Do you ever buy a piece of fabric that you have no idea what to do with but you just know you have to have it? A couple years ago I was in a quilt shop in Bend, Oregon and spotted a succulent print in greens from the “Canyon” line designed by Kate Spain for Moda. I had to have some!
It sat on a shelf in my sewing room cabinet until a few weeks ago when I pulled it out to make this test block from a new pattern by Margot Languedoc called Pretty Little Baskets:
The pattern is definitely on my “to do” list but I only made one block with that fabric.
Then very recently Sew Kind of Wonderful released a new pattern called Curvy Bow Tieusing the new Wonder Curve Ruler and I used a bit more of the fabric to make this test block:
Such a cute block but I wondered if the fabric would look better as the background of the block rather than the focal point. I made another block to see:
Oh yes, I like that better. But I’m not ready to make an entire quilt out of it just yet. (I love the Curvy Bow Tie pattern, though, and do plan to make a quilt when I’ve decided on a color scheme.)
What I really wanted to do with that fabric was make a pair of pillowcases for the Portland White House (using my own tutorial). So I did:
And I used some scraps to try out a new mask tutorial:
Now I can’t stop thinking of ways to use this fabric. Wouldn’t it make a great camp shirt?
When I created my blog in May 2012, one of my very first posts was about an Ocean Waves quilt my father gave me in the 1980s when I first became interested in quilting. Here’s a close-up of the quilt:
To give you an idea of scale, the squares made of Half Square Triangles finish at 2″ and the bubblegum pink print in the center finishes at about 5½” square.
The quilt was made sometime in the late 1920s by Magdalena “Lena” Weissenfluh, my father’s Swiss-born grandmother. My dad, born in 1923, contributed to the making of this quilt. His job was to pull scraps of wrinkled fabric from the rag bag and iron them so his grandmother could cut triangles and sew them together on a treadle sewing machine.
The quilt was quilted by hand on a frame lowered from the ceiling of Grandmother Lena’s home in eastern Oregon. My dad described the frame and the quilting process in great detail in an email message to me, parts of which were included in this 2012 post entitled “Nattering ladies with needle and thread . . .”
My father, Calvin Eston Weissenfluh, died last week at the age of 95. He had fallen at his home in Bend, Oregon the week before and was in the hospital. My siblings and I rushed to his side, expecting he would be released to a rehabilitation center. Instead he entered hospice care. It was his time and he was ready. His last week was spent in the comfort of his own home surrounded by three generations of family members and his wife of 59 years, my dear stepmother Shirley.
The last week was a time of great sadness because we knew the end was coming but it was also a time of joy as we got to celebrate his long life with him. My father was clear-headed up to the end, telling stories, giving orders, engaging in some good-natured joshing with his son and grandsons, and enjoying one-on-one time with family members. The night before he died he asked for — and got — a sip of whiskey, enjoying a virtual toast over the phone with his son-in-law in Georgia.
My father served in the US Marine Corps during World War II. Here’s a picture of him in uniform at the age of 23 alongside a photo of him taken seven decades later:
What a handsome fellow he was!
During my dad’s last week I was charged with drafting his obituary, which he read and approved. He made one correction and asked me to add one sentence that appears at the end of the following paragraph:
“Cal’s ancestors on his father’s side emigrated from Switzerland in 1880, settling in eastern Kansas before moving to eastern Oregon. A chance encounter with a Swiss tourist visiting Oregon in 1950 led to Cal’s discovery of Weissenfluh relatives in Guttannen, Switzerland. He made two trips to Switzerland to visit them and maintained close contact with his Swiss relatives for the remainder of his life. He was always very proud of his Swiss ancestry.”
My father gave me two things before he died. The first is a replica of the Swiss flag that he brought home from his first trip to Switzerland:
I’ve always loved the simplicity and strong graphic appeal of the white cross on a red background. Now I am thinking about how to include this 22″ square flag in a tribute quilt.
The second is a leather bow tie embellished with beading that was given to him in 1980 by a member of the Klamath Tribe in southern Oregon:
My dad loved that tie and wore it at our last Weissenfluh Family Reunion held in 2017:
The first week of October already! September came and went in a flash. It was a very busy month, just not one devoted to much sewing. I’m finally back at work on that wonderful quilter’s tote designed by Billie Mahorney known as the Junior Billie Bag. I’m teaching an upcoming class at the Pine Needle so I need to get a move on.
Here’s the second of two panels in my JBB-in-progress:
The block you see above was inspired by a block in a quilt called Christmas in July designed by Thelma Childers of Cupcakes’n’Daisies:
Click here to read Thelma’s post about the making of this quilt. In July Carrie Nelson of Moda wrote about Thelma’s quilt on the Moda Cutting Table blog and created a pattern for it called Hometown Stars, available as a free download.
Thelma’s quilt is very scrappy. Working with far fewer fabrics, I simplified the block somewhat and made one change that made a big difference in the outcome. Here is my block as it was first laid out . . .
. . . and here it is ready to be sewn:
Do you see the difference? Turning that center square on point reinforced the angles in the Friendship Star blocks in the four corners. Had I made an entire quilt, I would have followed Thelma’s design to a T because the square in the center of the block is central to her overall design:
To minimize the seam lines I opted to construct the center section like a classic bow-tie block using Y-seams:
Thelma’s original finished block size is 17½” square. Carrie resized it to finish at 14″ square, although she included directions for both sizes in the pattern. I had to resize the block to 12¾” square to get it to fit my panel size. That means the half-square triangles finish at 1¾” square and the center bow-tie block finishes at 5¼” square. Good thing I like the challenge of quilt math!
Here are the front and back panels side by side:
Since this Junior Billie Bag is being made for a friend, incorporating the Friendship Star block is a meaningful addition. Thank you, Thelma and Carrie, for the inspiration!
The baby quilt I sent off to be quilted recently is back, and I’m tickled pink. Make that blue, as this quilt is for a little boy. Longarm quilter Sherry Wadley and I picked a modern swirly edge-to-edge design that echoes the waves in the sea-themed fabric.
Here’s a close-up of the quilting that also shows off some of the prints in the quilt, including a stylish seahorse sporting a bowtie:
On the back, the quilting motif shows up well on the batik stream that flows alongside the jellyfish fabric, part of the Into the Deep collection:
Here’s a close-up of the stream that shows off that organic-looking quilting:
I’m going to bind and label this quilt as quickly as I can so I can deliver it to Baby Stefan. Here’s hoping it will keep him warm and wrapped in love well beyond his toddler years.
In other happy news, there’s a new resident feline in the Portland White House. My husband and I had planned to visit the Oregon Humane Society yesterday but last Friday night I got a call from my friend Colleen, who lives out in the country. A calico cat, obviously hungry, had been hanging around her house all day, and was I interested in taking a look at her? Yes, please!
I picked the kitty up Saturday afternoon, and it was love at first sight. She was thoroughly checked out by our vet on Monday, who thinks she is about one year old. She’s gotten all her shots, been treated for ear mites and fleas, and been microchipped and licensed. She is ours.
And she’s a beauty, don’t you agree?
What a mellow cat she has turned out to be, especially for a stray! Now that she knows there will be a next meal, she is totally relaxed. She absolutely adores my husband. This photo was taken on Sunday, the first full day we had her:
We have named her Cordelia, after the daughter of King Lear. (We name all our cats after royalty and I figure literary royalty counts, too.) We call her Coco for short.
My plate is very full at the moment. In between prepping for classes, teaching classes, crafting birthday presents, and doing various and sundry other things not quilt-related, I’ve been working on this sweet baby quilt, made mostly from Into the Deep, Patty Sloniger’s new line of fabrics for Michael Miller:
The blocks finish at 9″ so at this point the top measured 45½” square. I felt it needed a light colored containment border to offset the intense turquoise in the sea waves blocks, and I wanted the border to be green to further highlight the green blocks containing those dapper little seahorses sporting bowties:
I added a 1″ border of a pale green Fairy Frost (also by Michael Miller), then dived into my stash (sorry, couldn’t resist) for this P&B blender, which reminds me of seaweed:
Do you ever audition a fabric you think is perfect but then are surprised to find it isn’t? That was my experience here. The seaweed fabric looked too dark and heavy, and I didn’t much care for the three other options I tried:
Actually, the seahorse fabric might have worked but I would have wanted to fussy cut it and I didn’t have enough.
Then it dawned on me: this quilt top is just fine with its narrow 1″ border!
It will finish at 47″, already on the large side for a baby quilt. I have just enough Fairy Frost left to bind the quilt.
Now all I need to do is piece the back. I’m going to use this wonderful fabric from the same fabric line:
No doubt about it: this is the perfect backing fabric.
The pattern I’m using, Just Can’t Cut It by All Washed Up Quilts, is one of my “go to” patterns for baby quilts. I reduce the block size from 12″ to 9″ for baby quilts. The quilt top before borders will measure 36″ x 54″ if I use a 4 x 6 block setting or 45″ square if I use a 5 x 5 block setting. Right now I’m leaning toward the 5 x 5 setting.
Just looking at the fabrics makes me smile. This quilt is going to be fun to make!
I’m not really in a bind. I’ve just spent part of the last three days binding two quilts. I really enjoy the process of finishing a quilt by hand-stitching the binding. I’m not bothered by the amount of time it takes; I’m content with either sitting in my sewing room listening to music or settling down in the TV room with a movie I’ve watched so many times I hardly need to look at the screen. I did some of each over the weekend.
My movie of choice was Lonesome Dove, with Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones. It’s actually a miniseries from 1989 based on (and very faithful to) Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, which I have read not once but twice. I had this picture on my bulletin board at work for many years:
I never noticed before how many quilts were used in Lonesome Dove. Watching this beloved movie again while working on a quilt of my own making was a double pleasure.
Here’s a look at Sunrise Bow-tique, one of the quilts I bound over the weekend:
I wrote about the quilt top in a post last month called Batik Bowties, which you can read here. The top features bowtie blocks with machine appliquéd knots. In the alternating blocks I used an ombre fabric that gradates from pale yellow to burnt sienna.
Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting quilted an allover design of spirals, some with sun rays emanating from them, very much in keeping with the colors and name of my quilt. I’m so pleased with her quilting! Here’s a close-up:
I found this fabric in my stash that seemed perfect for the back:
This close-up shows more of Nancy’s quilting:
I still need to take photos of my other newly-finished quilt, Cosmic Kaleidoscopes. I hope you’ll stop by later this week for a look at it.
Here is a little top I just finished that features raw-edge machine appliqué in the bowtie blocks and a gradated fabric in the alternating blocks and setting triangles:
Raw-edge machine appliqué is a technique I avoided for years because of concerns about fabric fraying around the edges. Then in October, Nicole of Sister’s Choice Quilts wrote about machine appliqué using Steam-a-Seam-2, a double-sided fusible web. I’ve used Steam-a-Seam-2 on other projects but not in combination with machine appliqué. Nicole reports that she has never had a problem with frayed edges and proved it by showing pictures of one of her quilts that’s been washed multiple times. Based on Nicole’s photos, comments, and excellent instructions (see them here), I decided to give machine appliqué a try.
I chose the bowtie block, one of my all-time favorites, which I’ve always made the traditional way using Y-seams. Y-seams are a little time-consuming but the results are wonderful. (A note to those of you who avoid Y-seams like the plague: I have my own little trick in sewing them, which I will share in a future tutorial).
The bowtie blocks shown above came together much more quickly: each block is a simple four-patch with a contrasting square for the knot, fused in place and finished with a blanket stitch. The fastest bowtie block ever!
Here’s a close-up of a block with the fused knot . . .
. . . and the same block with the blanket stitch added:
Here’s the same block from the back:
When I made the four-patch blocks, I rotated or “popped” the seam allowances open, allowing the four connecting seams to be pressed in the same clockwise direction. This gives each block a nice flat center — an important consideration when you are fusing another layer of fabric to it.
For the alternating blocks I chose an ombre fabric from the Daiwabo Collection by E. E. Schenck that gradates from a pale lemony yellow to a burnt sienna. Because the alternating blocks are set on point, I had to cut them on the bias to achieve the gradated effect.
The result is Bow-tique Sunrise, a colorful, quirky little quilt. It measures 35″ x 43″, and the blocks are 6″ square. Instead of adding borders, I’m going to finish it as is, binding it in the multicolored batik featured in the bowtie blocks. Don’t you think it will make a cute baby quilt?