Friday, April 14, 2023

Ramona's Pineapple Log Cabin, Betsy's Sea Glass Pinwheels + Pesky Little Halo Curves

Good morning and happy April, quilters!  I hope everyone who was celebrating enjoyed a wonderful Easter or Passover last week.  The Spring weather has arrived in Charlotte and there is a little gold butterfly fluttering around in the sunshine outside my window as I'm writing this.  It's so hard to stay inside and get work done on a day like today!  Of course, it helps when the work that keeps me indoors is as beautiful as Ramona's pineapple log cabin quilt!

Ramona's Pineapple Log Cabin with Radiance E2E, Glide Thread in Sea Foam

I just love her watery blue and green batik fabrics against that crisp white background, and the skinny sashing with sapphire sashing posts is absolute genius.  It's a beautiful variation on the traditional pineapple log cabin that also eliminates having to match up all those seams when the blocks are sewn together.  Brilliant!  

Ramona's 95 x 95 Pineapple Log Cabin Quilt

We used Hobbs Tuscany 80/20 Cotton/Wool batting for Ramona's quilt, a luxury all-natural alternative to the more common 80/20 cotton/poly blend batting (this post contains affiliate links).  The Cotton/Wool blend has a little more loft, a little less weight, and breathes better than a cotton/poly blend.  It's very soft, quilts beautifully, and creates gorgeous texture.  The only downsides are the higher cost and the care instructions: Hand wash or machine wash on Cold Delicate, Low Spin, and air drying is preferred (although the manufacturer says you can start the drying process with 5-10 minutes of Cool tumbling in your clothes dryer).  For that reason, I don't recommend a wool or cotton/wool blend for baby quilts or for wedding quilts that will be gifted to anyone who is likely to throw everything in a normal wash cycle and then stuff it in a hot dryer.  

Radiance E2E Stitched In Glide Thread, Sea Foam

I chose Glide thread in Sea Foam, a pale pastel green that plays up the watery feel of the batik fabrics and the quilting design.

Radiance E2E on Ramona's Pineapple Log Cabin Quilt

Here's what Ramona's lovely quilt top looked like before I quilted it.  She did a fantastic job with her piecing, which always makes my job easier!

Ramona's Pineapple Log Cabin Quilt Top Before Quilting

The second quilt I'm sharing today was made by my client Betsy, and it seemed a good pairing with Ramona's quilt because Betsy also used batiks and chose a quilting design suggestive of water:

Betsy's Sea Glass Pinwheel Quilt with Riptide E2E

Betsy's quilt is called Sea Glass Pinwheel and her batik fabrics are in all the shades of smooth, sea-worn glass one might find washed up on a sandy beach.  Her off-white batik background fabric is like the sand and the deep turquoise borders are like the sea lapping up against the shore line.  So pretty!

Betsy's 72 x 74 Sea Glass Pinwheels Quilt with Riptide E2E

One key difference between Ramona's and Betsy's quilts is the quilting thread.  The Glide thread I used on Ramona's quilt is a trilobal polyester thread that was originally developed for high speed machine embroidery, and it has a lovely sheen.  For Betsy's quilt, we chose another of my favorite threads, Superior's King Tut variegated cotton thread in Date Palm.  It's a very pale green with subtle variegation and more yellow-green tones compared to the bluer green of Ramona's Sea Foam thread.  Whereas the polyester embroidery thread is shiny and light reflective like gem stones, cotton quilting threads have a matte texture with a subtle luster, like pearls.  Betsy brought me COM (Customer's Own Material) batting and I'm not sure what brand it was, but I believe it was a mid loft bleached cotton batting.

Rip Tide E2E Stitched in King Tut Thread, Date Palm

Here's what Betsy's quilt top looked like before she brought it to me for quilting:

Betsy's Sea Glass Pinwheels Quilt Top Before Quilting

Thank you so much for choosing me to quilt for you, Ramona and Betsy!  ðŸ˜Š

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...  I've been making very slow but steady progress on the Halo Quilt I'm making for my mother-in-law.  Tomorrow (Saturday) is the Charlotte Quilters Guild's monthly Sit & Sew and, if I can get enough blocks cut and pack up my machine and supplies this afternoon, I'm hoping to spend the entire day from 10 AM to 3 PM working on Halo blocks, surrounded by the positive energy and encouragement of my fellow guild members.  If you're local and you're a member of the guild, I hope to see you at Southminster tomorrow (click here for directions) for Sit & Sew!  And if you're local and you're not yet a member of our guild, I am personally inviting you to give us a try -- we are a friendly bunch, and there are usually cookies...  ðŸ˜‰

First 6 Halo Blocks Completed

If you missed my previous post about the Halo quilt, you can find links to the patterns, templates, and notions I'm using to make this easier here.  It's a Jen Kingwell pattern that is found in her Jenny From One Block pattern booklet.  

Those of you who are Jen Kingwell fans are probably aware that she is primarily a hand piecer, who calls her fancy Bernina sewing machine "the Binding Machine!"  That is definitely reflected in the Halo quilt.  You absolutely can piece this quilt with a sewing machine, but I can see how it would be easier to piece by hand, especially those seams that join the quarter circle segments to the main body of the block, because hand piecing never stitches into the seam allowances and that retains the flexibility and "give" at the center of the concave curve where the seam allowances cross at the corner of the square-in-a-square.  I actually sewed a few of these curved seams by hand to see which method I preferred and I determined that the extra time involved in drawing seam lines on all the pieces for hand piecing canceled out the time savings of needing fewer pins, and my curved seams come out nice and smooth when I pin them so that's what I'm doing.

The More Pins, the Merrier!

I'm using my usual Clover Extra Fine Patchwork pins at the beginning and end of each curved seam, where I weave the pin through like a basting stitch to keep those raw edges perfectly aligned, but the other pins I'm using are Karen Kay Buckley's Shorter Perfect Pins and I LOVE THEM!  I bought one package of these pins from Karen when our guild hosted her for a workshop a few years ago, just to try, and this is the first time I've broken them out of the package.  In the photo you can see that they are much thinner than even the extra fine Clover pins, so I can use a lot more pins without distortion than I could with thicker pins and I can sew over them (slowly!) without any fear of breaking a needle.  When the needle comes down on one of these hair-thin pins, it usually just deflects or occasionally bends the pin.  They are only an inch long, which is great for pinning curves because I really just want these pins to take little bites that secure the two fabrics along the stitching line, leaving the rest of the fabric loose so I can rearrange the gathers as I pivot along the curve, preventing any pinned pleats from getting sewn into my seam.  By the way, I'm using my Bernina 475QE sewing machine to piece these blocks instead of my Bernina 790 machine.  The feed dogs are closer together on the 475QE because it has a maximum stitch width of only 5.5 mm (versus the 9 mm maximum stitch width on my 790 machine).  The presser feet are narrower on a 5.5 mm machine, too, and because the right feed dog is completely within the 1/4" seam allowance on a 5.5 mm machine, I feel like I have greater control on the curves with my "Goldilocks machine."  My second choice for piecing this project would be my vintage 1935 Singer Featherweight machine, but the brighter lights and the FHS (Free Hand System) feature on the modern Bernina is so useful for achieving smooth curves that it's worth the extra hassle of packing up a bigger machine for Sit & Sew.

Jen's Block Wrap by Jen Kingwell Designs, available here on Amazon

My other new goodie for this project is Jen's Block Wrap, a book of six fabric sheets that are fuzzy on one side to stick block pieces on and smooth on the reverse side so as not to disturb the fabric pieces on the next page.  There are six pages in the roll-up book, each large enough to accommodate the pieces of 14" blocks.  I bought mine at a local quilt shop (Quilt Patch in Matthews, for those of you who are local) but you can also find it on Amazon here if your local shop doesn't carry it.  Why am I so excited about this Block Wrap?  Well, in some ways it's easier to stay organized when you're making a quilt from only a few fabrics versus the "organized chaos" of a scrappy quilt like this one.  I'm relying heavily on my design wall to audition different fabric combinations for individual blocks and to see how all of the finished and in-progress blocks are playing off one another, and if I just put a bunch of each patch shape into baggies for Sit & Sew I would have to start all over again deciding how to combine and sew them together, without the ability to glance over at my design wall to see the already completed blocks.  With six pre-planned blocks laid out neatly in my little Block Wrap book, it makes a scrappy project like this one a lot more portable.  I know I'm going to love it for appliqué blocks, too.  You know, if I ever finish THIS project and get to do any appliqué ever again...

One More Finished; That Makes Seven!

As I'm studying Jen Kingwell's original version of Halo in the pattern photo, I'm fascinated by the way she combined her fabrics.  A lot of the blocks appear to be completely random with a different fabric used for each patch, but then there are other blocks that are carefully planned with just a few fabrics, and other places where she's planned for the corners of four adjacent blocks to form a complete circle using the same fabrics for the center wedges as well as for the rings.  I love how that makes different shapes appear to stand out or recede as your eye moves across the surface of the quilt!  It's amazing how much planning and organization goes into making a successful "random" scrappy quilt.

Jen Kingwell's Original Halo Quilt Sample

Alright, clearly this should have been three separate blog posts on three separate days.  Thanks for sticking with me to the end.  I'm linking up today's post with the following linky parties.  Happy quilting, everyone!


Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More

Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts

Off the Wall Friday at Nina Marie Sayre

 TGIFF Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, rotates, schedule found here: TGIF Friday


Frédérique at Quilting Patchwork Appliqué

Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework


Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  


Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter


Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  


Gretchen Weaver said...

The pineapple quilt and the sea glass quilt are both so beautiful! As usual you've selected the perfect quilting designs. The halo quilt is going to be gorgeous! Have a great day stitching at the guild sew together, enjoy those cookies!

Brenda @ Songbird Designs said...

These are both beautiful, Rebecca! I really love that pineapple log cabin quilt especially!

Kathleen said...

I love your client’s quilts and the interesting things about each. The narrow lattice on the pineapple log cabin quilt is just perfect. I love the colors of both these quilts as I am always drawn to the sea and its colors for inspiration. The difference in the thread is fun. I have yet to use a King Tut on my HQ, but it was always my choice when I first was long-arming on a loaner machine. Love that quilt you are working on….what a project! I just saw those block rollups, genius for sure!

Ramona said...

I just finished trimming my Pineapple quilt and love looking at your beautiful quilting throughout the quilt. The binding will be sewn on next and then I can get it on my bed! (Well, after all of the dust has settled from having work done in my bathroom!)

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

love that quilt you are working on - I have several of Jen Kingwell's pattern but I don't believe I have this one anywhere in the stash of patterns.

Sandy said...

I love the way the quilting you did on your clients' quilts is so flowing, contrasting with the angular piecing and giving each a different "flavor" than they would have had with more geometric quilting designs. Your halo blocks look wonderful!

The Joyful Quilter said...

Congrats on your Halo progress, Rebecca! said...

Your clients' quilts are both beautiful! Your progress on the Halo quilt is great!!! It is nice to have the blocks laid out so that you know that when you sew them, you will be happy with the results. What a great product!

Chopin - A Passionate Quilter said...

Oh my goodness - what a masterpiece Pineapple quilt! You did a beautiful job on this one - and the Sea Glass quilt are so stunning - and again beautiful work! enjoy working on your Halo quilt with friends and enjoy those cookies! Sounds like so much fun - I can hardly wait until I am making more quilts and other fun things. Hugs

Frédérique - Quilting Patchwork Appliqué said...

Oooooooh, I love how your quilting flows like water between the pineapple log cabins! It creates a beautiful movement through the quilt. And I love your Halo blocks! The "book" looks a pretty clever idea too, another must-have in the sewing room ;)
Thank you for sharing, and linking up!

chrisknits said...

I can barely do random scrappy! So I totally love her version with the matching pieces! Lovely Pineapple, that one has been itching to enter my queue, so maybe this is a sign to make it my leader/ender project.

Alycia~Quiltygirl said...

Your halo quilt is coming along beautifully!!!

Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting said...

Beautiful work and perfect pantos, Rebecca!!! Great find on the block book to keep your blocks in order. I noticed some of them have so many different fabrics in each block and I was wondering how you did that.

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

Love your Halo blocks! So pretty. Beautiful quilting on these two quilts. Thank you for sharing on my weekly show and tell, Wednesday Wait Loss.

Sara said...

Wow! Those Halo blocks are such a fun design. I love it. And your quilting certainly enhances the beautiful quilts of your customers.

Marti said...

The pineapple quilt is pretty but the quilting is absolutely stunning and brings the whole thing to a new level. Block book is a great idea too.

dq said...

I fully intend to machine piece it when I get my pattern in the mail. It is nice to have some hand work around, but I already have plenty of that.

dq said...

By the way, I forgot to mention my love for the colors in the Pineapple Log Cabin quilt. Your quilting is stunning as ever!