Over the last few days my fair city — Portland, Oregon — has filled with thousands of professionals in the quilt industry: fabric designers, quilt shop owners, pattern designers, fabric and notions manufacturers, vendors, longarm quilters, professionals of every stripe. The occasion is International Quilt Market, the big trade show held twice a year. Fall Market is always held in Houston; Spring Market rotates among other cities.
As a quilt teacher and sole proprietor of First Light Designs, I’m eligible to attend. And where am I? Not in Portland. I’m Missing Market, a condition significant enough that others who also cannot go have created a #missingmarket profile on Instagram. But don’t feel too sorry for me. After two delightful days in New York City, the Dear Husband and I have arrived in Spain where we will join a group traveling down the Douro River on a small ship. We start in Madrid, board the vessel near Salamanca, and end in Lisbon, Portugal. Then it’s back to Manhattan for three nights before coming home in early June.
My plan was to bring a hand applique project or two along with me. I did finish piecing Block 6 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt and even got the center of the block marked for the applique . . .
. . . but that was as far as I got before running out of time.
With no handwork to occupy me in quiet moments on board ship, I need something quilt-related to tide me over till I get home, so I packed a book I had ordered from Canada that arrived just a few days before my departure:
This little book has 533 pages and weighs over two pounds! I will surely derive many ounces of pleasure from its pages during the journey down the Douro.
In my last post, I was complaining a bit about doing some alteration work for my husband, only because it was taking me away from doing something I like much more: making quilt blocks.
Happily, I am back at it. In the photo above, you can see the components of Best.Christmas.Ever, Block 6 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the sampler quilt I’m working on this year.
Because I chose to rotate the block 90 degrees, I couldn’t use designer Shelly Pagliai’s directions in her book A Simple Life: Quilts Inspired by the 1950s. I had to draft a new version. In the illustration below you can see that the redrafted block is made up of four Hourglass blocks in red and white, four Hourglass blocks in green and white, and four blocks known as Cat’s Cradle. To the left of the illustration are the two sets of Hourglass blocks:
For the Cat’s Cradle blocks I was able to use a wonderful specialty ruler designed by Deb Heatherly for Creative Grids. The ruler eliminates the need to sew tiny triangles with bias edges. Instead you start out with two squares, two small rectangles, and one large rectangle. The yield: two Cat’s Cradle blocks, made slightly oversize and trimmed. I needed two sets:
I’m getting ready to work on Best.Christmas.Ever., Block 6 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the sampler quilt I started working on in January. (See the original quilt in my first post about it here.) The plan is to incorporate the four fabrics you see above. I think the green and black holly print will go in the large green triangles you see in my color mock-up.
Don’t you love the addition of the appliquéd flower in the center of the block?
It’s important to note that the block you see above with the scalloped border measures 18″ finished. The star block in the middle finishes at 12″ and then strips of the white background fabric are added on all four sides to bring it up to 18″ before the scallop is appliquéd in place. Remember this, as those measurements will come up later in the post.
As with my first four blocks, I’m reorienting the design so that the block is positioned the way you see it above when turned on point in the finished quilt. Here are the original and modified blocks drawn in EQ7 software:
It’s easier for you to see what I’ve done if I turn the modified version on point:
The block design is the same but the proportions are different: the elements in the modified block are noticeably smaller.
The quilt math on this block turned out to be quite a challenge! The original block was made on a 6 x 6 grid whereas the modified block must be made on a 5 x 5 grid to duplicate the look within the space constraints. I know that sounds crazy but look at the pencil markings on the next photo to see what I mean:
See how the block on the left is a 6 x 6 grid and the one on the right is 5 x 5?
My block is going to finish at 12½” instead of 12″ for the simple reason that the block needs to be easily divisible by five to work with my 5 x 5 grid. Technically speaking, 12″ is divisible by five: 2.4″ is the magic number. But quilters work in eighths of an inch, not tenths of an inch. I didn’t want to go there although I considered it . . . briefly.
Now, think about a block that finishes ½” larger than all the other blocks. Normally that would be a deal breaker. Ah, but I have a plan. Since the 12″ star blocks are surrounded by strips of background fabric to make them finish at 18″, I think I can get away with making the strips a little narrower on this block to compensate for the fact that the star block is bigger.
The other thing I’m going to do is sew my seams with a full quarter-inch seam allowance instead of my usual scant quarter-inch. That should draw the block up by at least a quarter of an inch, meaning that this star block will actually finish at 12¼” — pretty darn close to the size it should be.
. . . and Other Things. That’s the name of Block 5 in Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the sampler quilt I’m currently working on. I’m pacing myself: a block a month. Except that I’m ahead for the month of April.
As I’ve done with all my blocks so far, I rotated the design 90° so that when the block is set on point in the finished quilt, it looks like Shelly Pagliai’s original design.
Here is Shelly’s original Block 5, complete with scalloped border:
She tweaked the traditional Corn and Beans quilt block and added an appliquéd wildflower to the center. That’s the and Other Things part of her block name.
Here is my block sans appliqué, sashing strips, and scalloped border:
Don’t those fabrics play well together? The blue and white print is from Jill Finley’s new line called “This and That.” She designs for Penny Rose Fabrics. The yellow raindrop fabric is from an old line called “Kate’s Umbrella” designed by Felicity Miller for Westminster Fibers. It’s been in my stash for the better part of a decade. I have a feeling this quilt is going to be quite a mash-up of new and old fabrics.
When you set my latest block on point, it looks like this:
Now you can see its position relative to Shelly’s original design.
April’s block was more challenging to make than you might think. For starters, rotating the design changed the dimensions of the individual pieces. My half square triangles (HSTs) finished at 2⅛” and other measurements were equally odd. I was able to determine the sizes of my components by drawing the blocks in EQ7 software:
The drawing is 6″ finished so all I had to do was double the measurements since the actual block is 12″ finished (before sashing). Those squares composed of Half Square Triangles measure 1-1/16″ in the diagram.
Coloring the block in EQ7 helped me keep the blue/white and yellow/white HSTs in proper position for sewing:
Getting all those points to match required careful cutting, pinning, and sewing. And I resorted to pressing most of the seams open (something I rarely do) to get the seams nice and flat.
Now I’m ready to work on the appliquéd center. No foolin’.
I’m in Month 3 of my own personal 2018 Block of the Month (BOM) program and right on schedule. What you see above is Block 4 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, a stunning sampler quilt celebrating the life of a young woman coming of age in the 1950s in the American Midwest. The quilt was designed by Shelly Pagliai of Prairie Moon Quilts.
I’ve made Blocks 1 and 3, skipping Block 2 for now as it’s a heavily appliquéd border around a center medallion. That will come later, after I’ve finished making the rest of the individual star blocks and added their appliquéd centers. I’m using this project to hone my needleturn appliqué skills and I’m still very much in the rookie stage.
My Block 4 is looking a little bare right now without the appliquéd flower in the middle. The individual shapes are all cut and ready to be sewn, though, and I’m eager to get started. Producing just one block a month on Hazel’s Diary Quilt is giving me the time and freedom to work on other projects. It’s also keeping me from feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of appliqué called for in the quilt.
I hope you’ll check back in a few days to see how different the block looks with a lovely flower in the center.
I just finished Canasta, my second block in Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the sampler quilt I embarked upon last month:
Here’s my block on point, as it will be in the finished quilt:
Why the name Canasta? If you look at it carefully you’ll see that it’s based on the traditional block called Card Trick. The designer, Shelly Pagliai of Prairie Moon Quilts, started with traditional blocks like Card Trick, tweaked some of them, and added appliqué designs.
The result is a strikingly dramatic and original quilt:
That’s Shelly’s quilt. Isn’t it a beauty? Not only is it strikingly dramatic, it’s also challenging. The biggest challenge for me comes in the huge amount of appliqué, which I am choosing to do using the needleturn method.
I’ve taken a few needleturn appliqué courses in years past, including one last summer, but have never followed up with a project. Since beginning this quilt, I felt like I really needed a refresher so I signed up for a class online taught by Mary Sorensen through iquilt.com, part of the American Quilter’s Society. Mary Sorensen is a superb teacher.
That said, the green leaves in Canasta gave me absolute fits. I don’t know how many times I tried to make the leaves as Shelly designed them, with deep indentations in the scalloped side. Finally I realized I’m just not skilled enough yet to sew them properly. I altered the leaf template to make the scallops less pronounced and was finally able to appliqué them onto my block.
The yellow circle in the middle of the flower is much lighter than the black petals in the background so I interfaced it first, which precluded sewing it on via needleturn appliqué. Instead I basted around the fabric circle, pulling the raw edges tight around a template. Then I cut a tiny circle out of batting and tucked it under the circle before appliquéing it in place. It looks rather like a covered button.
Here are my first two blocks, Missouri Farm Life and Canasta, side by side:
Now measuring 12½” square, these blocks are ready for their sashing strips, which will increase their size to 18½” square.
Next up: the block Shelly named Coal Miner’s Granddaughter. My goal is one block a month. If I stay on track, I’ll have a finished quilt top by the end of the year. I might even be an old hand at needleturn by then!
I have embarked on my second new project of the year, a sampler quilt called Hazel’s Diary Quilt from the book A Simple Life: Quilts Inspired by the ’50s by Shelly Pagliai of Prairie Moon Quilts. The book is a lovely tribute to Shelly’s mother, Hazel, who received a little red diary as a Christmas gift in 1950 when she was 14. Over the next few years Hazel faithfully recorded events in her life as a teenage girl growing up in rural Missouri. Her last entry was written the night before her wedding in October 1954. The book includes excerpts from Hazel’s diary with commentary by Shelly that puts the entries into historical context.
Included in the book are directions for seven quilts, a quilted tablecloth, and an embroidered dresser scarf. I’ve chosen to make the medallion quilt you see on the cover of the book. It’s a daunting project because it involves a lot of appliqué. Since one of my goals in life is to work on my needleturn appliqué skills, this project seems made to order. Am I up for the challenge? We shall see!
While the original Hazel’s Diary Quilt was made with vintage fabrics that evoke the 1950s, I am building my quilt around a new line called “This and That” by Jill Finley of Jillily Studio. In general I’ll be following Shelly’s color scheme of primary colors on a white background with black accents.
I have now pieced and appliquéd the first block. Before I show it to you, please take a look at the entire quilt:
This is Shelly’s quilt, which I was thrilled to see in person at the spring 2017 quilt show in Paducah, Kentucky put on by the American Quilter’s Society. You can see that the quilt is made of nine blocks set on point. Each block is surrounded by a scalloped border, and the block in the middle of the quilt is part of a center medallion that includes appliquéd vines, flowers, and leaves. The quilt measures 95″ square. Not only did Shelly design and make the quilt, she also machine quilted it. I am in awe.
Block 1, Missouri Farm Life, is based on the traditional Missouri Star block and includes an appliqued wildflower in the center. Here is Shelly’s Block 1:
The star design finishes at 12″ square but the block actually finishes at 18″ square with the addition of the sashing strips and scalloped border.
When a block is set on point, especially a star block, it changes the look. I decided I wanted my block on point to look like Shelly’s original block so I rotated the design 45 degrees before I made it.
Here’s how I did that. First I drew a rough sketch of the rotated block on graph paper:
(Thank you, Billie Mahorney, for teaching me how to draft quilt blocks!) Then I created the block in EQ7, a quilt software program:
The printed design measures 6″ square — half of the actual finished size — which makes it easy to measure individual components of the block. When I realized that the proportions of the rotated star were slightly different from the original star, I drew the original block in EQ7 to make it easier to compare measurements. Here are the two versions side by side, with the original on the left and the modified version on the right:
Shifting the orientation of the block also meant it needed to be sewn differently. Seeing the two versions side by side helped me determine the best way to construct my blocks and the proper size to cut the pieces. Since the center of my modified block is slightly smaller than the original, I knew I would also need to change the dimensions of the appliquéd wildflower in the center. A little quilt math revealed that my wildflower needed to be 92% of the original size.
Here’s my Missouri Farm Girl block (without the appliqué) as constructed . . .
. . . and here it is turned on point:
Now, here it is with the appliqué:
Isn’t that pretty?
I must confess that tiny black star in the center has not yet been appliquéd. I need a lot more practice before I tackle something that small and intricate. I did appliqué the petals and leaves using the needleturn method. Not perfect by any means but I think my skills will improve as my quilt progresses.
That’s why I’m also going to wait to appliqué the scalloped borders on all the pieced blocks as well as Block 2, the appliquéd blossoms and leaves in the center medallion. Instead I will move on to Block 3, a charming design called Canasta based on the traditional Card Trick block.
Isn’t that a gorgeous array of fabric? The prints are all from Jill Finley’s new line called “This and That” for Penny Rose Fabrics, a division of Riley Blake Designs.
I’ve been keeping my eyes out for this fabric since Jill introduced it on her blog, Jillily Studio, a few weeks ago. Not finding it at a local quilt shop, I ordered directly from her website last week. I bought almost every print in the line, that’s how much I love it.
And I have a project in mind already:
I’ve been wanting to make the quilt on the cover ever since spotting this book in Sisters, Oregon in July of 2016. Hazel’s Diary Quilt was designed, pieced, hand appliqued, and machine quilted by Shelly Pagliai of prairiemoonquilts.com.
The book contains lovely photos of this quilt (along with several other quilts and projects designed by Shelly) but guess what? I have seen the real thing! In April of this year I was lucky enough to be in Paducah, Kentucky with my quilt group, the Quisters, attending AQS QuiltWeek, the huge quilt show and vendor mall put on by the American Quilter’s Society. I turned a corner in one of the quilt display areas and this is what I saw:
Now it’s one thing to admire pictures of a quilt in a book. It’s quite another to be up close and personal with the actual quilt. I stood as close as the ropes would allow, studying fabrics, admiring Shelly’s beautiful piecing and appliqué skills, and taking in the beautiful free motion quilting. The quilt is 95″ square so there is a lot to look at.
Jill Finley’s fabrics will be the starting point for my own version of Hazel’s Diary Quilt. I’m quite sure I have other fabrics in my stash that will play well with them. I’m going to take my time with this project, making one or two blocks a month. Every block includes some hand appliqué, giving me ample opportunity to practice and improve upon that skill.
I like the idea of starting this project at the beginning of the year and letting it take me all the way to the end. But as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. We still have a couple weeks left of 2017, and I have a couple of projects to finish up in the time remaining.
Almost 1500. Fourteen hundred and ninety-seven, to be exact. That’s how many quilts were on display Saturday, July 8, at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in the tiny town of Sisters, Oregon in Central Oregon. An all-time high. The quilts are up by 9:00 am and come down starting at 4:00 pm the same day. I did my best to see as many of those 1497 quilts as I could and to photograph the ones I found most striking.
We start with the ones featuring hand appliqué, as this was on my mind after taking an excellent class on needle-turn appliqué from Australian quilter Sarah Fielke, subject of my last post, during the week of classes known as Quilter’s Affair that precedes the quilt show.
I was in Sisters that week with my quilt group, the Quisters, and this is one of the very first quilts we saw as we headed out on Saturday morning:
There were plenty more.
The proud fellow in the the photo below is the husband of the quiltmaker, Nancy Payne-Schomaker. He was clearly delighted with the positive comments he was overhearing about his wife’s quilt, so of course I had to ask him to pose with it:
It was her first appliqué project; no wonder he is proud!
Christmas in July, anyone?
This quilt by Carolyn Friedlander was part of the QuiltCon exhibit:
Carolyn Friedlander was one of the teachers taking part in Quilter’s Affair. This quilt of hers was hanging in the Teacher’s Tent:
This is another quilt in the Teacher’s Tent featuring hand appliqué:
I took a class from Laura a couple years ago and loved her whimsical style so much I bought one of her quilts. It hangs in my sewing room.
You saw this quilt in my last post but I have to show it off again. It was made by Sarah Fielke, inspired by an old quilt in the collection of the American Folk Art Museum:
This quilt was made by a woman who took a Quilter’s Affair class in 2015 from Sally Frey (I wish I had taken it, too!):
Look at this beautiful Baltimore Album-style quilt:
Guess what? It’s not hand appliquéed! I couldn’t tell it was raw edge appliqué until I got right up next to it.
There were a few other raw edge appliqué quilts at the show that caught my eye, including this one by Deborah Boschert, another teacher at Quilter’s Affair:
This quilt by featured quilter Tamra Dumolt (also a teacher at Quilter’s Affair) is from a forthcoming book:
And look how cute this wool appliqué quilt is, instantly recognizable as a Bonnie Sullivan design:
These quilts run the gamut from traditional to contemporary to modern. And there were so many more . . .
Thanks for stopping by. Please check back in a few days for another post about the quilts of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show 2017.