Tag Archives: miniature

Festival of Quilts

It’s quilt show time, and I was amazingly restrained in photo taking. There are two ways of looking: snapping photos or enjoying the moment. I like both ways. This time,  I’d actually intended not to take any (didn’t even take my camera), but succumbed and pulled out my phone a couple times.

First a modern looking quilt (though it is an adaptation of a traditional pattern):

1 Lone Star with Rays Irena

Lone Star with Rays by Irena Swanson

I love this variation of the Lone Star. Irena is a math professor and she enjoys calculating how to sew tubes of strips and cut them to get intricate, traditional patterns. Often she tells how many seams it took when she shows her quilts at show-and-tell, but she didn’t write it in her description.

And a traditional looking quilt:

1 Grannie's Crazy Spinners

Grannie’s Crazy Spinner by Diane Woodruff

This quilt was huge.  And I didn’t take a close up to show the ’30s fabrics.  I have a stash of 30s and may borrow this idea for some of them.

And a miniature:

1 monkey whole

Monkeys and Monkey Wrenches (top) by Carrie Perkins

She fussy cut the monkeys for the center of the Monkey Wrench blocks. I can’t take photos with one hand with my phone, so I couldn’t put my finger in the picture to show size, but the Monkey Wrench blocks looked to be 2 inches square at the most.

Here’s a detail:

1 monkey detail

Don’t you love the little escaped monkey hand appliqued on the side? And as you can see this one was hand quilted. Every year the show has a featured quilter and this was Carrie’s year.  She had a wide variety of styles and techniques.



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From Improv to Precision

As I have said before, I like traditional, modern, and art quilting. So, having finished the improv mystery, I shifted to precision piecing. Northwest Quilters Guild sponsored a workshop with Sally Collins, known for precision piecing and her miniatures.

Now I’ve seen photos of her miniatures, but that just isn’t the same as seeing a masterpiece made with tiny pieces, like Sedona with borders I’d estimate as 1/4″ triangles. I think everyone at Sally’s talk the night before the workshop was in awe.

Our project for the day was a sawtooth star block; either 3″ or 1 1/2″ or both, using the smaller for the center. I chose the latter.

class block

Sally gave us a plan for a finished product to complete at home. Instead of her pattern, I’m thinking of a sampler. I’ll keep the colors traditional; red and white quilts were once quite popular. I’ll use various shades and tints of red and not worry about using the same white throughout. That much I have planned.

Sally didn’t give a method for making perfect blocks on the first try. Rather she listed the points where care needed to be taken, the times to evaluate, and the details that show we were getting off, even by a thread.  And of course, she gave tips for correcting at each of those points, tips which excluded trimming to size (except for HSTs and QSTs made oversize). Also she made us feel a bit better by telling us she too has to rip and resew. She has written a book, Mastering Precision Piecing, which I imagine covers similar ground as the workshop. (They were sold out before I had a chance to browse.)

One of her tips was to put a weight on a piece while it was hot from pressing (no steam) and to let it sit till it was cool. My weight at home is an antique gasoline iron I bought years ago, and it is pretty heavy.

antique iron

At the workshop, we didn’t weight as we pressed.  A group of around 15 sharing four ironing boards could not tie up the boards to weight their pieces.  Pressing mine and weighting it all at once  at home isn’t giving the desired results. I made another block tonight and pressed as Sally instructed to see how much flatter it would end up.

New star, white center

It is better (and easier to work with at each step), but it still curls. Maybe my weight isn’t heavy enough, or my iron hot enough. I did manage to do other things and wait till it was really cool. Or maybe it needs repeat treatment. I’ll have to experiment.

You can all probably quote the times I have said I don’t rip or the times I’ve advised against ripping out. And I am not claiming to have turned over a new leaf. Not every quilt I make demands that degree of precision. But when they do (like the Storm at Sea on my list, or the Mariners’ Compass), I will have new tools to work with.

I had not planned a “large” 6 1/2″ block as part of my miniature sampler; however, I didn’t think the colors through ahead of time in class; I just started. In this quilt I won’t want blocks alternating background colors, so instead of starting over, I added a star. Maybe I’ll make a modern miniature with “oversized” blocks.

6-inch three-star

Oops. I see we are edging toward 6 3/4 instead of 6 1/2.  I think I’ll let it pass. I’ll not be putting same size blocks together anyway.  My conversion to perfectionist is not complete.

Linking up with Let’s Bee Social, WIP Wednesday, Needle and Thread Thursday and Show Off Saturday. Links in sidebar.


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Old Portland in Gingerbread

Front view of gingerbread Old PortlandFor nineteen years, there has been a gingerbread creation at the Benson Hotel; this being the hotel’s 100th year of operation, the creation depicts Portland around 1913. Created by Chef David Diffendorfer, the display involves approximately 100 pounds of gingerbread and 25 pounds of white chocolate and marzipan. (We could smell the gingerbread.)

Having been a Portlander for only two years, I didn’t recognize many of the buildings; however, a desk clerk gave us a crash course in Portland history.

Center view

The building with the medallion is the Benson Hotel itself. The tan building with a little dome at the left is Pioneer Court House, still a functioning courthouse. In front is the Willamette River.

Amusement ParkHere is a view a little to the left to show Council Crest, in those days the site of an amusement park known for its big roller coaster. Today it is a city park, a workout of a hike with the reward of a great view of the city.

Union StationIn the foreground is Union Station which has been restored and still functions as an Amtrak station. Up at the top left is Pittock Mansion, another hike with a rewarding view of the city as well as the option for a tour of the house. The tour I’ve done; the hike not. I should have moved to Portland when I was younger.

Visiting the gingerbread creation will become one of my Christmas traditions, now that I know about it. And as this time, so in the future, lunch at the Palm Cafe: the mushroom melt was wonderful.


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Road Trip–Small Quilt

Although there is quilting and binding left, I feel finished when a top is finished.

Small Quilt top

12″ x 12″ finished size

My local guild is having a raffle of small quilts at the spring quilt show, and this will be my offering.  It is so busy that the quilting will be minimal. I’m still debating on the binding (or absence of binding); I have some “Route 66” fabric for the backing.

The idea started with the black and gold fabric that became the highway center line. From there to day and night, and from there to city and country. It was fun to create.

Now back to the golf quilt.

Check out Finished Friday projects


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Miniature beginnings

1 1/2-inch ShooFly block

Getting smaller

I’ve long had a desire to make a miniature quilt.  In the first attempt, the fabric disappeared down the hole under the sewing machine needle–I was using a zig zag machine and was told to use a straight stitch plate. I set the idea aside.

I took a class with Terrie Sanderlin (see link to the right),  bought her book and used her method of gluing squares to paper to avoid losing fabric in the hole.

Recently, I tried again with raw fabric (no paper) and a Featherweight (straight stitch) machine. Technology has probably helped, but I’d guess more practice and a less slippery fabric also did their parts.

I was making “Flying Geese” blocks, and I usually save the trimmed triangles from these to make pinwheel blocks. I don’t usually save any under two inches. But this time I was making flying geese 1 1/4 x 2 1/2, using 1 3/4 squares on the 1 3/4 x 3 rectangle pieces. The trimmed triangles were 1 3/8; stitched together they trimmed to a 1-inch half-square-triangle block. With quarter-inch seam allowance, the finished size is 1/4 inch. I have enough triangles to make a dozen of these blocks. If they all work out to size I’ll ponder next design possibilities.

Meanwhile, I’ve noticed the ratio of fabric that disappears into seam allowance.  With this size it is 50%. Not economical, but better than discarding scraps.


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Modern Mini challenge

I just learned of the Modern Mini challenge.  And it sounds like a lot of fun.  First you blog-hop to get inspiration, then you sew and then you enter to win fat quarters and some other cool stuff.

I have to get back into picture taking mode.  I’ve started blocks on the languishing golf quilt and finished some socks. So I’ve not been totally idle.  I’ve also done a lot of reading since I am auditing a class in cultural studies/critical theory. And I am reading the “everybody reads” book, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, noting places in Portland so I can go photograph them for another challenge.  I’ve not been inactive in life, just here.

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Miniature is finished

9 1/2 x 9 1/2

Somewhere around midnight I stitched the last stitch on the binding.

This is my first one, so it did take longer than 3 hours.  It will be interesting to see how fast the next one goes.

The directions are in Miniatures in Minutes by Terrie Sandelin.  I will have to make a bunch to practice free motion quilting over the close seams–maybe just take tucks in fabric and practice quilting until I can get a smooth curve going.  I’d really wanted circles in the “flowers.”  But when I saw the  angles in random places, ripped out and went with squares.

I went from the miniature to making 12-inch maple leaf blocks for an exchange. it was like returning to a “normal” 8 or 9 knitting needle and worsted after having made socks with a 0. Weird.  But it gives another way to get the perspective than the penny in the corner.

12 x 12 beside 9 1/2 x 9 1/2


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Miniature’s progress

Pausing while i wait for the miniature to dry enough to press.

clean back

It is so good to see the pile of paper and the clean back.  So glad I thought of the newspaper to catch the pieces! It wasn’t as bad as I expected, removing the paper. It took about an hour, but I doubt it will take as long again, since the first half took 45 minutes and the last half 15.  Only part of the explanation is that I got the hang of it.  I think I rushed too quickly into it, and it got easier as it got drier.

At the workshop we’d had a discussion of how long to let it dry, Terrie being from a drier area out west than our humid Indiana.  Next time I’ll wait 45 minutes to an hour.

So after I press it, I’ll get serious about borders.

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Miniature quilt, take one

I have long been interested in making miniatures.  And today I came the closest yet at a workshop with Terrie Sandelin. See the nickel for perspective?

6 1/2 x 6 1/2

Her method involves a lot of preliminary marking on paper, but then is smooth sailing with glue and straight seams. My computer won’t let me add a link to a post, so you’ll have to copy and paste if you want to see more of her method and samples: http://www.terriesandelin.com

Now I need to remove the paper–the good thing about paper piecing in any form is accuracy, the nasty is removing the paper…we’ll see how this goes.

I am pondering borders…no plan yet. Then of course, quilting comes next. Much less surface than the 60 x 60 I quilted recently.  VBG

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