. . . my Uptown Funk neighborhood, that is, which now has doors and a few windows:
I wanted the long skinny doors to really stand out, like rays radiating from a sun, so I cut them all from black and green solids. I thought the effect might be diluted if I used prints.
I was planning to use the same solid fabrics for windows. If you look at the Dresden Neighborhood pattern by Kim Lapacek that my neighborhood is based on, you’ll see that all the buildings have doors and windows:
My plan changed when I happened upon a piece of fabric in my stash of a cityscape with a variety of windows — in the perfect color combo of black, white, and green. Of course I had to audition them! I fussycut just a few sets of windows and placed them randomly around the circle of houses.
The windows weren’t printed on the straight of grain so they’re all a little bit wonky. Perfect for my wonky little neighborhood. Here’s a close-up:
Oh, and see the little chimney? It’s the only one in the neighborhood. It’s covering up the smudge of dirt I pointed out in my previous post about this project. I stitched around the base of the chimney with black thread so it would stand out a bit more, and I also added a row of black stitching around the roof. I stitched around the other four roofs that had a lot of white in them after noticing that they blended into the background fabric too much.
I’m thinking windows on only five of my houses may be enough. What do you think?
. . . in honor of St Patrick’s Day. It’s rather nice to be thinking about St. Paddy’s Day and not about the self-confinement the Dear Husband I have entered as part of our responsibility to help flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic. I’ve read a lot of posts today about how people are coping and I deeply appreciate the perspective that Sharon Santoni of My French Country Home brings to the situation. She lives in France some 5,000 miles way from my home in Portland, Oregon but we are definitely on the same page.
So back to the wearin’ of the green, or rather the sewin’ of the green:
That’s the last of the 20 roofs on my Dresden Neighborhood quilt (based on the pattern of the same name by Persimon Dreams).
I stitched all the roofs using the blanket stitch on my new Janome 9450QCP sewing machine. I confess: it was harder than I expected. Not because my machine is new. No, it’s because I’ve never machine appliquéd with a blanket stitch before! How did I get to this advanced age without learning that skill?
I had to practice — a lot — on scraps before attempting it on my funky little neighborhood. The most difficult part was stitching around the sharp corners. I couldn’t find a decent tutorial on how to do that so I fiddled with the points, trying different approaches until I was satisfied. And I matched my thread with the roof to minimize the imperfections.
See that zebra print roof above at about the 8:00 position? It’s the only roof that’s rounded and it was very easy going around it with the blanket stitch. Had I known that when I was cutting out the roofs, I would have made more of them rounded!
Uh-oh. There’s a dark smudge just to the left of the roof in the 11:00 position, made of the same zebra fabric. Here’s a close-up:
I have no idea how it got there. It definitely wasn’t there when I stitched around the roof. I tried dabbing it with a wet Q-tip but it looks like ink. The next time you see this there will probably be a chimney covering that sooty-looking spot. How appropriate.
What’s left? Doors and windows; a circle appliquéd in the center; and then it’s time to sandwich and quilt my little neighborhood.
As I was sewing the last roof on, the name for my quilt-in-progress popped into my head: Uptown Funk.
It’s time for the tenth and final installment in my Throwback Thursday series looking at quilts made in the last decade. Coming up with my choice for 2019 was easy: it was the only quilt I completed last year! Here is Give Me the Simple Life:
I’m very proud of this accomplishment, as I made it my goal to become proficient in needleturn appliqué during the making of the quilt. It certainly provided ample opportunities for practice! Longarm quilter Kazumi Peterson did the amazing quilting.
Give Me the Simple Life will be on display later this month at Northwest Quilters’ 46th annual show, “A Festival of Quilts,” in its new venue, Camp Withycombe, in Clackamas, Oregon. Dates are Friday and Saturday, March 20 and 21. If you are in the neighborhood, please stop by. There’ll be over 300 quilts on display and lots of vendors selling wonderful things (like fabric).
Thank you so much for joining me in this 10-week lookback at some of my favorite quilts!
Hooray — March is here! Spring is on its way! In celebration of my favorite season of the year, I’m working on a new project featuring the quintessential color of spring: green, of course. My favorite color.
You’re probably wondering why on earth I’ve started something new when I have so many Works-in-Progress and Unfinished Objects (aka WIPs and UFOs) on hand. All I can say in my defense is that a) I like working on multiple projects at once, and b) there’s a method to my madness.
Before I explain, let me show you the new project:
I’m building a wonky neighborhood using the pattern Dresden Neighborhood by Kim Lapacek of Persimon Dreams. The wedges are made with a Dresden plate ruler, hence the name of the pattern. Isn’t my little neighborhood cute? The houses will have wonky doors and windows, and the raw edges in the center will be covered by an appliquéd circle.
Here’s Kim’s version as shown on her pattern cover:
I came across the pattern last year and bought it right away. After looking at some clever and charming versions recently on Instagram and Pinterest, I decided to jump in and create my own version. I’m also working on a couple of large quilts so the idea of a small (24″ square finished) project has great appeal. That’s one reason.
The houses in this little neighborhood are meant to be embellished with decorative machine stitches, especially around the roofs. Late last year I upgraded my Janome sewing machine to the Horizon Memory Craft 9450 QCP model. I am absolutely loving some of the new features but haven’t yet played around with the decorative stitches. This project is the perfect jumping off point. That’s the second reason.
And the third reason? I’m going to be teaching a “Wonky Dresden Neighborhood” class in June. (I teach at Montavilla Sewing Center’s Lake Oswego store.) This is going to be my store sample so I have some extra motivation to finish it up as soon as possible and get it on display. Hardly a burden. I can’t wait to get back to it!
Give Me the Simple Life, my version of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, is home again after hanging for three days at last week’s Northwest Quilting Expo. I entered my quilt for judging in the traditional category and received the judges’ comments when I picked my quilt up this morning.
Here’s what the judges said:
“A very compelling combination of a primary color palette. Presentation inside scalloped sashings is so appealing and beautifully executed.” Credit is due Shelly Pagliai of Prairie Moon Quilts, who designed Hazel’s Diary Quilt and cheered me on every step of the way as I posted my progress on Instagram and on this blog.
“Hand appliqué stitch is very well done.” This comment means a lot to me because I took on the challenge of making this quilt to become proficient at needleturn appliqué.
“Machine piecing is precisely done.” Thank you, judges.
“Quilting motifs are well chosen to fill the spaces.” Kudos to Kazumi Peterson, whose free motion quilting skills and precise ruler work greatly enhanced the finished product.
“Outside edge of quilt should be straight and corners square.” This comment caught me by surprise. Were the corners really not square? I used a square ruler to trim my quilt before attaching the binding. Of course I got out that ruler and checked the corners. The first three were perfectly square. But guess what? The fourth corner was an eighth of an inch off!
I know there are many other imperfections in this quilt but all in all, I am very happy with how it turned out. Most of all, I am glad that it’s done!!
Yesterday found me happily wandering around NW Quilting Expo, now in its 19th year, out at Delta Park in Portland. Hundreds of quilts were on display, including mine and several made by friends, fellow quilt guild members, and students.
Given my recent experience with needleturn appliqué, I found myself looking more closely at quilts featuring appliqué. There were some stunners, that’s for sure! Let’s look at a few of them:
Detail of Audra Rasnake’s Hosanna:
Detail of Sharon Engel’s Spring Explosion:
Here’s a fun one made by Judy Liebo, one of the featured quilters:
Judy reproduced Disney princesses (with permission), replacing the faces with photos of her granddaughters. Check out Tinkerbelle — that’s Judy’s face — in the upper right corner:
Here’s my quilt:
Among the other quilts that caught my eye:
Here’s another of featured quilter Judy Liebo’s whimsical challenge quilts . . .
. . . and here’s Judy herself with another one:
Linda Reinert, a fellow teacher at Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego, was another featured quilter. Here’s Linda with her husband’s favorite quilt:
This one was also made by Linda as part of a group challenge on the theme of architecture:
Look at the beautiful embroidery in this detail of Marcia Sanderman’s award-winning quilt:
Here’s a look at the entire quilt:
I hope you enjoyed seeing a few of the quilts that caught my fancy at the show. If you are anywhere in the vicinity, I highly recommend that you visit NW Quilting Expo today or tomorrow. If that’s not in the cards, you can see videos and photos on NWQE’s Instagram page. Sometime soon photos of all the winning quilts will be pictured on NWQE’s website.
I hope I’m not overloading you with pictures of Give Me the Simple Life, my version of Hazel’s Diary Quilt. All you saw in my last post was the folded quilt because it’s too big to photograph on any wall at home. Here it is pinned to the wall at Montavilla Sewing Center’s Lake Oswego store:
I’m so excited it’s finally finished! I started working on this quilt in January 2018; my first post about it shows the original quilt designed by Shelly Pagliai.
The last thing to do was sew the buttons back on that had to be removed before longarm quilter Kazumi Peterson could work her magic. Buttons? Yes; three of my nine pieced blocks have buttons in the center of the appliquéd flower.
Coco was very interested in what I was doing:
Fortunately, I got that last button sewn on before she could bat it off the quilt and have a little frolic with it.
A word about my backing fabrics, neither of which appears on the front:
My goal was to find fabric that looked like it belonged on the front and was light enough on the back side that it wouldn’t show through. Guess I was a little nervous about all that white fabric on the front of the quilt. The light red paisley print was a lucky find but I couldn’t get enough in one continuous piece of yardage to cover the entire back. I could have ordered the rest online but feared the dye lot would be different so I filled in with a green print that complements it nicely.
Give Me the Simple Life has been accepted in Northwest Quilting Expo’s big quilt show coming up in Portland Sept. 26-28. If you are anywhere in the vicinity, please come and see my quilt in person!
It didn’t take forever to bind my version of Hazel’s Diary Quilt; it just felt like it. This quilt is big. After trimming and binding, it measures about 95″ square. That’s 380″ inches of binding to tack down. I take about three stitches to the inch so I figure there are close to 1200 stitches in my binding.
This quilt is also heavy. Think about it: queen size to begin with, it contains eight blocks with lots of little pieces (which means lots of seam allowances on the back side), appliqué in the center of each block, reverse appliquéd scalloped borders around the blocks, and more appliqué in the center medallion. Even with wool batting, which I specifically chose because it’s the lightest of the batts, the quilt packs quite a heft.
I usually hand print my quilt labels but this time I printed one on my inkjet printer using instructions from a fellow quilt guild member. (Thanks, Marcia!) Here’s the label ready to be tacked down on the lower right side of the back . . .
. . . and here it is stitched in place:
I named my quilt Give Me the Simple Life, though the making of the quilt was anything but simple. As the label indicates, the quilt pattern is from the book A Simple Life: Quilts Inspired by the ’50s by Shelly Pagliai of Prairie Moon Quilts. The name I gave my quilt is both homage to Shelly’s mother Hazel Ilene, who was the inspiration for Shelly’s book and the quilts and projects in it, and a nod to the 1945 song of the same name, with music by Rube Bloom and lyrics by Harry Ruby. For you music trivia lovers, the song was first recorded by Bing Crosby singing with Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra. To hear it, click here.
The quilting — all free-motion and hand-guided — is by Portland quilter Kazumi Peterson. I am so impressed with her abilities. And I am completely in love with this quilt.
The indoor lighting is not ideal but I think you can get a sense of Kazumi’s amazing quilting. Here’s a close-up of the center block . . .
. . . and here’s a shot of the full center medallion:
The white background in the interior of the quilt is filled with spirals and pebbles. All of the pieced blocks have extensive stitching in the ditches and Kazumi carefully quilted around the appliquéd flowers and leaves in the middle of each block and also the ones in the center medallion:
In the setting triangles and gray border I asked for free-motion feathers. Here’s one of the corner triangles . . .
. . . and one of the side triangles:
I was so happy a couple weeks ago when I got the top finished. “I’m finally done!” I remember thinking, completely forgetting that when it came home from the quilter it would still need to be trimmed, bound, and labeled. Okay then! I’d better get busy.
Back in November of last year – my gosh, where does the time go? – I received an email from a woman in Canada named Tammy asking if I could help her track down a dahlia quilt pattern. She included photos of a quilt that her mother-in-law, then 89, had given her in the 1990s. Tammy’s mother-in-law thought she might have received the quilt as a wedding gift when she got married in 1952 and that her husband’s sisters might have made it.
Here’s a photo of a block with sashing strips and cornerstones:
The block measures 10½” square and the dahlia blossom measures 9½” from tip to tip. You can see that the appliqué pieces were turned under and zigzagged in place by machine. Here’s a detail of the appliqué:
Tammy searched the Internet and Pinterest as well as several quilting websites and blogs but could not find the exact pattern. She did find somewhat similar blocks like the Friendship Dahlia and the Star Dahlia but no block in which the white “star” formed between each of the printed fabric petals is the background of the block rather than actual pieces appliquéd in place.
She reached out to me because she had seen my posts on a mystery quilt my husband’s niece inherited. It turned out to be a Star Dahlia quilt but Tammy thought I might have come across her version during my quest. Tammy is not a quilter herself but her birth mother is and would love to make a quilt using this block. That was a great incentive to help.
If I couldn’t find the exact block, I thought, perhaps I could create it. Having embarked in early 2018 on a huge needleturn appliqué project – Hazel’s Diary Quilt – I thought it would be fun and useful to reproduce Tammy’s mystery block while practicing my needleturn skills. “This is just the kind of challenge I love!” I told her.
I too searched online but could not find a block exactly like the one in Tammy’s quilt. I did find a couple of dahlia blocks that seemed to match the outline of what I was already thinking of as “Tammy’s Dahlia.” The Friendship Dahlia Diagram on FieldGuidetoQuilts.com was a good start:
I also found a lovely version on Barb’s Block and Border blog of a Friendship Dahlia quilt made by her mother in the 1950s using a pattern in Aunt Martha’s Favorite Quilts: 17 Quilt Patterns Pieced and Appliqued, first published in 1935.
In both versions I could see that if the lines of the petals were continued to the center circle, the block would look very much like Tammy’s Dahlia. Using the software program EQ7 (in which I am not very proficient), I attempted to draw the design . . .
. . . and then created a mock-up using “fabric” made of paper. What I mean is that I photocopied a piece of fabric (in this case a print from Fig Tree that I’ve been hoarding), cut out the shapes, and glued them onto freezer paper:
Right away I could see that the white star shapes were too narrow compared to Tammy’s version. Every few weeks I would head back to the computer and play around with the software. Here are just two more of numerous versions I worked on:
And here is my first test block made using actual fabric:
This block measures 9½” from tip to tip so it’s the same size as the one in Tammy’s quilt, sized for a quilt block that finishes at 10½” square.
My second test block measures 11″ from tip to tip, sized for a 12″ finished block:
Both blocks turned out reasonably well but I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted the inside tip of the petal to come to a point like some of the ones in Tammy’s quilt. It’s tricky because the curves of the inner point are convex rather than concave. Just a couple days ago I made a test petal — and nailed it!
I sure couldn’t have done that a few months ago.
Tammy has been wonderfully patient while I worked on this project in fits and starts. Now that Hazel’s Diary Quilt is off being quilted, I am at last free to turn my attention back to Tammy’s Dahlia and, with the help of a graphic artist, finish this project in the next few weeks. I am so looking forward to the day when I can forward the pattern to Tammy and she in turn can give it to her birth mother.
I’ll be sure to show you the final product. If there is interest, I will post the pattern on my website as a free download.