Author Archives: Dawn

In the Christmas Spirit

My husband and I are still in Georgia, enjoying a few more days with my sister Diane and her husband Ed. With memories of a fabulous Thanksgiving feast behind us, our thoughts are now turning toward the next big holiday.

Diane has been decorating their home for  Christmas, with a few items chosen to delight their seven-year-old grandson. In the dining room, for example, Santa reigns:

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The garland on the built-in buffet is adorned with sparkly fruit and berries:

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Suspended from the light fixture in the hallway is a pair of kissing balls the size of bowling balls:

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In the living room, the mantel is decorated with an elegant lighted garland:

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Also in the living room are a couple of simple but elegant additions. . .

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. . . and a tiny tree next to the piano:

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In the kitchen you’ll find this charming vignette above the range:

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The front and back doors have large wreaths:

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Even the powder room gets the holiday treatment:

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Every day I notice something new: kitchen towels decorated with snowmen, jingle bells and tiny needlepoint pillows hanging from doorknobs, Christmas-themed bowls and spreaders for hors d’oeuvres displayed on the counter, a nutcracker standing guard on the fireplace surround.

I really do think Diane has a knack for decorating. Her home is graciously appointed all year around but right now, decked out for the holidays, it is especially beautiful.

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, update | 5 Comments

Voilá!

How do you like my new sewing tool caddy? I’m indulging in a little sewing for myself while visiting my sister over Thanksgiving. This one was made from the pattern Travel Case by p3designs.com.

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I need to find a fabulous button to go on the front. The loop was made from an elastic band made for a ponytail.

I stitched inside the pink lines of the medallions to give the cover flap a bit of texture:

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The caddy has four pockets inside to hold a multitude of tools:

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These tools stay at my sister’s home because I do plenty of sewing while I am here on extended visits. I’ll take the caddy home empty and fill it up with tools from my sewing room.

The DH and I are here for a few more days, during which time I hope to get a bit more sewing in. Not now, though. Now it’s time for the best part of Thanksgiving: leftovers!

 

 

 

 

Posted in family, update | 3 Comments

Back at the Wheel

It’s Thanksgiving Day and I am thankful to be here in Georgia at the home of my twin sister, Diane, celebrating with her family and my own DH. After six days away from my sewing machine, however, I am eager to get back behind the wheel. (A sewing machine has a flywheel, after all.)

Many years ago I brought my old Elna sewing machine (purchased in 1975) to Diane’s home, and I have worked on many a quilt and home dec project since then. This year I brought a few small projects from home to work on, including a new sewing tool caddy using some favorite fabrics I have used on other quilting accessories:

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The pattern (Travel Case by Pearl P. Pereira of 3designs.com) calls for three pockets on the inside to hold tools but I am adding a fourth pocket:

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My fabrics are cut and ready to sew but I am putting everything away for now to help Diane with Thanksgiving Dinner. The air is already redolent with the smell of pumpkin pie, which just came out of the oven. The turkey goes in next!

For those of you who celebrate American Thanksgiving, I hope the same good smells are permeating your home and that you too are spending the day with loved ones.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, family, home dec, Junior Billie Bag, rotary cutter case, tote bags, update | 2 Comments

Junior Billie Bag #3

I’ve made three Junior Billie Bags this year. The first one was made as a class sample, which I kept. The second was made as a birthday gift. Number 3 was also made as a class sample. Since I don’t need another JBB, I decided to make one for a good friend. Regular readers have seen this bag while it was still in flat pieces. Now it’s three dimensional!

A Junior Billie Bag is challenging to make — but oh, so worth it. I call it the quintessential quilter’s tote. Measuring 14″ wide, 17″ high, and 7½” wide, it’s large enough to hold a lot of supplies but small enough to be carried easily, especially because of the two sets of handles. Pockets on the outside and inside can be customized to hold a quilter’s favorite set of sewing and quilting tools.

Here’s one side of #3, finished last week:

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I like that block so much I used it on #1 and #2. On the other side of the bag I made what I call a kaleido-spinner block:

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Here are a couple of side views, to show you the pockets on the outside:

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And finally, a peek inside the bag, which is loaded with pockets:

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My friend was as delighted to receive it as I was to give it to her. We work on quilt projects together at the Pine Needle, the local quilt shop where I teach. It’s the same quilt shop where Billie Mahorney, the designer of the bag, taught for almost 20 years before moving to Idaho in 2009. Billie taught her bag class many times during those years, and I am very honored that she has passed the torch on to me.

The next time I see my friend, I expect she will be toting her brand new Junior Billie Bag, loaded with her favorite things.

 

 

 

 

Posted in update | 7 Comments

Where It’s @: All Wound Up

where-its-nov-2016Last night I finished piecing my wonky Greek key quilt, which already has a name: Where It’s @.  The name comes from the resemblance of the @ sign on a keyboard to the classic Greek key motif, which gets a decidedly funky treatment here.

The pattern is Rewind by Karla Alexander of Saginaw Street Quilts. I had the pleasure of taking Karla’s class last summer in Sisters, Oregon during the week of classes known as Quilter’s Affair. Karla provided a template for the block, which is made up of strips sewn in rounds like a log cabin block, and she also demonstrated how to make a block by cutting the strips free form. I can’t tell you how much fun it was cutting those strips free form — the wonkier, the better, as you can see from comparing a few blocks.

By the time I got to the last few blocks, I had finally developed a system for keeping my strips in order — imperative, since I was cutting through four layers of fabric at a time. Before getting to that point, I made a few mistakes, requiring some of the strips to be pieced, but I was hard pressed to find them by the time the finished top was up on the design wall.

One of the things I love about Karla’s design is how the background fabrics in the outer blocks extend to create a pieced border. My blocks finished at 8″ square. With the borders added, the quilt top measures 57½” x 73½”.

Where It’s @ is quite a departure from the quilts I am normally drawn to. It was good for me to step outside my comfort zone and make something a bit on the zany side.

 

 

 

Posted in update | 7 Comments

Tempted

I’m not going to start a new quilt until I’ve finished at least two other tops. But if I were, it might be this one:

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Isn’t it a beauty? I saw this quilt on display last week at BJ’s Quilt Basket in Bend, Oregon, where I spent a few days visiting my dad.

At first glance, the basic block in this quilt looks like the classic Winding Ways, with the addition of a pinwheel in the center. As I understand it, the Winding Ways block is made with curved seams, yet all the seams in this quilt are straight. What you see is the illusion of curves. I love that!

I bought the pattern on the spot:

a-mid-winters-night-quilt-pattern

I’m drawn to this design because it can look traditional or contemporary, depending on the fabrics used. The quilt on the pattern cover looks very traditional while the one in the quilt shop has a contemporary vibe thanks to the Australian aboriginal fabrics used.

I could see making two versions of A Mid-Winters Night. But not just yet. I’m not starting a new quilt. I’m not, I’m not, I’m not!

 

 

 

Posted in update | 15 Comments

More Stars for Stella

After settling on the name Stella by Starlight for my just completed kaleido-spinner quilt (subject of my last post), I made a simple pieced back for it using fabrics from my stash. I decided to stick to black fabrics for the back since the quilt will be quilted primarily with black thread.

A review of my stash yielded two prints that are perfectly in keeping with the theme of the quilt. How serendipitous! One features tiny white stars on a black background, while the other is a geometric print that from a distance looks like star clusters. Here is the completed back, which measures 60″ x 80″:

 

back-of-stella-by-starlightThe strip of floral fabric near the middle is the focus fabric that created the one-of-a-kind kaleido-spinners in the quilt top:

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I’m going to have Stella custom quilted by a local longarmer whose work is, well, stellar.

 

 

 

Posted in hexagons, kaleido-spinner, kaleidoscope quilts, update | 3 Comments

Fixer Upper

In my last post I showed you my latest kaleido-spinner project, noting that I planned to reverse the two large blocks in the fourth row. That’s been done, and this is what the quilt top looks like now:

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The change was made to better balance the distribution of yellow in the quilt. That small hexagon kaleidoscope on the left side of the fourth row has very little yellow in it, so it needed some help from its neighboring blocks.

It’s a subtle but significant change. Here’s a look at the quilt top before and after:
before-and-afterI was concerned about the lack of color in that hexie kaleido block even before I added it to the quilt so I employed a Sharpie Ultra Fine Tip permanent marker to give it a boost:

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This is a trick I learned from a quilt teacher, who referred to permanent markers used in this fashion as “quilter’s caulk.”

Here’s the block with the color added all around:

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Sadly, much of the yellow on the outside edges disappeared because I had to trim the block before I added the side triangles and then I lost more of the color to the ¼” seam allowance:

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I actually toyed with the idea of adding more yellow in the white flowers, practicing on a couple of scraps  . . .

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. . . before concluding I was taking my obsession with balance too far. And here’s the thing about using permanent markers on fabric: if you make a mistake, it won’t wash out.

So my kaleido-spinner quilt top is done. I have a small piece left of the original floral fabric to put on the back — people always want to see what the fabric looked like before it was cut into little pieces.

Oh, and my quilt now has a name. It’s Stella by Starlight.

 

 

 

Posted in hexagons, kaleido-spinner, kaleidoscope quilts, quilter's caulk, update | 5 Comments

Friday Finish: A New Kaleido-Spinner Project

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Regular readers will recognize the block — it’s Heather Peterson’s Spinners block from her book On the Run Again (Anka’s Treasures, 2014). I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of this block. In the last few months it’s shown up in a wall hanging/table runner, a king size bed runner, and one side of a Junior Billie Bag. I even taught Spinners at a quilt retreat in June.

Heather’s original design calls for six different fabrics in the triangles surrounding the center hexagon. I used six identical triangles in each Spinners block to get a kaleidoscope effect of sorts, coming up with the name “kaleido-spinner” to describe the effect.

You probably noticed something different in the quilt top pictured above: the four small kaleidoscope blocks in the second and fourth rows. I was originally going to put half-kaleido-spinner blocks there. But then I was perusing Heather’s blog, Trends and Traditions, several days ago and saw something very clever she had done.

Heather has a brand new booklet, Starstruck, coming out that features chevron fabrics in hexagon blocks; when sewn together in hexagons made of six 60° triangles, the chevron fabrics form stars. Some of the quilts featured in Heather’s book have half-size hexagons in the places where half-blocks would normally go. When I saw those quilts, I knew the concept would work very well in my quilt. So thank you, Heather, for your wonderful block design as well as the inspiration for the setting of this quilt!

Making the half-size kaleidoscope blocks fit properly turned out to be quite a challenge. The full-size kaleido-spinner blocks in my quilt finish at 15½” x 13½”. That means the half-size kaleidoscope blocks finish at 7¾” x 6¾” . On top of that, I opted to finish all of the setting triangles on the sides of the blocks with Y-seams to extend the width. I added 3″ strips at the top and bottom to float the blocks the same amount. The quilt top now measures about 53″ x 73″.

I hope you can tell from the photo that the black background isn’t a solid. It’s a tiny random white-on-black dot by Cotton + Steel called “Sprinkle” that reinforces the feeling that those kaleido blocks are spinning in a night sky. (Hmmm. Perhaps there’s a quilt name in that image. I’ll have to work on that.)

Now, a confession. I didn’t notice until I was cropping the photo above that I had reversed the two large blocks in the fourth row. I can’t believe I didn’t see that when I was sewing the rows together. Am I going to fix it? Yes, I am. I worked very hard when laying out the blocks to achieve a good balance of color and value. It feels “off” to me now. My obsessive-compulsive self will be much happier when that change has been made.

There’s one more thing I need to do to this quilt top before I can declare it truly done. That will be the subject of my next post.

P.S. Heather Peterson did not ask me to promote her new book. I just felt it was important to acknowledge her designs (block and setting) in the creation of my latest quilt top.

 

 

 

Posted in bed runners, Billie Bag, hexagons, Junior Billie Bag, kaleido-spinner, kaleidoscope quilts, update, wall hanging | 5 Comments

Reach for the Stars: Four More Finishes

I’m excited to share pictures of four more versions of Reach for the Stars, Terri Krysan’s stunning star sampler quilt that was featured in Quilter’s Newsletter magazine three years ago. By writing about the construction of Catch a Falling Star, my own version, on this blog throughout 2014 and into 2015, I became acquainted with other Reach for the Stars quiltmakers locally and from as far away as Australia.

We have all become fast friends, bonding over our love of quiltmaking and our fascination with Terri’s design (even if some of us decided to modify it a bit, swapping out certain blocks or making changes in the border, for example.

Candy L. from Colonie, New York, is one of my newer cyberspace quilting friends. She recently finished this beautiful version of Reach for the Stars in blues, yellows, and greens on a crisp white background:

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Did you notice the fussy-cut butterflies? If you look closely, you can also see the feather quilting motif in this close-up of the center medallion:

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The next three Reach for the Stars (RFTS) quilts were made by quilters I know from teaching at the Pine Needle in Lake Oswego, Oregon. First up: Lana K., who started with a lovely floral print that allowed her to expand her color palette to include a range of colors. Note how just a few touches of pink and gold act as foils against the main blue and green color scheme:

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Lana made this quilt as a raffle item for her grandson’s school. The winning bid came in at $2,000! I know how much time, effort, and money went into the making of that beautiful quilt. What a generous heart Lana has! If I had made that quilt, it would have been very difficult for me to part with it.

Joie L.’s quilt features a deep purple and forest green color scheme, with pops of fuchsia and lime to liven it up. Joie wanted her quilt to be wider and not quite as long as the original design, so she modified the borders in a clever way to make that happen:

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Sharon S. did something unexpected and wonderful with her version of Reach for the Stars:

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Doesn’t her multicolored checkerboard border make you think of harlequins, those colorful characters from Italian commedia dell’arte dressed in checkered costumes? Sharon’s border ties all of the colors in the individual blocks together in a bold and innovative way.

I’ll continue to publish photos as more of my friends from near and far finish their versions of Reach for the Stars, so please stop by from time to time. If you type in “reach for the stars” in the SEARCH ME box on the right side of my home page, you will be taken to all of my RFTS posts in chronological order.

 

 

 

Posted in Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 1 Comment