Category Archives: family

Whale Watching

This might just be the world’s smallest valance! The window it’s made for — the guest bathroom in my stepmother Shirley’s home — is only 12¼” wide so the spring tension rod inside the valance is set for that width. The valance itself is 8¾” long.

I just mailed the valance off to Shirley in Bend, Oregon and will wait for her to send me a photo of how it looks before I make valances (out of a different fabric) for the two windows in her master bath. The fabric for this one is from the “Icy World” line designed by Gareth Lucas for Windham Fabrics.

Other fabrics from “Icy World” starred (literally!) in my Arctic Stars quilt finished last December. I’d not seen this particular print from the line until my sister Diane and I spotted it at the Quilt Basket on our trip to Bend in August and decided it would be perfect for Shirley’s guest bath.

We’ve gone quite a bit inland for whale watching!

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, update, vintage quilts | 2 Comments

Another Home Dec Project Completed . . .

. . . and would you believe it took two years? I’m rather embarrassed to admit it took so long but the posts on my blog detailing the process leave no doubt. It was in the fall of 2021 that my stepmother Shirley asked if I would make valances for the three living room windows in her home in Bend. She had just bought new furniture and was looking for valances that would complement her upholstered couch. Here’s a look at one of the completed valances against the couch fabric:

Back in 2021 Shirley and I looked at valances online and I sketched out our shared vision: tailored valances with inverted pleats in the center and each end, to be mounted on wide-pocket wraparound curtain rods:

By the fall of 2022 the valances were made and ready to hang , , ,

. . . but the trip from Portland to Bend to install them was postponed when the Dear Husband and I came down with Covid. Our cases were mild and we recovered quickly but by then road conditions between western and central Oregon — snow and ice in the passes — forced the decision to wait until spring. Due to a scheduling snafu on my part, the spring trip to Bend didn’t happen until summer (as in last week). Shirley’s grandson Scott (my nephew) drove up from southern Oregon to install the curtain rods; that guy is a keeper!

This is the valance on the front window . . .

. . . and these are the ones on the other side of the room:

Underneath the valances are cellular shades, also called accordion blinds, that can be lowered depending on the location of the sun. This next shot shows the front window with the shade lowered against the morning sun:

Did you happen to notice that my original sketch didn’t include buttons at the top of each pleat? They were an afterthought — and they were by far the hardest part of the project! The buttons are curved metal discs with teeth on the inside to grip the valance fabric, which is cut in circles and then wrapped tightly and smoothly around the discs:

The decorator fabric is quite stiff and also ravels easily so I used pinking shears to cut out the circles. It was a battle getting each fabric circle neatly around a disc. I’m afraid I used some unpardonable language getting those buttons covered. (The DH was in earshot and can attest to that.) Each valance has three buttons. That makes nine of them (eleven if you count the two I ruined).

But all’s well that ends well. Shirley and I are both delighted with how well the valances turned out. It makes me so happy I could fulfill her wish for new window treatments.

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, update, valance | 6 Comments

Home Dec Duo

I’m taking advantage of my twin sister’s visit to spruce up the Portland White House. A few years ago I helped Diane recover her dining room chairs and now she’s returning the favor. I actually found the perfect fabric on my last trip to Georgia to visit her: a four-yard remnant of a beautiful “high performance” fabric, more than enough to cover six chairs. The beauty of having extra fabric is that there’s plenty to make new covers should the need arise.

In the photo above you can see a piece of the new fabric artfully draped over a chair to cover the stains and worn spots. Here’s a close-up of the fabric:

Isn’t it gorgeous? I love the subtle diamond design.

The chairs are part of an antique dining room set the Dear Husband and I bought 25 or 30 years ago. I had the chairs recovered professionally at the time. The upholsterer did such a good job that all Diane and I needed to do was cover the existing chair pads — no need to remove the old covers and dig out all those staples. An excellent DIY project but a two-person job for sure.

I started by making a freezer paper pattern, tracing around an existing chair pad for the shape and adding about 3½” extra to wrap the fabric around to the back:

Five of the six chairs have no arms; the sixth is the one in the first picture, the one I think of as the Papa Bear chair because it’s a couple inches wider and an inch longer than the other ones. After cutting fabric for the five armless chairs, I sliced the pattern to add the extra width and length for the Papa Bear chair:


Now take a look at the finished product:

Pretty nice, eh?

Here’s a look at one of the armless chairs:

I really loved the old fabric on the chairs but I must confess the new fabric looks a bit more luxurious:

As Diane would say, “Simply elegant and elegantly simple!”

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, update | 8 Comments

Chic Diamonds Revisited

What have we here? Another new project, I rather sheepishly confess. Even though I don’t gravitate toward pre-cuts, I recently bought a set of 40 2½” strips of Northcott’s new fabric line called “Morning Light” and started casting around for a good pattern to show off the line’s vivid greens, turquoises, and blues.

Then it occurred to me I already had the perfect pattern! Back in 2016 I made a quilt I named Dragonfly Kisses:

The quilt is a simplified version of the pattern Chic Diamonds by Sew Kind of Wonderful, creator of the Quick Curve Ruler:

Here’s how I described my pared down approach in 2016 to Sew Kind of Wonderful’s design:

“Chic Diamonds was designed as a jelly-roll friendly pattern, since the pointed pieces (I call them blades) are made from 2½” strips that are sewn in pairs and then trimmed using the Quick Curve Ruler. Triangles cut from the strip pairs are saved and used in each block. Six blocks in the design are intentionally left blank as a design element, perhaps to give the eye a place to rest.

“I decided early on not to use all the triangles, wanting to make my quilt less busy so a viewer’s eyes would be drawn to the X blocks (the kisses). I used only 20 triangles rather than the 240 called for in the pattern. And I put my triangles in the middle of the blank blocks rather than in the blocks with the blades. (Thanks to my friend Deborah for giving me that idea.) I like to think those triangles form the “chic diamonds” in my quilt.

“The original design uses a 6 x 6 setting, finishing 54″ square. I went with a 5 x 6 setting using five blank blocks instead of six. I like the asymmetry of the look. And I added a narrow border of background fabric to float the outer blocks a bit, giving a bit more airiness to the design and making the top slightly bigger.”

The fabric line in my first version featured dragonflies and the X of the block made the kisses, hence the name. I gave Dragonfly Kisses to a family member during our holiday gift exchange in 2016. At the time I wrote on my blog that I enjoyed making the quilt so much I would make it again if the right fabrics came along. I wasn’t planning on using the same fabric palette but you can see that I gravitated right back to it with these Northcott prints. I even sourced the same background fabric, “Shadowplay” by Maywood in pale mint.

I predict I will enjoy making this second version every bit as much as I did the first.

 

 

 

Posted in family, Quick Curve Ruler, update | 3 Comments

It’s a Wrap: Vintage Vignettes

Hooray, my Vintage Vignettes quilt is done. I finished binding it last week on a short but sweet road trip with the Dear Husband to Walla Walla, Washington (and added the label yesterday).

These next few photos were taken in Walla Walla’s tranquil Pioneer Park:

Doesn’t that dappled sunlight give the quilt a lovely glow?

You may remember I acquired the unfinished quilt top by an unknown maker last August at my quilt guild’s annual silent auction . . .

. . . only to discover later that my dear friend Vivienne Moore had pieced these blocks about 20 years ago. She donated the top to the Metropolitan Patchwork Society auction through a friend who also belongs to the guild.

Lucky for me, Viv had a piece of that lavender sashing fabric in her stash that enabled me to complete the first border as it would have been impossible to match. I added a wide floral border using a ’30s reproduction fabric that played very nicely with the fabrics in Viv’s blocks. Here’s a photo of the finished quilt taken in the same spot:

Another friend who had inherited a large stash of ’30s repro fabric gave me a piece of solid medium blue to use for the binding after I had visited several local quilt shops without finding a suitable shade.

The label, outlined in the same blue, identifies Vivienne as the maker of the blocks:

It wouldn’t be a photoshoot without Coco the Photobomber making an appearance, right?

I’ll be back with a few more photos after Vintage Vignettes takes a trip through the washer and dryer. You know how I love the puckery softness that laundering gives a quilt!

 

 

 

Posted in '30s reproduction fabrics, cats, family, Metropolitan Patchwork Society, quilt labels, update, vintage quilts | 7 Comments

In the Home Stretch

I’ve rounded third base and am headed for home on the binding of my Vintage Vignettes quilt:

A few minutes here, a few minutes there. It adds up. You may be able to tell from the photo that my binding is wider than usual. I typically make my binding to finish at 1/4″ but I went for 1/2″ finished on this one.

Check out this sweet treat, a little macaron holding my needle in its magnetic grip:

I have a terrible time keeping track of my needle between binding sprints as I tend to set it down on a flat surface or insert it in the border of the quilt and then lose it somehow. The macaron is so cute it makes me want to reach for it instead.

Made by Clover, the macaron is a needle sharpener as well as a magnet. The “filling” is some substance that sharpens the tip of the needle when it’s inserted between the top and bottom of the macaron. I never knew hand-sewing needles needed to be sharpened; did you?

I found this little gem at my local quilt shop but if yours doesn’t carry it you can google “clover sweet n sharp macaron” and be able to find it online. It comes in two flavors: raspberry, which is what I have, and pistachio, which is more aqua than green. Get one for yourself and one for a friend or family member who sews. That’s what I did. Sweet treats are meant to be shared.

 

 

 

Posted in '30s reproduction fabrics, family, update, vintage quilts | 9 Comments

A New Project . . .

. . . and it’s not a quilt!

I can’t remember the last time I made myelf something to wear (not counting bathrobes and aprons). My inspiration for making a summery short sleeve shirt can be attributed to the glorious weather we’ve been enjoying in Portland the last few weeks. That and the fact that the Dear Husband and I are taking a little road trip soon and it would be fun to have something new to wear.

Over the years I’ve given most of my patterns away but have hung on to some thinking I might use them someday. For this project I’m using a Butterick pattern that probably dates back to the 1980s. (I couldn’t find a date on the envelope or instruction sheet.) When I pulled the pattern pieces out of the envelope I discovered they had already been cut out. By me. I’ve made this pattern before — but I have absolutely no recollection of what fabric I used and when I made it. (And why don’t I still have the shirt?)

The fabric is from the “Canyon” line designed a few years ago by Kate Spain for Moda. I’ve used it to make a pair of pillowcases for the Portland White House . . .

. . . and this sweet little basket block that may wind up in a quilt someday:

 

 

 

 

Posted in family, garment sewing, home dec, pillowcases, roll-it-up pillowcases, update | 9 Comments

This Time the Dream’s On Me

What’s with the title of my blog post? It’s the name of a 1941 song written by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Johnny Mercer. You’ll understand as you read on . . .

I gave myself the day off today from working in the yard to play in my sewing room.  What do you think of my new pillowcases for the Portland White House?

The main body, accent strip, and flange are from the “Mindscape” line of fabric designed by Katarina Roccella for Art Gallery Fabrics. The apricot-colored band at the bottom of the cases is a treasured piece of “Gypsy Girl” designed by Joanna Figueroa of Fig Tree & Company. If these four fabrics look familiar, it’s because I’m using them in my current Work-in-Progress, which I wrote about here.

That WIP has been on the back burner for most of May because the Dear Husband and I have been taking advantage of an unusually long stretch of warm dry weather to work outside. In a perverse sort of way, I’m wishing for a little rain to come our way so I can spend more time in my sewing room. Kidding! (Well, maybe not . . .)

It feels so good to finish a project. Pillowcases provide a fast way to achieve sewing satisfaction. Not instant gratification but pretty darn close. By the way, I followed my own tutorial to make what I call “Perfect Pillowcases.”

I’ll bet you can guess what the DH and I are sleeping on tonight! I predict sweet dreams.

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, pillowcases, roll-it-up pillowcases, tutorial, update | 9 Comments

Opening Day

Cue the music to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” That’s right, today is the official opening day of Major League Baseball. Several games are being televised all day long and into the evening. At some point the Dear Husband and I will settle in front of the TV for at least one game. That will be a great time for me to continue binding September Song, my current Work-in-Progress:

Progress has been slow, as I have been very busy these last weeks with volunteer committee work and running a household. It seems every day has a task or an obligation that keeps me from my sewing room. But binding? I can work on that in just about any room in the house, and even a few minutes with needle and thread produces a measurable result. I’m really loving the way the brick red vine print I’m using for the binding is framing the quilt. It stands out nicely against the buttery yellow background fabric, don’t you think?

Unlike some quiltmakers, I enjoy hand binding my quilts. It’s a slow contemplative process, allowing me to enjoy each moment and let my mind wander. What will I do with my latest fabric acquisitions? Do I want to try a new recipe for dinner tonight? Will it ever warm up enough to work in the garden? What songs should I add to my playlists? What’s the next project on my spring cleaning list? You get the idea.

I usually listen to music when I’m sewing but I have an app on my iPad that allows me to listen to any live minor league or major league game. Chances are the next few times I am ensconced in my sewing room, I’ll either be listening to songs from the Great American Songbook or a baseball game. Go Mariners!

 

 

 

Posted in family, leaf block, update | 5 Comments

“A Swirling Fall Breeze”

That’s what my twin sister Diane said when she saw a photo of the quilting on my latest quilt, September Song, newly back from the longarm quilter. See for yourself:

Here’s the funny thing:  I picked the swirly motif — an edge-to-edge design called “Curlicue” by TK Quilting & Design II — for two reasons.

First, I almost always choose a quilting motif with curves when my quilt blocks have a lot of straight or diagonal lines. These leaves are made mostly of rectangles with foldover corners (also known as stitch-and-flip corners).

Second, I loved the way the quilting design mimicked the curves in one of the two main focus fabrics:

It never occurred to me that the quilt design would also evoke a “swirling fall breeze,” but Diane’s comment was spot on. I immediately thought of the times I have seen a single leaf caught in an updraft, causing it to spin slowly down to earth. Maybe that’s what designer Margot Languedoc of the Pattern Basket had in mind when she named her pattern Forest Floor.

I think the quilting design on September Song is absolutely perfect, don’t you? As usual, Karlee at SewInspired2Day did a lovely job quilting this for me.

I also appreciate how the quilting lines stand out in the small star in the center of each leaf block:

 

The back was pieced from leftovers of my two focus fabrics with a few other prints used on the front:

The plan was to try a new piecing technique for the backing using a length of fabric cut corner to corner on the bias but my quilt top was too large to make it work well. I’ll save that technique to explore on a smaller quilt.

September Song measures 53″ x 58″ after quilting and trimming. I’m going to bind it with one of the brick red prints I used on the front. Happily, I have just enough of the tone-on-tone print with tiny vines, carrying my “swirling fall breeze” theme to its ultimate conclusion.

 

 

 

Posted in family, leaf block, stitch-and-flip corners, update | 8 Comments