Quilts, Quilts, Quilts! Archives

January 4, 2004

Work in Progress

I haven't talked much about the fact that I am a quilter. It's my passion to machine piece traditional blocks in today's fabrics, and to hand quilt them. Right now I am in my scrap quilt stage. As a beginner I created a number of Amish style wall hangings because the color choices are limited and simpler than most of the quilts made today.

Continue reading "Work in Progress" »

January 31, 2004

Test Blocks

It is SOoooo wonderful to have the chance to sit down and piece quilt blocks. A number of years ago I bought several yards of a batik that were talking to me. The fabric is a melange of color that is basically shades of a reddish orange and black, with tints of blue and gold. I needed a block that would allow me to show a huge chunk of the fabric in one block, rather than dispersing it in smaller pieces across the face of the quilt. I didn't have a clue how I was going to use it. A friend knew what I was looking for and quickly sketched out several options, which I set aside. Over the years, I've collected fabrics that I thought would go with the quilt. Now, I've had the chance to make four test blocks to see if the design would work. This is the result:


Continue reading "Test Blocks" »

February 22, 2004

Quilting Update

Actually, it should be a "piecing" update. This weekend I completed the construction of the blocks for the new quilt top. I've posted a picture of four of the blocks in an earlier entry.

The quilt top calls for 42 blocks which are 12 x 12 inches. There will be six blocks across and seven rows down when the blocks are sewn together. This week I have to put up a flannel design wall, and pin the blocks up in the order they will be assembled. I'll sew the blocks into rows, and then assemble the rows. This quilt will have two borders in medium and darker blue, and I think the binding will match the outer border. I have to choose a backing fabric, and a batting, and then it can be sent off to the ladies who machine quilt for me.

I was sewing along at lightning speed this morning, only to find that I was one block short of my goal. I pieced together some of the scraps of batik and made two more blocks, so I have one to spare. If it isn't used, I'll make a pillow out of the block.

When the quilting is done, I'll try to post a picture of the quilt.

August 22, 2004


One of my quilting magazines came in this week. That's always a time of great celebration. You take the magazine, your favorite beverage, and a quilt, and find a place to hibernate while you flip through it and get a sense of the contents. If you have enough time, you can read it from cover to cover.

This particular magazine has an ongoing column of tips offered by readers. There was one tip that was so very clever, I had to laugh.

THis woman wrote in, talking about orphan projects....those projects that you started with such good intention, but partway through the process you have abandoned them, never to finish. We all have them. Some of us have more of them than we'd care to admit. I have one or two. Well....maybe three.

At any rate, this woman had one of the best tips I'd ever heard. She directed the reader to box the orphan project up in a lovely box, complete with attractive tissue paper and wrapping, and a bow around the box. Then you were to write a loving note to your daughter, and attach it to the box and put the entire thing on a shelf in your closet.
Your daughter would find the box when you were gone, and know that you were thinking of her.

I told my mother to be sure that my SISTERS names were on the boxes.

September 5, 2004


I'm trying to figure out just where the past year has gone! A friend recently asked if there comes a time as you age when time slows down again. I asked my mother how she felt about that question, and she felt that time continues to spiral away from us faster with each day we live. So far, I have to agree with her. Just yesterday, or so it seems, I was talking about four test blocks I had created.

I decided to depart from my usual quilting style and make a block that is a one of a kind creation. This is not a quilt based on a historical pattern, but on a pattern that a friend created for me, so that I could feature a piece of batik I had owned for years.

I posted about those test blocks on January 31, 2004! I went on to make the blocks, and they were finished, and waiting to be assembled into a quilt top, when spring hit. I think the last time I got to sit at my sewing table was back in MAY!

Last weekend, I laid the blocks out, and the sewed them into seven rows. As I looked at them, I decided that I really needed one more row to complete the design that recurred over the face of the quilt. So, last Sunday, I cut out the pieces for five more blocks.

Last night, I sewed those pieces into five blocks, and then laid them out in the last row. I changed a couple of them around until I was satisfied, and then I pined them together.

The cat kept me company as I watched a movie and pinned six of the rows together to be sewn today. I figure that the top will be assembled either tonight, or by tomorrow morning. YEA!!!!

I had hoped to have this project finished by April, so that I could send it off to be machine quilted. I am fully four months late...and it could be a little longer, if I decide to add borders to the quilt.

Where does the time go? Is it moving faster? Am I moving slower? Do I have more to do now than I did thirty years ago? I'm sure everyone ponders these questions. When you have the answers, come visit me. We'll have to have a long chat.

November 6, 2004

Saturday Morning

My quilting bee met last night. There are nine ladies who meet once a month at my house. We take turns providing a sinfully delicious dessert or two. Normally we work on our own projects, but occasionally we will quilt together at a frame to help one of the members finish a project.

Last night we had an abundance of desserts: fudge frosted devil's food torte, crumb topped apple pie, and pumpkin pecan dessert squares. Unfortunately, last night only five of us made it to bee. It was a bit quieter than usual, but we had an enjoyable evening.

One of our members is a certified quilt appraiser. There are only 65 certified appraisers in the United States. The National Quilters Association is the body responsible for certifying quilt appraisers, and those who wish to be certified have to pass an intense course of study, and a grueling final test.

Two weeks ago, when I visited the Antiques Market with my sister, I bought two quilts. I rarely purchase quilts, so it was odd that I bought two on one day. I found a S Trip Around the World quilt that was in fairly good condition. The link shows you the pattern for the quilt. My quilt is a bit gentler in appearance because it is made with Depression era fabrics.

The second quilt I bought is a S quilt that I plan to give to my Mother for her birthday. It's in shades of white, pink and rose, and the design has been created in counted cross stitch. It's a very feminine quilt, in excellent condition, and the hand work is beautiful.

I asked my friend, the quilt appraiser, if she would do her magic for me on these quilts, so she brought her kit and appraised them as we chatted. I was astonished at the outcome. In her opinion, to replace these quilts, I would have to spend four times what I actually paid for them. Dear Husband says that we have our quilts appraised to make us feel better about what we spend on them, and this surely made me feel better!

Like anyone else, I like a bargain. I probably wouldn't have sprung for these quilts at their appraised value. But, I'd like to tell you that the art of making a quilt is generally undervalued. If I were to take the quilt on the back of my couch and add lines of machine embroidery to it to jazz it up, and then describe it as "Fiber Art," the quilt would command twice what it is worth now, or more.

For some reason, quilts are seen as an everyday item of little value, when it takes considerable talent to make a beautiful quilt. Years of practicing stitching, learning endless techniques, and developing color sense are all disregarded because it is just a "quilt." Some people are not even able to tell you what makes a quilt, and will call it a "comforter" or a "blanket."

In case you are not sure.....a "quilt" has three layers, a top, a batting (in the center), and a backing, and it is stitched together through all three layers, either by hand or by machine. This is the most basic of definitions. It's possible to have a quilt that doesn't have batting, but the stitching that goes through all the layers is essential. A quilt top could be "whole cloth," or a pieced design (like the Trip Around The World), or it could be embroidered, or it could have fabric appliquéd to it. When I first started quilting, the backs of the quilts were either sheets, or muslin. Now quilters are doing what they call "Back art." The backs of some quilts are as delightful to see as the fronts.

But, I digress, as I often do. What I want you to keep in mind is that quilts are MUCH more valuable than you may realize. They carry the history of your family in their stitches, and if you have family quilts, I URGE you to be sure that they have a name tag on the back that gives at the very least, the maker's name, the year it was made, and the town where it was made. The simple addition of a name tag increases the value of the quilt immensely by giving it a provenance.

So.....go forth on your Saturday chores thinking about quilts and share what you've just learned!

December 12, 2004

I'm a gonner

I admit it. I'm addicted to quilting fabric....and thread, and rotary cutters and mats. I need to have a bumper sticker that reads "I Break for Quilt Shops."

One of my favorite quilt shops had a sale today. You could get 20 fat quarters for $20. I know...."What the heck is a fat quarter?" A yard of fabric is usually 36 inches by roughly 42 inches wide. A traditional quarter of a yard is 9 " x the width of the fabric. To create four fat quarters you take that same piece and cut it in half, and then cut those two pieces in half along the opposite axis. You end up with four pieces that are 18" by 21". Quilters feel that you have more options with a fat quarter because the piece is wider.

Quilting fabric has become pricey. This particular shop charges anywhere from $8.50 to more than $12 a yard. Four fat quarters equal a yard, so I paid $4.00 a yard for this fabric. Quilting shops carry fabric that is designed expressly for quilting, and is first run. The quality of fabric is different from what can be purchased in chain stores.

I thought....I'll go and get 20 regular fat quarters, and twenty of the batik fabric. Most likely everyone else will be out Christmas shopping and I can sneak in and out in a flash. WRONG!!! I should have known better. If I was willing to go so far out of my way today, you had to know that half the women in my town would, too. And, they did!

When I had my collection of sale fabric, I made my second mistake. I asked if they still carried a certain fabric. The shop assistant told me she wasn't sure, that I'd have to look around. the time I got to the check out I had 61 fat quarters, and at least ten yards of fabric I hadn't planned to buy.

With the exception of fabric, I'm normally not an impulse buyer. I tend to buy most of my fabric in January, or at least, during the winter. All the quilters I know have what we call a "stash" of fabric. Mine is contained on shelves that are 10 feet wide by six feet high, and the ladies of my quilting bee give me a hard time about how little fabric I have. They are MORE addicted than I am, and would willingly admit it. One of them works at the shop that had the sale. I can't afford to work at a quilting shop. All my salary would have to go to pay for in store purchases.

So, tomorrow I will be ironing fabric. LOTS of fabric. Fabric in country style Christmas colors, and fabric with striking batik designs, fabric with florals and fabric with geometrics. The only thing I didn't get was solid colors. The next question will be...

"Where the heck do I PUT it all???"

January 21, 2005


This week I FINALLY finished the quilt I started last January! Correction....I finally finished the quilt TOP! I was sure that I would have the top done before garden season last year, and when I didn't, a number of things conspired to keep me from getting back to it.

Continue reading "Hooray!" »

May 29, 2005

With a little help from my friends

It's just amazing what I learn from my friends! I'm fortunate to be a part of the Friday Night Bee. It meets in my home once a month, and the ladies who make up the rest of the bee are the most prodigious quilters I know. We begin each session with Show and Tell, and although there are only eight of us, it can take half an hour to show and discuss new creations, or antique quilt finds, or new books to be shared.

Continue reading "With a little help from my friends" »

That's What Friends Are For

If you've read my blog in the past, you might have seen comments from Cop Car, complaining that I have created a MONSTER!!!

It's a quilter's joy to addict someone to quilting. Can you envision us rubbing our hands in glee, plotting each step to drag you to the DARK SIDE??? Well, she's well and truly addicted, and I'm proud to say that I had a hand in it.

Unfortunately, you have to be careful, or your student might turn on you. Cop Car found a quilt store just a mile from her home, and she discovered a quilting software program called "Electric Quilt 5." She's shared with me the ease of designing a quilt, and even importing pictures of the actual fabric you wish to use in your quilt. I stood in awe of her progress, but resisted getting the software, thinking I simply didn't have the time to learn a new program.

Continue reading "That's What Friends Are For" »

June 5, 2005

Strange Weekend

Most people, when summer arrives, spend their weekends out of doors. I’m not particularly out door oriented, but I spent a very odd weekend indoors.

Continue reading "Strange Weekend" »

June 20, 2005

Back to School

Cop Car has sent me back to school. With her wonderful gift of Electric Quilt 5, she's made me a student again.

The software comes with a very user friendly manual and a "Getting Started" booklet with six lessons. I was working on Lesson Four and ran into concrete wall. I was trying to work on the lessons at night, just before going to bed. We all know better, but I kept trying to follow the instructions despite being too tired.

I learned how to delete a project , and wiped out all my mistakes. I'll get a fresh start on it in the morning. I've been excused from jury duty, so I'll have a little time to myself that I hadn't counted on. I'm sure things will go more smoothly this time around.

Soon Cop Car and I will be melting the wires with files of our newest designs!

September 4, 2005

Batik Quilt

Batik Quilt.jpg

This is a dreadful picture, but I'm dying to share this with you. The ladies who do my machine quilting returned the batik quilt last month. I laid the quilt on the floor of my foyer on a sunny morning, and hoped there would be enough light with a flash to be able to get a picture. I can see that we will have to take it outside to get true colors, and the full size for you. The quilt is approximately 104 x 80 inches. The quilt is not bound yet. I need to make a run on the quilt shop to buy black fabric for the binding. (I know....tough duty! *G*)

My brother and his wife were visiting this week, and my mother encouraged me to show them the quilt. I told them that I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it, but that it was a quilt I needed to make. I was astounded when my brother said that he had a wall in his house that would be the perfect spot for it if I cared to give it up. That really gave me a pause. I'm not ready to let it go, but it would be quite an honor to have my brother show my work. If I gave it to him it would be with the caveat that it had to stay within our family if he tired of it.

This is a closeup of the quilting. The ladies found a variegated thread that had all the colors of the quilt, for the quilting in the black triangles. The batik is quilted in gold to bring out the designs in each block. The strips are quilted in threads that are close to their color.

Batik Quilt Closeup.jpg

October 12, 2005


Beneficence: The practice of doing good; active goodness, kindness, or charity; bounty springing from purity and goodness.

Just a quick note about beneficence...

I am personally practicing beneficence this week. I don't know that I'd say this bounty springs from purity or goodness, but it was a logical extension of my interests. A reader of this blog asked me if I'd care to create a "Quilt Room In A Bag" for a quilter who had lost everything due to Katrina or Rita. You all know that quilting is dear to my heart, so how could I refuse? I'll blog more about it tomorrow, in case any of you would like to participate in this activity. I've asked my quilting bee if they would care to contribute items, and I hope that we are able to put together several bags. I personally think it's a cool idea!

November 30, 2005

Quilt Room in a Bag

I was approached after Katrina hit our shores by a woman who had read my blog, and knew I am a quilter. She had developed the idea of pulling together things for quilters who had lost everything in the hurricane, including the material to make a quilt.

I got started on the project, and then asked my Friday Night Quilt Bee if they wanted to participate. We've pulled together a variety of items the average quilter has in her quilt room: pins, needles, a magnetic pin holder, fabric and paper scissors, thread, needle threaders, marking pens, colored pencils, a Pigma pen for signing quilts, a pin cushion, safety pins, a bag of embellishments (buttons, beads, Yo-Yos, floss), two quilting books, a quilting hoop, template material, an Olfa rotary cutter, a mat and a ruler. We also added a package of comfort items like tissues, hand cream, Advil, playing cards, stationary and stamps.

Elegante Mother and I searched our stashes of fabric to find the material for a red, white and blue quilt top that is 68 inches wide and 88 inches long. I cut the blocks, sashing and setting blocks. We supplied fabric for the outer border, and yesterday I bought a wonderful fabric in shades of blue to white in a hydrangea pattern for the quilt backing. (I wish I had purchased a bit o that for my stash!)
We added our favorite batt to the collection, and I gathered scraps for the hearts that are to be appliquéd on the blocks. The only thing missing was a sewing machine.

Everything but the scraps have been packaged up in a wonderful canvas bag, and tomorrow I'll take the canvas bag, and the bag of scraps off to be boxed and mailed. I found a recipient among the people who had been evacuated to the Chicago area, and I'm still looking for one more woman who needs assistance. We want to target women who already quilt, who lost everything.

It would have been even better if we had been able to accomplish this right after the evacuation process had begun, but this way it will seem like an unexpected Christmas gift.

If you have any suggestions as to how I might make contact with a quilter who needs a hand replacing her quilt room, I'd be happy to hear them.

Speaking of quilts....

Friendship Star Quilt.jpg

I had to move the lamp that usually sits on the table, to take this picture. This quilt took me several years to piece. I had about a third of it done when I ran into difficulty getting the piecing right at the points. One evening I sewed the row five times and STILL didn't get it right.

A trip to the optometrist helped, and I resumed work a couple of months later. I think I played with it for a year or so before I was willing to send it off to be quilted. The quilt on the wall is a Friendship Star quilt. You can see that I love stars. The quilt thrown over the back of the chair is a star quilt, too.

June 13, 2006

Second Birthday Quilt

My grand daughter turned two in May. Her parents invited all her grandparents and every friend who had children to join them in celebrating. I had a great time. I was invited to read "Three Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed." I got to help little ones blow bubbles. We ate birthday cake and other goodies, and generally had a good time.

We watched our little one open her gifts and thought maybe we should have purchased stock in Fischer-Price! Dear Husband bought a table and chairs that were 2 year old sized. I was working on a quilt, and finally had to admit the night before that it wasn't going to be done on time. I had decided to machine quilt it on my own, and it's been a while since I tried machine quilting. I broke two needles and one quilting foot and was only two-thirds of the way done, but it was time to go.

I put the quilt into a fancy bag and as the little one and her mom opened the quilt, I called out that I'd need it back to finish it. There was silence for a moment, and I was worried that I'd made a serious goof. Then, every woman in the room started to talk. My granddaughter turned to the quilt, opened her arms as though to gather it up, and kissed it! It was a success, even unfinished.

In the picture below, you'll see the bottom half of the quilt. Diagonally from the upper left to lower right, there are five pictures of our granddaughter built into quilt blocks. I made the center block a star block. The fabrics in the quilt are from every pink in my quilting stash.

A friend from quilting bee is going to bring me a darning foot for my sewing machine that won't break, and I'll finish the quilt in a day or two. I'd like for our daughter to let our granddaughter use this quilt up, wear it out, and throw it away, but I don't think I'll get my way. She was talking about hanging it on the wall.

Lana and quilt.jpg

August 1, 2006

Cop Car, Do You Remember....

...this fabric??

Jacobean Fabrics.jpg

One of the pleasures of quilting is being able to occasionally share fabric with a quilting friend. I was at my favorite store last year, and saw a line of beautiful fabrics with a Jacobean look. I bought some, and on a spur of the moment decision, bought some for my friend, Cop Car. I know she loves fabric, but we've never had the chance to quilt together, so I'm just learning about her taste in fabric. It seems that I was a bit restrained. She loves the bright fabric that I'm just learning to incorporate into my quilts

So, I've been struggling to find a more modern way to set the fabrics so they weren't so very restrained. Fons & Porter have a set of templates that can be used to cut Drunkard's Path blocks, and they featured a very modern wall hanging based on block that were cut with these templates. A light went on over my head!

This is what a sample block looks like:
Curved Piecing Block.jpg

I've created about 30 blocks. It was a fun Saturday night, cutting and snipping, and sewing and cutting a bit more. I've laid out twenty of the blocks on the table to get a feel for what they might look like:

20 Curved Blocks.jpg

I tried several arrangements, and finally sewed the blocks together Sunday. Now I have to decide what border and binding fabric to use. Something simple, I think, that won't draw your eyes away from the blocks. I was thinking about adding a few jet beads here and there to give it a little sparkle.

What do you think? Is this a dog, or can I share it with my friends??

When the top is done, I'll post a picture of it.

January 2, 2007

Quilting Update

Yesterday, Elegante Mother finished the backing for an over-sized lap quilt that will go to one of her granddaughters. I gave the backing and the top a good pressing, and removed most of the stray threads. We found the batting that was purchased for the quilt, and today, I gave everything to the young woman who does EM's machine quilting. In less than a week, she'll have the quilting finished, and we can work on the binding.

I also worked on a few of my own projects yesterday. I have three sides of my granddaughter's quilt bound. I made the hanging pocket, and have to sew that to the quilt. I have one more block to hand quilt, and a label to make. There's hope that she will get it before she's 21.

Speaking of hope..... I started a quilt about six years ago (possibly more) for one of my nieces. She has been waiting patiently for me to finish it. I've been working on hand quilting the borders during the last month, and I have to make a label for this quilt, too. My niece is 17 now.....halfway through her seventeenth year, actually. I'd better get a move on, or she WILL be 21 before I get this sent off. Sorry, doesn't mean that I don't love you. It just means that you have an aunt who is supremely disorganized!

It was a joy to get back to playing with fabric. I NEED to do it more. Call it mental health days, or just a hobby, if you must, but make sure it's on my schedule every week!

Ahem.....I all want pictures. As I finish each quilt, I'll post a picture.

February 2, 2007

Bee Met Tonight

The Friday Night Quilting Bee met tonight. I'm fortunate that they have met at my house for the past umpteen years, because I don't have to drive home, and I don't have to rush to get to Bee. And, this wonderful collection of women come to entertain me once a month!

I thought tonight might be an early night for the group. One of our members has to go home for the funeral of a close friend's father. Another fell and broke her ankle a month ago, and is still recuperating. We got off to a slow start, but went more than an hour longer than I would have guessed.

We talked about the most amazing variety of things:

Senator Joe Biden
Depression Era Quilts
Coyotes in our back yards
Raccoons in our back yards
Our early saving habits
Putting kids through school without loans
Radiation, Chemotherapy and Breast Cancer
Loss of hair
Quilt Pink (the auction of quilts at eBay to support breast cancer research. Go to: for auction details)
Revocable Trusts
Title searches
Caring for our aging parents
Running a quilt shop when there's an electrical outage for several days
Quilting thread
Teaching our kids not to drink and drive
Designers of depression era quilt fabric
Hand Piecing versus Machine piecing
Carotid Artery Health and Cumadin
Irish Restaurants
Long Arm Quilting Machines
Retirement Plans
Girl Scout Cookies
Health Insurance
Huggable husbands who can be found at the grocery store!
Kids changing jobs and
Quilt Kits, to name just a few of the subjects.

We're old friends. We've met here for easily twelve, perhaps as many as fifteen years. We know each other's families, and our ups and downs. It's like having seven more sisters! And you can see that we talk about anything that comes to mind. It's very reassuring to have a community like this. It's a lot like my community of blogging friends.

I'm looking forward to our next meeting. I hope to have one more project done so that I can show it in show and tell! YES!!

February 3, 2007

Pretty in Pink

I've been working (off and on) on a quilt for my granddaughter. About this time last year, I settled on a very simple block, and then pulled all the pink fabric in my stash. I used the entire range from the palest to the deepest fuchsia. I made a simple four-patch center, outlined by one more row of blocks. The basic block looks like this:


I took four of those blocks and inserted my granddaughter's picture into the center in place of the four-patch. I used treated fabric in place of paper, scanned my favorite pictures and then printed them onto the fabric. In the center block of the quilt, I drafted a star, and used her picture for the center.

I decided that I would machine quilt this top by myself. I use a VERY old sewing machine, and our modern methods of machine quilting were not yet developed when this machine was created. I had to adjust the technique a little, and while the quilting is adequate, it's not the most beautiful job I've ever done.

I gave the partially completed quilt to my granddaughter on her second birthday, promising that I'd finish it for her and return it. I FINALLY got the machine quilting done, and the binding, and a hanging tube (stitched to the back). All I have left to do is sew the label to the back, and it's ready to be returned.

I'd hoped that my step-daughter would let her daughter play with this. It was intended to be used up and worn out and thrown out. But, when she saw it, she said, "THIS is going on the WALL!" So, I'm going to wash it, and warn her about sunlight on quilting fabrics, and hope for the best. I'll make another quilt that my granddaughter can drag around with her.

This is what the finished quilt looks like:


February 18, 2007

Halloween Quilt

A year or so ago, I saw a quilt on the cover of American Patchwork & Quilting that really spoke to me. The designer had used medium to large scale Halloween prints in two different blocks with sashing and two borders. I carried that issue around for the better part of a year until I decided I'd give it a try.

It turns out that I had a lot of orange fabrics, and a fair number of black Halloween fabrics, but not as many of the big print fabrics. So far this quilt is a bit more understated than the one on the cover of the magazine.

Today, I laid out some of the 27 blocks I'd made on the living room floor, to see if what I had would work.

This is what it looks like so far:


These blocks will be put together with a dark green and black sashing, and then surrounded by a border made of strips of all of these fabrics cut at a 45 degree angle. The last border should be black with stars, or possibly black with pumpkins, depending on what I can find at this time of year.

The extra blocks will be used to make a table runner, as soon as I find a background fabric that I like.

My other project for the day was to make muslin bags for dried catnip. I think I may have erred in storing the catnip in a ziplock bag for several months. I think the essential oil may have evaporated. It's either that, or I have an incredibly lazy cat.

March 3, 2007

Quilt Tips

I've been invited by my second sister to speak to the quilt group that meets at her church. She would like me to do a Show and Tell and Tips presentation on March 10th. I spent some time thinking about the quilts and wallhangings and unfinished work here, and think I could easily take 25 pieces to show. The hard part is limiting it to 25. A few years ago I decided to keep some of my work rather than giving it all away, and I didn't realize how many quilted items I'd amassed.

The first Friday of every month a quilting bee meets here at Chez Buffy. I was thinking about the "Tips" part of the presentation. I'm able to give tips to beginners and intermediate quilters, but I realized that I had the opportunity to ask my bee what tips they thought were most important for beginners.

Seven women join Elegante Mother and me to make up this bee, and I am the least prolific quilter among them. One of the ladies is a certified quilt appraiser. Another is a member of the local professional art quilter's association, and another is the most amazing applique artist I know. Another brings her eight year old daughter who is a budding quilter.

We settled in last night with cups of hot tea to tide us against that cold wind, and had our show and tell. Then I asked each of them for the tip they felt was most important. It didn't work that way. There was silence for a moment as they thought, and then one started and the tips came fast and furious. I was hard-pressed to keep up with them as I took notes. These are the tips they gave me:

1. Use good fabric.
2. Take classes and ASK QUESTIONS!
3. Do what you like. Of course, we mean choose colors and techniques that you enjoy.
4. It's okay not to finish something.
5. There are some things NOTHING will help.
6. It's okay to have more than one project at a time but try to keep the number under three
digits. (*G*)
7. Don't be too "matchy-matchy" when choosing fabric.
8. Colors cycle through the market. If you see a color you need or like, BUY IT! That bolt
won't be there in 90 days, and that color probably won't be available next year.
9. Change the needle in your sewing machine with every new project.
10. Look for long-staple 100% cotton thread. If thread feels dusty or "linty" don't buy it.
11. Learn how to clean your machine, and keep it clean, especially the bobbin casing.
12. Read the machine manual and keep it near the machine!
13. Know your sewing machine's quarter of an inch measurement. Keep in mind that the
size of the needle, the weight of the thread, and the kind of fabric will all have an affect on
sewing a perfect quarter of an inch.
14. When taking a class, make sure it suits your skill level. If the class level is not posted,
ASK what it is.
15. Keep your rotary cutter closed when not in use.

To those fifteen, I'd add:

1. Don't change sewing machines in the middle of a project.
2. Periodically refold the fabric in your stash so that the folds don't weaken the fabric.
3. Store your stash away from light to avoid fading.
4. When displaying quilts in your home, place them where they will not receive direct
sunlight. Even bright indirect light can fade fabrics.
5. Look into acid-free archival storage boxes, especially for older quilts.
6. When making an all-cotton quilt, avoid cotton-covered polyester thread. Buy the best
100% long-staple cotton thread you can afford.
7. One of the bee members and I are fond of saying that we have never walked away from a
class without learning something new. Don't be afraid to take a class in a new technique.
Even if you decide that technique is not for you, you will have learned something that will
improve your piecing or quilting, so it's worthwhile.
8. Keep a quilt journal, listing the projects you've made, dating the work, showing who owns the pieces and a picture of the finished work.
9. Create labels for your work, with your name, the date completed, and your town. Also list if anyone else worked on the quilt with you, and who the owner is, if it is a gift. At the very least, write the information on the back of the quilt.

Quilting can be a solitary activity, but it's at it's best when it's shared!

March 4, 2007


I'm addicted to quilting. Not as addicted as most of the ladies in my bee, but addicted nevertheless. You've seen pictures of the blocks using Halloween fabrics and shades of orange fabric, in an earlier entry. I decided that I need to get that top put together to take to the Trunk Show I'll be doing for my sister's quilting group.

There's a lot to be said about taking an unquilted top to show. Quilters ALWAYS want to see the back of your work, to see if they measure up to you, or if maybe, just maybe, the back of their work looks even better than yours! *G* It's the nature of the beast. I'll be charitable, and tell you that some women look to learn how to do things better. I'm sufficiently confident about my work that it doesn't bother me that there are women who are better piecers and quilters than I am. If it helps a beginner quilter to know that she measures up to me, I'm glad to give her the boost.

There are things to be learned from the back of a quilt top. You can see if the quilter has given thought to pressing the pieces for flat assembly. You can see if the top was paper pieced, or you can look for markings that would indicate the pieces were cut from templates. You can see if the quilter has cleaned up the back, snipping threads leftover from sewing. And, of course, you can see if the top was pieced by hand or by machine. No doubt my more learned friends can glean even more information than that.

Most of the quilts I make use old-fashioned patterns with today's amazing variety of fabrics. I tend to like a scrap quilt look, so it's very rare when I use just five or six fabrics in a quilt. One of the last quilts I'll show is dark blue and gold, but I think there may be 24 different blue fabrics and 24 different gold fabrics in the top. I need to count them before I pack the quilt for the talk. I saw a blue and gold quilt in a magazine, and thought I had to have one like it. When I was done, I really wished I had a kid at a college that used blue and gold for their colors so I could send it away! It could have been worse. I could have made a blue and orange quilt, and everybody would comment on how great a Bears fan I am! *G*

Today I sewed together the 20 blocks that make up the center of the Halloween quilt. I used a one-inch green and black sashing to connect the blocks. The next step is to surround this rectangle with the same sashing. I may get that finished tonight. The next border is made up of two-inch strips of all the fabrics in the blocks, set at a 45 degree angle, and the last border will be black fabric with stars or pumpkins....whichever I can find at the shop this time of the year.

It's shaping up. Soon I'll have another picture to share. *S*

March 15, 2007

Showing Off

I have been invited to show my quilts to my second sister's quilt group at church. This is the first time I have ever done a formal Show and Tell of my work. I'm accustomed to having guests ask me to show them what I'm working on (in my bedroom/quilt studio), but I've never done a program of this sort for a guild or bee or quilt group.

I have to thank these ladies for getting me started on my Spring cleaning! I've pulled quilts from the backs of couches and the walls and the storage cabinets in the great room, from my bed, from the quilt rack in the bedroom, from my closet and my mother's closet, and from the closet in the guest room! Most of the quilts have been run through the dryer on air fluff to remove dust and lint.

Second Sister also asked for quilt tips, and I've posted those in an earlier entry. I'm taking one medium-sized tote bag with things like my favorite pins, needles and thread, and the magazines I consider necessary. I'm also taking the size olfa cutter I prefer and a new turntable mat I've fallen in love with for sub-cutting patches. One of the items is a piece of screening, the kind you use for summer screens. If you have a fragile quilt, like a crazy quilt, you lay the quilt on a carpet, and lay the screen over it, and hand vacuum it. It gets the dust off without damaging the fabrics and embroidery.

I counted, and last night I bagged up 31 quilts and tops . I have a crazy quilt and a scrap quilt to bag, and I'm debating whether or not I'll be taking the family crazy quilt from 1890. My grandmother did six over-sized crazy quilt blocks to which I added a backing for safety. The fabrics are very fragile. Some are starting to disintegrate. I may choose to leave it at home once I've inspected it.

These 31 quilts are not every quilt that I have in the house. While my walls are really bare at the moment, I still have several antique quilts, and many wall hangings that I'm not taking. I wish I could take the Sails and Whales quilt that I'm doing for Dear Husband, but it's pinned to the rollers for the quilt frame, and it's just too long to pack.

I organized the quilts into categories to decide what to take. Early work, Mystery Quilts, Bee Quilts, Crazy Quilts, Half-Square Triangle Quilts, and One of a Kind Quilts were the divisions that made sense to me. I just realized that I could have borrowed TWO signature or album quilts from Elegante Mother, and the Hand-print Quilt in the hallway, and the box of batik hands that I'm doing for the next generation, to talk about genealogy quilts. But.....enough is enough. I know there's going to be complaining when we have to carry everything in, and back out.

I'm going to give my digital camera to one of the ladies and ask her to take pictures of the quilts as they are shown. It will be the first time some of these quilts will have been photographed. I need to bring my quilting journal up to date.

I don't need to have you wish me luck; this is a subject near and dear to my heart. But, you can wish me smooth sailing. The ladies will probably have to tell me that it's time to go, long before I get to the end of what I want to share. Isn't it wonderful to be able to share something you love?

March 17, 2007

All's Well

My quilt Show and Tell (and Tips) went well, last Thursday night. I packed up the car with bag after bag of quilts, and we headed off to have dinner with My-Sister-The-Nurse. She was standing in for Second-Sister, who was in the hospital with pneumonia. SS will be okay, but she needs some time to heal, and is basically on house arrest this week.

When we arrived I learned that I had a maximum of two hours to fill, but that was the absolute limit. I knew that I could easily fill up 120 minutes. I was more worried that I had too much to share! I started with the tips so I could show how some of them appear in my own quilts. My mouth was on overdrive, because I knew it would be a race to show everything, but the ladies soaked it all up.

When I packed, I took one more group of things than I had originally planned, and it turned out it was a good choice. My-Sister-The-Nurse made a quilt with our hand prints over 25 years ago. I've wanted to make a current genealogy quilt ever since, and I've blogged about the batik version I've started. I took the run of fabrics for that quilt, and several of the completed hand prints, and the quilt my sister made. There's also a signature quilt that I made for mother more than ten years ago. I didn't have the time to search for it, or I would have taken that, too.

I substituted the hand print quilts for the wall hanging tops I made last summer with fabric Cop Car gave me, and fabric that I gave to Cop Car, and the ladies were very interested.

It was a VERY long day for Elegante Mother. She was quite tired by the time we came home. I think we pulled into the garage around 10:30 or so, and she announced she had no plans to go to exercise the next morning, thank you very much.

My-Sister-The-Nurse called on Friday and asked if I would do a similar show for her church. It seems that my family will keep me busy for a while.

For those of you who were waiting for pictures, I'm sorry to tell you that you will have to wait a bit longer. The room was set up in a way that wasn't conducive to good photos. At best you might have seen a closeup of the quilts. Many of the quilts are so large that there wasn't enough room to back up and get the entire quilt in one picture. Do you know how HEAVY some of those quilts are? An hour into the show I was perspiring from hefting them around! I was just as happy that the quilts and I weren't being photographed.

Although all but one of the hanging quilts is back in place, I have to unpack all the rest tomorrow. If there's sunlight, I'll try to photograph some of them on the floor before they are put away. I need to make a list of just how many quilts need labels. I plan to take one day this summer and make labels for all of them. One other project is to bring my quilt journal up to date. I'll have to ask family members to take pictures of the quilts I've given them, but I'd like to have a journal page for each, along with the photo.

So....a good time was had by all, and I've had incentive to get Spring Cleaning started. That's a win-win situation in my book!

April 6, 2007

Strange colors

I spent a good part of last weekend working on quilt tops. I wanted to finish up several projects. Easily 20 years ago, I took a class on the "Smoothing Iron" Quilt. I chose fabric in tan, red and navy blue for the sample that I wanted to make. I got about half of the blocks pieced and set the project aside.

I'm from the "Waste not, want not" era and it bugs me to have unfinished projects hanging over my head, so I decided to work on the "Smoothing Iron" quilt again. I changed the dimensions in mid-stream, which necessitated adding blocks to the sides of the existing rows. I still have to add borders. I hope that Elegante Mother's sewing bee will accept this top for the church bazaar.

I've had four flower blocks on which EM and I have collaborated, pinned to the quilt wall. I finally decided that they needed to be sashed and bordered. Now that I have the top done, I think I need to trim the outer border. I feels as though it's overwhelming the center.

And, I thought I had finished all but the last row of the halloween quilt, until I realized that I'd put the last piece of border on upside down. (sigh) That's an easy problem to fix, and then I get to go to the fabric shop to look for fabric for the final border! YEA!!

I realized that I'd been working on some very unusual colors in one weekend! I took a picture yesterday so you could see what I mean:


July 22, 2007

Birds in the Air

No, this isn't a bird-watching entry. One of my quilting magazines came last month, and one of the patterns called out to me. It's basically a "Birds in the Air" block, with a variety of red fabrics used in the unpieced half of the square. I already had the fabric in my stash to make it, so I started cutting right away. This quilt will be roughly 60" x 60." It takes 64 blocks. Since I've chosen to make it with a scrappy look, I have more than enough pieces already cut out to make more blocks. It would be easy to expand the quilt and make it full size.

This is what the basic block looks like:


I have about half the blocks pieced. This is what the quilt will look like as I assemble it:


I don't too often jump into a quilt like this when I have others ready to go. Actually, I have TWO others ready to piece. I wanted to combine a group of Christmas themed fabrics with some of the "woodsy" fabrics I brought home from Alaska. I thought this might make the kind of quilt I'd like to have on the back of the couch at Christmas. Can't you see drawing a cover up over you while you read on a snowy day?

I love using my digital camera to take pictures of blocks. As I looked over some of the pictures I took today, I realized that two of the darker "neutral" fabrics were just a bit too dark for this quilt. It's a wonderful tool to determine value in quilts.

I don't have a name for this quilt yet. The designer called hers "Red Sky At Night," but I don't want Dear Husband to get any ideas about appropriating it for the boat!

October 12, 2007


The quilters called! My quilts have been put in the mail, and I should see them early next week!

I'll be able to get them bound and take them for a show and tell at the end of the month!


November 10, 2007

Bazaar things

My mother has joined the Empty Nester's group at church. A group of the ladies who belong to the Empty Nester's meet here once a month to do charitable sewing. For the past few months, they have devoted their time to making things for the church bazaar. I've offered my help with a few of the projects that needed to be quilted.

At the same time, I've been working on three bed-sized quilts of my own. When you have finished the quilting the last two steps in your project are sewing on a label and binding the edges. Binding is simply a method of enclosing the raw edges of a quilt. I happen to prefer bias binding, and I make it the old fashioned way, cutting one strip of bias fabric at a time. This is what the project looks like when I start:

Binding for Blog 2.jpg

I made the bindings for four projects one morning, and for three more the following day. This is what the first batch of binding looked like when it was ready to be applied to the quilts:

I've finished the bindings on two of the three large quilts. I'll have to bind four large lap quilts before the end of the month. I took the time to measure the binding I had made, and there is 145 FEET of it! I'll have to work fast to get those four lap quilts done!

About Quilts, Quilts, Quilts!

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Arrrgh!!! in the Quilts, Quilts, Quilts! category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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