be keeping an eye out for Delia’s quilt.
I hope you have enjoyed seeing the beautiful blocks, runners, quilt tops, and other projects created by my students at the two Pine Needle retreats!
This is Part Two of a two-part post on what I accomplished in my sewing room during 2015. Part One featured my finished quilts (unquilted tops don’t count) and can be seen here. Most everything else qualifies as a Pretty Little Thing, so let’s take a look at the Pretty Little Things I made in 2015:
This 9″ x 41″ reversible runner was made for my sister Diane’s living room to cover a “seam” created when two small chests were placed back to back to make a larger unit:
Here is the runner in situ in her living room in Atlanta:
To celebrate the spring birthdays of my friends and fellow Quisters (Quilt Sisters) Deborah and Peggy, I made these fabric baskets based on the 1 Hour Basket Tutorial from Hearts and Bees. The baskets measure about 9½” wide, 6½” tall, and 5½” deep.
Pillowcases! I make several every year. Here are cases I made as a hostess gift for my friend Anna in Paris . . .
. . . and a pair made for the Portland White House:
Of all the pillowcases I have made for my own home, these are the ones my husband likes best.
My sister Diane commissioned me to make a pair of pillowcases to give as a hostess gift to friends in Maine:
Her friends have a darling little terrier named Lucy who got her own little pillowcase (and pillow). It measures 6″ x 12″ and goes in her doggie bed:
This sewing-themed fabric became a singleton pillowcase for me to take to Quilt Camp:
I drew my sister Diane’s name in our annual sibling draw for Christmas. When I asked her for ideas on what I could get her, she said, “Dawn pillowcases, of course!” I made her these king size pillowcases from my batik stash:
For the annual fall Open House at the Pine Needle, the quilt shop where I teach, I made these Cozy Flannel Armchair Coasters, inspired by coasters bought at a craft sale 30 years ago:
The coasters are reversible. Below are the backs of the coasters you see above. Just for fun I changed orientation of the herringbone weave:
The coasters were a big hit so I made some more as gifts. My friend Beth got these for her birthday in her favorite colors . . .
. . . and I tucked in this set of four as part of my sister Diane’s Christmas present:
My last non-quilt project for the year isn’t small and didn’t get made in my sewing room but I’m including it here anyway. It’s the two-fabric tablecloth I made for my sister Diane’s dining room while visiting her over Thanksgiving:
The tablecloth goes with the 16 mitered-corner napkins I made for her a couple of years ago out of the same large floral print used in the border. Here’s one of those napkins in a place setting:
For the last decade or so, my husband and I have spent Thanksgiving week in Atlanta with my twin sister Diane and her husband Ed. Three years ago I arrived at her home with a gift of these table napkins, made from a fabric called Heavenly Peace by Verna Mosquera for Free Spirit Fabrics:
Diane loved the fabric, and I promised to make a matching tablecloth. After three years, isn’t it about time?
Since I like to work on a home dec project when I’m at Diane’s, I brought all the yardage I had left — which was considerable — along with a piece of fabric (from the American Jane line designed by Sandy Klop for Moda Fabrics) that was a perfect color match:
Diane and I worked out a simple design that would feature the fleur de lis fabric on the table surface. A few inches of the large floral print would also show on the table and continue down to a generous drop. I wanted to miter the corners and continue the miter around to the back so the stitching lines would be covered. That way no raw edges would be exposed.
I did the math (or so I thought) and created a little paper pattern to guide me in the preparation of the miters:
Well, friends, it would have taken 11 yards of the floral fabric to make the tablecloth the way I originally envisioned it. That’s because I was going to cut a 25″ strip and needed 398″ inches. The modified plan used half that because I cut the fabric along the fold, getting two strips from a width of fabric instead of one. (I wish I could tell you I figured that out before cutting the first 25″ strip.)
The mitered corners came together nicely. Here is a shot from the back . . .
. . . and from the front:
On the back, where the folded edges of the miter meet, I used Steam-a-Seam 2, a double-sided fusible web, to fuse the folded edges together:
From the front, I stitched in the ditch where the two fabrics meet. The stitching line caught the folded edge of the miter on the back:
Here is Diane’s new tablecloth in place:
And here is the table set with a matching napkin:
Diane and I both declared ourselves very pleased with the result. An added bonus: the fleur de lis motif is a lovely reminder of our recent big birthday trip to Paris.
Earlier this week my twin sister Diane called me with a home dec design dilemma. The small chest that sat between two red leather chairs in her living room was so narrow that people sitting in the chairs couldn’t see each other around the lamp at the back of the chest. Her solution was a clever one: she claimed a matching chest from another room and placed it back to back with the first one. Then she had a piece of glass made to fit the top. The only problem was that you could see under the glass where the two chests met in the middle.
Could she commission me to make a table runner to cover the middle section? Of course she could. She wanted something very simple — no piecing required, just a rectangle about 9″ wide and long enough to extend down both sides of the chest. We talked about colors to match her living room — deep red, tan, forest green. I was ready to charge off to a fabric store to look at home dec fabrics.
Diane was incredulous. “Don’t you have some fabric in your stash that will work?” she asked. Well, of course I did. A little stash diving resulted in this group of fabrics sent from Portland to Atlanta via iPhone for Diane’s inspection:
She liked the print in the center of the photo — the one with the red flowers and vines on a tan background — and the red and tan toile on the right side. No need to choose between them. By making the table runner reversible, we could use both fabrics.
I pulled a red leaf print from my stash for the binding:
The only thing I needed to buy was topstitching thread. It had to be just the right color to look good on both fabrics, as the backgrounds are similar but definitely not the same. In no time at all my quilt sandwich was ready. I decided to quilt a diagonal 1″ grid across the surface of the table runner, using my walking foot and this light taupe rayon thread by Madeira that has a beautiful sheen:
I cut the binding strips on the bias, by the way, because I knew the leaf print would look better that way. Here is the runner quilted and ready to bind:
Notice that the table runner isn’t just a rectangle? It wouldn’t be much more work, I reasoned, to make the ends pointed, and it would be so much more elegant. It didn’t occur to me until later that I would have six corners to miter and that four of those corners would be angles greater than 90 degrees. No worries, though. Heather Peterson of Anka’s Treasures has an excellent tutorial on her blog, Trends and Traditions, that shows how to bind outside corners greater than 90 degrees.
Once the binding was stitched on, I tacked it down on the other side using Steam-a-Seam 2, a double stick fusible webbing. At the top of the photo you can see how the webbing is positioned right along the folded edge of the binding:
(Steam-a-Seam 2 comes in ¼”-wide rolls. All I had on hand was ½”-wide. Easy enough to cut it in half to make ¼”-wide strips.) The fusible webbing made short work of finishing the binding. All that was left was tacking down the mitered corners by hand. I was on the last miter when I noticed I had missed three rows of quilting:
Now doesn’t this look better?
Here is Diane’s reversible table runner (measuring 9-3/8″ x 41″), ready to be boxed and mailed:
This little project was a pleasant diversion from binding Toile Story. I do enjoy binding quilts by hand but was ready for a little break. Diane said she wasn’t in a hurry to receive this but was hoping to get it before she hosts a cocktail party later this month. She’ll be very surprised to get this in the mail so soon — unless she sees this post first.
“Hey, it’s good to be Back Home Again.” Do you remember the song by John Denver? It came out in 1974, so you have to be Of a Certain Age to know it. We are indeed home after a delightful two-week stay in Atlanta with my sister Diane and her husband, made even more delightful by the arrival of our sister Reigh and her husband a couple days before Thanksgiving.
I managed to squeeze in a couple of little sewing projects for my sisters the last week I was there. Reigh said she would love to have a runner for the pub table in the dining area off her kitchen, and Diane said she would love a new set of pillowcases for the guest room on the main floor. My arm didn’t have to be twisted: it meant a trip to a local quilt shop!
Off we went to InTown Quilters in Decatur, Georgia, where both Diane and Reigh selected batiks for their projects. Reigh has a lot of brown and blue in her kitchen and dining area, with touches of yellow and gold. The colors in this simple table runner should go very well with her décor:
Reigh bought enough fabric for me to make two sets of napkins, four in each set.
Because the design of the runner is so simple — just a rectangle of fabric with four borders — I mitered the corners to give it a little something extra:
I used low-loft batting and did some very basic topstitching to finish it. Reigh has promised to send me a photo of the table runner when she gets back home so I can show you how it looks in its designated spot.
Here are the pillowcases I made for Diane’s guest room:
Here’s another view that includes the pleated bedskirt I made last year during my annual Thanksgiving visit:
I love the way the gold fabric in the pillowcase picks up the gold in the bedskirt.
Reigh and Diane joke about shackling me to the sewing machine when we are all together but the truth is I am in my element when creating something with fabric.
Another UFO bites the dust! That’s right, I have a finished quilt to present to you: Day for Night, begun in June 2012, finished today. It measures 56″ x 69″.
I made the top in a couple of afternoons last year, when I was in the mood for something fast and fun. You can read about it here.
Why did it take so long to finish? One reason is that I hadn’t decided what to put on the back. I often use leftover blocks and strips on my quilt backs but in this case I had given them to one of my nieces for a sewing project. This summer I finally pulled a whimsical black-and-white print from my stash, pairing it with a dotted fuchsia for a jolt of color:
That’s the label you see in the lower right-hand corner. I fused it to a square of the fuchsia fabric and set it on point to echo some of the blocks on the front.
Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting quilted a swirly edge-to-edge design that blends in perfectly on the front and complements the whimsy of the backing fabric. Here’s a close-up of the back:
Did you happen to notice that the binding is two different fabrics? I wanted to play with the black-white/positive-negative theme by binding the quilt with fabric that’s the reverse of the fabric right next to it. This was a fun challenge because I had to figure out how to miter the corners where the black and white fabrics meet:
With double-fold binding (also known as French binding), quilters make it a point to avoid having a seam in a mitered corner but in this case it was deliberate.
I expected that the seam joining the black and white fabrics would be on the diagonal. Turns out the seam needs to be on the straight of grain. Not only that, when the binding strip is folded on the quilt edge to form the miter, the seam needs to be exactly on the edge that is even with the raw edges of the quilt:
I trimmed the seams to 1/8″. There’s a little extra bulk in the corners but it wasn’t a problem. In fact, now that I know how to do it, I may make another quilt in the future in which the binding fabric changes at the mitered corners.
All in good time, though. I have a few other UFOs and WIPs to tackle first.
This tutorial is for a 19″ square napkin with a ¼”-wide hem and mitered corners. Here’s a look at the corners from both sides:
For two napkins, you’ll need ⅝ yard cotton fabric 42-44″ wide. Wash and iron fabric.
Supplies acrylic ruler with 45° angle marking
sewing stiletto (I use a bamboo skewer)
removable marking pen or pencil (I like the Frixion pens)
1. Trim selvages from fabric. Cut a 20″ square.
First Light Designs tip: trim ¼” from one of the sides that is parallel to the selvage. This reduces the crosswise width by a quarter inch. Why this step? The crosswise grain has more give than the lengthwise grain. With repeated use and washing, the napkin will relax along the crosswise grain. Trimming the fabric at the beginning compensates for that bit of stretch. To identify the crosswise and lengthwise grains, give the square a gentle tug in both directions; you should be able to tell immediately which side has more give. (Of course, you can cut the napkins 19¾” x 20″ initially but somehow I find trimming a 20″ square easier.)
2. At the ironing board, align 45º marking on ruler with top right edge of napkin as shown below. With a removable marking pen or pencil make a mark 1½” in from the edge of the napkin (not the edge of the ruler):
See the pink dot I made with the Frixion pen? It’s exactly an inch and a half in from the corner.
3. Bring point of fabric in to meet the mark and press:
4. Fold raw edges a generous ½” down and press all the way around. The pressed edges should form a miter at each corner:
5. Bring the raw edge in to meet the fold and press about 2″ in from the corner:
6. Fold again, forming a ¼”-inch miter. Press fold in place, again about 2″ in from the corner. Repeat for all corners. Do not press all the way around. Do not insert any pins yet.
7. Open up folds at each corner and trim a ¼”-square from the point of fabric. (You don’t need to use pins to hold the folds open before trimming; I did it here for photography purposes only.)
8. Place a pin at each corner to hold the miters in place:
9. Starting in the middle of any side, bring raw edge in to meet fold, fold again to form ¼”-inch fold, and finger press in place. The finger-pressed area is at the left edge of the photo:
10. Move to the sewing machine. Set stitch length at about 12 stitches to the inch (2.4 on computerized machine). Insert needle right next to the fold and begin stitching. Stop every couple of inches to make the two folds that form the quarter-inch hem.
11. As you approach the corner, remove the pin and use the point of a stiletto to hold the fold in place as you stitch toward the corner. Pivot when the needle is at the point the two folds meet. Remove second pin and continue stitching. When you get to the starting point, change stitch length to almost zero. Stitch three or four tiny stitches. Bring threads to the back and cut close to the line of stitching. Give the napkin a final press to set the stitches.
Add a pretty napkin ring, and you’re ready to set the table!