tree of drunks, a temperance quilt

by Dorie on November 29, 2015

Tree of Drunks Quilt

This quilt, Tree of Drunks, is the third in a series of temperance quilts I’ve made. With this quilt I was particularly thinking about the temperance movement and relationships. Those who were a part of the temperance movement overlapped with the abolitionists and the women’s rights movement. Calls for social reform in one area inspired activism in others.

I merged two patterns commonly used by temperance quilters (Tree of Life and Drunkard’s Path) into one block. I really love the resulting samara-shaped drunkard and half-square-triangle blocks. (Imagine them falling down from the trees as little helicopters). I wanted to focus on that shape, so I worked in just the two “temperance” colors using Kona white and blue peppered cotton.

Tree of Drunks detail

The beautiful quilting is done by Lynn Carson Harris. I wasn’t exactly sure how to quilt it, and thought that maybe we’d want some play of the quarter circle shape. Lynn came up with a design of interlocking groups of straight lines around varying size quarter circles. I really love it, and I think it suits the quilt perfectly.

Other quilts in this series:


prairie stars, the 10 year anniversary quilt

by Dorie on October 20, 2015

prairie stars 10 year quilt

This quilt is for my husband. I made it for our 10 year anniversary, and I’m so proud of it, and of us.

quilting detail, star quilt

Elie has a good eye, and I’ll often ask for his opinions when I have a quilt design laid out. Sometimes, he wants to know why there are so many different colors. His favorite quilts use a limited palette and have a clear geometric design. To find the perfect quilt for him, I went looking through books of old quilts for inspiration. I considered a lone star, but decided on this four star pattern. (One book called it “prairie stars”.) I love the secondary patterns that appear at the intersections of the stars. It’s both delicate and sturdy.

anniversary quilt

I used Kona cotton in charcoal and snow and backed it in a smooth, soft, lighter weight white backing from Moda. That backing is so snuggly, and the lighter weight makes it so you don’t feel trapped under a queen size quilt. Making a quilt intended for everyday use on a bed, I was thinking of comfort and practicality as well as design. I went with just a central patchwork design for easy cleaning. I know where the cat sits and the dangers of benzoyl peroxide.

The quilt is quilted in straight lines, first echoing the central patchwork, and then filling in with parallel lines behind it.

prairie stars quilt with my lovely helpers

It’s a really big deal, and I love him to pieces.


roundabouts baby quilt

by Dorie on August 19, 2015

roundabouts baby quilt

I totally fell in love with Amy Gunson’s Roundabouts quilt pattern. I saw it for the first time in Amy’s umbrella prints trimmings contest entry, which won for very good reason! I bought the pattern right away – it was like that.

And I pulled it out after searching my mind for the ideal baby quilt for my sister, who is expecting! I love that the design is geometric, but delicate. All those little pieces are so perfect for highlighting sweet, special fabrics. I included some scraps from a 1950′s pair of pajamas that belonged to my aunt and which my sister also wore. Hording vintage fabrics sometimes works out ok.

vintage flannel cat pajamas

I really love to the result and I hope my soon-to-be niece or nephew will put it to good use!


umbrella prints trimmings quilt

by Dorie on May 27, 2015

Umbrella Prints Trimmings Quilt

I’ve seen so many cool things come out of the umbrella prints trimmings contests of past years. So glad I got to take part this year!

umbrella prints trimmings packets

I bought two packets of trimmings – one for now and one for later – and decided to use the rust/salmon/coral packet in my quilt.

trimmings triangles details

I didn’t immediately know where I wanted to go with the project, so my packet waited on the bedside table. Then Lynn’s book, Every Last Piece and Sherri Lynn’s book, The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters arrived at my house at about the same time. The resulting quilt is a mash-up – it’s what I’d make under their collective influence!

umbrella prints trimmings quilt, square

My quilt uses the flying geese modern block score from Sherri’s book and uses the ring layout of one simple shape from Lynn’s pattern, “Don’t Fence Me In”. Both authors encourage you to play and to try different takes on their techniques and patterns, which I really appreciate. It’s good when a book inspires you to do your own thing. And, for goodness sake, I really like both those women.

trimmings, figuring the upside

I surprised myself by picking up the gold colors from the packet. The trimmings I got would have looked equally beautiful in a more neutral (ahem, gray) quilt. But, I had this Robert Kaufman dotted denim that I had been thinking of using with a hand print, and I really really like it, so it seemed perfect. And that denim and salmon and gold all really liked each other.

me and the trimmings quilt

Thanks to umbrella prints for putting on a fun contest. I’ve seen some of the other entries so far and they are really great. Can’t wait to see the rest!



by Dorie on March 10, 2015

quilting near the point

I’ve always loved challenge projects – it can be energizing to work with a set of rules and a deadline – so I was happy to hear about the Chicago-Area Modern Quilt Guild Friendship Star Challenge for International Quilt Festival in Chicago. The challenge rules were simple: at least 36 inches on each side and based on the friendship star block. It’s pretty cool that Quilt Festival has this modern challenge, so why not give it a go, right?

I found that friendship star to be pretty difficult to work with. It’s chunky blocky. It wants to move in one direction. Camille Roskelley’s “Round and Round” layout uses friendship stars in a ring kind of perfectly already, so nothing like that. I didn’t like much of what I was doodling and I got totally stumped. This was a Saturday, and I was drawing and groaning at the table with my daughter, Eva, who was doing homework and complaining less. She’s in high school now, and while she has always had an artistic point of view, I find that I go to her more and more with design questions. I trust her design sense. It’s so helpful to have another set of eyes when you are hating what you’re making.

loops and lines quilting

The design I liked best so far was one where I had 4 stars facing each other, with the outermost arm of each star chopped off. (I figured that if I didn’t love the friendship star shape, the best thing to do was change it some.) This left a chunk of whitespace in the center, and I wasn’t quilt sure what to do with it. Another star? Leave it blank?

gemerations quilt

Really, the quilt is largely Eva’s design. I would have given up without the push of making something together. It was Eva’s idea to put a gem in that middle spot there. She sketched it out for me, picked the colors, and helped figure out what went where. For colors, we started out with a bigger stack that also included amethyst, jade, and aquamarine – very “Hall of Minerals” – but then we pared down to all peachy pinks and gray blues. I never mind falling back to gray blue.

We named the quilt Gemerations, because we are corny on purpose. It will be at Quilt Festival, and I’m thinking we might plan a little trip to get there too!


knit stitch quilt in progress

While working on my knit stitch quilt, I figured out one way of doing bias applique that worked for me. This is how it went.

bias bars

First part: Bias tape

I did a small amount of research and found that the people who do crazy small bias applique – the Celtic knot people – use bias bars to make bias tape instead of a bias tape maker. What is the difference? You know how when you make bias tape with a bias tape maker, the creases can relax and your raw edges can get hard to deal with/visible/weird? With bias bars, you sew the bias tape into a tube (wrong sides facing – you’re not turning that business). Then, you put the bar into the tube and use it to press the tube flat. The seam goes on the back and no edges wiggle out anywhere.

pressing the loop

Second part: Getting the bias tape on the foundation

Debbie gave me the best two cents about bias applique. I had wanted to make a word using bias, and my effort kind of looked like hell. She said, You’ll want smaller tape, and you’ll need to press the heck out out it. These two sage bits of wisdom helped me get off on the right foot when laying out the knit stitch quilt.

marking the knit rows

I knew I wanted each knit stitch row to be about 10 inches tall. I marked the height with masking tape on my foundation fabric. Then, I used the iron to press my bias tape into the knit loops. After I pressed the whole row of loops, I used applique glue to secure the loops to the fabric. (Actually, for the first row I used pins, but I pricked myself so many times that I went looking for other options.) I think applique glue might just be school glue with a nicer cap. The cap on the glue I used had a long, thin tube so the glue came our slowly and I could apply it accurately. Lynn has since told me to watch out for rust in the metal caps!

laying out the next row

When gluing the loops, I left two unglued spaces on each loop. This is where the next row of bias tape gets “knit” in. Because each row is locked into the row above it, I always shaped and glued the next row before sewing the current one. To do the actual “knitting”, I ran a bias strip under the loop below it, through the unglued spaces.

pulling the loop through

Then I pulled up each loop in line with the stitch below it, and pressed it in place. For each row I marked the desired height with masking tape, as a guide.

stitching the bias

Third part: Stitching

Once I had a row secured and the row above it set, I stitched the row. I found that the blanket stitch worked best for me. I like the way it catches the applique without flattening it down or making a hard straight line. I also found it easier to control and more forgiving than a straight stitch. I stitched on both sides of the bias tape, following the curves and stopping and breaking the thread where the “yarns” intersected. I used thread to match the bias tape.

I repeated this process until all rows were stitched down. ta-da!


Kona giveaway winner

by Dorie on November 5, 2014

The winner of the Kona new colors charm pack is Karen, whose favorite Kona color is,

“All the shades of purple!!”

Karen, I’ll get in touch, and I hope you love all the new purples!

Thanks so much to Robert Kaufman for sponsoring this giveaway, and for putting on a fabulous quilty celebration!


Rock Jetties quilt

I am super excited to share this quilt with you! I got to work with the wonderful people at Robert Kaufman to make a new quilt using the amazing palette that is Kona cottons. Why? Because Kona is turning 30 and they’re having a party! They want to give you a present!

Quilt first, present later.

When I sat down to make Rock Jetties, I knew I wanted to make a row quilt. I had been having a lot of fun playing with this style in both my Somewhat Herringbone quilt and my Fresh Pack quilt. I love blue and gray and I usually head to these colors first. For this quilt, where I could use ANY of the many Kona colors, I wanted to ratchet up the intensity a little. I went to tide pools for my inspiration, and thought of the shore where I grew up and the beaches on a recent trip to Israel. The ocean’s darker deeper colors are brightened up with seaweed and reflections of intense blue skies. I wanted to get a little bit of all of that in this quilt. The Kona colors I used are silver, iron, bonsai, cactus, aloe, ice frappe, celestial, prussian, indigo, aqua, azure, and graphite.

My quilt was quilted by the amazing Angela Walters, which is giving me gah-gah eyes to this day. It is unbelievably good. The quilt has big chunks of geometric color, and I love how the quilting enhances the organization of the shapes and tells a more detailed story.

The pattern for Rock Jetties is available free on the Robert Kaufman website, right here.

Kona 2014 colors

Now the present. You might know that Kona just came out with new colors, which brings the total number of Kona cottons up to 303. (Woah.) We’re giving away a charm pack of the new colors – just leave a comment on this post with your favorite Kona color to be entered to win! Entry is only open for 24 hours and will close tomorrow at 10:00 AM US eastern time.

I am just the third stop on a 30 stop blog tour of all the amazing quilts that Robert Kaufman and some seriously talented people have created for the Kona celebration. I particularly love the quilts by Carrie Strine and Lady Harvatine. And, I’m pretty sure those two quilts love each other too. They are page mates in the 30th Anniversary look book!

Follow the whole tour! Much more to see!

Week 1:

Saturday, November 1st: Johanna Masko

Sunday, November 2nd: Alyssa of Aria Lane

Monday, November 3rd: Dorie of Tumblingblocks

Tuesday, November 4th: Megan of Canoe Ridge Creations

Wednesday, November 5th: Daniela of Cozy Quilt Designs

Thursday, November 6th: Faith of Fresh Lemons Quilts

Friday, November 7th: Anita Grossman Solomon

Saturday, November 8th: Debbie of Esch House Quilts

Week 2:

Sunday, November 9th: Alex of Teaginny

Monday, November 10th: Darlene Zimmerman

Tuesday, November 11th: Nichole Ramirez

Wednesday, November 12th: Rita Hodge of Red Pepper Quilts

Thursday, November 13th: Lee of Freshly Pieced

Friday, November 14th: Julie of Jaybird Quilts

Saturday, November 15th: Latifah of The Quilt Engineer

Week 3:

Sunday. November 16th: Elizabeth Hartman

Monday, November 17th: Erica of Kitchen Table Quilting

Tuesday, November 18th: Karrie of Freckled Whimsy

Wednesday, November 19th: Valori Wells

Thursday, November 20th: Marilyn of Quilt Moments

Friday, November 21st: Cortney Heimerl

Saturday, November 22nd: Shayla and Kristy of Sassafras Lane Designs

Week 4:

Sunday, November 23rd: Shea of Empty Bobbin Sewing

Monday, November 24th: Carrie Strine

Tuesday, November 25th: Rachel of Stitched in Color

Wednesday, November 26th: Liz of Lady Harvatine

Saturday, November 29th: Carolyn Friedlander

Week 5:

Sunday, November 30th: Elizabeth of Don’t Call Me Betsy

Monday, December 1st: Emily of Carolina Patchworks

Tuesday, December 2nd: Ken Kaufman

Wednesday, December 3rd: Grand Finale!

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knit stitch bias applique quilt

by Dorie on October 29, 2014

knit stitch quilt

Helloooo. I’ve got actual things to say about this project I just finished up. ACTUAL THINGS.

I tried something new here—bias applique. I don’t think I had any idea what it was until I saw Debbie’s beautiful quilts when I started going to guild a couple years ago. I mean, I guess I knew that bias applique was how you could make a flower stem, but I didn’t think about it as a method for design. Applique, and particularly bias applique, just hadn’t been been something I’d seen much in my sewing circles. And by sewing circles, I mean the instagram feeds I follow.

Since then, bias applique has lingered on my list of things to try one day. One day…

knit stitch quilt texture

… like now-ish 2014! I think it’s so completely awesome that the Modern Quilt Guild has a bias applique challenge category for QuiltCon! I’m going to go ahead and say that most modern quilters have not done bias applique. How many even had it on the radar? I don’t know, but more people do now. And more people will be trying to learn this new quilt technique, and watching each others’ efforts. That is super. It’s a challenge that is actually challenging!

bias applique quilt close up

This project! This project is all about quilting loving knitting, or people who love to quilt and also love to knit. Or about how if you give a knitter a long piece of tape and ask her to make a quilt, she might knit you a quilt instead. The knit stitch itself is such an interesting shape—it overlaps and it hooks under. It looks like nothing, but can make a fabric. Lynn and I had a conversation recently about the relationship of quilting and knitting. There is so much there. Both knitting and quilting are about construction, but they look at fabric, pattern, and shape differently. Looking at those places is bound to yield some interesting cross-inspiration. Lets do more of it!

This knit stitch, with its curves and interlocking lines, seemed like a good, simple-enough, yet interesting, place to learn bias applique. I need a more process-y post with the details, but the overall idea is, I did learn it. It may have been infuriating at times, but it was interesting at every step of the way.

quilt helper

The base color is Kona celestial. Each bias strip is applied right to the base. I “knit” the strips by weaving them in and out with my hands. I thought about getting giant knitting needles, or pvc pipes, and I tried arm knitting, but really all that wasn’t necessary.

quilt back texture

The blue part of the quilt, behind the loops, is free motion quilted using a ziggy stockinette-like stitch. That’s some knitspiration from Lynn – that along with not being a chicken in my quilting choices! I had thought about just wiggly straight line quilting over the whole thing because I was intimidated about maneuvering in all those spaces. Plus, how long would that take? So glad I told myself to buck up and quilt it right. I love the texture of the result.


fresh pack quilt pattern

by Dorie on May 29, 2014

fresh pack quilt

Thank you, thank you for the love on my Fresh Pack quilt. That quilt surprised me. For all my hesitation and process churning, it is a really good quilt. And, yay – I made a pattern for it! But first, let’s talk about about inspiration.

Fresh pack was a quilt born out of a relationship with a knitting project. I have long loved the Inspira Cowl (by graphica on ravelry). I have wanted one and wanted to make one and watch its colors fall from my fingers as I knit. I started an inspira a couple years ago – the fingering version. I get it out every couple months and work on it until the crazy neck and hand pain of working corrugated rib on small needles makes me cry and shove it in a corner. But who can stay away? I wanted to do the thing with the color and the variation and the baltic braid. I took the rows and the braids and I turned them into stripes and flying geese. And then I enjoyed the color. I found that a pack of good solids is much like noro yarn in fabric form.

I shared my quilt and my pattern idea with Marcy (graphica) because I was so inspired by her cowl, and she had some wonderfully creative ideas for how to interpret it:

People will have fun with this. I can imagine some quilters achieving a heathery effect w/ tiny floral prints, or an edgy urban effect w/ the occasional large prints peaking among weathered solids; or tonal Indian blanket effect…

The fresh pack quilt pattern is free like Inspira is free. With sooo many solids out there now (and solid collections?!), there are just endless color possibilities and I kinda want to see them all. Yes? OK! The pattern is available on Craftsy. It has been tested by a wonderful group of testers. (Seriously, this pattern is so much better having others’ points of view.) Thank you Stephanie, Maria, Ronit, Kate, Emily, and Amy!

Make one and let me see!