Kaleidoscope Table Runner – IV

Before the pandemic arrived I was scheduled to teach a class on constructing a Kaleidoscope Table Runner (to demonstrate how the Stack ‘n Whack technique actually works). Do a table runner and you know how to turn the technique into a quilt or wall hanging, even a garment if you wished.

The class was cancelled. As businesses and life are slowly resuming here in Nova Scotia (we’ve effectively been without any new cases for close to a month – well one at the end of last week – someone who’d travelled from the US and then didn’t bother to quarantine for two weeks and managed to spread the virus to three young folks in PEI!) we’re beginning to think about resuming some aspects of our previous life.

So the class was rescheduled. One woman signed up, another was interested but not during the summer, so it’s been moved back till the end of September.

However, I’d started yet another kaleidoscope table runner as a demonstration piece and of course I kept working away at it.

Finished it this morning:

Kaleidoscope Table Runner IV

And here is the back:

Kaleidoscope Table Runner – Back

I did have to buy the yellow bordering fabric but the rest was constructed from fabric I had in my stash. Not many scraps left over!

I’ve finally written instructions for how to make this table runner – took a while because I kept forgetting to take photos as I went along. I was able to use images from  several different runners in order to show how the various parts of the project are constructed.

Kaleidoscope Table Runner – How To Construct

A Very Modern Quilt

A while back I saw an interesting modern quilt on Pinterest:

Pinterest Photo

I really liked the stark contrast between the two colours and the very modern use of drunkard’s path blocks. I printed the image and put it in my “think about” pile. I had 3m of an interesting red batik I thought would work with this idea but I needed something pale to contrast with it. This is just after everything shut down in mid-March so I went online, found a pale turquoise batik at the Missouri Quilt Company and ordered 2m. That fabric took quite a while to arrive – COVID-19 in action, of course, affecting both warehouse and the postal systems. After finishing the Crossroads Quilt I decided to try this quilt.

I began to deconstruct the image, but discovered this quilt was a 2018 Kauffman quilt pattern so I downloaded it. However, the finished dimensions (a twin size quilt) were larger than I wanted to make so I scaled it by 85% (now that I have the top completed I realize I probably should have scaled it 80%). That meant downsizing all the pieces.

First, I experimented with the size of the drunkard’s path block – taking it from 6 1/2″ down to 5 1/2″ – but I couldn’t go from there until I started assembling some blocks into larger units because I wasn’t sure what size the connecting elements would actually turn out to be. I started by constructing 10 drunkard’s path blocks (I knew I needed 39 in all) and created the first column, added the second column, then the sashing elements between as well as the outside left border.

First Two Columns Assembled

The next part of the assembly was less straightforward – I constructed the remaining 29 drunkard’s path blocks and began working on the central panel:

Centre Panel

I joined the first pair of drunkard’s path blocks with sashing, add the third block to one end, next the side sashing, put the second triplet with it, then add the end sashing…. I only knew what size the sashing elements needed to be by measuring where they fit as the parts of the “block” came together. It was easier figuring out what size fabric pieces to cut as I went along by measuring where they went rather than trying to work out 85% of each piece in the pattern.

Centre Panel Attached

Finally the right-side panel – same process:

Finished Quilt Top

Now I have a finished quilt top – 51″ x 68″ (instead of 61″ x 75 1/2″) – a large lap quilt.

Yesterday, I bought turquoise fabric for the back. I have all 39 pale turquoise “pie” shaped pieces cut from the “L” pieces as I built the drunkard’s path blocks. I plan on creating a dozen or so reverse drunkard’s path blocks using scraps of various red fabrics that more or less blend with this background batik for the “L” pieces so I can set up a strip to insert into the back panel.

That’s where I am right now – I have to cut out a dozen or so drunkard’s path blocks – downsizing the turquoise “pie”shaped pieces, cutting out red blocks for the “L” shaped pieces, creating the blocks and stitching the panel.

So on to that next.


Current Quilt

I took the blocks, rotated each in turn clockwise (both vertically and horizontally) to move the contrast strip around. I then sashed the blocks in each horizontal row, assembled the rows, and sashed between the rows using pieces of the lighter fabrics (a mixture of batik and printed grey fabrics) to lighten the overall appearance of the quilt top.

Blocks Assembled

My size, at this point, is 50″ x 64″ – probably large enough for a good sized throw/lap quilt without borders. And looking at the photo, I think I’m going to do a hidden binding so those contrast elements at the edge stay at the edge.

Now to think about the reverse side. Back to my stash to see what I have in the way of largish pieces of grey fabric I can put together with 3 (possibly 4) of the extra blocks I have left over. I know there isn’t a single large piece that I can split and insert a strip to make a backing wide enough. I’m sure I will have to do more piecing than that….

I don’t have a name for this quilt – nothing pops to mind

20 Blocks – Now What?

I’ve just finished 20 blocks (actually I have 23 and could probably eke out a 24th – to use on the quilt back). The question is now what?

20 Blocks

I could just stitch the blocks together (after I’ve looked at the placement for a while and moved some around); or, do I want to add pieced sashing between the blocks to extend both length and width a bit? I do intend adding an outer border – probably pieced using both light and dark fabrics.

I guess the next step is to go through the fabrics in my stash to see what I have that might work for sashing – I don’t need all the sashing to be the same fabric, in fact, it might be interesting to mix and match fabrics – the challenge with that is to be accurate enough that I actually align the seam matches with seams in the existing blocks…

Better go look.

At Last – A Quilt On The Go

Since I finished Black Rock Beach (a week ago) I’ve been struggling to get a quilt going. I’d hauled out groupings of fabric several weeks ago for some ideas I wanted to try but in each case I was missing either contrast or background fabrics to make the idea work. I ordered some possible pieces online but I’ve had to wait for them to arrive – two have but I’m still waiting for two more to show up before I can start on either of those possible projects.

I’d also thought about working on a diamond/triangle lap/throw quilt based on ideas in Jan Krentz’s book “Quick Diamond Quilts And Beyond“. I pulled out some scraps, cut some triangles and diamonds and tried assembling them – my accuracy was nowhere close. Part of my problem was actually cutting – I used a template for the triangles, cutting from a strip the height of the triangle but as careful as I tried to be when stitching I could not manage to combine four triangles into a larger triangle with the edges matching! I need more practice – with cutting, stitching, and pressing. I will get back to that idea but not at the moment!

I moved on to something else. I’d picked out a scrap bag of grey batik fabrics (twelve 9″ cuts) and then some much brighter batiks to use as contrast.

The idea is to sew four grey 2 1/2” strips together, cut into blocks, split the block off-centre, insert a contrast strip, then add two more rows to one side to square off the block.

5 Completed Blocks

I’ve completed five blocks so far. The first block was an experiment to figure out how to construct the insert collection. Also, because my grey fabrics are 9″ WOF cuts I can’t get 2 1/2″ strips from it – just 2 1/4″ – so all my other measurements had to be calculated to accommodate that difference.

What I’m seeing now, is a 4 block by 5 block quilt, with some additional complementary piecing at the top and bottom to extend the length of the quilt relative to the width. I plan on adding an outer border, as well, to make the lap quilt/throw just a bit larger overall.

I pieced all the insert strips today. I’ve cut enough 2 1/4″ grey strips for 22 blocks, as well as pieces for the two longer outer strips. I’m ready to go with chain piecing the blocks tomorrow.

Life now feels more normal with a quilt on the go!

Black Rock Beach – Completed

Just finished. Unfortunately, the photo doesn’t do the piece justice – I’ve tried lightening the blue of the frame and can’t get close to the real colour without distorting the body of the  piece.

Black Rock Beach

I’m happy with the balance of the whole. The piping, which doesn’t show well in the photo at all, pulls out both the orange of the vest and the blues of the water.

Now to find a place to hang it in my apartment – there isn’t obvious wall space in any room. I’m going to have to walk around and decide what to take down so I can display this piece of art.

Production Underway

I don’t want to bother writing instructions for sewing fabric face masks – Leah Day’s instructions are the most comprehensive I’ve come across, although I made modifications as I went along.

Sewing Side Seams – Elastic in Place

First of all, I had already cut a pile of fabric 6″ x 9″ (Leah cut hers 15″ x 9″ – I found that a bit too long from nose to chin) so instead of putting the cut pieces aside I sewed two together and treated them as a single piece (although shorter than 15″).

The part that may be hard to follow in Leah’s instructions is her step #5 – it’s a bit easier to see where the 1/2″ seam goes with what I’ve done – the seam is a bit more than 1/2″ above the fold (which is in the second fabric). In the picture above you can see that. You can also see as I sewed the 1/4″ side seams that the elastic is held in the corner with a quilting clip (I don’t use mine very often be they’re perfect for this project! Leah’s suggestion.)

Pipe Cleaner Clipped In Place

With the side seams sewn, turn the mask right side out, press flat. Next, I slipped a piece of pipe cleaner (I’ve also used twist ties) into the fold opposite from the opening (Leah put the pipe cleaner on the near side – I think the opening lays flatter with my adaptation leaving the opening at the bottom rather than the top of the mask). I used a clip to hold the pipe cleaner in place.

Stitching Pipe Cleaner In Place

With a 1/4″ quilting foot with centre guide, I stitched a 1/4″ seam across the entire top edge using the guide to hold the pipe cleaner against the fold – worked nicely.

Pipe Cleaner In Place

You can see the 1/4″ seam holding the pipe cleaner in place in the bottom of the picture.

Now, I had done the next step before inserting the pipe cleaner. Leah carefully measures where to pleat the mask – that’s fine if you’re doing one or two. I’m planning on 100 – too time consuming. I’d seen another video where the gal folded the mask in half, pressed, folded it into quarters, pressed. I’d recommend doing the folding/pressing AFTER inserting the pipe cleaner/twist tie/floral wire – whatever you’re using.

Pleats folded

Next it’s time to fold the pleats. I put the mask open side down, opening at the bottom, and began folding from the bottom toward the top, clipping the folds as I went along to hold them.

Sewing Pleats Down

I found it easier to sew the pleats with them facing me, the presser foot (I used the universal foot for this operation) flowed over the fold better, but that meant sewing one side of the mask with the bulk of the mask within the harp (usually the bulk of the sewing is to the left, outside the harp). The other side of the mask gets sewn in the usual way, since the pleats are going in the right direction. Also, I used a 2mm stitch to sew the pleats – just a bit more secure.

I didn’t bother edge stitching the whole face mask. Didn’t think it was required.

16 Completed Face Masks

One other thing – I cut my elastic 6 3/4″ in length which I found was long enough for my face. I recommend doing a test run to check the finished length from nose to chin, and width including elastic before going into any kind of production mode.

Why the opening in the bottom of the mask? Well, first of all, you need it to be able to turn the  mask right side out after you’ve sewn the first seams. Leah left it open so that a surgical mask, (or some other breathable but less permeable material like a piece of vacuum cleaner bag) could be inserted inside, making the cotton face mask a cover rather than the mask itself.

I have 10 more masks set up to work on tomorrow (using my 6″ x 9″ pieces). When those are done, I plan on doing another couple of batches following Leah’s instructions – a single folded piece probably 13 1/2″ in length and follow on from there.

I’ve Almost Got It…

I made a single mask yesterday – way too fiddly with flannel as the inner layer! Seams were too thick and it was very awkward to pleat. I stopped at one! I decided to sleep on the problem. If my goal was to make just a few masks I could have carried on, but I want to make 100 – I need to be able to streamline the process.

This morning I decided to match up fabric pieces with fused non-woven interfacing with fabric pieces without – less bulk in the seams.

I made a single mask – first sewed elastic onto the ends of the front piece; then zigzagged two twist ties to the wrong side of the back piece. Then sewed the two pieces together leaving an opening on the bottom so I can turn the mask right side out.

Folded in half and pressed, then in quarters and pressed. Turned pressings into folds. Stitched the folds down as I edge stitched the whole thing.

Five Masks Done

After the first was completed I did four more production style – doing each step on the elements of four masks, next I put the four masks together.

Then I watched videos by Jenny Doan (Missouri Star Quilt Company) and Leah Day (a widely followed quilter). Jenny’s version (Instructions) of the mask is simpler; Leah’s is closer to what I’m aiming for (with an opening to add further protection (Leah’s instructions)).

Leah had a couple of innovations I hadn’t thought about – she used pipe cleaners for the wire support at the top (a really good idea), her way of creating the pocket is simple, and she used clips to hold the pleats in place.

I’m still going ahead with the fabric I cut two days ago, more or less following Leah’s instructions, which is going to make a stripe of fabric on the fronts – to create the pocket opening I will have to offset the top/bottom seams by 1/2″. (I’ll post a picture when I’ve done one).

Right now the masks I’ve made are in the washing machine; next into the dryer, then they’ll be good to hand out.

More pictures will come as I rework my production process. The idea is to refine production to be as simple as possible.

Kaleidoscope Table Runner II

After finishing the first kaleidoscope table runner I went shopping for fabric to try a second to learn more about what makes a good print design for constructing the octagons.

The pattern repeat in the butterfly fabric I bought was ~ 23in in length and although I bought 1.4m I decided to use just half of the fabric for the kaleidoscope since I didn’t want to end up with many more triangles than the 40 (5 x 8) I needed.

I was hampered by the fact that the printing of the fabric wasn’t precise and even though I aligned the 5.5″ fabric strips precisely, I wasn’t able to get 8 exact repeats of from any spot – just sets of 4. So I built my octagons from two sets of 4. That still gave me the kaleidoscope effect I was after.

Kaleidoscope Table Runner II

I cornered and bordered the octagons with a dark blue print and then used strips of the butterfly fabric for the outer border. The back used the leftover from both border fabrics as a simple bordered panel.

Again, I quilted the octagon blocks in the hoop, and stitched the borders in the ditch to stabilize the runner.

This piece might just be hung on my front door!

Bargello Table Runner IV

I finally finished the 57″ x 16″ Bargello table runner last evening. It took me several hours over two days to stitch the whole thing in the ditch – that was because I was changing thread colour and having to stitch on the zig-zag.

Bargello Table Runner – Finished

I thought about quilting the piece in the hoop for quite a while – doing an edge-to-edge style of design along the length – but I decided it would detract from the bargello detail. In this case, I also stitched through the backing, which meant I needed to add a binding. I chose a 1/4″ binding on the front but 3/4″ hand stitched down on the back.

The original Bargello piece is also finished – it’s the inverse of the longer table runner with a dark, rather than the light, centre.

Bargello Table Runner I

I’m teaching a class in two weeks on how to improvise a Bargello block and how to think about layout for a table or bed runner, a cushion, a wall hanging, or a quilt. The point will be to understand how the quilting version is derived from wool on canvas work and uses the same math principles.

For the class, I will need to set up another Bargello piece so I can demonstrate forming the tube stitched from 10 strips, cutting, and laying out the Bargello array. Better think about that in the next day or two.

Here are instructions for this table runner –  Download the PDF