Monthly Archives: July 2012

Sewing with My Granddaughters

I’ve spent the last week and a half with my two youngest granddaughters, nine and twelve,  first in San Francisco where they live with their mom, then in Ashland, Oregon for three days, and now in Portland, where they will stay with their grandpa and me until Friday.

We have a lot planned for our five days in Portland! One of the things on my wish list was to help the girls make their own pillowcases. They were all for it, which made their granny very happy. Today was the day. Each girl picked her own fabric from my (ahem) considerable stash. Twelve-year-old Bonnie selected a vibrant turquoise mini-dot for the body of her pillowcase and a lilac floral for the band. Beatrice, age nine, chose a lime green fabric with fuchsia blossoms for the body and a fuchsia vined print for the band.

Bonnie worked in my sewing room:

Bonnie, with pillowcase in progress


Beatrice sewed on the smaller machine that I set up in the spare room across the hall:

Beatrice, with pillowcase in progress


After a break for lunch in the garden . . .

lunch al fresco

. . . we headed back to the sewing room. I taught the girls the roll-it-up method for pillowcases, which encloses both ends of the band in a single seam. The girls finished their cases with French seams, so there are no raw edges showing anywhere.

They did a beautiful job! Here is Bonnie with her finished pillowcase:

Bonnie with her finished pillowcase

. . . and Beatrice with hers:

Beatrice with her finished pillowcase

Their granny is very proud!




Posted in family, roll-it-up pillowcases, update | 2 Comments

Memories of Sisters, Part 2 . . .

Free motion quilting is not a skill that comes easily to me. In fact, I really struggle with it. Because of that, I try to take at least one class a year from an expert. When I learned that Janet Fogg was teaching a day-long class called “Basic Drawing for Machine Quilters” during Quilter’s Affair, the week of classes leading up to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show on the second Saturday in July, I jumped at the chance to register.

The best part was . . . we didn’t have to bring our machines!  We were asked to bring a sketchbook and a pen, plus a quilt top that we planned to quilt ourselves. Janet led us through a variety of drawing exercises, showing us how to build a simple quilt motif, build on it, travel with it, and transition to other quilting designs. We did that all morning, filling pages and pages in our sketchbooks with motifs and notes. She gave us a fantastic handout which included many of the motifs she has used on her own award-winning quilts.

practicing spirals in Janet’s class


In the afternoon, Janet treated us to a slideshow of her amazing quilts, all quilted freehand, and then we took turns displaying our own quilt tops, getting feedback from her and fellow students on ideas for quilting. I am really excited now about putting my classroom learning to the test at home.

On the day of the quilt show I took special notice of quilts that had been machine quilted freehand. Here are some closeups, starting with Janet’s own quilt, Hippo Love. (I neglected to get a photo of the entire quilt but you can see it on her website: )

detail of Hippo Love by Janet Fogg


detail, Hippo Love by Janet Fogg


detail, back of Hippo Love by Janet Fogg


detail, back of Hippo Love by Janet Fogg


Here are other examples of free motion quilting I admired:

quilting by Shireen’s Stitching


quilting by Shireen’s Stitching


quilting by Tammy Mac Arthur


Quilting by Loretta Orsborn


As you can see, the bar is set very high. Janet echoed the advice in every book I have on the subject: it takes a LOT of practice to become a proficient machine quilter. I’m on a road trip to California right now to visit my grandchildren, so all I can do is think about practicing. Does that count?




Posted in free motion quilting, Sisters OR Outdoor Quilt Show, update | 2 Comments

Memories of Sisters, Part 1. . .

I hardly know where to begin to tell you about my week in Sisters, Oregon, home of the largest outdoor quilt show in the world. This year the unthinkable happened on Saturday, July 14, the day of the show: a BIG rainstorm in the middle of the afternoon! This is the first time in the 37-year history of the show that rain has forced an early closure.

It was midafternoon before menacing clouds rolled in and the first few drops spattered on the ground. By the time the rain was falling in earnest, thousands of people in the streets had taken cover inside shops or bolted for their cars, and scores of volunteers had already taken down the quilts that were not under cover. Luckily, quilt lovers had most of the day to enjoy the 1400 or so quilts hanging outside buildings in this charming little town in Central Oregon.

One thing I really liked about the show this year was the mix of traditional and contemporary quilts. Here, in no particular order, is a sampling of the quilts that caught my eye.

New Directions, 40 x 54, by Vivienne Moore of Salem OR


Heirloom Stars, 84 x 84, by Frances Jagodzinski of Salem OR


Fall Colors, 74 x 96, by Kitty Amaral of Napa CA


Diamond Lil, 84 x 104, by Mary Parsons of Milwaukie OR


Cercles de Soleil, 55 x 70, by Barbara Cook of Yakima WA


Orange Delight, 73 x 73, by Susan Denton of Redmond OR


Friendship Village, 39 x 38, by Deb Soren of Salem OR


Touch of Green, 67 x 81, by Lillian Walter of Redwood City CA


Random Crossroads II, 60 x 70, by Patty Six of Santa Barbara CA


Red Wine in a Floral Arrangement, 65 x 85, by Nancy Fischer of Sunriver OR


Bird Bath, 46 x 60, by Michelle McMicken of Bend OR


Bird Bath, 54 x 60, by Ruth Fidino of Kennewick WA


Lady Liberty Does Laundry, 50 x 50, by Tammy Mac Arthur of Redmond OR


Ultra Veggie, 54 x 75, by Barbara Lowery of Bend OR


Fantastic, 60 x 77, by Lynn Christensen of Livingston TX



Deep Blue Seas, 69 x 88, by Terry Potter of Eugene OR


It started to rain just as I came upon the display of quilts by Portland Modern Quilt Guild members. I was able to snap just a few photos, including this one by Linda:

Reflections, 60 x 70, by Linda Nussbaum of Portland OR

. . . and this one by Gail:

Villa Villa Kula Quilt, 63 x 84, by Gail Weiss of Portland OR


The employees of the Stitchin’ Post had their own display, and here are two of my favorites:

Patchwork Sisters by Terri Kirchart of Sisters OR


Quilt Show in the Village by La Cressa Sherrer


In my next post, I’ll tell you a bit about the excellent class on creating quilting motifs that I took from Janet Fogg and show you some amazing machine quilting on quilts at the show. I’ll finish up the report of my wonderful week in Sisters with a recap of what I did (and didn’t) get accomplished. Thanks for visiting, and please check back!


Posted in Sisters OR Outdoor Quilt Show, update | 3 Comments

Her First Quilt

My Little Neighbor, who just turned 10, fell out of a tree in our park a few weeks ago and broke several bones in her left foot. Can you imagine being sidelined in a cast just as summer vacation is starting? Her mom wondered if I might be able to come up with a hand-sewing project to help keep MLN occupied while her foot heals. Hmmm, how about a quilt?

I found some brightly colored squares of Laura Ashley fabric that I’ve had since the 1990s. For some reason, they are 4¾” square – maybe a precursor to the 5” charm squares so popular today. I added some squares of a blue print from my stash for a little variety, and My Little Neighbor and I got together several days ago for her first lesson in making a quilt by hand. Here is the fabric we started out with:

colorful patches


MLN liked my idea for a quilt of 9-patches, so we looked at the fabrics and talked about making sets of three squares. When all of those are sewn together, she’ll join them in 9-patch units and then sew those units together. I showed her how to sew two squares together with a running stitch and then passed the needle over to her. She did a beautiful job on her very first seam! Can you imagine how delighted I was to learn that MLN already knows how to make a tailor’s knot? She learned it in school!

By the end of our first lesson, MLN had sewn her first set of three patches together. Her mom captured the moment:

first three patches


Every day MLN sews a few patches together. Here she is with 12 sets of three patches sewn together:

36 squares and counting!


You can see what a colorful and cheerful quilt this is going to be. Did you notice MLN’s crutches propped up against the table? She gets around very well on them but is longing for the cast to come off. It’s purple, by the way, and I got to sign my name on it in silver ink.

I’ll keep you posted on My Little Neighbor’s progress over the next few weeks. I think she is on track to finish her first quilt before school starts in the fall.




Posted in My Little Neighbor, update | 3 Comments

Anticipation . . .

The weekend can’t come fast enough for me. On Sunday I am heading to Sisters, Oregon with my quilt group, the Quisters.

Sisters, a small town in central Oregon, is home to the largest outdoor quilt show in the world. The show is always held on the second Saturday in July. Last year on that day 1400 quilts were hung all over town and the population of Sisters swelled from about 2000 to 12,000. It’s a wonderful experience to spend the day walking in sunshine with your best friends, oohing and aahing over the spectacular quilts on display.

For the last few years our little group has rented a house for the week preceding the quilt show in order to participate in Quilter’s Affair, a week of quilt classes and events sponsored by the Stitchin’ Post. Classes are taught by local experts, nationally-known teachers, and a few instructors from abroad, and quilters come from all over the world to take their classes.

This year I’m taking a class from Janet Fogg, a world-renowned quilter who happens to live right here in Portland, Oregon. Her class is called Basic Drawing for Machine Quilters. The only things we bring to class are sketchbooks and pens — no sewing machines!  The emphasis is on drawing freehand quilting motifs. I can hardly wait!

My trusty sewing machine is in the shop right now for its annual tune-up (six months late, I confess) so I’m spending this week deciding which projects to take with me to Sisters. Let’s see . . . I have a quilt that needs binding . . .

ready for binding


I want to make a sewing machine cover along the lines of one designed by Monique Dillard of Open Gate Quilts. Instructions are in the August 2012 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting magazine. I have some blocks and fabrics left over from another project that I want to use on that. . .

sewing machine cover pattern


I’m getting reacquainted with some UFOs. (The project bins in my sewing room closet seem to be reproducing at an alarming rate.) Here are the blue and white strips I cut ages ago for that checkerboard square quilt; think I’ll take them along . . .

blue and white strips cut


And I’m still tweaking my newest design, the Monterey Bay Apron. Here is one of my recent versions; I really love this French-inspired bicycle fabric:

work in progress: Monterey Bay apron


It doesn’t look like I will run out of things to work on in Sisters. I’m looking forward to a great week of inspiration, productivity, and fun.

Wishing you all a happy and safe Fourth of July!




Posted in update | 3 Comments