Here’s the completed quilt top of my winter version of Season to Taste:

It measures 18½” x 55½”.

Season to Taste is a kaleidoscope quilt pattern I created in 2014 with the idea of making one wall hanging or table runner representing each of the four seasons. You’ve seen my spring, summer, and fall versions before on the pages of this blog. I’ll post a photo of all four when I get this last one quilted.

My winter version will be called Winterwood in a nod to one of my favorite songs, written by Don McLean. You may be more familiar with his blockbuster hit “American Pie” from the album of the same name. “Winterwood” is from the same album which was released in 1971. Oh my! That means it’s 50 years old this year.

In my next post I’ll explain my method of getting the narrow accent strips (they finish at ⅜”) on my triangles to line up just so:






Posted in home dec, kaleidoscope quilts, table runner, update, wall hanging | 3 Comments

The Carrot and the Stick

Here’s the carrot:

I’m eager to sew these triangles together into the second block of my winter version of Season to Taste. I made the first block a month ago:

Sewing is on hold for now, though, because of the stick:

You’re looking at one upper corner of my sewing room closet shortly before it underwent a transformation. I hired a master plasterer to repair the ceiling and upper walls, which have been in this sorry condition for — well, let’s just say it’s been a while.

After living in our 1913 Craftsman house for 40 years, I had completely filled this 3½ x 7½-foot closet. It was, in my sister Diane’s words, “crammed to the gunnels.” Stacks of fabric on three upper shelves. Storage carts, plastic bins, and a garage sale dresser along the lower walls . . . you get the picture.

After emptying the contents of the closet into the spare bedroom (which I laughingly call “the Annex” because it has evolved into a second sewing room), I proceeded to peel off the ugly plaid wallpaper on the lower walls:

See that green paint? That’s a piece of plywood that was nailed onto lath strips behind it and then wallpapered. The plaster job suddenly loomed larger.

On this wall you can see how the previous owner used leftover strips of wallpaper to finish papering the wall:

The plaid strips didn’t match, of course. This would have driven me crazy had I not blocked the offending view with the contents of the closet.

Fortunately, master plasterer Steve and his assistant Corey were willing to tackle the lower walls along with the upper walls and ceiling. It took the better part of a day for them to work their magic:

I decided to paint the closet myself to save money — having the lower walls replastered  added considerably to the cost — and also time. Most house painters are booked out weeks ahead and I was oh, so anxious to get everything back into the closet. I promised myself I wouldn’t sew a stitch until the painting was done. Ah yes, the carrot and the stick. It was time to get to work.

Here’s one side of the closet primed and ready for another coat of paint:

It took me two days to prep and prime the closet. Getting thorough coverage was a challenge as the plaster absorbed paint like a sponge. But I prevailed, and I must say: it’s already looking pretty good!

Here it is all done with the two short shelves back in place:

Before refilling the closet, I took the opportunity to edit its contents while they were still in the Annex. Several stacks of fabric and notions have been set aside for donation.

Now when you open the door to the closet, here’s a glimpse at what you see:

Sure looks better in there!

If you’re looking for me today, you’ll find me at my sewing machine. I think I’ve earned it, don’t you?




Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 10 Comments

That Toddlin’ Town

Now that I’ve finished making this traditional Chicago Star quilt block, I can’t get the song “Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town)” out of my head. It reached the pop charts in 1957 when Frank Sinatra released his version but the song is much older than that. The sheet music was published in 1922, with music and lyrics by a fellow named Fred Fisher.

Nobody seems to know what “toddlin'” means. Apparently a dance called the Toddle was popular at the time the song came out but to toddle can also mean to saunter. No matter. Sinatra sings it well.

The quilt block is even older than the song. Directions for the Chicago Star were published in the late 1800s by the Ladies’ Art Company, a mail order catalog for quilt patterns. I was amazed to learn the company was in business from sometime around 1895 until the 1970s. If you happen to own the third edition of Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns published in 2020 by the Electric Quilt Company, you’ll see a version of Chicago Star on page 203.

When I saw the square-in-a-square design in the center of the block, I knew I’d put a fussycut image in the center. I especially like how well the image plays with the background fabric, a print from Victoria Findlay Wolfe‘s 2017 “Light Work” collection for Marcus Fabrics.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this block but I’m having fun.




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To the Rescue

Map Courtesy of Google

I have been saved by a quilter 2500 miles away! Nancy L. of Irwin, Pennsyvania read yesterday’s post in which I wrote about my delight at finding an online quilt shop in the Midwest that had a piece of older fabric I needed to finish a quilt project. My delight was supplanted by disappointment when the shop notified me it didn’t have the fabric in stock after all. When I woke up this morning and looked at my email, there was a message from Nancy telling me she has a third of a yard of this fabric that she is willing to send me. Oh Happy Day!

Not only is the fabric already in the mail, Nancy even sent me the tracking information! If the US Postal Service does its job, those precious inches of currant red fabric will be in my eagerly waiting hands by Friday. I could have made do with another cut of fabric but I had my heart set on using the same red that’s in the center of this kaleidoscope quilt:

Quilt begun in 2015 in a class taught by Joyce Gieszler. Pattern: Grandma’s Surprise

The piece that Nancy is sending me will be used as a narrow flange between the outer border and the binding. Thank you, Nancy, from the bottom of my heart.

Aren’t quilters the best people?!




Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 8 Comments

Dashed Hopes

My elation at finding just the right amount of an older fabric to complete a flange binding on my latest kaleidoscope quilt was short-lived. After purchasing a quarter-yard from an on-line quilt shop in Iowa, I subsequently heard from the shop that the yardage in question was actually no longer in stock. Oh nooooooooo!

The fabric I need — okay, I want it more than need it — is a particular shade of red, a deep bright red like a currant. In fact, the leaf print I’m using for the border of my quilt is from the line called “Black, White & Currant 5” by Color Principle for Henry Glass Fabrics. I have several red blenders in my stash but not a single one matches the red in that print or the red shown above.

Unless someone reading this post has some Moda Puzzle Pieces Paisley 1007-51 on hand and is willing to part with a small amount, I’m going to have to embark on a search for a replacement, probably a solid currant. I have very few solids in my stash because I don’t care to sew with them but I’m sure there’s a piece out there that will work just fine.

In the meantime, I’m dealing with my disappointment by starting a new project:

In the works is an 18″ Chicago Star block using this fun group of fabrics. I actually have two quilts in my head using these fabrics plus a few others not shown here.

Kristin at Montavilla Sewing in Lake Oswego, the quilt shop where I teach, introduced this pattern to some of my students and me last month in a Zoom meeting. It’s part of an optional block-of-the-month project we can learn about online while we wait for in-person classes to resume. I’ll be ready for virtual show-and-tell on Wednesday. It will be fun to see what fabrics other quiltmakers have chosen!




Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 6 Comments

Hitting Paydirt

That’s a funny phrase to use when talking about fabric but it perfectly expresses how I feel after finding a quarter of a yard of fabric online that was a total long shot.

In my last post I showed photos of a kaleidoscope quilt I had just gotten back from the longarm quilter. (The quilt, based on the pattern “Grandma’s Surprise,” was made in a class with Joyce Gieszler six years ago.) In the comment section of the blog post, my friend Vickie asked what I was thinking about for the binding. I replied, “I’m going to bind it in the same black leaf print (shown above) that I used for the border because I want the focus to be on the kaleidoscope in the center of the quilt.” My thought was that binding the quilt in solid black or the red paisley tone-on-tone blender used in the quilt (also shown above) would create a frame around the quilt that might distract from the kaleidscope in the center.

But as I pondered Vickie’s question, the thought of a narrow flange of that red fabric sandwiched between the border and the binding popped into my head. Last night I added this sentence to my reply: “If I had more of the red fabric, though, I would be very tempted to add a narrow flange between the border and the binding.” Only two small rectangles of that fabric remained in my stash and neither scrap had selvage information on it. I had bought it years ago and had no idea if it was even still available.

Sometime between last night and this morning, that idea of a flange took hold. I woke up and thought, “Why not see if I can find that red fabric online?” I tried entering several search phrases with no luck. Then I struck paydirt with “dark red on red paisley blender.” Up popped this image. . .

. . . with a link to an online quilt shop in Waukee, Iowa called Twiddletails. The fabric turned out to be a blender by Moda that was part of a line of blenders called Puzzle Pieces. All that was available was a quarter of a yard — a mere nine inches! Reader, I ordered it on the spot. Between this piece and my two scraps, I think I can eke out enough strips for a flange, provided the dye lots are similar enough. There’s a surprising amount of variation among dye lots. This bit of yardage from Twiddletails is the only one I’ve found so my fingers are firmly crossed.




Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 4 Comments

Kaleidoscopes and Curves

My latest kaleidoscope quilt is back from the longarm quilter! While it was still on Sherry’s frame on Monday, she sent me a couple of sneak peeks:

I knew then I’d made the right choice with the quilting motif: “Bordeaux” by Urban Elementz. The motif features spirals and swirls that work really well with the design of the quilt and the leaf print.

The quilt isn’t trimmed yet but I couldn’t wait to show you more of the quilting:

Here’s a shot of the center:

Even though the quilt pieces are all angular, there’s a suggestion of roundness because of the way the blocks are set. I wanted the quilt motif to have a roundness to it as well. I was also looking for another element to suggest the shape of leaves like the ones in the black print. Perhaps you can see this better in the close-up of the center area:

Once the quilt has been trimmed, I’ll post a few more pictures and show you the simple pieced backing. This six-year-old UFO is very close to becoming a completed quilt!

Oh, and here’s an update on the migration front. The not-so-good news is that the migration of my website/blog to a new server is not yet complete. The better news is that readers can once again leave comments. So feel free to comment on this post or even the last couple of posts when comments were blocked.

I am especially eager to know if subscribers are also getting notifications of new blog posts — so here’s your chance to let me know. Thank you!




Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 10 Comments

Mixed Veggies — and a Migration

Hello there! I’ve been silent for a few days because my website/blog is undergoing a migration to a new server. I committed to this undertaking last week only to find out — after the fact — that it could take up to 18 days for the migration to be complete. Yikes!

Today I got the green light to make a post to let you all know what’s going on with First Light Designs. I’m taking advantage of that to include a quick update on one of my recent projects:

Yes, it’s another set of oven mitts following my tutorial posted last month. Aren’t these mitts cute? I made this pair for my friend Debby. She picked the sweet pea fabric for the outside of the mitts and I found the perfect fabric in my stash for the lining fabric that continues the veggie theme:

The mitt on the left above is ready for the binding on the cuff edge to be tacked down, at which point the mitt can be turned right side out. I love the surprise of seeing the colorful veggie fabric when you peek inside a mitt:

An apparent drawback of the current website migration process is that no one can leave comments on my blog for the time being. That’s a big disappointment! Bloggers love to get comments and I have really missed that connection with my regular readers. Let’s hope the migration to the new server is up and running in short order so I can be back in the blogging business (and you can be back in the comment business if you so choose)!





Posted in home dec, oven mitts, update | 2 Comments

Season’s Greetings

What?? Here we are midway into a glorious spring in Portland, Oregon and my thoughts are on winter. Why, you ask? Because I have finally started work on the fourth and final quilt based on my Season to Taste pattern. This is the first of three blocks:

When I designed the pattern in 2014 I envisioned making a wall hanging (or table runner) for each season of the year. I started with the fall version, naming my quilt Autumn Reflections, and the spring version, Under Paris Skies. Those are the ones you see on the pattern cover above.

In 2015 I made a summer version named Sun Flowers. All three were on display last month at Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego:

Every so often I would think about making a winter version but I could never settle on fabrics. Did I want something in red and green to evoke the holidays or something in wintry hues of grey and dark blue? Did I want to make kaleidoscope blocks using eight repeats of the same print or a scrappy version using eight different prints?

Months passed. Years passed. (Hmm, my last post was about a quilt I started in 2015 and finished just this year. Do you see a pattern here?)

Then a few weeks ago I saw a photo of a quilt my friend Linda D. had made using a lovely collection of green and red prints. When I inquired about the fabric line (which turned out to be “Northern Light” by Annie Brady for Moda Fabrics), Linda generously offered to give me her leftover fabric. She actually made two bed-size quilts from these fabrics. When she dropped off the “scraps” I could see there was enough fabric in the sack to make a third bed-size quilt!

Today I stopped by Montavilla LO to pick up some background fabric. (Hard to believe but nothing in my stash seemed “just right” for this particular project.) At the shop I found a piece of “Grunge” by BasicGrey for Moda Fabrics that seemed like it might work — a creamy white with just a touch of green in the subtle texture and shading:

Alas, the green looked too minty when placed next to my kaleido block. I was about to give up the search when it occurred to me to flip the fabric over. You may not be able to tell from the next photo but trust me: the wrong side of the Grunge fabric is perfect:




Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, table runner, update, wall hanging | 2 Comments

My Next Quilt

. . . or perhaps I should say “My Next Quilt Finish.” Today I pulled a UFO out of my sewing room closet that’s been waiting in the wings for — oh, the last six years (!) and put a border on it:

This Unfinished Object dates back to 2015, when I took a class from Joyce Gieszler on Grandma’s Surprise, the quilt pattern featured in her book Then and Now Quilts (Kansas City Star Quilts, 2014). In 2015 Joyce’s colorful version using cotton+steel fabrics had set Pinterest ablaze . . .

. . . but it was her three-color version shown on the right that I had fallen for:

Her class was great fun and I made my top pretty quickly, eking out a border of the background fabric with just enough left over to cut binding strips so the image would float. The quilt top finished at 57″ square. Because I like to piece my quilt backs, I put the project on the back burner while waiting for inspiration to strike.

Well, you know what they say: time marches on for all of us. Suddenly, 2021 was well underway and I had never gotten around to the backing. Today, when I pulled the quilt top out to take a look, I decided I wanted it to be a bit larger and added a border of the black leafy print. Now it measures 66″ square, a really nice size for a throw or lap quilt.

And the backing? Some time ago I had purchased a piece of 118″ wide backing fabric in a pale grey leafy print. In the spirit of “get ‘er done!,” why not forget the pieced backing and just make a backing out of one piece? I got ready to cut the 74″ square I needed for the backing — longarmers like the backing to be 4″ larger on all sides — and then discovered a 3″ tear in a spot which made it impossible to cut the backing from one piece.


It looks like a pieced backing is in the cards after all.




Posted in kaleidoscope quilts, update | 6 Comments