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!”
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.
The late great Yogi Berra supposedly said that. Even if he never spoke those words, I know what he meant. I’m having a very déjà vu moment. I am in Paris, in the same apartment (Chez Anna) where my husband and I spent three weeks in the spring. This time my twin sister Diane is with me, and we are here for two weeks.
How did this stroke of good fortune come about? Well, Diane was supposed to join my husband and me for several days during our earlier stay. A family emergency (since resolved) kept her from coming. Her ticket was good for a year. Through a combination of luck and good timing, we were able to arrange this visit to coincide with a trip my friend Anna and her beau had scheduled to the United Kingdom.
Part of the deal is that we take care of her cat Buddy, whom I already adore:
Diane and I have a Big Birthday coming up next month (think Medicare). Is this not the perfect way to celebrate turning 65?
Time to get going on four baby quilts. Two of the babies have already arrived and the other two are due soon. Fortunately, the parents of the intended recipients are patient souls. They know that sooner or later (usually later), the new arrivals will have quilts made just for them by their great granny or great auntie.
A new line of fabric I spotted at the Pine Needle last weekend was just the shot in the arm I needed. It’s called Migration by Michael Miller and includes a border print of slightly abstract giraffes. It’s not overly babyish. In fact, it’s quite sophisticated. With a palette of light grey, charcoal, aqua and blue, the fabric line works equally well for a boy or girl. Take a look:
See that stripe in the upper left in the photo above? I’m going to cut that into bias strips for the binding. I’m thinking about making the binding wider than I usually do to really show off those stripes.
I also bought some of this companion fabric for the backing:
I have enough fabric to make at least two quilts. The plan for the first one is to cut sets of 6½” squares and arrange them in some fashion around the border print. This should be a fast and fun project! I’ll be sharing my progress so please stop by again.
. . . and a Pair of Pillowcases. (How’s that for alliteration?)
My twin sister Diane and her husband, who live in Atlanta, are going to Maine in September to visit some very good friends. Diane commissioned me to make a couple of hostess gifts: a pair of pillowcases for their friends and a pillow for their dog Lucy’s bed.
Diane had some very specific fabric in mind for the dog pillow: the Alexander Henry fabric that came out a few years ago depicting scenes from the Dick and Jane early reader books. Dick and Jane have a little terrier named Spot — a dead ringer for Miss Lucy.
Regular readers of my blog have seen this Dick and Jane fabric before. It made its first appearance on the back of Susan Elinor’s quilt, a baby quilt I helped my neighbor Janice finish in 2014. Later that year I also made a pillowcase for Diane’s grandson to use when he stays overnight at her home.
Lucy’s pillow measures 6″ x 12″ — exactly the same size as a vignette printed along one selvage end of the fabric. Take a look:
Does Lucy sleep with her little head on a pillow? I don’t know. Most likely the pillow will be tucked up on one side of her doggie bed and just look cute.
Here’s the back of the pillow:
I was planning to finish the back side with buttons and buttonholes. Then it occurred to me that Lucy might be the kind of dog who likes to gnaw on buttons so I sewed Velcro strips to the back pieces instead.
See how the design matches on the top and bottom pieces?
I guess I went a bit overboard. (But in a good way, right?)
The pillowcases were made using my favorite roll-it-up method that neatly encases the top and side seams:
I love that combination of yellow and blue. Diane assures me that her friends will, too.
The gift items will be on their way to Georgia tomorrow, in time for Diane to dress them up every so nicely in a gift box in preparation for her trip to Maine.
Bonnie (15) and Beatrice (12), the youngest of my six granddaughters, left for San Francisco yesterday morning after a weeklong visit here in Portland with their grandpa and me. I wish they could have stayed longer.
We managed to make the most of our time together. The highlight for all of us was seeing the Tony Award-winning musical Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Broadway Rose Theatre Company. It was terrific!
Bonnie has performed in youth community theater for several years and is studying classical voice at School of the Arts, a public high school in San Francisco. She’ll be a sophomore in the fall. Beatrice is a gymnast and ballet dancer; she’s going into the seventh grade. Both girls love the theater, so we always try to incorporate at least one play or musical into their annual visits.
What else did we do? Let’s see . . . we went for walks in the neighborhood, swam at a community center pool, baked Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies, enjoyed a picnic in Millennium Park with my dear friend Anne, and got in some school clothes shopping.
The girls always do something special just with their grandpa. This year he took the girls to Lan Su Chinese Garden followed by a walk on the Eastbank Esplanade, a pedestrian and bicycle path along the east shore of the Willamette River. They were pretty tuckered out by the time they got home. Fortunately, I had dinner waiting, which we ate out on the back deck. It was a lovely midsummer evening in Portland, made extra special by the presence of our girls.
A sewing project is usually on the agenda when Bonnie and Bea visit. Beatrice was keen to make a fabric basket like the birthday baskets I made for two friends, based on the 1 Hour Basket tutorial from Hearts and Bees. She picked two colorful fabrics from my stash and got to work.
Here she is pressing the basket straps . . .
. . . and topstitching them:
The instructions call for interfacing the outside fabric with fusible fleece. We decided to interface the lining fabric and handles as well to add more body to the basket.
Here Beatrice is boxing the corners of her basket:
After sewing the outer basket and the lining together, she was ready for the fun part — pulling the basket through the hole left in the lining:
The “aha” moment:
Now all that was left to do was tuck the lining back inside the basket, press around the top edges and topstitch them. Because the extra layer of fleece added bulk at the top, Beatrice topstitched ½” away from the top edge.
Here’s Bea with her finished basket:
It measures about 9½” wide, 6½” tall, and 5½” deep. A look at the inside:
Bea used ¼”-wide Steam-a-Seam 2 to fuse closed the opening in the center seam where the basket was pulled through the lining. It gives it a nice finished look.
Here’s a close-up of Beatrice’s basket:
Didn’t she do a beautiful job?
And what was Bonnie doing while all this sewing was going on? She was making beautiful music! Out of storage came my trusty Yamaha guitar, bought in the 1970s when I had long hair and played folk music. (Yes, friends, that was a long time ago.) The guitar is still in great condition, and it was a pleasure to hear Bonnie playing it — she’s teaching herself how — and singing. I’m sorry I didn’t get a picture of her doing both.
Twinship — the perfect kinship! I’ve just returned from a 10-day trip to Atlanta to visit my twin sister. Diane was supposed to join me for part of my recent trip to Paris but had to bow out at the last minute when one of her family members became seriously ill. Happily, the family member is well on the road to recovery. The only thing Diane and I could think of to assuage our mutual disappointment was for me to make a visit to her home, so just days after my return from Paris I was back on an airplane winging my way from Oregon to Georgia.
We had a lovely time! I usually wind up with a home dec project when I visit Diane but this time my trusty old Elna, which I took to Atlanta a few years ago so I could sew there, stayed put. We did get in a bit of antiquing, though. My visit happened to coincide with the Scott Antique Mall, open just one weekend a month in Atlanta, so off we went.
I wasn’t planning to buy anything but . . . you know how that goes. Minutes after walking through the entrance at Scott’s I spied a collection of vintage buttons. If I had found just this one thing, I would have been delighted:
This little 2″ x 3″ card will go up on the bulletin board in my sewing room.
I also found these green glass buttons dating back to the 1940s:
How do I know how old they are? The back of the card is marked “Germany – U.S. – Zone,” indicating they were made between 1945-1950.
And look at these fun clock buttons:
I have no idea how old they are or even what I will use them for. Hmmm, let me see. . . . What if I were making a mini quilt with buildings on it, and what if one of the buildings were a clock tower? Wouldn’t one of these buttons make a fun clock? Something to think about.
Toward the end of the day I spotted this charming ironstone lidded jar:
What is it? A large sugar bowl? A biscuit jar? It measures about 7½” tall and 7″ wide. The maker is John Maddock & Sons, one of the many potteries located in Burslem, Staffordshire, England. Here’s a look at the bottom of the jar:
I haven’t found information on this specific mark but judging from other maker’s marks from this pottery that I read about on line, my jar may have been made between 1870, when the mark changed from “Maddock and Son” to “Maddock and Sons,” and 1896, when “Ltd” was added to the mark. The pottery continued to produce until the 1960s, though, so perhaps my jar is not as old. It doesn’t really matter; I bought it because I loved it, not because of its age.
I thought it would be perfect on the narrow table opposite the clawfoot tub in the master bath but it turned out to be a little too small in scale. Now it’s in the guest bathroom where it does double duty as a Pretty Little Thing and as a holder of cotton balls:
Diane found a couple of Pretty Little Things, too. For some time she has been looking for a slotted spoon small enough to scoop fruit from a can or olives from a jar. She finally found what she has been looking for:
A pleasing combination of form and function. As Diane would say, “Elegantly simple and simply elegant!”
She also found the perfect container to corral the various and sundry remotes for the TV, the DVD player, the sound system, and who knows what else. It’s a round paper maché box covered with vintage wallpaper:
The colors match her living room scheme and go well with the reversible table runner I made her a few months ago:
(That narrow quilted table runner was made to cover the “seam” created when Diane put two chests back to back to create a larger surface area between the two chairs in her living room. You can see the reverse of the table runner and read about the making of it in this post.)
Diane’s final find of the day was made from a recycled Reader’s Digest Condensed book:
The vendor had laser cut old volumes into letters of the alphabet. In this case, E is for Edward, Diane’s 6-year-old grandson (named after his grandfather, Diane’s husband Ed). Young Edward is a frequent overnight guest at his grandparents’ home, so much so that he has his own room. Here the letter E is displayed with another of his grandmother’s marvelous antique store finds, a vintage appliqued wall hanging:
Can you tell we had fun at the antique mall? The entire visit was fun. Now I’m back home and eagerly anticipating getting back to my quilting projects. My sewing machine is not used to being idle.
Hello out there, hello. Or should I say, “bonjour!”
I’ve been home from my woooonderful Paris trip for over a week now and have yet to get back into my sewing/quilting groove. Oh, I’ve washed and ironed several pieces of fabric pulled from my stack of recent purchases, and I’ve started prepping for a new class. I’ve even taught a class. But I have yet to sit down at my sewing machine. Unusual, most unusual. I usually return from a trip raring to sew.
I’m sure my sewing mojo will return shortly. In the meantime, since I’m still basking in the glow of all those happy Paris memories, I’ll share a few photos. My husband and I were there for three weeks, exchanging housing with a friend who stayed at our home and took care of our little cat Theodora while we took care of her big cat Buddy. The exchange worked out splendidly.
Some of the landmarks beginning (of course) with the Eiffel Tower, viewed on a rainy afternoon from the Trocadéro:
The Arch of Triumph (photo taken on the 70th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day:
The Museum of the Army of France (Napoleon’s final resting place):
The doors of Paris! They could be the subject of a photo essay. Here are just a couple of those pretty portals:
Stately old buildings, so many of them beautifully adorned with wrought iron balconies:
We ate our share of what the French call “sandwichs,” our favorite being jambon et emmental (ham and cheese) on baguettes, often enjoyed on a park bench after a museum exhibition or other outing. I also sampled French onion soup:
Carpaccio di manzo, in a French-Italian bistro near the Bastille Métro stop:
Cafe crème, our favorite mid-afternoon pick-me-up, never served without a square of dark chocolate on the saucer:
Standing in front of French patisseries eyeing the offerings in the window was a form of entertainment in itself:
We visited a number of small museums and saw some fascinating temporary exhibits, most of which were not the least bit crowded. An exhibit at the Biblioteque Nationale de France (French National Library) celebrating the 100th anniversary of chanteuse Edith Piaf’s birth:
Au Temps de Klimit: La Sécession à Vienne (In the Time of Klimit: the Vienna Secession), tracing the development in Viennese art from the end of the 19th century until the first years of Expressionism:
Inside this beautiful building, Palais Galliera, also known as the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris, a wonderful exhibition on milliner and couturier Jeanne Lanvin. She died in 1946 but her house of fashion survives, the oldest French one in existence:
I see now that I need to break this post up into two parts. I hope you will indulge me. Please come back to see several more pictures, including a few images that I took because of their potential as quilt blocks or quilting motifs.
More than a week without a post. Are you wondering what happened to me? This is what I’ve been up to:
I’ve been in sunny Arizona following the Cactus League. For the uninitiated, the Cactus League is comprised of half of Major League Baseball’s teams, here for a month of spring training before the season officially opens next month. (The other half of the MLB teams are in Florida playing in the Grapefruit League.)
The DH — that’s Dear Husband, not Designated Hitter — and I came to Arizona for a five-day Road Scholar program on Spring Training that included tickets to four San Francisco Giants games. By tacking on games with other teams before and after the Road Scholar program, we’ve turned our eight-day trip into an eight-game marathon. Six down, two to go.
At the Giants-White Sox game Thursday evening at Camelback Ranch, comedian Will Ferrell dropped in — literally — to play for both sides. At the top of the ninth inning a helicopter descended into center field and deposited Ferrell, already decked out in a Chicago uniform. He went right into the lineup for the White Sox and hit a foul ball before striking out.
Before the bottom of the ninth began, Ferrell had been “traded” to the Giants. He emerged from the San Francisco dugout in catcher’s gear and took a short-lived turn behind the plate. Ferrell made appearances at four other parks on Thursday, wearing the uniforms of 10 MLB teams and playing all nine positions — quite a feat! His appearances, all part of a program to raise funds for cancer research, will be featured in an HBO special later this year.
I had hoped to visit a few quilt shops during the week but our Road Scholar program was packed with lectures and other activities along with the games. The program is over now, so my plan is to hit a couple of shops today and tomorrow before we fly home to Portland.
You know it’s a good weekend when it combines baseball and quilt shop hopping!
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:
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″:
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:
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:
While auditioning fabrics, Diane and I kept the sofa pillows in mind:
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:
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:
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:
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 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:
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:
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:
(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:
Now doesn’t this look better?
Here is Diane’s reversible table runner (measuring 9-3/8″ x 41″), ready to be boxed and mailed:
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.