Category Archives: cheddar and indigo

First Light Designs: Best of 2020

Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs is hosting a Best of 2020 Linky Party, inviting bloggers to highlight their top five posts of the year. It’s a fun way to look back over the last 12 months and identify some of the high points. (And wouldn’t we all much rather dwell on the high points of 2020 than the low points?!)

My top five are below, in reverse order. Clicking on the links will take you to the original posts.

5. Uptown Funk. My version of Dresden Neighborhood by Kim Lapacek of Persimon Dreams. It was so much fun to make!

Uptown Funk (24″ x 26″) by Dawn White (2020)


4. Something in Red: New Oven Mitts. Every oven mitt I’ve tried on in a store has been oversized, and every tutorial I’ve found online has included a pattern that’s too big. What’s a quilter to do? Why, make her own, of course! I just started making oven mitts in December and am still tweaking my process but I plan to offer my own tutorial and free pattern in early 2021.

Mitts that Fit! Made by Dawn White (2020)


3. A Bee in my Bucket Hat. A reversible hat made using the Sorrento Bucket Hat pattern from Elbe Designs.

Dawn’s Sorrento Bucket Hat (2020)


2. Love Rocks. All You Need Is Love, made using the Love Rocks pattern and alphabet (both contained in Sew Kind of Wonderful’s latest book, Text Me) and the Wonder Curve ruler.

All You Need Is Love (38″ x 44″) made by Dawn White, quilted by Sherry Wadley (2020)


1. Scattered Stars, an original design using a block first seen in Jenifer Gaston’s quilt Churning Stars.

Scattered Stars (66″ x 88″), made by Dawn White, quilted by Karlee Sandell (2020)


Thank you so much for checking out my “top five” blog posts. If you’re a blogger, you can join Cheryl’s party, too. The link is open until January 2. Be sure to check out the top five posts of the other quilting/blogging partygoers — and prepare to be inspired!




Posted in bucket hat, cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, home dec, machine applique, tutorial, update, wall hanging, Wonder Curve Ruler, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 10 Comments

Printing Quilt Labels on Fabric: A Tutorial

Back in May — doesn’t that seem like a hundred years ago? — I wrote about a method I discovered quite by accident of printing computer-generated labels on fabric. It requires only two items: fabric and fusible interfacing — no freezer paper involved. I described my method and promised to write a proper tutorial on it. Here is that tutorial. Better late than never, right?

I’ve written this tutorial in two parts. Part 1 is all about getting the fabric ready. Part 2 is about creating the label on your computer.

Part 1, Preparing the Fabric for Your Label

Step 1. Choose a fabric for your label that allows the type to show clearly. The fabric can be a solid or tone-on-tone print in a light to medium-light value. You might also be able to use a printed fabric — perhaps one you used in your quilt – if it’s not too busy or too dark in value to make the printed label hard to read. I’m illustrating this tutorial by making a label for my most recent UFO finish, Lilacs in September, using a medium light spring green fabric with a crosshatch design.

Step 2. Cut the label fabric about ½” larger all around than a printed page. In the United States the standard paper size is 8½” x 11” so you would cut your fabric about 9½” x 12”. It doesn’t have to be exact. I just lay a piece of paper on top of my label fabric and cut around it with scissors:

Step 3. Choose a featherweight or lightweight fusible interfacing. I use Pellon 911FF (the FF stands for featherweight fusible) for most of my labels but other brands will work equally well.

Step 4. Cut the fusible interfacing slightly smaller than you cut the label fabric. I do this the same way, by laying a piece of paper on top of the interfacing and cutting around it with scissors:

Cutting the interfacing slightly smaller assures that you won’t accidentally fuse it to your ironing board cover when you iron it to the label fabric. No need to ask me how I know that . . .

Step 5. Place the fusible side of the interfacing on the wrong side of the label fabric, making sure none of the fusible extends beyond the edges of the label fabric . . .

. . . and fuse in place following the manufacturer’s directions.

Step 6. Place the fabric on your cutting mat interfacing side up. Trim to 8½” x 11”:

Make sure your cutting is precise because the piece of interfaced fabric needs to fit perfectly in the paper tray of your inket printer.

Step 7. Place the fabric in your printer’s paper tray. (Make sure you know whether the fabric side needs to go in the tray right side down or right side up, as it varies from printer to printer. It goes right side down in my HP Office Jet Pro 8620.) Now print the label:

Voilà! It should slide out of the printer just as if it were a piece of paper. (You’ll notice I put two labels on my page; I’ll explain why in Part 2.)

One more thing to do:

Step 8. Heat-set the ink on the label using a press cloth and plenty of steam:

This helps to keep the ink on the label from fading with repeated washings. Irons vary widely so let me caution you not to have the iron too hot as it may scorch the label, even with a press cloth on it. I like to set my iron on medium high and, with the press cloth on top, steam the writing on the the label for 10 seconds. I let it cool and steam it for 10 more seconds.

Now you’re ready to finish your label and attach it to your quilt. You’ll see in Part 2 below that I like to make my labels round but yours can be any shape you want. Squares and rectangles are popular and easy because all you need to do is turn and press the raw edges under ½” or so and stitch the label to the quilt.

Part 2. Creating the Label on Your Computer

Step 1. Open up a new document on your computer and type the information you want to include about your quilt. What you put on your label is entirely up to you. At a minimum I always include:

the name I have given my quilt
my name
my city and state
the name of my quilter (if I didn’t quilt it myself)
the year of completion

Notice that each line is centered.

If my quilt is an original design I might say “designed and made by Dawn White.” If the quilt was made from one of my own patterns I might include the name of the pattern or say “designed and made by Dawn White of First Light Designs.”

If my quilt was made using someone else’s design, I always credit the designer:

If I tweaked someone’s design, added my own design elements, or significantly changed construction techniques, I might add a line such as “based on (pattern) by (name of designer)” or “inspired by (name of designer)”:

Step 2. Determine the point size and typeface of your label. The point size refers to the size of the type, e.g. 12 point, 14 point, etc. The typeface refers to the design, or style, of the lettering. Most word processing programs offer dozens of typefaces to choose from. On my computer these typefaces are called “theme fonts.” (Did you know that font is the French word for face? Now doesn’t the word typeface make more sense?)

The point sizes you choose depend on the size and shape of your finished label and how much information you want to include. My label for Lilacs in September has five lines of copy. I put the name of the quilt in 24 point boldface and italic. The lines underneath are in 14 point. I auditioned a sans serif type face called Arial and a serif typeface called Cambria. Both labels fit on one page so I could make my final decision on which one to use after this page was printed on fabric. (Putting two labels on one page is just an option, of course. You could create one label and center it on the page, which would give you a lot of flexibility in deciding later on the shape of your label.)

Step 3. Save your document.

Step 4. Print your label on paper. This gives you a good sense of what the label will look like printed on fabric. Here is my label for Lilacs in September, printed with black ink:

If you have a color printer you can experiment with different colors of ink. Print the labels on paper first to test the depth of color. You may find the ink doesn’t look quite as dark or as vivid on fabric as it did on paper.

I used red ink on my label for All You Need is Love:

Take another look at the label for Scattered Stars, my cheddar and indigo quilt. I used indigo ink which turned out to be not as dark as I was expecting but I still chose it over black:

Most of my round labels are made using a compact disc as a pattern. A CD measures 4⅝” in diameter so a label with a few lines of text fits inside that circle nicely. My label for Give Me the Simple Life has eight lines but still fits inside the compact disc pattern size:

The addition of the red ring made the label finish at about 6″ in diameter.

Below is a computer-generated label I made in May to replace a label on Ramblin’ Rose, made several years ago. I had omitted two significant pieces of information — the inspiration for my quilt and the name of the longarm quilter — and wanted to correct those oversights. In the photo below the original label is still on the quilt, about to be removed and replaced with the one on the right:

I used to write all of my labels by hand, a time-consuming endeavor. Creating them on the computer and printing them directly onto fabric has turned out to be quick and easy — and rather fun to do. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to hand-printed labels.

I hope you find my tutorial helpful. Be sure to let me know if you have any questions. As always, thank you for visiting First Light Designs!


Note: I followed up this tutorial with a new one, posted Nov. 6, about how I make my round labels using a compact disc. You can find it here.




Posted in appliqué, cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, Hazel's Diary Quilt, quilt labels, tutorial, update | 9 Comments

It’s a Wrap: Scattered Stars

Finally! I got the label made today for my cheddar and indigo quilt, Scattered Stars, so I can officially declare it finished:

Here’s a look at the back:

Scattered Stars finished at 66″ x 88″.

For the label I made an inset circle and then enclosed it in another circle:

Here’s a close-up:

I tried arranging Scattered Stars artfully on a quilt ladder, with mixed results:

At least you get a good look at the beautiful quilting done by Karlee Sandell of SewInspired2Day.

Coco photobombed my quilt at every step in its construction so it seems only right that she should show up for the final reveal:

Thank you for following along on my quiltmaking journey!




Posted in cats, cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, quilt labels, update | 16 Comments

Beautiful Blenders

As I was tacking down the binding on my Scattered Stars quilt a couple of days ago, I was reflecting on how much I like one of the “modern” cheddars in my cheddar and indigo quilt and was ruing the fact that only a few inches of that fabric remained in my stash.

The fabric is Barcelona City Map in saffron from the “Barcelona” line by Zen Chic for Moda. The line came out several years ago so I didn’t hold out much hope I would find any left but I decided to check the Internet anyway.

Much to my delight, I found an on-line shop called Lark Cottons that still has some — and the shop is in my own city of Portland, Oregon! While perusing the Lark Cottons website I made another happy discovery: Barcelona City Map came in a variety of other colors — and Lark Cottons still has some of those in stock.

Well, you probably know what’s coming: not only did I replace my stash of the saffron/cheddar color, I ordered three other colors:

And more good news: I didn’t have to wait for a package to arrive in the mail. Lark Cottons offers curbside pickup so these beauties were in my hands the very same day I ordered them.

They will be excellent additions to my rather extensive stash of blenders. I rarely use solid colors in my quilts, preferring the subtle texture and visual interest that printed fabrics bring. I’m also drawn to maps and geographical features on fabric so you can see why these appealed to me so much.

Color me happy with these beautiful Barcelona blenders!




Posted in cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, update | 8 Comments


I don’t even want to think about the number of hours I spent attaching the binding to my Scattered Stars quilt. What should have taken a couple hours at most stretched into (shall we just say) several hours over the space of several days.

I trace my problems to three decisions — none of which I regret. I can say that now that the binding is on to stay! I’ve already started tacking it down on the back side. Here you can see I’ve turned the first corner and the binding looks fine:

But getting to that point. Oy!

My first decision was not to add a border to Scattered Stars. That meant the points of my outer stars, being exactly ¼” from the edge of the quilt, would butt right up against the binding, leaving no room for error in attaching it. The danger would lie in cutting off the points by taking a seam allowance that was too deep. Fortunately, I had staystitched ¼” away all around the outer edges of the quilt top so I knew my star points were right where they needed to be.

My second decision was to have my binding finish at ½” wide. That required trimming the quilt a quarter-inch beyond the raw edges of the top so there would be a full half-inch from the stitching line to the outer edge. In the foreground of this picture you can see my line of staystitching, the quarter-inch seam allowance,  and the additional quarter inch of batting (the quilt is folded so that the back of the quilt is in the background):

Now take a look at that batting. It’s wool. That was my third decision. Wool batting is lighter weight than most other batts made from cotton or cotton/poly blends. Scattered Stars is only twin-size but all those seams in all those star blocks added quite a bit of extra weight. I knew wool batting would lighten the load, so to speak.

But here’s the thing about wool batting: it’s really quite poufy. Look at this side view:

It appears to be made of many ultra thin layers.

I can’t say for sure but that puffiness may have been a factor when stitching the binding on. I had pinned sections of binding at a time, removing the pins as I went, so I was quite sure all of my edges were properly aligned. But somehow the seam allowance on my quilt top shifted slightly to the left as I was sewing. In some places, not all — but I didn’t notice it was happening because my binding fabric was on top.

I actually sewed all four sides of the quilt before I discovered there were several places where I had caught much less than a quarter-inch of the quilt in my seam. If it had happened in just a couple of places I could have taken the stitching out and readjusted the fabric but it happened all around the quilt. Nothing to be done but rip out the entire binding and start over.

The second time I pinned even more carefully and sewed a section only about 20″ long to test my stitching. I checked my seam . . . and the same thing happened. I was using my walking foot so the layers were feeding evenly through my sewing machine but that one layer of fabric was still pulling to the left. Out came the stitching again.

Want to guess what I wound up doing? The only other thing I could think of:  basting the binding to the quilt. By hand:

I aligned my basting stitches on the staystitching line underneath, thus guaranteeing I had the necessary quarter-inch of fabric underneath . . .

. . . and also guaranteeing I hadn’t chopped off any star points:

Then it was just a matter of machine stitching right over my basting stitches. No shifting of fabric this time. What a relief!

I’ve chosen wool batting for many of my quilts and have also used it when applying binding that finished at ½” so I really can’t figure out why I had such a problem this time. I’m just glad the binding is finally on to my satisfaction and I can move toward a finish.

Oh, there’s one more thing I did before starting to tack the binding to the back of the quilt. I pinked the outer edges of the seam allowance to remove a bit of the bulk:

Pinking the edges also eliminated the raveling that often accompanies cut edges of fabric. I have a pair of trusty pinking shears but for long straight stretches I like to use my rotary cutter with a pinking blade. I think this pinking blade is actually meant for paper — I found it in the scrapbooking section at a craft store — but it works very well on fabric.

Since I’m one of those quilters who actually enjoys tacking down binding, this next step will be a pleasure. Then it’s on to the last step, the label.




Posted in cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, update | 10 Comments

Quilting Loveliness

How about a few more photos of the quilting on Scattered Stars, my cheddar and indigo quilt? I’ve been feasting my eyes on it since bringing it home from the quilter on Wednesday. It’s only fair to share it with you, right?

Let’s start with the tiniest block in the quilt, this 3″ Churn Dash nestled inside a 6″ block:

The photo shows off the beautiful quilting by Karlee Sandell of SewInspired2Day. At first glance you might think the quilting motif is Baptist Fan but it’s actually a more contemporary design called Woven Wind.

Here’s a look at the entire front of the quilt . . .

. . . and an angled look across the front:

Most of the fabrics are from the “Cheddar and Indigo” line by Penny Rose that came out in 2015. The prints are very traditional but I had fun mixing in some contemporary prints, including this cheddar print — it’s a map of Barcelona! — from the line of the same name by Zen Chic for Moda . . .

. . . and this cheddar print by Victoria Findlay Wolfe from her “Futurum” line for Marcus Fabrics:

That navy print in the Churn Dash block above is a vintage fabric that’s so old there’s no information on the selvage. I can’t even remember where I found it.

Here’s a look at the back of Scattered Stars:

It’s nearly impossible to see the quilting in that photo so here are a couple of close-ups:

You can really see the Woven Wind quilting motif in the large indigo print above right. And in the next photo, notice how the quilted curves in the center of the block serve to soften those sharp angles and straight lines:

I think you can tell I really love how this quilt is turning out! I trimmed it today and plan to attach the binding tomorrow. The forecast for Portland the next couple of days is sunny with temperatures in the high 90s. I can’t imagine sitting for hours with a quilt in my lap so I may have to wait till cooler weather arrives to tack the binding down on the back.

In the meantime I can work on the label. I should have a finished quilt to show you by the end of the month.




Posted in cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, update | 7 Comments

Oh My Stars!

Scattered Stars is quilted!

Mere hours after dropping off the top and backing to longarm quilter Karlee Sandell of SewInspired2Day yesterday, she had them loaded on to her longarm machine and quilted. Karlee posted photos on her Instagram feed last night and kindly gave me permission to post them here.

Take a look at this:

Isn’t the quilting marvelous? In my last post I hinted that the motif I had chosen was a contemporary version of a very traditional one. It reminds me of the time-honored Baptist Fan motif — but with an edge. The design is called Woven Wind, and I chose it not only because of its similarity to Baptist Fan but also because I felt all those sharp points in my blocks needed some curves to soften them a bit.

And there’s one more reason: my quilt is a quirky combination of traditional and contemporary elements. I started with two very traditional quilt blocks — the Churn Dash and the Sawtooth Star — combined into one block (the Churning Stars block) but then created a quilt of different sizes of blocks with no border. I used a group of very traditional indigo and cheddar fabrics but also threw in some contemporary cheddar and indigo-colored prints. The traditional-but-contemporary quilting motif reinforces my other design choices in making the quilt.

Here are a couple of close-ups of Karlee’s quilting:

The quilting looks terrific on the back too:

I’m off to fetch my quilt so I can see this quilting loveliness in person. More photos to come!




Posted in cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, update | 8 Comments

“Big and Bold”

That’s what I have to say about the back of my Scattered Stars quilt:

It’s pretty simple as pieced backings go. I started with three 18″ blocks and filled in the spaces around them with strips of leftovers from my stash of cheddar and indigo fabrics. A chunk of cheddar fabric makes quite a colorful statement, doesn’t it?! Big and bold, no doubt about it.

Here’s a view from a different angle:

You can see what these blocks might look like on point. Intriguing, right? That’s what I thought when I first spotted the charming quilt called Churning Stars in Jenifer Gaston’s book Primitive Style: Folk-art Quilts and other Finery (Martingale Press, 2015). Her quilt inspired me to make a quilt of my own using cheddar and indigo fabrics. I think of these as Churning Star blocks in acknowledgment of Jenifer’s design.

The photos above were taken late this afternoon on the back deck. This evening after a lovely al fresco dinner I took the backing down to the lawn to see if I could get a better shot from the deck. I was just about ready to snap the photo when a certain feline appeared out of nowhere and wiggled underneath. See that lump on the right side?

Yes, it’s Coco the Photobomber:

After she wandered away I managed to get a quick shot of the front of my quilt:

I’m so happy with the way it turned out!

My plan is to deliver the top and backing to the longarm quilter tomorrow. I have a quilting motif in mind that I think will be perfect for my Scattered Stars. Here’s a hint: it’s a contemporary motif that is strongly reminiscent of a very traditional quilting design.




Posted in cats, cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, update | 10 Comments

One More Churning Star Block

I thought I was done making blocks for my Scattered Stars quilt. Nope, not quite. I wound up making one more 18″ square block:

Here’s why. I’d been thinking over the last few days about how to piece the backing and knew that I wanted to incorporate these two 18″ blocks left over after making the front:

They didn’t make the final cut, not because I don’t like them — I love both of them! No, it’s because of the print I chose for the background: the scale is larger than the prints I used in the background of the other blocks. When I had all the blocks up on my design wall, moving them around and determining final placement, these blocks simply overpowered the ones around them. I had made 12 18″ blocks and only needed 10 so it was an easy decision to pull these two.

(If you look at my final layout, you’ll see there is only one other block with that same background fabric and it’s a 12″ block so it doesn’t overpower its neighbors. Look slightly more than halfway down, slightly to the left of center.)

So. . . I had the two 18″ blocks to play with. Two big blocks on the back of a quilt would probably look okay but I think groups of three are more attractive. That’s why I had to make one more block using the same larger scale background print to unify the three blocks. Then I had to decide how to arrange them on the back. Something simple, nothing fancy. Final decision: I’m going to stagger them. After matching 48 pairs of star points on the front this much was sure — no more matching star points!

Here’s my mockup of the back:

That little square on the lower left side is where the label will go. Maybe I’ll incorporate a small Sawtooth Star block into the label. We’ll see.

Now that I’ve decided what to do for the back, it shouldn’t take much time to sew it together. I’ve been distracted of late by domestic chores, both enjoyable (trying new recipes) and not so enjoyable (cleaning the oven) and by the ever-present lure of books.  But sewing and quilting are never far from my mind so I should have something to show you before too much longer. No sewing right now, though. It’s time to head into the kitchen to make Roast Chicken with Caramelized Shallots.




Posted in cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, update | 5 Comments

A Couple of Surprises

I finished sewing the blocks together for Scattered Stars, my cheddar and indigo quilt, this evening. Take a look:

Light from the window on the right side of the room isn’t spreading evenly across the surface and the bottom part of the quilt top is puddling on the floor but I think you can get a good idea of what this quilt is going to look like.

With three sizes of blocks (six, 12 and 18 inches) scattered across the quilt, I figured there’d be plenty of partial seams. They’re not especially difficult but I wanted to plan for them so I didn’t sew an entire seam and then have to rip out part of it. The plan was to sew the blocks into smaller sections that could then be joined together.

I started by printing a photo of my layout and marking the sections with a Sharpie:After studying the diagram I realized there are only two partial seams in the entire quilt. What a pleasant surprise! (One of the places is in the lower right side of the quilt around “that singleton block” — the one with the 3″ Churn Dash in it. Can you spot the other?)

I sewed the six-inch blocks together first — six pairs and two trios — and then the 12-inch blocks — three pairs and one trio. The star points meet in these blocks and I knew I’d have to pin the intersections — all 28 of them — carefully. When those were done to my satisfaction (yes, there were a few that had to be redone) I started creating the sections.

That’s when I realized there are several other places where star points meet — stars of different sizes. That surprise wasn’t quite as welcome. Turns out there were 17 of those, all needing to be carefully pinned. I’ve circled them in the next photo:I admit a few of those had to be redone as well.

It took the better part of three days to get these blocks together. Coco was a frequent visitor in my sewing room during this time. Here she is staring at me intently, willing me to stop what I’m doing and fix her dinner:

The top measures 66½” x 90½” which is just about right for a twin size quilt so I’ve decided not to add borders. I’m thinking about finishing it with ½”-wide binding.

Next up: a pieced backing using a couple of 18″ blocks that didn’t make the cut for the front.




Posted in cats, cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, update | 12 Comments