A Happy Surprise

A few weeks ago I came across this vintage needle case that had been tucked away for years in a project bag in my sewing room closet:

Finding it was a happy surprise because I had completely forgotten about it. I’m pretty sure it was an estate sale find, maybe dating back to the 1990s.

I don’t know if the needle case is knitted or crocheted (maybe both?) but I can tell it was skillfully crafted. It’s about 4¾” wide and 4¾” long, not counting the loop. You can see how beautifully made it is. Take a peek inside:

The fabric on the back is a very finely woven cotton, perhaps a sateen, in a geometric print:

Boy, would I love to have a piece of that in my stash.

At first glance my needle case may look like a strawberry but you know what I saw when I came across it? A heart! That’s why I decided to wait till Valentine’s Day to write a post about it.

And now Valentine’s Day is almost upon us. We’re snowed in, as it happens. Not to worry. Knowing that snowfall was expected this week, I made my weekly grocery run earlier than usual and laid in a small supply of champagne and chocolate caramels which I will happily share with the DH:

I’m ready!





Posted in family, update | 7 Comments

A Couple of “Aha” Moments

After sewing the second of eight strip sets for my current Work-in-Progress, I had a small “aha!” moment (although maybe it should be called a “duh!” moment). You’ll remember from my last post that I’m working with a Jelly Roll, in this case 40 2½”-wide strips of fabric from Lily Ashbury’s “High Street” line . . .

. . . to make a quilt called Tea Time. The pattern by Larene Smith describes a clever way of sewing strip sets into tubes and cutting the tubes into triangles which open up to yield squares. The squares are then joined together to make a scrappy quilt.

Each strip set is made with five fabrics. Because of the manner in which the triangles are cut after being sewn into a tube, the blocks come out in one of two ways. The first way is a block containing (predictably) five strips, with the middle strip running through the center of the block, like this one . . .

I’m calling the ones cut this way the A blocks.

The B blocks contain six strips, because the middle strip gets cut in half and each half ends up on the outer edges of the block. There’s a seam bisecting the block, like this one:

Initially I had been quite spontaneous in choosing my strip sets, just wanting to make sure each set had a pink, yellow, orange, green, and grey strip. I assumed that the strip in the number 3 position would be in the middle of the block. It is — but as you can see from the photos above, that applies to only half the blocks. It didn’t dawn on me right away that the fabrics in the 1 and 5 positions would wind up in the middle of the block in the other half. Hello!

Armed with this new knowledge, I took a second look at my arrangement of remaining strip sets — in particular the fabrics in the 1 and 5 positions — and wound up rearranging them. Several times. So much for spontaneity!

Here are my final fabric combinations:

(These strips were cut from the end of the tubes after the triangles were cut and I had opened up the last seam.)

This is such a delicious combination of fabrics. You know what comes to mind when I look at these colors? Rainbow sherbet. Blackberry sorbet. Green tea ice cream. That led to my second “aha” moment: I’m going to name this quilt Ice Cream Social.




Posted in update | 5 Comments

A New Project!

I know, I know. Why on earth am I starting something new when I have a sewing room full of UFOs? Well, I have my friend Char to blame — er, thank — for this one. Char, who blogs at The Quilted “Q,” wrote a post recently about a video tutorial she found online to create a quick but dramatic quilt made from 2½” strips of fabric. Fabric manufacturers have found a ready market for packages of these pre-cut strips that feature an entire line of fabric. The packages are popularly known as Jelly Rolls, although that name is trademarked by Moda Fabrics.

Intrigued, I clicked on the link Char provided. After watching the video I decided on the spot to make a quilt using a Jelly Roll that’s been in my stash for a few years. The quilt pattern, Tea Time, was designed by Larene Smith of the Quilted Button. The tutorial is by Donna Jordan of Jordan Fabrics and includes a pdf handout:

(Clicking here will take you to the video and the pdf handout.)

In doing a little research I found that Larene Smith’s design first appeared in 2009 as a free pattern called Tea Time in Bali and was offered to promote Bali Pops, the name Hoffman Fabrics gave to its packages of 2½” batik strips. You can see Larene Smith’s striking version here.

The fabrics in my version are very different. I’m using the one and only Jelly Roll in my stash, “High Street” by Lily Ashbury for Moda:

It was an impulse purchase. I really don’t use pre-cuts much (mainly because I like to wash and iron my fabrics before using them) but for some reason this one spoke to me. I do remember buying this while on a quilt shop hop with good friends; no doubt they influenced my decision to purchase it!

The pattern calls for 40 strips, from which you make eight strip sets of five fabrics. This Jelly Roll has five main colors — pink, orange, yellow, green, and grey . . .

. . . and with one exception each color is represented with eight strips. All I had to do was lay out the strips on my ironing board and combine them into eight piles of five strips each:

I tried not to think too much about choosing the piles, just making sure I had one of each color and looking for contrast in value and scale in the strips that will be next to each other. Because of the unique way the strip sets are cut and arranged, each fabric is going to wind up in different places in the blocks for a very scrappy look.

You see only seven piles above because I had already sewn one strip set together. Actually, you sew the strips into a tube and then cut the tube into triangles which open up to reveal blocks measuring 7″ square. Each tube yields seven blocks. Here are the blocks from my first strip set:

They went together really fast, and I’m eager to move on to the next set. Truth be told, I’m in a bit of a winter funk (and darn it, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow yesterday on Groundhog Day so we’re looking at six more weeks of winter). Being able to finish a quilt top quickly is sure to be a mood-lifter, and I will certainly enjoy working with these colorful and cheerful fabrics.




Posted in tutorial, update | 12 Comments

Giveaway Winners!

Are you ready to learn who the winners are of my Oven Mitt Giveaway? If you entered, the odds were in your favor: 1 in 13. That’s good for the winners but bad for my hundreds of blog subscribers who may not have seen recent posts. I learned a few days ago that subscribers to First Light Designs have not been receiving email notifications of my posts since early January. I’m still working behind the scenes with my blog platform folks to figure out why. I may need to offer another Giveaway just for my subscribers when the issue has been rectified.

But let’s move on to find out who the lucky winners are of this Giveaway. After counting the valid entries (39 — two family members were taken out of contention), I used a Random Number Generator to draw the numbers 17, 2, and 23 in that order.

Number 17 is Elizabeth H., who won these mitts:

Number 2 is Amy M., who won these mitts:

And Number 23 is Pam B., who won these mitts:

Congratulations, ladies! I will email you to find out your mailing addresses. The mitts will come with washing instructions and additional info. Remember, if the mitts are totally the wrong color for your kitchen, let me know. I’ll make you a custom pair in the color of your choice and we’ll throw the mitts you won back into the drawing pool.

My thanks to all who entered!




Posted in Giveaway, home dec, oven mitts, update | 7 Comments

Oven Mitt Giveaway!

That’s right, friends. I’m giving away a set of oven mitts to three lucky winners. Will you be one of them?

I made these oven mitts in preparation for writing a tutorial. The shape of the mitts is the same on all of them — it’s the binding I’ve been tinkering with. I’ve been trying different widths and finishing techniques. Now that I’m finally satisfied, I can get to the tutorial — but now I have to make one more set of mitts to photograph for the tutorial!

The mitts you see above were made of four layers:
⦁ the outer fabric is 100% cotton
⦁ the second layer is 100% cotton batting
⦁ the third layer is Insul-bright, an insulated lining material specifically made for hot pads and oven mitts
⦁ the fourth layer (the inside of the mitt) is cotton with an aluminized coating, commonly used to cover ironing boards. This fabric is not essential but I had some on hand and decided to use it because one of my old oven mitts happened to be lined with it.

To be entered in the giveaway, all you have to do is write a comment at the bottom of this post responding to the question, “What is your favorite kind of food?” If you wish, name a dish you especially like in your favored cuisine. How simple is that? No need for you to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram (though I would be delighted if you chose to do either).

One entry per person. I will mail anywhere in the world so international readers are welcome to enter.

Family members are invited to leave comments but are not eligible to win. (Don’t feel too sorry for them; all they have to do is let me know they want a set and they’ll get one!)

The giveaway will remain open through Friday, January 29. On Saturday, January 30, I’ll use a random number generator to pick three winners. Winner #1 gets the red mitts on the left with the flowers; winner #2 gets the set in the middle with the cherries; and winner #3 gets the set on the right with the poodles.

But wait — there’s more! It it happens that you are a winner and the mitts are totally the wrong color for your kitchen, you can let me know when I contact you and I’ll make you a custom set in the color of your choice. If that happens, I’ll draw a fourth winner for the set that didn’t work for you.

Good luck, everyone!




Posted in family, Giveaway, home dec, oven mitts, tutorial, update | 46 Comments

The Oven Mitt Quilt

Is this not the oddest looking quilt you’ve ever seen?

Actually, it’s not a quilt at all.

I’m gearing up to make a few sets of oven mitts as gifts and I didn’t want to take the time myself to quilt the four layers needed for a well insulated mitt. So . . . I made a “quilt top” using three suitable prints from my stash that could all be quilted with the same color thread and asked Karlee of SewInspired2Day to quilt it for me. The result is what you see above. The quilt motif is “Modern Waves,” one that Karlee has used on another of my quilts, Where It’s @.

Here’s a closer look at those three fabrics, pictured with my oven mitt pattern to give you an idea of the scale of the prints:

I think they’re going to make pretty cute oven mitts!

You may remember the mitts I made last month for my sister Diane. I quilted the fabric for those using a cross-hatch design:

After I published the post I had a few requests for a tutorial. Good news! A tutorial is coming.

And maybe even a giveaway. Stay tuned!




Posted in family, Giveaway, home dec, tutorial, update | 3 Comments

A Gift Beyond Compare

I received the most wonderful gift in the mail last month, this striking quilt made in 2004  by Lee Fowler:

Lee was an incredibly talented quilter and crafter who was only 54 when she died of cancer in 2013. I didn’t meet her until 2009 so I had the pleasure of knowing her for only four years but she touched my life in many ways. I greatly admired her intellect and talent, and I loved her goofy sense of humor.

The quilt you see above is named Rolling Star Revisited. It was designed, pieced, appliquéd, and quilted by Lee. Here are a few detail shots, starting with a single rolling star:

Each star measures 15″ from point to point; the entire quilt measures 58″ square.

Lee was an accomplished longarm quilter. She did hand-guided quilting without a stitch regulator. Here you can see some of her beautiful free-motion quilted feathers:

The circles in the center of each star are hand-appliquéd using the needleturn method as is the reverse-appliquéd border:

You must be wondering how I came into possession of this treasure. Well, in early December I received an email from Lee’s husband Rick, now remarried and living in another part of the state. Rick wrote that he and his daughter Liz were on a mission to send Lee’s quilts out into the world where they could be “loved, cherished, and above all used,” and asked if I would like to have one. He included photos of 16 quilts. I replied immediately, telling Rick I would be thrilled to own one of Lee’s creations and that it had taken me all of two seconds to identify the quilt I would love to have.

Rolling Star Revisited arrived a few days later. Doesn’t it look wonderful on the back of my couch?

This is actually the second quilt Lee made using the Rolling Star block (hence the Revisited part of this quilt’s name). Her first version, made with Depression-era reproduction fabrics, was featured as a pattern in the September 2005 issue of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine:

Lee had found a circa-1930s newspaper clipping of the block and drafted her own pattern. It’s a challenging project with curves and set-in seams; the directions include sewing the curved pieces by hand or by machine. One of these days I might make a single block just to test my skills.

By the way, this isn’t the first time one of Lee’s quilts has graced my couch. I was one of  two dozen friends who helped Lee complete her last quilt, a magnificent version of Pickle Dish. I wrote about that here. Rick dubbed us “the Pickle Dish Gang.” The quilt was displayed at Lee’s memorial service and afterward it was circulated to each member of the group to have in her own home for a month. It was my turn in 2015:

2015-08-07 13.20.25

I wrote about that here. It was such an honor to have one of Lee’s creations in my home, however temporarily. And now! Now to have one of her quilts as my very own . . . You can understand why I consider Rolling Star Revisited a gift beyond compare. It will be loved, it will be cherished, and it will be used.




Posted in appliqué, free motion quilting, home dec, needleturn appliqué, update | 5 Comments

First Finish of 2021

First things first: Happy New Year, friends! May 2021 exceed your expectations in every way.

Now on to the next good thing: ‘Tis the Season, my quilt made with the Missouri Star Quilt Company’s Quatrefoil pattern, is a wrap! Take a look:

The quilt was officially completed on New Year’s Day but it was dark by the time I’d stitched the label on so I had to wait till today to take photos. Indoor shots only, I’m afraid; it’s January in Portland (need I say more?).

There was never a doubt in my mind what fabric I would use to bind this quilt: it absolutely had to be the green diagonal stripe in Corey Yoder’s “Holliberry” line. I tried a new-to-me way of applying the binding: it’s single-fold rather than the traditional double-fold. I’ve been wanting to try this method since hearing my friend Pam Raby of Loved to Pieces sing its praises when she was on the Quilt Show with Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson last July.

Oh my. Mitering the corners was a breeze! There’s much less bulk, and the corners lie nice and flat. Feel free to inspect mine:

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

Here’s a look at the back of the quilt:

Since I love the crinkly look and feel of a laundered quilt, ‘Tis the Season went into the washer and dryer after these pictures were taken. Now here it is, still warm from the dryer, on the back of the couch, where it will take up residence for the time being:

‘Tis still the season as far as I’m concerned!




Posted in mitered corners, Quatrefoil, quilt labels, single-fold binding, stitch-and-flip corners, update | 12 Comments

My Quatrefoil Christmas Quilt — Quilted!

My Quatrefoil quilt is back from the quilter already! Take a look:

Because of all the straight lines and angles in this quilt, I had already decided on “something with loops and swirls” for a quilting motif. After consulting with longarmer Sherry Wadley, we went with “Retro Heart,” an edge-to-edge pattern by Anne Bright Designs. I just love how it turned out!

Of course Coco decided to make an impromptu inspection, as she is wont to do:

Here’s a look at the whole quilt:

After trimming, it now measures 57″ x 71″ — a good size for a throw.

I made a simple pieced back using some of the leftovers from Corey Yoder’s “Holliberry” layer cake (10″ squares) and a larger piece of the grey floral:

That light fabric at the top is something I pulled from my stash, and it just happens to have loops and swirls on it, too:

I’ve decided to name this quilt ‘Tis the Season. That pretty much covers Christmas, the holidays, and winter, doesn’t it?

If I don’t dilly-dally, I can get it bound and labeled before the end of the year.

On the other hand . . . wouldn’t it be great to start 2021 with a finish?




Posted in cats, Quatrefoil, stitch-and-flip corners, update | 8 Comments

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