The center medallion in my Hazel’s Diary Quilt may not be progressing swiftly but it is progressing nicely. The four corner blossoms are in place and now I’m busily cutting out the leaves that adorn the vines. I’ve even got the first set pinned in place:
The goal here is to have the leaves look randomly scattered in terms of color but in fact I’m planning the exact placement very carefully. I’ll explain why in my next post.
Needleturning the leaves should be a very enjoyable experience because I finally have the technique down of turning the points. It took me a long time to master that swiping stroke with the needle when you get to the tip of a leaf and start down the other side. Now that I have the hang of it I’m eager to practice it.
I’m also thinking ahead to the next step: setting triangles with lots of little squares set on point. To show you what I mean, take a look at designer Shelly Pagliai’s original quilt:
I’m thinking about making a small adjustment to the setting triangles that will require even more squares on point. Let’s see if I can figure out the quilt math . . .
I had hoped to complete all the appliqué in the center medallion of Hazel’s Diary Quilt by now. Here’s how far I’ve gotten:
Yes, I have a ways to go but I’m pretty excited by the way the medallion is coming together. For reference, the center block including the red scallop measures 18″ square and the entire medallion measures 36½” square. It will be on point in the finished quilt. There will be flowers in each corner and leaves along the vines.
What’s happened in the two weeks since my last post? My husband Charlie and I took a road trip to Ashland, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, in the southern part of the state. There we rendezvoused with Charlie’s daughter Barbie and our granddaughters Bonnie (19) and Beatrice (16) for a family vacation. They live in San Francisco and Ashland just happens to be the halfway point between our two homes. Despite being saddled with summer colds, Charlie and I had a great time with the three Bs. We saw a couple of plays, enjoyed strolling around the charming town of Ashland, and did a little shopping.
We brought Beatrice back to Portland with us as she was accepted into Oregon Ballet Theatre’s intensive summer training program for the month of July. She is in class six days a week — that’s pretty intensive! We are so delighted that she can be with us for part of the summer. We always look forward to Bonnie and Beatrice’s summer visits. Bonnie couldn’t come this year because she’s working two jobs at home. She’s so grown up now; she even has her driver’s license!
I took my appliqué project to Ashland to work on and managed to apply a few leaves and petals. Barbie was much more productive. She completed a lunchbag for Beatrice while we there — completely by hand and without a pattern. She’s very creative that way. Take a look:
The bag is made of oilcloth. Barbie enclosed the raw edges with double-fold bias tape that she stitched on to the oilcloth with lime green embroidery floss. She sized the bag to hold three plastic containers: one for a sandwich, one for fresh vegetables, and one for fresh fruit. Then she added a pocket on the outside to hold granola bars:
A ballerina dancing several hours a day needs a substantial lunch!
Look at the cute detail of French knots where the ends of the bias tape meet:
Here’s Bea on arrival at OBT for her first day of classes:
Back to Hazel’s Diary Quilt: I hope to show you my completed medallion very shortly. If I’m to finish my quilt top by the end of July (my stated goal), I need to pick up the pace.
These vines are not needleturned. Instead I used a method by Suzanne Marshall I read about a few years ago in Quilters Newsletter Magazine in which fabric is pressed and basted before being cut into skinny strips. It worked really well: the bias edges of my vines were crisply pressed with no distortion at all, which made stitching them in place quite easy.
I suppose a very experienced stitcher would be able to eyeball the placement of the vines just by looking at designer Shelly Pagliai’s placement diagram (from her book A Simple Life: Quilts Inspired by the ’50s). I had to draw a section out on graph paper to make sure I had the curve of the vine just right:
My drawing was to scale so I just laid the medallion on top of the paper, lined up the design, and traced the upper edge of the vine.
Here’s an 8½” length of vine ready to be pinned into place. You can just barely see the line I drew to mark the top of the vine:
Here’s what the bias strip looks like from the back:
(The cut edge you see was trimmed after the basting stitches were put in place.)
Here’s the vine stitched into place before the basting is removed . . .
. . . and here is the finished bias strip in place, awaiting final pressing:
If you’re interested in learning more about Suzanne Marshall’s technique, look for the April/May 2016 issue of Quilters Newsletter. I also discovered a pdf file available online from americanquilter.com that includes appliqué tips and a photo page describing Suzanne Marshall’s bias strips method; it’s the sixth and last page of the pdf.
Now that my vines are in place, I have four six-petal blossoms and 72 leaves to appliqué by needleturn. Onward!
How I wish I could report the kitchen remodel is done. But no, we had a setback. On Monday morning of Week 8, my contractor inspected the crown molding that had been installed on the refrigerator wall the previous Friday and insisted that it be redone. (Is that not a sign of a good contractor?) Because of scheduling issues, the redo didn’t happen till the end of the week. That meant that the painting of the trim and the touch up on the walls and ceiling had to be pushed forward to Week 9.
In addition, we are waiting for delivery of a hood liner for the range hood insert. When I ordered the insert there was no mention of a hood liner. How vexing is that? We didn’t discover a liner was necessary until the insert was actually being installed. Result: the part didn’t get ordered till the end of May. I was hoping it would be here by now.
At least my husband and I are back in the kitchen making meals, getting accustomed to the new appliances, and admiring the new look. My twin sister Diane surprised us with a Cuisinart “Coffee on Demand” coffeemaker:
(Thanks, Nubs — we love it!) And how do you like my new ceramic canisters? I found them online and ordered them because they looked to be the same color as the lower cabinets. It’s a pretty good match!
Here’s a look at the west wall (sans crown molding):
I am loving the gleam of the stainless steel appliances and polished nickel bin pulls and the crisp contrast of the blue and white cabinets.
My sewing/quilting life may have been put on the back burner (so to speak) during this remodel but I am gearing up for more appliqué on Hazel’s Diary Quilt. I’m auditioning fabrics for the corner flowers on the center medallion and have cut out a few petals and leaves:
That’s a start. As a reminder, here’s a look at the center medallion from the cover of Shelly Pagliai’s book which contains the directions for Hazel’s Diary Quilt and several other quilts and small projects:
(You may remember I picked a different block for the center of my quilt.)
I’ve prepared the bias stems that wind around the light grey strips surrounding the block in the middle of the medallion and have cut out a few leaf shapes:
Progress on this project has been admittedly slow but I have given myself a deadline of July 31 to complete the top. That’s the day I’ve arranged to turn it over to an accomplished longarm quilter for custom quilting. Nothing like a deadline to get one going!
Before I show you the arrangement of my nine pieced and appliquéd blocks in Hazel’s Diary Quilt, let’s review the blocks in the order in which Shelly Pagliai introduced them in her book A Simple Life: Quilts Inspired by the ’50s (C&T Publishing/Kansas City Star Quilts, 2016).
The blocks are set on point, as they will be in the finished quilt:
Did you notice Block 2 is missing? That’s because I haven’t made it yet. The block, called Summer of ’51, is a vine of flowers and leaves around a square that will create a medallion in the center of the quilt. One of the nine pieced blocks will go in the very center of the medallion. To see Shelly’s original quilt, click here.
Shelly designed this quilt in memory of her mother, Hazel Ilene, who received a little red diary as a Christmas gift in December 1950 when she was a freshman in high school. Hazel wrote in the diary every day for almost four years, with her last entry written the night before her wedding in October 1954.
The blocks Shelly designed were inspired by Hazel’s diary entries and her life as a teenager growing up in rural Missouri during the early 1950s. For each block Shelly chose a traditional design, sometimes modifying it a bit, and added a floral appliqué in the center. Then she added a scalloped red frame around each block, appliquéd in place.
Without further ado, here is the final arrangement of my blocks:
The last block I pieced, Fair Weather, turned out to be my favorite, and that’s the one you see in the center.
There’s a lot left to do on this quilt but it’s very satisfying to be at this point!
That last red scalloped frame took forever. Once I got started it didn’t take all that long to finish the needleturn appliqué. The hardest part, for some reason, was taking the first step. I simply could not make myself get going. I’m pinning the blame on our kitchen remodel, which has proven to be a mighty distraction.
But finally Domestic Bliss, Block 8 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, is ready to show you:
And here it is on point, as it will be in the finished quilt:
What next? Why, more appliqué, of course! Of nine pieced blocks, one goes in the center, to be surrounded by four flowers and dozens of leaves to form a medallion. As a reminder, here is designer Shelly Pagliai’s original rendition of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, which I was thrilled to see in person at the AQS Quilt Show in Paducah, Kentucky in March 2017:
At the moment, I’m having fun moving my blocks around on my design wall trying to get just the right balance of color and scale. Do check back as I will be revealing the layout, including my final choice for the center block.
Back in August of ’18 I finished the interior of Domestic Bliss, Block 8 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt:
Even as I moved on to other blocks in this retro sampler quilt, I knew I needed to come back to Domestic Bliss and redo the four outer hearts. I had chosen Fairy Frost fabric and found that the metallic finish made the fabric a little stiff and difficult to needleturn. In addition to the curves not being smooth, I had drawn around the templates with a silver gel pen, which showed on my finished block. No amount of dabbing with a damp Q-tip would lift the ink. I now had two good reasons to redo the hearts.
But I didn’t return to Domestic Bliss until the other eight blocks in Hazel’s Diary Quilt had received their red scalloped frames. That took the better part of four months. Finally I could put it off no longer. Off came the hearts:
I wish I could tell you that the replacements hearts went on easily. Alas, no. Over a couple weeks I probably appliquéd — and then removed — each heart at least twice. Today I managed to get the last one on to my (almost) satisfaction.
But I felt the block needed one more thing. Can you spot it?
Now I’m ready to get started on the last red scalloped frame!
Work continues on my version of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the lovely sampler quilt Shelly Pagliai designed in memory of her mother. I finished appliquéing the red scalloped frame on Block 1, Missouri Farm Girl, yesterday. All that remained was sewing a tiny black star in the center of the yellow flower.
Missouri Farm Girl was the very first block I made when I started this project at the beginning of 2018. I’d been postponing affixing the tiny star until I had many more hours of practice in with needleturn appliqué. I thought I was ready. Nope. Not ready. (Did I mention that star is tiny?)
After a couple of failed attempts, I turned to my button collection, rifling through several antique spooners and celery vases to find a button that looks like it belongs in the block. I think I found the perfect one:
. . . is something we are not having in Portland, Oregon at the moment. There’s snow on the ground and “frozen mix” predicted for eight of the next nine days. C’mon, Portland! Where’s that teaser week of balmy weather we usually get in February?
Despite the inclement weather forecast, I can claim a spot of Fair Weather inside the Portland White House, namely in my sewing room:
That’s the name of Block 10 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the gorgeous sampler quilt designed by Shelly Pagliai that’s been the focus of much of my sewing and needleturn appliqué efforts over the past 14 months.
Here’s the block on point, as it will be in the finished quilt:
Don’t you love the swirly motion provided by the stems in the center appliqué?
Seven blocks are now framed in red and up on my design wall:
These blocks measure 18½” square. Set on point, they measure about 26″ across and take up a good portion of the design wall.
Progress is slow, partly because I’m not very fast at needleturn appliqué and partly because I’m working on other projects. One of them: another appliqué design totally unrelated to Hazel’s Diary Quilt that has a special story attached to it. I’m getting very close to revealing it so stay tuned.
And I’m longing to dip into my stash of indigo and cheddar fabrics to make some blocks using Jenifer Gaston’s Churning Stars design. I know I shouldn’t be starting a new quilt but the pull is very strong. I don’t think I can resist. . .
Fancy Farm Girl is Block 9 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, the sampler quilt project I embarked on a year ago. Here’s that Fancy Farm Girl on point, as she will be in the finished quilt, sporting her red scalloped frame:
She joins four other blocks that have been pieced and framed:
Progress has been slow on the appliquéd frames. I discovered I can’t work on my needleturn appliqué in the evening while watching television because the light isn’t great. (How on earth did previous generations of quilters do such beautiful work by candlelight?) I’m also hampered by a certain calico cat demanding lap time (and who am I to deny her?).
Four additional pieced blocks are awaiting their frames. One of the nine blocks will go in the center of the quilt as part of a medallion. I’ll pick the block for the center after all of them have been framed. Of the five so far, Fancy Farm Girl is the leading candidate. Do you have a favorite?