Category Archives: family

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 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

Happy Birthday, House!

Our house was built in 1913, which means it turns 100 years old this year. Happy Birthday, House!

Portland White House
The Portland (OR) White House

We’ve done a lot to the house over the 32 years we’ve lived here – remodeled the kitchen (twice), remodeled the upstairs bathroom, remodeled the main floor bathroom (twice), finished the basement, rebuilt the garage, and rebuilt the back patio (twice), to name a few.

Now we are embarking on a second remodel of the upstairs bathroom. When we moved into our house in 1981, the upstairs bathroom had a tub but no shower. We replaced the tub with a larger Jacuzzi-style tub but didn’t add a shower because we had chosen to relocate the tub under a picture window. It’s time to add that shower now.

We’re going to replace the jetted tub with a clawfoot tub, add a custom shower on the opposite wall, and replace all the other fixtures in the bathroom. We’re not doing the work ourselves, I hasten to add. My husband and I are not do-it-yourselfers when it comes to these kinds of home improvement projects.

Although my website/blog was created to chronicle my sewing and quilting life, I’ve decided to include the transformation of our upstairs bathroom. Demolition starts next week!



Posted in bathroom remodel, family, update | 12 Comments

Mad about the Mini

It would be fair to say that the Dear Husband and I are slow to embrace new technology. Not that we’re averse to it. It’s just that we get along with what we have and don’t recognize a need for something until it’s been on the market a rather long time. We were probably the last family in the western world to buy a microwave (which we use primarily to reheat coffee) and we still don’t own a flat screen TV.

So it came as a surprise to friends and family when we acquired a new gadget earlier this month: an iPad Mini. The iPads have been around for a few years but Apple released the Mini just a few months ago. I had been thinking about buying an iPad for a couple of years but never quite got around to it. By the time I was ready to take the plunge, the Mini was available. In a way, my procrastination paid off.

We’ve had this tiny little computer for only three weeks and have a lot to learn about its capabilities, but so far I love everything about it. I do feel guilty about something, though. I bought it for the DH and me, but I have monopolized it from the get-go. It has my email, my Scrabble, and my music loaded on it. I listen to Pandora Internet radio on it for hours in my sewing room. I even carry it around in my purse!

Of course, one of the first things I did was make a case for it:

The case is basically a padded envelope with a flap that covers the entire front. That’s because I wanted to protect the iPad Mini with extra batting. The back side has a layer of batting and a layer of stiff interfacing.

With the flap open, you can see how the iPad Mini is easily tucked into its snug little pocket:

Thinking the case might double as a cushion for the iPad Mini while it’s in use, I added four strips of elastic to the back corners:

I wasn’t sure of the proper position so each strip of elastic is in a slightly different place. This cover is a first attempt so the fact that the strips of elastic are not in perfect alignment doesn’t bother me (well, not too much).

As it turned out, the two top strips of elastic aren’t deep enough to hold the top of the device but the bottom two work just fine. The bottom strips actually do double duty: they come around to the front and hold the top flap in place, keeping my — er, our – iPad Mini very secure when it’s in my purse:

The divided pocket on the front is for earbuds and a stylus. I think the next version might have a zippered pocket on the inside for these items, leaving the front cover open to some creative patchwork.

Isn’t this robot fabric perfect for an iPad Mini case? The fabric is from the Mechanical Genius line by Mo Bedell for Timeless Treasures. You’ll be seeing more of it before too long because I’m using it in two baby quilts, currently under construction.



Posted in family, iPad cover, update | 3 Comments

A Table Topper for My Twin

I drew my sister Diane’s name in the siblings and spouses Christmas gift exchange. And — she drew mine! That doesn’t happen very often. This is what I am giving her:

2012-12, table topper

It’s a table topper. You may remember seeing the unfinished top in an earlier post. Diane saw that post and fell in love with the fabric (from the Ainsley line for Northcott Fabrics) and the kaleidoscope block. When I drew her name, I decided to finish the table topper for her.

I didn’t want the topper to be poufy so I used flannel for the batting. It’s quilted very simply. First I stitched in all the ditches and then quilted on both sides of the straight lines in the center and outer edges. Then I quilted a triangle in each of the eight wedges of the kaleidoscope. The simplicity of the quilting keeps your eye focused on the flowers and leaves and vines in that gorgeous Jacobean print:

detail, table topper

Here’s the back of the topper:

2012-12, table topper from back

I had never before applied binding to a quilt with obtuse angles (greater than 90 degrees but less than 180). Thanks to Heather Mulder Peterson of Anka’s Treasures, who posted a terrific tutorial on her blog, Trends and Traditions, it was a breeze.

Diane’s table topper measures 22″ across and 22″ top to bottom. I hope she likes it — and I hope she doesn’t see this post until after she opens her gift!



Posted in family, kaleidoscope quilts, table topper, update | 6 Comments