Category Archives: update

A New Leaf

Ah, as in turning over a new leaf? No no. As in making a leaf block. As in starting a new project. And this is happening during the first month of the New Year, when many quilters are going through their bins of Unfinished Objects (UFOs) and Works in Progress (WIPs), making charts and even joining challenges to tick those projects off their list.

Alas, I am not one of those quilters. I do have a few (ahem) UFOs I plan to tackle this year but this particular project has been percolating in my mind since last August, when I first saw Forest Floor, a new pattern from Margot Languedoc of the Pattern Basket, on Instagram. The very same day I saw a picture on Instagram of a quilt by Kim Diehl called Maple Stars featured in her new book, Simple Double-Dipped Quilts, published by Martingale Publishing. Both designers inserted a Sawtooth Star in the center of a Maple Leaf block. The settings are different but the idea is the same.

A few weeks later two fabrics from unrelated lines caught my eye at Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego, where I teach. Yielding to impulse — oh, how good I am at that! — I bought some yardage without a clue as to what I would do with it:

I looked at the two prints frequently, waiting for inspiration. A couple of weeks ago my musings on combining these fabrics in a quilt of leaves finally coalesced. I pulled some golds and oranges out of my stash to audition them with the two focus fabrics:

Then I realized I had some barn reds and rusts that might work, too:

For the background I pulled a creamy yellow from my stash that I’ve had for years and years. So far I’ve made only two blocks. Here’s the second one:

(I’ve cropped the seam allowances to show you what the blocks will look like finished.)

I haven’t used the second focus fabric yet. But I have a plan.

After buying a pdf copy of Forest Floor, I decided to buy the Kim Diehl book as well because I wanted to compare the patterns and instructions of the two designers. Martingale has recently ceased publication and print versions on the website are sold out but I was able to purchase an eBook version of Kim Diehl’s book for $9 and printed only the pages I needed to get her instructions for Maple Stars.

Both designers created their blocks to finish at 10″ square. I resized my blocks to finish at 12½” square. That may seem an odd size until you consider that the Maple Leaf block is on a 5 x 5 grid, which means that the finished size must be easily divisible by five. I have a fondness for blocks that finish at 12″ square — neither too large nor too small. It just so happens that a 12″ block is perfect for the front/back panels on a Junior Billie Bag — and 12½” blocks work, too.

Could my blocks be making an appearance on a future Junior Billie Bag (JBB)? Probably not these blocks, because I have a quilt in mind. But I do love the idea of this block design appearing on a future JBB. Time will tell.

In the meantime, I am trying to carve time from what has turned out to be a very busy month to make a couple more blocks before February arrives. Wish me luck!

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, Junior Billie Bag, update | 2 Comments

Addendum: Hanging Quilts with 3M Command Strips

After seeing my last post on using 3M Command Strips to hang quilts, one of my readers asked an excellent question: “Can you successfully remove the strip from the back of the quilt?”

The answer is “yes” — but there’s a surprise involved. When you take a quilt off the wall that was hung with Command Strips, the strips stay on the wall — not the quilt! And there is no residue whatsoever on the back of the quilt.

I discovered something else quite by accident: if you’re planning to take one quilt down and put up another one of the same or slightly wider width, you can reuse the strips that are already attached to the wall. Serendipity!

On one wall in our main floor bath I took down Uptown Funk (now on loan to a quilt guild for an upcoming workshop) . . .

Uptown Funk, 24″ x 26″ (2020)

. . . in order to hang Loose Leaf:

Loose Leaf, 24½” square (2015)

I saw that I had hung Uptown Funk using Medium-size Command Strips, which measure ¾” x 2¾”. All I had to do was separate the top strip from the bottom strip of each pair on the wall. You will remember from my previous post that the strips work in pairs, with the Velcro-like textured sides coming together with an audible click. It’s quite easy to separate them, leaving one half of the pair on the wall with the Velcro-like side exposed:

I took three new strips from the package (each strip is half of a pair) . . .

. . . and pressed each Velcro-like side to its mate on the wall. Then I peeled off the paper backing to expose the adhesive and pressed Loose Leaf into place. Easy as pie! It took less than two minutes.

If you’re the least bit apprehensive about attaching adhesive strips to either your wall or your quilt, I have a suggestion. Start with one pair of Command Strips. Remove the paper backing from one strip and attach it to the back of one of your quilts. Remove the paper backing from the other strip and attach it to a wall in an inconspicuous place — perhaps behind a door or a piece of furniture. Leave both strips in place for a week or two. Then remove the strips, remembering to pull straight down and very slowly on the rounded tab . . .

. . . until the strips completely separate from the fabric and the wall.

Pulling slowly and straight down on the tab is what loosens the bond between the adhesive and whatever it is attached to (fabric or wall). If you pull the tab out from the wall instead of straight down, you run the risk of pulling part of the wall or paper off with the tab. (This has never happened to me, by the way). If you pull too fast, the strip will snap you like a rubber band when it comes off. (This has happened to me but it won’t ever again, I assure you.)

I predict that trying this experiment will give you the confidence to hang your own quilts with Command Strips.

 

 

 

Posted in home dec, New Big Leaf, tutorial, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 2 Comments

Practical Magic: Hanging Quilts with 3M Command Strips

Happy New Year!! I’m starting the year with a bit of practical magic:  using Command Picture Hanging Strips from 3M to change out the wall hanging in my master bath. Command Strips have a sticky Velcro-like texture on one side and adhesive on the other side covered by paper backing. The strips are assembled in pairs, with adhesive facing out on both sides and the Velcro-like sides in the middle, like a sandwich. When the paper backings are removed, one adhesive side attaches to the wall and the other side to the back of the quilt — without leaving a trace on either when they are removed. Seriously!

I have several wall hangings that I like to rotate more or less according to the seasons. Dark Moon, pictured on the left below, went up in December as my choice for winter but as the New Year rang in I was longing for something brighter. It took fewer than five minutes to swap out Dark Moon for Hip Hop:

Dark Moon (2011) on the left, Hip Hop (2018) on the right

Hip Hop features five different kangaroos gamboling on an Australian aboriginal print background. The playful ‘roos and bright colors are definitely lightening my mood during these gray and rainy days in Portland:

But I digress. Let me show you how very easy it is to hang quilts using these Command Picture Hanging Strips.

Packaging varies. I bought a “value pack” containing four small and eight medium pairs of command strips:

The strips come in Small (holding up to four pounds), Medium (up to 12 pounds) and Large (up to 16 pounds). As mentioned above, the strips are geared for picture frames but they are eminently suitable for quilts. The size Small is more than sufficient for my wall hanging, which weighs much less than four pounds. FYI, Hip Hop measures 16″ x 59″.

These are the four pairs of small Command Strips, front and back:

The strips are separated by pulling them apart (very easy). I’m using three pairs for my wall hanging:

Each strip is ¾” wide and 2⅛” long. Before removing the paper backing, I press two sticky sides together to form a pair, causing them to make an audible clicking sound as they connect. This is what they look like from the side:

I peel off one set of paper backing pieces and place the strips sticky side down right next to the binding at the top back of my quilt — one strip on each end and one in the middle:

Then I remove the second set of paper backing pieces . . .

. . . turn the quilt around, and place it on the wall, pressing firmly from the right side of the quilt. I actually run my fingers up and down where the Command Strips are for a good 30 seconds, pressing the runner firmly against the strips for good adhesion. Note: this wall hanging is going on a painted sheetrock wall. I have also used the strips successfully on wallpapered walls (although the instructions say not to do this with picture frames) and on lath and plaster walls in my 1913 home.

Oh, and one more thing: I want to show you how to remove the strips from the wall after you’ve taken the wall hanging down. This shot was taken after I took Dark Moon off the wall:

All you do is grasp the rounded tab at the bottom and pull gently, firmly and — this is important! — slowly straight down from the strip. That tab will stretch a good 12″ or more before the entire strip releases from the wall, leaving no trace behind of the adhesive. If you pull too fast or too hard, the strip snaps like a rubber band. Ouch! You only do that once, believe me.

Note: I have no affiliation with 3M, the maker of Command Strips. I’m strictly a consumer, recommending this product based on personal experience. As far as I know, there is no other comparable product on the market. Using this method to display quilts on my walls has eliminated the need to mar the surface of the walls with nails or screws in order to hang rods or other hardware.

About the wall hangings: both are original designs. Hip Hop was made using my first pattern, Full Moon Rising. Dark Moon was made from my second pattern, Full Moon Rising II. If interested, you can look at the front and back of the patterns on the Patterns page on my website.

A final thought:  I think this post qualifies as a tutorial. I’m adding it to the Tutorials page on my website. It’s Tutorial #23. Maybe you should check out the other ones!

Update posted Jan. 23, 2023:  Be sure to read the follow-up post to this one! It’s called Addendum: Hanging Quilts with 3M Command Picture Hanging Strips. Clicking on the link will take you right to the post.

 

 

 

Posted in home dec, tutorial, update, wall hanging | 8 Comments

First Light Designs: Best of 2022

It’s that time of year again. Cheryl Brickey of Meadow Mist Designs is inviting bloggers to share their top five posts of the year in her “Best of 2022 Linky Party.” This is the eighth consecutive year Cheryl has hosted this linky party and my fifth year participating.

Clicking on the links will take you to the original posts where you can see more photos and read about my creative process.

Number 1. Isabella’s Quilt

Isabella’s Quilt, 40″ x 44″ (2022)

Isabella’s Quilt, made for a new great grandchild, was adapted from the pattern Star Stream Quilt by Sally Davies of Chasing Tigers.  I chose to make only a portion of the original design, using just two stars and enlarging them for maximum graphic effect. Instead of using one fabric for the background, I used several greens from my ample stash to create a low volume effect.

Number 2. Arctic Stars  (I liked Isabella’s Quilt so much I made a second version!)

Arctic Stars, 50″ x 63″ (2022)

Made to be a throw size, the quilt features two additional stars, with each star containing a fussycut image from the “Icy World” line by Gareth Lucas for Windham Fabrics. Here are a couple of close-ups:

8″ Star Block in Arctic Stars
16″ Star Block in Arctic Stars

 

Number 3. My Eleventh (!) Junior Billie Bag (JBB)

Dawn’s Latest Junior Billie Bag, the Essential Quilter’s Tote (2022)

I teach other quilters how to make this tote, making one myself in the process. That’s why I’ve made so many. To see earlier versions, click here.

I’ve also been making accessories to accompany each JBB. Here’s my latest suite:

Dawn’s Junior Billie Bag Accessories (2022)

You’ll find tutorials for the rotary cutter coat and scissors case at these links to my website:
 Rotary Cutter Coat (Oct. 10, 2014)
 Scissors Case from First Light Designs (Sept. 5, 2018)

Number 4. Pillowcases to Make You Dream of Italy

Pillowcases for the Portland White House (2022)

I love sleeping on pillowcases made from beautiful cottons. These cases were made using the “Capri” line designed by Katarina Roccella for Art Gallery Fabrics. (I used the burrito or roll-it-up method for the pillowcases, using my own tutorial which you can find here.)

Number 5. Holliberry Circle

Holliberry Circle, 25″ in diameter (2022)

My very first finish of 2022 was this mini quilt using the delightfully whimsical pattern Dresden Neighborhood by Kim Lapacek of Persimon Dreams. I used scraps from Corey Yoder’s “Holliberry” line from 2021 plus a few other red and green fabrics culled from my stash. I embellished the quilt with a few strategically placed vintage buttons. The link above the photo will take you to the post in which I explained (with lots of photos) how I converted my little quilt from a square to a circle.

Thank you so much for visiting First Light Designs. And thank you, Cheryl, for getting the party going. Be sure to check out the top five posts of the other quilting/blogging partygoers. If you’re a quilter, you can join Cheryl’s Best of 2022 Linky Party, too. The link is open until January 2.

All the best in 2023!

 

 

 

Posted in baby quilt, Billie Bag, home dec, Junior Billie Bag, roll-it-up pillowcases, rotary cutter case, sewing tool caddy, tote bags, tutorial, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 7 Comments

Arctic Stars is a Wrap!

How appropriate! I finished Arctic Stars today and the temperature in Portland, Oregon as I write this is a frigid 14 degrees. I’ve lived in Portland for 65 years and can’t recall a time when it was this cold. With the wind chill factor taken into account, the temperature is -6 degrees. Brrrr!

I bound Arctic Stars in the same navy blue used for the star points. Here’s a look at the front . . .

. . . and the back:

In case you missed an earlier post, you can see close-ups of all the star blocks here.

The quilt measures 50″x 63″ — a nice snuggle size. I’m tempted to wrap myself up in it this very minute but it needs to take a trip first through the washer and dryer to get that soft, crinkly effect. Mmmm, now I’m thinking about how good it will feel to wrap myself up in it while it is still warm from the dryer . . .

P.S. As a follow-up to my last post about holiday decorating, here’s a look at the wreath I found on sale this week at the grocery store:

I added red jingle bells to dress it up a bit. Thus concludes my holiday decorating!

 

 

 

Posted in home dec, update | 1 Comment

In the Christmas Spirit

Isn’t this a sweet holiday scene? My sister Diane sent this photo to me a few days ago. The table runner was made last year by moi from my own pattern, Season to Taste, and gifted to Diane. I think the runner looks sensational on the built-in buffet in her dining room, don’t you? (I still have plans to make a second winter version of Season to Taste using a different color palette. Just haven’t gotten around to it yet.)

Christmas decorations at the Portland White House have become increasingly minimal. The Dear Husband and I have segued in recent years from a live tree decorated with strings of lights and lots of ornaments to a small imitation tree that sits on the sideboard opposite the front door. This year I added my mini quilt made from the pattern Dresden Neighborhood by Persimon Dreams:


The little scene looks lovely at night. I struggled to get a photo that would do it justice. This was the best I could do:

The tree and quilt can be seen from the street through the glass in our front door. I especially like how the icicle lights on the curved arch on our front porch are reflected in the door and windows:

Now I just need to find a wreath of fresh greens to hang above the house numbers.

There’s something irresistible about the combination of red and green, even if you don’t celebrate Christmas. It’s no coincidence that red and green figure prominently in my stash of quilt fabrics!

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, table runner, table topper, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 7 Comments

Way To Go!

When it came time to choose a quilt motif for my Vintage Vignettes quilt, I just knew that feathers would be the way to go. Karlee at SewInspired2Day did a beautiful job on her longarm quilting machine with this edge-to-edge design called “Abundant Feathers.” I chose the same design a couple years ago for another quilt, Lilacs in September, and loved the result.

Here’s another close-up . . .

. . . and here’s a shot of the entire quilt, measuring 80″ x 92″ after trimming:

The outer border is a generous 8″ wide. I haven’t settled yet on what fabric to use for the binding. I could use the border fabric to completely float the blocks or I could go with a solid to provide a subtle frame.

Take a look at this close-up of the border fabric next to one of two blocks with almost the same colors:

If I went with a solid for the binding, my choices would be the medium light blue of the background, the darker blue in the flowers, yellow or orange. Believe it or not, I’m leaning toward the orange (think creamsicle!). I’ll probably wind up hauling the quilt to my closest local quilt shop, cool cottons, which has an extensive collection of solid colors, to properly audition my choices. I love an excuse to visit a quilt shop!

 

 

 

Posted in update, vintage quilts | 8 Comments

Satisfying Sewing

During my recent two-week stay at sister Diane’s home in Georgia last month, the only sewing I did other than new valances for her garage was this pair of napkins with machine-mitered corners:

The days leading up to our departure were so busy I didn’t take the time to organize a quilt project as I usually do, so I wound up throwing this fabric in my suitcase with the idea of making napkins. We use only cloth napkins at the Portland White House, and some of the older ones are pretty faded. This fleur de lis print will go very well with my blue and white transferware dishes.

I usually make my napkins with a 1/4″-wide hem using a method involving folding the fabric at the corners to form the miters. In fact, one of my very first tutorials — from 10 years ago! — describes this method. Folded miters work very well with narrow hems — say 1/4″ to 3/8″ wide. For anything wider, a miter stitched by machine is a better choice.

Because I had decided to finish these napkins with a 1/2″-wide hem, I looked for tutorials online to refresh my memory on how to machine-stitch mitered corners. I found a few that described the process with photos but every tutorial was lacking what I consider important information.

I want to make a couple more napkins now that I’m back home, and this time I’m going to take process shots so I’ll have them on hand the next time I decide to make some.

Is there interest out there in a tutorial? Let me know!

 

 

 

Posted in family, mitered corners, table napkins, tutorial, update | 17 Comments

Valancing Act, Part 2

The simple tailored valances I made for my sister Diane’s garage are in place:

They were put up with spring tension rods because we knew the white trim around the windows would offer a crisp contrast with the blue floral valance fabric. (And you already know how I love blue and white.)

Here’s a close-up of one window:

Diane is horrified that I’m posting these pictures before she spackled the holes from the old curtain rod and touched up the paint. I assured her my readers would use their imaginations and pretend not to see them.

She loves the new valances, in no small part because of what she calls the “happy fabric.” We are definitely on the same page in that regard.

We both loved the valances I made last year:

It sure is a shame the ruffles got all floppy from the humidity (described in my last post).

Perhaps you are wondering what’s going to happen to those valances. Let me reassure you they will be repurposed in some fashion. The fabric really is beautiful:

I’ve already cut off the ruffled tops and rod pockets, leaving two rectangles measuring roughly 16″ x 66″. There’s enough there to make a couple of beautiful pillows or some other home dec or crafty item. If you have any suggestions, feel free to direct them my way.

And for those of you who saw my pictures from a year ago and thought Diane and Ed’s garage looked pristine and unused, here’s proof that they actually park their cars in it:

I hope those of you who celebrate American Thanksgiving had a delicious repast yesterday. We sure did, and now we get to enjoy the next best thing:  leftovers!

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, update, valance | 2 Comments

Valancing Act

No, that’s not a typo. I’m in the valance-making business again! Just a few weeks after finishing valances for my stepmother’s living room windows, I’m here in Georgia at my twin sister’s home making valances for her garage windows.

But wait, you must be thinking. Didn’t I make valances for Diane’s garage windows last year at this time? Yes, I did. Alas, our noble effort (captured in this post) did not stand the test of time. We think the humidity in Georgia caused the ruffles at the top of the softly gathered valances, made out of a linen-like decorator fabric, to flop over. Most unseemly! Diane coped by tucking the ruffle out of sight behind the valances, which was definitely not the look either one of us was going for.

Chatting several months ago about what our options were for replacements, Diane mentioned how much she loved the valances I had made for my own kitchen windows:

She was wild about the fabric (from the “A Breath of Avignon” line by Sandy Klop for Moda) but I was sure I didn’t have enough left to make more valances. So that was that.

Then, while surveying my stash last week to see what project of my own I might work on during the Dear Husband’s and my annual two-week visit in November, I spotted another piece of that very fabric. I tossed it into my suitcase, and Diane was beyond delighted to learn there was enough for valances.

So . . . I brought a project for me (more on that later) and a project for her. What’s with the projects? Well, my sister and our husbands like to watch college football. It’s definitely not my thing so I am perfectly content to be working away on a sewing project in the kitchen dining area while the three of them are ensconced in the living room watching grown men hurtling themselves at each other in the pursuit of making or preventing touchdowns.

Diane really liked the design of my tailored kitchen valances, which feature a flange of yellow fabric just under the rod pocket:We didn’t have suitable fabric at her house so she ordered a spool of ⅝” grosgrain ribbon in a bright yellow gold to take the place of a flange. We had a good laugh when the ribbon arrived:


Diane thought she had ordered 10 yards. Turns out she ordered 100 yards — roughly the length of a football field!

I got started by making a rough sketch of the valance . . .

. . . followed by a freezer paper pattern:

In this next photo the grosgrain ribbon is ready to be stitched to the first valance:

It will be lined with blackout fabric, a necessity to keep the valance fabric from fading from light hitting it from the outside.

As home dec projects go, this is a simple one. Please stop by again soon to see the result!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, update, valance | 7 Comments