Sunday, November 17, 2013

Floating Squares and Falling Rain

This is a perfect night for staying inside and sewing!  We’re in the red zone of a tornado watch. The wind is whipping rain against the windows with staccato-like rhythm, sounding cold and ominous, although the thermometer registered in the 60s today.  Both of my daughters lost their power at some point today, but I did not.   I’m not complaining… it’s less than two weeks until Thanksgiving, and we are still having lovely weather.  My northern Minnesota friends are already experiencing the beginnings of winter.  I have power, and therefore access to the internet, plus my sewing machine and iron are ready to be of service.  Life is good.

I have been finishing a lot of “flimsies” (quilt tops) with borders, ready to be quilted.  Today I finished the blocks for another Quilt of Valor, but have yet to join them into strips and border them.  An Around the World is half done, with the strip sets sewn for the remaining half.  Necktie blocks in my favorite jewel tones are neatly stacked at the end of my ironing board, part of them sewn and others still in pieces, and a Single Irish Chain top is completed, just waiting for a ribbon border.  I have a couple of Hidden Wells strip sets to cut and sew, as well, as you might have seen on a prior blog post.  I don’t know how many of these will get completed before I take my ironing board down to make some room for a family dinner.  The table with my sewing machine usually stays put, unless I am having more company than family and want my house to look nicer.  However… there are boxes of batts lining one wall in my dining room, ready to be sandwiched into quilts, and some empty boxes stacked on those, for packaging quilts, so my house is not anywhere near being a showplace!  This is a working house, a quilting house… and so it shall remain, as long as I am able to be a quilter. 

Three quilts are finished, ready to be quilted, using the same basic pattern I call Floating Squares.  This is truly a beginner’s quilt project, and can easily be done in a day or two, if you have the time to put into sewing.  One of them is adapted to use 5” charm squares, another is made with three coordinating rose patterned fabrics, and the third is made with one of the pieces of Michael Miller’s Flower Fairy fabric in purple.  I love fairies… and have a couple of Cicely Mary Barker’s books of Flower Fairies, so when I first discovered his fabrics, I HAD to buy some, although it was more costly than most fabrics I buy.  This pattern can be made with any sized center square you choose, just making sure your strip sets for the Rail Fence blocks will add up to the same size as your center square. 

The first quilt was made with 5” charm squares.  Since each square is bordered with a Rail Fence block, I needed to figure out the width of the
 strips I would use for that block.  I used a Batik jelly roll I think is called Dancing in the Rain for the center strips and the 5” charm squares are from that line, also, and since jelly roll strips are 2-1/2” wide, that meant my other two strips needed to be 1-3/4”, allowing for ¼” seams, to result in a 5” strip set, cut into 5” squares, the same size as the charms.  I first laid the squares out to see how they looked, and felt the batiks used both in the frame and floating between them didn’t show them to their best advantage.  So I used another charm pack for the framed centers, I think is called Crossroads, and liked that better. Note that the strips on either side of the jelly roll strip are the same fabric, in this example.  I haven’t come up with a name I’m really happy with for this quilt… maybe it should be called Autumn Rain Dance, since the colors remind me of fall.

The second quilt, in the three coordinating rose fabrics with black backgrounds, was made with 6-1/2” squares, and the Rail Fence block was made of three 2-1/2” strips, cut into 6-1/2” lengths.  The framed
row is shown above left.  You can see in the  photos that the Rail Fence blocks are alternated on
each row, forming frames around the larger rose print blocks and forming chains with the floating blocks.  The floating squares row is shown above, bottom left.  
I had bought a beautiful dusty pink fabric called Petals at the same time, and found a dusty green print in my stash that was perfect for the third color in the strips.  I think a good name for this quilt is Everything’s coming Up Roses!  The completed top with border is shown above, right.

The third quilt also was made with 2-1/2” strips for the Rail Fence block, and had a pretty blue and purple floral in the frames (I think they are hydrangeas), with the 6-1/2” fairy blocks floating above the  6-1/2” floral blocks.  I call this one Fairies in My Garden.  It is a quiet quilt… and probably well-suited for fairies, who are quiet, shy little creatures.  Here is what the Rail Fence  block looks like, with three 2-1/2" strips, cut into 6-1/2" lengths:

I used a pale blue on each side, with a purple strip in the center.

And here is the row with the hydrangea blocks, framed by the Rail Fence blocks, shown below.
And the fairy row, floating above the hydrangeas looks like this:

 And since the fairies like to hide in their surroundings and be inconspicuous, I did take a closeup of one of the lovely fairies for you to see. I hope that these fairies bring some magic to your day, and that you still have some part within you that is anxious to believe in that fairy magic.  Listen carefully, and you may hear the music of their wings, as they softly flit among your flowers.



  1. Beautiful, quilt! Just lovely. And fairies to boot!

  2. Great quilts! You are simply amazing. :-) Plus, your poetic language makes it so fun to read your blog posts. I read your sewing machine and iron saga. Sounds a bit like the devil wanted to squash your marvelous productivity. I'm inspired that you prevailed!

  3. You are an amazing person, Alaena. So talented and eager to share with everyone!

  4. love your instructions great just great

    1. Thank you! I like scrappy quilts, and want to put quilts on my blog that are easy to make in a short amount of time... often using precuts, or precuts I cut myself. I hope my blog posts inspire beginners to quilt with confidence.... and joy1