Category Archives: tutorial

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, 24½” 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:

Dark Moon (2011) on the left, Hip Hop (2018) on the right

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

Satisfying Sewing

During my recent two-week stay at sister Diane’s home in Georgia last month, the only sewing I did other than new valances for her garage was this pair of napkins with machine-mitered corners:

The days leading up to our departure were so busy I didn’t take the time to organize a quilt project as I usually do, so I wound up throwing this fabric in my suitcase with the idea of making napkins. We use only cloth napkins at the Portland White House, and some of the older ones are pretty faded. This fleur de lis print will go very well with my blue and white transferware dishes.

I usually make my napkins with a 1/4″-wide hem using a method involving folding the fabric at the corners to form the miters. In fact, one of my very first tutorials — from 10 years ago! — describes this method. Folded miters work very well with narrow hems — say 1/4″ to 3/8″ wide. For anything wider, a miter stitched by machine is a better choice.

Because I had decided to finish these napkins with a 1/2″-wide hem, I looked for tutorials online to refresh my memory on how to machine-stitch mitered corners. I found a few that described the process with photos but every tutorial was lacking what I consider important information.

I want to make a couple more napkins now that I’m back home, and this time I’m going to take process shots so I’ll have them on hand the next time I decide to make some.

Is there interest out there in a tutorial? Let me know!

 

 

 

Posted in family, mitered corners, table napkins, tutorial, update | 17 Comments

Ugly Oven Mitts?

I made my twin Diane a pair of oven mitts almost two years ago that she hasn’t used:

Her reason? “They are too beautiful.” I threatened to make her a pair of ugly ones but she said it’s not in my DNA to make anything ugly. I have to admit she’s right. Here’s the thing: Diane really needs a pair of oven mitts. So I decided to make her another set that she will actually use.

Here are the mitts I just made for her:

She’s going to receive them next week as a hostess gift when the Dear Husband and I make our annual two-week trip to Georgia. We’ll celebrate our birthday together as well as Thanksgiving in the company of both our Dear Husbands.

Red is a prominent accent color in Diane’s kitchen (hence my fabric choice in her first set of mitts) so I made sure the lining of the new mitts included a touch of red. The mitt on the left is ready to be turned right side out:

The lining fabric ups the cuteness factor but you can’t really see it unless you peek inside the mitts:

I’ll be taking over Diane’s kitchen to make a few meals so you can be sure these oven mitts will get broken in. Then she’ll have to use them, right?

Her first set of mitts provided the inspiration for my tutorial “Oven Mitts that Fit,” introduced on my website in April of 2021. You might want to make a pair for yourself. They also make great gifts, something to consider with the holidays coming up. Here are the links to the three-part tutorial:

Oven Mitts that Fit: Prequel to the Tutorial (April 13, 2021)
Oven Mitt Tutorial from First Light Designs, Part 1 (April 18, 2021)
Oven Mitt Tutorial from First Light Designs, Part 2 (April 19, 2021)

By the way, these oven mitts launder beautifully! They’re made with 100% cotton fabrics, 100% cotton batting, and Insul-bright, an insulated heat-resistant batting.

The ones I made for myself two years ago are still in great shape despite being used every single day and making several trips through the washer and dryer. And yet . . . I’m tempted to make myself a pair like Diane’s because I really love the fabrics.

 

 

 

Posted in family, oven mitts, tutorial, update | 4 Comments

More Mitts

Way back in May I promised my sister Reigh a pair of oven mitts. Good thing she’s a patient person! I finished the mitts last week . . .

. . . and popped them in the mail.

Reigh had requested yellow and blue. I chose a medium dark blue tonal print for the outside of the mitt — a practical choice and one I’ve used before — and a lovely blue and yellow floral print for the lining. I must have bought a lot of that floral print back in the day because I used it close to 20 years ago to make a ruffled bedskirt for my twin Diane that was eventually swapped for a more tailored one. It also went into a couple of cloth napkins that are in constant rotation at the Portland White House.

You can see more of the lining fabric in this process photo:

That’s a freezer paper pattern I’m sewing around. When the mitt on the left below is trimmed and the cuff is bound, the mitt is turned inside out and looks just like the mitt on the right:

Reigh’s mitts have arrived — she likes them! — and my guess is she has already put them to good use.

Just in case you’re new to my blog, here are links to my tutorials on how to make these oven mitts yourself:

21, Oven Mitts that Fit: Prequel to the Tutorial (April 13, 2021)
21, Oven Mitt Tutorial from First Light Designs, Part 1 (April 18, 2021)
21, Oven Mitt Tutorial from First Light Designs, Part 2 (April 19, 2021)

 

 

 

Posted in family, oven mitts, tutorial, update | 7 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

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