Category Archives: update

Susan’s Star, Embellished

I didn’t think the block I made last month called Susan’s Star could get any better but I embellished it today by appliquéing a round fussycut flower in the center square, and I’m so happy with the result:

Credit for this idea goes to my quilting cousin, Patricia, who follows my blog and suggested the addition after reading my post of March 3. Good call, Patricia!

Susan’s Star is one of three 18″ blocks in a sampler quilt I’m working on that also features 6″ and 12″ blocks. The other two 18″ blocks have a blossom in the center, one pieced and one appliquéd:

Patricia thought my third 18” block would benefit from having a flower in the middle as well. For the block on the right I used a method other than needleturn applique. For Susan’s Star, though, I decided the time had come to give needleturn appliqué another go. If you are new to my blog, you may not know I learned needleturn appliqué in 2019 making this quilt.

Because three years had passed since I’d done any needleturn appliqué, I approached this task, simple and small though it be, with some trepidation. To be honest, I’m not sure I did everything correctly but it turned out just fine.

I started by drawing a dotted circle (my stitching line) on the fabric using a jar lid as a template and cutting a scant quarter inch away from the stitching line. After finger-pressing the stitching line I pinned the piece in place:

Stitching has commenced! Off to a good start:

After the first few stitches I felt like I had found my rhythm. Do you suppose doing needleturn appliqué is like riding a bike?

Halfway there:

And here we are where we started, with the finished block:

I haven’t been spending nearly enough time in my sewing room lately so getting this little project completed felt very good. It was my way of celebrating National Quilting Day.



Posted in appliqué, Hazel's Diary Quilt, needleturn appliqué, sampler quilt, update | 6 Comments

More Marvelous Mitts

Oven mitts, that is. I’ve made a few pair recently for friends and family. Tracy’s mitts are a royal blue tone-on-tone floral:

I quilted a 1″ grid which offers a pleasing contrast to the curves of the petals. The lining fabric is a bright blue and yellow paisley print with just a touch of silvery metallic:

Jeanne Ann’s mitts are made of a blue and green filigree fabric that I’ve used in several projects:

These were quilted with random wavy lines, a design I like a lot and can do easily and quickly using my walking foot (no marking lines needed). The lining is the same dotted fabric used for the band at the cuff.

I love that filigree fabric so much I scoured the Internet last week for more and was lucky enough to find a yard. I’m tempted to make a pair of mitts for myself out of it. But wait! I’m using that fabric — as well as the royal blue floral in Tracy’s mitts — in my current Sea Sampler project so I’d better move the idea of new mitts to the back burner. (I don’t need new mitts in any case; the ones I made two years ago look almost new, despite having made multiple trips through the washer and dryer.)

My friends David and Ken embarked on a major kitchen remodel last year so I told them I’d make them a pair of mitts as a “kitchen warming” present. The remodeling project was drawn out much longer than expected due to the pandemic. Shipping delays, mostly. But their kitchen is finished now and so are their mitts:

David gave me an outline of his hand so I could make a custom pattern:

These mitts are considerably larger than the other ones I’ve made so far. In fact, they’re close to the “one size fits all” mitts one sees in the stores – the ones that are too big for me, which is precisely what led me to make my own pattern last year, followed by a tutorial.

Here’s one of David and Ken’s mitts next to one of Tracy’s:

Quite a difference, eh?

Are you ready to make yourself a pair of oven mitts? You can either use my free pattern or follow my directions (in the Prequel to the Tutorial, below) to make a pattern to fit your own hand.

Click here to download the free pattern:
Oven Mitt Pattern, page 1 of 2
Oven Mitt Pattern, page 2 of 2

Oven Mitts that Fit: Prequel to the Tutorial

Oven Mitt Tutorial from First Light Designs, Part 1

Oven Mitt Tutorial from First Light Designs, Part 2




Posted in family, kitchen remodel, oven mitts, tutorial, update | 5 Comments

Boosting a Block . . . Again

If this 18½” block looks familiar, it’s because you’ve seen some earlier versions of it. It’s one of the blocks from my ongoing Sea Sampler project begun last spring.

The block you see above started out as this 12½” block made using Cluck Cluck Sew’s free pattern called called No Point Stars:

I decided to convert it into an 18½” square block by setting it on point, framing it with a strip of purple, and adding setting triangles to bring it to size:

I felt it needed a boost so I hand appliquéd a fussy-cut flower to the center of the block:

Definiely an improvement.

After making a few smaller blocks (the ones that will finish at 6″ and 12″ square), this was what I had:

So far so good.

I made a couple more 12″ blocks and then added a third 18″ block, the one I call Susan’s Star because I first spotted the design on Susan Ache’s Instagram page (see her post of Nov. 29):

When you take a look at my three large star blocks, you will probably be struck, as I was, by how much Susan’s Star and the block called Chicago Star (upper left) stand out compared to the block that began life as a No Point Stars block:

I knew instantly what that block needed: some green!

Wow, what a transformation!

I put all three stars up on my design wall . . .

. . . and as much as I liked the addition of green to my embellished block, it still needed something more. What could it be?

Maybe I should add a green triangle to each corner, drawing the eye out to the edges the way the other two blocks do. I cut four green triangles and stuck them up on the block to audition the effect:

I really liked what I saw but . . . would blue triangles in the corner be a better choice than green?

Only one way to find out:


After sewing the blue corners on, I put all of the 12″ and 18″ blocks on my design wall and stepped back 10 feet. This is what I saw:

Yes indeed. That was just the boost the block needed.

I’m sure you have figured out by now that this sampler quilt is coming together without a plan. I don’t have any idea how big it will be or how many more blocks I will make. That’s okay with me because I am confident I will love the end product.




Posted in sampler quilt, update | 9 Comments

Susan’s Star Meets Dawn’s Sometime Sea Sampler

Isn’t this a fabulous block? I call it Susan’s Star.

If you follow Susan Ache — her Instagram handle is yardgrl60 — you may have seen her rendition of this block on her post of Nov. 29 last year. Susan is fond of taking orphan blocks and creating fabulous sampler quilts. She made her version of this block in red, green, and white. I was instantly enchanted when I saw it, so much so that I kept coming back for repeat views.

I wondered if it was her own design or perhaps a traditional block, so I contacted her this week to find out. Susan told me she hasn’t done any research to see if it’s an existing traditional block; she was just playing around when she created it. I asked her if it would be all right if I posted my version and if I could also post a picture of her original version. She kindly said “yes” to both questions.

Here is Susan’s original version:


I think you can see why I was inspired!!

I thought the design might fit well with one of my Works-in-Progress (WIPs) dating back to May of 2021. To refresh your memory, that was when I started making blocks using this initial fabric pull:

The pull was for a very informal Block of the Month program via Zoom that Montavilla Sewing Center, where I teach, had created for me and some of my students while in-person classes were suspended due to Covid. When in-person classes resumed in September, the Zoom classes sort of petered out but I decided to forge ahead, making my favorite blocks from the BOM design but branching out to include others, with the idea of coming up with my own sampler quilt.

When I saw Susan’s block, I just knew I had to include it. The blocks I have made thus far measure 18″, 12″, and 6″ square. (That’s the finished size; the unfinished size is ½” larger.) I’m not sure what size Susan made her block but I made mine to finish at 18″ square.

Many of the fabrics I’m using suggest waves, tidepools, and starfish so I have come to think of this project as my “Sea Sampler.” Because I’ve worked on it off and on, this has morphed into my “Sometime Sea Sampler.” (Could that be the final name of the quilt? Perhaps!)

Oh, one more thing. I clipped quite a few seams on the back to achieve the flattest seams. I thought you might like to see what that looks like:

In the next few days I’ll post photos of the blocks I’ve made so far. Maybe that will help me decide how to move forward.




Posted in Block of the Month (BOM), sampler quilt, update | 7 Comments

Fraternal Twins

I’m enjoying the inside view of one of the front windows at Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego. I taught a class there this evening, and as the sky darkened my two versions of Dresden Neighborhood were set off very nicely, with the reflected view of the shop adding a lovely touch.

Do you ever like a quilt design so much you make it twice? I can think of at least four designs I’ve made twice. It’s always fun to see how two quilts from the same design look alike but also differ — sort of like fraternal twins. I should know: I am one! My twin Diane and I don’t look alike but our voices are so similar her daughters can’t tell us apart on the phone.

The pattern Dresden Neighborhood was designed by Kim Lapacek of Persimon Dreams. I’m delighted to be able to teach her design in my class called “Wonky Dresden Neighborhood,” scheduled Saturday, April 23, at Montavilla Lake Oswego.




Posted in appliqué, table topper, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 7 Comments

“Mirror Mirror on the Wall . . .

. . . which is the fairest button of all?” Not exactly a fair question, is it? After adorning my Holliberry Circle mini quilt with vintage buttons and showing off the result in my last post, a few people commented on ones they especially liked so I thought I’d offer close-ups of all of the buttons:

The clear green glass button on the right above is certainly unusual, and I love the one on the left that reminds me so much of a Churn Dash block.

In the photo below, notice the secondary star shape in the round green buttons. And does the red button on the right make you think of the Canadian Maple Leaf? It doesn’t have as many points but still . . .

The basketweave pattern in the red button below charmed me:

My friend Vickie really loved the red and white “gingham” buttons — there are two on the quilt, one of which is shown below right. The red and white button on the left below is actually two buttons. I centered a small white button with an interesting design on top of a plain red one, thinking the combo set off the grey and white background print very nicely:

I think of the buttons you see below as “the peppermint candy buttons.” They appear on another house, too:

Here’s another look at that double button along with its two neighbors to the left:

And finally there’s that red ruffle button smack dab in the center of the quilt:

Did you happen to notice that I attached the red buttons with green thread and vice versa? Just a little fun touch to make the quilt more interesting.

Here’s a look at the entire quilt:

And here’s a look at the simple label on the back, printed on the computer and appliquéd by hand in the center of the circle:

I added a sleeve on the back (so it can hang at Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego) but changed my placement of the sleeve after reading a question from reader Linda, who asked, “How do you hang a circle quilt? I have one and I put a hanging sleeve on it but it droops.” I’ve never made a round quilt before but because of the smart question Linda posed I raised my sleeve more toward the top of the quilt:

I tested the sleeve using a spring tension rod and it seemed to hold the quilt properly, with the curve at the top seeming to stay in place above the rod. I haven’t seen the quilt hanging at Montavilla yet but I am hopeful it doesn’t droop above the rod.

My friend Colleen responded to Linda’s question with two thoughts about how to keep a round quilt from drooping. Colleen wrote, “. . . I was wondering if you made an X with very thin dowels with tiny pockets for them to plug into on the perimeter if that would work? Kind of along the theory for how a kite is stabilized. Or maybe a thin wire circle around the perimeter? That could even fit inside the binding . . .” Both of those ideas sound like they could work. Ingenious, Colleen! Something along those lines would most likely be a necessity on a quilt larger than this one, which measures 26″ in diameter. If it turns out my quilt at Montavilla is drooping, it’s nice to know I have some options.

Another question was posed by my twin sister Diane (a non-quilter), who said, “This inquiring mind wants to know how you sew on buttons without leaving telltale threads and knots showing on the back.” Ah, my twin knows me so well. I like my backs to look as good as the fronts and she knew I would not like to see “telltale threads and knots” in full view. I inserted my knotted thread behind the button on the front of the quilt, passing the thread through the button holes three times before adding the finishing knot behind the button as well. It was a bit on the fiddly side but you can’t argue with the results.

I declare myself ridiculously pleased with the result and can now say: “Holliberry Circle is a wrap!”



Posted in appliqué, table topper, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 9 Comments

All Buttoned Up

My little Dresden Neighborhood has been embellished with a quirky assortment of vintage buttons in place of windows. Not every house has a window and I’m fine with that. All of the buttons were attached the traditional way — with needle and thread — except for a green button on a red house. There are two on this quilt. If you think of the circle as a clock, you’ll find the house I’m talking about at approximately 8:00.

That button had a metal shank on the back that would have caused the window — er, button — to droop. Can’t have a drooping button on my Holliberry Circle quilt! The shank had to be removed with pliers so I could glue the button on. Did you know that Gorilla Glue makes a glue just for fabric? I didn’t but now have a tube of it in my sewing room.

On Monday I’ll take Holliberry Circle to Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego, where I teach. It will hang in the shop for a few weeks to advertise my upcoming class, “Wonky Dresden Neighborhood”, on Saturday, April 23.

The lighting in the shop is great for taking photos of quilts so I’ll update the photo you see above with a better one next week. I just couldn’t wait till then to show you how cute this quilt is with the buttons on it!




Posted in appliqué, home dec, table topper, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 13 Comments

Holliberry Circle

That’s the name I’ve settled on for my current work-in-progress. It’s a nod to 1) the line of fabric (“Holliberry” by Corey Yoder of Coriander Quilts), 2) the circle in the center of the quilt around which my Dresden Neighborhood houses are arranged, and 3) the fact that my mini quilt is round rather than square. (I described my low-tech method of making my quilt round by means of a pencil-on-a-string compass in my last post.)

Holliberry Circle is now bound and I couldn’t be happier with the result:

It’s not quite finished, though. Still to come: the label on the back and the finishing touches on the front, namely: buttons for windows.

The binding is made from an uneven striped fabric (not part of the “Holliberry” line) used on one house and one roof. I love the look of a bias striped binding and in this case it was necessary to cut the fabric on the bias because the quilt is round. The strips were cut 1¼” wide for single-fold binding.

The quilting angels were smiling on me when it came to joining the two ends:

By carefully trimming the ends and then tugging just a bit on them (happy in this case for the stretchiness of bias!) I was able to join them in such a way that the pattern matches and the seam is virtually unnoticeable:

You can spot it because of the triangle of fabric from the seam sticking up. Here’s the same view with the binding stitched down:

You have to look really hard to see that seam, right?

As I look back at the first photo, it occurs to me that the binding looks a bit like peppermint candy. How sweet it is!




Posted in appliqué, single-fold binding, table topper, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 11 Comments

A-round the Neighborhood

What a difference a day makes! Yesterday my Dresden Neighborhood mini quilt was square. Today it’s round:

And did you notice there’s more quilting in the background? I decided it needed some squiggly lines to offset all of those straight ones. Better, yes? It adds just a touch more whimsy.

I decided to start with a 28″ circle, knowing I might want to downsize it a bit. No 28″ compasses lying around the house, of course, so I knew I’d have to create my own compass using the time-honored technique of a length of string tied to a pencil. Because of the size of my project, I figured working with a quarter circle would be the way to go, and I wanted to use freezer paper because it can be ironed onto fabric and lifted off later, leaving no residue.

To begin I drew a 14″ square onto a piece of freezer paper. Then I taped the edges to my cutting mat so the paper wouldn’t shift when the curve was drawn. I measured and marked the spot on the string 14″ from the point of the pencil and held the string in place in the lower left corner as I drew the curve from upper left to lower right:

Working from the back side of my quilted piece, I marked the very center with a tailor’s tack, ironed my trimmed pattern piece in place. . .

. . . and stitched along the curved edge. Then I lifted the pattern off the quilted piece, repositioned it in the next quadrant, pressed it in place, and stitched along the curve. Ditto with the third and fourth sections.

It worked like a charm! All I had to do then was trim outside the stitching line:

This is what it looked like from the right side:

I could tell right away the circle needed to be smaller so I made a new quarter circle pattern for a 25″ diameter circle and repeated the steps outlined above. After quilting 40 (!) squiggly lines the quilt was trimmed again, the result being the photo you see at the top of the post.

I’ll be back soon with a bound quilt. But first I need to bury all those threads on the back from the additional quilted lines.




Posted in appliqué, table topper, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 9 Comments

Quilting Has Commenced . . .

. . . on my Dresden Neighborhood mini quilt:

In fact, it may even have concluded. I haven’t decided yet about adding more quilting in the background. After stitching around the green and red circles in the center, I stitched along the sides of the houses to secure the layers of the quilt sandwich, extending the lines from the roofs into the background.

I did something similar with my first wonky Dresden Neighborhood quilt, Uptown Funk, but added more quilting lines and staggered the ends of some of them:

I really like the effect of rays emanating from the roofs, echoing the doors, which also give the impression of rays emanating from the center circle.

Here’s a look at the back of my current version:

The fabric is a piece of yardage from Corey Yoder’s “Holliberry” line for Moda, the same line I used in most of the dresden blades. Somehow I overlooked this particular print when cutting my 20 blades; it would have been a nice addition to the neighborhood!

The next step is to transform this square piece into a circle. Then I’ll decide whether it needs more quilting. I’ve already decided which fabric I’m going to use for the binding. I think you’ll like my choice!




Posted in appliqué, table topper, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 4 Comments