With an inauspicious start as trash discarded in our oceans, broken bottles and jars smashed and tumbled by pounding salt water waves slowly turn into smooth, frosted “sea glass”. It takes decades of ocean churning to polish sea glass and wash it ashore. But with APQS Dealer Michelle Harris’s “Sea-glass Mosaic” quilt pattern, you won’t have to comb the beaches for your booty! You can mimic the beautiful blues, aquas, greens and greys of that broken glass with fabric. (But if you need an excuse to surf the quilt shop shelves for hidden gems, consider this your treasure map!! 🙂 )
Michelle started quilting as a teenager, and it has been a constant in her life in some form ever since.
For 15 years she owned and operated a quilt shop in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where she learned a lot about fabrics and quilt structure. As she worked with staff members and customers, their projects and fabric choices opened her eyes to a lot of new ideas. She has shared two of those tricks in her pattern instructions—how to piece 8 half-square triangles at once, and how to oversize them and then trim them down for accurate finished measurements.
Whether you need to use up scraps, you’ve found a fantastic fat quarter bundle, or you collect 10-inch square “Layer Cakes”, Michelle’s pattern can be adapted to your stash. One of her favorite color combos is grey and white with splashes of other colors mixed in. Though her color palette for this quilt mimics those cool sea glass colors, the quilt would look spectacular in warm tones, or even rainbow hues!
Though the quilt looks complicated, it’s made from one simple, repeating block. A half-block section on alternating rows creates the staggered effect, leaving smaller triangles that float between the blocks.
The quilting possibilities abound with this quilt. An overall simple pantograph design would look great, but the quilt also lends itself to custom quilting if you want a more detailed look. Michelle wanted to keep the design in the body of the quilt uniform. She integrated a simple square design around each ‘ring’ created by the piecing. By leaving that area less dense but heavily quilting the light backgrounds, the colored fabric squares pop out to add drama.
The wider inner border provided the perfect playground for a more intricate design. The arches resemble graceful stained glass window panes—a perfect complement to the color tones of the quilt. Michelle used an oval ruler to create the double-stitched shapes. Adding extra background quilting on the outer edge of the arches ensured that they would jump off the quilt and stand out.
To ensure that her quilting designs have texture, Michelle typically uses a double batt of 80/20 polyester/cotton batting, topped with wool. However, because the background is so white on her quilt, this time she tried a polyester batt on top of bamboo batting to prevent shadow-through from the batting. While she feels the quilt turned out okay, she commented that the quilt is definitely heavier than many of her previous quilts.
Two years ago, Michelle simplified her life by selling her quilt shop and moving to a quieter studio location. She has two APQS Lucey longarm machines in her Saskatoon Longarm Studio. Quilters come to learn how to use the machine and then rent it by the hour to do their own quilting. Customers are excited to be able to make the quilt from start to finish this way, so they can truly say, “I made the whole thing by myself!”
But some quilters enjoy piecing the tops much more than the quilting process. Michelle offers longarm quilting services for them, along with quilting her own quilts. She is intrigued and fascinated by how the quilting thread becomes a “fourth layer” for the quilt sandwich. She spends a lot of time studying the effect of thread on the final project, and uses that knowledge to create some very dramatic quilting designs. We’re lucky that she’s shared her pattern with our APQS family!