Category Archives: wall hanging

Addendum: Hanging Quilts with 3M Command Strips

After seeing my last post on using 3M Command Strips to hang quilts, one of my readers asked an excellent question: “Can you successfully remove the strip from the back of the quilt?”

The answer is “yes” — but there’s a surprise involved. When you take a quilt off the wall that was hung with Command Strips, the strips stay on the wall — not the quilt! And there is no residue whatsoever on the back of the quilt.

I discovered something else quite by accident: if you’re planning to take one quilt down and put up another one of the same or slightly wider width, you can reuse the strips that are already attached to the wall. Serendipity!

On one wall in our main floor bath I took down Uptown Funk (now on loan to a quilt guild for an upcoming workshop) . . .

Uptown Funk, 24″ x 26″ (2020)

. . . in order to hang Loose Leaf:

Loose Leaf, 24 1/2″ square (2015)

I saw that I had hung Uptown Funk using Medium-size Command Strips, which measure ¾” x 2¾”. All I had to do was separate the top strip from the bottom strip of each pair on the wall. You will remember from my previous post that the strips work in pairs, with the Velcro-like textured sides coming together with an audible click. It’s quite easy to separate them, leaving one half of the pair on the wall with the Velcro-like side exposed:

I took three new strips from the package (each strip is half of a pair) . . .

. . . and pressed each Velcro-like side to its mate on the wall. Then I peeled off the paper backing to expose the adhesive and pressed Loose Leaf into place. Easy as pie! It took less than two minutes.

If you’re the least bit apprehensive about attaching adhesive strips to either your wall or your quilt, I have a suggestion. Start with one pair of Command Strips. Remove the paper backing from one strip and attach it to the back of one of your quilts. Remove the paper backing from the other strip and attach it to a wall in an inconspicuous place — perhaps behind a door or a piece of furniture. Leave both strips in place for a week or two. Then remove the strips, remembering to pull straight down and very slowly on the rounded tab . . .

. . . until the strips completely separate from the fabric and the wall.

Pulling slowly and straight down on the tab is what loosens the bond between the adhesive and whatever it is attached to (fabric or wall). If you pull the tab out from the wall instead of straight down, you run the risk of pulling part of the wall or paper off with the tab. (This has never happened to me, by the way). If you pull too fast, the strip will snap you like a rubber band when it comes off. (This has happened to me but it won’t ever again, I assure you.)

I predict that trying this experiment will give you the confidence to hang your own quilts with Command Strips.




Posted in home dec, New Big Leaf, tutorial, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 2 Comments

Practical Magic: Hanging Quilts with 3M Command Strips

Happy New Year!! I’m starting the year with a bit of practical magic:  using Command Picture Hanging Strips from 3M to change out the wall hanging in my master bath. Command Strips have a sticky Velcro-like texture on one side and adhesive on the other side covered by paper backing. The strips are assembled in pairs, with adhesive facing out on both sides and the Velcro-like sides in the middle, like a sandwich. When the paper backings are removed, one adhesive side attaches to the wall and the other side to the back of the quilt — without leaving a trace on either when they are removed. Seriously!

I have several wall hangings that I like to rotate more or less according to the seasons. Dark Moon, pictured on the left below, went up in December as my choice for winter but as the New Year rang in I was longing for something brighter. It took fewer than five minutes to swap out Dark Moon for Hip Hop:

Hip Hop features five different kangaroos gamboling on an Australian aboriginal print background. The playful ‘roos and bright colors are definitely lightening my mood during these gray and rainy days in Portland:

But I digress. Let me show you how very easy it is to hang quilts using these Command Picture Hanging Strips.

Packaging varies. I bought a “value pack” containing four small and eight medium pairs of command strips:

The strips come in Small (holding up to four pounds), Medium (up to 12 pounds) and Large (up to 16 pounds). As mentioned above, the strips are geared for picture frames but they are eminently suitable for quilts. The size Small is more than sufficient for my wall hanging, which weighs much less than four pounds. FYI, Hip Hop measures 16″ x 59″.

These are the four pairs of small Command Strips, front and back:

The strips are separated by pulling them apart (very easy). I’m using three pairs for my wall hanging:

Each strip is ¾” wide and 2⅛” long. Before removing the paper backing, I press two sticky sides together to form a pair, causing them to make an audible clicking sound as they connect. This is what they look like from the side:

I peel off one set of paper backing pieces and place the strips sticky side down right next to the binding at the top back of my quilt — one strip on each end and one in the middle:

Then I remove the second set of paper backing pieces . . .

. . . turn the quilt around, and place it on the wall, pressing firmly from the right side of the quilt. I actually run my fingers up and down where the Command Strips are for a good 30 seconds, pressing the runner firmly against the strips for good adhesion. Note: this wall hanging is going on a painted sheetrock wall. I have also used the strips successfully on wallpapered walls (although the instructions say not to do this with picture frames) and on lath and plaster walls in my 1913 home.

Oh, and one more thing: I want to show you how to remove the strips from the wall after you’ve taken the wall hanging down. This shot was taken after I took Dark Moon off the wall:

All you do is grasp the rounded tab at the bottom and pull gently, firmly and — this is important! — slowly straight down from the strip. That tab will stretch a good 12″ or more before the entire strip releases from the wall, leaving no trace behind of the adhesive. If you pull too fast or too hard, the strip snaps like a rubber band. Ouch! You only do that once, believe me.

Note: I have no affiliation with 3M, the maker of Command Strips. I’m strictly a consumer, recommending this product based on personal experience. As far as I know, there is no other comparable product on the market. Using this method to display quilts on my walls has eliminated the need to mar the surface of the walls with nails or screws in order to hang rods or other hardware.

About the wall hangings: both are original designs. Hip Hop was made using my first pattern, Full Moon Rising. Dark Moon was made from my second pattern, Full Moon Rising II. If interested, you can look at the front and back of the patterns on the Patterns page on my website.

A final thought:  I think this post qualifies as a tutorial. I’m adding it to the Tutorials page on my website. It’s Tutorial #23. Maybe you should check out the other ones!

Update posted Jan. 23, 2023:  Be sure to read the follow-up post to this one! It’s called Addendum: Hanging Quilts with 3M Command Picture Hanging Strips. Clicking on the link will take you right to the post.




Posted in home dec, tutorial, update, wall hanging | 8 Comments

First Light Designs: Best of 2022

It’s that time of year again. Cheryl Brickey of Meadow Mist Designs is inviting bloggers to share their top five posts of the year in her “Best of 2022 Linky Party.” This is the eighth consecutive year Cheryl has hosted this linky party and my fifth year participating.

Clicking on the links will take you to the original posts where you can see more photos and read about my creative process.

Number 1. Isabella’s Quilt

Isabella’s Quilt, 40″ x 44″ (2022)

Isabella’s Quilt, made for a new great grandchild, was adapted from the pattern Star Stream Quilt by Sally Davies of Chasing Tigers.  I chose to make only a portion of the original design, using just two stars and enlarging them for maximum graphic effect. Instead of using one fabric for the background, I used several greens from my ample stash to create a low volume effect.

Number 2. Arctic Stars  (I liked Isabella’s Quilt so much I made a second version!)

Arctic Stars, 50″ x 63″ (2022)

Made to be a throw size, the quilt features two additional stars, with each star containing a fussycut image from the “Icy World” line by Gareth Lucas for Windham Fabrics. Here are a couple of close-ups:

8″ Star Block in Arctic Stars
16″ Star Block in Arctic Stars

Number 3. My Eleventh (!) Junior Billie Bag (JBB)

Dawn’s Latest Junior Billie Bag, the Essential Quilter’s Tote (2022)

I teach other quilters how to make this tote, making one myself in the process. That’s why I’ve made so many. To see earlier versions, click here.

I’ve also been making accessories to accompany each JBB. Here’s my latest suite:

Dawn’s Junior Billie Bag Accessories (2022)

You’ll find tutorials for the rotary cutter coat and scissors case at these links to my website:
 Rotary Cutter Coat (Oct. 10, 2014)
 Scissors Case from First Light Designs (Sept. 5, 2018)

Number 4. Pillowcases to Make You Dream of Italy

Pillowcases for the Portland White House (2022)

I love sleeping on pillowcases made from beautiful cottons. These cases were made using the “Capri” line designed by Katarina Roccella for Art Gallery Fabrics. (I used the burrito or roll-it-up method for the pillowcases, using my own tutorial which you can find here.)

Number 5. Holliberry Circle

Holliberry Circle, 25″ in diameter (2022)

My very first finish of 2022 was this mini quilt using the delightfully whimsical pattern Dresden Neighborhood by Kim Lapacek of Persimon Dreams. I used scraps from Corey Yoder’s “Holliberry” line from 2021 plus a few other red and green fabrics culled from my stash. I embellished the quilt with a few strategically placed vintage buttons. The link above the photo will take you to the post in which I explained (with lots of photos) how I converted my little quilt from a square to a circle.

Thank you so much for visiting First Light Designs. And thank you, Cheryl, for getting the party going. Be sure to check out the top five posts of the other quilting/blogging partygoers. If you’re a quilter, you can join Cheryl’s Best of 2022 Linky Party, too. The link is open until January 2.

All the best in 2023!




Posted in baby quilt, Billie Bag, home dec, Junior Billie Bag, roll-it-up pillowcases, rotary cutter case, sewing tool caddy, tote bags, tutorial, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 7 Comments

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

Happy Mail

Last month I had the pleasure of giving a presentation in Newport, Oregon to the Oregon Coastal Quilters Guild, which serves quilters up and down the coast. I also taught a workshop on Kim Lapacek’s Dresden Neighborhood quilt pattern. When I complimented one of my students on her denim shirt, which was adorned with this image . . .

. . . she told me the guild had shirts for sale. Of course I ordered one! When the Dear Husband and I returned home Sunday from a minor league baseball road trip to Central and Southeast Washington, my shirt was waiting for me. Happy Mail!!

Years ago I had a denim shirt jacket that I embellished with cuffs and pockets made with leftover fabric from a home dec project. I literally wore that shirt out. Now I have a replacement. I promptly put it on and — even before unpacking — asked the DH to take a photo in our back yard. Notice the continuation of the pink and green color theme? That’s mountain laurel on my right, in my neighbors’ backyard. On my left is spirea japonica, which burst into bloom while we were gone. How I love this time of year!

About that logo on my denim shirt:  “Quilts by the Sea” is the name of the quilt show that the guild puts on every year — or did, until Covid came along. After a two-year hiatus, the quilt show returns on Friday and Saturday, August 4 and 5. It’s the guild’s 30th show! Of course it’s on my calendar. If you’re going to be anywhere near Newport, Oregon in early August, you should put it on your calendar, too. Click here for more information.

The guild members who took my “Wonky Dresden Neighborhood” workshop were scheduled to show their finished mini quilts at the last guild meeting. I’m hoping someone took some good photos. If so, I’ll be sure to share them on my blog.

Thanks for stopping by!




Posted in update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 3 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