Category Archives: kaleidoscope quilts

“Just So”

In my last post I promised to explain my method of getting the narrow accent strips on my kaleidoscope blocks to line up just so:


In this example I’m starting with a 45˚ triangle cut from a 6½” strip of fabric using the Marti Michell Kaleido-Ruler . . .

. . . but this technique will work with other sizes of triangles and strips.

Eight of these triangles (from a 6½” strip) sewn together result in a 12″ kaleidoscope block. With the addition of the narrow and wide accent strips, the block will finish at 15″ square:


The narrow accent strips finish at ⅜”. This calls for ⅞”-wide strips, to allow for ¼” seams on either side but I find it difficult dealing with strips less than in inch wide, especially when it comes to pressing. For this reason I cut my strips a quarter of an inch wider — 1⅛” — and trim them to size after sewing them on to the wider accent strip.

So:  my narrow accent strips are cut 1⅛” x WOF (width of fabric). The wide accent strips are cut 1¾” x WOF. The narrow and wide accent strips are sewn together with a scant ¼” seam:

Before pressing the seam open, the strip is subcut into five 8″ lengths:

(I need eight of these strips for one kaleido block so a second strip set is needed.)

Why do I subcut the strip set before pressing? Because it’s extremely difficult to press a seam on a 45″ length of fabric without creating a curve. By cutting my long strip into shorter pieces, I can carefully press the seam on each piece open using just the tip of my iron without much distortion:


The next step is to trim a quarter inch off the narrow strip. I do this by aligning the ⅝” line on my ruler with the seamline . . .

. . . and trimming the excess quarter inch:

Now I can chain piece the triangles to the trim pieces, centering each triangle on its trim strip:

 

I press this seam open as well, taking care to use the point of the iron (no steam) and not letting the iron touch the bias edges of the triangle:

Note that with both seams pressed open, the seam allowances on the narrow trim overlap each other slightly.

Now I can lay the Kaleido-Ruler over the triangle and trim the right side:

I’m cutting this one on a rotating mat, which means I can turn it around and trim the other side just by moving the mat. If you don’t have a rotating mat, it’s very easy to butt up a second ruler right next to the Kaleido-Ruler . . .

. . . slide the Kaleido-Ruler out of the way, and make the second cut.

Here’s the trimmed triangle:


Now to sew it to another triangle! Here’s how I pin the two triangles:

After lining up the seams on the two triangles, I place pins to hold the seams in place. Note that the points of my pins are toward the outside edge. When I flip the triangles over and pull one side back from the edge, I can clearly see that the trim seams on my triangles match exactly:


I can repin if necessary (and sometimes must) to make sure the seams are properly aligned.

When I’m ready to sew the seam — starting from the wide end and going toward the point — I can pull each pin back slightly so that the point is not in the seam allowance, leaving the pins in place until the seam is completely sewn.

The seams are pressed open — again without steam and again using just the tip of the iron to nudge the seams open:


Once the block is complete and I’m satisfied my center points match, that’s when I move the iron setting to steam! I sometimes use a bit of starch or starch alternative (like Mary Ellen’s Best Press) to make sure my finished block lies nice and flat.

I hope you found this post helpful! I’m going to add it to my Tutorials page as a companion piece for my Season to Taste pattern.

Thanks for stopping by — and happy first day of summer!

 

 

 

Posted in home dec, kaleidoscope quilts, table runner, tutorial, update | 5 Comments

Winterwood

Here’s the completed quilt top of my winter version of Season to Taste:

It measures 18½” x 55½”.

Season to Taste is a kaleidoscope quilt pattern I created in 2014 with the idea of making one wall hanging or table runner representing each of the four seasons. You’ve seen my spring, summer, and fall versions before on the pages of this blog. I’ll post a photo of all four when I get this last one quilted.

My winter version will be called Winterwood in a nod to one of my favorite songs, written by Don McLean. You may be more familiar with his blockbuster hit “American Pie” from the album of the same name. “Winterwood” is from the same album which was released in 1971. Oh my! That means it’s 50 years old this year.

In my next post I’ll explain my method of getting the narrow accent strips (they finish at ⅜”) on my triangles to line up just so:

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in home dec, kaleidoscope quilts, table runner, update, wall hanging | 3 Comments

The Carrot and the Stick

Here’s the carrot:

I’m eager to sew these triangles together into the second block of my winter version of Season to Taste. I made the first block a month ago:

Sewing is on hold for now, though, because of the stick:

You’re looking at one upper corner of my sewing room closet shortly before it underwent a transformation. I hired a master plasterer to repair the ceiling and upper walls, which have been in this sorry condition for — well, let’s just say it’s been a while.

After living in our 1913 Craftsman house for 40 years, I had completely filled this 3½ x 7½-foot closet. It was, in my sister Diane’s words, “crammed to the gunnels.” Stacks of fabric on three upper shelves. Storage carts, plastic bins, and a garage sale dresser along the lower walls . . . you get the picture.

After emptying the contents of the closet into the spare bedroom (which I laughingly call “the Annex” because it has evolved into a second sewing room), I proceeded to peel off the ugly plaid wallpaper on the lower walls:

See that green paint? That’s a piece of plywood that was nailed onto lath strips behind it and then wallpapered. The plaster job suddenly loomed larger.

On this wall you can see how the previous owner used leftover strips of wallpaper to finish papering the wall:

The plaid strips didn’t match, of course. This would have driven me crazy had I not blocked the offending view with the contents of the closet.

Fortunately, master plasterer Steve and his assistant Corey were willing to tackle the lower walls along with the upper walls and ceiling. It took the better part of a day for them to work their magic:

I decided to paint the closet myself to save money — having the lower walls replastered  added considerably to the cost — and also time. Most house painters are booked out weeks ahead and I was oh, so anxious to get everything back into the closet. I promised myself I wouldn’t sew a stitch until the painting was done. Ah yes, the carrot and the stick. It was time to get to work.

Here’s one side of the closet primed and ready for another coat of paint:

It took me two days to prep and prime the closet. Getting thorough coverage was a challenge as the plaster absorbed paint like a sponge. But I prevailed, and I must say: it’s already looking pretty good!

Here it is all done with the two short shelves back in place:

Before refilling the closet, I took the opportunity to edit its contents while they were still in the Annex. Several stacks of fabric and notions have been set aside for donation.

Now when you open the door to the closet, here’s a glimpse at what you see:

Sure looks better in there!

If you’re looking for me today, you’ll find me at my sewing machine. I think I’ve earned it, don’t you?

 

 

 

Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 10 Comments

To the Rescue

Map Courtesy of Google

I have been saved by a quilter 2500 miles away! Nancy L. of Irwin, Pennsyvania read yesterday’s post in which I wrote about my delight at finding an online quilt shop in the Midwest that had a piece of older fabric I needed to finish a quilt project. My delight was supplanted by disappointment when the shop notified me it didn’t have the fabric in stock after all. When I woke up this morning and looked at my email, there was a message from Nancy telling me she has a third of a yard of this fabric that she is willing to send me. Oh Happy Day!

Not only is the fabric already in the mail, Nancy even sent me the tracking information! If the US Postal Service does its job, those precious inches of currant red fabric will be in my eagerly waiting hands by Friday. I could have made do with another cut of fabric but I had my heart set on using the same red that’s in the center of this kaleidoscope quilt:

Quilt begun in 2015 in a class taught by Joyce Gieszler. Pattern: Grandma’s Surprise

The piece that Nancy is sending me will be used as a narrow flange between the outer border and the binding. Thank you, Nancy, from the bottom of my heart.

Aren’t quilters the best people?!

 

 

 

Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 8 Comments

Dashed Hopes

My elation at finding just the right amount of an older fabric to complete a flange binding on my latest kaleidoscope quilt was short-lived. After purchasing a quarter-yard from an on-line quilt shop in Iowa, I subsequently heard from the shop that the yardage in question was actually no longer in stock. Oh nooooooooo!

The fabric I need — okay, I want it more than need it — is a particular shade of red, a deep bright red like a currant. In fact, the leaf print I’m using for the border of my quilt is from the line called “Black, White & Currant 5” by Color Principle for Henry Glass Fabrics. I have several red blenders in my stash but not a single one matches the red in that print or the red shown above.

Unless someone reading this post has some Moda Puzzle Pieces Paisley 1007-51 on hand and is willing to part with a small amount, I’m going to have to embark on a search for a replacement, probably a solid currant. I have very few solids in my stash because I don’t care to sew with them but I’m sure there’s a piece out there that will work just fine.

In the meantime, I’m dealing with my disappointment by starting a new project:

In the works is an 18″ Chicago Star block using this fun group of fabrics. I actually have two quilts in my head using these fabrics plus a few others not shown here.

Kristin at Montavilla Sewing in Lake Oswego, the quilt shop where I teach, introduced this pattern to some of my students and me last month in a Zoom meeting. It’s part of an optional block-of-the-month project we can learn about online while we wait for in-person classes to resume. I’ll be ready for virtual show-and-tell on Wednesday. It will be fun to see what fabrics other quiltmakers have chosen!

 

 

 

Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 6 Comments

Hitting Paydirt

That’s a funny phrase to use when talking about fabric but it perfectly expresses how I feel after finding a quarter of a yard of fabric online that was a total long shot.

In my last post I showed photos of a kaleidoscope quilt I had just gotten back from the longarm quilter. (The quilt, based on the pattern “Grandma’s Surprise,” was made in a class with Joyce Gieszler six years ago.) In the comment section of the blog post, my friend Vickie asked what I was thinking about for the binding. I replied, “I’m going to bind it in the same black leaf print (shown above) that I used for the border because I want the focus to be on the kaleidoscope in the center of the quilt.” My thought was that binding the quilt in solid black or the red paisley tone-on-tone blender used in the quilt (also shown above) would create a frame around the quilt that might distract from the kaleidscope in the center.

But as I pondered Vickie’s question, the thought of a narrow flange of that red fabric sandwiched between the border and the binding popped into my head. Last night I added this sentence to my reply: “If I had more of the red fabric, though, I would be very tempted to add a narrow flange between the border and the binding.” Only two small rectangles of that fabric remained in my stash and neither scrap had selvage information on it. I had bought it years ago and had no idea if it was even still available.

Sometime between last night and this morning, that idea of a flange took hold. I woke up and thought, “Why not see if I can find that red fabric online?” I tried entering several search phrases with no luck. Then I struck paydirt with “dark red on red paisley blender.” Up popped this image. . .

. . . with a link to an online quilt shop in Waukee, Iowa called Twiddletails. The fabric turned out to be a blender by Moda that was part of a line of blenders called Puzzle Pieces. All that was available was a quarter of a yard — a mere nine inches! Reader, I ordered it on the spot. Between this piece and my two scraps, I think I can eke out enough strips for a flange, provided the dye lots are similar enough. There’s a surprising amount of variation among dye lots. This bit of yardage from Twiddletails is the only one I’ve found so my fingers are firmly crossed.

 

 

 

Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 4 Comments

Kaleidoscopes and Curves

My latest kaleidoscope quilt is back from the longarm quilter! While it was still on Sherry’s frame on Monday, she sent me a couple of sneak peeks:

I knew then I’d made the right choice with the quilting motif: “Bordeaux” by Urban Elementz. The motif features spirals and swirls that work really well with the design of the quilt and the leaf print.

The quilt isn’t trimmed yet but I couldn’t wait to show you more of the quilting:

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Here’s a shot of the center:


Even though the quilt pieces are all angular, there’s a suggestion of roundness because of the way the blocks are set. I wanted the quilt motif to have a roundness to it as well. I was also looking for another element to suggest the shape of leaves like the ones in the black print. Perhaps you can see this better in the close-up of the center area:


Once the quilt has been trimmed, I’ll post a few more pictures and show you the simple pieced backing. This six-year-old UFO is very close to becoming a completed quilt!

Oh, and here’s an update on the migration front. The not-so-good news is that the migration of my website/blog to a new server is not yet complete. The better news is that readers can once again leave comments. So feel free to comment on this post or even the last couple of posts when comments were blocked.

I am especially eager to know if subscribers are also getting notifications of new blog posts — so here’s your chance to let me know. Thank you!

 

 

 

Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 10 Comments

Season’s Greetings

What?? Here we are midway into a glorious spring in Portland, Oregon and my thoughts are on winter. Why, you ask? Because I have finally started work on the fourth and final quilt based on my Season to Taste pattern. This is the first of three blocks:


When I designed the pattern in 2014 I envisioned making a wall hanging (or table runner) for each season of the year. I started with the fall version, naming my quilt Autumn Reflections, and the spring version, Under Paris Skies. Those are the ones you see on the pattern cover above.

In 2015 I made a summer version named Sun Flowers. All three were on display last month at Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego:


Every so often I would think about making a winter version but I could never settle on fabrics. Did I want something in red and green to evoke the holidays or something in wintry hues of grey and dark blue? Did I want to make kaleidoscope blocks using eight repeats of the same print or a scrappy version using eight different prints?

Months passed. Years passed. (Hmm, my last post was about a quilt I started in 2015 and finished just this year. Do you see a pattern here?)

Then a few weeks ago I saw a photo of a quilt my friend Linda D. had made using a lovely collection of green and red prints. When I inquired about the fabric line (which turned out to be “Northern Light” by Annie Brady for Moda Fabrics), Linda generously offered to give me her leftover fabric. She actually made two bed-size quilts from these fabrics. When she dropped off the “scraps” I could see there was enough fabric in the sack to make a third bed-size quilt!

Today I stopped by Montavilla LO to pick up some background fabric. (Hard to believe but nothing in my stash seemed “just right” for this particular project.) At the shop I found a piece of “Grunge” by BasicGrey for Moda Fabrics that seemed like it might work — a creamy white with just a touch of green in the subtle texture and shading:

Alas, the green looked too minty when placed next to my kaleido block. I was about to give up the search when it occurred to me to flip the fabric over. You may not be able to tell from the next photo but trust me: the wrong side of the Grunge fabric is perfect:

 

 

 

Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, table runner, update, wall hanging | 2 Comments

My Next Quilt

. . . or perhaps I should say “My Next Quilt Finish.” Today I pulled a UFO out of my sewing room closet that’s been waiting in the wings for — oh, the last six years (!) and put a border on it:


This Unfinished Object dates back to 2015, when I took a class from Joyce Gieszler on Grandma’s Surprise, the quilt pattern featured in her book Then and Now Quilts (Kansas City Star Quilts, 2014). In 2015 Joyce’s colorful version using cotton+steel fabrics had set Pinterest ablaze . . .

. . . but it was her three-color version shown on the right that I had fallen for:

Her class was great fun and I made my top pretty quickly, eking out a border of the background fabric with just enough left over to cut binding strips so the image would float. The quilt top finished at 57″ square. Because I like to piece my quilt backs, I put the project on the back burner while waiting for inspiration to strike.

Well, you know what they say: time marches on for all of us. Suddenly, 2021 was well underway and I had never gotten around to the backing. Today, when I pulled the quilt top out to take a look, I decided I wanted it to be a bit larger and added a border of the black leafy print. Now it measures 66″ square, a really nice size for a throw or lap quilt.

And the backing? Some time ago I had purchased a piece of 118″ wide backing fabric in a pale grey leafy print. In the spirit of “get ‘er done!,” why not forget the pieced backing and just make a backing out of one piece? I got ready to cut the 74″ square I needed for the backing — longarmers like the backing to be 4″ larger on all sides — and then discovered a 3″ tear in a spot which made it impossible to cut the backing from one piece.

Boohoo!

It looks like a pieced backing is in the cards after all.

 

 

 

Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 6 Comments

Who Knew?

Who knew that playing around with computer-generated quilt labels could be so much fun? Well, not everyone’s kind of fun, I suppose. But I was delighted to learn from comments on my last post that my accidental method of making labels with fusible-backed fabric worked for other quilters using different fusibles and printing their labels on different computers. As promised, I will work on a tutorial for my website to show the method step by step.

One quilter, Marge, noted that she starches her label fabric and sends it right through the printer. No interfacing, just one layer of fabric. Of course I had to try it! I decided to make a new label for Ramblin’ Rose, another kaleiodoscope quilt from 2009 that needed more information:

Ramblin’ Rose, 53″ x 59″ (2009)

I’m happy to report that Marge’s method worked beautifully. Marge did say she “starches the heck” out of her fabric so I made sure I did too. As a matter of fact, I spent more time starching the fabric than I would have just fusing interfacing to fabric. You really have to iron the fabric after each application of starch until it’s completely dry. The weight and feel of the “page” of starched fabric felt almost identical to the fused layer I experimented with earlier.

Unfortunately, when I printed my starched page I realized that the top line of the label was too close to the top of the page, not allowing enough room to draw around a compact disc for my preferred round label. I had to prepare a new one. Instead of starching a new piece of fabric, I went back to my method of fusing interfacing to the label fabric.

Here’s the old label still on the quilt and the one I just made:

In my last post I described how I used a piece of quilter’s cotton for the back of my label. My friend Arden suggested I try using fusible interfacing instead. That’s what I use for my label backing when I make hand printed labels. With those I have only two layers: the label fabric and the interfacing used for the backing instead of fabric. With a computer-generated label, though, I have three layers: the label fabric fused with interfacing and the second piece of interfacing used as the label backing. Would two layers of interfacing plus the label fabric make the finished label too stiff, I wondered?

Worth a try. Yes, the label did feel a little stiff and I found it very challenging pushing the needle through the layers when I hand appliquéd the label in place. I’m wondering if washing the quilt would soften the label a bit. Ramblin’ Rose has been displayed on a quilt rack in my sewing room for over a decade so it could probably use a trip to the laundry room. I’ll toss it in the washer and dryer and report back.

By the way, here’s a look at the back of Ramblin’ Rose (with the old label still in place — and the hanging sleeve so it could hang in a quilt show):

Update

Ramblin’ Rose has made her trip through the washer and dryer, and I’m delighted to report the label turned out beautifully: it has body but is still supple like the rest of the quilt:

This method is definitely a keeper!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, appliqué, kaleidoscope quilts, quilt labels, tutorial, update | 2 Comments