Greetings from Norcross, Georgia, the Atlanta suburb where my twin sister Diane and her husband Ed live. My husband and I are here for our annual Thanksgiving visit spanning two weeks. We’ve already been here a week. The time is going by way too fast!
Before we left Portland, Diane asked if I would bring fabric to make a pair of what she calls “Dawn pillowcases” as a thank you gift for a friend of hers. These are pillowcases made in such a way that all seams are enclosed. You may know them as burrito or roll-it-up pillowcases (see my tutorial here.) I love to have a sewing project to work on while I am here so of course I said yes.
Diane figured I would have something appropriate in my stash. (How well she knows me!) I texted her photos of possible fabrics and she quickly zeroed in on this lovely sage and cream toile from Timeless Treasures that I’ve had for a few years:
I brought several other fabrics as candidates for contrast strips, flanges, and bottom bands. Diane chose a narrow stripe for the flange and a small leaf print for the band, deciding against a third fabric for a contrast strip between the flange and the body of the pillowcase. This is the result:
The pillowcases are pictured on the bed in the main floor guest room, whose bedspread and quilt (the latter made by moi several years ago) match the cases perfectly.
As it happened, I didn’t have quite enough of the leaf fabric to make two bands without having to piece them. I used strips of the toile to do that. Take a peek inside a pillowcase:
Here’s a close-up of the inside:
I stitched the seam allowances down so they will stay flat when the pillowcases are washed.
Diane arranged the cases in a lovely gift box:
They’ll be in the mail tomorrow.
I had five yards of that toile; perhaps I was thinking of it as a potential quilt backing. There’s enough left to make two more sets of pillowcases — one for Diane’s guest room (since we know how well the pillowcases go with the furnishings) and one for the Portland White House. I’m thankful for that!
With a new Junior Billie Bag in my sewing room and a coordinating tool caddy, it was just a matter of time before I gave into the temptation to complete the suite of accessories. Pictured with the tool caddy below are a scissors case, a rotary cutter coat, and a fabric box:
I love these fabrics and colors so much!
You can find picture-heavy tutorials for the scissors case and rotary cutter coat under the Tutorials link at the top of my home page . . . or you can just click on this link.
Speaking of Junior Billie Bag accessories, I forgot to show you the tool caddy I made recently to go with the JBB completed last spring for a class I was teaching:
My friend Cheryl S. was the surprise recipient of this JBB and tool caddy when we were together at Quilt Camp earlier this month.
I’m so ready to shift gears! There’s a new-ish project I’m eager to get back to as soon as I finish up a couple of ongoing projects. And as my twin sister Diane keeps reminding me, the newly remodeled kitchen won’t be complete until I make those valances . . .
I put the finishing touches on my latest Junior Billie Bag yesterday. Take a look at #10:
I can’t decide which view I like better! The block on the left is a Sawtooth Star with a Churn Dash in the center. The block on the right features an inset circle set off by a narrow flange. It’s hard to see from the photo that I used a variegated thread of blues and greens to quilt lines radiating from the circle.
I’ve used both block designs before in other projects (including other Junior Billie Bags) because I really like to make them.
Coco the Cat Inspector approves:
She found it so comfortable that she actually took a little catnap, which is why I don’t have a picture of the inside pockets to show you just now.
This JBB is one that I’m keeping for myself. It’s already loaded with my favorite rulers and other essential tools, as is the coordinating tool caddy I made from the Travel Case pattern from p3designs.com:
I made a few modifications, including the addition of a fourth pocket.
This is what it looks like closed:
I keep it in a plastic brochure rack so that it is always upright, with my smaller tools right at hand.
Still to come: the other accessories I like to make with each Junior Billie Bag, including a rotary cutter coat, a scissors case, and a 4″ square fabric used as a thread catcher.
A rather cryptic title for a blog post, I know, but regular readers know what it means. My latest Junior Billie Bag in-the-making has gone three-dimensional:
As I’ve mentioned before, this is my favorite part of the process, when a series of flat panels like this . . .
. . . and this . . .
. . . and this . . .
. . . are transformed into the quintessential quilter’s tote known as the Junior Billie Bag.
Junior Billie Bags (JBBs for short) have been a frequent topic on my blog since I started teaching Billie Mahorney’s design three years ago. I have been asked many times about a pattern for this tote but Billie, who owns the copyright on the design, never wanted to create a pattern.
Teaching her design in a hands-on class is by far the best way to go because I can share tips and techniques that have come to me through experience and also troubleshoot problems my students may encounter, just as Billie did when she was teaching. I’m so sorry that quilters across the country and beyond who have seen pictures of various JBBs on my blog don’t have the opportunity to create one of their own.
As I was snapping photos for this post, a little white paw made its way into the frame:
This Scotch lassie is only 3½” tall and less than 2″ wide. Isn’t she adorable? She was made from an egg — an egg! — by my husband’s daughter Barbie when she was a young girl.
The Scotch lass joins two other little egg dolls, also made by Barbie, that have been gracing my sewing room for several years:
When Barbie’s mother died in 2008, these little treasures were found tucked away in a box in her home. Happily for me, Barbie brought them to the Portland White House where they have been lovingly displayed on a shelf in my sewing room. The latest addition turned up recently in a box at the home of my husband’s son Mike, no doubt brought there after his mother’s passing.
(I should note that Mike and Barbie are just a few years younger than I am. I married their father when I was 30 and they were in their 20s. That was almost 40 years ago. . .)
I asked Barbie how she learned to make these dolls and how old she was when she made them. It turns out Barbie and her best friend Bonnie — namesake of Barbie’s older daughter, now 19 — made dozens of these around the time they were in 7th to 9th grades. This was in the mid to late 1960s, which means these dolls are around 50 years old.
“Bonnie and I always enjoyed doing crafty things,” recalled Barbie. ‘We used to make little one-inch dolls out of felt for our bigger dolls. These tiny dolls were stuffed and had embroidered eyes or eyes made from beads. We used ‘weaving loom loops’ made for kids and shaped them for hair.” Barbie noted that the flowers on the hat of the doll above right were made from weaving loom loops.
(Weaving loom loops. That rang a bell. I remember making a potholder for my grandmother with one of those weaving loom kits when I was a kid. It was red and grey, a color combo I love to this day.)
I am amazed at the artistry and creativity behind these egg dolls. How did they do it? “No one helped us,” said Barbie. “All logistical problems we solved ourselves. I think Grace may have shown us how to puncture and blow out the raw eggs. But that was it.”
The detail on these dolls is amazing. Look at their hair, their clothing, their hats. “Bonnie’s mom Grace sewed so there were always plenty of fabric scraps around,” said Barbie. The girls drew the faces on with watercolors although Barbie thinks they may have also used crayons and felt tip markers.
The care with which Bonnie and Barbie created their egg dolls extends 360 degrees. Look at the backs of the dolls:
As I examined these egg dolls again today, I realized that the shoulders of the dolls are made from egg cartons.
“That’s right,” said Barbie. “Cut and upside down, with felt cut and glued on the bottom. We may have added something for weight on the inside.”
These three dolls are all that remain of the dozens that Bonnie and Barbie crafted together. It’s pretty miraculous that they have survived half a century. I love having them on display in my sewing room but I know they are not mine to keep. As I reminded Barbie today, “You know these belong to you. I consider myself a lucky temporary custodian!”
In my last post you saw one of the front/back panels of my current Junior Billie Bag under construction. The second panel is now done. It’s the one on the left in this photo:
I love the look of the small Churn Dash block inside the Sawtooth Star block. I first saw this combination in a quilt by Jenifer Gaston called Churning Stars and liked it so well I used it on my most recent Junior Billie Bag. (Someday I’ll make an entire quilt from this block design but that’s on the back burner for now.)
In the center of the Churn Dash in the photo above is a fussycut square from my focus fabric, a vibrant floral print from In the Beginning Fabrics. You see much more of the floral design in the first panel, which features an inset circle framed by turquoise flanges.
I used the same floral fabric to make two small pockets that go on the outside of the bag on one of the side panels. Those are on the left in this photo:
The other glimpses of fabric are some of the interior pockets. This bag has lots and lots of pockets! It’s been fun diving into my stash to audition these fabric combinations. The most difficult thing is making decisions about which fabrics to use. You may have noticed I like to combine batiks with woven cottons.
The next time you see Junior Billie Bag #10, it will be three-dimensional. I hope you’ll check back soon to see the transformation.
Can you believe I’m up to #10 already? I had already made two Junior Billie Bags when I started teaching the class in 2016. Seven classes, seven more bags. (You can see them all here.)
I make a new bag with each class so I can show the students the individual components of the JBB and how they go together. Then I assemble the bag right along with the students so that I have a finished product the same time they do.
I’m doing the prep work for my eighth class, coming up next week. I have only one of the two front/back panels done so far because I haven’t yet decided what I want to do for the other panel. My focus fabric is a gorgeous floral from the “Unusual Garden” line by Jason Yenter of In the Beginning Fabrics. Here’s a better look at it, along with the fabrics I pulled from my stash for straps and pockets:
My plan this time is to leave the bag unassembled so that I can use it in future classes. My worry is that I’m going to love the components so much I won’t be able to resist sewing it together!
Give Me the Simple Life, my version of Hazel’s Diary Quilt, is home again after hanging for three days at last week’s Northwest Quilting Expo. I entered my quilt for judging in the traditional category and received the judges’ comments when I picked my quilt up this morning.
Here’s what the judges said:
“A very compelling combination of a primary color palette. Presentation inside scalloped sashings is so appealing and beautifully executed.” Credit is due Shelly Pagliai of Prairie Moon Quilts, who designed Hazel’s Diary Quilt and cheered me on every step of the way as I posted my progress on Instagram and on this blog.
“Hand appliqué stitch is very well done.” This comment means a lot to me because I took on the challenge of making this quilt to become proficient at needleturn appliqué.
“Machine piecing is precisely done.” Thank you, judges.
“Quilting motifs are well chosen to fill the spaces.” Kudos to Kazumi Peterson, whose free motion quilting skills and precise ruler work greatly enhanced the finished product.
“Outside edge of quilt should be straight and corners square.” This comment caught me by surprise. Were the corners really not square? I used a square ruler to trim my quilt before attaching the binding. Of course I got out that ruler and checked the corners. The first three were perfectly square. But guess what? The fourth corner was an eighth of an inch off!
I know there are many other imperfections in this quilt but all in all, I am very happy with how it turned out. Most of all, I am glad that it’s done!!
Yesterday found me happily wandering around NW Quilting Expo, now in its 19th year, out at Delta Park in Portland. Hundreds of quilts were on display, including mine and several made by friends, fellow quilt guild members, and students.
Given my recent experience with needleturn appliqué, I found myself looking more closely at quilts featuring appliqué. There were some stunners, that’s for sure! Let’s look at a few of them:
Detail of Audra Rasnake’s Hosanna:
Detail of Sharon Engel’s Spring Explosion:
Here’s a fun one made by Judy Liebo, one of the featured quilters:
Judy reproduced Disney princesses (with permission), replacing the faces with photos of her granddaughters. Check out Tinkerbelle — that’s Judy’s face — in the upper right corner:
Here’s my quilt:
Among the other quilts that caught my eye:
Here’s another of featured quilter Judy Liebo’s whimsical challenge quilts . . .
. . . and here’s Judy herself with another one:
Linda Reinert, a fellow teacher at Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego, was another featured quilter. Here’s Linda with her husband’s favorite quilt:
This one was also made by Linda as part of a group challenge on the theme of architecture:
Look at the beautiful embroidery in this detail of Marcia Sanderman’s award-winning quilt:
Here’s a look at the entire quilt:
I hope you enjoyed seeing a few of the quilts that caught my fancy at the show. If you are anywhere in the vicinity, I highly recommend that you visit NW Quilting Expo today or tomorrow. If that’s not in the cards, you can see videos and photos on NWQE’s Instagram page. Sometime soon photos of all the winning quilts will be pictured on NWQE’s website.