Category Archives: table topper

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

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 25″ 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

Not Even Close

The votes have been tallied — and my thanks to you who weighed in! The red button on the small green center . . .

. . . was by far the most popular choice among those who helped me solve My Button Dilemma (subject of my last post). I truly think if I had started and ended with the green button I would have been pleased with the outcome, but as my friend Colleen noted, the red button “just sings!” For those of you who preferred the green button on the small red circle, do not despair. That green button will definitely find a home on my wonky Dresden Neighborhood mini quilt.

On the photo above, the red and green circles have been attached to the quilt top. (The red button is just there for the photo op. It will get sewn on much later.) Here’s a close-up of the center:

Although I could have done a raw edge appliqué technique to attach the green circle to the red one, I chose instead to inset a green circle into a larger red square. All I needed to do next was convert the square into a circle. I did that by drawing the properly sized circle on a scrap of fusible interfacing (using the base of a milk pitcher as my template!), putting the two pieces right sides together, and stitching all the way around the circle.

Then I cut into the back side (interfacing layer only) so I could turn the circles inside out, which meant the fusible side was now on the outside and ready to fuse onto the quilt top:

Here’s the front after turning:

Fusing it onto the quilt top flattened the circles but I still stitched all the way around the outside circle by hand for a more finished look. When I’m ready to quilt the top by machine, I’ll stitch in the ditch around the inner and outer circles and from there stitch down some of the blades to hold the layers securely together.

With every step, I am loving my wonky Dresden Neighborhood even more!




Posted in appliqué, table topper, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 2 Comments

My Button Dilemma

Thank you all for weighing in on the color combo you prefer for the center of my Dresden Neighborhood mini quilt. The green outer circle/red inner circle got the most votes but my twin sister Diane — who is not even a quilter — suggested that I audition the buttons I have in mind for this quilt before making a final decision. Now why didn’t I think of that? Her suggestion was echoed by my friend Arden, who is a quilter, so I’m going to do just that.

First let me show you the leading button candidates:

Aren’t they beautiful? They are both vintage but I’m pretty sure the red one is older. I love the scalloped shape of the red button but the green button also appeals to me because its center design is reminiscent of a Churn Dash quilt block. Both buttons measure 7/8″ in diameter.

Let’s take a look at the buttons in place on the quilt top. (Nothing is sewn down; the circles are just plunked down in the middle with a button on top.) Behind Door #1:

Behind Door #2:

And finally, the contenders side by side:

Oh, what a dilemma! I love them both but I am leaning toward one. How about you?




Posted in appliqué, table topper, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 23 Comments

Red/Green or Green/Red?

In my last post I showed my thought progression in auditioning red and green circles for the center of my Dresden Neighborhood mini quilt. My final decision (or so I thought) was a green circle, which I really liked after adding a smaller red circle on top of it. Here’s a reminder of what that looks like:

One of my friends from Quilt Camp came out strongly in favor of red so I took another look. I still felt the red by itself was too bold but I hadn’t thought about placing a smaller green circle on top of it. When I did, I really liked it too:

Now I can’t decide which one I like better. Here are the two possibilities side-by-side:

(You will surely notice how different the background fabric looks in the two photos. They were taken on different days in the same spot in my sewing room, with weak afternoon light coming in a south window. Depending on the time of day and weather, the colors can look so different.)

I’d love to know which one you prefer!





Posted in appliqué, table topper, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 16 Comments