This Time the Dream’s On Me

What’s with the title of my blog post? It’s the name of a 1941 song written by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Johnny Mercer. You’ll understand as you read on . . .

I gave myself the day off today from working in the yard to play in my sewing room.  What do you think of my new pillowcases for the Portland White House?

The main body, accent strip, and flange are from the “Mindscape” line of fabric designed by Katarina Roccella for Art Gallery Fabrics. The apricot-colored band at the bottom of the cases is a treasured piece of “Gypsy Girl” designed by Joanna Figueroa of Fig Tree & Company. If these four fabrics look familiar, it’s because I’m using them in my current Work-in-Progress, which I wrote about here.

That WIP has been on the back burner for most of May because the Dear Husband and I have been taking advantage of an unusually long stretch of warm dry weather to work outside. In a perverse sort of way, I’m wishing for a little rain to come our way so I can spend more time in my sewing room. Kidding! (Well, maybe not . . .)

It feels so good to finish a project. Pillowcases provide a fast way to achieve sewing satisfaction. Not instant gratification but pretty darn close. By the way, I followed my own tutorial to make what I call “Perfect Pillowcases.”

I’ll bet you can guess what the DH and I are sleeping on tonight! I predict sweet dreams.




Posted in family, home dec, pillowcases, roll-it-up pillowcases, tutorial, update | 9 Comments

“Hello in there, hello”

Hello, friends. Are you wondering where I’ve been? It seems like ages since I published a post. The good news is I finally have something quilty to post about:

It’s been six weeks since I made the binding for my ’30s reproduction quilt, Vintage Vignettes, but I didn’t actually get the binding sewn on until yesterday. This morning I joined the loose ends of the binding to complete the final seam . . .

. . . and sewed the remainder of the binding in place.

Then I started tacking down the binding on the back, a process I really enjoy:

As soon as I arranged the quilt on my ironing board to take a picture, Coco put in an appearance:

Her right paw is on top of the spot where I starting tacking down the binding. I always like to start near a corner to get the first of the mitered corners out of the way. So far I’ve stitched seven inches. Let’s see, now . . . this quilt measures 80″ x 92″. That means I only have 337 inches to go!




Posted in '30s reproduction fabrics, update, vintage quilts | 4 Comments

“Coming Soon,” She Said: A Tutorial on Y-Seams

When I started my First Light Designs website/blog in 2012, I created a “Tutorials” link at the top of my home page. One of the first tutorials I planned was on sewing Y-seams, formed when three seams meet at one junction; when stitched together the seams form the letter Y. Although the prospect of sewing Y-seams terrifies many quilters, I’ve never had an issue with them, probably because when I started making them in the 1990s I didn’t know they were to be feared. Ignorance is bliss, so they say.

In the last 13  years I’ve written 24 tutorials, which you can see here, and not a single one is about Y-seams. Now the time has come to write that tutorial. Why now? Well, I’m scheduled to give a demonstration on Y-seams at an upcoming meeting of my quilt guild, the Metropolitan Patchwork Society. Our meetings are hybrid now, with in-person presentations also available over Zoom in real time. I need to do a PowerPoint presentation for the Zoom portion and figure it will be easy to turn the PowerPoint into a picture-heavy tutorial on my blog.

I’ve decided to use the classic Bow Tie block to demonstrate my method, which differs from all others I’ve seen. It’s been years since I made any Bow Tie blocks but I knew I had some tucked away in a drawer. Imagine my surprise to find five dozen 6″ Bow Tie blocks! And a baggie filled with pieces already cut to make at least that many more!

I have no idea why I made so many blocks. Maybe I was just trying to use up some of those ditsy prints I bought in the 1980s. So what do you think? Should I turn these blocks into a quilt? Many of the prints are not ones I would buy now but they do have a sort of vintage charm. And the photo at the top of this post is giving me an idea for a setting . . .




Posted in bowties, Metropolitan Patchwork Society, update, vintage quilts | 4 Comments

More “Georgie Quilt” Blocks

I have a few more Georgie Quilt blocks to share with you. Not as many as I would like because something important happened in Portland, Oregon this week to keep me out of my sewing room. Can you guess what it was? Spring finally arrived! The Dear Husband and I have been taking advantage of the sunshine and warm temperatures (in the 60s, 70s, and even 80s) to work in the front and back yards cleaning up the flower and vegetable beds in preparation for planting. There’s a lot more to do but we’re off to a good start.

Here are my latest quilt blocks:

Each one of these blocks has an identical twin because I’m making two at a time using the Cat’s Cradle XL ruler by Creative Grids.

I wound up remaking Block 1:

Why, you ask? Two reasons: One, I eliminated a seam in the upper left corner. See Version 1 here:

Two (and this is the more important one), after making my first block with the Grunge fabric that I described in a previous post as a “creamy white,” I realized that the fabric has a slightly yellow cast to it. The white in the “Mindscape” fabrics I am using is a very soft white, which is why I didn’t choose a bright white background fabric.

Much to my delight, I discovered that the wrong side of the Grunge fabric is missing that yellow cast and has the additional advantage of being a bit softer in terms of visual texture. You may not be able to tell from the photos but there’s a definite difference.

I’m up to 14 blocks and confess I’m at that stage where I’m starting to doubt my choice of fabrics and pattern. (Does this ever happen to you?) I’ve put the blocks up on my design wall and am asking myself the usual questions. Are these fabrics and the ones I have introduced from my stash going to work as well as I thought? Is there too much contrast between the values? Do the fabrics do justice to the pattern, and vice versa?

This project is a bit out of my comfort zone. I need to trust that my version of the Georgie Quilt, which is less scrappy and more muted than the quilt on the pattern cover, will look just fine when I’m done. Fingers crossed.




Posted in Cat's Cradle block, North Wind block, update | 3 Comments

It’s a Go!

Here’s another block in my brand new quilt project:

Do you recognize it? It’s the traditional North Wind block, sometimes written as Northwind. I found this striking two-color version (unquilted) on Pinterest recently:

Made by a woman named Elizabeth Thomas, it measures 84″ x 94″. The quilt top was given to the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane, Washington in 1972 and is part of the museum’s regional history collection.

I love the look of this traditional version. I may have to make one someday. But for now I’m heading in a slightly different direction. That’s because I saw how Erica Jackman of Kitchen Table Quilting put a contemporary spin on the North Wind block in her pattern The Georgie Quilt:

Her clever use of color and block orientation yielded a design with energy and movement. Do you see how the white corner triangles are oriented in such a way as to create a streak of lightning effect? It’s especially pronounced on the rainbow version you see on the right above.

Initially I had my eye on a different pattern by Erica Jackman to showcase the fabrics I bought recently from Katarina Roccella’s “Mindscape” fabric line. I couldn’t decide on which pattern . . . so I bought both. I ended up choosing The Georgie Quilt pattern for this project mainly because the large corner triangles in the 12″ finished blocks show off the fabric prints so beautifully.

Here are my first four blocks:

Why the duplicate blocks? Well, Erica Jackman’s cover quilt has duplicate blocks but there’s a second reason. The directions call for cutting squares in half on the diagonal and sewing the resulting triangles with bias seams. I avoid sewing triangles together on the bias whenever possible because it’s difficult to stitch and press bias seams without some distortion.

In analyzing the block construction, I spied with my little eye the Split Cat’s Cradle block inside it. Take a look at my fifth block, which reverses the positions of the two focus fabrics from blocks three and four:

Now look at the entire block; you’ll be able to spot the Split Cat’s Cradle right away:

I knew immediately I could use a specialty ruler, the Cat’s Cradle XL Tool from Creative Grids, which makes it possible to make two blocks at a time out of squares and rectangles without ever cutting a single triangle:

I bought the original Cat’s Cradle Tool when it first came out in 2015; it makes Cat’s Cradle blocks up to 4″ square. The XL Tool, which came out in 2018, makes blocks that finish 4½” to 8″ square. The largest size is just what I needed for my North Wind blocks.

This is going to be such a fun project. I can’t wait to dip into my “Mindscape” stash to create some more blocks — especially when I can make two in the time I would normally make one!




Posted in Cat's Cradle block, North Wind block, update | 6 Comments

The Start of Something Big?

Maybe! This is a 12½” square test block I made today to see if I want to proceed with making an entire quilt:

Do you recognize that luscious print of apricots on the tree? It’s one of the main prints from the line I was swooning about a few weeks ago, “Mindscape” by Katarina Roccella:

I paired her fabric with a treasured print from an old Fig Tree line called “Gypsy Rose” that I’ve been hoarding since it came out in 2008 or 2009. Equally swoonworthy! I love both of those fabrics so much it was really hard for me to cut into them, especially “Gypsy Rose.” I just had to do it, though — it goes so well with the “Mindscape” print. The background fabric on my test block is a creamy white Grunge by Basic Grey.

If this project proceeds, it will contain several of the “Mindscape” prints and a few other fabrics from my stash that I think will play nicely with them. “Controlled scrappy,” that’s what I’m thinking. I’ll be back in a few days to report on my progress. I hope you’ll stop by to check it out.




Posted in update | 6 Comments

Binding Dilemma Solved

At what point does a WIP (work-in-progress) become a UFO (unfinished object?). It was early December 2022 when I last posted about one of my WIPs, a ’30s reproduction quilt top made some 20 years ago by my friend Vivienne, finished by me, and quilted by Karlee Sandell. I was speculating on my options for binding fabric, knowing the final choice needed to go well with the border fabric and the various ’30s repro fabrics within the quilt:

I figured it would be a cinch to find a medium-light solid blue, Alas, I visited three quilt shops and came home empty-handed each time. None of the shops had just the right shade of blue. I did have enough of the border print to bind the quilt but I was stubbornly holding out for a solid to frame the quilt.

Months passed. My WIP was dangerously close to becoming a UFO. To the rescue came a quilting friend, Sue H., who had inherited a friend’s vast stash of fabrics. The stash included a bin of ’30s reproduction prints and solids. Sue told me she thought there was a blue in the bin that might work. I admit to being dubious but when she brought me the piece of fabric last week, I had a glimmer of hope.

Sure enough, when I got home and put the fabric next to the quilt, I nearly jumped for joy: it was a nearly perfect match! Today I cut my binding strips and sewed them together:

It’s likely this blue was part of a ’30s reproduction line — but it’s also possible it’s a true vintage fabric. We’ll never know for sure. All I know is that the quilt I’ve already named Vintage Vignettes is closer to being completed. Thank you so much, Sue! Aren’t quilty friends the best?




Posted in '30s reproduction fabrics, update, vintage quilts | 6 Comments

It’s A Wrap: September Song

September Song is complete. It’s in the washing machine as I write this. I couldn’t wait to show it to you, even if it’s not in its absolute finished condition. (You know how I love the puckery look of a freshly laundered quilt.)

Once the label was made . . .

. . . I fused it to the back of the quilt and then stitched around the outer edge by hand:

Don’t you think September Song looks good on my couch? I may have to add it to my rotation. As I was taking photos, You-Know-Who came along to fulfill her usual role of photobomber:

Don’t be fooled, though. Coco couldn’t care less about my quilt. She’s giving me that look because she thinks it’s dinnertime.




Posted in cats, leaf block, quilt labels, update | 10 Comments

Opening Day

Cue the music to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” That’s right, today is the official opening day of Major League Baseball. Several games are being televised all day long and into the evening. At some point the Dear Husband and I will settle in front of the TV for at least one game. That will be a great time for me to continue binding September Song, my current Work-in-Progress:

Progress has been slow, as I have been very busy these last weeks with volunteer committee work and running a household. It seems every day has a task or an obligation that keeps me from my sewing room. But binding? I can work on that in just about any room in the house, and even a few minutes with needle and thread produces a measurable result. I’m really loving the way the brick red vine print I’m using for the binding is framing the quilt. It stands out nicely against the buttery yellow background fabric, don’t you think?

Unlike some quiltmakers, I enjoy hand binding my quilts. It’s a slow contemplative process, allowing me to enjoy each moment and let my mind wander. What will I do with my latest fabric acquisitions? Do I want to try a new recipe for dinner tonight? Will it ever warm up enough to work in the garden? What songs should I add to my playlists? What’s the next project on my spring cleaning list? You get the idea.

I usually listen to music when I’m sewing but I have an app on my iPad that allows me to listen to any live minor league or major league game. Chances are the next few times I am ensconced in my sewing room, I’ll either be listening to songs from the Great American Songbook or a baseball game. Go Mariners!




Posted in family, leaf block, update | 5 Comments

“A Swirling Fall Breeze”

That’s what my twin sister Diane said when she saw a photo of the quilting on my latest quilt, September Song, newly back from the longarm quilter. See for yourself:

Here’s the funny thing:  I picked the swirly motif — an edge-to-edge design called “Curlicue” by TK Quilting & Design II — for two reasons.

First, I almost always choose a quilting motif with curves when my quilt blocks have a lot of straight or diagonal lines. These leaves are made mostly of rectangles with foldover corners (also known as stitch-and-flip corners).

Second, I loved the way the quilting design mimicked the curves in one of the two main focus fabrics:

It never occurred to me that the quilt design would also evoke a “swirling fall breeze,” but Diane’s comment was spot on. I immediately thought of the times I have seen a single leaf caught in an updraft, causing it to spin slowly down to earth. Maybe that’s what designer Margot Languedoc of the Pattern Basket had in mind when she named her pattern Forest Floor.

I think the quilting design on September Song is absolutely perfect, don’t you? As usual, Karlee at SewInspired2Day did a lovely job quilting this for me.

I also appreciate how the quilting lines stand out in the small star in the center of each leaf block:


The back was pieced from leftovers of my two focus fabrics with a few other prints used on the front:

The plan was to try a new piecing technique for the backing using a length of fabric cut corner to corner on the bias but my quilt top was too large to make it work well. I’ll save that technique to explore on a smaller quilt.

September Song measures 53″ x 58″ after quilting and trimming. I’m going to bind it with one of the brick red prints I used on the front. Happily, I have just enough of the tone-on-tone print with tiny vines, carrying my “swirling fall breeze” theme to its ultimate conclusion.




Posted in family, leaf block, stitch-and-flip corners, update | 8 Comments