Category Archives: cats

Charmed, I’m Sure

Third time’s the charm, they say. It took trips to three local quilt shops before I found the perfect print for the outer border on the reproduction ’30s quilt top I bought at my quilt guild’s recent silent auction:

The delicate floral print is from the “Aunt Grace Basket of Scraps” line designed by Judie Rothermel for Marcus Fabrics. It’s shown with one of two blocks in the quilt (out of 30) that have a similar colorway. This is the other one:

I brought the quilt top with me so I could audition border fabrics with it in hand. One thing I noticed right away is that reproduction prints in quilt shops now have whiter backgrounds. When this top was pieced 20 years ago or so, the prints were creamier. I’m confident the border fabric will work well, though.

After choosing the border fabric, I strolled around the shop looking for a vintage-y print that would work on the back. I found some lovely ones but none that had that ’30s vibe. Guess what I came back to. Yep — I bought enough of the border fabric to make a backing. I actually bought the rest of the bolt — almost 10 yards — thinking I might want to make a pair of pillowcases to go with the quilt.

As a reminder, here’s a look at the entire top (I’ll add lavender strips to the sides to complete the narrow first border):

Each of the 30 blocks was made with a different print. Most of the prints are floral but several represent characters and scenes from children’s storybooks (think Humpty Dumpty and Little Bo Peep) and a couple prints are of kittens chasing balls of yarn. You know I like to name my quilts. I’m thinking of calling this one Vintage Vignettes.

 

 

 

Posted in cats, roll-it-up pillowcases, update, vintage quilts | 8 Comments

It Was Inevitable

Having recently finished my 11th Junior Billie Bag, it was inevitable that I would make a suite of accessories to go with it:

In clockwise order starting at the top, you can see a 4 x 4 fabric box (which I use as a threadcatcher), a quilter’s tool caddy (an embellished version of P3 Designs’ Travel Case pattern), a rotary cutter coat, and a scissors case. Directions for the rotary cutter coat and scissors case are on my Tutorials page.

It was also inevitable that Princess Cordelia aka Coco would photobomb my picture-taking efforts:

I shooed her off the ironing board so I could take a photo of the quilter’s tool caddy in its open position . . .

. . . and she returned to photobomb that as well. Notice the proprietary paw placed firmly on the tool caddy:

Here’s a better look at the threadcatcher:

I’ve devised a way to attach the binding that does not involve sewing!

This fall I’ll be teaching a class at Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego on how to make all four of these accessories. The class, called “Quilter’s Tote Accessories,” is intended as a companion to my Junior Billie Bag class but these accessories would be welcome additions to any quilter’s tote.

If you’re in the Portland metropolitan area and would like to treat yourself to some useful accessories or perhaps make gifts for your best quilting buddies, this may be the class for you. Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, cats, Junior Billie Bag, rotary cutter case, sewing tool caddy, tote bags, tutorial, update | 5 Comments

Under Construction: A New Wonky Dresden Neighborhood

My current work-in-progress is a second version of the delightfully whimsical pattern Dresden Neighborhood by Kim Lapacek of Persimon Dreams. I’m using scraps from Corey Yoder’s “Holliberry” line from last year plus a few other red and green fabrics culled from my stash:

As you can see, progress was interrupted by the arrival of Princess Cordelia (Coco for short), who did her thing:  flopping down on top of whatever project happens to be on my ironing board. When she finally deigned to depart I was able to sew the dresden blades together:

Having blades of different lengths topped off by lopsided roofs, windows, and doors is what makes the Dresden Neighborhood so delightfully wonky as you can see in my first version, Uptown Funk:


I love the idea of a holiday version. The “Holliberry” fabric I’m using made its first appearance in my quilt ‘Tis the Season, currently on rotation on the back of our couch because — of course — ’tis the season:

In spring next year I’ll be teaching “Wonky Dresden Neighborhood” at Montavilla Sewing Center’s Lake Oswego store and also for the Oregon Coastal Quilters Guild. Making a second version is part of my preparation. It will refresh my memory on what I learned the first time around and allow me to try out some different ideas in customizing my neighborhood. What fun!

 

 

 

Posted in cats, home dec, machine applique, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 5 Comments

Baby Goose in the Pond Block

The name of this block is really Far West but I saw a version of it online recently and was struck by the notion that it looks like a greatly simplified Goose in the Pond block.

Take a look at this Goose in the Pond block I drew in the EQ7 software program and tell me what you think:


Better yet, take a look at the two blocks side by side:

See what I mean?

Far West is a variation of the traditional Shoo Fly block. It can be made as an equal nine-patch but I think it’s much more interesting the way I made it, as an “unequal nine-patch with a small center square,” a category in Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.

My block — maybe I should call it Gosling in the Pond? — will finish at 12″ square and be added to the sampler quilt started a few months ago as an optional Block of the Month project offered by Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego. I’m departing from the original quilt design by substituting some blocks of my own choosing. I have no idea how the quilt will ultimately turn out — but that’s part of the fun of it, right?

Here’s my Gosling in the Pond block with the most recent companion blocks:

My plan is to make several more of those “Atomic Star” blocks you see in the middle. They finish at 6″ square and will fill in the spaces nicely when it’s time to start playing with the final arrangement of the 12″ and 18″ blocks. But I’m really getting ahead of myself here. Several more blocks need to be made before I get to that point.

I haven’t been motivated to spend much time in my sewing room lately. It’s just “Too Darn Hot,” as the Cole Porter song goes. Yesterday I managed to produce that one block while dressed in my shortie pajamas with a wet towel draped around my neck. Portland is in the midst of its second major heat wave of the summer, with temperatures hitting triple digits again.

Coco has decided the coolest spot in the house is on the tiles in the master bath shower:

She’s just chilling out here but that’s a typical sleeping pose for her.

 

 

 

Posted in Block of the Month (BOM), cats, Quilt-Along, sampler quilt, update | 6 Comments

My Quatrefoil Christmas Quilt — Quilted!

My Quatrefoil quilt is back from the quilter already! Take a look:

Because of all the straight lines and angles in this quilt, I had already decided on “something with loops and swirls” for a quilting motif. After consulting with longarmer Sherry Wadley, we went with “Retro Heart,” an edge-to-edge pattern by Anne Bright Designs. I just love how it turned out!

Of course Coco decided to make an impromptu inspection, as she is wont to do:

Here’s a look at the whole quilt:

After trimming, it now measures 57″ x 71″ — a good size for a throw.

I made a simple pieced back using some of the leftovers from Corey Yoder’s “Holliberry” layer cake (10″ squares) and a larger piece of the grey floral:

That light fabric at the top is something I pulled from my stash, and it just happens to have loops and swirls on it, too:

I’ve decided to name this quilt ‘Tis the Season. That pretty much covers Christmas, the holidays, and winter, doesn’t it?

If I don’t dilly-dally, I can get it bound and labeled before the end of the year.

On the other hand . . . wouldn’t it be great to start 2021 with a finish?

 

 

 

Posted in cats, Quatrefoil, stitch-and-flip corners, update | 8 Comments

A Late Bloomer

Off to the longarm quilter’s one day and ready for pick-up the next! I certainly landed in her queue at just the right time. Here’s a great in-process shot of the quilting Karlee of SewInspired2Day did on my 12-year-old UFO, newly named Lilacs in September:

I was surprised and delighted that Karlee was able to do an edge-to-edge design over the flange on this quilt top. I was sure that folded strip of fabric would get flipped back on itself when the needle traveled over it from the center of the quilt. Turns out Karlee’s longarm has a special foot for sewing over flanges. And she also basted the flange down first, removing the basting stitches after quilting.

The quilting motif is called Abundant Feathers. I was going for a traditional look for this very traditional nine-patch and snowball block design. Here’s a look at the finished front:


A couple of close-ups:


The thread is a pale grey, which blends with all the fabrics. The quilted feathers enhance the quilt without overpowering it.

Here’s a look at the back . . .

. . . including a detail of the singleton Quatrefoil block:


After trimming the quilt, I laid it on the floor to measure it (51″ x 57″) and take photos. Guess who appeared out of nowhere? Yep. Princess Cordelia, aka Coco.

If she’s not on the quilt, she’s under it:


Oh, about the name Lilacs in September. I was inspired by a 1995 British film called Daisies in December, starring Jean Simmons and Josh Ackland. Filmed in Cornwall, it tells the story of a grumpy senior citizen dumped at a seaside retirement home for two weeks by his vacationing family. He’s determined to have a rotten time. Of course he meets someone interesting . . . but there’s a complication. I had a copy of this film on VHS back in the day. It’s never been released as a DVD in the U.S. but it can be seen on Amazon Prime via the Hallmark Channel. I actually signed up the other day for a free seven-day subscription to the Hallmark Channel just so I could watch the movie again.

If daisies can bloom in December, I wondered, can lilacs bloom in September? (I pulled this quilt out of my sewing room closet on the last day of September.) The answer is yes: although many varieties bloom in spring, there are some later-blooming varieties. You could say this quilt is a late bloomer, given the number of years it’s been in my closet.

Now on to the binding. My first fabric of choice would be the medium dark blue fabric of the inner border. It would make a nice frame for the quilt. Second choice would be the light cornflower blue print of the outer border. After 12 years I didn’t have much hope that I’d find either fabric still in my stash. Oh, happy day! After looking just now I found a 16″ strip of the outer border fabric, more than enough for the binding strips. How perfectly providential!

 

 

 

Posted in cats, Quatrefoil, snowball blocks, update | 10 Comments

It’s a Wrap: Scattered Stars

Finally! I got the label made today for my cheddar and indigo quilt, Scattered Stars, so I can officially declare it finished:


Here’s a look at the back:

Scattered Stars finished at 66″ x 88″.

For the label I made an inset circle and then enclosed it in another circle:


Here’s a close-up:


I tried arranging Scattered Stars artfully on a quilt ladder, with mixed results:

At least you get a good look at the beautiful quilting done by Karlee Sandell of SewInspired2Day.

Coco photobombed my quilt at every step in its construction so it seems only right that she should show up for the final reveal:

Thank you for following along on my quiltmaking journey!

 

 

 

Posted in cats, cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, quilt labels, update | 16 Comments

“Big and Bold”

That’s what I have to say about the back of my Scattered Stars quilt:

It’s pretty simple as pieced backings go. I started with three 18″ blocks and filled in the spaces around them with strips of leftovers from my stash of cheddar and indigo fabrics. A chunk of cheddar fabric makes quite a colorful statement, doesn’t it?! Big and bold, no doubt about it.

Here’s a view from a different angle:

You can see what these blocks might look like on point. Intriguing, right? That’s what I thought when I first spotted the charming quilt called Churning Stars in Jenifer Gaston’s book Primitive Style: Folk-art Quilts and other Finery (Martingale Press, 2015). Her quilt inspired me to make a quilt of my own using cheddar and indigo fabrics. I think of these as Churning Star blocks in acknowledgment of Jenifer’s design.

The photos above were taken late this afternoon on the back deck. This evening after a lovely al fresco dinner I took the backing down to the lawn to see if I could get a better shot from the deck. I was just about ready to snap the photo when a certain feline appeared out of nowhere and wiggled underneath. See that lump on the right side?

Yes, it’s Coco the Photobomber:

After she wandered away I managed to get a quick shot of the front of my quilt:


I’m so happy with the way it turned out!

My plan is to deliver the top and backing to the longarm quilter tomorrow. I have a quilting motif in mind that I think will be perfect for my Scattered Stars. Here’s a hint: it’s a contemporary motif that is strongly reminiscent of a very traditional quilting design.

 

 

 

Posted in cats, cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, update | 10 Comments

A Couple of Surprises

I finished sewing the blocks together for Scattered Stars, my cheddar and indigo quilt, this evening. Take a look:

Light from the window on the right side of the room isn’t spreading evenly across the surface and the bottom part of the quilt top is puddling on the floor but I think you can get a good idea of what this quilt is going to look like.

With three sizes of blocks (six, 12 and 18 inches) scattered across the quilt, I figured there’d be plenty of partial seams. They’re not especially difficult but I wanted to plan for them so I didn’t sew an entire seam and then have to rip out part of it. The plan was to sew the blocks into smaller sections that could then be joined together.

I started by printing a photo of my layout and marking the sections with a Sharpie:After studying the diagram I realized there are only two partial seams in the entire quilt. What a pleasant surprise! (One of the places is in the lower right side of the quilt around “that singleton block” — the one with the 3″ Churn Dash in it. Can you spot the other?)

I sewed the six-inch blocks together first — six pairs and two trios — and then the 12-inch blocks — three pairs and one trio. The star points meet in these blocks and I knew I’d have to pin the intersections — all 28 of them — carefully. When those were done to my satisfaction (yes, there were a few that had to be redone) I started creating the sections.

That’s when I realized there are several other places where star points meet — stars of different sizes. That surprise wasn’t quite as welcome. Turns out there were 17 of those, all needing to be carefully pinned. I’ve circled them in the next photo:I admit a few of those had to be redone as well.

It took the better part of three days to get these blocks together. Coco was a frequent visitor in my sewing room during this time. Here she is staring at me intently, willing me to stop what I’m doing and fix her dinner:

The top measures 66½” x 90½” which is just about right for a twin size quilt so I’ve decided not to add borders. I’m thinking about finishing it with ½”-wide binding.

Next up: a pieced backing using a couple of 18″ blocks that didn’t make the cut for the front.

 

 

 

Posted in cats, cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, update | 12 Comments

Uptown Funk Is Finished!

Uptown Funk, 2020 (24″ x 26″)

And now you know, if you’ve been following along as I pondered four binding options, that Option #1 — the lime green faux flange with the zebra fabric — was the winner.

But guess what? It wasn’t my first choice. Nope. I was going with Option #4, the green flange with the white background fabric as the binding. Here’s the mockup I showed you in my last post, with paper strips made from photocopied fabric:

Why this choice? I liked the idea of the white background fabric extending to the edges, almost as if the quilt were faced rather than bound, with that thin flange as a bright but understated accent. Plus it was an unexpected choice. (I have to thank my friend Deborah for suggesting white fabric. It never would have occurred to me, as I was gravitating to the black prints used in my quilt.)

I made my binding accordingly and started to apply it. Normally binding is stitched to the right side of the quilt and turned to the back. With this faux flange method, however, you sew the binding to the wrong side of the quilt and turn it to the right side to expose the flange. When I got ready to miter the first corner, I turned the binding to the right side. And this is what I saw:

Oh no! You can clearly see the green fabric through the white fabric in the binding. With this particular treatment the seam allowance must be pressed toward the binding fabric for the flange to lie flat. I tried pressing it the other way but it was a “no go.” There was no way I could see to remedy this problem.

Back to the drawing board — er, cutting table. My second choice for the binding was the zebra fabric. That was my husband’s first choice and also my twin sister’s. Some of my readers liked it too so I figured it was a keeper. (Thank you, Vickie R., for suggesting the zebra fabric. Like the white background fabric, it wasn’t even on my radar initially.)

I started cutting more binding strips . . .  until a certain feline came to investigate:


Princess Cordelia (Coco for short) was gently ejected from my sewing room so I could proceed. The binding went on very nicely.

The conventional way to finish a faux flange binding is to machine stitch in the ditch where the flange meets the binding fabric. Instead of doing that I fused the binding down with Steam-a-Seam-2, a  double-sided fusible web.

Here’s the back of Uptown Funk:

I love the way the binding looks with the backing fabric.

Here’s a close-up of the label:

Thank you, Kim Lapacek of Persimon Dreams, for designing Dresden Neighborhood! It was such a fun little quilt to make.

 

 

 

Posted in cats, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 6 Comments