Category Archives: family

My Wall of Quilts

dawn's quilt wall

The quilts displayed on this wall in our TV room replace a piano that I donated a few months ago. I had bought a secondhand piano 20-some years ago. Having taken lessons as a kid, I thought I would relearn how to play. That never happened, not because I didn’t want to but because I preferred to spend my free time sewing, especially when I was still working. Retiring in 2008, I plunged headlong into quiltmaking. The piano, alas, remained unplayed.

With the piano gone, my inclination was to increase the seating in the TV room by adding a sectional sofa. Gradually, with that expanse of wall staring at me, the notion of a quilt wall took over. I remembered a photo I had seen in Marie Deatherage and Joyce Brekke’s fabulous book Pieces of Portland (Quiltlandia, 2015). Marie’s husband, Ric Seaberg, made her a wall-size quilt rack:

marie's quilt wall

Floor to ceiling  — what an efficient use of space! Since the wall in our TV room is one of the few that doesn’t get direct sunlight, I knew it would be the perfect spot to display quilts.

I called upon master craftsman Phillip Galyon of Wooden Images. Phillip made me a custom sewing table and cabinet in 2012, and the next year he crafted a console table and stool for our remodeled master bathroom.

My idea for this project was a series of quilt ladders that could stand alone or be joined by pegs to form one piece. After consulting with Phillip, we decided on separate ladders that, when placed next to each other, would look like one unit. The wood of choice was African mahogany, well suited to the original dark stained wood trim in our 1913 Craftsman home.

Here are three ladders butted up next to each other . . .

quilt ladder wall 1

. . . and here they are with a couple of inches between them:

quilt ladder wall 2

As you see from the photo at the top of this post, I chose to put the ladders together — at least for now. They can easily be moved apart for a change of pace. And adding or rearranging quilts will be a breeze because of the ease with which the ladders can be moved.

I can’t say enough good things about the quality of Phillip’s work. He angled the rungs of the ladders so the quilts would hang properly. He leveled the tops of the ladders so they would be flat across the top (level with the floor). And he added a wedge to the top of the backs so they would lie flat against the wall. Not only that, he put felt on the backs so they wouldn’t scratch:

quilt ladder, detail of back
And he signed each piece on the back of the bottom rung:

quilt ladder, signature
All told, Phillip made four ladders for me. There is room for another ladder on my quilt wall in the TV room but for now the fourth ladder is in an upstairs bedroom (hung with quilts, of course).

Having this wall of ladders means that the precious quilts that have come down through my family will be on display as well as the quilts I have made myself. Some of the latter will be given away eventually, to be replaced by new ones, but for the time being I will have the pleasure of seeing them frequently.

I envision my wall of quilts as a changeable feast.

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, update | 15 Comments

Second Finish of the Year

My second completed project of the year is this baby quilt:

Malachi's quilt 1.2016
Malachi’s Quilt, 42″ Square

Most of the fabrics are from the Migration line by Michael Miller, featuring slightly abstract giraffes and pineapples in shades of blue, aqua, and charcoal. The line also included some blenders and an irregular striped fabric, which I cut on the bias for the binding. I just love the way the bias binding frames the quilt:

Malachi's quilt, detail of binding
Bias Binding

Sherry Wadley quilted this for me. We chose an edge-to-edge motif that beautifully echoes the spiky tops of the pineapples and the trees:

Malachi's quilt, quilting detail 1.2016

Leftover strips of fabric went on the pieced back (including the leftover bias binding strips) :

malachi's quilt, back 1.2016
Scrappy Back

The label is on now, and the quilt is being washed and dried as I write this, not only to assure that it’s clean but also to give it that wonderfully crinkled look that quilts only get when they’ve been laundered.

Malachi, for whom this quilt was made, is no longer a baby; he is a toddler. Now that he’s walking, it would please me enormously if he is allowed to drag his quilt anywhere he wants. It was made to be used and loved.

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

 

 

 

Posted in baby quilt, family, update | 3 Comments

Bricks and Blocks for Babies

Back in September 2015, I made this baby quilt top, the first of four I planned to make in short order for babies in my extended family that had either arrived already or were soon to make their appearance in this world:

giraffe baby quilt top #1
Quilt Top #1 — 42½” x 50″

 

The fabrics are from the Migration line by Michael Miller Fabrics. The giraffe panel print was printed along both sides of the fabric, from the selvage to the fold, so I knew I would be able to make two baby quilts from one length (two half widths) of fabric. Wonderful!

I decided to make a similar top for quilt #2 but make “bricks” instead of squares. Days passed into weeks, weeks passed into months. On January 1, I realized that four months had elapsed since Quilt Top #1 was completed. Four months! How could I let this happen?

Well! There’s nothing like a New Year to galvanize one into action. I decided to get cracking on those three unmade tops. By the end of the first week of 2016 I had finished Quilt Top #2:

baby bricks quilt top jan 2016
Quilt Top #2 — 42½” square

 

The next order of business in 2016 is to get these two baby quilts quilted, bound, labeled, and delivered to their rightful owners. The quilts are small enough that I could quilt them myself on my domestic machine but they will surely get finished sooner if someone else quilts them for me. This also gives me the opportunity to support the longarm quilting industry, which I am happy to do, especially as we have a plethora of talented quilters in the Portland metropolitan area.

Babies #3 and #4 — a girl and a boy — have since been welcomed into our world, and I vow to get their quilts to them in a more timely fashion. I already know what I’m doing for Baby Quilt #3. Inspiration should strike soon for Baby Quilt #4. When it does, you’ll be the first to know.

 

 

 

Posted in baby quilt, family, update | 2 Comments

Pretty Little Things

This is Part Two of a two-part post on what I accomplished in my sewing room during 2015. Part One featured my finished quilts (unquilted tops don’t count) and can be seen here. Most everything else qualifies as a Pretty Little Thing, so let’s take a look at the Pretty Little Things I made in 2015:

This 9″ x 41″ reversible runner was made for my sister Diane’s living room to cover a “seam” created when two small chests were placed back to back to make a larger unit:

runner completed

Here is the runner in situ in her living room in Atlanta:

Scott find round box for remotes in place
To celebrate the spring birthdays of my friends and fellow Quisters (Quilt Sisters) Deborah and Peggy, I made these fabric baskets based on the 1 Hour Basket Tutorial from Hearts and Bees. The baskets measure about 9½” wide, 6½” tall, and 5½” deep.

a pair of baskets
Pillowcases! I make several every year. Here are cases I made as a hostess gift for my friend Anna in Paris . . .

pcases for Anna and Joe

. . . and a pair made for the Portland White House:

pcases for Portland White House

Of all the pillowcases I have made for my own home, these are the ones my husband likes best.

My sister Diane commissioned me to make a pair of pillowcases to give as a hostess gift to friends in Maine:

pcases for Kathy and Paul's guest house
Her friends have a darling little terrier named Lucy who got her own little pillowcase (and pillow). It measures 6″ x 12″ and goes in her doggie bed:

dog pillow front

This sewing-themed fabric became a singleton pillowcase for me to take to Quilt Camp:

Dawn's quilt camp pcase
I drew my sister Diane’s name in our annual sibling draw for Christmas. When I asked her for ideas on what I could get her, she said, “Dawn pillowcases, of course!” I made her these king size pillowcases from my batik stash:

pcases for Diane and Ed
By the way, all of the pillowcases above were made following my tutorial, Perfect Pillowcases.

For the annual fall Open House at the Pine Needle, the quilt shop where I teach, I made these Cozy Flannel Armchair Coasters, inspired by coasters bought at a craft sale 30 years ago:

flannel coasters print

The coasters are reversible. Below are the backs of the coasters you see above. Just for fun I changed orientation of the herringbone weave:

flannel coasters brown

The coasters were a big hit so I made some more as gifts. My friend Beth got these for her birthday in her favorite colors . . .

coasters teal and purple
. . . and I tucked in this set of four as part of my sister Diane’s Christmas present:

flannel coasters red
My last non-quilt project for the year isn’t small and didn’t get made in my sewing room but I’m including it here anyway. It’s the two-fabric tablecloth I made for my sister Diane’s dining room while visiting her over Thanksgiving:

tablecloth
The tablecloth goes with the 16 mitered-corner napkins I made for her a couple of years ago out of the same large floral print used in the border. Here’s one of those napkins in a place setting:

tablecloth with setting

Oh, there’s a tutorial for those napkins, too: Make Mine Mitered.

How satisfying to have a visual record of what I made last year! Thanks so much for taking this look back with me. And now it’s time to head back to my sewing room and get started on my 2016 projects.

Avanti!

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, mitered corners, Quisters (Quilt Sisters), roll-it-up pillowcases, table napkins, table topper, update | 3 Comments

Update: Junior Billie Bag

In my last post I showed you the front and back panels of my Junior Billie Bag, the quintessential quilter’s tote designed several years ago by my teacher and mentor Billie Mahorney. I also showed you the array of fabrics by Camelot Cottons that I’m using in the interior of the bag. Here are several of those cheerful prints made into pockets for my Billie Bag:

Jr Billie Bag inside pockets

A lot of pockets. A plethora of pockets! At last count: 17. And that doesn’t include the pockets that are going on the outside of the bag.

With the pockets and handles attached to one panel, it’s really starting to look like a Billie Bag:

Jr Billie Bag front

The two sets of handles make it possible to carry the bag over the shoulder or by hand, like a satchel. It’s so nice to have both options in a tote that holds a lot of supplies.

Now it’s time to sew straps and pockets to the other panel:

Jr Billie Bag back panel and pockeets

On this last day of 2015 — a cold, sunny day in Portland, Oregon — I am enjoying spending time in my sewing room working on my Junior Billie Bag. Later on, since the Dear Husband and I prefer to stay home on New Year’s Eve, I’ll make an extra special dinner and we’ll spend a quiet evening playing Scrabble, watching TV, and toasting the New Year with champagne.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year. Here’s to a great 2016!

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, family, Junior Billie Bag, tote bags, update | 7 Comments

“It’s a Puzzlement!”

yul brynnerIf you are a lover of musical theater, you’ll recognize that line from The King and I, the stage musical and movie based on the experiences of Anna Leonowens, a young British widow who spent five years in Siam (now Thailand) in the 1860s teaching English language and culture to the wives and children of the king.

“It’s a puzzlement!” the king repeatedly exclaims, as he struggles to understand western ways.

I know how he feels. That phrase has been on my mind since my eagerly awaited copy of Dahlia Quilts and Projects arrived in the mail a few days ago. You’ll know from my last two posts that I ordered this book after swooning over my niece’s vintage star quilt during a visit to her home in Alabama over Thanksgiving.

As a reminder, here is a picture of one of the blocks . . .

floral star block 7

. . . and a picture of the entire quilt:

floral star quilt-001
I asked readers for help in determining the origin of the design and quickly learned that my mystery quilt is known as a Star Dahlia. One reader even provided a link to the book, published in 1995, which appears to be the only book available on star dahlia quilts.

Apparently if I lived in Pennsylvania instead of Oregon I would have been able to identify the block readily. Cheryl Benner and Rachel T. Pellman, authors of Dahlia Quilts and Projects, say the pattern has been a favorite of Lancaster County PA quilters for many years. The authors refer to the block as the Dahlia.

“The Dahlia pattern,” they write, “is based on a traditional geometric eight-point star, but it takes a distinct diversion from tradition by adding curved, puffy, gathered petals and a round center. These variations on the basic geometric design make the assembly of the patch more difficult. The compensation for that extra effort, however, is a stunning quilt in three dimensions.” The authors go on to say that their directions for making the blocks were written after consulting with several Lancaster County quilters who are competent makers of Dahlia quilts.

The book contains 10 projects, with many pages of templates and hand-drawn illustrations on how to stitch the components of the block together (by hand, please note). Here’s a look inside the book:

instrux in dahlia book
So — the source of my puzzlement? It is this: after reviewing all of the projects and measuring the templates for each project, the logic behind the authors’ “variations on a basic geometric design” continues to elude me.

At first glance the block looks like a basic 9-patch, made up of nine equally sized squares. Not so! There are two sizes of blocks used in the book. The measurements for the larger one call for the four corner squares to finish at 4⅜”. The middle section of the block appears to finish at 6⅛”, making the block’s finished size 14⅞”. Okay, that’s pretty close to 15″, although the instructions don’t state a finished size.

The measurements for the smaller block call for the four corner blocks to finish at 2½”. The middle section appears to finish at 3⅝”. That would produce a block that finishes at 8⅝”. Is your head starting to hurt, too? I’m one of those quilters who enjoys the challenge of figuring out the math involved but I’m not so sure about this one.

The only way I’m going to solve this “puzzlement” is to make a block — to cut out pieces according to the templates and actually put a sample block together. It will also help to dig out my protractor to determine the angle of the star points.

How I wish I could drop everything and attend to this right now! Alas, it will have to wait. Christmas is four short days away. I still have presents to buy and wrap, and the Dear Husband’s stocking is waiting to be filled. I should be dreaming of sugar plum fairies and dancing nutcrackers over the next few days but I have a feeling my head will be filled with dahlia petals and star points.

 

 

 

Posted in family, update, vintage quilts | 4 Comments

Mystery Solved

floral star block 2-001
This block is one of 30 12-inch blocks in a lovely 66″ x 82″ vintage quilt I had the pleasure of examining recently at the home of my niece in Alabama. I wasn’t familiar with the block and published this post a few days ago asking if any of my readers could identify it. Within hours I had my answer. More correctly, I had my answers (as in plural).

It turns out this block goes by a few different names. Thanks to Bill Volckening, who suggested Barbara Brackman’s 1993 book Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns as a source, I learned the names of two possible candidates: Star Dahlia and Kansas Sunflower. A quick search on my computer — ah, the power of the Internet! — was all it took to confirm that the block I asked about is indeed called Star Dahlia aka Amish Dahlia Star and also simply Dahlia. The Kansas Sunflower block is very similar, as is another block identified as Missouri Daisy.

Dahlia Quilts and Projects book coverA reader named Anne told me about a book called Dahlia Quilts and Projects by Cheryl Benner and Rachel T. Pellman that contains several patterns using the Star Dahlia block. Anne even provided a link on amazon.com, which I immediately checked. Needless to say, I promptly ordered the book. I can’t wait till it arrives in my mailbox!

A shout-out to readers Arden, Bill, Anne, and Kimberly for offering suggestions and helping solve the mystery of this beautiful block.

It’s on my “to do” list for 2016!

 

 

 

Posted in family, update, vintage quilts | 1 Comment

A Beautiful Mystery

Have you ever seen a block like this before?

floral star block 1-001
It’s one of 30 blocks in this vintage quilt:

floral star quilt-001
The quilt belongs to Rexalee, my niece by marriage. It came to her after her mother died over a decade ago but Rexalee doesn’t know who made it. It may have belonged to her great aunt or her grandfather’s second wife, both of whom died in the 1970s. It was probably made in Michigan. Other than that, its provenance is a mystery. A beautiful mystery.

My husband and I just got back from a wonderful visit with Rexalee, her husband, and their extended family. The quilt was hanging on a quilt rack in the guest room of their new home on Dauphin Island, Alabama. I had an opportunity to examine the quilt in detail and photograph it in natural light.

Except for the binding, which was attached by machine, the entire quilt was pieced and quilted by hand. At first I thought the petals and center of each flower were appliquéd on top of an already pieced eight-pointed star, but no: the petals and stars were joined with seams. The inner edges of the petals (where they meet the circle in the center of the flower) were gathered and, to my surprise, so were the inner edges of the star points. Unusual, no?

Here’s a close-up:

floral star block center detail
Judging by the fabrics, I’m guessing this quilt was made in the 1930s, possibly 1940s. Each of the stars is made of a different print, with the petals and center of each flower made of solids. Although the round circles in the center of each block come in a variety of colors, the petals are either yellow or orange, unifying this very scrappy quilt.

The floral prints in the star fabric are fabulous! Some have a very modern vibe. Take a look:

floral star block 7-001

floral star block 2-001

floral star block 4-001

floral star block 5-001

floral star block 8-001

floral star block 9-001

floral star block 6-001
And here’s a bit of a rogue block: a lively check instead of a floral print:

floral star block 3-001
Actually, there’s another rogue block:

floral star quilt rogue block

Did the quiltmaker run out of fabric or did she add a star point of a different fabric to make the quilt less than perfect? Even the petals look like they were made from two fabrics.

The finished size of 66″ x 82″ is another oddity. The blocks are 12″ finished. The side borders are 3″ while the top and bottom borders are 5″. Was this a conscious decision on the part of the quiltmaker or did she simply not have enough fabric on hand to make borders of equal size? (No quick trips to the nearest local quilt shop for her.)

You can see from the next photo that the batting is very thin. When I held it up to the light I could see dark flecks in the cotton batting. They could be bits of leaf or boll (the husk around the cotton blossom).

floral star quilt draped-001

I wish now I had taken pictures of every single block. The fabrics are so interesting, and I see something new with every viewing.

floral star quilt folded-001

One thing’s for sure: I want to duplicate this block. I’ll puzzle it out on my own unless there’s a pattern out there somewhere.

Can anyone help solve this beautiful mystery?

 

 

 

Posted in family, update, vintage quilts | 24 Comments

A Moveable Feast

mussels and scallops

One of the high points of my recent trip to Paris with my sister Diane was the cooking class we took at Cook’n With Class, a Parisian cooking school offering classes in English to locals and tourists. Diane and I chose the Morning Market Class, in which students shop with the chef for fresh ingredients and then prepare a four-course meal back at the school.

We met Chef Patrick Hebert and four other students on a very cold morning at a Métro stop near Montmartre. Chef Patrick led us to the markets, where we inspected the meat at a boucherie:

boucherie

. . . the fish at a poissonier:

fish

fish 2

scallops at the market

. . . and the cheese at a fromagerie:

fromagerie

Chef Patrick gave us pointers on choosing the freshest fish:

chef patrick inspecting fish

Guided by the chef’s suggestions and the food preferences of the students, the group mutually decided on this menu:

Scallops and Mussels in Saffron Sauce
on a Bed of Caramelized Fennel

Duck Magret with Figs
Haricot Vert (Green Beans)
Celeriac au Gratin

Cheese Tray

Chocolate Souffle

Talk about fresh fish! We watched the fishmonger shuck and clean the scallops we ate later that day:

shucking scallops
After shopping for fruit and vegetables, we headed to the cooking school to prepare our feast. The classroom was all set up, with a station for each student:

CooknWithClass classroom

cooking class station

We got right to work, separating eggs for the soufflé . . .

separating eggs for souffle

. . . chopping fresh tarragon . . .

dlw and dks chopping tarragon
. . . measuring Grand Marnier for the chocolate soufflé . . .

measuring grand marnier
. . . sautéing the fennel as Chef Patrick looked on . . .

sauteeing fennel
. . . buttering ramekins for the soufflé . . .

dlw buttering ramekins
Chef Patrick showed us the correct way to sharpen knives . . .

chef patrick sharpening knives

. . . and how to keep our fingers out of the way when chopping vegetables. Here he is slicing celeriac:

slicing celeriac
Dinner is coming together! Here is the celeriac au gratin bubbling in the oven . . .

celeriac gratin bubbling in the oven

. . . mussels cooking in cream . . .

mussels cooking in cream

. . . scallops sizzling in the pan . . .

scallops cooking
. . . and the duck magret resting in a bowl . . .

duck magret, resting
Dinner is ready.

The first course: mussels and scallops in saffron sauce on a bed of caramelized fennel:

mussels and scallops
The main course: duck magret served with figs sautéed in butter and port, haricot vert, and celeriac au gratin:

dinner is served
While the chocolate soufflé was in the oven, we enjoyed a cheese course:

cheese tray 1
Chef Patrick showed us how to slice the variously shaped cheeses so that the last person wasn’t left with all the rind:

serving cheese
Now, ready for dessert. Ah, the first bite of chocolate soufflé:

chocolate souffle

Délicieuse!

Here we are at the end of the day with Chef Patrick:

chef patrick and his students
Don’t we look well fed and contented?

 

 

 

Posted in family, Paris, update | 11 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, Paris, update | 3 Comments