Category Archives: home dec

Valancing Act, Part 2

The simple tailored valances I made for my sister Diane’s garage are in place:

They were put up with spring tension rods because we knew the white trim around the windows would offer a crisp contrast with the blue floral valance fabric. (And you already know how I love blue and white.)

Here’s a close-up of one window:

Diane is horrified that I’m posting these pictures before she spackled the holes from the old curtain rod and touched up the paint. I assured her my readers would use their imaginations and pretend not to see them.

She loves the new valances, in no small part because of what she calls the “happy fabric.” We are definitely on the same page in that regard.

We both loved the valances I made last year:

It sure is a shame the ruffles got all floppy from the humidity (described in my last post).

Perhaps you are wondering what’s going to happen to those valances. Let me reassure you they will be repurposed in some fashion. The fabric really is beautiful:

I’ve already cut off the ruffled tops and rod pockets, leaving two rectangles measuring roughly 16″ x 66″. There’s enough there to make a couple of beautiful pillows or some other home dec or crafty item. If you have any suggestions, feel free to direct them my way.

And for those of you who saw my pictures from a year ago and thought Diane and Ed’s garage looked pristine and unused, here’s proof that they actually park their cars in it:

I hope those of you who celebrate American Thanksgiving had a delicious repast yesterday. We sure did, and now we get to enjoy the next best thing:  leftovers!

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, update, valance | 2 Comments

Valancing Act

No, that’s not a typo. I’m in the valance-making business again! Just a few weeks after finishing valances for my stepmother’s living room windows, I’m here in Georgia at my twin sister’s home making valances for her garage windows.

But wait, you must be thinking. Didn’t I make valances for Diane’s garage windows last year at this time? Yes, I did. Alas, our noble effort (captured in this post) did not stand the test of time. We think the humidity in Georgia caused the ruffles at the top of the softly gathered valances, made out of a linen-like decorator fabric, to flop over. Most unseemly! Diane coped by tucking the ruffle out of sight behind the valances, which was definitely not the look either one of us was going for.

Chatting several months ago about what our options were for replacements, Diane mentioned how much she loved the valances I had made for my own kitchen windows:

She was wild about the fabric (from the “A Breath of Avignon” line by Sandy Klop for Moda) but I was sure I didn’t have enough left to make more valances. So that was that.

Then, while surveying my stash last week to see what project of my own I might work on during the Dear Husband’s and my annual two-week visit in November, I spotted another piece of that very fabric. I tossed it into my suitcase, and Diane was beyond delighted to learn there was enough for valances.

So . . . I brought a project for me (more on that later) and a project for her. What’s with the projects? Well, my sister and our husbands like to watch college football. It’s definitely not my thing so I am perfectly content to be working away on a sewing project in the kitchen dining area while the three of them are ensconced in the living room watching grown men hurtling themselves at each other in the pursuit of making or preventing touchdowns.

Diane really liked the design of my tailored kitchen valances, which feature a flange of yellow fabric just under the rod pocket:We didn’t have suitable fabric at her house so she ordered a spool of ⅝” grosgrain ribbon in a bright yellow gold to take the place of a flange. We had a good laugh when the ribbon arrived:


Diane thought she had ordered 10 yards. Turns out she ordered 100 yards — roughly the length of a football field!

I got started by making a rough sketch of the valance . . .

. . . followed by a freezer paper pattern:

In this next photo the grosgrain ribbon is ready to be stitched to the first valance:

It will be lined with blackout fabric, a necessity to keep the valance fabric from fading from light hitting it from the outside.

As home dec projects go, this is a simple one. Please stop by again soon to see the result!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, update, valance | 7 Comments

The Best Laid Plans . . .

Here’s a sneak peek of one of three valances I made for my stepmother Shirley’s living room windows:

You’re looking at a little over half of the shortest valance, which measures 62″ wide. The finished width is actually 54″ because the rod has brackets that come out from the wall 4″ on each end and the valance wraps around the brackets. The pleat near the end is close to where the valance wraps around the bracket.

I’m looking pretty pleased, aren’t I? The valances turned out just as I had envisioned them: understated and elegant. The simple design — flat valances with inverted pleats at the center and ends — allows the subtle herringbone decorator fabric to be the star of the show.

So about those best laid plans . . . The idea was to head over to Bend in Central Oregon this coming weekend to install the valances with the help of my nephew Scott, coming to Bend from another part of the state. We’ve all been keeping our eyes on the weather forecast, knowing this may be one of the last weekends to travel across the state before ice and snow make driving conditions dangerous.

The forecast is still looking good but I’m not going anywhere. Why? Because the Dear Husband has a rebound case of Covid! You may recall from my last post that he got Covid from me and was prescribed the antiviral medication Paxlovid, which helped him bounce back from Covid almost immediately. Four days after testing negative, he started exhibiting cold symptoms again and subsequently tested positive. It turns out about four percent of Covid patients who take Paxlovid come down with Covid again within a very few days. It’s known as “Paxlovid rebound.”

So here we are . . . back in isolation. Not going to Bend this weekend. If by some stroke of luck the weather the following weekend looks decent, and provided the DH is recovered (which I expect to be the case), we’ll make the trip over the mountain. If not, we’ll all have to wait till spring to see the valances installed in Shirley’s home.

The valances were more challenging to make than I expected. I quickly realized that the decorator fabric was quite thick and heavy, which would make traditional inverted pleats bulky, especially because the fabric needed to be lined. So I made faux pleats!

Let me show you what I mean. Here’s a picture of a pleat at one end of the valance:

Here’s what that pleat really looks like:

Do you see what I did? Each “pleat” is actually a separate piece of fabric lined to the edge, layered underneath the main fabric pieces, and attached to the rod pocket. (The lining fabric is a 100% quilting cotton from my stash.) Each valance is made of seven lined rectangles, three of which are faux pleats, plus the rod pocket.

Isn’t it nice when a home dec vision is realized?

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, update, valance | 8 Comments

Good News, Bad News

The good news:  the test valance I made for my stepmother Shirley’s living room windows last month was a great success. You’ll recall from my last post that I’m helping her update her living room by making bespoke valances out of an elegant furnishing fabric. The Dear Husband and I enjoyed a quick trip to Central Oregon at the end of September to visit her and test out the valance and drapery rod in her home.

The bad news:  at some point during that trip I was exposed to Covid-19. I woke up at home on Friday, Oct. 7, with mild cold symptoms, took a Covid test, and looked in dismay at the second pink line on the home test. The DH and I immediately went into isolation mode per CDC guidelines.

The good news:  my bout with Covid hasn’t been bad. My cold symptoms never worsened although I did experience three days of fatigue. Neither my stepmother nor a dear friend I had lunch with in Bend came down with Covid. The DH tested negative five days in a row.

The bad news:  on the sixth day the DH tested positive. I arranged a video conference the next day with a physician who prescribed the anti-viral drug Paxlovid. By then I was one day beyond my five-day isolation period and was able to mask up and get that prescription for him.

The good news:  within 24 hours of taking the first dose, my husband was feeling remarkably better.

More good news: yesterday I got the borders sewn onto the ’30s reproduction quilt top found at my guild’s silent auction in August. This is the block in the upper left corner:


Here’s a look at the top on a double bed:

Isn’t that pretty? I’m very happy with my choice of fabric for the outer border. The top measures 81½” x 93½” right now; it will shrink a bit from quilting and laundering.

It sure felt good hearing the sewing machine in my sewing room humming again! I’m now primed to cut into that gorgeous decorator fabric with the goal of heading over to Central Oregon before the end of the month with the finished valances.

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, update, valance, vintage quilts | 7 Comments

Home Dec Project in the Works

It’s been more than a minute since my last post, that’s for sure. The year has flown by but September flew by faster than usual. Between working alongside the Dear Husband in the garden (and harvesting the results), resuming classes at Montavilla Sewing Center after a break during August, taking visiting relatives around Portland and through the Columbia Gorge, and continuing my usual everyday pursuits of reading, trying new recipes, and playing Scrabble, very little time has been spent in my sewing room.

I thought for sure I’d have the borders added by now to the 1930s reproduction quilt started by my friend Vivienne years ago but all I’ve managed to do is cut the strips. I can claim only one accomplishment: a prototype of the tailored valances I’m making for my stepmother. Here’s a look at the beautiful furnishing fabric and a rough sketch:

This home dec project was actually launched a year ago. My stepmother bought new upholstered furniture for her living room and asked if I would make valances for the three windows plus one in the hallway. This is just the kind of home dec challenge I love so of course I said yes. Then, during my annual November trip last year to my twin sister’s home in Georgia, we found this lovely tweedy herringbone fabric.

Finding the proper drapery hardware after I got home proved unsuccessful. Good thing my stepmother is a patient soul because I dithered for months before finding the right curtain rods online. I ordered only one so I could test it first with the valance design.

The math indicates we have enough furnishing fabric for four valances but not enough to cover a mistake, hence the need for a prototype. I used some old fabric I had on hand from a home dec project years ago. It was important to test my sketch because I’m departing from the usual way of making inverted pleats. I’ll fill you in later on my plan. At the moment, the DH and I are getting ready to head over to my stepmother’s home in Central Oregon to test the mock valance in place along with the drapery hardware.

More anon!

Posted in family, home dec, Scrabble, update, valance, vintage quilts | 2 Comments

10th Blogiversary Giveaway Update

The three winners of my recent giveaway — Linda, Chipper, and Bridget — had their choice of three bespoke items: a pair of pillowcases, a rotary cutter coat, or a pair of oven mitts.  Much to my surprise, all three winners chose pillowcases.

After a few back-and-forths via email with the winners, taking careful note of their color and fabric preferences, I got to work. It did take me a while to get the pillowcases made, what with teaching quilt classes, working outdoors alongside the Dear Husband to get the garden up to speed after a verrrry long and wet spring, and welcoming visiting relatives to the Portland White House.

But the cases are done, I’ve sent “sneak peeks” to the winners, and am happy to report the cases are, as they say, “in the mail.” Do you want to see what the end results are? Of course you do!

First up are Linda’s cases. As a reminder, Linda’s comment on my 10th Blogiversary post was this: “What a lovely and generous way to celebrate your blog’s anniversary! So hard to pick a favorite color combo, but pretty much any combination of blues and greens is hard to beat.” Linda’s cases contain — surprise! — blue and green:

The body of the pillowcase is a subtle white-on-white dot. Fun fact:  the fabrics were chosen to complement a stunning Double Wedding Ring quilt that Linda made — and hand quilted! — to celebrate her 40th wedding anniversary.

Chipper, my second winner, said “I love blue and white. Congratulations on 10 years!” Here are the cases I made for her:

Fun fact: there’s an amusing story about how I wound up with the blue and white floral fabric you see in the body of the pillowcase.

My third winner is Bridget, whose comment on my blog was this: “Ten years and I have loved so many of your posts! Congrats! I am not sure how this happened, I hate orange but right now I am liking orange and cream combos or maybe orange and yellow…um 😉 Oh, hey, maybe it is a lack of sunshine this spring! lol”

Fun fact: When I showed Bridget a few prints as possibilities for her pillowcases, she jumped on one for a very special reason: her nickname is “Birdie.” Check out her pillowcases:


And take a look at this close-up:

All of the birds have orange beaks! It was meant to be, right?!

My thanks again to all who helped me celebrate 10 years of blogging by entering my Blogiversary Giveaway. I am grateful for each and every one of you. Here’s to the next 10 years!!

 

Posted in family, Giveaway, home dec, oven mitts, roll-it-up pillowcases, rotary cutter case, tutorial, update | 4 Comments

Announcing the Giveaway Winners

I’m popping in to announce the three winners of the giveaway connected to my 10th Blogging Anniversary aka 10th Blogiversary. I asked people entering the giveaway to tell me about their favorite color combination. Using a Random Number Generator found online, I was able to identify the the three winners very quickly. And here they are . . .

Linda B., who wrote, “What a lovely and generous way to celebrate your blog’s anniversary! So hard to pick a favorite color combo, but pretty much any combination of blues and greens is hard to beat.”

C. Cullen, who commented, “I love blue and white. Congratulations on 10 years!”

Bridget, who said, “Ten years and I have loved so many of your posts! Congrats! I am not sure how this happened, I hate orange but right now I am liking orange and cream combos or maybe orange and yellow…um 😉 Oh, hey, maybe it is a lack of sunshine this spring! lol”

Ladies, I will email you to find out which giveaway item you would like me to make for you — a pair of standard or kingsize pillowcases, a rotary cutter coat, or a pair of quilted oven mitts. I’ll also ask you to give me an idea of your color preferences for your item of choice so I can send you photos of some fabric combinations to consider.

My thanks to each and every person who left a comment on my blog. It was fun to read about your favorite color combos. And many of you wrote such nice things about my blog! I am so very grateful for your interest and support. You all are the reason I reached my 10th blogiversary.

In my post announcing the giveaway, I noted that family members could leave comments but would be ineligible to win. My sister Reigh left this comment: “I wanted to win oven mitts in blue and yellow! First time it’s ever been a disadvantage to be your sister! Oh well, I wouldn’t change a thing. Love you!” Dearest Reigh, your wish is my command. You couldn’t win the giveaway but you’ll still get your oven mitts. Love you, too!

 

 

 

Posted in family, Giveaway, home dec, oven mitts, roll-it-up pillowcases, rotary cutter case, tutorial, update | 6 Comments

Giveaway Extended!

I’ve decided to extend the giveaway celebrating my 10th blogging anniversary (aka my 10th Blogiversary) through Saturday. I’ll be out of town for a few days so it makes sense to wrap things up after my return. If you meant to register for my giveaway (announced on my blog on May 1) and let it slide, you have a second chance.

I’m in Portland, Oregon so you can enter up until midnight Saturday, May 14, Pacific Daylight Time (PDT). Winners will be announced on Sunday. The giveaway is open to both domestic and international visitors to my blog.

I’m giving away three prizes made by me – a rotary cutter coat (pictured above), a pair of oven mitts . . .

. . . and a pair of standard or king size pillowcases:

But wait – there’s more! The winners get to pick the item they prefer — and the fabrics. I’ll find out what colors they like and give them some choices. If the handmade items I’m offering don’t appeal to you, think about them as gifts for friends or family members. Oven mitts, in particular, make great gifts. There’s even a hashtag for that: #ovenmittsmakegreatgifts.

To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is go to this post and respond in the comment section to the question: “What is your favorite color combo?” It’s been fun to see the responses so far, many of which mirror the color combos near and dear to my heart.

I’m sorry to say I’ve spent precious little time in my sewing room of late. What could possibly take me away from My Happy Place? The answer: the White House Garden. I have been helping the Dear Husband get our front and back yard ready for planting. I have to be honest: spending time in the garden is at the very bottom of my list of things I want to do. But we’ve had such a cold and soggy spring in Portland that I feel I have to help the DH take advantage of the (fairly) dry and (partly) sunny days to make up for lost time.

My DH moves a bit slower than he used to so I’m stealing time away from my sewing room to help him do the thing that makes his heart sing. I will always be a reluctant gardener but . . . I must confess:  there is a great deal of satisfaction to be gained from getting a few feet of land freed of weeds, an overgrown bush trimmed back, a lawn and leaf bag filled and hauled to the curb. I just don’t want to make a habit of it!

I’ll be back on Sunday with the names of the winners. Good luck!

P.S. Instructions for all three prizes are included in the Tutorials page on my website, which you can find at this link.

 

 

 

Posted in family, Giveaway, home dec, oven mitts, roll-it-up pillowcases, rotary cutter case, tutorial, update | 3 Comments

Four for Four

In baseball parlance, I’m batting a thousand! These are four products featuring artwork from “Capri,” Katarina Roccella’s new line of fabric for Art Gallery Fabrics. I recently ordered these items from redbubble.com, a global online marketplace for print-on-demand products based on artwork submitted by independent artists.

The socks arrived first, followed by the coffee mug and hot/cold travel mug. These three items feature Katarina Roccella’s lemons-on-stripes design while the mouse pad, which arrived today, features her rendering of hilltop houses on the Amalfi Coast. I love lemons and I love Italy; what more can I say? These two prints (and eight others) from the “Capri” line shown here . . .

. . . are in my fabric stash now. Someday (soon, I hope) they will make their way into a quilt. In the meantime, I can enjoy their loveliness by using the everyday items I purchased online.

I can’t speak to the quality of every print-on-demand product available at redbubble.com but I am very pleased indeed by the quality of the four products I bought. If you’re curious to see what kind of products are available featuring Katarina Roccella’s artwork — ranging from laptop sleeves to shower curtains — you can click here for her lemons-on-stripes design and here for her Amalfi Coast design. If you’re looking for a gift for a quilter, this is one place to explore.

Now I’m wondering how many other quilt fabric designers I admire have some of their designs available on things like t-shirts, backpacks, duvet covers, and smartphone cases. Could I be heading down a rabbit hole??

 

 

 

Posted in home dec, shower curtain, update | 4 Comments

“The Isle of Capri”

I’m bringing a little sunshine to the Portland White House with these pillowcases made from “Capri,” Katarina Roccella’s new fabric line for Art Gallery Fabrics. I fell in love with the line when I spotted it in Hawthorne Supply Company‘s weekly email newsletter a couple of weeks ago. It took a few days of daydreaming about it before I yielded to impulse and placed an order.

I was telling my students in a quilting class last week about my — ahem — rather large purchase, which I referred to as “a shopping accident.” One of my students said, “You didn’t have a shopping accident, you had a shopping adventure!” That sounds ever so much better, don’t you think?

I confess: I wound up ordering 10 prints from the line — and I may not be done yet! Just take a look at the fabrics:

Can you see why I fell in love with it? I have no earthly idea what I’m going to make with this luscious array but I did order enough extra of the aqua lemon print to make those pillowcases for the Dear Husband and me. (I used the burrito or roll-it-up method for the pillowcases, using my own tutorial which you can find here.)

I am lucky to have visited the tiny island of Capri several years ago on a trip to Italy with the DH. These pillowcases will be a fond reminder of that trip. They are a fond reminder of something else. When my siblings and I were little, our father used to sing to us. One of the songs he sang was “The Isle of Capri,” whose first two verses go like this:

“Twas on the Isle of Capri that I found her
Beneath the shade of an old walnut tree
Oh, I can still see the flow’rs blooming ’round her
Where we met on the Isle of Capri.

“She was as sweet as a rose in the dawning
But somehow fate hadn’t meant her for me
And though I sail with the tide in the morning
Still my heart’s on the Isle of Capri.”

According to Wikipedia, “The Isle of Capri” was a #1 hit in 1935, the year my father turned 12. The music was written by Will Grosz with lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy. The tempo is described as a tango foxtrot but my dad sang it like a ballad. I love those old romantic songs as much as I love pretty pillowcases.

I’m going to put the new cases on our pillows tonight. Maybe I will dream of Capri!

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, roll-it-up pillowcases, update | 12 Comments