Category Archives: update

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 | 4 Comments

Reach for the Stars: I’m There!

Yes, indeed! My Reach for the Stars quilt top is completely pieced, all 88″ x 108″ inches of it. I finished it at Quilt Camp last week. It’s a bit wrinkled from being all folded up during transport, but here it is:

RFTS PN 11-14
Dawn’s Version

I like the look of the black squares floating in the outer border, so rather than binding the quilt in solid black to frame it, as originally planned, I’m going to use more of the background fabric.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The quilt has to be quilted first! I am going to (gulp) invest in custom longarm quilting on this one. The quilter I have chosen is equally at home with free motion and digitized quilting, and I expect my quilt will have some of both. I’ll have a better idea after we meet next week.

While I was at Quilt Camp I also pieced the back. It measures about 96″ x 116″ and incorporates the two Jacobean floral focus fabrics I used for the fussy-cut images in the center medallion and individual blocks. This is a partial view of the back:

RFTS back, partial
Jacobean Florals on the Back

One of the prints was a border print, so I pieced it in both directions for a bit more visual interest.

I’m still grappling with the realization that this quilt may not fit my queen-size bed. The 88″ width is fine, even if the quilting draws it up a few inches. It’s the length that’s the problem. According to several websites I’ve looked at, the recommended length for a standard queen or king-size quilt is 94″. Even if the quilting shrinks 4″ from the length, it’s still going to be 10″ longer than the recommended length. If this had dawned on me sooner (like when I started making this quilt in January), I might well have resized the blocks. Too late now. But I’m not going to fret about it. Surely I’ll find a good spot to display this quilt.

On a brighter note, I’ve selected a name for my quilt:  Catch a Falling Star. If you were around in 1957 (as I was), you’ll recognize it as the name of a song by Italian-American crooner Perry Como.




Posted in Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 9 Comments

Reach for the Stars: Almost There!

The final two corners are on my Reach for the Stars quilt top, and already it is huge. It measures 80″ x 100″ — oh my! It will measure 88″ x 108″ once the final borders are on. The custom quilting will shrink it a few inches, of course, but still — I think it’s going to be too big for my queen size bed. I was lamenting this to my twin sister, Diane, who quickly pointed out that she has two king size beds in her home and oh, by the way, wouldn’t this quilt look terrific in the upstairs guest room?

There’s no room in my house big enough to photograph the entire quilt top so I placed an old sheet on the patio out back, centered the quilt on top of it, and took a picture in the waning light:

2014-11 all but last border
Final Border to Come

Those of you who have been following my efforts to achieve a symmetrical checked border now have a good look at how it all fits together. Your next view of this will be a finished quilt top!




Posted in Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 18 Comments

Reach for the Stars: Border Breakthrough, Part 2

Border Breakthrough? More of a Corner Crisis. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. It wasn’t really a crisis, but what I had envisioned as an easy way to extend the points of a narrow inner border into the wide outer border on the corners of my Reach for the Stars quilt turned out to be anything but.

(As regular readers know, my quilt is based on designer Terri Krysan’s quilt of the same name that was recently serialized in Quilter’s Newsletter magazine. I’ve been working on this quilt for the better part of a year, posting progress reports as often as I had something to show. The previous post recounts my efforts to achieve a symmetrical border and to carry the symmetry into the corners. If you haven’t read that post yet, you might want to, as it helps put today’s post in context.)

I could have taken the easy way out and simply attached the corner units without fussing with inner border points at all. The quilt has strong diagonal lines, and it probably would have looked just fine:

Corner 1

Butting the components up against each other gives you a better idea of what a corner would look like sewn together:

Corner 2

But I wanted the point of the solid black border to extend into the print border. Although I have departed in several ways from Terri Krysan’s design, this was one element I wanted to preserve. All I needed to do — I thought — was replace a 2″ black print square with a  block that included a solid black piece, like this one:

Corner 3

Easy enough to make. I toyed with the idea of paper piecing the unit but it was just as fast to sew two half-square triangles to a larger triangle. I made a 2½” block and then trimmed it to the finished size of 2″ square to test its position as a replacement block. Much to my dismay, it was too small. The bottom edges of the triangle didn’t match the seamlines in the solid black border.

The cause of the discrepancy, I finally figured out, was the finished width of the narrow black border: 1⅜”. I had cut the border strips 2½” inches wide, not knowing how wide they would turn out to be, knowing only that the finished width would be determined by where the setting triangles came together at the corners. This is because of the highly unscientific but vaguely mathematical way I figured and constructed the borders. If the narrow black border had finished at 1¼” wide, I think it might have fit.

But it didn’t. What to do?

The solution came to me only when I started thinking outside the box. Literally. Instead of working with a 2½” square (the box), I played with a 2½” x 6½” rectangle of black print — the equivalent of three squares — and larger triangles of the solid black. That gave way to two 2½” x 3½” rectangles when I realized they would give me the shape I desired in the size needed to match the other seams. Let me show you what I mean:

Corner 4The larger pieces are the 2½” x 3½” rectangles. The solid black pieces are 1⅝” squares, about to become foldover corners:

Corner 5

When I joined the two pieces in the middle and tested the edges of the resized triangle against the seamlines in the black border, they were right where they needed to be. Hurrah!

Here is the new rectangular unit inserted into part of a corner unit . . .

Corner 6 rep

. . . and here is that corner unit joined to the quilt:

Corner 7


This close-up shows how the seam joining the two solid black triangles becomes, in effect, an extension of the mitered seam in the narrow black border:.

Corner 9a
This view of the second corner shows you how it all fits together:

Corner 8

Two more corners to go. Then all that’s left is to add the final border of background fabric, which helps float the nine-patch units. Can you believe it? I am almost done!




Posted in Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 5 Comments

Reach for the Stars: Border Breakthrough

When I posted almost a month ago on my Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, pictured here . . .

2014-10, RFTS before borders

. . . I had finished the center medallion and 14 surrounding blocks and was getting ready to tackle the intricate pieced border. I say “tackle” because I knew it would be a challenge figuring out how to get the corners perfectly symmetrical. I knew I wanted to emulate the lacelike effect designer Terri Krysan achieved by putting nine-patch blocks on point in her border, but I also knew I wanted all of my corners to match.

First I added a narrow black border on all four sides, mitering the corners. Next I made several nine-patch units and cut several setting triangles and then just started playing with their positions around the perimeter of the quilt top, which had been moved to the floor after outgrowing my design wall. I walked around the quilt countless times, trying out nine-patch units and setting triangles in different spots along the outer sides.

Border Breakthrough #1 occurred when it became apparent to me that the corner design needed to include two nine-patch units with a strip between them, like this:

Border Breakthrough 1
I mocked up the rest of the corner and even sewed some pieces together. I expected I would need to miter the corner with a seam in the middle of the center strip to match the mitered seam in the narrow black border.

Border Breakthrough 2
When I looked at the photo I had taken above, it hit me that I didn’t need to miter the seam at all! If you follow the horizontal line at the tip of the narrow black border, you’ll see what I saw. Here is Version 2 of the corner unit . . .

Border Breakthrough 3
. . . showing a much easier way to finish the corner. And here is Version 3, which assures the continuity of the black print fabric all around the quilt next to the narrow black border:

Border Breakthrough 4
The position of the black print setting triangles at each corner coincided with a black print setting triangle hitting the exact center of the top and bottom of the quilt. You’ll see what I mean when you look at the next photo:

Border Breakthrough 5
See the point of the black sashing on the middle block, right where it touches the narrow black border? Follow the line into the border and note how it intersects both the black print setting triangle next to the black border and the blue setting triangle on the outer edge.

Unfortunately, there was no way that same design element was going to hit the middle of the long sides. That’s when Border Breakthrough #2 came into play. After much fiddling around, I determined that if I completely removed one nine-patch unit from a long side and added one more strip to two of the remaining nine-patch units, the middle of a black print setting triangle would hit the middle of the long side. Just what I wanted it to do!

Here’s what the “nine-patch plus” unit looked like just before adding the setting triangles . . .

Border Breakthrough A

. . . and here’s what it looked like next to a regular nine-patch:

Border Breakthrough B
I sewed all of my blocks together and then discovered that the border strip was about an inch too long (much better than an inch too short!). My solution? To re-sew the nine-patch units taking a full quarter-inch seam rather than my regular scant quarter-inch seam. Doing that with six nine-patch units and two “nine-patch plus” units took up the excess fullness, and my border fit perfectly. Was someone doing the Happy Dance? Oh, yeah!

Here’s a look at the middle of one long side, with the setting triangle hitting in just the right spot. Look above the small blue and black hourglass block in the valley between the two blocks near the top center of the photo:

Border Breakthrough 6
Here you are looking across the quilt to one corner:

Border Breakthrough 7
The “nine-patch plus” units — the ones with two black print squares on point — are evenly interspersed along the long sides, and even though the two short sides have no “nine-patch plus” units, everything still looks balanced because the borders match. My approach was strictly trial and error — no graph paper, no computer software program, no calculator work — with just a dash of intuition and a lot of luck.

I do have one more thing to figure out. It has to do with preserving the points of the narrow black border and it just may involve some paper piecing. Have I piqued your curiosity? I hope so! Please come back in a few days to see what I’m talking about.




Posted in Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, update | 11 Comments

Blogger’s Quilt Festival Entry: Square Dance

PrintIn for a penny, in for a pound. I’ve decided to enter a second quilt in the Fall 2014 Blogger’s Quilt Festival, hosted by Amy Ellis at Amy’s Creative Side. (You can read about my first entry in yesterday’s post.)

Billed as “the biggest quilt show online,” the festival accepts entries Oct. 24-31 in 11 categories. Viewers can nominate a quilt in any category for the Viewer’s Choice award and, beginning Nov. 1, vote for their favorites in all the other categories. This is my first experience entering the festival, and already I’ve seen dozens of fabulous quilts and discovered some new blogs I absolutely must follow.

I’m entering Square Dance in the Small Quilts category:

Square Dance (2014)

It’s an original design based on the classic Twist block dating back to 1870. Square Dance measures 55½” x 64½” and was quilted by Melissa Hoffman. I wrote about it in this post.

Linking up to Amy’s Creative Side for the Blogger’s Quilt Festival. To see some of the other small quilts entered in the festival, check out this link.




Posted in Bloggers Quilt Festival, update | 3 Comments

Blogger’s Quilt Festival Entry — Good Day Sunshine

The fall 2014 Blogger’s Quilt Festival is now underway, and I am entering Good Day Sunshine, finished earlier this year, in the Modern category:

churn-dash-2[1] (2)

Many of you have seen pictures of this quilt already. I hope you don’t mind revisiting it!

Good Day Sunshine was the product of a summertime Sew-Along organized by Thelma of Cupcakes ‘n’ Daisies. The pattern, Dancing Churndash, was designed for Cut Loose Press by sisters Jenny Pedigo and Helen Robinson of Sew Kind of Wonderful. Here’s a look at the entire quilt:

2014-8, Dancing Churndash, front 2

I used quite a few prints from the Gray Matters line by Camelot Cottons and filled in with fabrics from my stash. I’ve loved the combination of gray/yellow/white ever since my mother made me a wool plaid skirt in those colors when I was in high school.

Although there’s a lot of gray in this quilt, it’s offset by the bright and cheerful yellow prints. Each block makes me feel like I’m looking out a window on a sunny day:

2014-8, Dancing Churndash, quilting detail

That’s what led me to name this quilt Good Day Sunshine, after the Beatles song. It measures 43″ x 57½” and was quilted by Jolene Knight of Good Knight Quilts. A close-up of the quilting:

2014-8 Dancing Churndash detail

The back was pieced from leftover fabrics used on the front:

2014-8, Dancing Churndash, back


Linking up to Amy’s Creative Side for Blogger’s Quilt Festival. To see some of the other modern quilts entered in the festival, check out this link. Voting for favorites in 11 categories begins Nov. 1.




Posted in Bloggers Quilt Festival, update | 11 Comments

Central Park Tote

Someone’s got a brand new bag. And it’s not Papa. Take a look:

Central Park tote 1
Dawn’s Central Park Tote


The pattern is Bow Tucks Tote by Penny Sturges of It’s 13″ wide, 11″ high, and 5″ deep. As you can see from the picture below, I made the handles on my tote several inches longer:

Central Park tote 2
The Tote and the Pattern


It’s easy to see how the pattern got its name:

Central Park tote 3
Bows and Tucks on the Sides


Are you wondering why I am calling it my Central Park tote? It’s all about the fabric! This is what I used for the lining:

Central Park tote 4
City Girls in Central Park

I love New York, and when I saw this print last year from the Central Park line by Timeless Treasures Fabrics, I promptly bought some. It features slightly retro and very chic young women walking their dogs, bicycling, and picnicking in Central Park. When I chose the fabric for the outside of the bag (from the Doodle line by Alice Kennedy, also for Timeless Treasures),  it occurred to me that this fabric would go well with it. And it would make me smile every time I looked inside.

Did you notice the New York skyline in the fabric above? I fussy-cut that scene and added a pocket on the back side of the tote:

Central Park tote 5
A Pocket on the Other Side


A close-up of said pocket:

Central Park tote 6
The View from Central Park


The inside of the bag has divided pockets that go around all four sides:

Grand Central tote 7
Pockets All Around

What a great feature! A tote with lots of pockets is a very good thing. On the bottom of the bag is a rectangle of 1/4″-wide foam core covered with a fabric sleeve. The foam core provides stability and helps the boxed corners keep their shape.

The pattern calls for a button-and-loop closing. I dug around in my vintage button collection and found a button just the right shade of green but too small. I paired it with a larger plain black button, aligned the holes, and sewed both of them onto the bag together:

Grand Central tote 7
Vintage Buttons


This is the first tote bag I have ever made for myself. I think I will enjoy using it!




Posted in tote bags, update | 7 Comments

And the Winners Are . . .

Time to announce the winners of my Rotary Cutter Case giveaway. First, here’s a look at what’s up for grabs:

Rotary Cutter Cases
Rotary Cutter Coats: Free to Good Homes!


I used a Random Number Generator to draw three names. And the winners are:

          Bill Volckening

          Janet Boundy

          Jayne Emsdem

Congratulations, folks!

In their comments, Bill said he liked the rotary cutter coat in the middle best, Janet liked the one on the left, and Jayne said she would be happy with any one of them, so she will get the one on the right. How perfectly providential! Winners, please email me your mailing addresses and I will get them in the mail to you this week.

Didn’t win? Sorry! But you can make a rotary cutter coat for yourself or perhaps one for a friend. Directions are available as a one-page handout or as a full step-by-step tutorial with lots of pictures.

Thanks to everyone who checked out my Giveaway post and to those who left comments. Have a great week!




Posted in Giveaway, rotary cutter case, update | 3 Comments

Rotary Cutter Case Giveaway

Rotary Cutter Cases
One of These Could Be Yours!


Would you like to win one of these rotary cutter coats? I’m hosting a Giveaway and will send one of these cases to three lucky winners. To enter all you need to do is add a comment at the bottom of this post answering one of two questions:

1) which case do you like the best and why (fabric? buttons? color combo? something else)?


2) how did you find out about my website/blog?

The Giveaway will remain open through this week. I’ll draw three names using a random number generator and announce the winners early next week. I will mail anywhere in the world so international readers are welcome to enter.

A tutorial for making one of these rotary cutter coats can be found here.

Good luck, everyone, and thank you so much for visiting First Light Designs!




Posted in Giveaway, rotary cutter case, update | 29 Comments