Back from the Quilter: Arctic Stars

My latest quilt is back from the quilter and I can’t wait to show you how lovely the quilting is on it!

As you can see, there’s a huge amount of negative space on my Arctic Stars quilt. I supersized a block from the original pattern — Star Stream Quilt by Chasing Tigers — and added three smaller star blocks. That’s it! The rest is background fabric with a subtle design that reminds me of crushed ice. The challenge was to find a quilting motif that adds texture to the quilt without overpowering it.

When I make a quilt with a lot of straight or diagonal lines, I often search for a quilting motif with curves to add a softening effect. I initially considered a cloud motif but changed my mind when my longarm quilter, Karlee of SewInspired2Day, suggested bubbles. Oh, yes! It was totally the right call. Here are close-ups of the three small star blocks finishing at 9″ square . . .

. . . and the single large star block finishing at 18″ square:


Finally, here’s a peek at the back of the quilt, featuring one of the more colorful companion prints in the fabric line (“Icy World” by Gareth Lucas for Windham Fabrics) as well as the original focus fabric I used to fussycut the centers of my stars:

The quilted top has been trimmed to 50″ x 64″ and is now ready for the binding. I thought about using the background fabric for binding, allowing the stars to float completely, but then decided I wanted to frame the quilt, so to speak, using the same navy fabric used for the star points. It may look like a solid navy but it’s actually a mottled tone-on-tone. I like and use this fabric so much that I actually buy it by the bolt (“Shadowplay” by Maywood).

I doubt that I’ll get the binding and label done before we leave on Tuesday for our annual two-week Thanksgiving trip to Georgia so be on the lookout for my “It’s a Wrap!” post in early December.

 

 

 

Posted in family, update | 4 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

Fast Finish: Arctic Stars Quilt Top

Here it is, my newly finished Arctic Stars quilt top:

I am absolutely loving the simplicity of the design, the bold graphic punch of the single shooting star with its three satellite stars, and the way the fussycut centers of the four stars show off the whales, polar bears, walruses, and other denizens of artist Gareth Lucas’s “Icy World” fabric line.

My plan was a finished top measuring 59″x 72½” but after adding the outer borders the quilt top felt . . . vast. All that negative space! I trimmed 4” from each side to reduce the top to 51 x 64½” and will undoubtedly shave another inch or two off after the quilt comes back from the longarmer.

But first it needs to get to the longarmer. Next up is a simple pieced back made from some other fabrics in the “Icy World” line that weren’t used on the front. I’ll start that tomorrow. Right now Game 3 of the World Series is calling me . . .

 

 

 

 

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Now You Know . . .

. . . where I’m going with this latest project.

Remember Baby Isabella’s Quilt, the one I made earlier this year based on the pattern Star Stream Quilt by Sally Davies of Chasing Tigers? Here’s a reminder of the finished baby quilt . . .

. . . and the original pattern that inspired my version:
Ever since making the baby quilt, which finished at 40″ x 44″, I have wanted to make a throw-sized version. It will finish at 59″ x 72″, a great size for tossing across your lap. To make it that size I am using one large star supersized to 18″ from the original pattern’s 8″ star and three smaller stars measuring 9″ as opposed to the original pattern’s 4″ stars. Those are the blocks you saw in my last post.

I should have the completed quilt top ready to show you by tomorrow, which also happens to be Halloween. Boo!

 

 

 

Posted in baby quilt, update | 3 Comments

Arctic Stars

My newest quilt project already has a name: Arctic Stars. The focus fabric is from the “Icy World” line designed by Gareth Lucas for Windham Fabrics. I bought several prints from the line when it came out earlier this year, not really having a plan for the fabrics but unable to resist the charming folk art vibe:

Those blues and greens just soothe my soul!

The block you see above will finish at 18″ square. I made three more blocks today that are half that size:

Do I have a plan for the fabrics now? Why, yes I do!

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

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The Best Laid Plans . . .

Here’s a sneak peek of one of three valances I made for my stepmother Shirley’s living room windows:

You’re looking at a little over half of the shortest valance, which measures 62″ wide. The finished width is actually 54″ because the rod has brackets that come out from the wall 4″ on each end and the valance wraps around the brackets. The pleat near the end is close to where the valance wraps around the bracket.

I’m looking pretty pleased, aren’t I? The valances turned out just as I had envisioned them: understated and elegant. The simple design — flat valances with inverted pleats at the center and ends — allows the subtle herringbone decorator fabric to be the star of the show.

So about those best laid plans . . . The idea was to head over to Bend in Central Oregon this coming weekend to install the valances with the help of my nephew Scott, coming to Bend from another part of the state. We’ve all been keeping our eyes on the weather forecast, knowing this may be one of the last weekends to travel across the state before ice and snow make driving conditions dangerous.

The forecast is still looking good but I’m not going anywhere. Why? Because the Dear Husband has a rebound case of Covid! You may recall from my last post that he got Covid from me and was prescribed the antiviral medication Paxlovid, which helped him bounce back from Covid almost immediately. Four days after testing negative, he started exhibiting cold symptoms again and subsequently tested positive. It turns out about four percent of Covid patients who take Paxlovid come down with Covid again within a very few days. It’s known as “Paxlovid rebound.”

So here we are . . . back in isolation. Not going to Bend this weekend. If by some stroke of luck the weather the following weekend looks decent, and provided the DH is recovered (which I expect to be the case), we’ll make the trip over the mountain. If not, we’ll all have to wait till spring to see the valances installed in Shirley’s home.

The valances were more challenging to make than I expected. I quickly realized that the decorator fabric was quite thick and heavy, which would make traditional inverted pleats bulky, especially because the fabric needed to be lined. So I made faux pleats!

Let me show you what I mean. Here’s a picture of a pleat at one end of the valance:

Here’s what that pleat really looks like:

Do you see what I did? Each “pleat” is actually a separate piece of fabric lined to the edge, layered underneath the main fabric pieces, and attached to the rod pocket. (The lining fabric is a 100% quilting cotton from my stash.) Each valance is made of seven lined rectangles, three of which are faux pleats, plus the rod pocket.

Isn’t it nice when a home dec vision is realized?

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, update, valance | 8 Comments

Good News, Bad News

The good news:  the test valance I made for my stepmother Shirley’s living room windows last month was a great success. You’ll recall from my last post that I’m helping her update her living room by making bespoke valances out of an elegant furnishing fabric. The Dear Husband and I enjoyed a quick trip to Central Oregon at the end of September to visit her and test out the valance and drapery rod in her home.

The bad news:  at some point during that trip I was exposed to Covid-19. I woke up at home on Friday, Oct. 7, with mild cold symptoms, took a Covid test, and looked in dismay at the second pink line on the home test. The DH and I immediately went into isolation mode per CDC guidelines.

The good news:  my bout with Covid hasn’t been bad. My cold symptoms never worsened although I did experience three days of fatigue. Neither my stepmother nor a dear friend I had lunch with in Bend came down with Covid. The DH tested negative five days in a row.

The bad news:  on the sixth day the DH tested positive. I arranged a video conference the next day with a physician who prescribed the anti-viral drug Paxlovid. By then I was one day beyond my five-day isolation period and was able to mask up and get that prescription for him.

The good news:  within 24 hours of taking the first dose, my husband was feeling remarkably better.

More good news: yesterday I got the borders sewn onto the ’30s reproduction quilt top found at my guild’s silent auction in August. This is the block in the upper left corner:


Here’s a look at the top on a double bed:

Isn’t that pretty? I’m very happy with my choice of fabric for the outer border. The top measures 81½” x 93½” right now; it will shrink a bit from quilting and laundering.

It sure felt good hearing the sewing machine in my sewing room humming again! I’m now primed to cut into that gorgeous decorator fabric with the goal of heading over to Central Oregon before the end of the month with the finished valances.

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, update, valance, vintage quilts | 7 Comments

Home Dec Project in the Works

It’s been more than a minute since my last post, that’s for sure. The year has flown by but September flew by faster than usual. Between working alongside the Dear Husband in the garden (and harvesting the results), resuming classes at Montavilla Sewing Center after a break during August, taking visiting relatives around Portland and through the Columbia Gorge, and continuing my usual everyday pursuits of reading, trying new recipes, and playing Scrabble, very little time has been spent in my sewing room.

I thought for sure I’d have the borders added by now to the 1930s reproduction quilt started by my friend Vivienne years ago but all I’ve managed to do is cut the strips. I can claim only one accomplishment: a prototype of the tailored valances I’m making for my stepmother. Here’s a look at the beautiful furnishing fabric and a rough sketch:

This home dec project was actually launched a year ago. My stepmother bought new upholstered furniture for her living room and asked if I would make valances for the three windows plus one in the hallway. This is just the kind of home dec challenge I love so of course I said yes. Then, during my annual November trip last year to my twin sister’s home in Georgia, we found this lovely tweedy herringbone fabric.

Finding the proper drapery hardware after I got home proved unsuccessful. Good thing my stepmother is a patient soul because I dithered for months before finding the right curtain rods online. I ordered only one so I could test it first with the valance design.

The math indicates we have enough furnishing fabric for four valances but not enough to cover a mistake, hence the need for a prototype. I used some old fabric I had on hand from a home dec project years ago. It was important to test my sketch because I’m departing from the usual way of making inverted pleats. I’ll fill you in later on my plan. At the moment, the DH and I are getting ready to head over to my stepmother’s home in Central Oregon to test the mock valance in place along with the drapery hardware.

More anon!

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

It’s A Wrap: Sea Star Sampler

I was getting ready to appliqué the round label onto the back of my Sea Star Sampler quilt today when Princess Cordelia (aka Coco) wandered into my sewing room. She promptly planted herself on my quilt, as she is wont to do:

As you can see, I caught her with her little pink tongue sticking out.

Here’s a look at the front of the finished quilt, measuring 60″ square:

. . . and a better look at the label on the back:

Here’s one more shot, taken minutes after the quilt was pulled from the dryer:

Who doesn’t love the crinkled look of a quilt washed for the very first time?! By the way, the finished size after laundering is 59″ square.

Two blocks from this quilt were part of an optional Block of the Month project designed by Kristin at Montavilla Sewing Center and offered over Zoom starting in May 2021. In-person classes were suspended in March 2020 due to Covid-19 so several of us jumped at the chance the following year to engage with the folks at Montavilla via Zoom. By the time in-person classes resumed last September, most of us were “Zoomed out” and the BOM sort of faded away. I had already veered off on my own path and wound up choosing nine other blocks to complete my sampler quilt.

The “Sea” part of the name developed when I realized many of my fabrics were evocative of the sea:  starfish, schools of fish, sea anemones, seaweed, water, waves . . . you get the idea. And all but two of the blocks are stars so it was reasonable to call it a “Star Sampler.” You know how much I love alliteration; it wasn’t long before my Sea Sampler had morphed into my Sea Star Sampler.

Like many of my quilts, this one evolved over time. If you’re interested in the progression (admittedly slow) of this project, simply click on “sampler quilt” under the CATEGORIES list on the right side of my home page to see all of the posts in reverse chronological order.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Block of the Month (BOM), sampler quilt, update | 8 Comments

Charmed, I’m Sure

Third time’s the charm, they say. It took trips to three local quilt shops before I found the perfect print for the outer border on the reproduction ’30s quilt top I bought at my quilt guild’s recent silent auction:

The delicate floral print is from the “Aunt Grace Basket of Scraps” line designed by Judie Rothermel for Marcus Fabrics. It’s shown with one of two blocks in the quilt (out of 30) that have a similar colorway. This is the other one:

I brought the quilt top with me so I could audition border fabrics with it in hand. One thing I noticed right away is that reproduction prints in quilt shops now have whiter backgrounds. When this top was pieced 20 years ago or so, the prints were creamier. I’m confident the border fabric will work well, though.

After choosing the border fabric, I strolled around the shop looking for a vintage-y print that would work on the back. I found some lovely ones but none that had that ’30s vibe. Guess what I came back to. Yep — I bought enough of the border fabric to make a backing. I actually bought the rest of the bolt — almost 10 yards — thinking I might want to make a pair of pillowcases to go with the quilt.

As a reminder, here’s a look at the entire top (I’ll add lavender strips to the sides to complete the narrow first border):

Each of the 30 blocks was made with a different print. Most of the prints are floral but several represent characters and scenes from children’s storybooks (think Humpty Dumpty and Little Bo Peep) and a couple prints are of kittens chasing balls of yarn. You know I like to name my quilts. I’m thinking of calling this one Vintage Vignettes.

 

 

 

Posted in cats, roll-it-up pillowcases, update, vintage quilts | 8 Comments