. . . is something we are not having in Portland, Oregon at the moment. There’s snow on the ground and “frozen mix” predicted for eight of the next nine days. C’mon, Portland! Where’s that teaser week of balmy weather we usually get in February?
Despite the inclement weather forecast, I can claim a spot of Fair Weather inside the Portland White House, namely in my sewing room:
That’s the name of Block 10 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the gorgeous sampler quilt designed by Shelly Pagliai that’s been the focus of much of my sewing and needleturn appliqué efforts over the past 14 months.
Here’s the block on point, as it will be in the finished quilt:
Don’t you love the swirly motion provided by the stems in the center appliqué?
Seven blocks are now framed in red and up on my design wall:
These blocks measure 18½” square. Set on point, they measure about 26″ across and take up a good portion of the design wall.
Progress is slow, partly because I’m not very fast at needleturn appliqué and partly because I’m working on other projects. One of them: another appliqué design totally unrelated to Hazel’s Diary Quilt that has a special story attached to it. I’m getting very close to revealing it so stay tuned.
And I’m longing to dip into my stash of indigo and cheddar fabrics to make some blocks using Jenifer Gaston’s Churning Stars design. I know I shouldn’t be starting a new quilt but the pull is very strong. I don’t think I can resist. . .
Yes indeed. I’ve been hard at work on the components of this quilter’s tote in preparation for teaching a workshop later this month. The front/back panels are quilted and trimmed and the two sets of handles have been made.
The design of the handles is very clever. You start with strips of different widths, resulting in the wider strip wrapping around to the underside to form a faux piping. In the photo below you can see both sides of the handles:
The dark stripe would ordinarily go on the outside but I’m loving that jolt of royal blue with the contrasting piping so much I’ve decided to put it on the outside. That’s how the straps are positioned in the first photo.
I did some stash diving to come up with fabrics for the various and sundry pockets that make this quilter’s tote such a delight to use. Here you can see a few of the pockets I’ve made for the inside of the bag:
Still to come: pockets for the outside. All told, this Junior Billie Bag will have over 20 pockets, all thoughtfully sized to hold a quilter’s favorite tools.
When I started working on this tote I thought I might give it away. Now I don’t think I can bear to part with it!
Last night I got the proverbial bee in my bonnet and made this 12½” quilt block:
I’ve been wanting to make a test block since spotting Jenifer Gaston’s Churning Stars quilt in her book Primitive Style: Folk-Art Quilts and Other Finery (Martingale Press, 2015):
I’ve always liked the classic Churn Dash block and I love seeing it in the center of a Sawtooth Star block. I could see making an entire quilt using Jenifer Gaston’s charming design. In fact, I have a collection of indigo and cheddar prints that would be perfect for such a quilt.
For now, though, I am sticking with one block because it’s destined to be one of the front/back panels on my next quilter’s tote, namely the Junior Billie Bag.
See how well the new block goes with the star block I made the other day?
Not content to stop after making the block, I added the sashing strips that will make both blocks the correct size for the front/back panels of the Junior Billie Bag:
Fancy Farm Girl is Block 9 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the sampler quilt project I embarked on a year ago. Here’s that Fancy Farm Girl on point, as she will be in the finished quilt, sporting her red scalloped frame:
She joins four other blocks that have been pieced and framed:
Progress has been slow on the appliquéd frames. I discovered I can’t work on my needleturn appliqué in the evening while watching television because the light isn’t great. (How on earth did previous generations of quilters do such beautiful work by candlelight?) I’m also hampered by a certain calico cat demanding lap time (and who am I to deny her?).
Four additional pieced blocks are awaiting their frames. One of the nine blocks will go in the center of the quilt as part of a medallion. I’ll pick the block for the center after all of them have been framed. Of the five so far, Fancy Farm Girl is the leading candidate. Do you have a favorite?
Have you ever made a block that didn’t turn out quite like you expected? Perhaps you were surprised by one of the elements but kept on making the block, not realizing you had made an error. That’s what happened to me a few days ago when I made a test block of Star Drops, designed by Margot Languedoc of the Pattern Basket.
Before I bought the pattern I had studied the design, guessing (correctly) that the outer star points were made from hourglass units that were trimmed on one long side. When I made my test block I resized it from 6″ to 12″ finished, adding an additional design element at the last minute. I wrote about that in my last post.
When I trimmed the hourglass units using the calculations I had made for a block that was double in size, I was surprised that the small triangle in the center wasn’t larger. And when I converted the center square into a snowball block by adding a triangle at each corner, I was surprised that the triangles were larger than the ones in the hourglass blocks. I concluded it was because the center square is larger than the other blocks.
I was wrong.
I had cut a quarter-inch too much off the hourglass units. That’s why the blue triangles were smaller than I expected. Oops! And then I cut the four corner squares a quarter of an inch too small. Oops again. My block was supposed to measure 12½” unfinished but it’s a half-inch shy of that.
To illustrate the difference, I drew the blocks in the software program EQ7:
The one on the left is a mock-up of the block I made. You can see that four of the triangles are larger than the other four. This block measures 12″ unfinished, 11½” finished.
The block on the right is a mock-up of what my block would have looked like had I trimmed the hourglass blocks properly and made the corner squares the correct size. It measures 12½” unfinished, 12″ finished. (I’m sure this star block has been made many times before and has a name but I haven’t actively searched for it yet. If you happen to know, kindly leave a comment.)
What to do about my oddly sized block? Well, if it were destined for a quilt of 12″ finished blocks, I’d have a real problem. Happily, I am planning to incorporate this block into a Junior Billie Bag panel that finishes at 14″ x 17″ so I’ll simply cut the sashing strips a bit wider to compensate.
So my block is actually a mistake. But you know what? I love it anyway!
I’m teaching a Junior Billie Bag workshop next month so I had the perfect excuse to make a 12″ test block for one of the front/back panels. I’ve been wanting to try Margot Languedoc’s Star Drops pattern since first seeing her charming design on Instagram last year. She has several patterns I want to make, all of which are pictured on her website, the Pattern Basket.
I bought the pattern and studied the construction. Her block finishes at 6″ so I resized it to finish at 12″. Here are the components of my block ready to sew together:
Just as I was getting ready to pin the rows, a thought occurred to me. What would the block look like with eight blue points instead of four? I made a snowball block from the center square using the stitch-and-flip method and wound up with this:
I have double Star Drops! The blue triangles are larger around the center square because the center block is larger than all the other blocks.
As good as the block looks as a square, look at it on point:
Is that not sensational??
It appears my next Junior Billie Bag will be black and blue and white. The floral print in the center of the block is one of several pieces I bought last April in a fit of fabric lust and wrote about here. I think I will make a kaleidoscope block out of that floral for the other front/back panel of my Junior Billie Bag.
. . . the Christmas decorations are getting putting away. Little by little the days are getting longer. And little by little I’m making progress on my needleturn appliqué on Hazel’s Diary Quilt, following the directions in Shelly Pagliai’s book A Simple Life: Quilts Inspired by the ’50s.
Some days are better than others. I run the gamut from feeling like my appliqué skills are visibly improving to becoming frustrated when a curve doesn’t turn out as smoothly as it should. When that happens, I simply put the appliqué aside and do something else. And I remind myself that when the finished quilt is laundered, its soft puckery texture will disguise a multitude of imperfections.
I thought you might be interested in a little change I made to the way the blocks are prepared for the reverse appliquéd red scalloped frames. In the photo below I have drawn around the plastic template with a white pen to mark my scallops:
Did you happen to notice the template doesn’t go all the way to the edges of the red fabric? That’s because I added an extra half inch all the way around. The red square measures 19½” instead of 18½”. I also added a half inch to the sashing strips around the pieced block it goes on top of so it measures 19½” as well.
I discovered with my first scalloped frame that no matter how carefully I pinned and stitched, the layers shifted a little during the appliqué process resulting in a block that didn’t measure 18½” square because the raw edges weren’t exactly even. The solution? Make the block bigger and trim it to size after the scalloped frame is attached.
This is what I did on subsequent blocks. With the pieced block and the frame in place, I machine basted around the outside close to the raw edges to hold the layers together. Next I cut out a big square in the center (yielding a generous scrap of red fabric for another use), revealing the pieced block beneath:
Now I’m ready to trim close to the drawn lines on a couple of scallops and start hand stitching around the block. Instead of using lots of appliqué pins to hold the red fabric in place, like I did on the first block . . .
. . . I can use just one or two pins to hold the layers together right next to the appliqué line because the basting around the outer edges (a little hard to see in the next photo) is holding the frame in place:
When I’m done appliquéing the frame, I’ll take out the basting and press the red scalloped frame nice and flat. It matters not that the edges of the two layers aren’t even because I can measure a perfect 18½” square, draw around the block on the cut lines, machine baste inside the cut lines to hold the layers together, and then trim the block on the cut lines.
When it’s time to sew the individual blocks together, they will all measure exactly 18½” square and the two layers of each block will be held fast by the stitching.
Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs is hosting a Best of 2018 Linky Party, inviting bloggers to highlight their top five posts of last year. It’s a fun way to look back over the past 12 months and identify some of the high points.
Finished projects are always high points for me so that’s where I’m taking you now, showing you five projects in random order. Clicking on the links below will take you to the original posts where you can read more about the finishes and see more photos.
This 44″ square quilt was made from the pattern Dancing Churndash by Jenny Pedigo and Helen Robinson of sewkindofwonderful.com. I’ve made several quilts using their Quick Curve Ruler; this is one of my favorites.
The essential quilter’s tote, designed by Billie Mahorney. It’s 14″ wide, 17″ tall, and 7½” deep. I’ve been teaching Billie’s design for three years now and make a bag every time I teach a class. This one is a gift for a dear friend.
I became quite enamored with Corey Yoder’s pattern Idyllic and taught it at a quilt retreat last year. This quilt was my class sample. It’s a lively design so I simplified three blocks to give the eye a place to rest. The quilt measures 53½” x 67″.
Joining the Best of 2018 Linky Party has been a useful exercise in reviewing my quilting accomplishments over the last year. I’m also inspired by looking at the work of other quilters who blog. Take a few minutes right now and join the party! Clicking on the link will transport you right there.
When I started working on Hazel’s Diary Quilt at the beginning of the year, my goal was to end the year with nine blocks completed. That may not seem like a very ambitious goal but these nine blocks came with a significant challenge: a lot of hand appliqué. Not just a different appliquéd floral design in the center of each pieced block but also a scalloped frame around each block applied using reverse appliqué. As if that weren’t enough, I set myself the additional challenge of using the needleturn method of hand appliqué.
I’ve shown it before but you really have to see Shelly Pagliai’s gorgeous quilt to understand what I have taken on:
You can see from looking at Shelly’s quilt that once those nine blocks are completed, there’s a lot more piecing and hand appliqué required to finish the quilt.
As of today I have all nine blocks pieced but only three of them have their red scalloped frames in place. You’ll see those in just a bit. For now I want to walk you through the nine pieced blocks, set on point per Shelly’s design.
These blocks measure 12½” unfinished. Once they have white border strips added and the red frames appliquéd on top they will measure 18½” unfinished. Set on point, they will finish about 25½” wide.
As dramatic as the blocks are above, see how much more striking they are framed. First up, Block 4, Coal Miner’s Granddaughter:
Next, Block 7, Aunt Ruby’s Choice:
And third, Block 3, Canasta, which I finished framing just yesterday:
Seeing these three blocks framed makes me eager to get started on the fourth frame!
Thank you so much for following along with me this year. I hope you’ll follow along in 2019 as I work to complete my version of Hazel’s Diary Quilt.
Speaking of 2019, it is mere hours away! Have a safe and Happy New Year, friends, and I’ll see you next year.