Author Archives: Dawn

Time for a Tablecloth

For the last decade or so, my husband and I have spent Thanksgiving week in Atlanta with my twin sister Diane and her husband Ed. Three years ago I arrived at her home with a gift of these table napkins, made from a fabric called Heavenly Peace by Verna Mosquera for Free Spirit Fabrics:

A Dozen Table Napkins for Diane

Diane loved the fabric, and I promised to make a matching tablecloth. After three years, isn’t it about time?

Since I like to work on a home dec project when I’m at Diane’s, I brought all the yardage I had left — which was considerable — along with a piece of fabric (from the American Jane line designed by Sandy Klop for Moda Fabrics) that was a perfect color match:

tablecloth fabrics 1-001

Diane and I worked out a simple design that would feature the fleur de lis fabric on the table surface. A few inches of the large floral print would also show on the table and continue down to a generous drop. I wanted to miter the corners and continue the miter around to the back so the stitching lines would be covered. That way no raw edges would be exposed.

I did the math (or so I thought) and created a little paper pattern to guide me in the preparation of the miters:

tablecloth fabric

Well, friends, it would have taken 11 yards of the floral fabric to make the tablecloth the way I originally envisioned it. That’s because I was going to cut a 25″ strip and needed 398″ inches. The modified plan used half that because I cut the fabric along the fold, getting two strips from a width of fabric instead of one. (I wish I could tell you I figured that out before cutting the first 25″ strip.)

The mitered corners came together nicely. Here is a shot from the back . . .

tablecloth mitered corner from back

. . . and from the front:

tablecloth mitered corner from front

On the back, where the folded edges of the miter meet, I used Steam-a-Seam 2, a double-sided fusible web, to fuse the folded edges together:

tcloth with fused miter


From the front, I stitched in the ditch where the two fabrics meet. The stitching line caught the folded edge of the miter on the back:

tablecloth stitched in ditch

Here is Diane’s new tablecloth in place:


And here is the table set with a matching napkin:

tablecloth with setting

Diane and I both declared ourselves very pleased with the result. An added bonus: the fleur de lis motif is a lovely reminder of our recent big birthday trip to Paris.




Posted in home dec, mitered corners, table napkins, update | 9 Comments

A Fast Finish

big leaf, nov 2015
Dawn’s New Big Leaf, 24½” Square (2015)

Under two weeks, from start to finish. That must be a record for me, as I am more like the hare than the rabbit. Granted, my New Big Leaf is a small project — but hey, every finish counts, right?

I started this on Oct. 28 in a workshop with Pat Pauly, a renowned fiber artist from New York who came to Portland to teach her “New Big Leaf” design using freezer paper templates. A week later my top was pieced. Now on to the quilting.

This is the point at which my projects usually get tucked away. Like so many other quiltmakers, the actual quilting is my least favorite part. It is oh so easy to procrastinate. This time I vowed not to do that. I geared up to tackle not only this new project but also the table runner of my own design that I had put aside eight months ago. (I quilted that one first and wrote about it in my last post.)

After pin pasting my New Big Leaf, I stitched in all the ditches. That enabled me to remove the safety pins for the rest of the quilting: free motion quilting in the blue parts of the leaf and gentle curves around the leaf using my walking foot. A few close-ups:

big leaf, quilting detail 1

big leaf, quilting detail 3 
big leaf, quilting detail 2
I used variegated threads that blend with the background, the goal being to add texture without adding color.

When it came to the binding, I didn’t want it to provide a frame around the leaf. I wanted the greens and purples to flow right into the binding. The solution: two fabrics in the binding. Here you can see where the green binding changes to purple on both sides of the upper left corner:

big leaf upper left corner

The back of the quilt is one piece of fabric (a departure for me). Although I used four different threads on the front of the quilt, I used the same purply-blue variegated thread in the bobbin so there’s just one thread on the back. The plan was for the thread to blend in completely on the backing fabric. That it did, but it also provided an outline of the leaf that both surprised and pleased me:

back of new big leaf
I finished hand stitching the binding Tuesday morning, 13 days from the day of Pat Pauly’s workshop. What a triumph!

Oops, not so fast. Now comes the confession: my project is not truly finished. Did you notice? No label on the back yet. And no name, for that matter. I was so eager to show it to you that I fudged a bit on my pronouncement that it was done.

I am still musing on a name. As for the label, I’m thinking about making one in the shape of a leaf, using the freezer paper technique I learned from Pat. Wouldn’t that be a fun touch?

Linking up with Kelly of My Quilt Infatuation on NTT (Needle and Thread Thursday).




Posted in free motion quilting, New Big Leaf, update | 6 Comments

A Spot of Sunshine

2014-12, Sun FlowersIt hardly seems possible but eight months have passed since I last worked on Sun Flowers, pictured above. It’s the third of four kaleidoscope wall hangings I’m making of my Season to Taste pattern — one version for each season of the year. This is the summer version, made from a lively floral print from Camelot Cottons.

I had quilted straight lines in the grey background and free-motion quilted a swirly design in one of the kaleidoscope blocks. That was as far as I got back in March. I quilted the last two blocks on Friday and finished binding the piece today. Here it is quilted, bound — and buttoned:

Sun Flowers (2)Yes, buttoned. In the center of each block are two layered buttons, adding a bit of whimsy:

Sun Flower, buttons

The back is pieced of leftovers and includes a sizeable piece of the original focus fabric:

Sun Flowers (back)I love to feature the focus fabric on the backs of my quilts, especially when I’ve used it to make kaleidoscope blocks.

Sun Flowers (18″ x 55″) is now hanging in the master bath:

Sun Flowers in situ

It’s a cheerful and colorful addition to the Portland White House. On the greyest of days in Portland — and we have many of those in fall and winter — it will be a spot of sunshine.




Posted in free motion quilting, kaleidoscope quilts, New Big Leaf, update | 8 Comments

My New Big Leaf

The “new big leaf” I started last week in a workshop with Pat Pauly is almost done. The leaf is created using freezer paper templates. Today I sewed the leaf half-sections to their backgrounds and added the vein that runs down the middle of the leaf:

big leaf in  halves 800
The only thing left was to join the two halves. And lo! the twain did meet:

big leaf joined 800

Right now my leaf measures about 27½” square. Once quilted, it will be trimmed to 24″ square. Here it is cropped (the photo, not the leaf!) to give you a better idea of what the leaf will look like finished:

big leaf cropped 800

I’m so pleased with it!

I did make one change from my original vision of it. When I started working on this project, the tip of the leaf was oriented toward the lower right hand corner:

big leaf with darts
Today I decided I like my composition better with the tip of the leaf in the upper right hand corner. (You might say I turned over a new leaf . . .)

The next decision is whether to add a binding or face the edges. I’ll wait till it’s quilted and then let the quilt “tell me” what it needs.




Posted in New Big Leaf, update | 7 Comments

“Go Big or Go Home”

That’s Pat Pauly’s motto. Pat is an award-winning art quilter and fiber artist from Rochester, New York. She’s known for making contemporary quilts with strong graphic compositions, many of them mixed media pieces on a large scale (hence the motto). She was in Portland this week to speak to the Metropolitan Patchwork Society (MPS) and lead a workshop on her “New Big Leaf” design, which employs freezer paper templates.

After seeing samples of Pat’s New Big Leaf and visiting her website, I signed up for her workshop. I’m interested in working more with freezer paper templates and wanted to learn about her methods and techniques. Her lecture for MPS, in which she zipped through 400 slides to illustrate her talk on “The New Face of Art Quilts,” was a wonderful precursor to her workshop the following day.

Here are two samples of Pat’s “New Big Leaf”:

Designed and made by Pat Pauly. 24″ square.
Designed and made by Pat Pauly. 48″ square.


Pat brought to the workshop two other examples of her “New Big Leaf.” Here is the one-block version made with some of her own hand-dyed fabrics . . .

Designed and Made by Pat Pauly. 24″ square

. . . and a four-block version in commercial fabrics:

New Big Leaf
Designed and made by Pat Pauly. 48″ square.


Here’s Pat during the workshop talking about her quilt:

Pat Pauly with New Big Leaf
Pat Pauly with her New Big Leaf


After studying her samples in advance, I decided to make a single block using batiks from my stash. I brought a stack of batiks to the workshop and got to work. Here is my leaf in process:

new big leaf in progress


The orange batik I brought for the veins of the leaf turned out to look a bit faded. My friend and fellow MPS guildmate Vickie generously gave me some of her own brighter orange batik to jazz up my leaf. Thanks, Vickie!

At the workshop I auditioned several purples and greens to fill the areas around the leaf. When I got home I started to second guess my choices:

big leaf with initial choices

I’m going to replace those two lighter purple pieces with ones that are a bit darker. I want the outer pieces to blend more so that the leaf remains the focus of attention.

Yes, I’m liking this better:

big leaf in progress

I’m liking it even more with the little wedges of color in the outer pieces:

big leaf with darts

Slowly but surely, my “new big leaf” is coming together.




Posted in Metropolitan Patchwork Society, New Big Leaf, update | 5 Comments

Well Done!

Seeing one of your own designs interpreted by another quilter is one of the pleasures and rewards of designing quilts. Last weekend I was at the Pine Needle, the local quilt shop where I teach, and was thrilled to see Maxine Borosund’s version of my pattern Season to Taste:

Maxine's Season to Taste runner
Maxine’s Table Runner

Isn’t that stunning? Season to Taste can be a table runner or a wall hanging, depending on the maker’s point of view and intended use of the finished piece. Maxine’s version is a table runner.

The triangles that form the octagon can be made with a variety of fabrics, like Maxine’s, or from one fabric for a true kaleidoscope effect. You can see both options on the cover of the pattern:

Season to Taste pattern cover
pattern cover


Maxine added a design element to her quilt that I just love: a very thin flange right next to the bound edges. Take a look at this close-up:

detail of Maxine's runner

See that narrow strip of chartreuse right next to the binding? She did a beautiful job on the flange, as well as the seams in the eight triangles where the thin chartreuse accent strips and outer black strips meet. Everything lines up perfectly, the sign of a quilter who sews with care and precision.

I asked Maxine to pose with her table runner so I could post a picture at this site:

Maxine with her runner

Thank you, Maxine. Your table runner is beautiful!




Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 6 Comments

Homeward Bound

In a few short hours, my twin and I will be winging our way back to America, our two-week sojourn to Paris at an end. And what a wonderful sojourn it has been! I cannot imagine a better way to celebrate turning 65.

The big day is actually next month, but every time Diane and I lifted a glass of wine or champagne, we smiled at each other and said, “Happy birthday!”

The twins in Paris
Dawn and Diane in Paris


In a few days, when I’ve had a chance to sort and edit my pictures, I’ll post my favorite ones. I hope you’ll come back to see the highlights of our trip.




Posted in family, update | 3 Comments

“It’s deja vu all over again . . .”

The late great Yogi Berra supposedly said that. Even if he never spoke those words, I know what he meant. I’m having a very déjà vu moment. I am in Paris, in the same apartment (Chez Anna) where my husband and I spent three weeks in the spring. This time my twin sister Diane is with me, and we are here for two weeks.

How did this stroke of good fortune come about? Well, Diane was supposed to join my husband and me for several days during our earlier stay. A family emergency (since resolved) kept her from coming. Her ticket was good for a year. Through a combination of luck and good timing, we were able to arrange this visit to coincide with a trip my friend Anna and her beau had scheduled to the United Kingdom.

Part of the deal is that we take care of her cat Buddy, whom I already adore:


Diane and I have  a Big Birthday coming up next month (think Medicare). Is this not the perfect way to celebrate turning 65?



Posted in cats, family, update | 9 Comments

What the Judges Said

Catch a Falling Star (2015)
Catch a Falling Star, 86″ x 105″ (2015)

Catch a Falling Star, my quilt pictured above, hung in the Northwest Quilting Expo show in Portland last week (Sept. 24-26). It was a terrific show, with over 650 quilts on display. A friend and I spent the entire day there, walking slowly up and down every aisle, admiring the quilts and enjoying the vendor mall. Really enjoying the vendor mall, if you know what I mean. Someone did not come home empty handed.

Northwest Quilting Expo is a juried show, and entrants could opt to have their quilts judged, with written comments delivered when the quilts were returned after the show. I decided to do that. These are the comments from the three judges:

“Lovely color palette. Sampler blocks are very well balanced.”

“Exceptional border treatment and frames central panel well.”

“Wonderful selection of quilting motifs.”

Those are very nice comments. I’m not sure what I was expecting — perhaps something about what I could have done better?

I was very pleased to see that last comment because Loretta Orsborn, the longarm quilter who quilted Catch a Falling Star, did such an outstanding job. On the day I took my quilt to her studio, we spent three hours looking at designs and choosing motifs. She expertly combined digitized and free motion quilting. If you’d like to see some close-ups of her work on my quilt, you can check out this earlier post.




Posted in Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 7 Comments

One Down, Three to Go

Slowly but surely I’m making progress on the four baby quilts at the top of my “to do” list. Two of the four quilts will contain fabrics from the Migration line by Michael Miller Fabrics.

Thus far I have one top made:

giraffe baby quilt top #1
Isn’t that giraffe fabric charming? It’s a border print. I wanted to set it off simply, so I cut 6½” squares from the other fabrics and made a double row of squares above the giraffes and a triple row below. That should have gone very quickly.

Should have, yes. But my (slightly) obsessive-compulsive nature took over. I got it into my head that I couldn’t have the same fabric appearing in a row or a column. The result? I spent an inordinate amount of time moving those squares around to avoid duplication, also taking into account the need to balance color, texture, and value. I am quite sure that the baby who winds up with this quilt won’t care a bit about which fabric ended up where. But me? I couldn’t sew those squares together until I felt I had it right.

This top measures 42½” x 50″ at the moment. It will shrink slightly after quilting but it’s a great size for a baby-to-toddler quilt.

The second quilt using the Migration line will have a slightly different setting. I’m thinking of cutting 3½” x 6½” rectangles and stacking them like bricks above and below the giraffe panel. More obsessing ahead?




Posted in baby quilt, update | 6 Comments