First Glimpse of Diane’s Car Quilt

I was so excited to pick up my sister Diane’s car quilt today from my longarm quilter that I took this photo in my car with the quilt on my lap!

Here’s a look at the whole quilt after I got it home and trimmed it:

I made this 42″-square quilt top as a class sample back in 2017 when I was teaching a beginning quiltmaking class (“Quiltmaking 101”) at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop. The top hung in the closet of my sewing room until I pulled it out recently after realizing it would make a lovely car quilt for my twin, matching her blue Subaru Forester. (A couple of years ago I made a car quilt for my own Subaru Forester that I wrote about here.)

In choosing an edge-to-edge quilt motif for Diane’s quilt, I was looking for something with curves to soften all those straight lines. I also wanted a rather simple design so as not to compete with the gorgeous French provincial print in the border. Karlee of SewInspired2Day suggested a whimsical loopy design called Ginger Snap by Urban Elementz that fills the bill perfectly.

Here are a couple of close-ups:

I am really enjoying the texture the quilting adds to the quilt and the way the pale yellow thread stands out on the navy fabric and blends with all the other fabrics.

In the photo below you can see the two fabrics I pulled from my stash to make a simple pieced back:

The plan is to bind the quilt with the same navy used in the interior and to make it finish at 1/2″-wide rather than the 1/4″ finished width I normally use. I think it will frame the quilt very nicely.




Posted in family, Quiltmaking 101, update | 8 Comments

Color My World

With the onset of fall, accompanied by shorter days and lots of rain, working with bright fabrics in my sewing room has been bringing me cheer. I’ve starting sewing blocks together on my second version of  Sew Kind of Wonderful’s Chic Diamonds pattern:

Each block contains four blades, with each blade containing two prints, so each block contains eight different fabrics. The blades have been on my design wall in their almost-final layout since August. As I neared the end of laying out the blocks back then, it became apparent I would need to make a few more blades to get the balance of color and value I was seeking. Plus I have a self-imposed rule of not using the same fabric twice in a block. My plan was to make those extra blades and then finalize the layout.

Other projects took precedence, as they often do, but last weekend I gave myself permission to sew just a few blocks together. That was fun! I also pulled out a very colorful 42″-square quilt top I made several years ago because it occurred to me it would make the perfect car quilt for my sister Diane’s blue Subaru Forester.

Here’s a glimpse of the fabrics in the quilt top, along with pale yellow thread to show you the color I have chosen for the quilting:

In no time at all I made a simple pieced backing for the quilt. Both top and backing have already been delivered to my longarm quilter.

My world is also brighter — literally! — because I’ve recently had cataract surgery on both eyes. After the first surgery was done, I realized I had been seeing everything through a yellowish haze. I can see clearly now. Hey! Isn’t that the name of a song? Why yes, it is. I Can See Clearly Now by singer/songwriter Johnny Nash was a big hit in 1972. If you are “of a certain age” (like I am), you probably remember it well.




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“Open Sesame”

I’m always tempted to utter those magic words when my Junior Billie Bag (#12) goes 3-D. With the side panels/bottom unit pinned to one of the front/back panels, it’s easier to envision what the finished bag is going to look like.

And what about those pockets?! I count 14 in the photo above. When the other front/back panel is added, the inside pockets will number 19. And then there are four outer pockets. All of the pockets are sized to hold my essential tools. Anything that won’t fit in the pockets will go in the middle of the bag.

(If you’re new to my blog, you may not know what a finished Junior Billie Bag looks like, inside and out. Click here to see photos of JBB #9, finished in May 2019.)

I still need to make the binding but right now I’m going to head up to my sewing room and spend the afternoon working on a project I set aside several weeks ago. Bye for now!





Posted in Billie Bag, Junior Billie Bag, tote bags, update | 3 Comments

One of These Days . . .

. . . I’ll get back to the business of quiltmaking. For now I seem to be in an extended home dec phase. Between making valances for my stepmother’s home and continuing my construction of Junior Billie Bag #12 for the class I am teaching, the quilt blocks on my design wall have been unattended for weeks. I will get back to them. All in good time.

It was work on my current Junior Billie Bag that interrupted quilt progress. When I posted about the JBB, I included a link to the Gingham Foundry fabric line I was using. Little did I know the link would lead me down a rabbit hole! You see, Montavilla Sewing Center, where I teach the JBB class, carried part but not all of the Gingham Foundry line. When I included a link to the entire line, I spied a fabric I could not live without. (You know what I mean, right?)

It was the main focus fabric in a background called “mist,” a pale blue gray. I knew in a heartbeat that I needed to get some of that fabric to make a pair of pillowcases for the Portland White House. Why? Because I could so clearly see the text print with lyrics to the song “What a Wonderful World” as the band at the bottom of the cases and the “mist” focus print as the body of the cases. Surely you agree!

Lucky for me, I found what I was looking for at an online quilt shop in Texas. The fabric arrived a few days ago, and this is what I have to show for it:

“What a Wonderful World” is one of my favorite songs. I am especially fond of the renditions by Louis Armstrong and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole but I also love the duet by Tony Bennett and k.d. lang. Is there another version I should know about?




Posted in Billie Bag, home dec, Junior Billie Bag, pillowcases, roll-it-up pillowcases, tutorial, update | 2 Comments

Whale Watching

This might just be the world’s smallest valance! The window it’s made for — the guest bathroom in my stepmother Shirley’s home — is only 12¼” wide so the spring tension rod inside the valance is set for that width. The valance itself is 8¾” long.

I just mailed the valance off to Shirley in Bend, Oregon and will wait for her to send me a photo of how it looks before I make valances (out of a different fabric) for the two windows in her master bath. The fabric for this one is from the “Icy World” line designed by Gareth Lucas for Windham Fabrics.

Other fabrics from “Icy World” starred (literally!) in my Arctic Stars quilt finished last December. I’d not seen this particular print from the line until my sister Diane and I spotted it at the Quilt Basket on our trip to Bend in August and decided it would be perfect for Shirley’s guest bath.

We’ve gone quite a bit inland for whale watching!




Posted in family, home dec, update, vintage quilts | 2 Comments

Apron Love

That smile on my face reflects my delight in this darling apron my friend and fellow quiltmaker Nancy S. surprised me with recently. It’s called a crossback reversible apron. You’ll understand why when you see the back:

Did you notice I said it’s reversible? Look at the fabric Nancy chose for the reverse side:

As someone who likes to cook and sew, these fabrics are right up my alley. The two prints are a supple blend of cotton and flax designed by Sevenberry for Robert Kaufman Fabrics.

A quick search of the internet shows numerous patterns available for crossback reversible aprons. Nancy used this pattern by Indygo Junction:

The apron is beautifully made. Thank you, Nancy, for this lovely gift! You can be sure it will be treasured and used.

As usual, Coco the Photobomb gets the last word:





Posted in aprons, cats, garment sewing, update | 4 Comments

Playing with Pockets

As promised, I’m popping back in to show you the pockets I’m making for Junior Billie Bag #12. Call me crazy but I make a new bag every time I teach a class. It really helps my students to see the individual components of this wonderful quilter’s tote before they take on the challenge of making their own.

Here are the exterior pockets attached to the quilted side panels:

Here’s  close-up of that wonderful text print with lyrics to “What a Wonderful World”:

Students are free to design their own pockets sized for the tools they favor but I like to provide a few options. Over the 13 years I’ve been making Junior Billie Bags I’ve experimented with pockets for the exteriors side panels but I keep coming back to this combination because it works so well for me.

To provide context, take a look at the same pocket design added to JBB #11 made last year, first under construction . . .

. . . and then in the finished product:

Now for a look at the interior pockets for #12’s side panels:

You can see that I’m using the text print on the outside and inside of this JBB.

The gold fabric with striations is directional; I deliberately had the striations go horizontal in one pocket and vertical in the other. I’m probably the only one that would notice that when peeking inside the bag. Just a little example of having fun while playing with pockets!

Here’s a sneak peek at the inside pockets for the front and back panels:

The gold floral at the top is the lining fabric; all the fabrics below it are pockets. I’m loving that vintage blue and white floral print (so old there is no information on the selvedge other than “Springs, Ind., Inc.”) next to the gold and white chevron print.

My class starts a week from today. I’ll be ready for it!




Posted in Billie Bag, Junior Billie Bag, tote bags, update | 6 Comments

JBB #12 — Can You Believe It? — Is Under Construction

I’ve been gearing up to teach my Junior Billie Bag class that begins at Montavilla Sewing Center next week by creating the components that make up a completed bag. This is one of two front/back panels and it gives you a good sense of my color scheme: navy, gold, and white with just a touch of dusty blue. An elegant combo, yes?

My inspiration came from these fabrics I bought at Montavilla a couple of years ago:

At the time I wasn’t sure what I would make with them but I knew I would come up with something. The line is called “Gingham Foundry” and was designed for Riley Blake Designs by My Mind’s Eye. It features a large floral print on a navy background and several companion prints, including the text design you see above right. In case you can’t make out the words, they are the lyrics for “What a Wonderful World” — one of my all-time favorite songs.

The design on the front/back panel is one that I came up with a few Junior Billie Bags ago. It features a large bloom from the main print set into a circle and framed with a narrow flange.

I returned to another favorite design for the other front/back panel:

It’s a Churn Dash block set into the center of a Sawtooth Star block. I call it a Churning Star block as a nod to Jenifer Gaston, who designed a quilt front this block that she named Churning Stars. Her blocks are set on point in her charming version:

I found several fabrics in my stash that play nicely with the “Gingham Foundry” fabrics you see on the left and right sides of this photo:

You’ll see these fabrics in supporting roles in the JBB: they will appear on the inside and outside of the bag as pockets. Oops, I see I forgot the white and gold dot fabric that’s one of the “Seasonal Basics” by Lori Holt for Riley Blake dating back to 2019. I have that dot in a few different colorways.

Please check back soon. I’ll have a preview of those pockets — and you’ll be amazed how many pockets there are in this tote bag I call “the quintessential quilter’s tote.”




Posted in Billie Bag, Churning Stars quilt block, Junior Billie Bag, tote bags, update | 3 Comments

Back in the Saddle Again

Four weeks without a blog post! That’s a record for me. I take the month of August off from teaching my quilt classes at Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego. I didn’t intend to take a month off from my blog but this past August was not a typical month. The latter half was filled with several mini family reunions, although the occasion that brought us together was a sad one: a memorial service in Portland for my beloved brother-in-law Ed, who died in June following a lengthy battle with cancer. Ed and my twin sister Diane were married for 52 years, 41 of which were spent in the Atlanta area.

Diane flew out to Portland in July to make arrangements for the service and then came back in August for the service itself. Ed grew up in Portland, one of eight children, so we knew there would be a large number of his family members in attendance (spanning three generations) as well as several from ours. It was a lovely service. I had the honor of reading a beautiful eulogy written by Ed and Diane’s dear friend Lisa, who was not able to attend. An equally lovely reception followed.

Diane stayed two weeks after that. We went for long walks in the neighborhood and played a lot of Scrabble. And we made a quick trip to Bend to see our stepmother Shirley, just home from an unexpected stay in the hospital. When I was in Bend in late July delivering Shirley’s living room valances, which I wrote about here, Shirley asked if I would make simple valances for the windows in the master bath and guest bathroom. I gladly said “yes” and we talked about fabric ideas.

On this most recent trip to Bend, Diane and I made a visit to the Quilt Basket quilt shop and came back with fabric for two valances plus a third piece for simple café-style curtains for Shirley’s office. These are our fabric selections:

Shirley has a beach theme going in both bathrooms. The top fabric is for the guest bath, the middle fabric is for the master bath, and the bottom fabric, a batik, is for the office. Shirley waited patiently for well over a year for me to get her tailored living room valances completed and installed. I have promised her she won’t have to wait nearly as long for these next ones!

But here’s the thing:  one week from today is my high school’s 55 + 1 reunion. As a member of the planning committee, I volunteered to make a continuously looping slide show based on hundreds of photos from four past reunions. I’m well into the project but . . . well, let’s just say I have miles to go before I sleep.

And one month from today is the first session of a three-part workshop at Montavilla Sewing on the Junior Billie Bag, the quintessential quilter’s tote designed years ago by my quilt teacher and mentor Billie Mahorney. I always make a JBB in advance of the workshop to demonstrate each step of its construction. I need to get started on that pronto!

Here’s a look at one I made in 2019 . . .

. . . and here’s a peek of the inside of it while it was under construction:

By the way, a few spots in the class are still open, if there are any quilters in the Portland metropolitan area who have been thinking about making a Junior Billie Bag for themselves. Clicking on this link will take you to the Montavilla website where you can find registration info and my class supply list. Class dates are Oct. 6, Oct. 20, and Nov. 3. There are two weeks between sessions so students can work on their Junior Billie Bags without feeling rushed.

It’s good to be back!




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Serging (Not Surging) Forward

The shirt I started back in June is finally finished. I got off to a great start using a vintage “Fast & Easy” Butterick pattern and a summery cotton print from my stash:

What should have been an afternoon project came to a screeching halt when I decided to serge the side seams. The last time I used my serger was in 2020, when I made myself this bathrobe.

For the uninitiated, a serger is a specialty type of machine that sews seams, trims off seam allowances, and finishes raw fabric edges — all at the same time. The serger requires four spools of thread, each of which has an intricate threading process. The four threads work together to give a lovely finished edge to a seam.

Almost immediately one of the four threads broke. Now most people would simply rethread the one that broke and carry on. Not me! Here comes a confession:  I never learned how to thread my serger. I found the diagrams that came with my manual impossible to follow so every time a thread broke I would pack my serger in its original box, return to the Montavilla Sewing store where I purchased it back in 2004, and ask the nice people there to “show me one more time how to thread it.”

This time I took my serger in to Montavilla to be serviced because it was way overdue. When I got it back a couple weeks later other things in my life took precedence and it wasn’t until yesterday that I got back to finish the job.

I’m pretty pleased with the result. My summer top is casual like a camp shirt but a wee bit dressier. If you look at the pattern cover you will see that the shirt was designed to be tucked in at the waist. I wanted mine to be an overblouse so I added a second button at the waist. I also lengthened the bodice by one inch and took in the side seams an inch. The fit is a bit boxy but I like it:

Even though my heart remains in quilting, I’d like to make myself a few more short-sleeved shirts. I even have another vintage pattern in mind:

Can you guess how old this pattern is? Hint: big hair and broad shoulders! This pattern dates back to 1985.

As for my serger, it was a lower end model when I bought it almost 20 years ago. Most of the sergers sold today are called “self-threading” or “air-threading” sergers, taking all of the hard work and frustration out of trying to thread them yourself. I think it’s time I upgraded my serger, don’t you?

Posted in garment sewing, update | 7 Comments