Category Archives: update

Off to the Quilter!

The borders are on my cherry blossom quilt . . .

. . . and it’s ready to be delivered to my longarm quilter.

Don’t you love the freshness of the cherry blossom fabrics against the two spring green tone-on-tone prints? I sure do. The simplicity of the pattern (Town Square by Fabric Cafe) really lets the fabrics take center stage, which is always my goal.

I made a simple pieced backing incorporating two quilt blocks that were too similar to ones on the front. Celebrating Spring is the leading contender for my new quilt’s name but I’m open to other suggestions. Just sayin’.

There was enough of the small focus fabric print left to make a pillowcase for a loved one to go with her new bed linens:

It was made with my own tutorial, which you can see here.

I like this pillowcase so much that I’m sorely tempted to order more fabric to make a pair for the Portland White House. But seriously, the Dear Husband and I have enough other cases to sleep on. If I made pillowcases for every line of fabrics I fall in love with, we’d be sleeping on different cases every night.

Anyway, I’ve embarked on yet another new project that I’m eagerly looking forward to showing you. I hope you’ll stop by to see what it is!

 

 

 

 

Posted in cherry blossom quilt, family, home dec, pillowcases, roll-it-up pillowcases, tutorial, update | 3 Comments

Celebrating Spring

Happy First Day of Spring!

The vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere occurs tonight at 11:06 pm EDT. (Thanks to this being a Leap Year, the equinox is earlier than usual. Since spring is my favorite season, having it come early makes me very happy.)  And what a glorious day it has been: sunny in Portland OR with a few scattered clouds and a high of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. I celebrated indoors and out.

Outdoors? The Dear Husband and I spent a few hours weeding in the back yard garden. Telling the truth now: I really wasn’t celebrating. I am, after all, a Reluctant Gardener. But the beds we cleared look so good now that I can’t help but be glad about that. And the DH planted potatoes!

Indoors, I added the narrow border to my current Work-in-Progress. Check it out:

Right now my quilt top measures 51″ x 63″. The additional light pink floral I need for the outer border should arrive in the next day or so.

In the meantime, I started working on my pieced backing. I put those two duplicate blocks I wrote about yesterday on point and added setting triangles, using a pink polkadot fabric I found in my stash:

I made the setting triangles oversize in case I want to float the blocks (which I probably will).

By the way, I’m not the only one enjoying cherry blossoms. Mine are on my fabric but featured on the front page of today’s daily Oregonian newspaper is a photo of the beautiful blooms “popping with color” along Portland’s waterfront park.

Hmm. I named this post “Celebrating Spring.” Maybe that should be the name of this quilt. . . What do you think?

 

 

 

Posted in cherry blossom quilt, update | 5 Comments

Coming Right Along

The interior of my current WIP is complete. Take a look:

How pretty is that? I am loving the springtime vibe of these cherry blossom prints.

As I was laying out the blocks, I noticed a few of the center squares were cut from the same part of the pattern repeat. It was easy enough to simply rotate a block or move it to another part of the quilt. Before I started sewing, I looked again across each row, up and down each column, and even on the diagonal. I was sure I had a good distribution all around.

However . . . after sewing the blocks into rows and then sewing the rows together, I could see duplicates in one vertical and one horizontal row. The blocks weren’t touching each other and perhaps no one would ever notice but . . . I did. So of course I made two more blocks to replace the duplicates. I’ll probably put the dupes on the back of the quilt.

I ordered more of the light pink floral for the outer borders because I want a wider strip than the pattern calls for. The instructions also call for a narrow first border of the larger floral print but I want something that reads more lilke a solid. I just happened to find a good candidate in my stash, one that I’ve had for oh, at least 20 years. I auditioned it with the other fabrics . . .

. . . and I think it works perfectly. I hope you do, too!

 

 

 

Posted in cherry blossom quilt, update | 8 Comments

Not So Fast

The plan was to make a fast quilt top last weekend. My starting point was this luscious pair of fabrics from the “Orchard” line by Jill Finley for Riley Blake Designs:

(I ran off in high spirits last year and bought several pieces from the line, not knowing what I would do with the fabrics, just knowing that I had to have them.)

I picked this pattern . . .

. . . because it called for just three fabrics and I could tell it would be fast and fun to make, just the ticket because I’ve been in a bit of a sewing slump.

The pattern calls for one yard each of three fabrics and is made of 12 blocks that finish at 15″. Two slender borders complete the quilt. I immediately decided to make a larger quilt. I downsized the block to 12″ and chose a 4 x 5 layout, which would yield a top measuring 48″ x 60″ before borders. The outer border will definitely be wider than the one in the pattern; my plan is to create a top that measures 60″ x 72″ or thereabouts, a good size for a throw or lap quilt.

I also decided to make the quilt a wee bit scrappy by choosing four green fabrics that are very similar in color and value. Here they are with the focus fabrics:

I was so sure of my fabric choices that I didn’t make a test block before cutting my strip sets from the four greens and the smaller floral print. Uh-oh. Big mistake. I was definitely not loving the first four scrappy blocks:

My favorite green was the tone-on-tone paisley so the plan was to proceed with that one. I was preparing to take the stacks with the remaining greens apart so I could salvage the pink floral . . .

. . . when I thought, “What about using a second green?” I retrieved one of the sets above and made four test blocks with it and the paisley:

I’m liking this much better. I could have gone with one green and I almost did, realizing that part of the charm of this design is its utter simplicity. But I really like the way the two greens play with the florals as well as with each other, and the second green does add a bit more visual interest.

The blocks went together very quickly once I had the pink floral pieces attached to the greens. This is what I have to show for it:

Isn’t that refreshing? I love pink and green together. The colors are so reminiscent of daphne, that harbinger of spring . . .

. . . and the peonies in our yard that bring me joy every year . . .

. . . and even this photo of chestnuts in blossom that I took in April 2015 when the Dear Husband and I were lucky enough to spend three weeks in Paris:


Since today just happens to be National Quilting Day, it’s fitting that I was able to spend a good part of it in my sewing room. Even though this project got off to a very slow start, I am eagerly looking forward to sewing my blocks together and adding borders.

Something else to look forward to:  spring begins this coming Tuesday!

 

 

 

Posted in cherry blossom quilt, family, Paris, update | 8 Comments

A Quilt for Coco

Like most cats, my Princess Cordelia — known to most as Coco — is an expert napper. She has plenty of roosting spots around the house, including on our bed, on the couch, on the chair and ironing board in my sewing room, and wrapped around the Dear Husband’s head (I’m not kidding). Until very recently, the one place that was off limits to Coco was the guest room.

All that changed when my twin Diane came to visit in November and came down with Covid. I felt so sorry for Diane that I allowed Coco to keep her company. Coco quickly added the guest bed to her list of favorite spots to catnap. Although I love seeing cats on quilts (check out #catsonquilts on Instagram), I didn’t want Coco on the quilt in my guest room. She won’t let me trim her nails, and the last thing I want to see is claw marks marring the lovely canvases of my quilts.

I quickly put an old bath towel on the guest room bed, and Coco has been quite content to snooze on it:

Still, I thought it would be nice if she had her own quilt, so I whipped this up yesterday:

Of course it’s not a real quilt. It’s a flannel blanket made after consulting a few of the Self-Binding Baby Blanket tutorials abounding on the Internet. After completing the blanket, I stitched four straight lines in a starburst pattern in the interior to hold the two layers together because I wasn’t sure if the blanket would keep its shape after being laundered.

Here’s a shot of the blanket taken yesterday evening, in anticipation of a visit from Coco:

There was evidence this morning (an imprint of her plump body) that she had napped on the blanket sometime in the night.

Today Coco’s Quilt (which is how I keep thinking of it) went into the washer and dryer. I am happy to report that the little quilt kept its shape beautifully. As expected, it did shrink because I didn’t prewash the flannel fabrics beforehand. It finished at 30.5″ square before laundering and 29″ square after.

As I made the blanket, I made notes to myself on suggestions and instructions I would add if I were to make another one. I’ll write those up and offer them in a subsequent blog post. In the meantime, I’m waiting for Coco to curl up on her new quilt. It’s just a matter of time.

 

 

 

Posted in baby blanket, cats, family, self-binding baby blanket, update | 5 Comments

Accessorizing the Home

I’ve been spending a wee bit of time in my sewing room over the last week. It could have been more but I had my nose in a book. A big book:  715 pages, to be exact. It’s Abraham Verghese’s bestselling novel The Covenant of Water. I actually bought it last summer but was reluctant to begin such a lengthy tome until after my cataract surgeries in June and August. Reading is once again a great pleasure, and this freezing cold snap in the Pacific Northwest over the last several days presented an ideal opportunity to curl up with a good book with either a cat or a quilt (sometimes both) on my lap.

I did venture into my sewing room from time to time, working around the schedules of the workmen repairing the walls and ceiling in the upstairs hallway following water damage from a rain storm. The hallway now looks brand new — a touch of irony in a house that’s 111 years old — but the texture on the walls beautfully mimics the original lath and plaster so you’ll hear no complaints from me. All the hallway needs now is a coat of primer and two coats of color.

I’ve been working on some small things:

This is a quilter’s tool caddy, using the pattern Travel Case by Pearl Pereira of P3 Designs. I’ve made several versions over the years, modifying the design in a few ways but most importantly by adding a fourth pocket so the caddy holds more:

The tool caddy is one of four accessories to go with my current Junior Billie Bag-in-progress. I’ll finish it soon along with three other accessories that go with it — a rotary cutter coat, a scissors case, and a fabric box that I use as a threadcatcher. I’m so enjoying the fabrics — most of them from the Gingham Foundry line by Riley Blake that came out in 2021.

You may remember I used the same fabric last October in a pair of pillowcases made for the Portland White House. I just finished a second pair for my twin Diane, who arrives on Saturday for a two-week visit. Ordinarily she would be surprised by seeing them wrapped up with a ribbon in the guest bedroom but she reads my blog so as soon as she sees this post she’ll know they await.

I couldn’t resist fussycutting the text print on the band so that the refrain “I think to myself what a wonderful world” appears on the top and bottom lines of the band:

A bit obessive-compulsive? Umm, yes.

I also made myself a new oven mitt (from my own tutorial) but got two in the bargain:

I had cut out the fabric and batting weeks ago for the mitt on the right; the materials were stacked in my sewing room closet just waiting for me. I can’t remember why I got out the tub that my oven mitt supplies are stored in but when I did I was surprised to find there was a mitt inside that was almost finished! All I needed to do was tack the red band down and turn the mitt right side out. I adore that tomato print and thought I had used the last of it. Now I well and truly have.

So much for accessories. What about quilts? Well, I have two quilts I started last year that I really need to finish but I’m already dreaming about starting a new one. . .

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, cats, family, home dec, Junior Billie Bag, oven mitts, pillowcases, roll-it-up pillowcases, rotary cutter case, sewing tool caddy, tote bags, tutorial, update | 4 Comments

It’s Summer Somewhere . . .

Happy New Year, friends! The weather forecast in Portland, Oregon calls for “frozen mix” on six of the next 10 days, with temperatures heading down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. That is very unusual for Portland. The residents of the Portland White House, including Coco the cat, are hunkering down.

As we all know, “It’s five o’clock somewhere.” And it’s also summer somewhere — the Southern Hemisphere, to be precise. I’m trying to bring a bit of summer into our home during these dark winter days by hanging my quilt Hip Hop in the master bathroom:

Hip Hop is made of a delightful aboriginal focus fabric highlighting five playful kangaroos. I made this quilt in 2018 from my own pattern Full Moon Rising, which features inset circles. It measures 16″ x 59″ and works well as a wall hanging or table runner. Click here to see close-ups of a couple of blocks taken in better light.

It’s hard to believe that we’re almost two weeks into the New Year and I’ve not sewn a single stitch. Sad but true! What I have done is edit the contents of my sewing room following the December wind and rainstorm that resulted, at great inconvenience, in a beautiful new ceiling:

Most of the contents of the room had to be moved out temporarily, and it gave me pause to consider how much stuff I had crammed into it over the years. What a great opportunity to downsize! Case in point:  I had more than a dozen vintage spooners and celery vases filled with buttons on top of my sewing cabinet. I replaced them with three bandboxes filled with sewing notions:

The bandboxes, covered with vintage wallpaper, were purchased years ago at an antique mall in Atlanta while visiting my sister. They used to be on the floor next to the cabinet. I guess you could say they have risen in stature, ha ha! The buttons (which, to be honest, gathered layers of dust in those spooners) are now housed in two very large jars in my sewing room closet.

I have been going through the contents of the cabinet, pulling out fabrics I am no longer in love with and can happily donate. (Please don’t tell anyone this represents only a small portion of my stash.)

The other thing I did is cover the glass doors on the right side of the cabinet with blackout film to block the light coming in from the windows right next to them. This prevents the fabrics from developing fade lines from the light. Prior to that I had hung an old table runner over that side of the cabinet, anchoring it with those vintage spooners. It wasn’t a great look, and every time I took a photo for my blog that included the cabinet I would flip the table runner on top of the cabinet to get it out of the way. This is a much better solution.

I am really enjoying the cleaner look of my sewing room. Once everything is in its proper place, I may be inspired to give you a little tour of my precious sewing space. It won’t happen immediately, though. Now that the bathroom and sewing room ceilings have been repaired, the crew is tackling the damage to the walls and ceiling of the hallway. As Yogi Berra so eloquently put it, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

 

 

 

Posted in cats, home dec, table runner, update | 5 Comments

“She Sells Seashells by the Seashore”

I’ll bet every grownup in the English-speaking world learned that tongue twister as a kid. It popped into my head today as I was finishing up the second of two valances for my stepmother Shirley’s master bathroom. Both valances were made using a small scale seashell print from the “Cotton Beach Collection” by Tilda Fabrics. This is the larger of the two valances, gathered on a spring tension rod the width of the larger window, 29¼”:

(Notice the sleeping cat on the couch behind me? That’s Coco, enjoying her afternoon nap.)

This is the smaller valance made to fit a window that’s only 13¼” wide:

They are the first two things I’ve sewn since moving back into my sewing room after having the ceiling replaced following the wind and rainstorm of Dec. 1 that damaged several rooms in our house. I wrote about that here.

Behold my pretty new ceiling:

I popped the valances in the mail today; with luck they should arrive at Shirley’s home in Bend by Saturday. Making the valances was a simple project but very satisfying. And I must say it feels good to be back in my happy place!

 

 

 

Posted in cats, family, update, valance | 4 Comments

Auntie Claus?

You’ve heard of Santa Claus, of course. But have you heard of Auntie Claus? That’s me! I made a pair of pillowcases this week as a surprise Christmas gift for my 20-something great-niece Megan:

Megan still has the pillowcases I made for her when she was a little girl. It was her mother’s clever idea to have these pillowcases be from “Auntie Claus.” Megan will be puzzled when she reads the tag but will know as soon as she opens the package that the pillowcases were made by her Auntie Dawn. These pillowcases are finished with French seams — no raw edges in sight. You can find the free tutorial for my roll-it-up or burrito-style pillowcases right here.

And don’t you just love the fabrics? They’re from the “Icy World” line by Gareth Lucas for Windham Fabrics. If you’re a regular reader, you’ve already seen these delightful folk art fabrics in a quilt I made a year ago called Arctic Stars as well as a simple ruffled valance I made just a few weeks ago for my stepmother’s guest bathroom. When I fall in love with a fabric line, it tends to make appearances in multiple projects.

It seems especially appropriate to be looking at Arctic scenes today as it happens to be the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Each day after the Winter Solstice brings more daylight. Bring it on, I say!

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, pillowcases, roll-it-up pillowcases, tutorial, update, valance | 4 Comments

The Rest of the Story

For those of you who commented on my last post, thank you so much for your sympathetic and encouraging responses to my tale of woe. As bad as the water damage was to our home caused by the rainstorm late Friday, Dec. 1, it could have been worse. You see, I was awake much earlier on Saturday morning than I normally would be and thus discovered the damage sooner.

On that same Friday my twin sister Diane, here from Georgia for a month-long visit, tested positive for Covid. She had started showing cold symptoms — a cough and sniffles — on Wednesday. Her symptoms continued and by Thursday evening all she wanted to do was go to bed. That was when I began to suspect she might have more than a cold.

The first home Covid test on Friday morning was negative so I waited a few hours and gave her another. That one was definitely positive. As an out-of-state visitor, the only way she could be seen by a physician (and presumably get a prescription for Paxlovid) was to go to a hospital Emergency Room. We decided to do that first thing Saturday morning.

At bedtime I told her to call me on my cellphone as soon as she was awake, even if it was really early in the morning, so we could get to the hospital when fewer people would be waiting to be seen. I think her call came around 5:30 am. And that’s when I discovered the water coming into my home. As it happened, my contractor was out of town for the weekend so I called the roofing company and left a message explaining what was happening. In fewer than 3o seconds, I had a text message reply:  “We’re on our way.”

So off Diane and I went to the ER, where she was indeed the only person in the waiting room. By then she had a temperature of 100.8. The ER doctor ordered an X-ray of her lungs, which showed some congestion, and he did prescribe Paxlovid. By midmorning we were back home, prescription in hand, and Diane was back in bed.

She quarantined in the guest room in the basement for the next week. (Although the Dear Husband and I are both up to date on our Covid vaccines (as well as vaccines for flu and RSV), Diane wanted to keep her distance from the DH since he’s in a high risk category due to his age and a heart condition.) It took two full days on Paxlovid before Diane started to feel better but every day after that she showed some improvement. Of course she had to delay her departure till she tested negative. I had the pleasure of her company for an extra week, which was a bonus for me.

During Diane’s time in the sick bay, I felt so sorry for her that I allowed Coco to visit her in the guest room, although that has always been off limits.

Do you think that was a mistake?

 

 

 

Posted in cats, family, update | 8 Comments