Category Archives: update

Starry Starry Night

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?!




Posted in appliqué, free motion quilting, Sisters OR Outdoor Quilt Show, update, wall hanging | 5 Comments

Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show 2018

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.

Lollipops, 42 x 52, made and quilted by Tonye Belinda Phillips of Camp Sherman OR
Arrival, 54 x 60, made and quilted by Kathy Doughty of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Folk-Tails, 37 x 43, made by Sue Spargo of Uniontown OH, quilted by Janet Joelin
Detail of Folk-Tails by Sue Spargo
Pretty Spool, 42 x 50, made and quilted by Laura Wasilowski of Elgin IL
Pincushion, 42 x 45, made and quilted by Sally Frey of Fortuna CA
Tree Farm, 49 x 66, made by Karla Alexander of Salem OR, quilted by Loretta Orsborn
Detail of Tree Farm by Karla Alexander
Maha Surya (Major Sun), 72 x 72, made by Robin Long of Poulsbo WA, quilted by Wanda Rains
Accidental Fruit, 72 x 77, made by Sarah Bond of Philadelphia PA, quilted by Carol Heisler
Bromiliad, 20 x 32, made and quilted by Katie Pasquini-Masopust of Fortuna CA
Embracing Moss, 38 x 44, made and quilted by Hilde Morin of Portland OR

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:

Spin, 79 x 93, made and quilted by Kim Graham of Boise ID
Welcome to My Neighborhood, 67 x 84, made and quilted by Darlene Wheeler of Nampa ID
Zoo It Yourself, 56 x 60, made and quilted by Patty Roberts-Hasenbalg of Salem OR
Leaf 2, 56 x 47, made and quilted by Lou Ann Smith of Goleta CA
My Octopus Life, 85 x 85, made and quilted by Monica Dixon of Sequim WA
Peppermint Pinwheels, 745 x 84, made by Jean Wells of Sisters OR, quilted by Julia Jeans
Detail of Peppermint Pinwheels by Jean Wells

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:

SMILE on Your Brother, 52 x 58, made and quilted by AnnMarie Cowley of Hillsboro OR

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:

Maker Information To Come
Square Dance, 50 x 50, made and quilted by Donna Cooper of Portland OR
Detail of Square Dance by Donna Cooper
My Village @ Midnight, 94 x 94, made by Yvonne Black of Bellingham WA, quilted by Nikki Crisp
House Warming Party, 64 x 74, made by Brenda Daniels of Elverta CA, quilted by Michele Simes
Tangerine, 90 x 90, made by Jill Huntington of Portland OR, quilted by Nancy Stovall
Sugar Pine, 60 x 68, made by Nancy Hoff, quilted by Laura Simmons

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:

Amorosa Asterisk, 63 x 69, made by Jane Humphrey of Escondido CA, quilted by Barbara Vanice

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:

Work in Progress by 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!




Posted in Portland Modern Quilt Guild, Quilter's Affair, Sisters OR Outdoor Quilt Show, update | 11 Comments

The Quisters in Sisters

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.




Posted in appliqué, baby quilt, free motion quilting, Idyllic, Quick Curve Ruler, Quisters (Quilt Sisters), Sisters OR Outdoor Quilt Show, update | 4 Comments


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:

Finished size is 53½” x 67″.




Posted in cats, Idyllic, Pine Needle quilt retreat, quilt labels, update | 6 Comments

Hazel’s Diary Quilt: Domestic Bliss

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:


Do you like my fussy cut corners?




Posted in appliqué, Hazel's Diary Quilt, needleturn appliqué, update | 3 Comments

Hazel’s Diary Quilt: Catching Up with Aunt Ruby

I just got back from eight days in Sisters, Oregon — home of the “Largest Outdoor Quilt Show in the World.” Three friends and I rented a house in town so we could work on our own projects, take classes at Quilter’s Affair (five days of classes taught in Sisters by local, national, and international teachers), enjoy the July 14 quilt show, and have one more full day of sewing before heading home. You can expect my next few posts to be about the quilt show and some of the projects my friends and I worked on.

First up, a block I made to get back on schedule with my goal of making a block a month in Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the stunning samper quilt designed by Shelly Pagliai of Prairie Moon Quilts. I didn’t get my June block done so I have two to make in July.

This block is Aunt Ruby’s Choice, with directions in Shelly’s book A Simple Life: Quilts Inspired by the ’50s. Here is Shelly’s original block . . .

. . . and here is my block — minus the white sashing strips around the block, the center appliquéd flower, and the outer appliquéd scalloped border around the block:

As I’ve done with the first five blocks made so far, I redrafted the block so that when it’s set on point (as in the finished quilt) it will look like Shelly’s original design. Here’s the block next to my rough sketch on graph paper . . .

. . . and here it is on point:

I followed Shelly’s color scheme pretty closely on this one. The prints are from two lines of fabric designed by Jill Finley of Jillily Studio. Don’t they play nicely together?

The next block in the quilt is called Domestic Bliss. Do come back soon for a look.




Posted in appliqué, Hazel's Diary Quilt, needleturn appliqué, Quilter's Affair, Sisters OR Outdoor Quilt Show, update | 3 Comments

2018 Pine Needle Retreat: Part Two

Are you ready for more iterations of Corey Yoder‘s marvelous pattern Idyllic? The pictures that follow are of the quilters in my second retreat group last month on Hood Canal in Washington State. (You can see the creations of the first group of retreaters in my previous post.)

I can’t resist starting with a photo of sisters Barbara and Katie playing with their fabric choices. They are going for the super scrappy version of Idyllic and are obviously having fun putting potential fabric combinations together:

Shall we see what they did with them? Here’s Barbara with her first four blocks, using Kaffe Fassett prints and versatile Grunge blenders by Moda for the background fabrics:

Katie is using different Grunge blenders in her blocks, incorporating some delightful Carrie Bloomston prints:

Delia played with several different fabric combos and wound up with three distinctly different blocks:

She’s thinking of making a quilt using the one in the upper right corner. Delia also worked on this original elephant design using a collage technique:

All done but the binding. Fabulous!

Sandra usually works with prints so this striking block made with solids is a departure for her:

It’s going to be stunning!

Sherry is using two colorways of a lovely paisley print to make alternating blocks in her quilt:

Red and green — always a winning combination. One of Sherry’s lucky grandchildren is the intended recipient.

Brenda combines tan, teal, and brown prints against beige and light tan backgrounds for an elegant traditional look:

Julie concentrated on a couple of different projects, including this darling dog made from Elizabeth Hartman’s Dogs in Sweaters pattern . . .

. . . and these colorful wall hangings:

Jan is hiding behind this patriotic runner she made using a freezer paper method for cutting wonky stars:

Candyce’s Idyllic blocks are made from fabrics designed by Tula Pink. Look carefully and you will see what great texture the fabric in her block background adds:

Fran was working on a project begun a few weeks ago in a different Pine Needle retreat in Wyoming, one taught by Pam Raby. The pattern is Thunderstruck by Victoria Findlay Wolfe:


Patti was finishing up a big appliqué project begun in a Block of the Month program. Her blocks are gorgeous! Here’s one of them:

Karen (on the right) was working on the same project. Here’s one of her blocks:

Next to Karen in the photo above is Sue, whose projects were all tucked away before I had a chance to photograph them. She worked on several self-binding baby blankets and I can confirm they were adorable.

Grandmother-to-be Melody finished up a gender-neutral baby quilt using fabrics chosen by her daughter (the expectant mother). If memory serves, the quilt will include an appliquéd elephant:

Virginia spent the first two days of the retreat cutting, cutting, cutting for a quilt of her own design. When she started sewing on the third day, beautiful scrappy blocks appeared very quickly:

Janna planned to make 12 blocks — and finished them all. Here she is with a few of them on the wall and a few in her arms. She is thinking about putting her blocks on point — how dramatic! Take a look:

Linda gets the prize for finishing her quilt top! Here she is with 16 blocks sewn together:

The lively background print adds movement and drama to her quilt.

Sharon S. worked on several projects she brought from home and this little one she made at the retreat:

(I showed the students how to make inset circles using a freezer paper method — no pins!) Sharon’s block highlights an image from the Disney movie Frozen.

Sharon R. also worked on projects begun earlier. Here she is with several blocks from a Block of the Month sampler that’s going to be a beauty:

Here’s a picture of our group taken at the end of the retreat. Did we get a lot done? Did we have a good time? I think the answers are in the smiles on the faces:



Posted in Pine Needle quilt retreat, quilt retreat, update | 2 Comments

2018 Pine Needle Quilt Retreat: Part One

Happy Fourth of July, friends!

I was tempted to name this post “Sparklers” because the pattern I taught at this year’s back-to-back Pine Needle quilt retreats — Idyllic by Corey Yoder of Coriander Quilts — reminds me so much of fireworks. When you look at the quilt blocks below, tell me if you see starbursts in the sky too.

The blocks were made by quilters in the first of two groups I taught last month on Hood Canal in Washington State. If you follow me on Instagram (@dawn_at_first_light_designs) you’ve already seen photos of the first blocks going up on the classroom design walls. Before I show you the blocks, let me show you the makers:

Isn’t that a happy looking group? Geri Grasvik, organizer of the retreats and owner of the Pine Needle, is in the second row, far right, in a black T-shirt. I’m in the top row, far right, also in black.

Here’s what the group started with:

This block looks great in two colors and in a variety of fabrics for a scrappy look. In terms of construction the pattern is all about precisely made star points made from Flying Geese units. I taught students how to make four Flying Geese units from two squares using a method that’s been around for quite a while but doesn’t seem to be very well known. A couple of specialty rulers made squaring up the units fast and easy. You won’t find any star points cut off in these quilts!

And now, in no particular order, here are the blocks and their makers . . .

First up is Frances, whose outfit perfectly complements her blocks:

Here’s Patty, who chose bright florals and prints against solid green for her quilt background:

Donna’s more limited but very colorful palette with aqua for the quilt background is equally striking:

Carol’s version includes different neutral fabrics for each block background for an extra scrappy look:

Roxanne is making a two-color version but is actually using two pink fabrics. Her quilt background and sashing fabric is a pale pink Fairy Frost that is going to make her quilt practically glow:

Check out Carolyn’s three blocks on the left, noting how the solids and subtle prints she chose for her star points are set off by the lively batik print of the quilt background:

See Lynn’s middle block? She used a blue batik instead of white in her corner blocks by mistake. We all liked the effect so much (and so did she) that she decided to keep it!

As someone whose favorite color is green, I was struck by Coeta’s choice of greens for the block and quilt background fabrics:

I can’t wait to see her completed quilt! (By the way, check out Coeta’s T-shirt. It’s just like the ones Geri and I are wearing in the group photo above but you can’t see the logo on ours.)

Diana’s quilt is going to be so dramatic! The bold graphic batik print she chose for the quilt background is the perfect foil for her star points:

The deep metallic red Denise chose for her block background sets off these other Asian prints beautifully:

Denise changed her mind about her quilt background fabric so she concentrated on creating the centers of the blocks instead.

Lana did the same thing. Her scrappy version is destined to be a fundraiser for her grandson’s school:

Peggy’s soft version is highlighted by light and medium-value aquas:

The bright colors in Claudine’s Idyllic blocks look wonderful against the neutral gray:

Such strong graphic appeal!

Gale chose beautiful William Morris prints for her soft muted version:

Mary went with batik prints in the same color family for her star points and a lovely sage print — not a batik — that works perfectly for the quilt background:

The medium dark brown Pat is using for her block background emphasizes the octagonal shape of the Idyllic block and looks so dramatic against the green of the star points and print in the block background:

Until she got to the retreat, Missy didn’t realize her fabrics were designed by Corey Yoder herself! These are from the “Pepper and Flax” line Corey designed for Moda fabrics:

Susan is incorporating a print with a border stripe into her quilt, with very striking results:

While most of the students were working on Idyllic, a few were working on other projects  — and that’s perfectly fine. The whole point of being at a retreat is for quilters to work on whatever their hearts desire.

Kim was working on a queen-size version of Jacob’s Ladder using gorgeous batiks:

We all loved watching her blocks on the design wall multiply.

Janet was making Flying Geese blocks not for Idyllic but for a different quilt:


And Cynthia was enjoying being out on the deck while binding this quilt:

She originally planned it as a quilt backing but it clearly deserves to be on the front.

I think you can tell we were all having a lovely time. Spectacular setting, delicious food,  and all the time in the world — for four days, anyway — for each quilter to to sew to her heart’s content. Just what a retreat should be, wouldn’t you say?

The blocks my second retreat group made are equally sparkling. Please stop by in a few days to see them.




Posted in Pine Needle quilt retreat, quilt retreat, update | 2 Comments

Salute to Summer

I was out of town last week on June 21, the Summer Solstice. That was the day I was planning to switch out the wall hanging in our master bath. Back in April I hung Under Paris Skies, the spring version of my pattern Season to Taste, so named because I envisioned a table runner or wall hanging for each season of the year based on fabric choices. (You can see my spring version here.)

Up went the summer version today and it couldn’t be more, well, summery:

Sun Flowers, 2015 (18½” x 55½”)

For a fun little touch I added a “flower” (two stacked buttons) in the center of each block:

I finished Sun Flowers in 2015 but it’s been hanging in a quilt shop. Now I get to gaze at it every day in my own home. I’ll enjoy it until it’s time to change to the fall version, made in 2014.

I never got around to making a winter version, though it’s been planned for years. If I’m going to have one ready by the time this winter rolls around, I’d better move it up on my project list!



Posted in home dec, kaleidoscope quilts, update, wall hanging | 6 Comments

On Hood Canal

Greetings from Washington State! I’m spending the week teaching at back-to-back quilt retreats in a tiny town on Hood Canal. Such a lovely location.

The pattern I’m teaching is Idyllic by Corey Yoder of Coriander Quilts. Here’s my class sample:

I floated three of the center stars in octagons to add a bit more visual interest.

The first group of 21 fabulous women left yesterday. Here are some of their first blocks, each one measuring 14-1/2″ square:

Isn’t that a delightful profusion of colors? So many possible combinations! Next week when I’m back home I’ll post photos of each student with her blocks, along with those of the second group, arriving this afternoon.

The setting for the retreats is nothing short of spectacular. Check out this sunset:

That’s the view of Hood Canal from the long back porch of the retreat center and from the deck of the little house where I’m staying.

Lucky me!






Posted in update | 4 Comments