A few weeks ago Shelly Pagliai of Prairie Moon Quilts made a request on her blog for signature blocks for a quilt she is planning. She wants to make a very large quilt out of very small blocks — they will finish at only three inches! Here’s my block:
I’ve never met Shelly but I’m a big fan. In some ways I feel like I know her. She is the author of this book . . .
. . . which includes the instructions for Hazel’s Diary Quilt, pictured on the cover.
I was lucky enough to see Shelly’s original quilt on a trip to Paducah, Kentucky in 2017:
Her quilt inspired me to make my own version, Give Me the Simple Life, completed in 2019:
While working on this quilt I was struggling with a particularly difficult needleturn appliqué shape — if memory serves it was a very small five-pointed star — so I dashed off an email asking for advice. Shelly answered my email quickly and offered a suggestion that helped immensely. I’ve always been grateful.
Since I’ve made one of her quilt designs I thought it would be fun to make a block for her signature quilt. Other than the size of the block, Shelly’s only requirements are that the background fabric be a bright color and the signature portion be solid white.
I chose one of the bright yellow prints I used in Give Me the Simple Life for the background fabric. I don’t have a solid white in my stash so I used the wrong side of a very tiny white-on-white dot fabric for the signature portion. It happens to be the same white fabric I used for the background in Give Me the Simple Life (although I used the right side!). I’m pretty sure it will pass muster.
Soon my little block will be winging its way from my home in Portland, Oregon to Shelly’s home in Wien, Missouri 1,863 miles away. And who knows? Maybe in a post-pandemic world I will get to meet her.
I made a serendipitous discovery today when making the label for All You Need Is Love, my latest quilt. Before I explain, let me show you a few photos of the quilt taken outdoors this afternoon. The photos are so much better than the indoor shots I showed you in my last post. I’m especially loving the contrast between the red of the quilt and the green of the grass:
Did you happen to notice the label in the lower left corner in the photo above?
No? How about in the photo below, showing the front of the quilt with one corner turned back?
It’s not very noticeable, is it? That was my goal!
Here’s a close-up:
The label contains important information: the name of the quilt, who designed it, who made it, where it was made, who quilted it, and the year it was finished. But I wanted the label to take a back seat to the message on the back of the quilt.
To achieve that I did three things: printed the label from my computer so that I could use smaller letters than I can comfortably write by hand; used red ink, which blends into the background better than black ink would; and reduced the size of my circle pattern from my usual measurement of 4⅝” in diameter (the width of a compact disc) to 3¾” in diameter . The quilt finishes at 38″ x 44″ so a smaller label was definitely called for.
This is my second experience printing a label using my inkjet printer. The first time was a few months ago when I made the label for Give Me the Simple Life. The procedure was pretty straightforward. You start with label fabric and freezer paper that are both cut larger than a standard piece of paper, press the shiny side of the freezer paper to the wrong side of the label fabric, and trim the result very carefully to exactly 8½” x 11″. You create a label on your computer, determining the font and point size based on the desired finished size of your label. You insert the fabric/freezer paper combo into your printer and print the label.
When I tried this the first time I found I had to use two layers of freezer paper to get my printer to accept the combo and even then it was a bit temperamental, jamming my printer a couple of times until I got the the result I wanted.
I would have followed the same procedure this time but for my concern that the bright little flowers on my background fabric would show through the white label fabric. I was using the same white fabric for the back of the label but I wanted an extra layer in the middle to make sure those bright little flowers stayed hidden.
I decided to try fusing featherweight interfacing to the back of my label fabric before pressing it to one layer of freezer paper. I’m so glad I did! The interfacing gave the fabric just the right amount of body to feed smoothly through my printer. Serendipity!
I previewed my label first on paper using two different shades of red:
The bottom red was a better match with the red in the quilt. Next I printed the label on my fabric/interfacing/freezer paper combo:
The ink on fabric wasn’t quite as bright as the ink on paper but would certainly be fine for my purpose.
After determining a circle 3¾” in diameter would work well as a finished label size (based on the width of the longest line), I wandered around my kitchen opening cupboard doors until I found something just the right size to trace around for the back of the label:
In the next photo the fabric for the back of the label is on top of the label fabric, right sides together and pinned in place. You can just make out the printing on the label through the top layer:
After stitching all the way around the circle (taking out the pins as I come to them) and trimming very close to the stitched edge with pinking shears, I cut a slit in the back of the label so it can be turned inside out:
With the label turned, pressed, and hand appliquéd in place, the slit in the back will never be seen. And I’m very happy with the result:
I have a feeling I will be using this method on future labels!
May I present my latest quilt finish? It’s called All You Need Is Love based on the pattern Love Rocks from the new book Text Me from Sew Kind of Wonderful:
The book features several sizes of alphabets made using Sew Kind of Wonderful’s new Wonder Curve ruler. I like to piece the backs of my quilts so I decided to have some fun with the alphabet and carry a message from the front of the quilt to the back:
My little quilt — 38″ x 44″ — sports an edge-to-edge quilting design. I wanted something modern and was attracted to this design that looks a bit like doodling:
“Modern Ties” is a whimsical design that offers a pleasing counterpoint to the precision of the letters. Sherry Wadley did such a nice job on this for me. The quilting enhances the design of the quilt without overpowering it, just the effect I was going for.
A lot of quilters I know don’t enjoy binding their quilts but I do. Stitching down the binding on this quilt was a breeze both because the quilt is small and because I used a nifty little “sticky thimble” to push the needle through the fabric:
The thimble is called a Poke-a-Dot — how cute is that? — and comes in a little round tin containing 24 dots. Each thimble can be used multiple times so I probably have a lifetime supply. I could have ordered just the small tin of Poke-A-Dots but I treated myself to a bigger tin — the full Appliqué Set from Jillily Studio — several weeks ago:
Having learned how to do needleturn appliqué last year in the making of Give Me the Simple Life, I’m interested in learning other approaches. And I do confess that the tin this appliqué set comes in influenced my decision to purchase it. (This is not a paid endorsement, by the way; I just happen to like these products.)
Another confession: I jumped the gun in showing you my latest quilt. It’s not quite finished. Still to come: the label.
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!
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!!
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.
My version of Hazel’s Diary Quilt top is finished — all 97½ square inches of it! Take a look:
I actually finished it on Wednesday. No room or wall in my house is big enough to lay the quilt out flat so I photographed it yesterday at Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego, where I teach, because the design wall there is just tall enough to hold the quilt.
Here are some shots at home as the quilt top neared completion. I was standing on a desk to take this one:
I really appreciate how the grey border calms down the bright colors in the interior of the quilt.
Shelly Pagliai’s original design calls for a narrow white border followed by a double border of scrappy squares that finishes at 3″ and then another fairly narrow white border. I skipped the first white border and added a strip of my main focus fabric in place of the scrappy squares:
Think of how much time I saved! That wasn’t why I did it, though; I had planned to use a floral border there from the very beginning. I cut my final white border 6″ wide, thinking I might trim an inch or two off after it’s been quilted.
And speaking of being quilted . . . the quilt top and back were delivered this morning to the longarm quilter. I’m excited about being done with the top and very excited about the prospect of someone else quilting it for me!