Category Archives: family

Egg-ceptionally Creative Crafting

Meet the newest resident of my sewing room:

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!”

 

 

 

Posted in family, update | 9 Comments

Kitchen Remodel: The Glass-Fronted Cabinet

When I showed you pictures of my newly remodeled kitchen last week, I mentioned there was something I wanted to do to the glass-fronted cabinet. Today I did it:


Do you see what I did? Here’s the before picture:


Yes! I covered the back of the cabinet! It needed something. The clear glassware didn’t show up well against the white walls and the spots of color from the dishes on the middle shelf didn’t add enough pizzazz.

I was originally planning to use a scrap of wallpaper left over from another room. It was the right shade of yellow but it was too formal for the kitchen:


My twin sister Diane suggested I use fabric. Of course! With medium-weight interfacing fused to the back, it would have just the right amount of body to attach to the back wall. I had what I thought was the perfect fabric in my stash but when I went to fetch it all I had were scraps. Fortunately, there was enough yardage of another tone-on-tone print to do the trick.

I cut the fused fabric and interfacing slightly oversize. After fusing them, I trimmed the sides with a rotary cutter to fit the back of the cabinet. Nice raw edges with no raveling, thanks to the interfacing. I applied double-sided tape to the back of the fabric at the top edge and pressed it into place with my fingers.

I figured the glass shelves would hold the sides in place, and they do. Along the bottom edge I glued a piece of braided trim, also from my stash, to provide a nice finished look:

Am I pleased with the outcome? You bet!

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, kitchen remodel, update | 13 Comments

Tammy’s Dahlia

Back in November of last year – my gosh, where does the time go? – I received an email from a woman in Canada named Tammy asking if I could help her track down a dahlia quilt pattern. She included photos of a quilt that her mother-in-law, then 89, had given her in the 1990s. Tammy’s mother-in-law thought she might have received the quilt as a wedding gift when she got married in 1952 and that her husband’s sisters might have made it.

Here’s a photo of a block with sashing strips and cornerstones:


The block measures 10½” square and the dahlia blossom measures 9½” from tip to tip. You can see that the appliqué pieces were turned under and zigzagged in place by machine. Here’s a detail of the appliqué:


Tammy searched the Internet and Pinterest as well as several quilting websites and blogs but could not find the exact pattern. She did find somewhat similar blocks like the Friendship Dahlia and the Star Dahlia but no block in which the white “star” formed between each of the printed fabric petals is the background of the block rather than actual pieces appliquéd in place.

She reached out to me because she had seen my posts on a mystery quilt my husband’s niece inherited. It turned out to be a Star Dahlia quilt but Tammy thought I might have come across her version during my quest. Tammy is not a quilter herself but her birth mother is and would love to make a quilt using this block. That was a great incentive to help.

If I couldn’t find the exact block, I thought, perhaps I could create it. Having embarked in early 2018 on a huge needleturn appliqué project – Hazel’s Diary Quilt – I thought it would be fun and useful to reproduce Tammy’s mystery block while practicing my needleturn skills. “This is just the kind of challenge I love!” I told her.

I too searched online but could not find a block exactly like the one in Tammy’s quilt. I did find a couple of dahlia blocks that seemed to match the outline of what I was already thinking of as “Tammy’s Dahlia.” The Friendship Dahlia Diagram on FieldGuidetoQuilts.com was a good start:

I also found a lovely version on Barb’s Block and Border blog of a Friendship Dahlia quilt made by her mother in the 1950s using a pattern in Aunt Martha’s Favorite Quilts: 17 Quilt Patterns Pieced and Appliqued, first published in 1935.

In both versions I could see that if the lines of the petals were continued to the center circle, the block would look very much like Tammy’s Dahlia. Using the software program EQ7 (in which I am not very proficient), I attempted to draw the design . . .

. . . and then created a mock-up using “fabric” made of paper. What I mean is that I photocopied a piece of fabric (in this case a print from Fig Tree that I’ve been hoarding), cut out the shapes, and glued them onto freezer paper:

Right away I could see that the white star shapes were too narrow compared to Tammy’s version. Every few weeks I would head back to the computer and play around with the software. Here are just two more of numerous versions I worked on:

And here is my first test block made using actual fabric:

This block measures 9½” from tip to tip so it’s the same size as the one in Tammy’s quilt, sized for a quilt block that finishes at 10½” square.

My second test block measures 11″ from tip to tip, sized for a 12″ finished block:


Both blocks turned out reasonably well but I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted the inside tip of the petal to come to a point like some of the ones in Tammy’s quilt. It’s tricky because the curves of the inner point are convex rather than concave. Just a couple days ago I made a test petal — and nailed it!

I sure couldn’t have done that a few months ago.

Tammy has been wonderfully patient while I worked on this project in fits and starts. Now that Hazel’s Diary Quilt is off being quilted, I am at last free to turn my attention back to Tammy’s Dahlia and, with the help of a graphic artist, finish this project in the next few weeks. I am so looking forward to the day when I can forward the pattern to Tammy and she in turn can give it to her birth mother.

I’ll be sure to show you the final product. If there is interest, I will post the pattern on my website as a free download.

 

 

 

Posted in appliqué, family, Hazel's Diary Quilt, needleturn appliqué, update | 12 Comments

Kitchen Remodel: An Update

It’s been a couple of months since I posted photos of our kitchen remodel. It was almost complete by mid-June and for all practical purposes it’s complete now, although there are a couple of technical issues to resolve regarding a lower cabinet. I’m still planning to do a “before and after” post but for now I’ll show you pictures of the kitchen so you can see some of my decorating choices.

Here’s the view looking toward the southeast corner:

The kitchen faucet was one of the very first things I bought and I was a little nervous about how big it seemed:

My husband and I were on the same page about wanting hot and cold faucets rather than one faucet that has to be adjusted to hot and cold. Once installed the fixture seemed to fit just fine. The first soap dispenser I chose was so wobbly I sent it back and the replacement almost looks like it’s part of a kitchen faucet set.

Opting for a single sink was such a good decision. Our old sink was divided. It’s so much easier to wash large pots and pans in this one, and anything not going into the dishwasher gets washed and dried and put away.

Here’s a straight shot of the south wall:

You can probably tell from this photo that my blue and white color scheme is punctuated by splashes of primary colors.

Looking toward the southwest corner:

Here’s a peek into the broom closet to the left of the fridge:

Notice the paper towel dispenser mounted on the inside door? One less thing taking up space on the kitchen counter!

The rest of the west wall:

The blue ceramic canisters were chosen not just for their color. They are shaped along the lines of the white ceramic composter to the left of the sink (see second photo).

Circling around to the north wall:

There’s my new cookie jar. And how do you like the retro-style kitchen step stool? It arrived in a flat box a few weeks ago but didn’t get assembled until last night, which tells you something about the timing of this post. It’s a happy coincidence that the green of the step stool is repeated in the watercolor above it.

Speaking of which, I must tell you that the three pieces of artwork in my kitchen are by my talented daughter-in-law, Jeanne Ann. Here’s a close-up of the original watercolor to the left of the glass-fronted upper cabinet . . .


. . . and the linocut print on the right side of the upper cabinet . . .


. . . and the original watercolor to the left of the refrigerator:

I love what Jeanne Ann’s artwork adds to the kitchen!

So what’s left? Well, in addition to the aforementioned cabinet issue — happily not noticeable in any of these photos — I still plan to make a tailored valance for each window. That project was put on hold while I labored on my Hazel’s Diary Quilt top. And I have something in mind for the glass-fronted cabinet I think you’re going to like.

Before I embark on those, I have a certain project to finish up that I’ve been working on periodically for months but haven’t written about yet. Although not connected in any way to Hazel’s Diary Quilt, it does involve needleturn appliqué. I hope you’ll check back in with me to see what it’s all about.

Thanks for stopping by the Portland White House to see my new kitchen!

 

 

 

Posted in appliqué, family, home dec, kitchen remodel, needleturn appliqué, update | 17 Comments

Dogs and Cats and Pillowcases, Oh My!

When I spotted this whimsical travel-themed fabric at a quilt shop in central Oregon last year, the first person I thought of was my friend Anna. Anna loves animals (especially dogs), France, and world travel — probably in that order.

Several years ago Anna sold her home in Portland and moved to Paris to live. Imagine that! It was a dream she had had for many years. I knew her through a mutual friend but had not seen her for some time when we ran into each other on the street just weeks before her departure. We stayed in touch after this chance meeting and a few years later, when Anna proposed a short-term house swap, my husband and I jumped at the chance.

In 2015 Charlie and I spent three weeks at Anna’s apartment in Paris taking care of her sweet cat Buddy . . .


. . . while Anna stayed at our home in Portland taking care of Empress Theodora:

The arrangement worked out splendidly. And I was lucky enough to go back to Paris in the fall of the same year with my twin sister, petsitting for Anna while she went to the United Kingdom to visit her beau, an American who had spent his professional life working in Europe.

Anna subsequently married her beau and they bought a house in France’s Loire Valley which they share with Buddy and two rescue dogs. So you can see how this fabric seems to have Anna’s name written all over it. (In fact, the travel documents on the fabric are in the name of Jane S. Doe but we can use our imaginations.)

I decided to make a pair of pillowcases with the fabric and send them to Anna in France. Months came and went while the fabric stayed in my stash. Then I learned Anna was coming to Oregon this summer for her 50th high school reunion. In no time at all I had made a pair of pillowcases, which were waiting for Anna when she arrived last week:

I tried to tone down the cuteness factor by choosing a rather masculine batik for the cuffs of the cases. After all, husband Joe has to sleep on them too!

(For those who might be interested, the fabric is from the line “Jetset Europe” by Anne Bollman for Clothworks Fabrics. I used my own tutorial to make the pillowcases.)

 

 

 

Posted in cats, family, Paris, roll-it-up pillowcases, tutorial, update | 7 Comments

Stitching and Crafting Along

I had hoped to complete all the appliqué in the center medallion of Hazel’s Diary Quilt by now. Here’s how far I’ve gotten:


Yes, I have a ways to go but I’m pretty excited by the way the medallion is coming together. For reference, the center block including the red scallop measures 18″ square and the entire medallion measures 36½” square. It will be on point in the finished quilt. There will be flowers in each corner and leaves along the vines.

What’s happened in the two weeks since my last post? My husband Charlie and I took a road trip to Ashland, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, in the southern part of the state. There we rendezvoused with Charlie’s daughter Barbie and our granddaughters Bonnie (19) and Beatrice (16) for a family vacation. They live in San Francisco and Ashland just happens to be the halfway point between our two homes. Despite being saddled with summer colds, Charlie and I had a great time with the three Bs. We saw a couple of plays, enjoyed strolling around the charming town of Ashland, and did a little shopping.

We brought Beatrice back to Portland with us as she was accepted into Oregon Ballet Theatre’s intensive summer training program for the month of July. She is in class six days a week — that’s pretty intensive! We are so delighted that she can be with us for part of the summer. We always look forward to Bonnie and Beatrice’s summer visits. Bonnie couldn’t come this year because she’s working two jobs at home. She’s so grown up now; she even has her driver’s license!

I took my appliqué project to Ashland to work on and managed to apply a few leaves and petals. Barbie was much more productive. She completed a lunchbag for Beatrice while we there — completely by hand and without a pattern. She’s very creative that way. Take a look:


The bag is made of oilcloth. Barbie enclosed the raw edges with double-fold bias tape that she stitched on to the oilcloth with lime green embroidery floss. She sized the bag to hold three plastic containers: one for a sandwich, one for fresh vegetables, and one for fresh fruit. Then she added a pocket on the outside to hold granola bars:

A ballerina dancing several hours a day needs a substantial lunch!

Look at the cute detail of French knots where the ends of the bias tape meet:

Here’s Bea on arrival at OBT for her first day of classes:

Back to Hazel’s Diary Quilt: I hope to show you my completed medallion very shortly. If I’m to finish my quilt top by the end of July (my stated goal), I need to pick up the pace.

 

 

 

Posted in appliqué, family, Hazel's Diary Quilt, needleturn appliqué, tote bags, update | 7 Comments

Kitchen Remodel: Week 9

Friends, we are this close to being done. Witness the painted trim around the windows:

Did you notice you can now see the kitchen floor? It made me deliriously happy to peel off the brown protective paper and finally mop that floor!

The view above is looking southeast. Moving clockwise around the kitchen, here are some more views starting with the south wall:

What’s left to do?, you may ask. Mostly little things: cleaning up a few paint spills and spatters, doing some caulking, putting the doorbell back up, installing the phone jack cover, that kind of thing. Oh, and the liner for the hood range insert is finally on its way. Once that’s in, I do believe we will be ready for inspection.

In the meantime, I’m slowly filling the cupboards and drawers. You can see from the photo above that I haven’t finished filling the glass-fronted upper cabinet yet. And I’m thinking about the valances I plan to make for the windows. I’ve had something in mind for some time but haven’t even gotten to the sketching stage yet. I’m going for a look my sister Diane would describe as “simply elegant and elegantly simple.”

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, kitchen remodel, update | 12 Comments

Kitchen Remodel: Week 7 — Part 2

We’re continuing with the progress made during Week 7. The glass doors and shelves arrived for the upper cabinet on the north wall:

Here’s the same view with the undercabinet lights turned on:

The Dear Husband scoffed when I initially told him I wanted under-cabinet lights. Guess who really loves them now?

Did you notice something else? Cabinet hardware! I can’t keep from going around the kitchen opening all the drawers and cupboard doors. They’re the “soft close” kind so all it takes is a gentle push for them to glide closed.

Here’s a look at the east and south walls with the cabinet hardware added:

Looks pretty spiffy, doesn’t it? Did you happen to notice that red glow on the backsplash under the cabinets to the left of the stove? It’s the reflection of my next door neighbor’s red patio umbrella. That’s how much shine those backsplash tiles have.

Here’s a look at the west wall:

We are using the kitchen even though the counters have to be cleared every time the workers come. It’s a happy trade-off, believe me.

Here’s a look at the kitchen in full use mode:

It looks almost finished but there’s quite a bit left to do starting with painting the trim,  scheduled for the beginning of Week 8. The end is in sight!

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, kitchen remodel, update | 7 Comments

Kitchen Remodel: Week 5

When my twin sister Diane saw the photos in my last kitchen remodel post of the range hood cabinet above the stove, she asked if I would use the ledge for display.

“Maybe,” I replied. “What should I put there?”

Her response was immediate: “Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme!”

But of course. Twenty-some years ago I bought a set of Spode spice jars in the Blue Room pattern and have used them in my kitchen ever since. As soon as I auditioned them, I knew they were perfect for the spot:


Surely you noticed the new stove is in place (having been moved from its temporary home in my living room). It will be a while before I can cook on it but it needed to be installed so the template for the quartz countertop could be accurately made. That happened last Tuesday.

The new appliances — stove, fridge, and dishwasher — are stainless steel and all three have a brushed finish with some polished accents. Those design features helped me decide pretty quickly on the finish of the cabinet hardware:

Can you tell the knob and drawer pull are polished nickel? Polished nickel has a slightly warmer cast than polished chrome and adds just the right amount of bling to the kitchen. See how good the hardware looks  alongside the stainless steel?


It looks mighty pretty against the blue cabinets, too:

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, kitchen remodel, update | 13 Comments

Kitchen Remodel: Week 4

Last week was a big one for the Portland White House kitchen remodel.

First, the walls got painted a soft gray and the ceiling and trim around the windows and sliding glass door got painted white:

I was originally planning to have the walls painted with Benjamin Moore’s “Metro Gray,” which happens to be the same shade I chose for the master bath remodel in 2013. At the last minute I went one shade lighter (1458) with “Silver Bells.” Gray might seem an odd choice for Portland, which gets its share — and then some — of overcast days, but I knew the bright white of the upper cabinets and the vivid blue (Valspar 4006-8C “Bluer than Blue”) of the lower cabinets would be a good foil for this elegant shade of gray:

Can’t you imagine a quilt in these colors?

With the cabinets installed, the empty shell of a room was transformed into a kitchen! Here’s the view looking southeast:

Notice the custom cover for the range hood. (Thank you, sister Diane, for guiding me to this design decision.) The tabs of blue painter’s tape on the upper and lower cabinets allow the cupboard doors and drawers to be opened. The doors are inset — that is, flush with the cabinet frames — so until the knobs and pulls are installed, the best way to open the cupboards and drawers is to pull on those tabs of blue tape.

Here’s the view looking southwest:

The narrow cabinet to the left of the refrigerator cabinet is missing as it got damaged somehow at the shop. The installer wants to wait until the cabinet is in place before attaching the crown molding as he thinks the molding should be cut from the same strip.

The upper cabinet on the north wall will have glass doors and shelves, to be delivered later:

That upper cabinet makes the wall look pretty top heavy. I’m hoping the glass doors will make it feel lighter.

I must say, Coco has remained remarkably mellow as the remodel progresses. As long as her meals arrive on schedule, she is one happy cat:

 

 

Posted in cats, family, home dec, kitchen remodel, update | 4 Comments