Category Archives: sampler quilt

A Sea of Stars

I made another 12″ block in my ongoing Sea Sampler project today. Before I show you the finished block, take a look at the fabric I used for the star points:

Is that not swoonworthy? It’s an ombre from Maywood (from a few years ago) that I pulled from my stash when I noticed how much the print looks like phosphorescent waves. While I was checking the proper spelling of “phosphorescence,” I came across another word for it: “bioluminescence.” Water bioluminescence resembles a sea of stars suspended in the waves. Yes, that’s exactly what I see in this fabric!

The block came together in an odd way. Normally I decide what will go in the center of the block and work outward. This time, I started from the outside in, making the star points first:

I used the darker value of the ombre fabric, which is darkest on the selvedge ends, moving to lightest in the center. You can see what I mean here, where the fold line marking the middle of the fabric width is very visible:

While I was pondering what to put in the center, my eyes fell on my current Junior Billie Bag, which sits by the door to my sewing room. As it turns out, both sides of the bag served as inspiration for the center. Here are the two sides during construction so you can see both at once:

The one on the left features a Churn Dash block inside a Sawtooth Star. I was thinking about making a Churn Dash block when it dawned on me that the fabric in the center of this particular Churn Dash has ferns that look like they’re under water. That small square — 2″ finished — is from the same piece of fabric as the circle on the right side.

I had actually auditioned that fabric when I was going through my stash for the Sea Sampler project and had rejected it because it didn’t look watery. But when I pulled out a piece and got a better look at the fern fronds, I saw an image that reminded me of an underwater garden. Even better, the image would fit really nicely in the 6″ x 6″ space I needed to fill.

I fussycut a piece slightly on the bias so the ferns would point toward a corner, as if it were gently undulating under water. This is the result:

See the bubbles?

Behold my finished block:

As you can see, I added small triangles to the corners of the center block as well as the inside corners of the four outer squares. Why? Because I wanted more green in the block and I wanted to add some visual interest to the basic block design. I love how the green triangles form little hourglasses on the diagonal.

Here is the new block (second row, center) with the other five 12″ blocks made thus far:

They join three 18″ blocks, which you can see here, and a smattering of 6″ blocks. This quilt is evolving slowly but surely. My sewing time is somewhat limited these days so I’m just coasting along, making a block here and there. But I do have what I think is a great idea for a layout.

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, sampler quilt, update | 10 Comments

Susan’s Star, Embellished

I didn’t think the block I made last month called Susan’s Star could get any better but I embellished it today by appliquéing a round fussycut flower in the center square, and I’m so happy with the result:

Credit for this idea goes to my quilting cousin, Patricia, who follows my blog and suggested the addition after reading my post of March 3. Good call, Patricia!

Susan’s Star is one of three 18″ blocks in a sampler quilt I’m working on that also features 6″ and 12″ blocks. The other two 18″ blocks have a blossom in the center, one pieced and one appliquéd:

Patricia thought my third 18” block would benefit from having a flower in the middle as well. For the block on the right I used a method other than needleturn applique. For Susan’s Star, though, I decided the time had come to give needleturn appliqué another go. If you are new to my blog, you may not know I learned needleturn appliqué in 2019 making this quilt.

Because three years had passed since I’d done any needleturn appliqué, I approached this task, simple and small though it be, with some trepidation. To be honest, I’m not sure I did everything correctly but it turned out just fine.

I started by drawing a dotted circle (my stitching line) on the fabric using a jar lid as a template and cutting a scant quarter inch away from the stitching line. After finger-pressing the stitching line I pinned the piece in place:


Stitching has commenced! Off to a good start:

After the first few stitches I felt like I had found my rhythm. Do you suppose doing needleturn appliqué is like riding a bike?

Halfway there:

And here we are where we started, with the finished block:

I haven’t been spending nearly enough time in my sewing room lately so getting this little project completed felt very good. It was my way of celebrating National Quilting Day.

 

 

Posted in appliqué, Hazel's Diary Quilt, needleturn appliqué, sampler quilt, update | 6 Comments

Boosting a Block . . . Again

If this 18½” block looks familiar, it’s because you’ve seen some earlier versions of it. It’s one of the blocks from my ongoing Sea Sampler project begun last spring.

The block you see above started out as this 12½” block made using Cluck Cluck Sew’s free pattern called called No Point Stars:

I decided to convert it into an 18½” square block by setting it on point, framing it with a strip of purple, and adding setting triangles to bring it to size:


I felt it needed a boost so I hand appliquéd a fussy-cut flower to the center of the block:

Definiely an improvement.

After making a few smaller blocks (the ones that will finish at 6″ and 12″ square), this was what I had:

So far so good.

I made a couple more 12″ blocks and then added a third 18″ block, the one I call Susan’s Star because I first spotted the design on Susan Ache’s Instagram page (see her post of Nov. 29):

When you take a look at my three large star blocks, you will probably be struck, as I was, by how much Susan’s Star and the block called Chicago Star (upper left) stand out compared to the block that began life as a No Point Stars block:

I knew instantly what that block needed: some green!

Wow, what a transformation!

I put all three stars up on my design wall . . .

. . . and as much as I liked the addition of green to my embellished block, it still needed something more. What could it be?

Maybe I should add a green triangle to each corner, drawing the eye out to the edges the way the other two blocks do. I cut four green triangles and stuck them up on the block to audition the effect:

I really liked what I saw but . . . would blue triangles in the corner be a better choice than green?

Only one way to find out:

Yes!

After sewing the blue corners on, I put all of the 12″ and 18″ blocks on my design wall and stepped back 10 feet. This is what I saw:

Yes indeed. That was just the boost the block needed.

I’m sure you have figured out by now that this sampler quilt is coming together without a plan. I don’t have any idea how big it will be or how many more blocks I will make. That’s okay with me because I am confident I will love the end product.

 

 

 

Posted in sampler quilt, update | 9 Comments

Susan’s Star Meets Dawn’s Sometime Sea Sampler

Isn’t this a fabulous block? I call it Susan’s Star.

If you follow Susan Ache — her Instagram handle is yardgrl60 — you may have seen her rendition of this block on her post of Nov. 29 last year. Susan is fond of taking orphan blocks and creating fabulous sampler quilts. She made her version of this block in red, green, and white. I was instantly enchanted when I saw it, so much so that I kept coming back for repeat views.

I wondered if it was her own design or perhaps a traditional block, so I contacted her this week to find out. Susan told me she hasn’t done any research to see if it’s an existing traditional block; she was just playing around when she created it. I asked her if it would be all right if I posted my version and if I could also post a picture of her original version. She kindly said “yes” to both questions.

Here is Susan’s original version:

 

I think you can see why I was inspired!!

I thought the design might fit well with one of my Works-in-Progress (WIPs) dating back to May of 2021. To refresh your memory, that was when I started making blocks using this initial fabric pull:


The pull was for a very informal Block of the Month program via Zoom that Montavilla Sewing Center, where I teach, had created for me and some of my students while in-person classes were suspended due to Covid. When in-person classes resumed in September, the Zoom classes sort of petered out but I decided to forge ahead, making my favorite blocks from the BOM design but branching out to include others, with the idea of coming up with my own sampler quilt.

When I saw Susan’s block, I just knew I had to include it. The blocks I have made thus far measure 18″, 12″, and 6″ square. (That’s the finished size; the unfinished size is ½” larger.) I’m not sure what size Susan made her block but I made mine to finish at 18″ square.

Many of the fabrics I’m using suggest waves, tidepools, and starfish so I have come to think of this project as my “Sea Sampler.” Because I’ve worked on it off and on, this has morphed into my “Sometime Sea Sampler.” (Could that be the final name of the quilt? Perhaps!)

Oh, one more thing. I clipped quite a few seams on the back to achieve the flattest seams. I thought you might like to see what that looks like:

In the next few days I’ll post photos of the blocks I’ve made so far. Maybe that will help me decide how to move forward.

 

 

 

Posted in Block of the Month (BOM), sampler quilt, update | 7 Comments

Sea Sampler Block Revision(s)


I’m much happier with this block in my Sea Sampler project after replacing the lower left corner of the block. If you read my previous post, you know that vertical seam was angling to the right. It’s straight now. Funny thing, though:  it was sewn straight the first time. Turns out it was the seam directly to the right, the one connecting the bottom left and bottom center sections, that was off.

I made one more change to the block: the seam of the inset circle is now pressed toward the center of the circle:

It was originally pressed away from the circle, making the circle lie very flat within the square. When the seams of an inset circle are pressed toward the center, it raises the edges of the circle slightly, making it look appliquéd.

Here’s the photo from my previous post:

Can you see the difference?

 

 

 

Posted in Block of the Month (BOM), Quilt-Along, sampler quilt, update | 5 Comments

Labors of Love on Labor Day

Monday of this week was Labor Day in the U.S., a federal holiday that celebrates the achievements and contributions of American workers. I was working on a little labor of love on Labor Day:  a block in my ongoing Sea Sampler project. But I wasn’t happy with my fabric selections so today I remade the block with all different fabrics. This is the result:

The block’s a keeper. It doesn’t have a name that I know of. (If you recognize it, please let me know.) I think of it as my Nebraska Star block because it’s on this coffee mug that I brought home a couple of decades ago from a trip to Nebraska:

If you look above the capital N of Nebraska, you’ll see the block. It’s very striking as a two-color block but also lends itself to other color combinations.

I drew the block in EQ7, the quilt software program . . .

. . . and colored it with fabrics similar to the ones I actually used:

Instead of using a simple square in the center of the block, I made an inset circle of little fishies (from the “Kaikoura” line by Jessica Zhao for Cotton + Steel):

I cut the fabric a little on the bias so the fishies are swimming slightly upstream.

Because I wanted to lead your eye to the center of the block where those little fishies are, I opted not to include the blue triangles in the outer corners of the block, although they can be added later if need be.

I really hate to draw your attention to a problem but I’m going to remake the lower left section of the block. It wasn’t obvious until I saw my photo:  that vertical line between the two small squares is not truly vertical; it’s definitely slanting to the right. How did that happen? No idea but it’s going to bother me no end until it’s fixed.

Labor Day 2021 also marked my return to the quilt classroom after 18 long months. All in-person classes at Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego came to a screeching halt in March of 2020 when the the coronavirus pandemic reached Oregon and we started to fully realize its impact. Monday evening was the first of four “Sew with Dawn” classes that will meet during fall term, September-December.

To say I was thrilled is an understatement. It was so good to see my friends and fellow quiltmakers in person again! We are all fully vaccinated — students, staff at Montavilla, and myself. Of course we were fully masked the entire time but even with masks on we could see everyone was smiling.

 

 

 

Posted in Block of the Month (BOM), sampler quilt, Sew-Along, stitch-and-flip corners, update | 5 Comments

Another Sea Sampler Block

Here’s the latest block in what I have started to think of as my “Sea Sampler” quilt:

The block is basically an Ohio Star with half-square triangles (HSTs) in the corners. I’ve been finding fabrics in my stash with a watery vibe that go really well with my other fabrics in this Block of the Month project through Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego.

Take a look at this close-up of my block:

The white on white fabric reminds me of bubbles and that light periwinkle print looks like waves and whitecaps. And could those shapes swimming in the waves possibly be turtles? I like to think so.

Look again at the first picture. If you really use your imagination, the green swirls against the dark blue in the center of the block could be floating algae or seaweed. Ferns, maybe? Pondering this will lead me to a name for my quilt eventually.

I now have these four blocks that will finish at 12″ square:

They play together very nicely, don’t you think?

For the layout I am envisioning, I need to make four more 12″ blocks, three more 18″ blocks, and a few more of these 6″ atomic star blocks:

Thanks to my dear friend Vickie R., I don’t have to worry about using up the last of this precious aqua print from a line that came out over a decade ago. It’s so hard for me to use up fabrics I love. Vickie knows this about me and she also knows I was running low on this fabric because I had mentioned it in an earlier blog post. Miraculously, she found a yard of it for sale on Etsy and surprised me with it last week. (Thanks, Vickie!)

It’s time to start another block and I’ve already decided what it will be. I seem to be moving at a snail’s pace on this project (make that a sea snail) but I am enjoying the process so much.

 

 

 

Posted in Block of the Month (BOM), Quilt-Along, sampler quilt, update | 6 Comments

Embellishment

“Something more.” That’s what one of my sampler blocks needed. Here’s the “before” shot:


I started with Cluck Cluck Sew’s No Point Star design (a free pattern!) and set it on point. I really like this block but as I pointed out in my last post, it wasn’t quite holding its own with the other sampler blocks made to date:


I decided to embellish the block with a flower fussy-cut from my focus fabric, seen here:

Now take a look at the block with the flower appliquéd in the center:

Better, yes? I’m especially liking that touch of green in the very middle of the blossom.

Here’s a shot of the embellished block with its companions:

I think it’s safe to say it’s holding its own now.

 

 

 

Posted in appliqué, Block of the Month (BOM), Quilt-Along, sampler quilt, update | 5 Comments

Baby Goose in the Pond Block

The name of this block is really Far West but I saw a version of it online recently and was struck by the notion that it looks like a greatly simplified Goose in the Pond block.

Take a look at this Goose in the Pond block I drew in the EQ7 software program and tell me what you think:


Better yet, take a look at the two blocks side by side:

See what I mean?

Far West is a variation of the traditional Shoo Fly block. It can be made as an equal nine-patch but I think it’s much more interesting the way I made it, as an “unequal nine-patch with a small center square,” a category in Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.

My block — maybe I should call it Gosling in the Pond? — will finish at 12″ square and be added to the sampler quilt started a few months ago as an optional Block of the Month project offered by Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego. I’m departing from the original quilt design by substituting some blocks of my own choosing. I have no idea how the quilt will ultimately turn out — but that’s part of the fun of it, right?

Here’s my Gosling in the Pond block with the most recent companion blocks:

My plan is to make several more of those “Atomic Star” blocks you see in the middle. They finish at 6″ square and will fill in the spaces nicely when it’s time to start playing with the final arrangement of the 12″ and 18″ blocks. But I’m really getting ahead of myself here. Several more blocks need to be made before I get to that point.

I haven’t been motivated to spend much time in my sewing room lately. It’s just “Too Darn Hot,” as the Cole Porter song goes. Yesterday I managed to produce that one block while dressed in my shortie pajamas with a wet towel draped around my neck. Portland is in the midst of its second major heat wave of the summer, with temperatures hitting triple digits again.

Coco has decided the coolest spot in the house is on the tiles in the master bath shower:

She’s just chilling out here but that’s a typical sleeping pose for her.

 

 

 

Posted in Block of the Month (BOM), cats, Quilt-Along, sampler quilt, update | 6 Comments

Atomic Stars

Why, hello there! Can it really be almost three weeks since my last post? The summer is speeding by much too fast and I haven’t spent nearly enough time in my sewing room. All I have to show you since my last appearance are these two little curved blocks:

But aren’t they sweet? I think of them as “atomic stars.” Finishing at 6″ square, they will either be stand-alone blocks or wind up in the center of 12″ star blocks in my current Work in Progress.

A few months ago Kristin at Montavilla Sewing in Lake Oswego designed a Block of the Month sampler quilt for me and some of my students as an optional project we can work on and share via monthly Zoom meetings until classes resume (which they will in the fall!). Kristin provided templates for the curved blocks but I wanted to see if I could get the same result using my Wonder Curve Ruler from the Sew Kind of Wonderful sisters (Jenny, Helen, and Sherilyn) and instructions from their companion book Text Me:

The four curved units that make up the atomic star needed to finish at 3″ square (so when they are sewn together they fit into a 6″ finished block). The curved units in Text Me finish at 1½”, 2½”, and 3½” respectively so I had to add a marking line to the ruler to make my block the proper finished size. My marking line is the dark pink one:

It took a couple of tries to get the points of the atomic stars right where I needed them: a few stitches away from the quarter-inch seam allowance. That way there’s no danger of the points disappearing into a seam.

The aqua floral fabric is one of my all-time favorite prints so I’m using it sparingly. It’s from Portland designer Mo Bedell’s debut line of fabric dating from 2010 called “Party Dress” for Blue Hill Fabrics.

Here’s a look at the atomic stars next to my 12″ Stargazer Lily block (subject of my last post):

Although they lose their atomic star vibe, I really like the way these blocks look on point, too:

I also like the positive-negative effect. Really, I could tinker endlessly with these blocks but the end of July is fast approaching and I want to get a couple of other WIPs finished by then. Wish me luck!

 

 

 

Posted in Block of the Month (BOM), Quilt-Along, sampler quilt, update, Wonder Curve Ruler | 4 Comments