This might just be the world’s smallest valance! The window it’s made for — the guest bathroom in my stepmother Shirley’s home — is only 12¼” wide so the spring tension rod inside the valance is set for that width. The valance itself is 8¾” long.
I just mailed the valance off to Shirley in Bend, Oregon and will wait for her to send me a photo of how it looks before I make simple ruffled valances (out of a different fabric) for the two windows in Shirley’s master bath. The fabric for this one is from the “Icy World” line designed by Gareth Lucas for Windham Fabrics.
Other fabrics from “Icy World” starred (literally!) in my Arctic Stars quilt finished last December. I’d not seen this particular print from the line until my sister Diane and I spotted it at the Quilt Basket on our trip to Bend in August and decided it would be perfect for Shirley’s guest bath.
We’ve gone quite a bit inland for whale watching!
. . . with a few photos of Vintage Vignettes, all soft and puckery after being laundered:
The quilt measured 80″ x 92″ after being quilted and trimmed. Now, after laundering, it measures 75″ x 89″ — a little more shrinkage than I was expecting but there’s a reason. When I bought the quilt top I could tell the fabrics hadn’t been washed so I didn’t wash the fabric I bought for the outer border and backing either. (Yes, I’m one of those quiltmakers who washes, dries, and irons her quilting cottons before cutting into them.)
Here’s Coco lending a helping hand — er, paw — as I measured the quilt:
It’s very challenging getting the light right when photographing fabrics indoors — especially pastels. Depending on the time of day and amount of light coming in the windows, the colors can look completely different. This is pretty close, though:
No chance for outdoor photos today: it’s raining in Portland! You know what that means, don’t you? No gardening today! I’m heading right back up to my sewing room.
P.S. I’ve already added Vintage Vignettes to the Gallery page on my website, which you can visit here. It includes a link to additional photos taken during the quilt’s construction.
Hooray, my Vintage Vignettes quilt is done. I finished binding it last week on a short but sweet road trip with the Dear Husband to Walla Walla, Washington (and added the label yesterday).
These next few photos were taken in Walla Walla’s tranquil Pioneer Park:
Doesn’t that dappled sunlight give the quilt a lovely glow?
You may remember I acquired the unfinished quilt top by an unknown maker last August at my quilt guild’s annual silent auction . . .
. . . only to discover later that my dear friend Vivienne Moore had pieced these blocks about 20 years ago. She donated the top to the Metropolitan Patchwork Society auction through a friend who also belongs to the guild.
Lucky for me, Viv had a piece of that lavender sashing fabric in her stash that enabled me to complete the first border as it would have been impossible to match. I added a wide floral border using a ’30s reproduction fabric that played very nicely with the fabrics in Viv’s blocks. Here’s a photo of the finished quilt taken in the same spot:
Another friend who had inherited a large stash of ’30s repro fabric gave me a piece of solid medium blue to use for the binding after I had visited several local quilt shops without finding a suitable shade.
The label, outlined in the same blue, identifies Vivienne as the maker of the blocks:
It wouldn’t be a photoshoot without Coco the Photobomber making an appearance, right?
I’ll be back with a few more photos after Vintage Vignettes takes a trip through the washer and dryer. You know how I love the puckery softness that laundering gives a quilt!
I’ve rounded third base and am headed for home on the binding of my Vintage Vignettes quilt:
A few minutes here, a few minutes there. It adds up. You may be able to tell from the photo that my binding is wider than usual. I typically make my binding to finish at 1/4″ but I went for 1/2″ finished on this one.
Check out this sweet treat, a little macaron holding my needle in its magnetic grip:
I have a terrible time keeping track of my needle between binding sprints as I tend to set it down on a flat surface or insert it in the border of the quilt and then lose it somehow. The macaron is so cute it makes me want to reach for it instead.
Made by Clover, the macaron is a needle sharpener as well as a magnet. The “filling” is some substance that sharpens the tip of the needle when it’s inserted between the top and bottom of the macaron. I never knew hand-sewing needles needed to be sharpened; did you?
I found this little gem at my local quilt shop but if yours doesn’t carry it you can google “clover sweet n sharp macaron” and be able to find it online. It comes in two flavors: raspberry, which is what I have, and pistachio, which is more aqua than green. Get one for yourself and one for a friend or family member who sews. That’s what I did. Sweet treats are meant to be shared.
Hello, friends. Are you wondering where I’ve been? It seems like ages since I published a post. The good news is I finally have something quilty to post about:
It’s been six weeks since I made the binding for my ’30s reproduction quilt, Vintage Vignettes, but I didn’t actually get the binding sewn on until yesterday. This morning I joined the loose ends of the binding to complete the final seam . . .
. . . and sewed the remainder of the binding in place.
Then I started tacking down the binding on the back, a process I really enjoy:
As soon as I arranged the quilt on my ironing board to take a picture, Coco put in an appearance:
Her right paw is on top of the spot where I starting tacking down the binding. I always like to start near a corner to get the first of the mitered corners out of the way. So far I’ve stitched seven inches. Let’s see, now . . . this quilt measures 80″ x 92″. That means I only have 337 inches to go!
When I started my First Light Designs website/blog in 2012, I created a “Tutorials” link at the top of my home page. One of the first tutorials I planned was on sewing Y-seams, formed when three seams meet at one junction; when stitched together the seams form the letter Y. Although the prospect of sewing Y-seams terrifies many quilters, I’ve never had an issue with them, probably because when I started making them in the 1990s I didn’t know they were to be feared. Ignorance is bliss, so they say.
In the last 13 years I’ve written 24 tutorials, which you can see here, and not a single one is about Y-seams. Now the time has come to write that tutorial. Why now? Well, I’m scheduled to give a demonstration on Y-seams at an upcoming meeting of my quilt guild, the Metropolitan Patchwork Society. Our meetings are hybrid now, with in-person presentations also available over Zoom in real time. I need to do a PowerPoint presentation for the Zoom portion and figure it will be easy to turn the PowerPoint into a picture-heavy tutorial on my blog.
I’ve decided to use the classic Bow Tie block to demonstrate my method, which differs from all others I’ve seen. It’s been years since I made any Bow Tie blocks but I knew I had some tucked away in a drawer. Imagine my surprise to find five dozen 6″ Bow Tie blocks! And a baggie filled with pieces already cut to make at least that many more!
I have no idea why I made so many blocks. Maybe I was just trying to use up some of those ditsy prints I bought in the 1980s. So what do you think? Should I turn these blocks into a quilt? Many of the prints are not ones I would buy now but they do have a sort of vintage charm. And the photo at the top of this post is giving me an idea for a setting . . .
At what point does a WIP (work-in-progress) become a UFO (unfinished object?). It was early December 2022 when I last posted about one of my WIPs, a ’30s reproduction quilt top made some 20 years ago by my friend Vivienne, finished by me, and quilted by Karlee Sandell. I was speculating on my options for binding fabric, knowing the final choice needed to go well with the border fabric and the various ’30s repro fabrics within the quilt:
I figured it would be a cinch to find a medium-light solid blue, Alas, I visited three quilt shops and came home empty-handed each time. None of the shops had just the right shade of blue. I did have enough of the border print to bind the quilt but I was stubbornly holding out for a solid to frame the quilt.
Months passed. My WIP was dangerously close to becoming a UFO. To the rescue came a quilting friend, Sue H., who had inherited a friend’s vast stash of fabrics. The stash included a bin of ’30s reproduction prints and solids. Sue told me she thought there was a blue in the bin that might work. I admit to being dubious but when she brought me the piece of fabric last week, I had a glimmer of hope.
Sure enough, when I got home and put the fabric next to the quilt, I nearly jumped for joy: it was a nearly perfect match! Today I cut my binding strips and sewed them together:
It’s likely this blue was part of a ’30s reproduction line — but it’s also possible it’s a true vintage fabric. We’ll never know for sure. All I know is that the quilt I’ve already named Vintage Vignettes is closer to being completed. Thank you so much, Sue! Aren’t quilty friends the best?
When it came time to choose a quilt motif for my Vintage Vignettes quilt, I just knew that feathers would be the way to go. Karlee at SewInspired2Day did a beautiful job on her longarm quilting machine with this edge-to-edge design called “Abundant Feathers.” I chose the same design a couple years ago for another quilt, Lilacs in September, and loved the result.
Here’s another close-up . . .
. . . and here’s a shot of the entire quilt, measuring 80″ x 92″ after trimming:
The outer border is a generous 8″ wide. I haven’t settled yet on what fabric to use for the binding. I could use the border fabric to completely float the blocks or I could go with a solid to provide a subtle frame.
Take a look at this close-up of the border fabric next to one of two blocks with almost the same colors (this was taken pre-quilting):
If I went with a solid for the binding, my choices would be the medium light blue of the background, the darker blue in the flowers, yellow or orange. Believe it or not, I’m leaning toward the orange (think creamsicle!). I’ll probably wind up hauling the quilt to my closest local quilt shop, cool cottons, which has an extensive collection of solid colors, to properly audition my choices. I love an excuse to visit a quilt shop!
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 for the DH. 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 border print next to a corner block:
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.
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.