Well, friends, many a Friday has come and gone since my last Friday Finish so I am extra happy to show off my latest Junior Billie Bag. First one side . . .
. . . and then the other:
I’m not sure which one I like better! How about you?
In the next two photos you can see (sort of) the exterior pockets on each side:
I sure do like how the striped binding frames the front and back panels. You can see that I used it on the straps and exterior pockets on one side, too.
It’s so much fun to customize these quilter’s totes. I’ve used a variety of 12″ blocks in the nine Junior Billie Bags I’ve made and I’ve also played around with the size and number of exterior pockets. Speaking of pockets, here’s a shot from the top down that shows the interior pockets as well as the second set of handles, the smaller ones that allow you to carry the JBB like a satchel:
Here’s a shout out to Billie Mahorney, the designer of the Junior Billie Bag and my mentor. It’s easy to see why I often refer to the JBB as “the quintessential quilter’s tote.”
If you’d like to see the other ones I’ve made, clicking here will take you to the Junior Billie Bag page in my Gallery.
There’s just something about blue and white kitchens. I adore blue and white quilts so it makes perfect sense. The kitchen we just demolished was primarily blue and white. My new kitchen will be the same — but quite different from its predecessor.
This fabric swatch — and the accompanying paint swatch — were my color inspiration:
The fabric is from the “Breath of Avignon” line designed for Moda Fabrics some years ago by Sandy Klop of American Jane Patterns. It’s been in my stash for years. I’ve even used some of it: for an apron and a Quiltmaking 101 class sample. Happily, I have lots of this fabric left because I want to make a big quilt out of it someday.
And I may want to use some of it for tailored window valances in the new kitchen. That’s why I looked for shades of blue paint that matched the fabric. After some searching I found the perfect shade. The blue on the far right (“Bluer than Blue” by Valspar) will play a prominent role in the new kitchen. Walls? Nope. The lower cabinets will be painted this medium dark blue (actually a bit darker than it looks in the photo above), with white upper cabinets.
This is what my kitchen looked like at the end of Week 2:
Looking toward the southeast corner
Looking toward the southwest corner
By the way, the full autograph on the chimney surround was revealed last week and it is indeed C. Schmidt:
Looking at the north wall
A team of three HVAC guys came early in the week to prepare the venting for the range hood insert, which will be covered with custom cabinetry (one of the splurges on this project, for which I can thank my twin Diane).
The outside walls are newly insulated and the drywall work is almost complete. We were hoping to have the flooring installed by week’s end but the mudding on the walls and ceiling was more extensive than my contractor had anticipated.
If you look back at the first photo, you’ll notice three small circles in the ceiling above the windows. We are going to have mini pendant lights there! Behold:
Isn’t that gorgeous? I’m a little worried about the size of the globe — almost 9″ long and 9″ wide — but the salesperson at the lighting store assures me the size of the fixture is suitable for the space. I sure hope so because these lights were another splurge.
This week the walls will be sanded and painted and we will have a new floor. I’ll tell you all about my flooring choice after it’s in and you can get a good look at it.
Last week marked the official start of our kitchen remodel. This is what the kitchen looked like Monday morning before the demo crew arrived:
Looking toward the southeast corner
Looking toward the southwest corner
In the first picture, you can see that the trim around the windows has already been removed. My contractor did that a couple weeks ago to get the exact measurements he needed for the new windows. You can also see what looks like a hole in the upper right side of the soffit over the kitchen sink. It is a hole. We needed to confirm that the soffit could be removed and the best way to do that was to knock a hole in it to look inside!
(I really wanted that soffit removed in the last remodel but my then-contractor was strangely reluctant to take it off. I wish now I had insisted on it because I would have gained much more storage space on the south wall. That’s one design issue that is being rectified in this remodel.)
Here’s a look at the kitchen after the demo:
Looking toward the southeast corner
Looking toward the southwest corner
My contractor determined the original ceiling was dropped about 10″ at some point, perhaps when the soffits were installed. Raising the ceiling to its original height now would be an expensive proposition because of existing second story plumbing so we’ll leave it as is.
On the west wall the demo exposed writing on the concrete surrounding the furnace. We knew the house was built in 1913. Now we have an exact date . . .
. . . although we don’t know what it signifies. We also see a partial name: C. Schmi. I’m guessing it’s Schmidt. Could he be the worker who encased the chimney in concrete in a “Kilroy was here” moment? I guess we’ll never know.
By the way, I completely forgot to take a picture of the north wall of the kitchen. Here it is before I emptied all the cupboards and took down the wall decorations:
The electricians were here all day last Thursday completely rewiring the kitchen and doing some rewiring in the basement pantry. The electrical inspector came Friday and gave his stamp of approval.
The old refrigerator has been moved down to the pantry and is already in use. And the new refrigerator? We plugged it in last week — in the dining room! It’s the logical spot for it as we have set up a temporary kitchen there.
I hope you’ll come back soon to see what happens in Week 2!
Isn’t that a pretty teapot? The pattern is called English Scenery. It was made by Enoch Wood and Sons, one of the many Staffordshire potteries in the United Kingdom. This teapot probably dates to the middle of the last century. At one point, about 25 years ago, I thought I might start a collection. Ultimately I decided not to — because I was already collecting English Scenery in the blue and white version! I have almost a full set and use it every day.
Now I’m in the process of paring down (yes, Marie Kondo had something to do with that). My pink and white teapot was among the items I was prepared to part with. I was getting ready to donate it to charity when I thought of Jera Brandvik.
Jera is a quilter, author, and fabric designer living in Seattle with her husband and two darling boys. (Her website is Quilting in the Rain.) I follow Jera on Instagram, where I occasionally catch glimpses of pink and white transferware in photos of her lovely home. It occurred to me that Jera might like to have this teapot. I asked her and she said “yes!” immediately.
As we corresponded via email, Jera asked me if I had her books. No, I replied, though I’ve been on the lookout for them. It seems that the quilt shops I’ve visited in the last couple of years don’t carry many books. Although I sent my teapot to Jera without expecting anything in return, a few days later look what arrived in the mail:
Not just one but both of her books! She even inscribed them to me — such a thoughtful touch. I have been thoroughly enjoying reading through the books and have decided that I really need to give Quilt-As-You-Go techniques a try now that I have these great resources.
Thank you, Jera! I hope you enjoy your teapot as much as I enjoy my books.
Question: What could be more wonderful than finding a happy surprise in your mailbox? Answer: Finding two happy surprises.
Last week a package arrived from my friend Deborah, a fellow member of our small quilt group the Quisters (Quilt Sisters). Look what was inside:
If you are a fan of wool appliqué and the designs of Bonnie Sullivan of All Through the Night, you will surely recognize this as a block from Bertie’s Year, introduced in 2014. Bertie’s Year is made up of a dozen 13″ x 17″ wool applique projects, one for each month of the year.
The Bertie Deborah made me is the May block. Here’s the entire year:
In the past few years Deborah has made me two other blocks in Bertie’s Year, January . . .
. . . and September:
They never fail to make me smile.
I had never done wool appliqué before but I was so charmed by Bertie that I bought the pattern for July . . .
. . . and wrote this post about it. That was back in 2014.
This is how far I’ve gotten:
I can’t believe it’s been five years since I started this project. I need to bring Bertie out of the closet (so to speak) and get back to work on him. He will definitely be in good company. Thank you, dear Deborah, for the lovely Happy Mail!
Oh yes, I did mention a second surprise in my mailbox. I’ll tell you all about Happy Mail #2 in my next post.
When I wrote a couple weeks ago about our pending kitchen remodel, I described the domino effect that accompanies so many remodels. In this case, our decision to replace three old windows in our kitchen launched the entire project.
I also mentioned a second domino effect. This occurred because we decided to move our current refrigerator to the basement pantry area. A second fridge always comes in handy, and we will be grateful for the extra freezer space when the garden produce comes on like gangbusters in late summer.
When we installed new cabinetry in the kitchen during the last remodel, most of the old cabinets were moved downstairs to the pantry, replacing steel shelving that got moved to the wall behind the furnace. That shelving became the repository for boxes and boxes of . . . stuff, mostly belonging to the Dear Husband. As a history professor with research interests that have continued since his retirement, Charlie has managed to fill dozens of boxes over several decades with newspaper clippings, travel brochures, road maps, magazines, pamphlets, and documents from his university years that may be of interest to the archivist.
The DH is in the process of going through those boxes and recycling a good portion of the contents. He’s doing so to make room for the goods I am taking out of the pantry so that the cupboards and cabinets can be removed to make room for the fridge. I’m also bringing a lot of items downstairs from the kitchen for the duration of the remodel.
Here’s a look at the pantry in the basement:
Those cabinets (except for one set that I’m saving) and all of the cabinets currently in the kitchen will be donated to Habitat for Humanity. That means I need to finish emptying them right now.
Back in August of ’18 I finished the interior of Domestic Bliss, Block 8 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt:
Even as I moved on to other blocks in this retro sampler quilt, I knew I needed to come back to Domestic Bliss and redo the four outer hearts. I had chosen Fairy Frost fabric and found that the metallic finish made the fabric a little stiff and difficult to needleturn. In addition to the curves not being smooth, I had drawn around the templates with a silver gel pen, which showed on my finished block. No amount of dabbing with a damp Q-tip would lift the ink. I now had two good reasons to redo the hearts.
But I didn’t return to Domestic Bliss until the other eight blocks in Hazel’s Diary Quilt had received their red scalloped frames. That took the better part of four months. Finally I could put it off no longer. Off came the hearts:
I wish I could tell you that the replacements hearts went on easily. Alas, no. Over a couple weeks I probably appliquéd — and then removed — each heart at least twice. Today I managed to get the last one on to my (almost) satisfaction.
But I felt the block needed one more thing. Can you spot it?
Now I’m ready to get started on the last red scalloped frame!
You know it would take something major to keep me out of my sewing room.
For the last few weeks I’ve been distracted by a looming project: a major kitchen remodel. It all started with the decision to replace three windows that look out onto the back yard. The windows were installed in 1985 and while they have held up very well given their age, they are now cloudy.
Replacing the windows would require redoing the tile backsplash around them. Might as well replace the counters at the same time. I’ve been wanting to replace the laminate counters we have now with quartz. And oh yes, the flooring has plenty of dings in it from dropped knives so it’s due for an overhaul. The refrigerator is fairly new but the stove and dishwasher are nearing the end of their life expectancy so this is the ideal time to replace them.
You see where this is going, don’t you? It’s the domino effect.
I had really hoped to keep the kitchen cabinets as they’re only 20 years old. They are made of cherry but the stain has not held up well. In fact, the finish is completely gone in places from too much scrubbing, especially around the knobs. I’m afraid the original stain wasn’t applied very well and I haven’t been careful enough in maintaining it.
I looked into having the cupboard doors sanded and restained but they would not match the rest of the cabinetry, which has darkened over time. Having the cabinetry painted was an option but in the end I decided against it.
Going with all new cabinetry adds considerably to the final price tag but it means we can address some design issues. It also means that everything in the kitchen will be updated at the same time, an important consideration when it comes to selling the house down the road.
Far down the road, I trust. The Dear Husband and I have lived in this house our entire married life, almost 38 years. While I hope we have many more years here, it seems prudent at this stage of our lives to be thinking about what will make our house more attractive to potential buyers. The return on investment for kitchen remodels is quite high — around 80% according to some websites — so the DH and I took a big gulp and decided to go for it.
I’ve been poring over kitchen design magazines and photos on Houzz.com, walking the aisles at appliance stores, reviewing options for flooring, counters, backsplash tile, pendant lights — and lying awake at night thinking about it all. Usually when I can’t sleep my mind wanders to quilt projects. You see how distracted I’ve become.
I wonder how many kitchen remodels start with replacing one thing and end with a complete overhaul. In our case there’s a second domino effect. I’ll tell you all about it soon.
Today is National Quilting Day, a celebration of all things related to — of course! — quilting.
It seems fitting to celebrate with a shoutout to Billie Mahorney, who taught me so much about quiltmaking. I took classes from Billie at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop from 2005 until 2009, when she retired and moved to Idaho. How I wish I had discovered her sooner!
Here I am with Billie’s Star, the quilt I designed and made in 2015 in homage to Billie:
Among the many tools and techniques I learned from Billie were how to draft a quilt block and how to get sharp points on my stars — two things that came in very handy while making this quilt.
To read more about the making of Billie’s Star, click on this link.
To read more about National Quilting Day, click here.