Category Archives: family

The Oven Mitt Quilt

Is this not the oddest looking quilt you’ve ever seen?

Actually, it’s not a quilt at all.

I’m gearing up to make a few sets of oven mitts as gifts and I didn’t want to take the time myself to quilt the four layers needed for a well insulated mitt. So . . . I made a “quilt top” using three suitable prints from my stash that could all be quilted with the same color thread and asked Karlee of SewInspired2Day to quilt it for me. The result is what you see above. The quilt motif is “Modern Waves,” one that Karlee has used on another of my quilts, Where It’s @.

Here’s a closer look at those three fabrics, pictured with my oven mitt pattern to give you an idea of the scale of the prints:

I think they’re going to make pretty cute oven mitts!

You may remember the mitts I made last month for my sister Diane. I quilted the fabric for those using a cross-hatch design:

After I published the post I had a few requests for a tutorial. Good news! A tutorial is coming.

And maybe even a giveaway. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, tutorial, update | 1 Comment

Something in Red: New Oven Mitts

Are these not the cutest oven mitts you’ve ever seen?

Last month, while visiting my twin sister Diane, we were commiserating on the sad state of our oven mitts. We have the same ones — we bought them years ago when we were together in a kitchen shop. They’re in pretty bad shape but they’re the best-fitting oven mitts we’ve ever found so we’ve just hung on to them. (The ones in the stores today are too darn big. I suppose they’re meant to be one-size-fits-all but I swear they’re made for ham-fisted cooks and chefs.)

I resolved to make a pair of oven mitts for Diane when I got back home as a thank-you gift for the marvelous hospitality she and her husband Ed bestowed on the Dear Husband and me over the two-plus weeks we spent with them at their home in Georgia over Thanksgiving. I finished the mitts last week and popped them in the mail. Since then I’ve been waiting (im)patiently for Diane to receive the mitts so I could show them to you. They arrived today — finally!

Diane’s kitchen has accents of red so I chose this darling Michael Miller print that’s been in my stash for a few years. I traced around my old oven mitt to make a pattern out of freezer paper:

I looked at several tutorials online and combined what I thought to be the best features. Interestingly, the patterns that accompanied the tutorials also make oversize mitts. I like the lines and fit of mine so much better!

Diane started her holiday baking today — that’s Ina Garten’s recipe for Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies on the cookbook holder — so her new oven mitts have already been put to the test:

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, update | 16 Comments

A Quatrefoil Christmas Quilt

Oh, I know I am going to enjoy working on this new project! This is Test Block #1 of a quilt I’ve started with a festive line of holiday fabric called “Holliberry” designed by Corey Yoder for Moda Fabrics. The block is called Quatrefoil, which means “four leaves” in French.

When I first learned about “Holliberry” a few months ago, I knew I wanted to make something with it. Not knowing what to make, I decided to buy a Layer Cake (a package of 10″ squares featuring the entire line) and a few pieces of yardage. I already had my background fabric: a polkadot print from another designer, Lori Holt of A Bee in My Bonnet. I love how the green and red dots are scattered randomly over the white fabric.

The fabrics got packed up last month and hauled to Atlanta so I could work on the quilt while visiting my twin sister Diane over Thanksgiving. I keep a sewing machine there, along with a complete set of accessories, because I always do some sewing while I am at her home.

This year my sewing experience was especially enjoyable because Diane had her handyman make a “Big Board” that sits on top of her ironing board to increase the ironing surface. This Big Board is BIG! Check it out:

My own Big Board is 22″ x 60″, which suits me (and my small-ish sewing room) just fine. Diane’s Big Board measures 26″ x 68″. I had sent her a king-size cotton batt, unbleached muslin, and fabric for the cover beforehand. She and her handyman wrapped three layers of batting and one layer of muslin around the frame and stapled them in place. Then they stretched the top layer of fabric over the surface and held it in place underneath with large 2″ T-pins I had ordered from a wig shop. Because the top layer is pinned rather than stapled in place, it will be easy to take it off for laundering or replace it when the time comes.

My Christmas Quatrefoil quilt will be what I call “controlled scrappy.” I’ll be using different combinations of prints from the “Holliberry” line:

The stacks of squares on either side of the block can either be the four leaves of the quatrefoil or the centers of four blocks.

Despite the wonderful addition of Diane’s Big Board, the block you see at the top of the post was the only one I made on this visit. Diane and I were too busy celebrating a big birthday — our 70th! — and let’s just say that it’s not a good idea to drink champagne and sew at the same time.

After making Test Block #1, I determined I needed to make one change but I didn’t get  to it until after returning home earlier this week.  Here is Test Block #2:

Can you see the difference?

I’ll give you a hint:  look at the four small green blocks with the diagonal print.

Here are the blocks side by side (I wish the colors were the same but the photos were taken at different times of day in different light):

I replaced the four-patch units in each corner so I could change the orientation of the diagonal green lines. The green lines on the right block form a diamond shape that echoes the diamond shape of the red print. The change might not be noticeable to some but I find the revised block much more pleasing to the eye.

Now that I’ve finished the first block, I can hardly wait to make some more!

 

 

 

Posted in family, Quatrefoil, update | 6 Comments

Half a Lifetime

Hello from Atlanta, where my husband Charlie and I are visiting my twin sister Diane and her husband Ed. It’s our annual Thanksgiving trip. We arrived earlier than usual this year for a special reason: Diane and I turned 70 on November 16th and we wanted to celebrate the big 7-0 together. We weren’t going to let Covid keep us apart.

Charlie and I took extreme precautions on the trip here from Oregon, including wearing safety goggles in transit that made us look like very large insects. Two days after we left Portland the governor of Oregon announced new statewide restrictions because of the alarming increase of Covid cases. We will self-quarantine for two weeks on our return.

In the interim, we are having an absolutely wonderful time doing not very much at all. Lots of Scrabble games, brisk walks outdoors in the fresh air, reading, watching movies, making favorite recipes and trying out new ones. On our actual birthday we got all dressed up — Diane and I in our Little Black Dresses — and went to an early and very properly socially distanced dinner at a lovely French restaurant.

As fraternal twins Diane and I were never dressed alike by our mother but half a lifetime ago, when we turned 35, we bought matching sweaters and posed for this photo:

Fast forward another 35 years. We decided to recreate the photo with new matching sweaters:

Who says you can’t be silly at 70? Of course we can never go out in public wearing these outfits at the same time!

Here’s Diane in her Little Black Dress (which is actually midnight blue) . . .

. . . and here I am in mine:

I whipped up masks for us to wear with our LBDs:

I’ve taken to adding neck straps to my masks after hearing from a fellow quilter, Linda B. No more needing to stuff a mask into a pocket or leave it dangling on one ear. (Thanks so much for the idea, Linda!)

That’s the extent of my sewing on this trip to date but I hauled a bunch of fabric all the way from Portland to start on a new quilt. Here’s hoping I have a couple of test blocks — Quatrefoil blocks, in fact! — to show you real soon.

 

 

 

 

Posted in face masks, family, Quatrefoil, Scrabble, update | 12 Comments

September Song

Can you picture Frank Sinatra crooning the lyrics to September Song?

“Oh it’s a long long while from May to December . . .”

[never truer than in the time of COVID!]

“But the days grow short when you reach September. . .”

We’ve actually reached the end of September. And until today I hadn’t worked on a single quilt the entire month. Can you believe that? Oh, I did some sewing in September: a few face masks, a pair of pillowcases, a bucket hat. I also worked on a fun home decorating project over the weekend that I’ll tell you about in a bit.

But a quilt? Not until today, when I pulled out this throw-sized quilt top I pieced a dozen years ago:

This little quilt came into being because I had a stack of 9-patch blocks left over from another project. (That’s a lot of leftover blocks, right? A confession: I had pressed the seams in the wrong direction while strip-sewing.) I combined the 9-patches with some snowball blocks, set them all on point, and created this 52″ x 58″ throw.

This project was ready to quilt back in 2008. I had pin-basted it to the batting and backing and had actually sewn a single line of stitching. One line! I have no memory of why I didn’t continue but I have no desire to finish quilting it myself now. My “quiltmaking” today consisted of removing all the basting pins and getting the layers ready to deliver to a longarm quilter.

My plan was to have it quilted with a simple edge-to-edge design. Then I realized that because I added a flange to the interior, the quilt will probably need to be custom quilted. Here’s a close-up of the flange:


Some of the fabrics are ones I would probably not buy now but I like the top well enough to want to finish it.

Now about that home dec project:

My husband and I took our first trip since the pandemic arrived on our shores, driving from Portland to Bend last Thursday to spend a delightful long weekend with my stepmother Shirley. While there I made two tailored bedskirts for her extra-long twin beds. Shirley recently bought new bedspreads with a nautical theme featuring navy and aqua images on a white background. We decided on a solid navy fabric for the bedskirts.

Here’s a look at the pattern I made on graph paper along with the fabric, a navy blender (almost a solid) called “Shadowplay” by Maywood that I like so much I buy it by the bolt:

You may be able to tell from my pattern that the bedskirts have one inverted pleat along the end and two on each side. Because of the dark fabric and the lighting in Shirley’s bedroom I wasn’t able to get good pictures of the completed bedskirts but they did turn out beautifully. You’ll just have to take my word for it!

 

 

 

Posted in bedskirt, family, home dec, snowball blocks, update | 5 Comments

Toile Pillowcases, Take 3

This is the third and final pair of queen-size pillowcases made from a lovely toile fabric from Timeless Treasures that’s been in my stash for a few years:

The first two pair were made last year, the first pair as a gift and the second for my own home. I made these pillowcases last week as a hostess gift, planning to deliver them to my twin sister Diane when the Dear Husband and I make our annual Thanksgiving trip to Georgia in November. (Of course we will be taking every precaution while traveling during the coronavirus pandemic.)

I made the mistake of telling Diane about the pillowcases and she cajoled me into sending them in advance. I’m glad I did because she promptly put them on the pillows in the main floor guest room and sent me pictures. Here’s a close-up of the cases:


There’s something special about toile. I was really sorry to use up the last of that fabric. I actually searched for more on the Internet but came up empty-handed.

I did not make the accent pillow on the bed; Diane had it made at a specialty shop using fabric left over from the bedskirt. But I do spy four things in the photo above that are “me made”: the pillowcases, the quilt at the foot of the bed, the bedskirt, and — hard to see but look at the reflection in the mirror in the bathroom for a glimpse — the shower curtain, made in 2011 and embellished in 2012. You can read about that here.  (There’s one more thing I made that you can’t see in the photo: tailored valances. I wrote about that project in this post, also from 2012. By the way, the pillowcases were made using my photo-laden Perfect Pillowcases tutorial.)

The DH and I will be sleeping on these pillowcases soon! This year’s trip is a very special one as Diane and I will be celebrating an important birthday, one of those big ones ending in a zero. Here’s a hint: we will become septuagenarians.

 

 

 

Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, bedskirt, family, faux-kaleido quilts, home dec, roll-it-up pillowcases, shower curtain, update, valance | 3 Comments

A Bee in My Bucket Hat

Hmm. Doesn’t have quite the same ring as “a bee in my bonnet,” does it? But I already have a blog post titled “A Bee in My Bonnet” so the one above will have to do.

Why a bucket hat? Well, after happening upon images on Instagram of the Sorrento Bucket Hat by Elbe Textiles I was inspired to give it a try. The pattern is available as a digital download for a mere two dollars. Lauren, the owner of Elbe Textiles, donates all proceeds from the sale of the pattern to a different cause every month. What a lovely thing to do.

Here’s a picture of my newly completed hat:

The multiple stitching lines around the brim are optional. I really like the effect of the contrasting thread. I chose a swirly dotted print in spring green for the lining:

Oh, did I mention the hat is reversible? Two for the price of one!

It’s easy to see why it’s called a bucket hat:

I interfaced the brim (an optional step) to give it more shape. It’s fun to play around with the brim, flipping it up in the front or the back for a different look. Here it is with the front of the brim flipped up . . .

. . . and here is the reverse side with the back brim flipped up:


Now all I need is a matching face mask. (Kidding!)

 

 

 

 

Posted in bucket hat, face masks, family, update | 8 Comments

Kitchen Remodel: Before and After

After posting pictures in January of the valances I made for our kitchen windows, I declared last year’s kitchen remodel “officially complete” and blithely added I would post before and after pictures “one of these days.” Well, friends, it’s been nine months coming but “one of these days” has finally arrived.

Our kitchen was fully functional before the remodel. Indeed, it had been updated only 20 years earlier. But there were several things about the kitchen I had grown dissatisfied with and I knew that making changes now would achieve three ends. First, the Dear Husband and I would enjoy cooking in the kitchen more. Second, it would give us the opportunity to correct some design flaws from previous remodels. Third — and much more important — the updates would make our home more attractive to buyers, a consideration down the line when it’s time to think about selling.

Let’s start with the east wall, moving around the corner to part of the south wall:

The soffit over the sink is gone, allowing the new cabinets on the south wall to go all the way to the ceiling. The old casement windows were failing, which is what started the remodeling ball rolling. We replaced them with double-hung windows in keeping with the windows in the rest of our 1913 house. Not shown in the photos above are the sliding glass doors that take up the rest of the east wall.

Here’s the east wall with the valances in place:

Looking directly at the south wall:

The upper cupboard space gained with the elimination of the east wall soffit was offset by cupboard space lost by having a custom range hood cover installed. We also lost a great deal of lower storage space by giving up the angled corner cupboard to the left of the stove containing a very large two-tiered lazy Susan that held most of my pots and pans. This forced me to pay attention to the items I actually use in my kitchen and resulted in paring down contents not just there but throughout the kitchen.

Here’s a “before” shot of the west wall:

Apparently I didn’t get a shot of the entire west wall after the remodel so I can’t show you a side-by-side comparison. Here are two “after” shots of the west wall:

The counter-depth refrigerator makes the kitchen feel roomier. It’s wider than the old fridge but doesn’t hold nearly as much. No matter: the old one is now downstairs in the pantry. Having a second fridge is literally one of the biggest bonuses of this remodel.

By the way, after taking the “after” shots last fall I had the lovely watercolor (by my talented daughter-in-law, Jeanne Ann White) reframed. Not until I got it home and hung it on the wall did I notice that the wood frame is the same color as the stainless steel appliances:

In the northwest corner of the kitchen, the doorways from the dining room and TV room were transformed by millwork matching the rest of the house:

It didn’t occur to me to take a “before” picture of this corner because there was literally nothing there but sheetrock.

Finally we come to the north wall:

Jeanne Ann’s work is featured on this wall as well. The wood trim you see on the far right side of the photos is the frame of the sliding glass door.

And there you have it.

I’m going to do one more post, focusing on some of the decorative accents I’ve added to the kitchen. I might include a list of the pros and cons of the remodel. Yes, there are a few things about the kitchen I don’t love so much. Overall, though, I am thrilled with the outcome and would do it again in a heartbeat.

If you’re new to my blog and want to review the kitchen remodel from the outset, feel free to follow these links:

March 27, 2019:  All Quiet on the Sewing Front
April 14, 2019:  Prepping for the Kitchen Remodel
April 22, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: Week 1
April 28, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: Week 2
April 30, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: My Color Inspiration
May 5, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: Week 3
May 11, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: Week 4
May 15, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: Week 5
May 26, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: Week 6
June 3, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: Week 7 — Part 1
June 9, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: Week 7 — Part 2
June 13, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: Week 8
June 16, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: Week 9
August 14, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: An Update
August 24, 2019:  Kitchen Remodel: the Glass-Fronted Cabinet
January 5, 2020: First Finish of 2020: Kitchen Valances

Let me end this long post by saying I am beyond grateful to have a kitchen. As wildfires fires raged through Oregon last week leaving destruction and devastation in their wake, some of my family members and friends were forced to evacuate their homes. I am relieved to report their homes are still standing but it will be some time before they can go home because the fires are still burning and the air is thick with dangerous smoke. The fires came within a few miles of Portland but the city was blanketed by smoke. Portland has had the worst air quality in the entire United States for the last few days. Rain is forecast for tomorrow so we are hoping for some relief.

I have watched in anguish the images on TV of entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble not just in my state but also in California and Washington. Wildfires are burning in a dozen western states but the west coast has been hit especially hard. Against that backdrop I feel lucky to have a beautifully remodeled kitchen.

 

 

 

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

Enrobed

Last December I made the Dear Husband a new bathrobe because his old one was practically falling apart. I remember thinking, “My robe is pretty worn out, too. I should make myself a new one.”

Fast forward eight months. Eight months! That’s how long it took me to get the job done. But the wait was worth it. Here’s my brand new kimono-style robe:

The fabric is a lovely Asian-inspired toile from Michael Miller Fabrics that’s been in my stash for a number of years. I probably bought it thinking to use it in a quilt. Fortunately I had purchased a fairly large piece, enough to eke out a bathrobe. Also in my stash was a piece of blue polka-dotted fabric that was a good choice for the contrasting band, belt, and pocket trim.

Here’s what the robe looks like from the back:


Rather than make belt loops and a loose belt as the pattern called for, I stitched the belt directly to the robe on the back:

Perhaps you can see the stitching a bit better in this next photo:

The Simplicity pattern I used (5314) didn’t include pockets — what bathrobe doesn’t have pockets, for heaven’s sake? — so of course I made my own. And because the toile fabric depicts large-scale scenes of people and objects like pagodas and bridges and musical instruments, I decided to match the design on the pockets to the fabric underneath.

To do that I made patterns for the pockets out of freezer paper. After positioning them and ironing them in place, I made registration lines on the pattern that lined up with the design underneath:

Then I lifted the freezer paper pattern from the robe and matched it with the same design elements on the fabric scraps I had left over after cutting out the robe. Voilà — fussy-cut pockets.

Here’s the right-side pocket pinned in place:

(You’ll notice I added an inch-wide strip of my contrasting polka-dotted fabric to the pockets for some extra design appeal.)

Here’s the pocket stitched in place:

I did the same thing with the pocket on the left side:

I’m very pleased with the way my new robe turned out. Can you picture me sitting out on the back deck tomorrow morning enjoying my morning coffee? Here’s my dress rehearsal:

 

 

 

Posted in family, update | 18 Comments

Face Mask Fail

Well, maybe “fail” is too strong a word. Maybe I should just say the final result wasn’t what I expected. . .

To be clear, the problem had nothing to do with the pattern. It’s a very good one.

I’ve been intrigued by the three-dimensional face masks I’ve seen some folks wearing. The boxy shape seems to fit the face well and allows for plenty of breathing room. I  decided to make a new mask for the Dear Husband using the 3D Face Mask from SeeKateSew, billed as “the most comfortable face mask.” I picked this print from Andover Fabrics that I bought last year to make the DH a new apron (which hasn’t happened yet):

He’s the gardener of the family and I thought this fabric would make a fun mask for him to wear when he’s outside working in our yard or tending our community garden plot.

I did make one adjustment to the pattern:

That’s my freezer paper pattern in the foreground, with extensions on the side to allow for a generous ¾” casing for the ear loops rather than the narrow ⅜” casing the pattern provides. The freezer paper pattern can be used over and over again — no pinning because the freezer paper is pressed directly onto the fabric, where it is easily peeled off after the fabric has been cut.

The printed directions by SeeKateSew are very clear, as is her website tutorial. The mask came together very easily. Here’s what it looks like from the front:


Here’s a look at the inside . . .

. . . and here you can see I added a sleeve at the top for a removable nose wire:


When the mask was done I could tell it would be too small for my husband. “No problem,” I thought. “I’ll adjust the pattern to make a bigger mask for him. I’ll keep this one for myself.”

Then I tried it on:

Do you see what I see?

Those peas! They look like teeth . . . and the peapods? They look like lips. Green lips.

And see the roots on that bunch of green onions?

Chin whiskers!!!

 

 

 

Posted in aprons, face masks, family, update | 21 Comments