It’s been a week since we flew back to the states from Portugal. Fortunately, I have many memories and lots of photos to remind me of the delightful time my husband and I spent cruising the Douro River and the many shore excursions we took to medieval hill towns and modern cities. Everywhere we went, images appeared that made me think of quilt blocks, appliqué designs, and even free motion quilting motifs.
When we got to Lisbon, our final destination in Portugal, the amount of gorgeous tile work I was seeing made my head spin. These three designs were on the walkway outside our hotel:
This one was on the floor of the main entrance to the hotel:
On the north bank of the Tagus River near the Monument to the Discoveries there’s a huge tile wind rose and map of the world charting Portuguese explorations. The map is embellished by wonderful designs that would look right at home on a quilt:
We visited the National Tile Museum dedicated to the azulejo, a glazed colored tile traditionally used in Spanish and Portuguese buildings. The museum houses examples dating from the 15th century to today. With the battery in my cell phone running low I took very few pictures but they’re enough to give you a sense of what I was seeing:
Tile work from the 21st century evoking a sampler quilt (a modern take on Dear Jane, perhaps?):
I got a phone call last night from one of the organizers of Northwest Quilting Expo (coming up later this week in Portland, Oregon) that my quilt Where It’s @ won a second place ribbon. I am thrilled!
If I remember the rest of the phone call correctly (I was a bit dazed), winners will be announced Thursday at 1:30 pm at the quilt show. That was the day I was planning to visit the show with my quilt group, the Quisters, so the timing is perfect.
I started this quilt in July 2016 in a class with Karla Alexander of Saginaw Street Quilts and finished it late last year. The name of her quilt pattern is Rewind. Karlee Sandell of sewinspired2day.com quilted it for me.
Quilters who enter their creations at Northwest Quilting Expo can opt to have their quilts judged. I chose to have mine judged, as I’m always interested in what the experts have to say, hoping I can learn from their remarks.
In 2011 I won a ribbon in a non-juried show. Here’s a look at that quilt:
The venue was Quilts in Bloom, a small quilt show held at the Oregon Garden in Silverton, Oregon. Much to my surprise and delight, this quilt won the viewer’s choice award for Best Traditional Quilt. I’m sure that the beautiful custom quilting by Melissa Hoffman contributed to that award. (You can see other examples of Melissa’s beautiful work on her Instagram page, fiddlestitches.)
This quilt is very special to me. It was made from my own pattern 4-Patch Wonder, published in 2010. I originally called the quilt Carmen, after the name of the fabric line from Timeless Treasures, changing it later to Midnight in the Garden. I don’t have it anymore but it’s still in the family. I gave it as a gift to my twin sister Diane as a 60th birthday present. It’s on display in her home in Georgia and I get to enjoy it on my annual visits.
The Northwest Quilting Expo runs Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 28-30, at Portland Expo Center, 2060 N. Marine Drive. Maybe I will see you there!
Here’s my second Big Block Star, made using Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s pattern of the same name and her large diamond ruler:
Don’t you love that bold beautiful print? It’s from the “Black, White & Currant 5″ line by Color Principle for Henry Glass Fabrics. I bought a few pieces from the line a couple of years ago. I find it hard to resist Jacobean floral prints and I rarely see them printed on a true red background.
I don’t have enough of the Jacobean print to make three more Big Block Stars — each star finishes at 41″ square — but I do have enough to play around with 4-Patch Wonder blocks (my name for faux-kaleidoscope blocks made from four identical patches). Here’s a test block that measures 8” square:
Do I have a plan for this quilt? Not yet. I could keep it simple, surrounding my Big Block Star with one wide border, perhaps using 4-Patch Wonder blocks as cornerstones, or I could surround the entire Big Block Star with faux-kaleido blocks. No need to decide now. I’ll sleep on it.
And what of Big Block Star, Take One? After not looking at it for a few days, I have come to really like it. Comments from readers who saw my blog post about it or saw it on my Instagram have given me a fresh perspective.
Here’s to 2017! Specifically, here’s to lots of sewing and quilting in 2017. I’m already looking forward to several projects — and not just new ones. There’s a stack of UFOs beckoning that I am actually enthusiastic about tackling. But not today.
On this fresh new day of the year, I’m looking back on what I created in 2016. Rather than going in chronological order, I’m grouping my finishes by categories.
This was the year of the Junior Billie Bag, the quintessential quilter’s tote designed by Billie Mahorney. I made a bag for myself . . .
. . . and one for my friend Deborah . . .
. . . and one for my friend Miriam:
Next category: baby quilts. This is the first of two incorporating a charming giraffe-themed fabric panel:
Here’s the second one, using the same fabrics in a slightly different setting:
I didn’t use a pattern for these quilts, preferring to play with simple shapes (squares and rectangles) so that the giraffes on the fabric panels would be the focal point.
My third baby quilt of the year was this one using the pattern Just Can’t Cut It from All Washed Up Quilts:
All three were quilted by longarmer Sherry Wadley.
All by itself in the mini quilt category is Ring Toss, based on the pattern Mini Rings by Sew Kind of Wonderful:
Mini Rings was quilted by Karlee Sandell of SewInspired2Day. Oh, and that’s our new rescue kitty Princess Cordelia (Coco for short).
Lap quilts is the next category. Once again I used a Sew Kind of Wonderful design, adapting the pattern Chic Diamonds into this quilt I named Dragonfly Kisses:
It was quilted by Sherry Wadley.
The next quilt, Where It’s @, was started in July in a class with Karla Alexander of Saginaw Street Quilts. It’s based on her pattern Rewind. I really stepped outside my comfort zone with this quilt, and I absolutely love the result:
The last quilt in this category is Stella by Starlight, a “kaleido-spinner” using the Spinners block by Heather Peterson of Anka’s Treasures:
I call it a “kaleido-spinner” because the six equilateral triangles in each block were cut from identical repeats of the focus fabric, creating a kaleidoscope effect of sorts. The four small hexagon blocks are true kaleidoscope blocks.
Both Where It’s @ and Stella by Starlight were quilted by Karlee Sandell.
The next category is runners, both bed and table. I made one of each, using the same focus fabric in each (Wander by Joel Dewberry) and the same block design (Spinners by Anka’s Treasures) with completely different outcomes. Here is WanderLust I, the king size bed runner made with five blocks:
I liked the focus fabric so much I made the bed runner reversible:
The final category is a bit of a hodgepodge. I made a quilted cover for my stepmother’s new iPad Pro . . .
. . . and a cardholder for her bridge hands:
For my friend and fellow Quister (Quilt Sister) Vickie I made an iron caddy that doubles as a pressing mat . . .
. . . plus a matching 4″ x 4″ fabric box that she can use as a threadcatcher:
For myself I made some accessories to match my Junior Billie Bag: a rotary cutter coat made from my tutorial . . .
. . . and a scissors case . . .
. . . and a sewing caddy that sits upright in a Lucite stand:
A 4″ x 4″ fabric box (yes, it’s a threadcatcher) completes the ensemble:
As you have surmised, I’m crazy in love with that fabric line (Paradise by Alisse Coulter for Camelot Cottons). I expect you’ll see more of it in 2017, as I bought a lot when it was released a couple years ago.
I’m sending a shout out to the talented longarm quilters who transformed my 2016 quilt tops into beautiful quilts — Coleen Barnhardt, Karlee Sandell, Debbie Scroggy, and Sherry Wadley — and to you, my loyal blog readers, for your continuing interest and support of First Light Designs.
JBB? That’s the Junior Billie Bag, the most versatile quilter’s tote I’ve ever seen. I’m teaching a class on it at the Pine Needle, making one along with my students but staying a couple steps ahead to show them how the bag, designed years ago by Billie Mahorney, comes together. (You can see what a finished Junior Billie Bag looks like here, and you can see my first post about the JBB currently under construction here.)
The front and back panels are now quilted, with the lining and two sets of handles attached:
Back in August, before making the two blocks you see above, I used a strip of that bold floral fabric to make a test kaleidoscope block, thinking I might use it on a front or back panel:
It didn’t make the cut. I liked it but didn’t love it. Still, I thought there might be a way to use it in the Junior Billie Bag. And there was. I decided to incorporate the kaleido block into an exterior pocket.
A kaleidoscope block made of eight 45° triangles forms an octagon. I downsized it and converted it into a smaller circle, surrounding the circle in the brightest lemon yellow fabric I could find:
Here’s what it looks like now, made into a pocket attached to one of the side panels of the Junior Billie Bag:
The circle is 4⅝” in diameter and the pocket is 6″ deep.
See that band of black fabric at the top of the pocket? I used the same fabric to make a slightly deeper pocket (8″) on the other side panel:
I love how the wavy lines on the pocket fabric play against the lush floral you see above it.
In an upcoming post I’ll show you the pockets on the inside of the bag — lots of them, specifically sized for the tools quiltmakers use most. Please come back for a look.
I’ve already finished two this year, one for myself and one for a friend. Now I’m making a third one. The reason? I’m teaching a class that begins tomorrow at the Pine Needle. I made my first Billie Bag, designed by Billie Mahorney, about 10 years ago, and found it very challenging. It’s definitely not for beginners.
Now that I am teaching Billie’s design (in a slightly smaller version), I find that the easiest way to give my students the confidence to make their own totes is to demystify the process by showing how the individual components go together. I call it a “deconstructed Billie Bag” but in truth it’s a Billie Bag under construction.
I guess every time I teach this class I will wind up with a new Junior Billie Bag. This one is going to a friend as a surprise.
What you are seeing in the photo above are the front and back panels, the side panels/bottom unit, two sizes of straps, and some of the interior pockets. In a few weeks’ time, you will see a finished quilter’s tote measuring 14″ x 17″, with a generous 7½” depth to accommodate a 6″ x 24″ acrylic ruler.
I started out with two 12½” blocks to which strips were added to make two panels that will be trimmed to the proper size after quilting:
The panel on the left is yet another version of the Spinners block, from the book On the Run Again by Heather Peterson of Anka’s Treasures, that I’ve used in some other projects this year. The one on the right is a traditional star block that I jazzed up with a four-patch kaleidoscope (what I call a 4-Patch Wonder block).
Isn’t that a great black-white-yellow floral print? I found it last summer at a quilt shop in Central Oregon and bought the end of the bolt. It’s by Studio 8 for Quilting Treasures. I paired it with one of Cotton + Steel’s Basics from 2015: “Sprinkle,” designed by Sarah Watts. (I love the Sprinkle design so much I bought it in two other colors.)
My biggest challenge in making this Junior Billie Bag will be keeping Coco out of my sewing room:
Happy May Day! Can you believe four months have passed since we rang in the New Year? Time sure flies when you’re having fun.
I’ve been playing with Heather Peterson’s Spinners pattern, from her book On the Run Again (Anka’s Treasures, 2014). I’ve chosen this pattern to teach next month at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop‘s retreat on Hood Canal in Washington State. I want to show my students a few different ways Spinners can be interpreted based on fabric and color choices as well as size of finished project.
My latest experiment is a three-block table runner or wall hanging in which I cut the six 60° triangles in each block from six repeats of fabric. In my last post I showed you the first block I made using that technique.
Here is the three-block runner, with the first block I made in the center:
It’s difficult to envision what a block will look like when you first cut the triangles; that’s part of the appeal for me of making kaleidoscope quilts. This isn’t a true kaleidoscope quilt because the triangles don’t meet in the center to form a hexagon. They spin around the center hexagon instead (which is why I’m calling this top a kaleido-spinner). Even so, the outcome of each block is a surprise.
Since some of my students may be minimalists or modern quilters, I’m going to make a sample block in solids or mostly solids. I’m already thinking about how a modern quiltmaker might treat the negative space when it comes to quilting.
I’m also still thinking about making placemats using this pattern. We don’t use placemats at the Portland White House because there is always a tablecloth on our dining room table (yes, made by me). But I have the perfect fabric in mind, one of those fabrics I bought a lot of a few years ago because I liked it so well. And the perfect fabric to make coordinating napkins is also in my stash. All in good time . . .
In the meantime, I am going to enjoy this spectacular May Day in Portland, Oregon. I hope you are enjoying sunshine and warm temperatures wherever you are!
“Ho hum,” you must be thinking. “That’s old news.” Yes indeed, but since bringing that beautiful floral fabric home earlier this month I have been fixated on using it in Heather’s pattern in a different way. I hinted as much in an earlier post about this fabric.
You already know that I am, to put it mildly, fond of kaleidoscope quilts. I’ve finished at least 10 quilts containing kaleidoscope blocks. All of them were made of eight 45° triangles forming an octagon. Until today I had never made a kaleidoscope block composed of six 60° triangles forming a hexagon.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the Spinners block contains six 60° triangles. Instead of meeting in the middle to form a kaleidoscopic image, however, the triangles “spin” around a center hexagon. That didn’t stop me from testing my idea that six identical triangles placed in a Spinners block would produce an interesting effect.
Before I show you my Spinners block, take a look at the kaleidoscope blocks I could have made. Because the triangles are equilateral, any of the three points can go in the center, providing three different outcomes.
Here’s the first one:
The second one:
And the third one:
I like them all but am partial to the first one. A quilt made of these blocks and more would be very striking, to be sure. The floral print lends itself beautifully to kaleidoscope blocks. But we’re headed in a different direction this time. Take a look:
A new spin, both literally and figuratively. I’m calling it a “kaleido-spinner” block.
I placed the block on a piece of dark blue fabric so the block would stand out and I like the effect so well I’m going to use that fabric. I’ll make a couple more blocks before deciding whether to make a wall hanging or keep going to make a quilt.
The first day of 2016 is here! It’s a time for looking ahead but also a time for looking back. Specifically, looking back at what I accomplished in my sewing room in 2015. I never accomplish as much as I think I will, especially when it comes to finished quilts, but I have to remember that I made a variety of small pieces and craft items last year in addition to quilts. It will be fun to revisit them as well.
First up, the quilts.
My first finish of 2015 was Catch a Falling Star, based on Terri Krysan’s star sampler, Reach for the Stars:
Then came Toile Story (73″ x 89″), started in 2009 but not finished till 2015. Designed by Alex Anderson and featuring fabrics she designed as well, Toile Story was quilted by Debbie Scroggy of All Quilted LLC:
Next: Olivia Twist, a 31″ x 76″ bed runner made using my own 4-Patch Wonder with a Twist pattern. It was quilted by Jolene Knight of Good Knight Quilts:
Using leftover fabric from Olivia Twist, I made Billie’s Star (56″ x 55″), an original design inspired by my favorite quilt teacher Billie Mahorney, who taught me a lot about drafting and sewing star blocks:
Next came Simply Dashing (58″ x 74″), a simple design that combines 4-Patch Wonder blocks (my name for four-patch kaleidoscope blocks) and Churn Dash blocks set on point. Simply Dashing was featured on the cover of the Pine Needle Quilt Shop’s fall 2015 catalog. Quilted by Debbie Scroggy of All Quilted LLC.
Pieced in 2014, I finished Sun Flowers, a wall hanging based on my Season to Taste pattern. It’s #9 in my series of kaleidoscope quilts and the third of four quilts I’m making to reflect the seasons of the year. It measures 18½” x 55½”:
My final quilt finish of 2015 was Loose Leaf, begun in a workshop with fiber artist Pat Pauly. Made from her New Big Leaf design, it finishes at 24½” square:
I quilted the last two pieces myself but was happy to have the larger quilts go out to some extremely talented longarm quilters.
In my next post I’ll show you the array of Pretty Little Things I made in 2015.
The Pine Needle Quilt Shop in Lake Oswego, Oregon is having its annual Fall Festival this Friday and Saturday, Sept. 11 and 12. The Pine Needle is my home away from home. I teach there, meet friends there, buy fabric there. When I get into my car to head to the Pine Needle, I don’t even need to steer; my car seems to know the way. Just kidding, of course, but it gives you an idea of the amount of time I spend there.
Those of us who teach at the Pine Needle will be on hand Friday and Saturday to tell you about our new classes and demonstrate popular quilting products. My new quilt, Simply Dashing, is one of the first quilts you see when you come into the shop:
Not only that, it made the cover of the Pine Needle’s fall catalog:
The Pine Needle does a brisk mail order business, sending out thousands of catalogs to quilters who don’t live close enough to visit the shop in person. It tickles me to think my quilt is the first thing these people will see when they pull the catalog out of their mailbox.
I usually try to come up with a little quilt or craft project to share with the people who come to the Pine Needle’s open houses. Since the shop is well known for its extensive inventory of flannels, my Fall Festival project is a flannel coaster in the shape of an overstuffed armchair, inspired by a felt coaster I bought some 30 years ago at a holiday craft sale.
Aren’t these cute? And very practical, too, because they’re reversible. The pattern and instructions are free with any flannel purchase. A quarter yard each of two flannels is enough to make four coasters.
During Open House the Pine Needle is doing lots of drawings for prizes — including a $50 gift basket each day. A few sets of my Cozy Flannel Armchair Coasters will be raffled off as well. Do come if you are in the neighborhood. I’d love to see you — and you just might be a winner!