Sun Flowers

Last week was remarkable for the amount of time I didn’t spend in my sewing room. The week was completely taken up with appointments, errands, holiday shopping and decorating, a couple of parties, and — it must be admitted — way too many Scrabble games.

At least I got the blocks put together for my Season to Taste table runner:

2014-12, Sun Flowers
Sun Flowers, 18″ x 56″

I’m making a version of Season to Taste for each of the four seasons. This one is the summer version, and I’m going to call it Sun Flowers. The pale gray background fabric (from the Painter’s Canvas line by Laura Gunn for Michael Miller) reminds me of a summer sky at first light.

The kaleidoscope blocks went together very easily but I am unhappy that the centers of the middle and bottom blocks don’t match exactly. It appears a couple of the repeats were just a smidge off when I cut through the eight layers of my focus fabric. With a kaleido block, being off even a sixteenth of an inch can make a difference.

Since Sun Flowers is destined to be a wall hanging, I’m going to place a vintage yellow button in the center of each kaleidoscope block. I auditioned a few buttons in my collection:

kaleido block with buttons
Middle block
kaleido with buttons 2
Bottom Block

I’m going to pretend that adding the buttons was a design choice rather than a ploy to cover my cutting error. You won’t tell anyone, will you?




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Planning Ahead

Our wonderful two-week visit with family in Atlanta is coming to a close. On Monday morning I’ll be back home in Oregon, in my sewing room, and I’m already thinking about what I want to work on.

Remember this kaleidoscope block that I made back in June?

Last month I made two more blocks. Here are the three of them together:

three kaleido blocks
I’m going to make them into a table/runner wall hanging using my Season to Taste pattern. I’ve made a fall and spring version; this will be the summer version. Just before leaving for Atlanta two weeks ago I ordered some more of the yellow polka dot fabric — it should be waiting for me when I get home.

Also on my mind are these luscious fabrics:

fabricsI have a plan for them but will make a test block or two before sharing it.

I’ve been in home dec mode this last couple of weeks so it will be good to get back to quiltmaking!




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Fabric Facelift

The ottoman in the master bedroom at my twin sister Diane’s house got a facelift, a new custom cover I made for it:

ottoman 1
It looks right at home in front of an easy chair in her bedroom:

ottoman 2
Here’s a view that includes a peek at Midnight in the Garden, the quilt I gave Diane for her 60th birthday:

ottoman 3
The newly covered ottoman actually has a fraternal twin (hey, just like me!):

Custom ottoman slipcover by Dawn White

This is the slipcover I made four years ago when I was visiting Diane over Thanksgiving. My goal was to make this look like an upholstered piece, since I’m not a fan of slipcovers. It was a real seat-of-the-pants project, since I had never made a slipcover or upholstered anything. When I started working on the new one, all I had to do was look at the old one to refresh my memory on how I had made it. No need to reinvent the wheel!




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A Home Dec Project for Diane

Every year when I visit my twin sister Diane over the Thanksgiving holiday, I work on a home dec project for her. It’s a small way to repay the generous hospitality she and her husband Ed show my husband Charlie and me on these annual visits.

This year I’m making a slipcover for an ottoman that goes in the master bedroom. This is what it looks like now:


Ed and Diane’s dear departed cat Alexis (Alex for short) liked to sharpen her claws on the ottoman, and she left the evidence behind:

Alex  was an equal opportunity kneader. She managed to work her magic on both sides of the ottoman:

On my visit last year, Diane and I found this lovely basketweave fabric which we thought would be perfect to recover the ottoman with:

This year we found the perfect trim for it — 50% off — at Frugal Fabrics:

Today I got the fabric measured and cut. Here is the top with boxed corners pinned and ready to sew:

Tomorrow I will get out my trusty old Elna sewing machine (bought in 1975), which now lives at Diane’s house, and will start sewing. It will be good to sit in front of a sewing machine again!




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Diane’s Dream Kitchen, Part 3

My sister Diane’s kitchen renovation (subject of the this post and the previous one) included the creation of a built-in buffet in her dining room. It’s almost nine feet wide! Check it out:

buffet viewed from the left
The buffet replaced a standing sideboard that was just under five feet wide so you can imagine all the storage and display space she gained. Here’s a closer look at the top of the buffet:

buffet top view
Diane and I had such fun rearranging her “Rosalie” Spode china! It was given to her about 30 years ago by her mother-in-law. Thanks to antique stores, estate sales, and ebay, Diane has added to her collection over the years and, I am happy to report, uses it often.

The top cabinets of the buffet are glass-fronted without panes to show the china to its best advantage. Here are close-ups of each cabinet:

upper left cabinet 800upper right cabinet 800
Four of the six cabinets on the lower cabinets are also glass-fronted:

buffet, lower cabinets-001
A few years ago our stepmother Shirley gave Diane her yellow Fostoria glassware in the “Baroque” pattern, which features the fleur de lis, a favorite motif of mine. Every time I came from Oregon to Georgia to visit Diane, I would tuck a few carefully wrapped pieces of glassware into my luggage. It took a while for all the pieces to get here but the effort was well worth it. The Fostoria and the Spode look elegant together, don’t you think?

I must confess to being a little green with envy over these wonderful changes to my sister’s home. But I’m also very happy for her. After 40+ years in the working world, she recently retired. She has earned this renovation, and I know she will enjoy it for many years to come.




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Diane’s Dream Kitchen, Part 2

butler's pantry from dining roomWhat you are looking at here is the space between the kitchen and dining room in my sister Diane’s Atlanta home. This space, often called the butler’s pantry, was simply a nook before the kitchen renovation that Diane and her husband Ed undertook recently.

The butler’s pantry contained a lovely antique cabinet in which Diane stored some of her Spode china. The rest of the china was in the formal dining room in an antique sideboard. The kitchen renovation expanded to include turning the butler’s pantry into a wet bar and replacing the sideboard in the dining room with a built-in buffet.

Diane chose glass-fronted cupboards above the wet bar to show off her vintage glassware. Alas, it virtually disappeared against the white walls and glass shelves. What the cupboards needed was some depth of color. Her clever solution was to cover foam core with a rich paisley home dec fabric and place it on the back wall of the glass cupboard.

Here’s a look at the fabric with the cupboard doors open . . .

butler's pantry doors open

. . . and closed:

doors closed-001

Don’t you love the play of pattern between the swirls of the paisley and the straight lines of the basketweave backsplash?

Up next: the new built-in buffet in the dining room. Please come back for a look!




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Diane’s Dream Kitchen

For the last 15 years (at least) my husband and I have traveled from our home in Portland, Oregon to Norcross, Georgia to spend Thanksgiving with my twin Diane and her husband Ed. It’s a tradition we treasure.

Every year Diane would comment on how much easier it would be to prepare Thanksgiving dinner if her kitchen had two ovens. The two-oven conversation often evolved into what other changes she would make in her kitchen and dining room. The other big ticket item on her wish list was a built-in buffet in the dining room to display the set of Spode china that Ed’s mother passed on to them many years ago. Ed and Diane wanted a buffet that evoked the one in Ed’s family home in Laurelhurst, a lovely old residential neighborhood in Portland.

As I write this post, Diane is in her newly renovated kitchen making pumpkin pies. I’ll be joining her in the kitchen shortly to help with other tasks in preparation for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving feast for a dozen.

As often happens, what started out as a simple remodeling project — in this case, creating space for a second oven and building a buffet — turned into a complete renovation. In the process, Diane gained a kitchen worthy of the pages of House Beautiful, a wet bar in the butler’s pantry, and a built-in buffet that beautifully showcases her Rosalie Spode.

Let’s take a look at Diane’s new kitchen. First, the northwest corner:

nw corner 1
The southwest corner:

fish corner
Looking south-southeast:

This view from the northeast corner takes in a good part of the kitchen:

looking from the living room-001

This is the time of year we tend to reflect on the things for which we are thankful. You can bet that Diane is thankful for her beautiful new kitchen!

In my next post I’ll show you the dining room buffet and the butler’s pantry. Diane did something very clever in the latter with a piece of home dec fabric. I hope you’ll come back in a few days for a look. In the meantime, I send my best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving! I hope you get to spend it with people you love.




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Pillowcases for Edward

My husband Charlie and I depart later this week for Atlanta for an extended visit over Thanksgiving with my twin sister Diane and her husband Ed. I usually make a pair of pillowcases as a hostess gift but this year, at Diane’s request, I made a pillowcase for her five-year-old grandson, Edward, a frequent overnight guest at his grandparents’ home.

Diane was captivated by the fabric I had used a few weeks ago on the back of Susan Elinor’s quilt. The fabric features vignettes of Dick and Jane and Spot, those charming characters from the early reader books I remember as a kid growing up in the 1950s. Now Edward is learning to read, and Diane loved the idea of the same fabric in a pillowcase he could sleep on at his grandma’s house.

Luckily, I had just enough fabric left to make one pillowcase. I paired it with a simple paisley print for the band:

Dick and Jane pillowcase for Edward
Fun with Dick and Jane (and Spot)

Diane knows about this pillowcase but she doesn’t know yet that I made Edward a second one:

robot pillowcase for Edward
Robot Love

What little boy doesn’t like robots? I adore these fabrics, part of the Mechanical Genius line by designer Mo Bedell that came out a couple years ago.

Now Edward has two new pillowcases to sleep on:

pcases for Edward
Pillowcases for Edward





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Reach for the Stars: I’m There!

Yes, indeed! My Reach for the Stars quilt top is completely pieced, all 88″ x 108″ inches of it. I finished it at Quilt Camp last week. It’s a bit wrinkled from being all folded up during transport, but here it is:

RFTS PN 11-14
Dawn’s Version

I like the look of the black squares floating in the outer border, so rather than binding the quilt in solid black to frame it, as originally planned, I’m going to use more of the background fabric.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The quilt has to be quilted first! I am going to (gulp) invest in custom longarm quilting on this one. The quilter I have chosen is equally at home with free motion and digitized quilting, and I expect my quilt will have some of both. I’ll have a better idea after we meet next week.

While I was at Quilt Camp I also pieced the back. It measures about 96″ x 116″ and incorporates the two Jacobean floral focus fabrics I used for the fussy-cut images in the center medallion and individual blocks. This is a partial view of the back:

RFTS back, partial
Jacobean Florals on the Back

One of the prints was a border print, so I pieced it in both directions for a bit more visual interest.

I’m still grappling with the realization that this quilt may not fit my queen-size bed. The 88″ width is fine, even if the quilting draws it up a few inches. It’s the length that’s the problem. According to several websites I’ve looked at, the recommended length for a standard queen or king-size quilt is 94″. Even if the quilting shrinks 4″ from the length, it’s still going to be 10″ longer than the recommended length. If this had dawned on me sooner (like when I started making this quilt in January), I might well have resized the blocks. Too late now. But I’m not going to fret about it. Surely I’ll find a good spot to display this quilt.

On a brighter note, I’ve selected a name for my quilt:  Catch a Falling Star. If you were around in 1957 (as I was), you’ll recognize it as the name of a song by Italian-American crooner Perry Como.




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Reach for the Stars: Almost There!

The final two corners are on my Reach for the Stars quilt top, and already it is huge. It measures 80″ x 100″ — oh my! It will measure 88″ x 108″ once the final borders are on. The custom quilting will shrink it a few inches, of course, but still — I think it’s going to be too big for my queen size bed. I was lamenting this to my twin sister, Diane, who quickly pointed out that she has two king size beds in her home and oh, by the way, wouldn’t this quilt look terrific in the upstairs guest room?

There’s no room in my house big enough to photograph the entire quilt top so I placed an old sheet on the patio out back, centered the quilt on top of it, and took a picture in the waning light:

2014-11 all but last border
Final Border to Come

Those of you who have been following my efforts to achieve a symmetrical checked border now have a good look at how it all fits together. Your next view of this will be a finished quilt top!




Posted in Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 18 Comments