March 28, 2014

Adapting Carolyn Friendlander's pattern "Focal"

I really enjoyed sewing this version of Carolyn Friedlander's quilt pattern "Focal"--my version above and hers below, and a link to the pattern here :

I made several changes in the pattern beyond the obvious one of colors (though I like her colors very much).  I arranged the spikey bits to edge up on the center--I like the contrast there, and didn't want to lose any triangles in the binding.  I used my own hand-dyed fabric rather than commercial; I wanted a bit of movement in the central piece, which I get from the mottling in the hand-dye.  I arranged the corners differently--a by-product of sewing on the first border all around, without thinking of the consequences.  But the main difference is not so visible:  instead of paper-piecing the border, as called for in the pattern, I did only two 10" segments with paper-piecing, and then switched to improvisationally cutting and sewing the small pieces for the border.  I know some people really like paper-piecing (involves sewing fabric upside down onto paper printed with the pattern), but I'm not one of them, so I was really glad that a different method worked.  Here are a few photos of the process.

The top row shows about 8 different colors, cut 2-1/2 x 6", for the "stick" part of each border piece.  In two rows below that are smaller scraps of patterned fabric.  Bottom right are four orange sticks lined up with scraps that will become the corner triangles.  My favorite part of the process--choosing scraps for the corners, looking for an array (doing 3 or 4 sticks at a time) that would be interesting together, and also contrast with the stick.  I do love playing with color. . .

Some scraps were sewn to the left side of the stick, others to the right.

After scraps were sewn on and the flap ironed out (pile on bottom left), I squared up the stick (under the ruler, bottom right).  Top left is the finished sticks plus triangles.  Top right is the cut-offs from the scraps.

Photo below shows audition of sections for the second border, before all were trimmed.

Checking values with a black/white photo.

Finished top again (for true colors, see details below)

 Details from the borders

Now I have to piece a back, and figure out how I want to quilt it.


  1. Great job Penny. Once you think the piecing is the mountain to climb but then you are faced with quilting choices and the climb starts again. Can't wait to see what decisions you make. Great job!!!

  2. Thanks for sharing your process. I like that the triangles are patterned fabric, and that you didn't like to do paper piecing- I agree!

  3. I love this quilt and actually like your colors better than the pattern. Where can I find that pattern??

    1. Here's a link to the pattern--enjoy!