Category Archives: family

Diane’s Table Runner in Situ

A couple weeks ago I wrote about a reversible table runner I made for my sister Diane’s living room. The runner was made to cover a seam (for lack of a better word) created when two chests were placed back to back to create a larger table surface between two chairs. Here’s a look at the single chest Diane started with:

dks liv rm before photo
Even with the lamp placed at the very back of the chest, people sitting in the chairs had to crane their necks around the lamp to see each other when talking. The limited surface space made it difficult to have multiple items on the chest at the same, items such as a TV remote, a glass of wine, a cell phone, a book. In addition, the drawers in the chest were difficult to open from a sitting position because the chest was positioned so far back. You can understand why Diane considered this a design dilemma.

Her solution was to take a matching chest from another room and place it back to back with the first one, doubling the surface area, making it possible to move the lamp farther back toward the windows, and making the drawers in front more accessible. Sounded like a win-win-win to me. The only issue was the seam where the two chests met.

That’s where the table runner (and I) came in. Consulting by phone between Portland and Atlanta, Diane and I selected fabric from my stash and I proceeded to make this reversible runner that measures about 9½” x 41″:

runner completed

It was very easy to make: two cotton prints, a layer of batting, simple cross-hatching for the quilting, and traditional double-fold binding. Soon it was on its way across the country. Here it is in place:

dks liv rm after toile

See how much farther back the lamp is? Much easier now for folks to converse. The toile fabric is in the up position in the picture above. Here’s another shot with the floral vine in the up position:

after with vine 2

While auditioning fabrics, Diane and I kept the sofa pillows in mind:

dks liv rm couch (2)

Look how well these fabrics go together. I especially like the connection between the floral vine fabric on the runner and the pillow on the left:

table runner and pillows
This home dec mini makeover came with a bonus: because the chests are positioned back to back, there’s a set of drawers on both sides. Diane and Ed’s 5½-year-old grandson Edward gets the exclusive use of the drawers at the back for his own little stash of treasures and playthings:

in place 3

 

 

 

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Design Dilemma

Earlier this week my twin sister Diane called me with a home dec design dilemma. The small chest that sat between two red leather chairs in her living room was so narrow that people sitting in the chairs couldn’t see each other around the lamp at the back of the chest. Her solution was a clever one: she claimed a matching chest from another room and placed it back to back with the first one. Then she had a piece of glass made to fit the top. The only problem was that you could see under the glass where the two chests met in the middle.

Could she commission me to make a table runner to cover the middle section? Of course she could. She wanted something very simple — no piecing required, just a rectangle about 9″ wide and long enough to extend down both sides of the chest. We talked about colors to match her living room — deep red, tan, forest green. I was ready to charge off to a fabric store to look at home dec fabrics.

Diane was incredulous. “Don’t you have some fabric in your stash that will work?” she asked. Well, of course I did. A little stash diving resulted in this group of fabrics sent from Portland to Atlanta via iPhone for Diane’s inspection:

fabric choices

She liked the print in the center of the photo — the one with the red flowers and vines on a tan background — and the red and tan toile on the right side. No need to choose between them. By making the table runner reversible, we could use both fabrics.

I pulled a red leaf print from my stash for the binding:

the winning combo
The only thing I needed to buy was topstitching thread. It had to be just the right color to look good on both fabrics, as the backgrounds are similar but definitely not the same. In no time at all my quilt sandwich was ready. I decided to quilt a diagonal 1″ grid across the surface of the table runner, using my walking foot and this light taupe rayon thread by Madeira that has a beautiful sheen:

topstitching thread
I cut the binding strips on the bias, by the way, because I knew the leaf print would look better that way. Here is the runner quilted and ready to bind:

ready to bind
Notice that the table runner isn’t just a rectangle? It wouldn’t be much more work, I reasoned, to make the ends pointed, and it would be so much more elegant. It didn’t occur to me until later that I would have six corners to miter and that four of those corners would be angles greater than 90 degrees. No worries, though. Heather Peterson of Anka’s Treasures has an excellent tutorial on her blog, Trends and Traditions, that shows how to bind outside corners greater than 90 degrees.

Once the binding was stitched on, I tacked it down on the other side using Steam-a-Seam 2, a double stick fusible webbing. At the top of the photo you can see how the webbing is positioned right along the folded edge of the binding:

fusing the binding

(Steam-a-Seam 2 comes in ¼”-wide rolls. All I had on hand was ½”-wide. Easy enough to cut it in half to make ¼”-wide strips.) The fusible webbing made short work of finishing the binding. All that was left was tacking down the mitered corners by hand. I was on the last miter when I noticed I had missed three rows of quilting:

tacking down the binding (2)
Now doesn’t this look better?

stitching corrected
Here is Diane’s reversible table runner (measuring 9-3/8″ x 41″), ready to be boxed and mailed:

runner completed

This little project was a pleasant diversion from binding Toile Story. I do enjoy binding quilts by hand but was ready for a little break. Diane said she wasn’t in a hurry to receive this but was hoping to get it before she hosts a cocktail party later this month. She’ll be very surprised to get this in the mail so soon — unless she sees this post first.

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, mitered corners, update | 3 Comments

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?

photo
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:

1

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:

2
Alex  was an equal opportunity kneader. She managed to work her magic on both sides of the ottoman:

3
On my visit last year, Diane and I found this lovely basketweave fabric which we thought would be perfect to recover the ottoman with:

4
This year we found the perfect trim for it — 50% off — at Frugal Fabrics:

5
Today I got the fabric measured and cut. Here is the top with boxed corners pinned and ready to sew:

6
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!

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, update | 3 Comments

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:

south
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.

 

 

 

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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:

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