Category Archives: wall hanging

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!




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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?




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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!





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The doors are on my wonky Dresden Neighborhood mini quilt:

I cut the strips for my doors a little taller than designer Kim Lapacek’s pattern calls for. That’s because my house fabrics are pretty busy and I wanted to tone down the prints with some longer strips of solid fabrics — or at least fabrics that read as solid. In fact, there’s only one solid, the true red.

The next decision? What to use for the circle that goes in the center. First I auditioned a scrap of the solid red:

I liked it but felt it was too strong. Maybe one of the red prints would work better? I cut a circle out of a scrap and stuck it on:

As much as I like this print (one of my favorites from Corey Yoder’s “Holliberry” line), it seemed to add to the busy-ness of the prints rather than calm them down.

Next I tried one of the greens:

Okay, this is more like what I had in mind. (And you shouldn’t be surprised. Green is my favorite color, after all.)

But then I wondered:  how would it look with a smaller solid red circle on top of the green one?

Oh, yeah! I’m liking this a lot. As Henry Higgins would say, “By George, I think she’s got it!”

But guess what else I’m seeing? A big green button on top of the red circle. Maybe even a smaller red button on top of the green one. What do you think? Can you see it too?

One of the pleasures of working on a project like this is letting it evolve. Each quilter who makes this charming pattern (Dresden Neighborhood by Persimon Dreams) winds up with a unique project, totally subject to the whims and preferences of its maker.

Now that I have a plan, I’ll inset a red circle into a larger green scrap and turn that scrap into a circle so that I can applique it (by hand) into place. Then I’ll be ready to add the batting and backing and turn it into a quilt sandwich.

Working on this project is making me smile. Always a good thing on a cold and rainy January day!




Posted in appliqué, table topper, update, wall hanging, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 5 Comments

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, friends and treasured blog followers! I’m popping in to say hello and point out the stitching around the roofs on my wonky Dresden Neighborhood mini quilt:

It’s still under construction but you can see the rest of the neighborhood here.

I used a simple straight stitch to outline each roof, using my open-toed walking foot so I could easily see every stitch as it was being made:

The threads I used — light green, red, and medium gray — were chosen to blend with the roof fabrics rather than offer contrast. The effect is very subtle but gives the roofs in my wonky little neighborhood a nicely finished look.

Thanks for stopping by on this first day of 2022!




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Up on the Rooftop

My Dresden Neighborhood homes now have roofs over their heads. I just finished fusing 20 slightly wonky roofs in place. But before I show you, take a look at the “before” photo, with the dresden blades attached to the background fabric:

Who doesn’t love polkadots?! I especially love them when they’re scattered randomly across fabric. They add an extra touch of whimsy, don’t you think?

Now for the roofs:

(That’s a circle of freezer paper in the middle, put there just to cover the raw edges.)

Next up: stitching around each roof. I used a heavy duty fusible on them so I’ll use a straight stitch around the edges of each roof rather than a decorative stitch. Doors and windows get fused on next. Hmmm, wouldn’t it be fun to use buttons for some of the windows? I have some really neat vintage buttons that might find their way onto the finished quilt . . .

Preparing to teach a class on this pattern (Dresden Neighborhood by Persimon Dreams) has given me an excuse to play in my sewing room. (As if I needed an excuse!)

Since this is my second version of Dresden Neighborhood — you can see my first one here — I’m going to try out some new ideas (buttons being one of them). As designed, this mini quilt finishes at 24″ square but I’m toying with the idea of making it round. To that end I cut my background fabric about 31″ square. We’ll see where that takes me after I’ve finished decorating the houses.

For crafters and quilters in the area who might be interested in my class, clicking here will take you to the class information page at Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego.




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First Light Designs: Best of 2021

For the sixth consecutive year, Cheryl at Meadowmist Designs is hosting a “Linky Party,” inviting quilt bloggers to share their top five posts of the year. It’s a fun way to look back on the past 12 months and identify some of the high points as well as see what marvelous things other quilters are creating. So thank you, Cheryl. I’m delighted to join the 2021 party!

Clicking on the links below will take you to the original posts where you can read more about the finishes and see more photos.

Number 1. Best Tutorial:  Oven Mitts that Fit

I’m still waiting for the quilting and crafting world to discover my tutorial on quilted oven mitts. I worked really hard on writing this tutorial and loading it with pictures. So much so that the tutorial is in two parts with a prequel!

Oven Mitts that Fit: the Prequel gives the background for my taking on this project and shows you how to make your own pattern based on the size of your hand.

Part 1 covers fabric requirements, instructions for downloading and printing the pattern, assembling the layers, and quilting the resulting “quilt sandwich.”

Part 2 covers the sewing of the mitt and contrasting band around the cuff edge as well as the final step of tacking the band down before turning the mitt right side out.

These mitts make great gifts for friends and family. I invite you to take a look!


Number 2. Best UFO Finish

Okay, I confess:  This is the only UFO (UnFinished Object) I busted this year. It’s an updated version of the traditional pattern Grandma’s Surprise. I started working on this quilt in 2015 in a class taught by Joyce Gieszler. Her book Then and Now Quilts (Kansas City Star Quilts, 2014) had come out the year before and Grandma’s Surprise was one of the quilts featured in the book. My version of this design is called Currant Affairs (there’s a pun in that name).


Number 3. Best Quilt Made for a Car

You read that right. I made this quilt for my 2019 Subaru Forester aka the Green Goddess. I’d been wanting to make a car quilt for some time and was prompted to do so when I discovered the line of “Jungle Paradise” fabric designed by Stacy Iest Hsu and the free (and very easy) pattern State Fair by Melissa Corry. This is my Green Goddess Car Quilt.


Number 4. Best Quilt Made from a Jelly Roll

I don’t use precuts very much, mainly because I like to prewash my fabrics. But in my stash was a Jelly Roll (2½” strips) of “High Street,” a line of fabrics by Lily Ashbury for Moda Fabrics. I used the Jelly Roll in a free pattern called Tea Time in Bali and wound up with a quilt I named Tea Time on High Street.


Number 5. Best Red and Green Quilt

It’s a tie! I made two quilts this year using red and green fabrics. First up is ‘Tis the Season:

It’s actually my first quilt finish of 2021 but I saved it for the fifth slot because we’re still celebrating the season. ‘Tis the Season was made using the Missouri Star Company’s pattern Quatrefoil and Corey Yoder’s fabric line called “Holliberry.”

My second red and green quilt of 2021 is the very recently finished Winterwood, based on my pattern Season to Taste:

It can be a wall hanging or a table runner. I gave it to my sister Diane for Christmas so now we know: it’s a table runner:

With five days left in the year, there’s a good chance I’ll be able to add a third red and green quilt to the mix. (You may see it in next year’s Linky Party.)

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 2021 Linky Party, too. The link is open until January 2. Thank you for visiting First Light Designs. All the best in 2022!




Posted in home dec, kaleidoscope quilts, oven mitts, Quatrefoil, single-fold binding, State Fair quilt pattern, table runner, tutorial, update, wall hanging | 8 Comments

An Early Christmas Present

Winterwood, the winter version of my Season to Taste table runner/wall hanging series, has a new home:

My sister Diane seemed quite taken with it when she read my previous posts about it so I decided to surprise her and send it to her for Christmas, with instructions to open the package upon arrival rather than waiting till Dec. 25. It arrived yesterday and Diane has already found the perfect place for it. The runner fits the table in the main entry hall perfectly. It was meant to be!




Posted in family, home dec, kaleidoscope quilts, table runner, update, wall hanging | 7 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