Category Archives: family

Garage Glamour Update

I’ve been working at a leisurely pace on my current sewing project for my twin sister Diane’s garage windows. (That’s another way of saying I am easily distracted by any and all invitations to play Scrabble.) Here’s a look at the first valance in place:

As mentioned in my last post, the plan was to make gathered valances attached to a flat rod pocket accented with grey grosgrain ribbon. I was going to make the rod pocket the width of the grosgrain ribbon — 1-1/2″ — but then realized that if I centered the ribbon on a larger piece of contrasting fabric it would make the grosgrain ribbon really stand out.

Here’s a close-up of the valance in process. You can see the grosgrain ribbon has been attached to a strip of yellow gold fabric:

(Pay no attention to the fabric in the background. It was used to cover Diane’s ironing board.) That yellow gold fabric? It was left over from another project I made for Diane at least 10 years ago, the valance over the kitchen window:

The rod pocket trim fabric is almost the same color as the garage walls and ties in nicely with the gray and gold patterned rug at the door leading into the house:

This picture is also proof that Diane and Ed actually do park their cars in the garage! Diane wants me to explain that she wants a nice looking garage because 99% of the people who visit enter the house through the garage rather than climbing 26 steps to the front door. Earlier this year Diane and Ed had the oil-stained cement floor treated so it could be covered with a multilayered epoxy treatment. It certainly elevated the look of the garage, and Diane reports the floor is easy to clean.

The second valance is finished but our project is not quite done. Both Diane and I don’t like the fact that the brackets holding the curtain rods are visible and have devised a plan to block them from view. (Stay tuned for the final reveal.)

My friends already know I’m a bit obsessive-compulsive. Now you know: it’s a twin thing.

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, Scrabble, update, valance | 5 Comments

Garage Glamour

Greetings from Georgia, where my husband Charlie (aka the Dear Husband) and I are enjoying our annual visit over Thanksgiving with my twin Diane and her Dear Husband, Ed. As usual I have a home dec project to work on and this time the site is the garage, of all places.

Several years ago Diane bought a pair of beautifully made custom valances at a garage sale (how appropriate), although I’m certain the valances initially adorned an interior room. The valances featured a charming toile print with a gathered ticking stripe underneath. After years in the garage the striped ticking disintegrated from exposure to sun streaming in through the windows but the tailored valances survived. Take a look:

Diane framed vintage images of scenes from Portland and the Columbia River Gorge to remind her of her native Oregon:

But I digress. Here’s a close-up of one of the valances:

Now it’s time to replace them. (By the way, have you ever seen such a clean garage? Mine sure doesn’t look like that!)

Last week my twin and I went shopping not only for her valances but for valances I am going to make for our stepmother — my next home dec project. Diane and I found fabrics for both at the very first place on our list. This is Diane’s valance fabric, a lovely floral linen print:

The plan is to make valances that are softly gathered at the top and bottom and to accent the rod pocket with grey grosgrain ribbon. I’m going to line the valances with whiteout fabric to add body and protect the linen from the ravages of the sun.

And what of the valances we took down? They are still in good shape. And we have an idea on how they might be repurposed elsewhere in Diane and Ed’s home. Subject of a future post, no doubt!

 

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, update, valance | 9 Comments

My Feedbag Face Mask, Modified

I made myself a new face mask yesterday using the excellent free mask pattern from SeeKateSew. In the process I made a second modification that not only makes the mask fit my face better, it also eliminates one of the final sewing steps. Gotta love that! Here’s a look at my new mask:

Kate calls her design the 3D Mask but in my family it’s known as the Feedbag Face Mask, thanks to an observation my twin sister Diane made last year about my first effort involving a rather unfortunate choice of mask fabric on my part:

(You can read about it here. It still makes me laugh when I see that photo.)

Kate’s pattern is essentially an elongated octagon. I extended the ends to allow for a wider casing for the earloops. That was my first modification, made last year. What you see below is her pattern along with the freezer paper pattern I made from it:

Through folding and stitching, the flat pattern is transformed into three sections (still in one piece). The top section goes across the nose, the middle section over the mouth, and the bottom section under the chin. The mask becomes three-dimensional when pleats are made along the ends of the top and bottom sections next to the casing. This photo of a mask I made last year shows what I mean:

You can also see the channel at the top of the mask where a nosewire can be inserted.

On my latest mask I omitted the pleats at the top section. One result is that the top of the mask comes up a bit higher on my face but another — and better — result is greater comfort. That’s because the nosewire, which gets pressed across the bridge of my nose, fits along the top of my cheeks better. My older masks tend to leave indentations in my skin from the nosewires because the pleating at the top pulls the masks tighter across my face. My modified mask is still slightly boxy (and still snug) at the top while the greater boxiness at the bottom makes the mask fit nicely under my chin.

As long as the need to wear masks continues, we might as well go in style, right? For me that means fun fabrics and comfort.

 

 

 

Posted in face masks, family, update | 2 Comments

It’s a Wrap: The Green Goddess Quilt

A windy fall day in Portland, Oregon did not offer a great photo op for my latest finish, The Green Goddess Quilt. Nevertheless, I posed in front of my Subaru Forester (aka the Green Goddess) today so the Dear Husband could snap this photo to show you how well the quilt goes with the car.

Here’s a close-up of the binding:

Don’t you love the look of a stripe on the bias on a quilt binding? I sure do!

Here’s a photo of the finished front . . .

. . . and the finished back:


The label:

I made an inset circle (using a compact disc as my pattern) and then enclosed it in another circle using the same fabric I used for accent strips on the back and for the binding. The label was appliquéd in place by hand.

Sometimes, if the quilting motif is compatible, I will stitch in the ditch around the inner circle to secure the label even more to the quilt. The motif I chose for this quilt (an edge-to-edge design called Sashay) has a lot of loops and swirls so I went for the added stitch-in-the-ditch. If you look carefully you can see the stitching:

Now take a look at the front of the quilt:

Do you see the circle? Look at the dark orange print triangle in the lower left corner. There it is!

But if you looked at the entire quilt again from the front, you probably wouldn’t notice it unless I pointed it out:


That’s what I mean about the stitching motif being compatible; the stitching around the label is virtually unnoticeable from the front.

Before The Green Goddess Quilt takes up residence in its namesake, I need to throw it in the washer and dryer so it gets that lovely old-fashioned puckery look that only comes with laundering.

The Green Goddess Quilt finishes at 48″ square. It was made using Melissa Corry’s free pattern State Fair and a Layer Cake (10″ squares) of the charming “Jungle Paradise” line designed by Stacy Iest Hsu for Moda Fabrics.

 

 

 

Posted in family, quilt labels, State Fair quilt pattern, update | 8 Comments

Rounding the Bases

Yesterday afternoon I finally got the bias binding attached to my Green Goddess car quilt (made from the free State Fair pattern by Melissa Corry). It’s a little hard to tell from this photo but I’m attaching the binding with a 3/8″ seam, the same measurement the finished binding will be:

The binding got attached shortly before the beginning of yesterday’s Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, with the Atlanta Braves holding a 3-2 edge over the Los Angeles Dodgers (last year’s winners of the World Series). If the Braves won, they would advance to the World Series; if the Dodgers won, the two teams would be tied at 3-3 and force a Game 7.

The Dear Husband and I settled down to watch the game and I began hand stitching the binding to the back of the quilt. Many quilters dread this step in quiltmaking but it has always been a process I’ve enjoyed. And it was oh, so appropriate to be working on this while a baseball game was underway.

You see, whenever I bind a quilt I have a visual in my head of each corner being the base of a ballfield. I start out a few inches from one corner, and as I get to each corner I tick off the base mentally in my head. It’s always satisfying to round third base and head for home plate.

I didn’t get all that far yesterday because the game was so exciting I kept pausing with my needle in midair. By now (if you’re a baseball fan) you know the Atlanta Braves won the game and will be going to the World Series for the first time since 1999. Twenty-two years! The team will face the Houston Astros, winner of the American League Championship Series.

I hope to have my quilt completely bound before the first game of the World Series on Tuesday. In the meantime, here are a few process shots of my binding, starting with first base — er, the first corner:

. . . which looks like this from the front:

. . . and the second corner:

. . . which looks like this from the front:

Depending on the time of day and the amount of natural or artificial light, the colors of the quilt — especially the greens — can look so different. Nevertheless, I think you can see how cute the fabrics are that feature the animals in Stacy Iest Hsu’s “Jungle Paradise” fabric line.

Can I say it? I think this quilt is a home run!

 

 

 

 

Posted in family, State Fair quilt pattern, update | 5 Comments

Changing Horses Midstream

There must be a quilting equivalent to that expression but I’m leary of mixing my metaphors. And, metaphorically speaking, I didn’t really change horses midstream. Instead I said “Whoa!” and pulled them to a halt.

You already know that I spent hours and hours in front of my design wall arranging the blocks on my current project, nine large blocks making up a fun pattern called State Fair. Each block contains 36 pieces so you know there was a lot of moving pieces around to get the balance I was seeking. I didn’t sew a single component together until I had all nine blocks laid out.

But here’s what happened: after sewing just four of the nine blocks together, I was so pleased with what I saw that I didn’t want to go any further. Behold:

What you see is a quilt top that will measure 48″ square when bound. That’s a bit on the small side for a lap quilt — but not for what I have in mind. You see, I have long wanted to make a quilt for my car (aka the Green Goddess). I think this will be the perfect size. It’s large enough for the Dear Husband to throw across his lap on a road trip but small enough to fold up easily and toss in the back seat. And in a pinch it could double as a seat cushion at a baseball game.

Here’s another bit of good news:  in my fabric stash I found the perfect fabric for the back. I’ll be back soon to show you. In the meantime, here’s a shot of the Green Goddess when she was brand new (January 2019):

You’ve probably already noticed:  green house, green car. And soon: a green quilt for the green car.

 

 

 

Posted in family, State Fair quilt pattern, update | 4 Comments

Oven Mitts that Fit: the Prequel

The prequel to the tutorial, that is.

My oven mitt tutorial is almost ready to go. Before I hit “publish” on the post, I want to give you a bit of background (by way of explaining my obsession with making a beautifully finished oven mitt) and a couple of hints on making a pattern for a mitt that fits your own hand.

For the last three or four years I was on the lookout for new oven mitts but was never able to find suitable replacements. The ones in stores were either too big or poorly made, sometimes both. My twin sister Diane was in the same boat. We actually bought our mitts at the same time years ago and they had definitely seen better days. We were bemoaning the lack of good store-bought oven mitts around Thanksgiving last year. At that point I decided to make my own — and make a pair for Diane to boot.

In preparation I went online and checked out several printed tutorials. Boy, was I surprised! Some of the tutorials were way too much work. Some had you cutting out left and right hand patterns. Why on earth . . . ? The mitts are the same shape on both sides, for heaven’s sake.

Others had you make two mitts – one from the main fabric and one from the lining fabric; you inserted the lining mitt into the main mitt and sewed the two together, meaning you were doing twice as much cutting and sewing – and not even getting a mitt that was quilted all the way through. Not one tutorial gave what I considered good instructions for a nicely finished cuff edge made with a contrasting fabric.

There had to be a great method out there somewhere, I thought, and if I couldn’t find one – well, I would just have to figure one out for myself. But I needed a pattern to get started. I downloaded a couple of free templates. When they were printed I could tell they were too big. What to do? Why, make my own pattern.

I simply traced around my favorite old mitt on a piece of freezer paper:

Did you notice that the pattern is flared at the bottom? That makes the mitt easier to slip on if you are wearing a garment with long sleeves.

For those of you unfamiliar with freezer paper, it has a shiny coating on one side that allows it to be ironed temporarily onto fabric. No need to use pins. The freezer paper can be peeled off easily, leaving no residue — and it can be used over and over again. The best place to get your freezer paper? The grocery store! The only brand I’ve ever seen is by Reynolds Kitchens. Crafters and quilters love it.

Combining what seemed to be the best elements of some online tutorials, I made a test mitt. That was the easy part. The hard part was applying the binding strip around the cuff edge. The opening of the mitt is relatively small, presenting a challenge first in moving it under the needle of the sewing machine and then in joining the raw edges neatly. Most tutorials are maddeningly vague about this step or produce results that leave something to be desired.

I experimented with different widths of binding strips and various techniques for joining the ends, making several sets of mitts in the process, including this early pair for Diane:

The results were satisfactory . . . but I was looking for something more. The best solution came to me last month in a “what if?” moment. It seems so obvious now.

Want to know my secret? A partial seam!

That’s right. By leaving one side seam only partially sewn, there was more room around the cuff edge to manipulate the fabric while applying the binding strip. And then I could finish sewing the side seam, which now includes the binding strip, giving me a beautifully finished mitt when the strip was turned down and tacked to the inside:

Are you intrigued? Want to make your own? I hope so!

My tutorial will come with a link to a printable template so you can make your own freezer paper pattern. Or you can do what I did and draw around a mitt you already have. If you use my pattern you can modify it to fit your own hand. If you make your own pattern by tracing around an existing mitt, you can place your hand on it to test the fit as I do in the photo below.

The edges of the pattern should be at least ¾” wider than your hand around the thumb and finger portions. There should also be at least 1” from the notch between your thumb and fingers to the notch of the pattern and from the tip of your thumb to the end of the thumb on the pattern. Note the arrows:

It may look like my hand would be swimming in a mitt that size but you need room to turn the mitt inside out and still have room for the seam allowance.

My tutorial is so detailed and picture-laden that it is coming to you in two parts. Part 1 covers fabric requirements, instructions for downloading and printing the pattern, assembling the layers, and quilting the resulting “quilt sandwich.”

Part 2 covers the sewing of the mitt and band around the cuff edge as well as the final step of tacking the band down.

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, oven mitts, tutorial, update | 10 Comments

Oven Mitt Breakthrough

For those of you wondering whatever happened to that oven mitt tutorial I promised a couple of months ago, I have an update for you. I actually started working on a tutorial back in January but got hung up working on instructions for applying the binding.

Each set of oven mitts I’ve made since making my own pattern in December has been nicely finished but applying the binding has been a process best described as “fiddly.” My goal has been to figure out a way to apply the binding for a neat finish that can be effectively illustrated in a picture-heavy tutorial and be easy enough for a confident beginner to follow.

To that end I’ve been experimenting with different widths and different ways of joining the ends. I’ve tinkered with single-fold and double-fold binding. The results have been acceptable. But ease of construction? Not so much. “There has to be a better way,” I kept thinking.

The other day I had a “what if?” moment. Yesterday I tried out my idea. I was on the right track but took one wrong turn. I tried again today — and it worked! The result is the set of oven mitts you see above.

Isn’t that fabric cute? It reminds me of a Valentine card I received as a kid that had peas on the outside. Inside was the message “Peas be my pod-ner.”

I have the perfect person in mind for these oven mitts. She’s Irish and loves the color green as much as I do. She reads my blog so I’m betting she’ll figure out these are for her. I’m planning to visit her next month but don’t want to wait that long to give them to her. If I get them in the mail tomorrow, she might get them by St. Patrick’s Day.

 

 

 

Posted in family, oven mitts, single-fold binding, tutorial, update | 7 Comments

Quick and Easy? Think Again!

Let me start this post by telling you this is not the final layout of my current work-in-progress:

What was supposed to be a quick and easy quilt top has taken me the better part of two weeks — mainly spent in moving blocks around on my design wall. Making the strip sets and cutting them into blocks was indeed quick and easy — and really fun, as this line of fabrics (“High Street” by Lily Ashbury) was quite delightful to work with.

Instead of arranging my blocks like the original design, Larene Smith’s Tea Time in Bali, seen here . . .

. . . I opted for a “streak of lightning” setting, the one you see at the top of this post. After playing around for quite a while with the arrangement, I called in the Dear Husband for a second opinion.

“Well,” he said after a long pause, “it looks very modern.”

“Hmmm, yes. But it looks so . . . busy,” I said. “I’m just hoping the yellow and light grey strips give the eye a place to rest.”

“They don’t,” he replied. “There’s no place in this quilt for the eye to rest.”

He was right, of course. At that moment I knew I had to come up with another plan, one that would include some negative space. The first thing I tried was breaking the blocks into columns:

That seemed like a step in the right direction, giving me chevrons rather than streaks of lightning. When I rotated the photo I liked the effect even better:

But I wasn’t there quite yet. Chatting on the phone with my sister Diane about my setting troubles, she asked me to text her photos and after seeing the one directly above she suggested breaking the blocks up even more. That got me to this point:


I liked where this was going. My blocks were now more like the ones in the pattern layout, with each set of four blocks looking like an X or an O. But those dark purple prints were bothering me. I removed them and added strips from some of the blocks I didn’t use:

Ah, now that’s more like it!

Now on to the sashing. It was easy to envision white sashing just by looking at the blocks up on my design wall but I was leaning toward light grey, thinking it would add to the modern vibe I was going for. Into my stash I dove, coming up with some strips already cut that were originally planned for another project:

The fabric, “Painter’s Canvas” by Laura Gunn for Michael Miller Fabrics, actually looks rather silvery, with random striations going in both directions.

Right now this quilt measures 45″ square. I could declare it a done deal and get it ready to be quilted but there are a couple more things I want to try. . .

I hope you’ll check back to see the outcome.

 

 

 

Posted in family, update | 5 Comments

A Happy Surprise

A few weeks ago I came across this vintage needle case that had been tucked away for years in a project bag in my sewing room closet:

Finding it was a happy surprise because I had completely forgotten about it. I’m pretty sure it was an estate sale find, maybe dating back to the 1990s.

I don’t know if the needle case is knitted or crocheted (maybe both?) but I can tell it was skillfully crafted. It’s about 4¾” wide and 4¾” long, not counting the loop. You can see how beautifully made it is. Take a peek inside:

The fabric on the back is a very finely woven cotton, perhaps a sateen, in a geometric print:

Boy, would I love to have a piece of that in my stash.

At first glance my needle case may look like a strawberry but you know what I saw when I came across it? A heart! That’s why I decided to wait till Valentine’s Day to write a post about it.

And now Valentine’s Day is almost upon us. We’re snowed in, as it happens. Not to worry. Knowing that snowfall was expected this week, I made my weekly grocery run earlier than usual and laid in a small supply of champagne and chocolate caramels which I will happily share with the DH:

I’m ready!

 

 

 

 

Posted in family, update | 7 Comments