Many years ago my sister Diane and I found a set of four oversize napkins at a vintage linen shop in Portland. The proprietor told us they were called “lapkins.” Measuring around 27″ square, each lapkin is beautifully monogrammed with the initials KMG and has a lace insert and faggoting around the edges. We imagined them tucked away in a hope chest as part of a young bride-to-be’s trousseau or laid out at an elegant dinner party where splendidly clad ladies and gentlemen sipped champagne from crystal goblets.
We split the set. My two napkins are still neatly folded away in my linen closet. Diane’s, however, are part of an updated window treatment in her dining room. That window treatment was my home dec project during this two-week visit to her home over Thanksgiving:
As projects go, it seemed simple: all I had to do was make two squares of fabric that could be draped on point over a curtain rod before the napkins were added. But Diane wanted the fabric seen from the outside to be yellow to match the paint color on the exterior of the house. (Does this sound a little obsessive-compulsive? Like something I would do? It’s a twin thing.)
The solution was a two-tone square:
I had brought these fabrics with me — part of my stash of quilting cottons — thinking the colors would work well in Diane’s dining room. Isn’t that a gorgeous paisley? Although most of the paisley print is covered by the lapkins, enough can be seen to tie the window treatments in with the rest of the dining room decor:
The dark print is also a good foil for the detail on the lapkins:
Here’s a look at night, with some sparkly Christmas decorations reflected in the windows:
Now I’m inspired to get my lapkins out of my linen closet and transform them into a window treatment in my own home.
Friends, I wish you could smell what I am smelling now. My sister’s home is redolent with the yeasty smell of cinnamon rolls that just came out of the oven. We wasted no time in seeing if they tasted as good as they looked. (Boy howdy, did they ever!)
And guess what? Diane and I made them together. It was a first for me. I’m not much of a baker, although I surely do love baked goods. We began the process last night by making a sponge of flour, water, and sourdough starter she received from a dear friend in Maine:
By morning the sponge had doubled in size. Our proofing station was a stack of cutting boards arranged close enough to the undermount cabinet lights to get the necessary warmth for the sponge to rise.
This morning, we got the baking center prepped . . .
. . . and proceeded to transform the sponge into a ball of dough by adding flour and kneading . . .
. . . and kneading some more:
After 25 minutes of kneading, the ball of dough was finally glossy. We rolled it out into a 12″ x 24″ rectangle . . .
. . . and started to embellish it:
Here it is ready to roll. Rolling, rolling, rolling:
Once we had a 24″-long log, it was time to cut it into 12 pieces — with string! Take a look:
Then it was time for a second rising under the warm light . . .
. . . until they were ready for the oven:
And finally, this beautiful sight:
So that’s it for the baking.
And what about the making? Well, between countless games of Scrabble and Diane’s and my discovery of the PBS series Poldark, progress on home dec for Diane and appliqué for my Hazel’s Diary Quilt has slowed. Not to a standstill, however. Look for an update in a couple of days.
What a lovely Thanksgiving feast we had yesterday! Although my sister Diane and her husband Ed have hosted upwards of a dozen people at Thanksgiving in previous years, it was just the four of us this year. My husband Charlie and I look forward to our annual trip to Atlanta which has stretched to a two-week visit since I retired 10 years ago.
Diane sets a beautiful table. She got out the Rosalie Spode that belonged to her mother-in-law and some vintage glassware that could have come directly from the set of Downton Abbey:
Normally the Christmas decorations don’t come out until after Thanksgiving but a few days ago Diane and I were shopping in downtown Norcross and she spotted a gorgeous one-of-a-kind Christmas tree at a home and garden shop called Good Things. The tree had to come home with us. Diane couldn’t wait to try it out on the built-in buffet in the dining room:
It made our Thanksgiving dinner extra festive.
I’m so thankful Charlie and I were able to spend this holiday with my family in Georgia. For those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you also got to spend it with loved ones.
Now, 24 hours later, I am looking forward to the second best thing about Thanksgiving: leftovers!
When I was at Quilt Camp earlier this month, I made Blocks 9 and 10 of Hazel’s Diary Quilt. Block 9, called Fancy Farm Girl, was quick and fun to make: in the center, a square in a square surrounded by hourglass blocks.
Take a look:
Here is the same block oriented on point as it will be in the finished quilt:
This block is still awaiting its appliqué in the center and the red scalloped frame around it. You can imagine what mine will look like by viewing designer Shelly Pagliai’s original version:
And what about Block 10? I did make it but I am so dissatisfied with my fabric choices that I am going to remake it. You’ll have to wait a bit for that reveal.
In the meantime I have been working on adding that red scalloped frame to the other blocks I have already made. Here is the scalloped frame added to Block 7, Aunt Ruby’s Choice:
This is my second scalloped frame and I am happy with the result. Here is another look at it against a white background:
Given that Shelly’s quilt was inspired by her mother Hazel, who grew up on a farm in Missouri in the 1950s, I couldn’t resist showing the block with my own mother’s 50s-era recipe box, now in the possession of my twin sister Diane:
My fabrics aren’t as evocative of the 1950s as Shelly’s quilt but I am tickled that the fabrics I have chosen are so similar in color to Mother’s recipe box. She died in 2003, a couple years before my love affair with quilting began in earnest, but somehow I know she would approve. Do you think I can wrest that recipe box away from Diane?
Today’s the day. My twin Diane and I complete another trip around the sun. Though we live 3,000 miles apart, on this birthday I am at her home in Atlanta to celebrate with her and our Dear Husbands.
And look what was waiting for me when I arrived!
It’s not really a birthday present. I bought it in Portland a couple weeks ago and had it shipped to Diane’s home. I always do some sewing on my extended visits and the vintage Elna that I brought to her house decades ago has reached the end of its long life.
I chose this Janome 3160 because I sewed on one in June when I taught at a Pine Needle quilt retreat and absolutely loved the way it performed. Montavilla Sewing Center provided four new 3160s for the students to try out and all four machines were purchased before the retreat was over.
And what will be my inaugural sewing project? Well, Diane and I have a couple of small home dec sewing projects planned. I brought several pieces of fabric with me that are candidates for this project:
I also brought some of my Hazel’s Diary Quilt blocks to work on. Please drop by again soon for an update.
. . . is coming up and I couldn’t be happier about it.
In just a few minutes I’m leaving for Quilt Camp — four days and three nights with a group of terrific women I’ve had the pleasure of “camping out” with for several years. In the past few years we’ve gone to Camp Tilikum in Newberg, Oregon, just about an hour away from home. It’s a popular spot for quilt retreats.
I’m packed and ready to go:
Project boxes and fabric tub? Check. Sewing machine and wraparound table? Check. Suitcase? Check. Billie Bag? Check. Big board? Check.
Camp ends at 4:00 pm Wednesday but I’m heading back early, picking up the Dear Husband and heading to the Oregon coast where I’m doing a trunk show and lecture for a quilt guild on Thursday and teaching Part 2 of my Junior Billie Bag workshop on Friday. The DH and I are staying an extra day for a mini-vacation.
The quilts I’m taking for the trunk show are stacked on the couch, ready to be packed into bags when I get back:
I can’t wait to see the progress my students have made on their Junior Billie Bags in the couple of weeks since the first workshop. Speaking of which, I couldn’t resist seeing what my current one is going to look like when it’s sewn together. I’ll be demonstrating this step at the second workshop so for now I simply pinned the side/bottom panel unit to one of the front/back panels:
One of the fabrics I chose for pockets on the side panels is a batik with directional bubbles. Just for fun I made the bubbles horizontal on one side and vertical on the other. They may not be easy to see once the bag is all put together but I like knowing they are there.
No more work on this till after Quilt Camp. I’ll be working on Hazel’s Diary Quilt. Here’s hoping I make a lot of progress on it!
Thank you all so much for your kind comments on my last post about my father’s passing. I don’t often write about my personal life on this blog but in this case my connection with my dad intersected with my quilting life in such a meaningful way that I wanted to share it with my readers. I appreciate your words of comfort so very much.
My big project for 2018, the sampler quilt known as Hazel’s Diary Quilt, has been on hold the last couple months while I worked on small projects for friends and family. I think of these projects as Little Labors of Love.
In the past I’ve shown photos of pillowcases made for my sisters Reigh and Diane. Recently I made pillowcases for another set of very special sisters in my family, Jenny and Tracy. I asked them to let me know their color preferences and then selected fabrics from my stash I thought they would love.
Another labor of love is this mysterious item made from quilted fabric:
It measures about 18″ square (not counting the straps) and is doubled in order to create four channels, each about 4″ wide and open at one end. On the inside it has Velcro strips along the sides:
When folded in half the Velcro strips close and it becomes a carrying case:
Can you guess what this is for? Only if you are a Mah Jongg player! In addition to being a champion bridge player, my stepmother Shirley is an avid Mah Jongg fan and plays regularly. She asked me to make a carrying case for the tile racks in one of her sets.
My guide for this rack carrier came from another Mah Jongg player named Dorothy Huotari who posted a photo on Facebook in June of one she had made and graciously gave permission to other crafters to replicate it:
I have enough left of the quilted fabric to make Shirley a matching bag for the tiles similar to the one shown in the photo of Dorothy’s carrying case.
Last month I put the binding on a beautiful quilt made by my friend Virginia Hammon:
The quilt was one of many made by Virginia that were featured in a special exhibit at Northwest Quilting Expo last month. The quilts illustrate a book she has researched and written about the U.S. monetary system. With the text finished, Virginia can now concentrate on finishing the quilts. Since I truly enjoy the binding process, I was happy to add the binding to this beauty.
I get so much pleasure working on these Little Labors of Love, sandwiched as they are between longer term projects.
When I created my blog in May 2012, one of my very first posts was about an Ocean Waves quilt my father gave me in the 1980s when I first became interested in quilting. Here’s a close-up of the quilt:
To give you an idea of scale, the squares made of Half Square Triangles finish at 2″ and the bubblegum pink print in the center finishes at about 5½” square.
The quilt was made sometime in the late 1920s by Magdalena “Lena” Weissenfluh, my father’s Swiss-born grandmother. My dad, born in 1923, contributed to the making of this quilt. His job was to pull scraps of wrinkled fabric from the rag bag and iron them so his grandmother could cut triangles and sew them together on a treadle sewing machine.
The quilt was quilted by hand on a frame lowered from the ceiling of Grandmothere Lena’s home in eastern Oregon. My dad described the frame and the quilting process in great detail in an email message to me, parts of which were included in this 2012 post entitled “Nattering ladies with needle and thread . . .”
My father, Calvin Eston Weissenfluh, died last week at the age of 95. He had fallen at his home in Bend, Oregon the week before and was in the hospital. My siblings and I rushed to his side, expecting he would be released to a rehabilitation center. Instead he entered hospice care. It was his time and he was ready. His last week was spent in the comfort of his own home surrounded by three generations of family members and his wife of 59 years, my dear stepmother Shirley.
The last week was a time of great sadness because we knew the end was coming but it was also a time of joy as we got to celebrate his long life with him. My father was clear-headed up to the end, telling stories, giving orders, engaging in some good-natured joshing with his son and grandsons, and enjoying one-on-one time with family members. The night before he died he asked for — and got — a sip of whiskey, enjoying a virtual toast over the phone with his son-in-law in Georgia.
My father served in the US Marine Corps during World War II. Here’s a picture of him in uniform at the age of 23 alongside a photo of him taken seven decades later:
What a handsome fellow he was!
During my dad’s last week I was charged with drafting his obituary, which he read and approved. He made one correction and asked me to add one sentence that appears at the end of the following paragraph:
“Cal’s ancestors on his father’s side emigrated from Switzerland in 1880, settling in eastern Kansas before moving to eastern Oregon. A chance encounter with a Swiss tourist visiting Oregon in 1950 led to Cal’s discovery of Weissenfluh relatives in Guttannen, Switzerland. He made two trips to Switzerland to visit them and maintained close contact with his Swiss relatives for the remainder of his life. He was always very proud of his Swiss ancestry.”
My father gave me two things before he died. The first is a replica of the Swiss flag that he brought home from his first trip to Switzerland:
I’ve always loved the simplicity and strong graphic appeal of the white cross on a red background. Now I am thinking about how to include this 22″ square flag in a tribute quilt.
The second is a leather bow tie embellished with beading that was given to him in 1980 by a member of the Klamath Tribe in southern Oregon:
My dad loved that tie and wore it at our last Weissenfluh Family Reunion held in 2017:
Back in July I was playing around with the pattern Dancing Churndash, using positive and negative prints in black and white:
I liked the checkerboard effect immensely but only had enough of the prints to make these four blocks, having used most of the fabric years before in a couple of other projects.
Not to worry. I just (ahem) happen to have several other sets of positive/negative black and white prints in my stash. I pulled out one of those sets to make a quilt I’ve already named Checkerboard Curves. It’s easy to see why:
Dancing Churndash was designed for Cut Loose Press by Jenny Pedigo and Helen Robinson of Sew Kind of Wonderful. The traditional Churn Dash block is one of my favorites, and I love Jenny and Helen’s contemporary curvy take on it. (In fact, this is my second version of Dancing Churndash. You can see the first one here.)
The top above measures 44″ square. I generally make quilts that are at least lap size and thought about adding borders to this one to make it larger. In the end I decided to keep it simple and will finish it with lime green binding after it’s been quilted.
For the backing I did a little more stash diving and came up with this Timeless Treasures print from a few years ago featuring stylish young women walking their dogs in New York City and picnicking in Central Park:
I had just enough length for the backing but needed to add to the width to make it work:
Isn’t that cute?
The photo above was taken yesterday just as the light was beginning to wane. Coco the Cat was keeping my husband company while he was weeding in the backyard but she came over immediately to investigate:
Bom dia from Portugal! My husband and I are in the heart of the Douro River Valley on a river cruise. Everywhere you look the terraced hills are covered with vines. We have visited some lovely wine estates and sampled some delicious wines and ports.
I’m finding plenty of inspiration for quilts. Here’s a small sample beginning with a photo taken while we were still in Spain.
An exterior window in the old Jewish quarter of Toledo . . .
A lovely motif, reminiscent of fleur de lis, at the Mateus Palace near Pinhăo, our second docking stop in Portugal:
Tile from the interior wall of a cafe in Lamego where we stopped after a museum visit for a glass of champagne (our Friday night tradition):
A cork-backed ceramic trivet from the Museu do Douro gift shop in Régua:
I’ll be on the lookout for more . . .
P.S. If you are on Instagram, check out the hashtag #iseequiltseverywhere. You’ll see a few of my posts.