Category Archives: family

Planning Ahead

Our wonderful two-week visit with family in Atlanta is coming to a close. On Monday morning I’ll be back home in Oregon, in my sewing room, and I’m already thinking about what I want to work on.

Remember this kaleidoscope block that I made back in June?

Last month I made two more blocks. Here are the three of them together:

three kaleido blocks
I’m going to make them into a table/runner wall hanging using my Season to Taste pattern. I’ve made a fall and spring version; this will be the summer version. Just before leaving for Atlanta two weeks ago I ordered some more of the yellow polka dot fabric — it should be waiting for me when I get home.

Also on my mind are these luscious fabrics:

fabricsI have a plan for them but will make a test block or two before sharing it.

I’ve been in home dec mode this last couple of weeks so it will be good to get back to quiltmaking!




Posted in family, kaleidoscope quilts, update | 3 Comments

Fabric Facelift

The ottoman in the master bedroom at my twin sister Diane’s house got a facelift, a new custom cover I made for it:

ottoman 1
It looks right at home in front of an easy chair in her bedroom:

ottoman 2
Here’s a view that includes a peek at Midnight in the Garden, the quilt I gave Diane for her 60th birthday:

ottoman 3
The newly covered ottoman actually has a fraternal twin (hey, just like me!):

Custom ottoman slipcover by Dawn White

This is the slipcover I made four years ago when I was visiting Diane over Thanksgiving. My goal was to make this look like an upholstered piece, since I’m not a fan of slipcovers. It was a real seat-of-the-pants project, since I had never made a slipcover or upholstered anything. When I started working on the new one, all I had to do was look at the old one to refresh my memory on how I had made it. No need to reinvent the wheel!




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A Home Dec Project for Diane

Every year when I visit my twin sister Diane over the Thanksgiving holiday, I work on a home dec project for her. It’s a small way to repay the generous hospitality she and her husband Ed show my husband Charlie and me on these annual visits.

This year I’m making a slipcover for an ottoman that goes in the master bedroom. This is what it looks like now:


Ed and Diane’s dear departed cat Alexis (Alex for short) liked to sharpen her claws on the ottoman, and she left the evidence behind:

Alex  was an equal opportunity kneader. She managed to work her magic on both sides of the ottoman:

On my visit last year, Diane and I found this lovely basketweave fabric which we thought would be perfect to recover the ottoman with:

This year we found the perfect trim for it — 50% off — at Frugal Fabrics:

Today I got the fabric measured and cut. Here is the top with boxed corners pinned and ready to sew:

Tomorrow I will get out my trusty old Elna sewing machine (bought in 1975), which now lives at Diane’s house, and will start sewing. It will be good to sit in front of a sewing machine again!




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Diane’s Dream Kitchen, Part 3

My sister Diane’s kitchen renovation (subject of the this post and the previous one) included the creation of a built-in buffet in her dining room. It’s almost nine feet wide! Check it out:

buffet viewed from the left
The buffet replaced a standing sideboard that was just under five feet wide so you can imagine all the storage and display space she gained. Here’s a closer look at the top of the buffet:

buffet top view
Diane and I had such fun rearranging her “Rosalie” Spode china! It was given to her about 30 years ago by her mother-in-law. Thanks to antique stores, estate sales, and ebay, Diane has added to her collection over the years and, I am happy to report, uses it often.

The top cabinets of the buffet are glass-fronted without panes to show the china to its best advantage. Here are close-ups of each cabinet:

upper left cabinet 800upper right cabinet 800
Four of the six cabinets on the lower cabinets are also glass-fronted:

buffet, lower cabinets-001
A few years ago our stepmother Shirley gave Diane her yellow Fostoria glassware in the “Baroque” pattern, which features the fleur de lis, a favorite motif of mine. Every time I came from Oregon to Georgia to visit Diane, I would tuck a few carefully wrapped pieces of glassware into my luggage. It took a while for all the pieces to get here but the effort was well worth it. The Fostoria and the Spode look elegant together, don’t you think?

I must confess to being a little green with envy over these wonderful changes to my sister’s home. But I’m also very happy for her. After 40+ years in the working world, she recently retired. She has earned this renovation, and I know she will enjoy it for many years to come.




Posted in family, home dec, update | 7 Comments

Diane’s Dream Kitchen, Part 2

butler's pantry from dining roomWhat you are looking at here is the space between the kitchen and dining room in my sister Diane’s Atlanta home. This space, often called the butler’s pantry, was simply a nook before the kitchen renovation that Diane and her husband Ed undertook recently.

The butler’s pantry contained a lovely antique cabinet in which Diane stored some of her Spode china. The rest of the china was in the formal dining room in an antique sideboard. The kitchen renovation expanded to include turning the butler’s pantry into a wet bar and replacing the sideboard in the dining room with a built-in buffet.

Diane chose glass-fronted cupboards above the wet bar to show off her vintage glassware. Alas, it virtually disappeared against the white walls and glass shelves. What the cupboards needed was some depth of color. Her clever solution was to cover foam core with a rich paisley home dec fabric and place it on the back wall of the glass cupboard.

Here’s a look at the fabric with the cupboard doors open . . .

butler's pantry doors open

. . . and closed:

doors closed-001

Don’t you love the play of pattern between the swirls of the paisley and the straight lines of the basketweave backsplash?

Up next: the new built-in buffet in the dining room. Please come back for a look!




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Diane’s Dream Kitchen

For the last 15 years (at least) my husband and I have traveled from our home in Portland, Oregon to Norcross, Georgia to spend Thanksgiving with my twin Diane and her husband Ed. It’s a tradition we treasure.

Every year Diane would comment on how much easier it would be to prepare Thanksgiving dinner if her kitchen had two ovens. The two-oven conversation often evolved into what other changes she would make in her kitchen and dining room. The other big ticket item on her wish list was a built-in buffet in the dining room to display the set of Spode china that Ed’s mother passed on to them many years ago. Ed and Diane wanted a buffet that evoked the one in Ed’s family home in Laurelhurst, a lovely old residential neighborhood in Portland.

As I write this post, Diane is in her newly renovated kitchen making pumpkin pies. I’ll be joining her in the kitchen shortly to help with other tasks in preparation for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving feast for a dozen.

As often happens, what started out as a simple remodeling project — in this case, creating space for a second oven and building a buffet — turned into a complete renovation. In the process, Diane gained a kitchen worthy of the pages of House Beautiful, a wet bar in the butler’s pantry, and a built-in buffet that beautifully showcases her Rosalie Spode.

Let’s take a look at Diane’s new kitchen. First, the northwest corner:

nw corner 1
The southwest corner:

fish corner
Looking south-southeast:

This view from the northeast corner takes in a good part of the kitchen:

looking from the living room-001

This is the time of year we tend to reflect on the things for which we are thankful. You can bet that Diane is thankful for her beautiful new kitchen!

In my next post I’ll show you the dining room buffet and the butler’s pantry. Diane did something very clever in the latter with a piece of home dec fabric. I hope you’ll come back in a few days for a look. In the meantime, I send my best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving! I hope you get to spend it with people you love.




Posted in family, home dec, update | 7 Comments

Pillowcases for Edward

My husband Charlie and I depart later this week for Atlanta for an extended visit over Thanksgiving with my twin sister Diane and her husband Ed. I usually make a pair of pillowcases as a hostess gift but this year, at Diane’s request, I made a pillowcase for her five-year-old grandson, Edward, a frequent overnight guest at his grandparents’ home.

Diane was captivated by the fabric I had used a few weeks ago on the back of Susan Elinor’s quilt. The fabric features vignettes of Dick and Jane and Spot, those charming characters from the early reader books I remember as a kid growing up in the 1950s. Now Edward is learning to read, and Diane loved the idea of the same fabric in a pillowcase he could sleep on at his grandma’s house.

Luckily, I had just enough fabric left to make one pillowcase. I paired it with a simple paisley print for the band:

Dick and Jane pillowcase for Edward
Fun with Dick and Jane (and Spot)

Diane knows about this pillowcase but she doesn’t know yet that I made Edward a second one:

robot pillowcase for Edward
Robot Love

What little boy doesn’t like robots? I adore these fabrics, part of the Mechanical Genius line by designer Mo Bedell that came out a couple years ago.

Now Edward has two new pillowcases to sleep on:

pcases for Edward
Pillowcases for Edward





Posted in family, roll-it-up pillowcases, update | 5 Comments

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:

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