Wednesday, August 15, 2018


Lighthouses. Tiny piecing. Last week I had a little time on my hands. Time to put those two things together. 

When we were in the upper peninsula of Michigan recently, our cabin was across from St. Helena Island, which is a nature preserve with a lighthouse on it that has been renovated in recent years by a Boy Scout troop and other supportive volunteers. We did not go to the island (it requires special arrangements), but we could see the lighthouse in the distance on a bright day, and its winking light at night. 

Here's how it looked in a picture hanging in our cabin

and in silhouette on the end of the island in a grainy blow-up from my cell phone

The lighthouse is of the same design as another lighthouse that we visited last fall: East Tawas Point. (For anyone who cares, in my post a few weeks ago, I mistakenly said that 40-Mile Point Lighthouse is also of that design. It's actually Sturgeon Point Lighthouse.) Anyway, while we were on vacation I bought a foundation paper-pieced pattern of the East Tawas Point Lighthouse (published by Presque Isle Needleworks) as well as a scrap of sky print fabric because it was so like the skies we had on our vacation. I decided to make it in the colors of St Helena to commemorate our vacation.

While I was between major quilting projects (waiting for a fabric order to arrive), I had thought of making a little strip quilt, but on impulse, I pulled out the lighthouse pattern. I think I knew that if I didn't make it now, it would end up in a drawer somewhere.  And just like that, it was done!

I love making quilts of structures. I usually make my own patterns and I use abstract print fabrics rather than "literal" prints, so this was a bit of a departure for me. But it was fun. Of course, I had to go and mess with the pattern a bit to make it mine. I added window frames and shutters to the windows on the house, and I reworked the top of the lighthouse to make it a daytime rather than nighttime view. I also added just a bit more detail to the embroidery that was suggested on the pattern. I studied lots of pictures of the St. Helena lighthouse online to make changes to the colors. I have no idea exactly how the lighthouse looks currently, but this quilt depicts it fairly closely, I think, in its original colors. There is vegetation that hides much of the tower today from this angle, but I left all of that out. 

I had been planning to do FMQ quilting, but in the end, I quilted the whole quilt with my walking foot. Here's a picture in lower light so you can see the details.

It so happens that when I did my last project with a walking foot, I lightened the pressure of the presser foot a lot so that the machine wouldn't drag and distort the quilt. The pressure is now so light that it just barely holds onto the fabric, but this made it possible for me to quilt pretty tight curves around the clouds on the lighthouse quilt. I was really pleased about this. I think I'll call this style Free Motion Walking Foot quilting. (If no one else has coined that--ha!) The rest of the quilting is sort of a folksy style to suggest brick work/siding, and cedar shakes. I had to restrain myself from getting too detailed. 

Here's how the quilt looks from the back (sort of a wet sand look to the fabric)
 and enhanced in low light. You can also see how I attached the hanger bits.
My tension wasn't always that great, but no matter. It's a wall hanging. 
Here are some of the details.
The flower material is left over from a quilt I made a long time ago for my daughter's bedroom (now our guest room).

When it was time to bind the quilt, I chose a piece that reminds me of the state stone of Michigan--the Petoskey Stone, a fossilized coral found along the shores of northwestern Lake Michigan. (There weren't any of these where we were, but still--a Michigan connection.)
Here's what the stone looks like dry:
and polished.
Here's the binding:
I also used that same fabric wrong side up for the foundation of the lighthouse. 

As an added touch, I sewed a button from the button collection I purchased five years ago from ceramic artist Sandra Lance. I thought it balanced the other reds in the picture. These kinds of buttons have become a sort of signature for me in my pictorial quilts. 
So that's my little project. Because of some of the realistic prints, it's a little "cuter" than my usual pictorial quilts. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but it's a fun reminder of our vacation. I have it hanging on a hook near the inside of our front door for the time being. I'm thinking that someday I'll make another version with the colors of the East Tawas lighthouse--maybe in solids. 

The whole quilt is 12 1/2 inches square--actually bigger than I anticipated. (I thought at first that the dimensions on the packet included the border). The sky fabric is Landscape Medley Cloudy Sky in light blue from Elizabeth's Studio. The rest are scraps. The quilting threads are whatever thread (quilting or otherwise) I had on-hand that matched the fabrics. The batting is a scrap of Quilter's Dream Select.

The best thing I learned while making this quilt is that I can do Free Motion quilting with my Walking Foot--within reason, of course!

I'm linking up this week with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social and with Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop. Oh, and this is a DrEAMi, isn't it? So with Sandra at mmm!quilts at the end of next week.

Okay, now back to my regular quilting. I just finished a top! Now to plan the back.

I hope you are having a good quilting week working on projects big or small, planned or unplanned. 


Kathleen said...

It is a wonderful little quilt - I have one for our lighthouse, Portland Head Maine, to do - but I think it is next year's project. The list is rather long right now.

Linda said...

What a lovely finish Janine! I love how meaningful all the details are to you and the enhancements you made to the pattern.
That Petoskey Stone is amazing.
"Free Motion Walking Foot" quilting! Love it! Thanks for the great idea. I'll have to read my manual to see how to adjust the pressure. ;)

LIttle Penguin Quilts said...

JanineMarie, I just love this! So many wonderful details - and your quilting is great! I always quilt with my walking foot, and have experienced some of that distortion you mentioned. I'll have to experiment with loosening the pressure like you mentioned.

Love Of Quilts said...

Wow just a little time, its so pretty.

Lin said...

What a great finish - and a lovely memento of your holiday. xx

KaHolly said...

Oh. My. Goodness! JanineMarie, this is one cute, clever, well thought out piece of art!

Louise said...

What a super quilt, Janine! Most people take photos of their vacation, but you make photo-realistic quilts :) I love how you quilted around the clouds to make them poofy, and the embroidered details like the railing. And I had never heard of that kind of rock, very cool with the fossils in it!

Thanks for the walking foot tip, too. I'm going to have to try that. I've done wavy lines, but there's a limit to how tight they can be. Easing up the pressure sounds like the right way to address that :)

Bernie Kringel said...

So many sweet details are within this quilt. It was really fun to look at each part - love your additions and enhancements which make this uniquely yours. Very nice!!

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

Great quilt. Love your Singer 15 in your blog header. I have a couple of vintage machines with that Tiffany/Gingerbread decal set.

Mari said...

Such a great little quilt! I'm super impressed that you got wavy lines with a walking foot. They look so good that I never would have guessed!

Kristin said...

What fun! It turned out great and I love the modifications you made to the pattern.

Frédérique - Quilting Patchwork Appliqué said...

That's a beautiful little quilt, I love it!

FlashinScissors said...

Hi JanineMarie! I’m visiting from the DrEAMi link party. My first visit here, love the header photo! Your quilt is really pretty! I was very interested to read that you quilted it using a walking foot. I have a few quilts waiting to be quilted because I haven’t managed to master free motion quilting yet and you have given me a little more idea how I can finally finish them. Oh, and you’ve reminded me I haven’t signed or dated any of my quilts yet!
A great post, I really enjoyed reading about all your variations to the pattern, and love that you made it a daytime scene.
Barbara x
PS my DrEAMi is a Coffee Koozie as seen on Elm Street quilts, hope you might visit me at

Sandra Walker said...

I am a bad host, not getting around to these until just now, so my apologies! Oh!!! I saw this when you bought it and I'm so glad you did Drop everything and avoid the project in a drawer syndrome. I am familiar with it... LOVE the details, LOVE how you have invented (I think) FMQWalking Foot Quilting, as right away I thought, 'HOW did she do those tight curves in the clouds, and on the lighthouse?' Brilliant, as you are... The top of the lighthouse is 3D on these photos, so bet in person it's even more so! Thanks for linking this squirrel up!