My favorite quilt teacher Billie Mahorney always encouraged her students to make the backs of their quilts interesting, incorporating leftover blocks or fabrics from the front. I took Billie’s lesson to heart.
This is the back of Baby Selene’s quilt:
In case you missed my earlier post, this is what the front looks like:
I had four blocks left over that couldn’t be used because the prints were in different positions. Apparently they were destined for the back. I supersized one of the leftover blocks by adding two more rounds, then set that block and two more on point. I floated the three blocks on a soft green background printed with drifting leaves.
The result looks rather modern, doesn’t it? It would look even more so with different fabrics. I may have to test that theory by making another quilt incorporating a plus-sized pineapple block or two.
After this one is quilted, I’ll add a label in the lower right-hand corner that echoes the larger blocks. It may be as simple as a square in a square or I might add another round or two to make a mini-pineapple block. I think Billie would approve.
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.
One of my goals this year was to make four baby quilts. I finished three by the middle of the year and then got sidetracked by other projects. With one week left in the year, I realized I needed to get back on track. Quickly.
I remembered a fun pineapple block quilt I had started in a class with Karin Hellaby at Quilter’s Affair 2015 in Sisters, Oregon. The prints are perfect for a little girl’s quilt. Here’s one of my blocks:
Isn’t that a delightful combination of fabrics? They are all from completely different lines but they go so well together.
I had already made 12 blocks but for some reason only eight of them were identical. I had changed the position of the fabrics in the others. Why? I couldn’t tell you but I did know right away that they wouldn’t work in the layout I had in mind.
It didn’t take long to make the remaining eight blocks I needed for a 4 x 4 layout of 16 blocks. Here they are in my newly finished quilt top, destined for a special great-niece:
The blocks finish at 10″ square. With two sashing strips added, this top measures 50″ square, a good size for a toddler quilt.
The design is from Karin’s book Pineapple Plus: Sew Simple Techniques for the 21st Century (Quilters Haven Publications, 2010). This is the “four triangle method” she describes in her book, which results in the center squares (the red ones in this quilt) positioned on point. (Karin’s books are published in Great Britain but are available in the U.S., sold online and available at many quilt shops.)
The red fabric has a cross-hatch design that looks great on the diagonal. Take another look at the single block at the top of the post and also notice the tiny red squares in the green fabric and the tiny red ladybugs in the blue leaf fabric. I knew immediately that I wanted to bind this baby quilt in the red cross-hatch fabric.
Alas, I only had one little piece left measuring about 8″ x 14″ — and nothing in my stash that exact shade of red. A quick search of the Internet revealed that the fabric — Mixology Woven 2143 by Camelot Fabrics — was still available. What’s more, I found it on sale. Result: I ordered two yards instead of one.
What about those leftover blocks? They’ll go on the back, of course, along with the leftover pieces of the other fabrics from the top. I’m going to start working on that right now.
Last month when I finished piecing Where It’s @, my wonky Greek key quilt made using Karla Alexander‘s pattern Rewind, I was pretty pumped. Now that Where It’s @ is quilted, I’m even more excited. I think you’ll understand why when you see it:
Karlee Sandell, the same talented longarm quilter who did the custom quilting on Stella by Starlight (subject of my last post), quilted an edge-to-edge design on this one. The undulating curves are the perfect counterpoint to the sharp angles of the wonky Greek key blocks. Here’s a close-up of four blocks:
When selecting fabrics I started with a basic color scheme of green, orange, and purple, with values ranging from light to medium-dark to dark. My definition of purple stretched to include cornflower blue and a bright orange-red. I needed a thread for quilting that would look good on all of these colors. My first thought was a variegated thread but then I decided to go with one color that would work well across the surface of the quilt. Karlee and I auditioned khaki, straw, and light olive threads. Khaki was the clear winner.
I almost always piece a backing with elements borrowed from the front. Not this time. Out of my stash came a large-scale batik print I bought a few years ago while on a visit to Georgia. I had no idea at the time how I might use the fabric. It seemed to be perfect for the back of Where It’s @:
This close-up of the back shows how well the khaki thread works on the leafy print:
Since the back doesn’t include any design elements carried over from the front, I’m going to incorporate one for the label. That should be a fun addition.
I am so grateful to Karlee for getting Where It’s @ quilted in record time. She was able to squeeze it in ahead of a couple of custom quilts so that I can get it bound and labeled in short order. Why the hurry? So it can be displayed in the Pine Needle, the quilt shop where I teach. I’m going to teach this design in February 2017!
Last night I finished piecing my wonky Greek key quilt, which already has a name: Where It’s @. The name comes from the resemblance of the @ sign on a keyboard to the classic Greek key motif, which gets a decidedly funky treatment here.
The pattern is Rewind by Karla Alexander of Saginaw Street Quilts. I had the pleasure of taking Karla’s class last summer in Sisters, Oregon during the week of classes known as Quilter’s Affair. Karla provided a template for the block, which is made up of strips sewn in rounds like a log cabin block, and she also demonstrated how to make a block by cutting the strips free form. I can’t tell you how much fun it was cutting those strips free form — the wonkier, the better, as you can see from comparing a few blocks.
By the time I got to the last few blocks, I had finally developed a system for keeping my strips in order — imperative, since I was cutting through four layers of fabric at a time. Before getting to that point, I made a few mistakes, requiring some of the strips to be pieced, but I was hard pressed to find them by the time the finished top was up on the design wall.
One of the things I love about Karla’s design is how the background fabrics in the outer blocks extend to create a pieced border. My blocks finished at 8″ square. With the borders added, the quilt top measures 57½” x 73½”.
Where It’s @ is quite a departure from the quilts I am normally drawn to. It was good for me to step outside my comfort zone and make something a bit on the zany side.
Thank you all so much for your comments on my Refresh and Swoon blocks! To be honest, I was dubious about my Swoon block. I wasn’t sure I had used the leaf print to its best advantage but several of you liked what you saw here and on my Instagram feed, so I’m pressing forward with two separate baby quilts.
At the same time, I don’t want to lose the momentum I have going on my Where It’s @ quilt, begun in July in a Rewind class with Karla Alexander, so I’ve made two more pairs. Here is the first pair . . .
. . . and the second:
These two sets were made by stacking four layers of fabric and cutting the wonky Greek key blocks freehand. It’s one of the fun techniques I learned in Karla’s class. The squares start out at 12″ square and the unfinished blocks measure 8½” square.
I used the bright green fabric above as the darker of two values, whereas in an earlier pair of blocks it served as the lighter of two values, the darker being purple. Here are the two sets of blocks together:
So far I have 30 of the 48 blocks I need for the quilt. I can’t predict how these blocks will look when I am ready to put them all together but I sure am enjoying the process.
Are you planning to get some sewing in over the long Labor Day weekend? It seems strange to be writing those words: Labor Day weekend. A lot of folks think of Labor Day as the end of summer but don’t forget — we have almost three weeks before the Autumnal Equinox. I’m hoping for a few more al fresco dinners on the back deck.
Isn’t that a pretty jumble of batiks? I’m almost half done with the wonky Greek key blocks for my Rewind quilt, the one designed by Karla Alexander that I started in a class with her last month in Sisters, Oregon as part of Quilter’s Affair 2016.
I need 48 blocks to make the design pictured here:
I’m working in sets of four, stacking my squares and drawing my cutting lines freehand the way Karla showed us in class. Here are my two most recent sets:
In the pair of green/gold blocks directly above, take a look at the gold print, which reminds me of spots on a giraffe. Do you see how the giraffe fabric is the dark in those blocks and the green is the light? I used that same giraffe print in one of my early pairs, and in those blocks it was the lighter of the two:
Here are the two sets of blocks together, with the giraffe print reading dark/light in the top row and light/dark in the second row:
My quilt is going to be called Where It’s @. I’ll bet you can figure out why.
While I ponder how to move forward on my Chipmunk Love quilt, based on the “Star-Crossed Lovers” class with Colleen Blackwood that I took last week in Sisters, Oregon, sewing continues on two other WIPs (works in progress).
I’ve made a few more wonky Greek key blocks using the pattern from the other class I took in Sisters last week, Karla Alexander’s “Rewind” using her new pattern of the same name. Here are the blocks I made before we came home . . .
. . . and the ones I have made since then:
These last blocks along with two from the first group were made by cutting the strips free-form rather than following Karla’s template.
Despite the wonkiness, all of the blocks look a little like the @ sign on a keyboard. Because of that I’ve decided to name my quilt Where It’s @.
I’m also working on a quilt based on Chic Diamonds, a new pattern from those talented sisters at Sew Kind of Wonderful. This design calls for the original Quick Curve Ruler, and it’s been enjoyable working with these easy no-pin curves. Here’s one of my blocks:
Aren’t those fabrics gorgeous? The prints on the dark side of each blade are from a brand new line of fabric called Dance of the Dragonfly. Designed by Maria Kalinowski for Kanvas Studio in association with Benartex, the fabrics are due in stores next month. The Pine Needle, where I teach, will be carrying several fabrics from the line. I paired the prints with batiks for my blocks.
I’m doing something a little different with the Chic Diamonds design. Here’s a hint: I’m naming my quilt Dragonfly Kisses. I’ll post a photo when I have the top together, which should be very soon.
On Sunday I’m heading over to Central Oregon with my quilt group, the Quisters, for a week of sewing, including taking classes at Quilter’s Affair.
Do you know about Quilter’s Affair? It’s the week of classes put on by the Stitchin’ Post quilt shop in Sisters, Oregon, leading up to the biggest outdoor quilt show in the world. The show is always held on the second Saturday in July; this year it falls on July 9.
For Quilter’s Affair, the Stitchin’ Post brings in teachers from the U.S. and abroad to join a group of talented local and regional experts. I’m taking a class taught by fellow Oregonian Karla Alexander of Saginaw Quilts. I’ve met Karla, heard her lecture, and admired her designs, so it’s high time I took a class from her.
She’s teaching five classes at Quilter’s Affair. I’m taking the one based on her pattern Rewind:
Many of Karla’s designs are made by cleverly stacking, cutting, and sewing fabrics. Rewind is no exception. I was attracted to this pattern because of its resemblance to the classic Greek key design. Whereas the traditional Greek key is dignified, with straight lines and symmetry, Karla’s key (if I can call it that) is quirky and lighthearted, thanks to free form cutting, a freewheeling color palette, and funky fabrics.
I decided to raid my batik stash for this quilt. Instructions were to start with a family of colors and pick an equal number of lights and darks. I started with green — no surprise there — and randomly pulled other colors that go well with it. After cutting my 12″ squares, I layered them so that each fabric looks good with its neighbor on either side.
Here is my fabric pull:
Most of these squares are doubles, with a few singletons. For the class project 48 squares are needed. I wound up with 60, which gives me some leeway. In some cases a fabric works as a light with one neighbor but as a dark with the other. It will be interesting to see if this affects the construction process.
Taking this class will be extra fun because my fellow Quister Deborah is taking it, too. I wonder what fabrics she chose. Quilter’s Affair, here we come!