Category Archives: family

When Life Gives You Lemons . . .

. . . make pillowcases!

Seriously, who could resist the lure of this beautiful lemon print from Art Gallery Fabrics? I spotted it at cool cottons, a delightful quilt shop in my own neighborhood, and quickly transformed it into a pair of pillowcases for the Portland White House.

Turns out one of the fabrics I bought recently from Jill Finley’s new line “This and That” for Penny Rose Fabrics is the perfect shade of yellow for the band. I auditioned all of the yellows in my stash and this one was by far the best fit.

I have a thing about lemons. Not just fresh lemons, which are always on hand at our house. I also like lemons as a decorating theme, and so do my sisters Diane and Reigh. When I bought the fabric for these pillowcases, I bought enough to make each of them a pair as well. Their pillowcases are in transit right now. I’m not sure which they will see first — their package in the mail or this post. Either way it should be a fun little surprise.

Just call us the Lemon Sisters.

P.S. These cases were made using the roll-it-up or burrito method, with all seams enclosed. If you’d like to see how I make them, check out my tutorial here.




Posted in family, roll-it-up pillowcases, update | 6 Comments

First Week, First Finish of 2018

Ah, how nice to end the first week of the year with a quilt finish. May I present . . . Bluebirds for Bethany:

Bethany (fourth of my six granddaughters in birth order) is a wife and mother of three little boys age five and under. The boys received quilts made by their great granny (me) when they were babies. I wanted Bethany to have her very own quilt, one that reflects her gentle personality, and I wanted it to be unabashedly feminine. Why? Because she is surrounded by menfolk! Even the family dog is male.

This quilt fits Bethany to a T. I already knew she loved the color scheme and fabrics because she commented on a smaller version I made last year as a baby quilt. I had more than enough pieces left over to construct another quilt. It was meant to be.

On the back of Bethany’s quilt I added a strip of half-square triangles and a very special label:

Here’s a close-up of the label:

I am so delighted with how this quilt turned out. I asked longarm quilter Karlee Sandell of SewInspired2Day to quilt it using the time-honored Baptist Fan motif. It’s a motif one sees frequently on quilts made as far back as the mid-19th century. Those quilts, of course, were quilted by hand. Today’s longarm quilters use digitized versions to great effect.

Notice how the curves of the fans soften the sharp angles of the pineapple blocks? That was one of my reasons for choosing the motif. Karlee did a beautiful quilting job, as usual, with an extraordinarily fast turnaround. (Thank you, Karlee!)

I chose a bright rose fabric for the binding, cutting it on the bias to show the crosshatch design to better advantage:

Stitching the binding to the back of the quilt by hand was hampered to some degree by a certain calico cat who thinks a quilt draped across a lap is a fort to burrow under:

I tried to schedule my binding sessions around Coco’s catnaps. As you can see, I wasn’t always successful.

Once the quilt was bound and labeled it went into the washer and dryer to give it that old-fashioned crinkly look and feel:

Now all I need to do is tie this quilt up with grosgrain ribbon and deliver it!

Finished size (after quilting, trimming, binding, and laundering): 57″ x 58″
Block design: from Karin Hellaby’s book Pineapple Plus
Focus fabric on front: Birdies by Pam Kitty Morning for Lakehouse Dry Goods
Background fabric: Kimberbell Basic White 8210 (white dots on white)
Other fabrics (from my stash): various blenders in blue, aqua, pink, and green
Focus fabric on back: bicycle toss by Gail Cadden for Timeless Treasures, #Gail-C 2794




Posted in family, pineapple quilt block, update | 8 Comments

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, friends! I hope 2018 is off to a good start for you. It certainly is for me — I’m on track for a quilt finish during the first week of the year. Today I attached the binding to the quilt I’m making for my granddaughter Bethany (it came back from the quilter in record time) and now I’m hand sewing the binding to the back. Some people find this part of the quiltmaking process a chore but it’s one I really enjoy.

Bethany knows she’s getting this quilt and has even seen photos of the top. I want her to be the first one to see the completed quilt, though, so for now here are a couple of sneak peeks. First, the quilting:

Isn’t that wonderful? The motif is Baptist Fan, a classic quilting design I’ve been wanting to use on a quilt for a long time. Here’s a look at the binding:

Such a beautiful shade of pink, don’t you think? It’s more like a deep rose than a fuchsia. I love how it looks against the fabric on the front of the quilt (birdies) and on the back (bicycles).

Okay, break time is over. Back to hand sewing. I can’t wait to show you the entire quilt!




Posted in family, pineapple quilt block, update | 4 Comments

It’s Party Time!

Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs is hosting a Best of 2017 Linky Party, inviting bloggers to highlight their top five posts of the year. It’s a fun way to look back over the last 12 months and identify some of the high points.

My top five are below, in reverse order. Clicking on the links will take you to the original posts.

5. Dutch Treat. Although I didn’t finish this quilt till June, I started it in January during an epic snowstorm that kept me and many Portlanders indoors for several days.

4. NYC and VFW. A trip to New York City with my twin sister in March combined many of the things I love in life: family, travel, theater, museums, and quilting. The quilting part? A visit to the Manhattan shop of Victoria Findlay Wolfe:

Victoria didn’t happen to be there that day but I had the pleasure of meeting her the following month in Paducah, Kentucky during AQS Quilt Week:

3. Terrazzo Tiles and Piccolo Terrazzo Tiles. Using the free pattern Mini Mod Tiles by Sew Kind of Wonderful, I made two versions:

The larger one was made by “supersizing” the original pattern, using the larger of the two curved rulers Sew Kind of Wonderful designed for cutting curves. I wrote a tutorial showing how I did it.

2. Junior Billie Bag. This was the first of two JBBs I made in 2017:

Designed over 20 years ago by Billie Mahorney, it’s a fabulous quilter’s tote personalized by each maker, starting with the design on the front and back panels and ending with the pockets inside and out. Two years ago Billie turned the teaching of her design over to me, and I make a bag every time I teach a class. This may be my favorite of the eight I have made so far.

Without consciously planning to, I wound up making a suite of accessories to go with my Junior Billie Bag:

(See the rotary cutter coat in the lower left corner? I wrote directions for it in 2014 and it remains my most popular tutorial. Every now and then when I see a huge spike in the number of views on my website/blog, I know it’s because someone provided a link to the tutorial.)

1 . Where It’s @. Much to my surprise and delight, this quilt won a second place ribbon at the Northwest Quilting Expo in Portland, Oregon in September:

The design is Rewind by Karla Alexander of Saginaw Street Quilts. I started the quilt in a class with Karla in Sisters, Oregon in July 2016. Getting a ribbon was honor enough but the award came with a check for $500. My first reaction? “Think how many yards of fabric I can buy with that!”

Well, this has been a nice little trip down memory lane. Do you want to join Cheryl’s party, too? The link is open until January 2. Be sure to check out the top five posts of the other quilting/blogging partygoers. And thank you for checking out mine!




Posted in Billie Bag, family, Junior Billie Bag, Northwest Quilting Expo, QCR Mini, Quick Curve Ruler, Quilter's Affair, rotary cutter case, sewing tool caddy, tote bags, tutorial, update, windmill block, wonky Greek key | 5 Comments

Stash Diving

I found the perfect fabric in my stash for the back of granddaughter Bethany’s quilt. It’s this bicycle fabric from Timeless Treasures:

When I bought this fabric two or three years ago, I remember thinking it would be a good choice for a quilt back. I guess that’s why I bought several yards of it. Either that or it was the end of the bolt — a particular weakness of mine.

The backing fabric has two things going for it. First, it features all the colors used on the front of the quilt, and second, it possesses an equal amount of whimsy. (I’m big on whimsy.)

The front features birds scattered every which way, including upside down:

Bicycles scattered every which way, including upside down, are right in sync, don’t you think?

What’s more, I found the perfect binding fabric in my stash. Over the weekend I was going through my project tubs and discovered a lovely fuchsia fabric I had set aside for another quilt. I cut the binding on the bias to get maximum effect from the subtle cross-hatch design:

I have a date with a longarm quilter tomorrow. Bethany’s quilt could well be my first finish of 2018!




Posted in family, pineapple quilt block, update | 7 Comments

Pineapple Plus Supersized

You’re looking at the intersection of four pineapple blocks in my granddaughter Bethany’s quilt top. I just had to fussycut a little birdie from the focus fabric (“Birdie” by Pam Kitty Morning) in each of the four interior cornerstones.

Little birdies are in the center of every block:

Here’s a look at the finished quilt top, which measures about 62″ square:

This is the supersized version of the baby quilt I made a few months ago using Karin Hellaby’s Pineapple Plus design from her book of the same name. She has a clever method of constructing the pineapple blocks that leaves the outer edges of the colored blocks on the bias. To supersize the blocks (from 10½” to 14½” unfinished) I added two additional rounds, cutting the outer triangles so the two short edges would be on the straight of grain. A couple of those triangles were deliberately cut with the short edges on the bias to preserve the directional design on the fabric.

I guess I went a little overboard cutting triangles for the first quilt because I still have a lot left over, even after making a second quilt. Some of those triangles will wind up on the pieced backing, my project du jour.




Posted in baby quilt, family, pineapple quilt block | 3 Comments

Snow Day Sew Day

Today happens to be a rare day with no appointments or errands to run so I’m treating it like a snow day. I’m spending the entire day in my sewing room, except for the time taken to write this post. On my agenda: working on a lap quilt for Granddaughter #4 (in birth order).

I have six granddaughters. When I took up quilting seriously a decade or so ago, my oldest granddaughters were already having babies so I started making quilts for the great grandchildren. The pineapple quilt I finished in October for Baby Alira was the twelfth one made for a great grandchild:

Baby Alira’s Quilt, 44″ Square (2017)


Now it’s time to make quilts for my granddaughters. I’m starting with #4, Bethany, for the simple reason that she told me how much she loved the fabrics I was using in Baby Alira’s quilt. Since I had plenty of fabric left over and shapes already cut, I decided to make a larger version of the same quilt for Bethany.

The pineapple blocks in Baby Alira’s quilt finish at 10″ square. By adding two more rounds, I wound up with blocks for Bethany’s quilt that will finish at 14″ square. Here are those blocks up on my design wall:

Bethany’s Blocks

Now it’s time to add the sashing and cornerstones, to be followed by borders. Do come back soon to check on my progress!




Posted in baby quilt, family, pineapple quilt block, update | 4 Comments

Ain’t That a Sham?

When my husband and I fly from Oregon to Georgia for our annual two-week Thanksgiving visit with my twin sister and her husband, I almost always make something for their home. It’s a small way to thank Diane and Ed for the generous hospitality they show Charlie and me on these visits, and it satisfies my urge to make something when I’m away from my sewing room for an extended time. You know how it is: a maker’s gotta make.

I knew ages ago what this year’s project would be. That’s because Frugal Fabrics, a home dec fabric store in the Atlanta suburb where my sister lives, announced at the beginning of the year that it was closing. Diane and I have found beautiful fabrics there in past years that have made their way into home dec projects in her house.

Before the shop closed its doors for the last time, Diane bought a gorgeous piece of fabric called “Brandywine Paisley” by Duralee Fabrics. She bought what was left on the bolt – about 6½ yards – without any idea what she would do with it. (At $2 a yard, I would have done the same thing. I have a thing for paisley prints.) We consulted via text messaging and concluded the fabric would be perfect as new pillow shams in her master bedroom.

Fast forward to my arrival in November. After Thanksgiving was over, Diane and I designed the shams, starting with the notion of a simple envelope with braided trim on the “flap” of the envelope on the front. She likes her shams up against the headboard with sleeping pillows arranged in front so it was important that the flaps be short enough for the braided trim to show.

If Diane were a quilter, she would have freezer paper in her house. She’s not and she doesn’t, so I made a pattern for the flap out of two sheets of parchment paper:

I had to pin the two sheets together because scotch tape doesn’t stick to parchment paper!

Being somewhat obsessive-compulsive, I wanted the design on the fabric to match where the flap meets the sham. That meant the flap needed to be a separate piece that could be attached to the back of the sham in just the right place for the design to match up on front after the pillow form was inserted. All of this called for some careful fussy cutting – in triplicate, because there are three shams. It took me the better part of one afternoon just to cut the fabric.

What you see below is one sham in two pieces. The body of the sham is essentially a square with rounded edges and a lapped opening on the back where the pillow form is inserted:

This is what the sham looks like flat:

While I was working on the shams, Diane was auditioning pillowcases I’ve made for her over the years (all made from this tutorial). She found three pair that looked especially good against the shams:

She decided to use the pair in the middle first because the reds and greens in the fabrics are right in keeping with the Christmas decorations that started coming out that week.

Here’s a look at the shams in place in the master bedroom:

Don’t they look nice? I love the addition of the Christmas pillow. Here’s a view from across the room:

I’m back home in Portland now, ready to get back to work on a couple of projects I want to finish before the end of the year. And the end of the year is only 27 days away!




Posted in family, home dec, roll-it-up pillowcases, update | 9 Comments

Quilt Camp, Part 2

I finished a UFO at Quilt Camp last week. It was the table runner I started as an experiment when I was teaching at the Pine Needle‘s quilt retreat in June. Remember this?

It’s a bit difficult to see from the photo but the outer edges of the runner were cut to match the curves inside. I wanted the binding on the quilt to echo the design, which you may recognize as Mini Mod Tiles, that marvelous free pattern from Sew Kind of Wonderful that has been the subject of several posts over the last few months.

I had just enough of the dark green batik fabric for the binding:

Didn’t that turn out nicely? I machine quilted it very simply with my walking foot, stitching in the ditch and adding a simple starburst in the center of the curved shapes featuring the focus fabric:

There wasn’t enough of the wintry blue print to cover the entire back so I inserted a strip of the blue polka dot:

I used light blue thread on the back to blend in so the runner is essentially reversible. The label can go in the very center, to be covered by a candle or bowl.

Binding the curved edges presented quite a challenge, as the angle is greater than 90 degrees plus you have the curve to deal with. Fortunately, Heather Peterson of Anka’s Treasures has a wonderful tutorial on her website that shows how to bind an outside edge greater than 90 degrees. Following her excellent instructions, I was able to bind those corners. Here’s a look at the pinning technique:

I don’t think I would ever have figured that out on my own. Thanks, Heather!

The runner measures 13″ x 38½”, a nice size for the center of a table or dresser. I’m giving it to my twin sister in Atlanta this weekend as a birthday/hostess gift; my husband and I are headed there later this week for our annual extended visit over Thanksgiving.

I’m very pleased with this variation on the Mini Mod Tiles design. And, having made two quilts (a mini and a supersized version) from the pattern, I am finally ready to put MMT behind me. Just in time, too! The Sew Kind of Wonderful team has come out with some marvelous new patterns. I have no doubt there is another Quick Curve Ruler quilt in my future.




Posted in family, home dec, QCR Mini, Quick Curve Ruler, table runner, update | 5 Comments

Bonus Binding

I found the perfect fabric in my stash to bind this sweet baby quilt:

It’s a random blue on blue polka dot that picks up on the shades of blue on the birdies scattered across the focus fabric. I really like how the blue binding frames the quilt on both front . . .

. . . and back:

One more look:

Now freshly laundered, this quilt is ready to be wrapped up and sent to its new owner, Baby Alira.

Alira’s Quilt measures 44″ square. The pineapple blocks were made using the Four Triangle Method described in Karin Hellaby’s book Pineapple Plus (Quilter’s Haven Publications, 2010). Sherry Wadley quilted it edge-to-edge with a delightful cloud motif.

I have enough fabric left to make another quilt. I’m going to add another round to make the pineapple block bigger and make a quilt for a young mother of three little boys who needs a feminine lap quilt to snuggle up in. Luckily, I have enough left of that wonderful polka dot fabric to bind a second quilt.




Posted in baby quilt, family, pineapple quilt block, update | 7 Comments