Category Archives: hexagons


In my last post I showed you a floral from Joel Dewberry’s Wander line for Free Spirit Fabrics and mentioned I would be using it in a new project. Here is the first block from that project:

Spinners block
Isn’t that pretty? The pattern, called Spinners, is from Heather Mulder Peterson’s book On the Run Again (Anka’s Treasures, 2014), a collection of 15 runners and table toppers. (I made a table topper from this design back in June 2014 and wrote about it here.)

You may be wondering why I have embarked on a new project. After all, my list of WIPs and UFOs is long enough without adding another to the mix. I actually have a very good reason, and I’m excited about it: In June I am going to teach at a retreat for the Pine Needle Quilt Shop.

Spinners is the pattern I have chosen for the 24 students coming along with me. They signed up for the retreat before they knew what the pattern would be! The “big reveal” was held last night at a special meeting for the retreat participants, which is why I had to wait till today to share these photos.

Here is the runner I made using three blocks:

Spinners runner horizontal

The spinning hexagons include two other fabrics from the Wander line along with fabrics from other lines that work well with the floral. The batik for the sashing and setting triangles came from my stash. I extended the setting triangles so the blocks would float.

Right now the runner measures 20½” x 49½” — but I’m not done yet. I’m going to add two more blocks to make it a bed runner. It will be about 81″ or so in length, the perfect length for a queen size bed. With wider strips at the ends, it could be sized for a king size bed.

Look again at the photo above. Don’t those hexagon blocks look great on point? They would be beautiful arranged this way in a quilt, an option I have presented to my students. They can choose to make a table topper from a single block, a table runner or wall hanging from three blocks, a bed runner from five blocks, or a quilt with 12 blocks.

I have one more idea to bring to the table. (My students got a preview last night.) I will let you know very soon what that idea is. Here’s a hint: it involves using that fabulous floral print in the Spinners block in a much more prominent way.

wander horizontal
I’ll post a picture as soon as I carve out some time to make another block.

Linking up with Kelly of My Quilt Infatuation on Needle and Thread Thursday (NTT).




Posted in bed runners, hexagons, table topper, update | 8 Comments

Spinning Away

My little Spinners table topper (from Heather Mulder Peterson’s new book On the Run Again) was a breeze to make. What took me a while was cutting out the pieces. The pattern calls for a 60° triangle ruler, which I don’t have (note to self: buy one!), so I cut out each triangle separately using the 60º marking on my favorite 4″ x 14″ acrylic ruler and the lines on my cutting mat.

Here is my top with the six triangles sewn to the hexagon in the middle:

Spinners topper in progress

So far so good! Here it is with the outer border:

Spinners top

The more I work with these Kate Spain fabrics (from her Sunnyside line for Moda Fabrics), the more I like them. Happily, I have quite a bit left of the fat quarter packet I started out with, so I may use the fabrics for another project in Heather’s book. I’m not sure what company makes the aqua solid, since the fat quarter didn’t have any selvage information, but I have enough of it to bind the topper.

Now comes the hard part: how to quilt it?




Posted in hexagons, table topper, update | 4 Comments

Topping it Off

I know I shouldn’t start something new but — I just can’t help myself! Heather Mulder Peterson’s newest book, On the Run Again, arrived in my mailbox a few days ago, and ever since then I’ve been oohing and aahing over the table runners and toppers pictured inside. Take a look at Granny Square Stars, the runner on the cover of the book:

On the Run Again book cover
Featured runner: Granny Square Stars, 18″ x 56″

Copyright Heather Mulder Peterson. Used with permission.

Wouldn’t that be fun to make? What a great way to use up scraps! I see it with dark stars in the centers. Granny Square Stars is definitely on my list but the one I am going to make first is a little table topper called Spinners:

Heather's Spinners Topper
Spinners, 18 1/2″ x 20 1/2″

Copyright Heather Mulder Peterson. Used with permission.

Anyone who loves hexagons as much as I do needs to make this design! As soon as I saw it, I knew what fabrics I would use. A few months ago I bought this combo of prints in the Sunnyside line by Kate Spain for Moda Fabrics:

2014-06-04 11.13.08

The way the fabrics were cleverly packaged by the shop, Pioneer Quilts, was a selling point. You can see why I can’t wait to get started!

If you’d like to see more of the charming toppers and runners featured in Heather’s new book, check out her blog, Trends and Traditions, which happens to be one of my very favorites.

I hope you’ll check back soon right here at First Light Designs to see the progress on my version of Spinners. Thanks for stopping by!




Posted in hexagons, table topper, update | 2 Comments

“The Biggest Outdoor Quilt Show in the World”

Saturday, July 13. A perfect summer day in Central Oregon: temperatures in the low 80s with a light breeze. Thirteen hundred quilts hung just for the day on the fronts, backs and sides of buildings in the tiny town of Sisters. Dozens of other quilts hung inside businesses all over town. Thousands of quilt lovers and other spectators strolling the streets taking in the sights and sounds of the 38th Annual Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show (SOQS).

I was lucky enough to be there for the show and the week leading up to it. For the last seven or eight years (we’ve lost count), my quilt group, the Quisters, has rented a house for the week leading up to the quilt show in order to participate in Quilter’s Affair, a week of classes organized by the Stitchin’ Post Quilt Shop in Sisters. In addition to the talented teachers living in Central Oregon, instructors come from across the country and overseas to share their expertise.

This year I opted not to take any classes so I could continue to work on my ever-growing stack of Works-in-Progress. I was sorry not to have taken at least one class, especially after seeing how excited my fellow Quisters were about the ones they were taking, but I did come home with three completed projects — WIPs no longer! — and the show itself provided a plethora of ideas for new ones.

There was something for everyone at this year’s show: beautiful traditional quilts, edgy modern quilts, and everything in between. Below, in no particular order, are a few of the quilts that caught my eye:

Mid Century Modern by Brita Kimmerly of Seattle WA, 52 x 60
Mid Century Modern, 52 x 60, by Brita Kimmerly of Seattle WA


Glacier Star by Pam Nichols of Powell Butte OR, 98 x 98
Glacier Star, 98 x 98, by Pam Nichols of Powell Butte OR


In a Spin by Gill Miller of Cambridge UK, 30 x 30
In a Spin, 30 x 30, by Gill Miller of Cambridge UK


He Watches by Janie Adams of Bend OR, 56 x 62
He Watches, 56 x 62, by Janie Adams of Bend OR


Spring Surprise, 41 x 57, by Beth Rietveld of Corvallis OR
Spring Surprise, 41 x 57, by Beth Rietveld of Corvallis OR


What You See by Kathy Doughty of Sydney NSW, 47 x 67
What You See, 47 x 67, by Kathy Doughty of Sydney, Australia


anns quilt
Cascade Kaleidoscope, 38 x 42, by Ann Richardson of Sisters OR


Two Color Mystery, 53 x 67, by Karen Shadley of Sisters OR
Two Color Mystery, 53 x 67, by Karen Shadley of Sisters OR


The Portland Modern Quilt Guild was represented by several beautiful quilts, including these three:

Spring String, 48 x 64, by Gail Weiss of Portland OR
Spring String, 48 x 64, by Gail Weiss of Portland OR


Sticks and Stones, 36 x 42, by Rachel Kerley of Hillsboro OR
Sticks and Stones, 36 x 42, by Rachel Kerley of Hillsboro OR


Gray Improv I by Cris Pera of Portland OR
Gray Improv I by Cris Pera of Portland OR


Every year the Stitchin’ Post Quilt Shop issues a challenge to its employees to make a quilt based on a theme, and all of the quilts are displayed on the side of the Stitchin’ Post building on show day. This year’s theme was “Streams of Color.” This shot captures most of the quilts:

challenge quilts made by staff of Stitchin Post
Challenge Quilts Made by Staff of the Stitchin’ Post

Two of my favorites are this one, incorporating hexagons . . .

one of the Streams of Color challenge quilts
made by Jean Wells, owner of the Stitchin’ Post and founder of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show

. . . and this one featuring New York Beauty blocks:

Streams of Color challenge quilt
made by Paige Vitek, employee at the Stitchin’ Post in Sisters

Continuing on with the show:

The King -- Elvis, 82 x 90, by Randall Cooper of Madera CA
The King — Elvis, 82 x 90, by Randall Cooper of Madera CA


J'Adore Paris!, 41 x 42, by Kristin Shields of Bend OR
J’Adore Paris!, 41 x 42, by Kristin Shields of Bend OR


Barbara's Baskets, 68 x 80, by Janet Storton and Barbara Fergusun
Barbara’s Baskets, 68 x 80, by Janet Storton and Barbara Fergusun of Sisters OR


Parallel Lives, 44 x 52, by Patty Six of Santa Barbara CA
Parallel Lives, 44 x 52, by Patty Six of Santa Barbara CA


Forest Path, 53 x 68, by Patty Six of Santa Barbara CA
Forest Path, 53 x 68, by Patty Six of Santa Barbara CA


Green Orphan Blocks, 42 x 42, by Colleen Blackwood of Pendleton OR


Random Windows, 46 x 28, by Hilde Morin of Portland OR
Random Windows, 46 x 28, by Hilde Morin of Portland OR


Oh my! I just realized I’m not even halfway through my photos. I think I will end today’s post here and present another batch of quilt photos in the next day or two. I hope you will come back for more.





Posted in hexagons, Portland Modern Quilt Guild, Quisters (Quilt Sisters), Sisters OR Outdoor Quilt Show, update | 11 Comments

My First Quilt Market

Today was the final day of the three-day International Quilt Market, held right here in Portland, Oregon. It was open to the trade only, and as the owner and sole proprietor of First Light Designs I qualified for entrance as a “cottage industry.” So yesterday I spent the better part of the day at the Oregon Convention Center.

As much as I enjoyed roaming the aisles, admiring quilts on display, looking at new fabric lines and publications and notions and patterns and threads and all of the other accoutrements of the quilting and crafting world, the highlight for me was meeting some of the quilt and fabric designers I admire whose blogs I have been following.

Heather Peterson of Ankas Treasures

Here I am with Heather Mulder Peterson of Anka’s Treasures. Her blog, Trends and Traditions, is one of my favorites. Heather is so talented: she sews, quilts, designs patterns, designs fabric for Henry Glass, publishes books — and she knits the most beautiful sweathers you’ve ever seen. All of the quilts you see in the background are from her latest book, Angles with Ease, and were made with her new tool, the Triangler, which makes all kinds of shapes including two of my favorites, kaleidoscopes and hexagons.

Here is Emily Herrick, showing her latest fabric collection, Technicolor, for Michael Miller Fabrics:

Emily Herrick with new quilt design

I don’t remember how I discovered her blog, Crazy Old Ladies, but it’s lively and fun, just like Emily and her quilts. I’m crazy about the quilt on the right, made from Emily’s newest pattern, Boomerang.

I was delighted to see fellow Portlander Mo Bedell, who designs fabric for Andover. One look at the fabric samples on the wall behind Mo will show you why I like her designs and fabric lines so much:

Mo Bedell

Both Emily and Mo won Best Booth awards, given for excellence in design and the over-all look of their booths. Congratulations, Emily and Mo!

Joanna Figueroa of Fig Tree Quilts was kind enough to pose for a photo with me:

Joanna Figueroa of Fig Tree Quilts

Joanna’s blog, Fresh Figs, is always full of gorgeous photos of quilts and other crafted items made from her patterns and her fabric lines for Moda. We had a nice conversation about the new Moda Honeycombs — packs of 6″ hexagons. On the table behind me are a few mini-purses made from her new pattern, Hexies, and a pack of Honeycombs. Yep. Those are on my list now, too.

And what a delight to meet Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs, who blogs at Bunny Tales:

Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill

Anne is well known in the industry for her quilt designs featuring appliqué, and she also designs fabric for Moda. When I introduced myself and told her that my friend Colleen and I are huge fans, she gave me a big hug.

Starstruck? Oh, yes. But you know what? These superstars of the quilting world are real people, just like you and me. And the ones I had the good fortune to meet yesterday were incredibly gracious and kind.




Posted in hexagons, kaleidoscope quilts, Quilt Market, update | 1 Comment

Hooked on Hexagons

Yes, it’s true. These little six-sided beauties have me enthralled. Why is that? First of all, they are simply charming, especially the smaller ones like these, which measure a mere half-inch on each side:

hexagons galore
Hexagons Galore


Fussy-cutting small prints can yield wonderfully whimsical results:

hexies 006
Fussy-Cut Hexies


ready for my close-up mr demille
“I’m Ready for my Close-Up, Mr. De Mille”


There’s more to their appeal than that, though: hexagons are made completely by hand. I fantasize about being a good hand quilter but find myself — at least for now — unwilling to invest in the amount of time it would take to become one. That would mean time away from my sewing machine, time away from designing quilts and home sewing projects, time away from reading quilt magazines and blogs, time away from the non-quilting aspects of my life.

But in little more than an hour, I can whipstitch together seven little hexagons and produce a thing of beauty. So satisfying! Trouble is, I don’t have a project in mind. When the mood strikes, I simply take fabrics I love and turn them into hexagons. I have a little plastic baggie of hexagons-in-the-making, all packed and ready for the road (or just an evening at home). They’re oh-so-portable, making them great take-along projects.

A traditional Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt is most definitely in my future. In fact, it’s already started. I have a few larger hexagons (1” per side) made, although they need another row:

hexies big and small
Hexies Big and Small

(I stuck that baby hexie in there just to show you the difference in sizes.)

The idea of doing something a bit more modern with hexagons is also appealing. Fortunately, inspiration is close at hand:

Jaynette Huff’s book


Jaynette Huff’s book, Quilts from Grandmother’s Garden: A Fresh Look at Paper Piecing (That Patchwork Place, 2005) is chock full of ideas for “fabric floral arrangements” made with hexies, and one fine day I may actually get started on an arrangement of my own.

Are you hooked on hexagons, too?




Posted in hexagons, update | 3 Comments

“Nattering ladies with needle and thread . . .”

I am lucky to own quilts made by two of my great-grandmothers.

I treasure the Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt made sometime in the 1930s by my maternal great-grandmother, Grace Violet (nee Watson) White (1873-1964). She was quite imaginative in the way she combined fabrics and replaced fabric she had run out of with something similar. She even fussy-cut some of the hexagons (decades before fussy-cutting came to be called that).

wauka's quilt, with detail
Grace’s Quilt, with Detail


Apparently she didn’t waste a scrap of fabric. Printing from the selvage is visible along seams on the back: PASTORAL GUARANTEED FAST COLOR.

Wauka's quilt, detail of back
Detail, Back of Grace’s Quilt


Equally precious to me is the Ocean Waves quilt made sometime in the late 1920s by my paternal great-grandmother, Magdalena (nee Naegeli) Weissenfluh (1862-1929). It’s not in very good condition but it is greatly loved.

Ocean Waves Grandmother Lena
Detail of Lena’s Ocean Waves Quilt


My father, who at 88 is sharp as a tack, gave me the back story on this quilt and the frame it was quilted on, which hung from the ceiling of Grandmother Lena’s home in eastern Oregon:

“Grandmother died in February 1929, some six months before my sixth birthday. My memories of her life are very fragmentary. I do remember, though, that when they [Grandmother Lena and her fellow quilters] were sewing the quilt top together they had me iron the scraps, which came out of the ragbags all wrinkled. Some of those patterns appealed to me and some didn’t. I could still point to some of those on the quilt. The quilt top was sewn on a treadle sewing machine.

 “Now to the quilting frame: It was four pieces of wood, perhaps one inch thick, two or three inches wide. Two of them were a foot and a half or two feet longer than the quilt was wide. The other two were shorter, maybe four feet long. Each piece of wood had a row of holes about two inches apart running the full length of the piece. Lay the two long pieces parallel to each other and perhaps three feet apart. Lay the two shorter pieces across the others, near the ends, making a rectangle of the whole thing. Think of using four good sized nails dropped through the holes (the holes being large enough that the nail would be a loose fit within it), anchoring the four pieces together.

 “Then think of the quilt rolled up on one of the two longer pieces, with enough of the quilt pulled off to reach to the other longer piece. Sort of like film in a camera, being spooled off one spool onto another. Now think of four eye bolts anchored into the ceiling with a cord dangling down from each. Each cord has a loop on the bottom end big enough to slip over the end of the long pieces. Think of the cord being of a length that would put the quilting frame at something like bosom height of a woman seated in a kitchen chair.

 “Two chairs on each side of the frame, four nattering ladies with needles and thread, pushing the needle first from top to bottom, then reaching under the quilt and pushing it back from bottom to top. The quilters were my grandmother, my mother, and my aunt Mandy, plus any other woman who happened to show up. As one panel was completed, the nails would be temporarily removed, and the completed portion of the quilt would be spooled onto the receiving spool and then the nails dropped back in place and the work continued until all the entire quilt has been spooled from one side of the frame to the other.”

Isn’t that a marvelous description?

Sometime in my quilting life, I plan to make a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt and an Ocean Waves quilt, in homage to my great-grandmothers Grace and Lena.




Posted in family, hexagons, update | 4 Comments