Diamonds & Rust

Diamonds and Rust QuiltDiamonds & Rust might seem familiar to some of you; I designed it when I was a finalist in the 2012 McCall’s Quilt Design Star contest. I was intent on quilting it myself for the upcoming show and that’s exactly what I did.

I always get a bit nervous when I sit down to quilt a piece. It’s almost like I forget that I know how to quilt on my home machine (a fantastic Janome 7700!). I’ve done it many times before and once I start quilting I always enjoy it. I just have to get beyond my initial jitters.

I used a combination of stitch in the ditch, gentle curves with my walking foot (my Janome has an open toe Accufeed foot which gives great visibility) and free motion quilting. I tried not to overdo the free motion quilting, because there’s a lot going on with the design of the quilt. I used it in the yellow background in the center, the lightest blue backgrounds and the teal in the middle border. I did a simple stipple and I’m really pleased with how it came out.

In the next few days I should have photos of it hanging in the show, as well as the quilt I featured in my last blog entry.

I dropped off both quilts today and I’m looking forward to seeing them hanging with the other 400 quilts on Tuesday when the show opens! Several friends are showing quilts and I hope to post photos of their lovely work too, if they give me the okey dokey.

Enjoy your week!

Where have I been? Getting ready for a quilt show and a giveaway, of course!

stonehengeIt’s true; the Sauder Village Quilt Show will start next Tuesday, April 30th, and I’ve been working to get my two entries ready for the show. The show features about 400 quilts from the very talented quilters from our region and beyond. It’s always a treat to see what everyone is working on and, of course, to see my own quilts hanging in the show. If you are anywhere near northwest Ohio I’d encourage you to come see the show! It’s set in an historic village, which will open for the season on the first day of the show. For full information, see the Sauder Village website. If you’re inclined to make it an overnight visit, there is a lovely inn right on the premises!

I can share one of my entries with you; I’m still finishing up the other entry. This is an original design that I’ve been wanting to make for quite some time. I finally tackled it a last fall’s quilt retreat, sent it out to Charisma’s Corner for longarming and finished up the binding in the last week or two.

I was so fortunate to have Charisma quilt it for me. stonehenge-sideShe does incredible work and I felt strongly that this quilt needed top-notch custom quilted. She really did my top justice and I’m so pleased to enter it in the show.

My favorite part of the quilting is the gorgeous feathers along the sides and the way they wrap around the corners. I took great pains with the design to make sure that I had blank spaces for quilting and I’m so glad I did.

The quilt is 85″ square and I used Northcott’s Stonehenge fabrics and Aurifil 50 wt. thread for piecing. This was my first time using Aurifil and I’m so glad I did. It helped me to keep my seams as accurate as I could, and it’s now my thread of choice.

I hope to release a pattern of the quilt sometime after the show. It was fairly easy to make, suitable for a confident beginner, with lots of chain piecing and not too much fuss matching seams. It would be lovely in other colorways and especially in a scrappy version. The only ruler I used other than my standard one is the Tri-Recs Tool. I’m hooked on it!

Here are a few other views:

stonehenge-sideThis quilt needs a name! I could do what I always do and ask my husband to name it but I thought it would be much more fun if you all gave me your suggestions by leaving a comment below.stonehenge-center I’ll choose two winners from among all the submissions – one whose name I like and one at random – and you’ll each win a set of ten fat quarters from my way too vast collection. Let’s hear those ideas! Want an extra entry? Share this blog post on Facebook and let me know in your comment.

At long last – Easy Street with a Twist

I’ve finally finished my version of Bonnie Hunter’s Easy Street. I changed the pattern just a bit. It’s not my favorite quilt I’ve ever made; in the future I’ll go with my instincts and choose a solid instead of the black and white fabrics. It’s just too busy for my taste. It did use up a lot of my scraps!

I couldn’t get a great photo of it. It was a cold and blustery day here in northwest Ohio, not quite the spring day I was hoping for. And let’s face it, I need to be a bit taller to get a better angle on these large quilts. This one is 85″ x 85″.

Right now I’m working on two quilts for the upcoming Sauder Village Quilt Show, which is always a nice event with about 400 quilts. The Village is a great place to visit so make a day of it and come see the beautiful quilts. This year’s show is Tuesday, April 30 – Sunday, May 5, 2013; Sauder Village is located in Archbold, Ohio.

My larger entry is pieced, quilted (thanks Charisma!) and the binding and sleeve are on; there’s just the hand sewing left to do. My smaller quilt still needs to be quilted. At 45″ square I’ll be tackling that myself using my Janome 7700. I’ve got my work cut out for me for the next few weeks!


Congratulations to our winner!

I’m pleased to announce the winner of the Reunion Charm Packs is Lori Morton!

I’ve emailed Lori and hope to hear from her soon.

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to check out my blog and enter the contest, and thanks to the Quilting Gallery for sponsoring it!

We’ll continue to sponsor giveaways and will offer more free patterns in the future, so be sure to subscribe to our blog!

Thanks again, and congrats to Lori!

It’s our first giveaway!

Blog Hop Party with Give-Aways We’re participating in the Quilting Gallery’s Beat the Winter
Blog Hop by sponsoring our first giveaway!

Welcome to all of our new visitors! We’re a relatively new
quilting blog, adding content weekly and offering free
patterns, design and quilting tips, and thoughts on the
quilting lifestyle.

We’re pleased to offer two “Reunion” charm packs for our
giveaway. With two charm packs you can make a nice sized
quilt, several totebags or anything else your quilting heart
desires! Here’s Moda’s PDF brochure with pretty photos of the full Reunion line.

Reunion Charm PacksEntering couldn’t be easier; just leave a comment on this post and on March 15 I’ll select a random winner. Feel free to subscribe to our blog!

Bye bye, Winter Blues!

Quilt Retreat – Woo Hoo!

I’m so excited to be going to a quilt retreat this weekend! What could be better than spending the weekend stitching and laughing and sharing with good friends?

I’ll be working on a One Pinwheel Railfence first, and then a new design that I hope to share here soon. Both will be in Civil War fabrics, mostly from Paula Barnes. I’ve been saving them for a long time and know I’ll enjoy putting both quilts together.

The Pinwheel Railfence’s color palette will be very controlled while the new design will be very scrappy. I’m looking forward to switching gears mid-retreat and letting my imagination run wild.

If the computer gods cooperate, I may have some photos to share here. If not, next week will have to do.

Happy quilting!

The Making of a Star – Star Quilt, That Is

A fellow quilter has inquired about how I come up with my quilt designs. I’m happy to share how one of my recent quilts came about. I’m not done piecing this one yet and I’ll share my progress in later posts.

new_star-150x150It all started with a Quilting Board poster asking about a paper pieced star and if anyone knew what it was called. I was able to find the star in Electric Quilt 7 among the Blockbase blocks, where it’s called New Star.

When I saw New Star, I thought it would be a fun block to play with, and the first thing I did was change the color palette to yellows and white.

paper-pieced-star-block-150x150Next, I changed the position of the dark part of each star to the shorter spike rather than the taller one, feeling it would make the short spike recede into the background better and create the 3D look I was hoping for. I changed the center triangles to the background color; I wanted to emphasize the star rather than the block center.

The true test of any block design (before the sewing stage) is to place it in a quilt design and see what happens. Does it play well with other identical blocks? Does it need an alternating block, either pieced or solid, to either calm the main block down or bring attention to the main block? Here’s the block set in a horizontal quilt:


As you can see, this is a pretty boring design. There just isn’t much oomph to it. The secondary circles did appear and I always like to play with circle designs, especially those that don’t actually require piecing curves. (I have another quilt that is nearly finished which also features that effect. I’ll be posting about it as soon as I get the binding on and it will be offered as a free pattern here.)

paper-pieced-star-block2-150x150So what can be done to fill up some of that white space? Since this is a foundation paper pieced pattern, I thought I’d try adding a few lines to each block to create additional patches. At the same time, I thought more color was needed. I went to my “go-to” palette of purples and came up with this block.

The lines I added were in the center of the block, changing one triangle to a triangle and stripe, and in the corners of the block I added two triangles which will create a secondary design without actually adding another block. Here’s the resulting quilt:


This was no longer boring, but it put the emphasis on the secondary block rather than the stars, which is not what I wanted. That gave me a new idea. Since it was the stars I liked, why not put stars in the outer corners of the block by duplicating the stars on the inside corners. In addition, I thought the center quarter square triangles also took away from the star design, so I changed those to solid colors.


 The block was really shaping up! I popped it into my EQ quilt design and here’s the result:


I’m getting happier with the design, but there’s one change I want to make.

Right now all the centers of the stars have a white square surrounded by yellow. What happens if I make some of them yellow squares surrounded by white? The beauty of the block design is that all I need to do is swap the two strips of color on the corners and I can worry about placement later if I need to.


How will that work in the quilt? Check out the results:



I like it, but it’s still not quite there. One problem I have with it is that it now looks too busy. I’d like the design to end with an actual star on each side of the quilt, not half or a quarter of another star. I can just color the purples and yellows along the edge with the background color, but I am after a quilt pattern here; I want to be able to print out my paper piecing foundations and know that each one will be the right combination of colors and background. I decided to work with each quarter of the block separately. That will give me the flexibility I need. Here are the quarter blocks for the center stars and the quarter blocks that go along the edge. The quarter blocks on the edges get rotated according to their position.


And this is the quilt I was going for:



Designing with EQ or on paper is great but you really don’t know how things will work, especially with an original block and design, until you actually make the quilt. As a quilter I want to make a quilt that I will not only enjoy looking at, but one that I will enjoy making. I spent the better part of a day making two blocks (eight quarter blocks) of this quilt to decide if I like it.

I found that the point where the stars come together, with its twelve seams, was not a lot of fun to piece. When you add the paper, in my case a thin vellum by Neenah, to the twelve pieces of cotton, well, that’s a lot of fabric and paper to manage, even with the best of sewing machines and some Best Press. Here are my test blocks:


starcloseupLook at those meeting points – they are not pretty! I’ve included a close up in case you need more evidence.

Why put yourself through the agony of trying to piece that if you don’t have to? In quilting, as in other areas of life, there’s no reason to do things the hard way if you can do them the easy (or easier) way and get similar or better results. When you’re designing a block or a quilt, why not design it so that assembling it is a pleasant experience?

To that end, I decided that the stars would look just as good, and maybe better, if I finished their points before they made it to the end of the seam. The stars will look just as good and it was worth redoing the design to see if it might even look better.

And here is the final, final, final design for A Star is Born:


Colors are subject to change, as they already have several times. I’ll make another few test blocks before deciding to plunge forward and I’ll post them here when they’re done.

I hope this gives you some insight into the design process. Quilters often ask “how do you come up with this stuff?” and this is how. And I enjoy every minute!

This will be available as a free pattern on the Favorite Patterns page in the future. Leave a comment or subscribe and you’ll be notified when it’s available.