Category Archives: family

Susan Elinor’s Quilt

We did it! My neighbor Janice and I completed the alphabet quilt started by Janice’s good friend Susan, who did not live long enough to finish it herself. Susan was making this quilt for her baby granddaughter, also named Susan. She had all the letters of the alphabet appliquéd by hand onto 6″ squares of muslin but, sadly, died of ovarian cancer before she could sew the blocks together and finish the quilt. That labor of love fell to Janice, who enlisted my help.

Over the last couple of weeks Janice and I got together to determine a layout for the blocks and to choose sashing and binding fabrics. I wrote about the process in this post and this one.

Allow us to present Susan Elinor’s quilt:

Susan's quilt, front
Susan Elinor’s Quilt, 39″ x 50

Don’t you love how the red binding frames the quilt and draws your eye to the red letters?

In this close-up you can see the simple free-motion design quilted in the border:

Susan's quilt, detail
Quilting and Binding Detail

 

The back of the quilt features a print from the Dick and Jane early reader books — a playful nod to the alphabet letters on the front and very much in keeping with the vintage calicos Susan had chosen for her appliquéd blocks:

Susan's quilt,back
Back of Susan’s Quilt

 

The last step was sewing on the label:

Susan's quilt, label
The Label on Susan’s Quilt

 

Actually, there was one more step. Janice bought some little finger puppets and toys to put in the four blocks on the quilt containing pockets made from clothes Susan’s daughter Lea wore as a little girl. Look how cute these are!

Susan's quilt pockets filled
A Fun Surprise in Every Pocket

This is how the quilt looks with the pockets filled:

r
Susan Elinor’s Quilt is Extra Special

 

Susan Elinor is one year old. She will miss the joy of growing up knowing her grandmother but she will have the joy of wrapping herself in a quilt hand-stitched with love by her grandmother. This quilt will be presented tomorrow to Lea and little Susan at the memorial service celebrating Susan’s life.

 

 

 

Posted in baby quilt, family, update | 11 Comments

An Update on Susan’s Quilt

The baby quilt that my neighbor Janice and I are finishing on behalf of her late friend Susan is coming along nicely. The quilt will go to Susan’s granddaughter and namesake, Susan Elinor, who just turned one.

In my last post I showed you the blocks that Susan appliquéd by hand onto muslin squares. Here are those squares set off with simple muslin sashing:

Susan's quilt blocks with sashing
Susan’s blocks, sewn together

In addition to the 26 alphabet blocks, four blocks contain embroidered pockets made from clothing worn by Susan’s daughter Lea (baby Susan’s mother) when she was a little girl.

I pulled several pieces of fabric from my stash so that Janice and I could audition the border fabric together:

Susan's blocks with border possibilities
Auditioning the Border Fabric

We both liked the same fabric best — the aqua print on the middle left side (Sew Stitchy by Aneela Hoey for Moda Fabrics).

Here’s the quilt top with the border strips added in that fabric:

Susan's blocks with borders
The Winning Border Fabric

 

Next we looked at fabrics for the back. The print we chose is absolutely perfect for an alphabet quilt: it’s based on the Dick and Jane early reader books from the last century. It’s a directional design printed across the width of fabric so I inserted some strips of the aqua print border fabric to make the back long enough. Take a look:

Backing Fabric
Fun with Dick and Jane

Oh dear, that picture is not in focus. Here’s a better look at the fabrics:

close up of backing fabrics
Dick and Jane (and Spot!)

According to the selvage, the fabric above was released in 1999. It’s called “go! with dick and jane” by Nicole de Leon for Alexander Henry Fabrics. It’s obviously been in my stash for a while.

Next up: quilting. I’m going to stitch-in-the-ditch around the alphabet blocks and free-motion quilt a loop-de-loop design in the borders. Janice and I both like the idea of finishing the quilt with red binding. She is going to do the handwork on the quilt (binding and label), and our plan is to have our project completed by the end of the week.

I hope you’ll check back in a few days to see it!

 

 

 

Posted in baby quilt, family, update | 7 Comments

A Labor of Love

My neighbor Janice asked me to help her finish a quilt started by her dear friend Susan. Susan was working on an alphabet quilt for her baby granddaughter when she lost her battle with ovarian cancer last month. Knowing she wouldn’t be able to complete the quilt in the time she had left, Susan asked Janice to finish it.

Susan had hand-appliquéd the 26 letters of the alphabet onto 6″ squares of muslin. She had also appliquèed four pockets onto print squares; the pockets came from clothes that belonged to her daughter when she was a little girl.

The first thing Janice and I did was lay the blocks out in a 5 x 6 grid, with the four pocket blocks interspersed among the 26 alphabet blocks. We’re pretty sure that’s what Susan had in mind because she had already sewn the first row together:

Susan's blocks
Susan’s Blocks

 

The fabrics in the alphabet blocks are vintage calicos. The letters seem to have been randomly placed in the muslin squares, rather than centered, giving the blocks a delightfully whimsical appearance. Janice and I decided to separate the rows with sashing strips made from muslin, add muslin sashing strips all around the quilt, then finish it with a 3″ or 4″ border made from calico prints similar to the ones Susan used in her blocks. With a 4″ border, the quilt should finish at about 36″ x 51″.

A couple of the letters — j and m — were really too close to one edge of the squares they were attached to so I added strips of muslin and trimmed the blocks. Here is the m block, before and after:

Susan's m block, before and after
Repositioning the Letter

 

Susan had hand-stitched the first row together with ½” seams. Her stitches were so even I had to look closely to confirm that they were indeed done by hand! I opted to take the stitching out so that all the blocks can be sewn with ¼” seams. That will really help with the letters that are close to the edges of the muslin squares.

Here is the first row with its muslin sashing added:

Susan's quilt, first row
The First Row

 

This quilt will help tie three generations of women together. I feel honored that Janice has asked me to help her finish it.

 

 

 

Posted in baby quilt, family, update | 12 Comments

The Sewing Bs

My two youngest granddaughters, Bonnie (age 14) and Beatrice (age 11), are here for a 10-day visit. This is the third year they have flown to Portland from San Francisco to spend part of their summer vacation with their granny and grandpa, and we are savoring every moment. All too soon, I fear, summer jobs and other commitments will keep them from spending as much time with us.

One highlight of their visit so far was a dinner cruise on the Willamette River. The girls were invited into the wheelhouse and both of them steered the ship — and they have Honorary Captain’s Certificates of Outstanding Seamanship from the captain to prove it!

Each year the girls work on a sewing project while they are here. Two years ago they each made a pillowcase and last year they made four-patch coasters. This year they made banners — you know, the kind with triangular flags attached to a strip. (A shout out to my friend Vickie Rooks for the suggestion.)

Both girls wanted bright colors for their flags so we raided my stash for fabrics reading as solids and arranged them along the lines of the color wheel:

flag fabric choices

Here is Bea with her fabric choices . . .

Bee with fabric choices

. . . and her banner design:

Bea's design

Practically ROYGBIV: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet, with pink next to red at the far left. For each flag Beatrice cut two 8½” squares of fabric and one square of double-stick fusible web. She fused the web between the squares (that’s a press cloth on top):

Bee fusing her squares

When all the layer were fused together, she cut triangle shapes using a rotary cutter with a pinking blade. Then she inserted the top of each flag between wide double-fold bias tape and stitched along the tape with a serpentine stitch:

Bea at the  machine

closeup of a flag

Here is Beatrice with her finished banner:

Bee with flags 1

 

Bonnie will be starting high school this fall at the School of the Arts (SOTA) in San Francisco so she opted for four larger flags that spell out SOTA. We sketched out her design and color choices, which included white on black for one flag:

Bonnie with fabric choices

Here’s a close-up of her design:

Bonnie's design

Bonnie started out with 11″ x 8½” rectangles. After fusing the letters to the flags, she trimmed the rectangles into triangles. You will see below that the capital A became a lower case a. That’s because the School of the Arts actually presents its logo as SOTa, not SOTA.

Bonnie at work on her flags . . .

Bonnie cutting letters

Bonnie fusing letters

. . . and with her finished banner:

Bonnie with flags 2

 

Great work, Sewing Bs!

 

 

 

Posted in family, update | 8 Comments

It Was a Very Good Year

partridge canstockphoto7458339As 2013 draws to a close, I am reminded how lucky I am to have my health, family and friends I treasure, a home that I love, and time to create lovely things with needle and thread. I am also grateful to you, my loyal readers, who keep me inspired to document my sewing and quilting life. Thank you for adding firstlightdesigns.com to your list of must-read blogs!

I’ve been reviewing what I accomplished on the sewing/quilting front this year. Not as many quilts as I had hoped — nine, including baby quilts — but that’s because I was making other things: table runners, sewing machine dust covers, iPad mini cases, iron caddies, valances, pillowcases, little fabric boxes, and a partridge in a pear tree. Okay, just kidding about that last one.

If you’ve been reading my posts over the last year, you’ve probably seen most of the items mentioned above (except for the partridge in a pear tree). I’ve updated the sections of my Gallery to include photos of my 2013 projects.

Happy New Year, everyone! Please stop by in 2014.

 

 

 

Posted in family, update | 3 Comments

Lyra’s Quilt

Hydrangea Kaleidoscopes, 47" x 54"
Hydrangea Kaleido quilt top, 47″ x 54″

Remember this quilt? I was working on it back in February (you can read about it here) when I learned that my brother’s son and his wife were expecting their first child, due in August. They didn’t want to know the sex of the baby until it arrived. In the back of my mind I was thinking that if the baby were a girl, this might become her quilt.

At the end of August, their daughter was born. I was still considering this quilt for her but didn’t decide for sure until it came back from long-arm quilter Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting. Then I knew it would be perfect for a sweet little girl. Nancy quilted a sunburst motif in the center of each kaleidoscope block and a tessellating clamshell design in the background. Take a look:

2013-11, Lyra's quilt
44″ x 51″ After Quilting

 

On the back I put a big strip of the hydrangea focus fabric and converted a leftover kaleido block into a circle:

2013-11, Lyra's quilt, back
44″ x 51″ After Quilting

 

On this detail photo of the back you can get a better look at the quilted sunburst:

2013-11, Lyra's quilt, detail of quilting
Quilting Detail

 

The label was made using a compact disc (described in my tutorial here):

2013-11, Lyra's quilt label 1

The photo above, which gives you a better look at the tessellating clamshell motif, was taken after the quilt was washed, giving it that soft puckery look.

Lyra’s quilt will soon be on its way to her. I hope she likes it!

 

 

 

 

Posted in baby quilt, family, kaleidoscope quilts, quilt labels, update | 3 Comments

Back Home Again

“Hey, it’s good to be Back Home Again.” Do you remember the song by John Denver? It came out in 1974, so you have to be Of a Certain Age to know it. We are indeed home after a delightful two-week stay in Atlanta with my sister Diane and her husband, made even more delightful by the arrival of our sister Reigh and her husband a couple days before Thanksgiving.

I managed to squeeze in a couple of little sewing projects for my sisters the last week I was there. Reigh said she would love to have a runner for the pub table in the dining area off her kitchen, and Diane said she would love a new set of pillowcases for the guest room on the main floor. My arm didn’t have to be twisted:  it meant a trip to a local quilt shop!

Off we went to InTown Quilters in Decatur, Georgia, where both Diane and Reigh selected batiks for their projects. Reigh has a lot of brown and blue in her kitchen and dining area, with touches of yellow and gold. The colors in this simple table runner should go very well with her décor:

Reigh's table runner and napkins

Reigh bought enough fabric for me to make two sets of napkins, four in each set.

Because the design of the runner is so simple — just a rectangle of fabric with four borders — I mitered the corners to give it a little something extra:

Reigh's table runner, detail

I used low-loft batting and did some very basic topstitching to finish it. Reigh has promised to send me a photo of the table runner when she gets back home so I can show you how it looks in its designated spot.

Here are the pillowcases I made for Diane’s guest room:

Diane's new pillowcases

Here’s another view that includes the pleated bedskirt I made last year during my annual Thanksgiving visit:

Diane's new pillowcases en suite

I love the way the gold fabric in the pillowcase picks up the gold in the bedskirt.

Reigh and Diane joke about shackling me to the sewing machine when we are all together but the truth is I am in my element when creating something with fabric.

 

 

 

Posted in bedskirt, family, home dec, mitered corners, roll-it-up pillowcases, table napkins, update | 6 Comments

Cover Story

When sister Diane and I visited sister Reigh in Idaho over Memorial Day weekend, we went to HomeFabrics and Rugs, a home decorating fabric store in Boise with an incredible selection of high quality fabrics and trims, matched by amazingly low prices. Diane found a beautiful piece of home dec fabric for a dollar a yard. Too good to be true? Well, there was a hitch: she had to buy what was on the bolt. As it happened, there were 10 yards of fabric on the bolt. There went 10 bucks. For another $10, Diane shipped the fabric home to Georgia. She had no idea what to do with it but just knew it would look good somewhere in her home.

She actually found two places to use the fabric. First, she had the two vintage slipper chairs in the downstairs guest room recovered. Here is a picture of one of the slipper chairs before . . .

2013-11, slipper chair before

. . . and after:

2013-11, slipper chair after

The slipper chairs were originally covered in a velvety green plush, with a gathered skirt that went to the floor. The newly recovered chairs are more tailored, with a shorter skirt that’s pleated rather than gathered. The fabric is a brushed cotton, in a medium-scale print that goes very well with the other furnishings in the room.

This picture of the second slipper chair gives you a good look at the front:

2013-11, second slipper chair

I think they are just charming! The best part is that there was enough fabric left over from having the chairs upholstered to recover the four chairs in Diane’s kitchen dining area. She waited till I arrived for my annual Thanksgiving visit so we could tackle that project together.

Here are two chairs, the one on the right newly recovered and the one on the left waiting its turn:

2013-11, kitchen nook chairs before and after

I’d say Diane’s $20 was money well spent, wouldn’t you?

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, update | 3 Comments

4-Patch Coaster Fun

Between family birthdays, reunions, and weddings — joyous occasions all — I’ve spent very little time in my sewing room in the last month. My two youngest granddaughters, Bonnie (13) and Beatrice (10), are currently visiting from San Francisco, so the last week has been filled with activities such as picnicking in the Columbia Gorge, attending a professional women’s soccer game, frolicking in the pool at our nearby community center, and shopping for school clothes.

Yesterday we stayed home. Beatrice had a playdate with My Little Neighbor (MLN), who just turned 11. Both girls were in the mood to “make something crafty.” They picked out some fabrics from my stash, and here is what they created:

2013-8, MLN and Bea
My Little Neighbor and Granddaughter Beatrice Display Their Coasters
2013-8, MLN and Beatrice
Their Coasters from the Back

The girls had so much fun they’re going to make a few more coasters tomorrow.

 

 

 

Posted in 4-patch coasters, family, My Little Neighbor, update | 4 Comments

Memorial Day Weekend

Did you have a fun holiday weekend? I sure did. I spent it in Idaho with my sister Reigh, my twin sister Diane, and my niece Kristi. Reigh and her husband just moved into their brand new home in Meridian, a suburb of Boise. At 1500 square feet, with two bedrooms and two baths, the house is the perfect size for a retired couple. (Diane and I were so eager to see their new home that we essentially invited ourselves for the weekend.)

Here’s a picture of the pillowcases I made for Reigh as a hostess/housewarming gift:

2013-5, Reigh's pcases

I knew she would love the fabric. Everything but the gold band is from Violet Craft’s Madrona Road line for Michael Miller. The gold fabric is one of the Mini Mikes blenders, also from Michael Miller.

I wasn’t planning to do any sewing over the weekend but there was a problem with the guest room shower curtain, brought from the old house. It was too short, and there wasn’t a good way to add to the length. So off we went to HomeFabrics and Rugs, a home decorating fabric store in Boise where we have found many a piece of fabric for other home dec projects in Reigh’s former home.

HomeFabrics has an amazing selection of fabrics, and the prices are just as amazing. The fabric we found for Reigh’s new shower curtain was a mere $5 a yard, and the trim was $2 a yard. You can’t beat that at Jo-Ann, even with a 40% off coupon. Here’s a picture of the new shower curtain in situ:

2013-5, Reigh's shower curtain

The photo above doesn’t do justice to the fabric. Here’s a closer look:

2013-5, closeup of shower curtain fabric

The solid green fabric used in the inset has a sheen to it and a crinkly texture that looks good against the smooth finish of the cotton print. Notice how well the fabrics go with the tile trim on the half-wall just to the right of the sink?

All of the windows in Reigh’s new home feature beautiful wood millwork so she opted for plantation shutters to show it off. That means that the panels I made in several rooms in Reigh’s old house couldn’t be used. One pair is going home with Diane, to be “repurposed” into valances when I visit her at Thanksgiving. Half of another pair came home with me, to be refashioned into a valance for Reigh’s master bath. I certainly have enough quilt and home dec projects to keep me going for a while!

 

 

 

Posted in family, shower curtain, update | 2 Comments