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Dawn's Quilting Room
a quilt happy blog

Thursday - December 31, 2020

A Present for Me

As a gift to me, I sewed myself a new ironing board cover for my mini ironing board. I had leftover fabric from sewing an apron and matching shopping bag as a secret Santa gift. I love this cotton print featuring snow-dusted branches and pinecones. I traced the old cover for a pattern.

Ironingboard Cover www.dlstewart.com
(Beautiful new ironing board cover. A quick sewing project.)

I also treated myself with a new Creative Grids ruler that grips the fabric so that the ruler doesn't slide on the material while rotary cutting. This ruler also is 8 1/2" wide, which comes in handy. I love how this ruler works.

Happy end of 2020!


Friday - November 27, 2020


Our quilt guild is doing a block-of-the-month. The blocks are all nine-patch designs. We were given a choice of sewing the quilt blocks using 2 1/2" or 3 1/2" squares. There will be a total of nine blocks.

Since I enjoy playing with disappearing blocks, I decided to add a challenge for myself. I am going to sew the traditional blocks using the 2 1/2" squares. Then using 3 1/2" squares, I will sew the traditional block, then cut the block into four even quarters. Then I will rotate the block pieces before sewing the four pieces back together into a new design.

Disappearing Nine-Patch www.dlstewart.com
(Traditional nine-patch on the left. Disappearing nine-patch on the right.)

We started with the basic nine-patch block. I had disappeared this block before when sewing the Disappearing Sampler Quilt during the summer. It's an easy block to begin with if you haven't made a disappearing block before.

Enjoy a terrific day!


Friday - October 30, 2020

A Change of Pace -- Slippers

My feet were cold. And I had fleece. It didn't take long to decide to sew fleece slippers. After some research, I decided to use the free Tilly and the Buttons -- Snuggly Slipper Boot pattern.

I also like that there is a YouTube tutorial with step-by-step guidance. I found the video a very helpful compliment to the written instructions. Instead of regular quilt batting for the slipper soles, I used quilting fleece, which has more body. It also offered more padding for the slipper bottoms. I used a contrasting rose solid-color fleece as lining for the inside.

Slipper Boots ww.dlstewart.com
(Fleece slipper boots in a cute horse print.)

These slipper boots were easy to sew. Since these slippers were so comfy, I then made a pair for a friend. Definitely footwear to keep my feet toasty during cold weather.

Always fun to try something different!

Saturday - September 5, 2020

What's in a Name?

My quilt guild had a challenge to create a project using your initials or name. This was the perfect opportunity to sew a new name tag since my old one was damaged. (For my previous name tag I used permanent fabric marker to write the name. The tag became wet, and the marker bled across the name tag. Not the best look.)

After I searched for ideas, I couldn't settle on a plan. So I opted to wing it. I selected a fun piece of fabric and began with the center design. Then I kept adding fabrics, building around the image. This was a really fun project. The name tag is designed to hang from a lanyard. And since name tags sometimes flip so that the reverse side is visible, I selected a complimentary fun fabric for the name tag back.

A friend who owns an embroidery machine kindly offered to embroider my first name. She presented me with two versions; one name on white fabric, and one done on a tone-on-tone yellow background.

Greetings Earthling Name Tag dlstewart.com
(Front and back of my name tag.)

I still have one embroidery of my name that I want to use in another name tag ... maybe a fan design. Once our guild meets in person again, I'll have several name tags to choose from.

Enjoy a terrific day!

Thursday - August 6, 2020

Workshop - Disappearing Blocks

My friend, Brita,invited me to "test drive" her new Zoom quilting workshop featuring disappearing blocks. During a 6-hour workshop, participants constructed nine different blocks, exploring the disappearing block technique. If you are not familiar with disappearing quilt blocks, essentially you sew simple block patterns such as a nine patch, four patch or hourglass and then cut those blocks apart to easily create more intricate quilt blocks.

What a terrific workshop! All the participants praised it. One of the things I most enjoyed was that the instructor sewed the blocks with us. She had several cameras: one focused on her demo board so that we could view the fabric manipulation and a finished block, and another camera aimed at her and the block being sewed on the machine. Her instructions were clear and any questions quickly answered. I'm so happy my friend invited me to attend. I came away from the workshop with nine blocks finished, and other participants had started sewing on the sashing and borders. (At the time, I had not committed to a fabric choice for the sashing and borders ... but I auditioned fabrics and the next day started sewing the sashing in place.)

Disappearing Blocks Quilt dlstewart.com
(My disappearing blocks finished quilt top prior to quilting.)

If you are interested in this workshop, "Making Magic," click this link to go to the website for more information. I enjoyed learning new disappearing block techniques and plan to make more quilts featuring my favorite blocks. Now to baste the quilt layers together for quilting.

Have fun learning something new!

Friday - July 31, 2020

Comparing Battings

I made a baby quilt as a gift for a friend who recently had her second child. Since I wanted to sew some comfort quilts for those in need, I decided to make a duplicate quilt top. Both quilts were constructed from the same fabrics, just arranged in a different order. Then came layering the quilts with batting.

For the gift quilt, I used 100% Warm & Natural batting. I find cotton batting easy to use. The batting doesn't shift while pin basting or during quilting, and the quilts I make with cotton batting always look great. Then I made a mistake and used a different batting for the second quilt.

While cleaning, I discovered a forgotten crib size batting (100% polyester) tucked forgotten in a closet corner. When I first began quilting many, many years ago, I used Mountain Mist batting for some tied quilts. I should have donated this poly crib batting to our guild yard sale like I donated the two larger polyester quilt batts I found.

Batting comparisson dlstewart.com
(Left - 100% cotton batting / Right - 100% polyester batting.)

Using the higher loft polyester batting was an exercise in patience and fortitude. Never again. The quilt was more difficult to maneuver through my Bernina domestic sewing machine. The slippery batting shifted the quilt top fabric (even though it was basted well), causing the fabric to bunch. The polyester batting also shredded at the edges during the quilting process. If you are looking for a lightweight quilt batt, the quilt using the polyester batting is noticeably lighter.

Baby Quilt Comparison dlstewart.com
(Baby quilt comparison. Left: cotton batting / Right: polyester.)

I am unhappy with how the comfort quilt came out. Lesson learned. I am sticking with cotton batting in the future. I am happy with every project I've used the cotton batting in whether hand quilting, machine quilting, doing applique or improv techniques.

Hope you are enjoying the summer!

Tuesday - June 30, 2020

Hats and Audiobooks

I am a voracious reader. However, if I spent all day with my nose in a book, I would never accomplish anything. So sometimes I listen to audiobooks to increase my creative time. Recently I finished listening to D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths, very nicely narrated by three different readers.

Often I will listen to audiobooks as I sew binding on quilts. Lately, I've been knitting hats while I listen to stories. I donate the hats to various charities and knit throughout the year. It's satisfying to see my pile of finished hats growing.

Knitting Hats for Donation dlstewart.com
(My latest knitted hats. Currently, I'm working one in brown & green.)

I have two audiobooks on hold at the library. I am going to revisit Silver Silence by Nalini Singh. (She writes a great paranormal series about humans, psi and shifters. I recommend reading/listening to them in order.) I am also looking forward to listening to Fly Girls by Keith O'Brien, featuring the stories of five female pilots in the 1930's.

Happy crafting and reading!

Monday - May 25, 2020

Donating My Way to Organization

Something had to be done. My sewing areas looked like someone had detonated a fabric bomb. That's what happens when I work on multiple sewing projects at the same time. I like to believe it's controlled chaos. Sometimes delusion is comforting.

Since I'm self-isolating like so many others, it is the perfect time to drag out every piece of fabric to sort into new neater piles. I pulled everything into the living room along with quite a few baskets and bins. I began organizing fabric by color or theme. Some theme fabric collections include holidays such as Christmas and Halloween. I also have baskets now filled with fabrics depicting sewing-related images, insect prints (for that Jar Quilt I keep promising myself to make), cat fabrics, and a bin filled with batiks, another with fat quarters, as well as one with children's novelty fabrics. I also have two large milk crates containing yardage large enough for quilt backings.

During my organizing spree, I ruthlessly tossed aside fabrics I no longer had interest in. When I muttered, "What did I buy that for?" or "I've had that forever and still haven't used it!" or "Huh! Where did that come from?" ... into a donation box it went. I also came across unused quilt batts from many years ago that I would never use now because poly is out. I much prefer 100% cotton or an 80/20 cotton blend. The donation collection will go to our quilt guild's 2021 yard sale.

Donations - dlstewart.com
(I'm still adding to the donation pile. I even ironed the fabric!)

It took several days to pull fabrics from their various stashes, but I am very happy with the results. The baskets and bins are keeping the fabric piles neat, and they fit well on the shelves. I also stacked the milk crates atop wheeled caddies so they can be easily scooted across the floor as needed. There are now no excuses for not finding that particular shade of purple.

Hope your day is colorful!


Wednesday - April 8, 2020

Juried Art Show

I was invited to participate in a juried textile art show. My dilemma was what to create. So many ideas!

Finally I focused on my collection of red fabrics. I had been wanting to make a quilt featuring pieced hearts. I started this quilt last year during a quilting "free sew" where participants brought whatever project they wanted to sew. I made good headway piecing the hearts.

A few weekends ago, a friend and I video chatted while we quilted in our own sewing rooms. Fun! I finished the quilting that weekend. And I placed the last hand-sewn binding stitch the other day.

All My Heart www.dlstewart.com
(Using my collection of red fabric -- All My Heart wall hanging.)

I enjoy paper piecing and had fun designing two of these heart blocks. The floral square in the center and the binding are from fabric I saved from a project my mother sewed in the 1960's. I can't believe how perfect the fabric is, no fading. Looks like it came right off the bolt.

Sending good thoughts your way!


Monday - March 23, 2020

A Moment in History - Quarantined

We are living in heart-rending turbulent times. If someone had told me years ago that we would be in the midst of a pandemic, I'm not sure I would have believed it. This is like something one expects from a science fiction book or movie.

What to do while we stay at home as instructed by our governor? I'm keeping busy ... lots of projects. And I was thrilled when GE Designs announced their Quarantine Quilt event. Gudrun Erla from GE Designs hosted a virtual quilt-along yesterday. She supplied a free pattern called "Elvira" and provided live Facebook tutorials (later transcribed to YouTube). Gudrun posted today that 16,000 quilters from 37 countries participated. That is the largest workshop I've attended!

Quarantine Quilt - Elvira - www.dlstewart.com
(Quilt in process -- Ready to sew pieces together.)

I'm at the point where I'm sewing blocks together. I arranged the quilt on the floor so that I could fuss with fabric placement and make sure the red diagonals are facing in the correct directions. This is the crib size (there are four sizes to choose from in the pattern).

I hope you have lots to keep you creatively busy. My thoughts and good wishes are with you

Stay safe!


Saturday - February 8, 2020

Guild Demo - Quilt Labels

Our quilt guild each year dedicates a meeting to sharing quilting tips. I volunteered to demonstrate how I create quilt labels for the back of my quilts. This method keeps all edges of the label straight for no-turn easy applique.

I save the unscented Bounce dryer sheets when the laundry is done drying. Those sheets are like small pieces of lightweight interfacing. I've used dryer sheets in a variety of projects ... such as for the back of quilt labels.

First I piece the front of the quilt label. The label can be as simple or complex as you wish. I usually piece a few strips of fabric together, sometimes using fabric leftovers from the quilt top. I also use a larger light-colored piece of fabric to write on: name of the quilt, my name, year the quilt is finished, and any other info I wish to include. Instead of using a permanent fabric marker to write the information, you may want to embroider the info. You can also use a printer to print the information directly onto fabric.

Once the label front is completed, lay a clean used dryer sheet atop it. The quilt label will be facing upward with the dryer sheet on top. Pin the two pieces together to avoid fabric shifting. Then sew around all four edges. Do not leave any openings. Completely sew around the edges using whatever seam allowance you prefer. I usually sew with a half inch seam allowance and then trim the excess fabric and cut off the corners to reduce bulk (do not cut through any stitching).

Very carefully, cut a vertical slit in the dryer sheet. Do not cut the quilt label; only cut the dryer sheet. Next, gently pull the slit open, and pull the quilt label front to the outside. You are turning the piece inside out so that the raw seams are now on the inside. Use a pointer to delicately poke the corners into shape. (The image below shows a chopstick being used to poke the corners so that the piece looks like a rectangle.)

Lightly iron the label using a presser cloth. Make sure that the dryer sheet is pulled a bit toward the label back so that it is not visible. Now the label is ready to sew to the back of the quilt.

Quilt Label How-to www.dlstewart.com
(Steps to create a quilt label using a fabric softener sheet.)

I made the samples above for my guild demonstration. I find this method of making labels quick, and they are easy to sew to the quilt since I don't have to worry about turning under fabric edges as I sew.

Hope you have a finished project to label!


Saturday - January 4, 2020

Another New Year

A while ago, a friend challenged me to sew a tree quilt. We decided to do the same pattern (3-dimensional). She is setting her tree in a snowy woodland setting, while I decided to make a Christmas Tree. My quilt is essentially done except for embellishing the tree. I keep removing and adding different ornaments. I decided the tree needed more bling, so I bought some gold buttons that reminded me of tree ornament shapes. I will sew those in place next. I have a lovely crystal-like snowflake pin to use as the tree topper. I'm troubleshooting ways to make the tree topper more eye-catching. It blends too much into the background.

Christmas Tree www.dlstewart.com
(The Christmas quilt I'm still embellishing.)

It's once again time to revisit my UFO list to see if I can whittle down those unfinished projects during the year. I also have a To-Do List of quilts that I wish to create.

Wishing you a creative 2020!

Dawn's Books

300-Plus Quilting Tips, Tricks & Techniques

The Quilt Guild Companion - For Every Quilter

101 Quilt Challenge Projects & Inspirations

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Books by Dawn Lesley Stewart

Harriet's Horrible Hair DayMist-Seer300-Plus Quilting Tips, Tricks & Techniques
The Quilt Guild Companion101 Quilt Challenge Projects & Inspirations

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