Category Archives: My Little Neighbor

Back on the Scene: My Little Neighbor

It’s been a while!

When last we encountered My Little Neighbor on the pages of this blog, she had finished piecing the back of her scrappy 9-patch quilt:

2013-10, MLN with quilt back
That photo was taken in October 2013. A few weeks before she had completed piecing the top:

2013-9, MLN with her 9-patch

The 9-patch blocks were sewn by hand in the summer of 2012 when MLN was 10 years old. She was recovering from a broken foot and needed something to work on while keeping her foot (which was in a cast) elevated. Click here to read the very first post about her project.

The sashing strips and borders were sewn by machine after My Little Neighbor was mobile again. The plan was for her to quilt and bind the top herself. To that end I asked Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting to baste the layers together on her longarm machine using water-soluble thread. I knew it would be easier for MLN to guide the quilt under the machine if she didn’t have to stop to remove safety pins; the basting thread would vanish the first time the quilt was washed.

The basted quilt sandwich came back from Nancy but MLN was busy by then with school and other activities. A year passed. Then another. Then one more.

I waited patiently, knowing that at some point My Little Neighbor would come back to her quilt. Sure enough, there was a knock at my door a few weeks ago. By this time I had discovered the joys of having someone else quilt my quilts so I suggested to MLN that we send hers off to be quilted.

My friend Sherry Wadley, a professional longarmer, loaded the quilt onto her machine (even though the layers had already been basted) and quilted a charming floral motif that echoes the flowers in the quilt. I took out the basting in this one block to give you an idea of what the overall design looks like:

Here’s a glimpse of the back:

I sewed the binding on the quilt so all that’s left for MLN is to hand-sew the folded edge of the binding to the back and add a label. She came over a few days ago for a lesson. I showed her how to pin the binding to the back to cover the line of stitching and how to navigate the corners:


She got the hang of it right away:

My Little Neighbor is now 14 and in high school. She’s also 5’6″ tall. I think My Young Neighbor is a much more accurate descriptor, don’t you?




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My Little Neighbor: Back for the Back

My Little Neighbor, who is working on her first quilt, finished piecing the back yesterday. She had one block left over from the front and decided she wanted to position it in the very center of the quilt back. Here she is sewing the back together . . .

2013-10, MLN sewing quilt back
Sewing on a Sunny October Day

. . . and holding the completed back:

2013-10, MLN with quilt back
The Back Measures 64″ x 78″


The back is composed of alternating strips of light and medium blue, the same blues used in the sashing on the front. You may remember this photo taken a few weeks ago on the day she finished the top:

2013-9, MLN with her 9-patch
The Top Measures 56″ x 70″


What’s next? Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting will baste the layers together at her longarm studio. My Little Neighbor is planning to quilt this herself!

MLN is 11 now but started the quilt in the summer of 2012 when she was 10. Her 9-patch blocks were all sewn by hand but she moved to the machine to add the sashing and borders. You can follow her journey through these links:

July 6, 2012, Her First Quilt:
August 4, 2012, An Update:
March 2, 2013, Back at Work:
Sept. 2, 2013, Making Progress:
Sept. 3, 2013, The Big Reveal:

I’ll keep you posted on her next steps!



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The Big Reveal: My Little Neighbor’s Quilt Top

2013-9, MLN with her 9-patch
My Little Neighbor with her First Quilt (56″ x 70″)


Isn’t it beautiful?! She finished it yesterday, on Labor Day. Just in time, too, because school starts this week.

Once My Little Neighbor is back in the swing of things where school is concerned, we’ll get together to talk about the next step: making the quilt back. MLN has one 9-patch block left over, which she plans to put on the back. Of course!




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My Little Neighbor: Making Progress

MLN August 2013

As you can see, My Little Neighbor (MLN) is back at work on her first quilt, a colorful 9-patch, and she’s pretty excited about it. She started this quilt last year as a hand-sewing project to keep her occupied while sidelined with a broken foot.

Earlier this summer she came over with most of her 9-patches sewn together, and we discussed setting options. MLN would like her quilt to be a good-sized throw so the idea of adding sashing between the blocks appealed to her. We had a discussion about value, and she auditioned several fabrics from my stash, looking for a sashing fabric that would complement the blocks but not compete with them:

2013-06-09 00.00.17


MLN narrowed the candidates down to a medium-light green and a medium-light blue:

2013-6, auditioning sashing fabric -- blue or green

And the clear winner — blue:

2013-06-07 22.31.37


Fast forward a few weeks to early August, when my two youngest granddaughters, Bonnie and Beatrice, were visiting from San Francisco. All the girls made four-patch coasters — you can see Bea’s and MLN’s here — using my sewing machine. At that point MLN decided she would rather finish her quilt by machine than by hand. What a good idea! We couldn’t think of one good reason to finish it by hand — and a lot of good reasons to finish it by machine.

In the photo at the top of this post, MLN had already added the sashes by machine. Next came the border strips, out of the same blue fabric scattered with tiny white polka dots. She determined she would like another border, to make the quilt larger and to add visual interest. We were thinking of something in red when she spotted this fabric in my stash:

outer border MLN

We both think it’s the perfect choice. She is in the process of adding the final borders. Please stop by tomorrow for the Big Reveal!




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4-Patch Coaster Fun

Between family birthdays, reunions, and weddings — joyous occasions all — I’ve spent very little time in my sewing room in the last month. My two youngest granddaughters, Bonnie (13) and Beatrice (10), are currently visiting from San Francisco, so the last week has been filled with activities such as picnicking in the Columbia Gorge, attending a professional women’s soccer game, frolicking in the pool at our nearby community center, and shopping for school clothes.

Yesterday we stayed home. Beatrice had a playdate with My Little Neighbor (MLN), who just turned 11. Both girls were in the mood to “make something crafty.” They picked out some fabrics from my stash, and here is what they created:

2013-8, MLN and Bea
My Little Neighbor and Granddaughter Beatrice Display Their Coasters
2013-8, MLN and Beatrice
Their Coasters from the Back

The girls had so much fun they’re going to make a few more coasters tomorrow.




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My Little Neighbor: Back at Work

My Little Neighbor, age 10, is back at work on her first quilt, a 9-patch. To see her running and skipping around the neighborhood, you’d never know she was sidelined last summer with a broken foot. That’s why she started the quilt: she needed a project she could work on by hand while sitting on the couch with her leg in a cast.

She started last July with five fabrics culled from my stash and by August had a basketful of strips, made by sewing three patches together. To see her first efforts, go here:

MLN came over a few days ago, ready for the next step: sewing the strips in rows to make blocks. She arranged sets of strips into 9-patches, moving strips around as needed to achieve a nice balance of color and value.  When the dining room table was covered with blocks . . .

MLN's 9-patches

. . . we moved to the living room floor:

MLN with 9 patches


After a short lesson on how to press the seams so that they are opposing when the rows are sewn together, MLN was ready to join the rows. Here is her first block, pinned:

MLN with first block pinned


See how nicely her seams match? Her quarter-inch hand-sewn seams are spot on!




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An Update, Starring My Little Neighbor

While my grandkids were visiting from California, My Little Neighbor came over for a playdate with granddaughter Beatrice, who will be 10 in October. The girls are just a few months apart in age.

You may remember that My Little Neighbor is working on her first quilt, a 9-patch, sewing the blocks together by hand. This was a project we planned together to help see her through the weeks her left foot was in a cast following a fall from a tree.

MLN brought her basket of blocks over to show us her progress:

A basketful of blocks


Those squares you see on the table are all she has left to sew into strips of three. After that she will start sewing the strips into 9-patch units. She may be ready to take a little break from sewing, though. Tomorrow, August 5, is the day she has been cleared to start climbing trees again!




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Her First Quilt

My Little Neighbor, who just turned 10, fell out of a tree in our park a few weeks ago and broke several bones in her left foot. Can you imagine being sidelined in a cast just as summer vacation is starting? Her mom wondered if I might be able to come up with a hand-sewing project to help keep MLN occupied while her foot heals. Hmmm, how about a quilt?

I found some brightly colored squares of Laura Ashley fabric that I’ve had since the 1990s. For some reason, they are 4¾” square – maybe a precursor to the 5” charm squares so popular today. I added some squares of a blue print from my stash for a little variety, and My Little Neighbor and I got together several days ago for her first lesson in making a quilt by hand. Here is the fabric we started out with:

colorful patches


MLN liked my idea for a quilt of 9-patches, so we looked at the fabrics and talked about making sets of three squares. When all of those are sewn together, she’ll join them in 9-patch units and then sew those units together. I showed her how to sew two squares together with a running stitch and then passed the needle over to her. She did a beautiful job on her very first seam! Can you imagine how delighted I was to learn that MLN already knows how to make a tailor’s knot? She learned it in school!

By the end of our first lesson, MLN had sewn her first set of three patches together. Her mom captured the moment:

first three patches


Every day MLN sews a few patches together. Here she is with 12 sets of three patches sewn together:

36 squares and counting!


You can see what a colorful and cheerful quilt this is going to be. Did you notice MLN’s crutches propped up against the table? She gets around very well on them but is longing for the cast to come off. It’s purple, by the way, and I got to sign my name on it in silver ink.

I’ll keep you posted on My Little Neighbor’s progress over the next few weeks. I think she is on track to finish her first quilt before school starts in the fall.




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