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Dawn's Quilting Room
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Monday - December 31, 2018

Last Call for 2018

Wrapping up another year in the sewing room. I've done a partial purge to make way for new projects. My featherless turkey wall hanging is one project I intend to finish. I've already changed the setting I planned to use, so it feels like a new project.

Every year I join the All People Quilt UFO Challenge. For a change, this year I don't have as many UFOs as in the past. This challenge has helped me clear away many unfinished projects. So my 2019 list has a mix of UFOs and projects I've been telling myself to make.

My last sewing project for the year is a draft-stopper for the front door. I used upholstery fabric remnants to make a large bolster. Since the fabrics are dark colors against a dark entryway rug, it didn't photograph well, so here is a photo of the quilt currently hanging on the inside of my front door. A dear friend made it for me many years ago.

Snowman by Susan Schwarting - www.dlstewart.com
(Snowman by Susan Schwarting)

Happy New Year!

Friday - November 30, 2018

It's a Turkey

Life does have a way of throwing curve balls. My goal was to finish a wall hanging for Thanksgiving since I don't have one. I saw this cute paper pieced block of a goofy turkey, and it called to me. So far I have two center panels for two blocks finished. I was about ready to begin sewing feathers on the birds when life side-railed my project for a bit.

The poor birds need feathers to keep them warm during winter. But it will have to wait for a while. New goal .. finish the wall hanging for Thanksgiving 2019.

Turkey paper pieced - www.dlstewart.com
(Turkey in progress - left, and inspiration block - right.)

Enjoy the holidays!

Friday - October 19, 2018

Organizing Fabric Leftovers

After my quilting marathon of finishing quilts for the quilt show and assorted gifts ... I took one look at what once was a fairly tidy room, and decided to reclaim the space happily littered with colorful fabrics.

The hardest decision was how to group the materials. Larger pieces go into my fabric closet; that was the easy part. Since I didn't want the fat quarters and charm squares lost amidst the yardage, I grabbed a bin and placed the neat bundles upright inside it. The orphaned quilt blocks, I set in their own pile. At some point I'm going to sew them into a cute funky quilt. All the batiks are now hanging out together in their dedicated organizer (smaller pieces since I don't buy large yardage of the batiks). And the bitty pieces of fabrics are in a basket for sewing into crumb quilt b
locks. I also corralled the leftover binding pieces and placed them in a basket. Maybe they would work well together as a multi-color binding for the orphan-block quilt.

I also assembled some large Ziploc bags of fabric and pattern ideas for future charity quilt projects. That way I can grab the bags and take them with me to workshops or sewing retreats to work on. No more last minute: "What else can I bring to do?"

Organizing Fabric Bits www.dlstewart.com
(Organizing fabric bits and pieces.)

Enjoy a wonderful day!


Friday - September 28, 2018

Hats On

Today I donated 18 knitted hats to a warm clothing charity. It's a good feeling, and they were delighted to receive the variety of hats. Some were solid colors, many two-tone or two-color, and I started experimenting more with stripes.

Since I began listening to audio books, my hat production has increased. I listen to the book, and happily knit away. I already have more hats finished.

Striped Knitted Hat www.dlstewart.com
(One of my striped hats. Easy to do!)

Enjoy a colorful, creative day!


Saturday - September 15, 2018

Quilt Show this Weekend

Finally! The Marathon Quilters Quilt Show is here. A lot of work by very enthusiastic and talented people have gone into this event.

The show is in Hopkinton, Massachusetts at the Hopkinton Center for the Arts at 98 Hayden Rowe (Route 85). Saturday and Sunday 10:00 am - 5:00 pm.

There are over 100 quilts on display. Vendors and sewing machine cleaning at the show. A boutique of handmade items as well as a yard sale (fabric $1 a yard!). Make-and-take projects, and a scavenger hunt, too. Lots to see and do.

Marathon Quilers Show 2018 www.dlstewart.com
(Some of the wall hangings in the Marathon Quilters show.)

And I can't resist a close up of my quilt "Fabulous Friends" (below) . A fun project with lots of overlayed applique.

Fabulous Friends by Dawn Stewart  www.dlstewart.com
("Fabulous Friends" by Dawn Stewart in the Marathon Quilters show.)

Drop by the show and say "hi"!


Friday - August 31, 2018

Quilt Sleeves

My four quilts are done and submitted for the guild quilt show. Over 100 quilts are being displayed! Click here for the show information if you are in Massachusetts on September 15 & 16, 2018.

Adding a sleeve to each quilt was the last step before handing them to the show coordinator. Our guild requires a 4-inch sleeve be added to the back of each quilt for hanging.

I usually choose the same fabric as the quilt backing. If I used all the fabric for the backing, then I select a coordinating fabric. I prefer the sleeves to blend into the quilt so they aren't noticeable. I have seen other people use muslin or whatever fabric is at hand.

Quilt Sleeve dlstewart.com
(Quilt sleeve with a yardstick through it.)

My method of making a 4-inch quilt sleeve is to cut a piece of fabric a bit longer than the width of the quilt (to accommodate turned under edges). I also cut the fabric 9-inches wide. First I turn under one of the short ends so that it is a finished edge and sew it with a straight stitch. I pin baste the second short edge, and lay the sleeve along the back of the quilt to make sure the width is correct. Once happy with the size, I sew a straight stitch along the short end to create a finished edge. Turn the sleeve so that the right sides are together, and stitch along the long edge using a half-inch seam allowance. Turn the sleeve right side out. I press the seam so that it is centered on the back of the sleeve, and hand-sew to the back of the quilt at the top with the seam-side facing the quilt back.

Since I primarily display wall hangings at shows, I hand stitch the sleeves in place with the idea I probably will not remove them. As an alternative, our guild allows the sleeves to be attached with safety pins, which makes for easy sleeve removal if desired.

Now that the quilts are finished, I can't wait to see them hanging in the show. The venue is spectacular. The quilts are hung so that they look as if they are floating in air.

Hope you too feel as though you've accomplished something!


Saturday - August 25, 2018

Twin Baby Quilts

My neighbor had twin boys. At first I debated whether to make matching quilts, or perhaps quilts that were the same but mirrored designs. Then my need for individual expression butted into the internal discussion. A friend chimed in by helpfully giving me cute alphabet fabric in which the elephants formed the ABCs. Plus, I had fabric that featured work people building houses, which worked well with the truck, and construction-theme prints in my stash.

So I ran with my two ideas. One quilt features the alphabet (perhaps the child will grow to love reading and writing). and one quilt is made for a potential architect or builder. Such lofty goals for boys who are barely six months old.

Twin Baby Quilrs dlstewart.com
(Two baby quilts. Machine quilted and hand bound.)

The boys' mom and dad loved receiving the quilts. They also were pleased they didn't match.

Now for my next project!


Tuesday - July 31, 2018

Finishing & Beginning

It's been a busy July! I finished binding two baby quilts and have another one in the planning stages. All my guild quilt show entries are complete with labels. I now need to add sleeves for hanging. And a friend challenged me to make a Christmas quilt ... I have a collection of holiday fabrics that I've wanted to sew into a wall hanging. So we are now trying to decide which pattern to make.

I am also keeping up with my charity activities. On the list is making some baby quilts (I think I'm becoming the baby quilt queen!). But currently I am knitting more hats. I donate them to a local charity who distributes the hats to those in need. I love loom knitting. It is easy to do. Plus I can tuck the round loom, some yarn, a pick and scissors into a tote bag, which makes a great take-along project.

Loomed Hats www.dlstewart.com
(My loomed hats, including one just begun.)

Hope everyone is enjoying their creative time!


Sunday - July 8, 2018


A terrific vacation is winding to a close. I want to grab onto time with both hands so that I can stretch the fun. Visiting with friends and family, writing a new novel, baking, gardening, reading, learning a new card game ... and, of course, quilting.

I finished quilting two baby quilts, cut the binding, sewed it together, and sewed the binding to the quilts. Now I am ready to turn the binding and hand sew it to the quilt backs. I also raided my fabric stash and pulled out a fabric panel to use for our guild's Panel Challenge. The panel features carousel horses. I've been studying it, deciding how I want to manipulate the fabric to "reinvent" the panel into a new design.

Elephant ABC Baby Quilt www.dlstewart.com
(A baby quilt under the needle.)

I enjoy free motion quilting. The quilting tool in this photo is one I love to use. It is the Quilt Sew Easy by Heavenly Notions. Make sure the fabric and batting layers are flat, hold onto the "ears" of the Quilt Sew Easy and begin stitching. The hoop-like tool keeps the fabric from shifting during free motion quilting on my domestic machine.

Now to find some good movies to watch while I hand sew binding.

Have fun quilting!


Monday - June 11, 2018

Who Made This?

I am a firm believer in labeling quilts. That way, future generations know who made the quilt and when it was finished. At a minimum, a quilt label should list the maker and the year the quilt was finished. If the quilt has a name, feel free to include it along with any other details you wish to share.

Quilt Labels dlstewart.com
(Some labels for my quilts.)

There are all types of ways to create quilt labels. In the above photo, the label at the left is a pre-printed design, and I used a permanent black fabric marker to write on it. The blue border label is also a pre-printed design, and the label at the right with a cat on it is a pre-printed design given to me by a quilting friend. The label at the top of the photo is one I made by using fabrics that appeared on the quilt top. The smallest label (photo center) was designed using a computer and printed on fabric. The darkest label, (bottom center), I machine embroidered. The label featuring the bunny holding a heart is one I made using the main fabric from the quilt top ... This is my newest label and needs to be sewn onto the quilt.

First I create the label. Then I place it right-side down on a used unscented dryer sheet (the dryer sheet acts like a light interfacing). Next, I machine sew completely around the edges using a quarter-inch seam allowance. Taking a pair of scissors, I trim the edges and cut off the corners (without cutting the stitching). Then I carefully snip a slit in the dryer sheet (do not accidentally cut the label). I then turn the label right-side out and iron it. I hand sew my labels to the quilt backs.

Have fun labeling your quilts!


Saturday - June 2, 2018

Running the Border

The cat once again helped me to wake up early. (Hello, Kitty, it's the weekend; no need to swat me at 5:00 a.m.) Oh well ... since I was wide awake, I cut fabric for borders and sewed them to one of the baby quilts I've been working on. Bird song outside the window and the cat curled near the sewing machine kept me company.

Construction-theme Quilt dlstewart.com
(Using a brick print for the border - construction-theme.)

I raided my stash for fun fabrics that worked well in a construction-theme quilt. There are prints featuring trucks, tools, men building a house, road work signs, and I used fabrics resembling wood, brick, and concrete. Next step is to iron the quilt top, select a backing, and layer it. Then off to the sewing machine to quilt it.

Enjoy a wonderful, creative day!

Monday - May 21, 2018

Pineapple Ruler

I enjoyed a terrific time at a quilting retreat. A great weekend of dedicated sewing. One of my friends was working on her project for our guild's version of the Kona Challenge. She utilized the Creative Grids Pineapple Mini Trim Tool to create roses using Kona cottons.

Rose Pineapple by Becky MacDonald
(Using the Pineapple Trim Ruler to make roses.)

This pineapple ruler allowed her to cut and sew blocks with precision and minimal fabric waste. It took her one day to create a gorgeous wall hanging depicting a modern style rose garden.

I'm inspired by her fun and creative twist to this block!


Saturday - May 19, 2018

Stitch One ... Stitch Two

It seems lately I've spent most of my sewing hours binding quilts. I am currently hand sewing the binding on the fourth and last quilt entry for our guild quilt show.

Then I have three baby quilts to sew, and they will need binding. I don't see the binding phase ending any time soon.

I used to use straight pins to anchor quilt binding in place as I stitched. I can't even begin to count the "ouches" those sharp pins caused.  Thank heavens I discovered Wonder Clips. These small plastic clips easily attach to the quilt blinding to hold it in place. You don't need a lot of clips either if you are willing to move them along the binding as you sew.

I bought these Yalis clips from Amazon.com. The clear plastic container holds 100 multicolor clips in nine different colors.

(Easy to use. Pinch the clip open and let it close.)

Sometimes it is the little things in life that bring happiness!


Monday - April 30, 2018

Boutique Sewing

This past weekend, Our quilt guild met for an open sew. We brought our sewing machines, supplies and enthusiasm. I also baked a loaf of pumpkin-blueberry bread to share.

Our goal was to sew items to sell in the boutique at our upcoming quilt show in September, We have already sewn a variety of items. This gathering focused on sewing cute rotary cutter holders, dog toys and bookmarks.

Quilt Guild Boutique Items dlstewart.com

(Our quilt guild is sewing items to sell at the quilt show.)

A few of us also worked on our own projects. A friend delivered twin boys, so I began assembling one of two baby quilts. I cut the fabric and started sewing nine-patch blocks, which form part of the design.

I'll sew more bookmarks at home using some of my fun prints. Click here for info about our quilt show.

It's a gorgeous sunrise this morning.

Hope you enjoy a beautiful day!


Saturday - April 21, 2018

Closer to Done

Last night I finished hand sewing the binding on my Grand Illusion quilt. So this morning, I visited the sewing machine to stitch the binding on the Simply Colorful Sampler quilt. This is the last quilt I need to finish for our guild quilt show in September.

Simply Colorful Sampler dlstewart.com
(Sewing binding on my Simply Colorful Sampler.)

I debated with myself, and finally decided a free-motion meandering pattern worked best for this quilt. I used a medium gray thread.

If you are looking for a quick tutorial on how to connect binding ends together to finish a quilt, here is a great one at YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUEy9NXOK5c

The weather is finally more spring-like today, so I'm off to do a bit of yard work before going with a friend to a craft show.

Enjoy a terrific day!


Tuesday - April 10, 2018

Dear Jane A-01

My biggest obstacle to this Dear Jane block was myself. I'm not sure what happened to my usual sewing finesse, but it was vacationing when I attempted to sew the corner triangle sections of this block. Three times in a row, I incorrectly sewed the fabric to the paper pieced pattern. This is a relatively easy block to sew, too.

The other oddity I had to overcome is that not all the triangle points of this block design are pointy. I am so used to making sure triangle blocks have pointy ends that it seemed unnatural to sew a block where some of the triangle "points" are blunted. And not all the triangles are the same size or shape. It definitely resembles its title of Pinwheel Gone Awry.

Then after sewing the block together, I realize some of those wonky blue triangles are not in the right positions.

Dear Jane A-01 dlstewart.com
(Dear Jane block A-01 - truly a pinwheel gone awry.)

Technically this Dear Jane block is finished. But not the correct way. I hear the seam ripper calling my name.

Hopefully the next block sews more smoothly!


Monday - April 2, 2018

Seam Ripper Woes

The other day I exercised the seam ripper. I sewed a portion of a Dear Jane block three times ... and three times incorrectly sewed the pieces together. At least I was original and sewed the pieces uniquely wrong each time. No duplicating mistakes for me!

DEARJANE dlstewart.com
(Dear Jane block A-01 in process.)

After the third time, I slowly backed away from the sewing machine. Sometimes you have to bow to fate and take a few deep breaths before returning to a problem project.

So I baked two apple pies and cookies for upcoming family visits. Laundry and dirty dishes saw no mercy as I zoomed through chores.

I didn't completely ignore the sewing room. I cleaned my paper piecing trimmings and wrangled projects into neater piles. I also encouraged the cat not to unwind a bobbin.

I hope your quilting day is going great!


Sunday - March 25, 2018


I followed the sage advice of: When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. And it's delicious!

Our quilt guild retreat was cancelled at the last minute. My bags were packed with projects, fabric, and sewing tools. My sewing machine bobbins pre-wound, and my energy level engaged. I was ready to roll.

Then I ground to a halt. No retreat. Vacation time scheduled. Creativity overflowing. Frustration and disappointment mounting.

Then I thought: Why not hold a virtual sew-in? We may not have a physical place to all meet and sew, but technology is a wonderful thing. A few of us stayed connected via phone, photo sharing, email, and text. For several days we shared our projects, asked each other for opinions, and had fun! All of us accomplished more together than we might have alone.

I sewed binding and attached it to a quilt and am now hand stitching it in place. I also basted together the layers of another quilt, and sewed the binding for it so it is ready to attach when I reach that stage. And I worked on my Dear Jane project. My friends and I discussed some future quilting ideas and I loved seeing their creations.

What could have been a miserable few days regretting a cancelled retreat transformed into several excellent days of playing with fabric and enjoying the company of friends through 21st century magic.

Simply Colorful Sampler - dlstewart.com .
(My sampler quilt is pin-basted and ready for the machine.)

Wishing you a creative day!


Saturday - March 17, 2018

National Quilting Day - Projects

Today is National Quilting Day. I've also seen it called Worldwide Quilting Day. This is a perfect time to reevaluate those New Year's quilting resolutions. Are you on target?

One thing that helps keep my goals focused is my list from the All People Quilt UFO Challenge. It is never too late to join! The object is to pick 12 unfinished projects, and to finish one project a month. By the end of the year you will have potentially completed 12 projects … a great way to clear space in the sewing room.

I allow myself creativity when it comes to writing my list. Some projects are UFOs. Other items on the list are quilts with deadlines, and even a few new projects. And I also added a knitting project to my list since I don't want to lose sight of it.

So far I am on schedule. My first project is done. Five of us agreed to swap handmade items to celebrate our friendship. I crafted mug rugs for each of them. One friend wrote to say she is hanging hers on the wall.

Candy Box Heart dlstewart.com
(Candy Box Heart - Paper Pieced)

I also have three quilts on my list that I am finishing for a quilt show. One is done, and two are in process.

Feels good to check things off the list!


Monday - March 12, 2018

Grand Illusion - UFO

I am determined to finish some lingering projects. This is my Grand Illusion quilt from the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt 2014 project. Feels good to be working on a UFO!

At the start, I knew that my project would be a wall hanging instead of the larger quilt she designed. I finished the blocks … but then I stalled on the setting. I did not care for (what looked to me) to be a chaotic combination of fabric when the blocks were set with the checkerboard sashing.

Grand Illusion - Suggested Setting dlstewart.com
(Suggested setting for the Grand Illusion quilt.)

After much thought (okay, lots of thought since it's been over three years!), I opted to not use the green-and-white checkerboard sashing. Instead, I placed black sashing and aqua blue corner stones between the nine blocks. I really love the look.

Grand Illusion being quilted dlstewart.com
(Grand Illusion being quilted.)

Now I am in the process of machine quilting. I am using my domestic Bernina for the job. Can't wait to tick this project off the list.

Hope you are enjoying a great day!


Wednesday - March 7, 2018

Red, White, Blue

Back and forth I go, trying to settle on a color scheme for my Dear Jane quilt. Do I go all scrappy? Keep it to two color groups? Use all one type of material, such as batiks? To help my decision making process, I did an internet search for Dear Jane quilt images. Several color combinations leapt out at me. But one quilt resonated.

Here is my inspiration image:

Inspiration Quilt - Dear Jane
(I could not locate the name of the quiltmaker.)

Red, white and blue. I am going to keep the white fabric consistent in each block. I bought a white-on-white print. The red and blue fabrics will be a scrappy combination.

This is going to be a fun project!


Thursday - March 1, 2018

Pondering Jane

Ready, set, go! Here I come Janiacs (the fond name for Dear Jane Quilt enthusiasts). I feel I'm joining a sisterhood.

Of course, in the back of my mind, I wonder how many people have embarked on this odyssey of sewing 225 different quilt blocks. How many of these quilts have drifted into UFO territory ... unfinished, perhaps (gasp) gathering dust?

I'm not falling into the trap of promising myself I will finish every single block. For one thing, applique is not a favorite technique, and some of these blocks do require applique. Still, never say never. I could reach that magic threshold and actually finish all those blocks. How many years will it take? No, I refuse to do the math. I'm clutching my rotary cutter and ready to leap toward the fabric.

Before starting, though, I did research and prepared myself with useful website material. In case you are also diving into Dear Jane territory, here is some of what I discovered:

Dear Jane: 225 Patterns from the 1863 Jane E. Stickle Quilt
A paperback book several of my friends own.
They are also using the book to keep a journal of their progress.

Dear Jane Quilt Software from Electric Quilt
Quilting friends who use Electric Quilt software have told me they are happy to use this program for the Dear Jane quilt. Our quilt guild even had a demo of this software during a meeting.

Susan Gatewood's website
Susan has the Dear Jane quilt blocks free on her website as paper piece patterns. If you use them, she asks a donation be sent to the Bennington Museum in Vermont. I love paper piecing and have decided to assemble my blocks this way.
(I donated through the museum website.)

Spreadsheet courtesy of Janiac.com
This helpful Excel spreadsheet lists all the blocks and border pieces. I'm glad to have this spreadsheet to keep track of finished blocks. It also tallies how many pieces are in each block. I'm looking forward to seeing the number grow.

Have fun creating!

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