Author Archives: Dawn

Darn It!

darning 1
See that foot? It’s the darning/free motion quilting foot for my Janome sewing machine. I’ve had this sewing machine for 10 years and have used it quite a bit for free motion quilting but today I did something with it that I’ve never done before:  I used it for darning.

Decades ago I bought this vintage dresser scarf at an estate sale in Portland:

darning 2

It’s the kind of find that quickens the heart of any lover of vintage linens. (Of course it didn’t have a hole in it at the time.) It measures 17″ x 64″ and, in addition to the inset initials, features beautifully crocheted edging all around and this lovely design on both ends:

darning 2a
I’ve used it on a side table in my dining room ever since I brought it home. (My initials, by the way, are DW. I don’t think I even know anyone with the initials AH.)

Over time the scarf developed a pinhole, which eventually turned into a hole the size of a pencil eraser:

darning 3

Something definitely needed to be done. After practicing my darning skills on a scrap of fabric (up and down, back and forth, in a crosshatch pattern), I was ready to work on the real thing:

darning 4
I put a scrap of tissue paper underneath the runner before stitching to help stabilize the cloth. This is what it looked like from the back:

darning 5
The tissue paper peeled away easily, just as you’d expect.

Now freshly laundered and ironed, the scarf is back in its proper spot in the dining room:

darning 7
Flush with success, I proceeded to mend holes in another vintage linen, a round jacquard tablecloth 84″ in diameter that I got for $10 at a garage sale in my neighborhood some years ago. It was badly yellowed with age but otherwise seemed to be in good condition. It washed up beautifully, and I have used it many times over the years on the round patio table on our back deck. Like the dresser scarf and other well loved linens in my collection, the cloth had developed holes over time from extensive use and repeated launderings.

Here’s a before and after shot of one of the holes:

darning before and after
The tablecloth is so big I drew lines around the holes so I could locate them more easily when the bulk of the tablecloth was under and around my sewing machine. (Those colored lines were made with a Frixion pen; the lines disappear with the touch of hot iron.) I also stitched over some pinholes before they had a chance to turn into larger holes.

I think I’m on a roll. Need anything mended?





Posted in home dec, update | 6 Comments

What a Deal!

At the meeting of the Metropolitan Patchwork Society last night, I bought $5 worth of raffle tickets. The MPS raises money for speaker fees by raffling off donated fabrics, bundling them in pleasing combinations according to color or theme, sometimes adding a book or pattern to sweeten the deal. It’s a terrific way to raise money, destash, or take home a prize, depending on whether you’re the guild, the fabric donor, or the lucky recipient. I’d say that’s a win-win-win.

Last night about a dozen bundles of fabric were being raffled. I was particularly taken with this one:

2015-6, fabric bundle
A Beautiful Bundle


Reader, you know what’s coming:  I won it!

The largest piece was this lush hydrangea and berries print designed by Holly Holderman for Lakehouse Fabrics:

2015-6, fabric bundle 2
Bountiful Blossoms and Berries


When I got home and measured this piece, I discovered it was 4¼ yards long. What a bonanza! The other three pieces were considerably smaller, but I still wound up with over seven yards of beautiful fabric. For five dollars. Wow.

When this fabric line came out a few years ago, I bought a piece of it in the pink colorway and eventually made this quilt from my 4-Patch Wonder pattern:

framboise august 2012
Framboise, 69″ x 84″ (2012)


This quilt, named Framboise, is one of my favorites. (You can read about the making of it in this post.) Here’s a shot of Framboise with the beautiful McKenzie River in central Oregon as a backdrop:

Framboise, 66" x 80", August 2012
Framboise au Naturel


Framboise is currently on the bed in the guest room so I get a glimpse of it every time I walk by the room.

What will I make with my new blue hydrangea fabric? I haven’t a clue. I’m just happy that it’s now in my stash along with the other three pieces in the bundle.




Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, faux-kaleido quilts, update | 4 Comments

Reach for the Stars, Revisited

Thanks to modern technology, I made virtual friends last year with several quiltmakers who, like me, were enchanted with Terri Krysan’s star sampler quilt, Reach for the Stars, and decided to make their own versions. Directions for the quilt were released in serial form by Quilter’s Newsletter beginning with the Oct./Nov. 2013 issue. As each issue was released, our little band of quiltmakers would share our progress and cheer each other on.

Last fall I began corresponding with Fawn S. of New York, who was working on two versions of Reach for the Stars — one as a birthday gift for her mother and one for herself. Several of the quilters in Fawn’s group, the Honey Bees, were also making RFTS. Now Fawn has sent me photos of quilts and quilt tops made by her and her quilting colleagues Rose, Linda, Nancy, and Janet. I am so happy to share those photos with you.

First up, the quilt Fawn made for her mother:

RFTS by Fawn 2 June 2015
This quilt, featuring fussy-cut cardinals, was made with deep reds, tans, and browns. Here’s the center medallion . . .

RFTS by Fawn center medallion detail

. . . and here’s a close-up of one of those fussy-cut cardinals:

RFTS made by Fawn block detailFawn quilted this herself on her mid-arm. Beautiful!

Rose’s finished quilt is a handsome combination of blues, greens, and tans, very dramatic against a white background:

RFTS by Rose June 2015Love the batiks. And did you notice the accent pillow?

Linda’s focus fabric is a lovely floral on a soft blue background. Her palette of greens, pinks, and creams, combined with that floral focus fabric, yielded this romantic result:

made by Linda

The version of RFTS that Fawn is making for herself is made with teals, tans, and browns:

RFTS by Fawn

It features a different bird print than the one she used on her mother’s quilt.

Nancy’s version also features birds. Her color palette includes deep reds, tans, and blues:

RFTS by Nancy June 2015
Can’t wait to see both of those quilts with the borders added.

Although this next photo is not in sharp focus, you can still appreciate the gorgeous combination of fabrics in Janet’s quilt top:

RFTS made by Janet June 2015Rusts, corals, tans, and greens on a cream background — so striking. And the batik print in her checkerboard border sets off the inner fabrics beautifully.

Thank you, Honey Bees of  Honeyville, NY, for sharing your beautiful quilts with me! I hope seeing them inspires others who are also reaching for the stars to keep working on their own versions.




Posted in Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 4 Comments


Twinship — the perfect kinship! I’ve just returned from a 10-day trip to Atlanta to visit my twin sister. Diane was supposed to join me for part of my recent trip to Paris but had to bow out at the last minute when one of her family members became seriously ill. Happily, the family member is well on the road to recovery. The only thing Diane and I could think of to assuage our mutual disappointment was for me to make a visit to her home, so just days after my return from Paris I was back on an airplane winging my way from Oregon to Georgia.

We had a lovely time! I usually wind up with a home dec project when I visit Diane but this time my trusty old Elna, which I took to Atlanta a few years ago so I could sew there, stayed put. We did get in a bit of antiquing, though. My visit happened to coincide with the Scott Antique Mall, open just one weekend a month in Atlanta, so off we went.

I wasn’t planning to buy anything but . . . you know how that goes. Minutes after walking through the entrance at Scott’s I spied a collection of vintage buttons. If I had found just this one thing, I would have been delighted:

Scott find vintage Luckyday buttons on cardThis little 2″ x 3″ card will go up on the bulletin board in my sewing room.

I also found these green glass buttons dating back to the 1940s:

Scott find green glass buttons and back of card

How do I know how old they are? The back of the card is marked “Germany – U.S. – Zone,” indicating they were made between 1945-1950.

And look at these fun clock buttons:

Scott find vintage clock buttons

I have no idea how old they are or even what I will use them for. Hmmm, let me see. . . . What if I were making a mini quilt with buildings on it, and what if one of the buildings were a clock tower? Wouldn’t one of these buttons make a fun clock? Something to think about.

Toward the end of the day I spotted this charming ironstone lidded jar:

Scott find ironstone jar

What is it? A large sugar bowl? A biscuit jar? It measures about 7½” tall and 7″ wide. The maker is John Maddock & Sons, one of the many potteries located in Burslem, Staffordshire, England. Here’s a look at the bottom of the jar:

Scott find ironstone jar bottom makers mark
I haven’t found information on this specific mark but judging from other maker’s marks from this pottery that I read about on line, my jar may have been made between 1870, when the mark changed from “Maddock and Son” to “Maddock and Sons,” and 1896, when “Ltd” was added to the mark. The pottery continued to produce until the 1960s, though, so perhaps my jar is not as old. It doesn’t really matter; I bought it because I loved it, not because of its age.

I thought it would be perfect on the narrow table opposite the clawfoot tub in the master bath but it turned out to be a little too small in scale. Now it’s in the guest bathroom where it does double duty as a Pretty Little Thing and as a holder of cotton balls:

Scott find ironstone jar in guest bath

Diane found a couple of Pretty Little Things, too. For some time she has been looking for a slotted spoon small enough to scoop fruit from a can or olives from a jar. She finally found what she has been looking for:

Scott find silver slotted spoon

A pleasing combination of form and function. As Diane would say, “Elegantly simple and simply elegant!”

She also found the perfect container to corral the various and sundry remotes for the TV, the DVD player, the sound system, and who knows what else. It’s a round paper maché box covered with vintage wallpaper:

Scott find round remote holder in place
The colors match her living room scheme and go well with the reversible table runner I made her a few months ago:

Scott find round box for remotes in place
(That narrow quilted table runner was made to cover the “seam” created when Diane put two chests back to back to create a larger surface area between the two chairs in her living room. You can see the reverse of the table runner and read about the making of it in this post.)

Diane’s final find of the day was made from a recycled Reader’s Digest Condensed book:

Scott find recycled Readers Digest book E
The vendor had laser cut old volumes into letters of the alphabet. In this case, E is for Edward, Diane’s 6-year-old grandson (named after his grandfather, Diane’s husband Ed). Young Edward is a frequent overnight guest at his grandparents’ home, so much so that he has his own room. Here the letter E is displayed with another of his grandmother’s marvelous antique store finds, a vintage appliqued wall hanging:

Scott find recylcled Readers Digest book vignette
Can you tell we had fun at the antique mall? The entire visit was fun. Now I’m back home and eagerly anticipating getting back to my quilting projects. My sewing machine is not used to being idle.




Posted in family, update | 6 Comments

We’ll Always Have Paris (Part 2)

Continuing to relive my recent Paris trip, here are some photos, in no particular order, starting with this one of Notre Dame on a cool and drizzly day in early May:

2 paris notre dame with moi(That’s moi in the foreground, in the polka-dot raincoat.)

Inside Le Grand Colbert, the restaurant featured in the 2003 Diane Keaton film Something’s Gotta Give:

2 paris inside le grand colbert

A niche in the wall at Place St. Germain des Pres:

2 paris st germain des pres
The giant stained glass dome inside the Galeries Lafayette department store:

2 paris inside galleries lafayette

A perfect Parisian rose, rivaling those in my hometown Portland OR, known as the City of Roses:

2 paris rose

A theater lover’s delight: seeing Juliette Binoche in an English language production of Antigone:

2 paris antigone poster

Street scene snapped while riding on a city bus:

2 paris street scene

One of the most iconic images of Paris:

2 paris eiffel tower

Inside E. Dehillerin, the famous cook’s supply store frequented by the likes of Julia Child and the Barefoot Contessa:

2 paris inside dehillerin

A delicious grocery store discovery:

2 paris lemon tartelettes

Best enjoyed with a cup of coffee served in a French mug:

2 paris mug
Strolling along the Seine admiring the chestnut trees for which Paris is justly famous:

2 paris chestnuts along seine(Here you have to imagine Ella Fitzgerald singing “April in Paris, chestnuts in blossom, holiday tables under the trees . . .” And yes, I took that photo in April.)

And finally, since this is primarily a sewing/quilting blog, my final shots are of images I want to reinterpret as quilt blocks:

2 paris wrought iron balcony

2 paris fleur de lis in les invalides

2 paris tile inside les invalides


The sights, the sounds, the smells . . . Paris was a feast for the senses. I feel so fortunate to have spent three weeks there.




Posted in update | 5 Comments

We’ll Always Have Paris (Part 1)

Hello out there, hello. Or should I say, “bonjour!”

I’ve been home from my woooonderful Paris trip for over a week now and have yet to get back into my sewing/quilting groove. Oh, I’ve washed and ironed several pieces of fabric pulled from my stack of recent purchases, and I’ve started prepping for a new class. I’ve even taught a class. But I have yet to sit down at my sewing machine. Unusual, most unusual. I usually return from a trip raring to sew.

I’m sure my sewing mojo will return shortly. In the meantime, since I’m still basking in the glow of all those happy Paris memories, I’ll share a few photos. My husband and I were there for three weeks, exchanging housing with a friend who stayed at our home and took care of our little cat Theodora while we took care of her big cat Buddy. The exchange worked out splendidly.

Some of the landmarks beginning (of course) with the Eiffel Tower, viewed on a rainy afternoon from the Trocadéro:

Paris Eiffel Tower
La Tour Eiffel


The Arch of Triumph (photo taken on the 70th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day:

Paris Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile


The Museum of the Army of France (Napoleon’s final resting place):

paris les invalides
Musée de l’Armée, L’Hôtel national des Invalides


The doors of Paris! They could be the subject of a photo essay. Here are just a couple of those pretty portals:

Paris portal 1


paris portal 2


Stately old buildings, so many of them beautifully adorned with wrought iron balconies:

Paris bldg balc 4

Paris bldg balc 1
Paris bldg balc 2
Paris bldg balc 3
paris bldg balc 5


We ate our share of what the French call “sandwichs,” our favorite being jambon et emmental (ham and cheese) on baguettes, often enjoyed on a park bench after a museum exhibition or other outing. I also sampled French onion soup:

Paris food onion soup

Carpaccio di manzo, in a French-Italian bistro near the Bastille Métro stop:

Paris food carpaccio

Cafe crème, our favorite mid-afternoon pick-me-up, never served without a square of dark chocolate on the saucer:

Paris food cafe creme

Standing in front of French patisseries eyeing the offerings in the window was a form of entertainment in itself:

paris food patisserie window


We visited a number of small museums and saw some fascinating temporary exhibits, most of which were not the least bit crowded. An exhibit at the Biblioteque Nationale de France (French National Library) celebrating the 100th anniversary of chanteuse Edith Piaf’s birth:

piaf exhibit
Au Temps de Klimit: La Sécession à Vienne (In the Time of Klimit: the Vienna Secession), tracing the development in Viennese art from the end of the 19th century until the first years of Expressionism:

Klimt exhibit

Inside this beautiful building, Palais Galliera, also known as the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris, a wonderful exhibition on milliner and couturier Jeanne Lanvin. She died in 1946 but her house of fashion survives, the oldest French one in existence:

lanvin exhibit


I see now that I need to break this post up into two parts. I hope you will indulge me. Please come back to see several more pictures, including a few images that I took because of their potential as quilt blocks or quilting motifs.

À bientôt!




Posted in family, update | 5 Comments

Blogger’s Quilt Festival: Large Quilt Category

Here it is, my entry in the Spring 2015 Blogger’s Quilt Festival hosted by Amy Ellis of Amy’s Creative Side:

Catch a Falling Star (2015)
Catch a Falling Star, 84″ x 105″ (2015)


My regular readers know all about this quilt. A year in the making, Catch a Falling Star is based on a design by Terri Krysan called Reach for the Stars that was offered in Quilter’s Newsletter over the course of seven issues, beginning with Oct./Nov. 2013 and ending with Oct./Nov. 2014.

Using my own color scheme, which is quite different from the original, I replaced three blocks and made a few changes to some of the other blocks. I also challenged myself to incorporate a fussy cut image into every block and redesigned the border to make it symmetrical.

The Jacobean floral fabric and a few others in the quilt are from the Ainsley line by Northcott Fabrics. The remaining fabrics came from my stash.

Many of my blog posts in 2014 are about the creation of this quilt. If you are interested in seeing how it came together, block by block, simply click on the “reach for the stars sampler quilt” link at the bottom of this post. All of the posts will come up in reverse  chronological order. In particular I hope you will look at some of the close-ups of longarm quilter Loretta Orsborn‘s beautiful free-motion and digitized quilting designs.

My quilt is entered in the large quilt category. To see some of the other large quilts entered in the festival, check out this link:

But wait, there’s more! There are 10 other categories of quilts in the festival: mini, small, appliqué, art, hand quilted, home machine quilted, original design, ROYGBIV, scrappy, and viewer’s choice. Be sure to check them out. And prepare to be inspired!





Posted in Bloggers Quilt Festival, Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 10 Comments

“Never an umbrella in Paris . . .

. . .  and, by all means, rain the very first day.” So says Sabrina Fairchild (Audrey Hepburn) in the classic 1954 movie, Sabrina, one of my all-time favorites.

I’m  happy to report that I followed Sabrina’s instructions to the letter. The light rain falling on the day of our arrival was most welcome. The Dear Husband and I have the great good fortune to be spending three weeks in the City of Light. We are staying at the apartment of a friend, who is staying at our home in Portland during the same time frame.

As I write this, night is falling on the city, and from our dining room window we can look out and see the very top of the Eiffel Tower all lit up. The top of the Pantheon is also visible in the distance.

Under these circumstances, I hope you’ll forgive the lapse in posting. I’ll resume as soon as I’m back home. In the meantime, I’m enjoying  la vie en rose. According to Sabrina, it means I’m looking at Paris (and the world) through rose colored glasses.






Posted in update | 9 Comments

What a Square!

In my last post I commented on the issue with my latest quilt, Billie’s Starnot being perfectly square. Before quilting it measured 57″ square. After being quilted and bound, it finished at 56″ x 55.” The discrepancy was caused by the motif I chose, a wavy design across the horizontal surface of the quilt that caused the quilt to draw up more lengthwise:

2015-4, Billie's Star, 55x54 (2)

Instead of trimming my quilt square before binding, I opted to keep the outer border strips the same size. In retrospect that may have been a mistake. I could easily have trimmed ½” off the two long sides so that the quilt finished at 55″ square.

Should I have done that? Would anybody else (besides my obsessive compulsive self) even notice that the border strips weren’t the same size?

Now I am wondering: how do other quiltmakers deal with this discrepancy? I would really love to know.




Posted in update | 6 Comments

A Friday Finish: Billie’s Star

May I present Billie’s Star  — pieced, quilted, bound, and labeled:

2015-4, Billie's Star, 55x54
This is one of those “just for fun” quilts. It wasn’t planned at all. I simply gave into the urge one day in late January to play around with a large star block, using a lovely floral print left over from my previous project, a quilted bed runner. The quilt is named after my mentor and teacher Billie Mahorney, well known for her love of star motifs in quilts.

These stars blocks are 24″ square (including the dark blue rings around them). The quilt measures 56″ x 55″. It’s not a perfect square because the quilting I selected, gentle horizontal waves, caused the quilt to draw up on the lengthwise measurement. I could have trimmed it to be square but then the border strips wouldn’t have been even.

Leftover squares of the focus fabric went on the back:

201504, Billie's Star back, 55x54
The label is an inset circle in a square:

2015-4, Billie's Star (label)

Billie’s Star
is my fourth finished quilt of 2015. One a month! Can I possibly keep up this pace?




Posted in update | 4 Comments