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April: Pam’s Yellow Roses


I love yellow roses, so when I saw this pattern I knew the color scheme immediately. I am over the moon pleased with the outcome. I found this pattern in a 40% off basket on a trip to Chicago in 2008. Yes, I did the math and it only took 6 years to complete. I bought the fabric locally and started my adventure. Fortunately I was super organized about it and although it some times sat for years untouched, when I did bring it out I was able to pick up where I left off.  This is a picture of my organized mess.


I first became fascinated with paper piecing when I saw a very intricate quilt of a humming-bird.  I was not a quilter back then, but I would go into the shop where it hung every few months or so just to look at it. Finally I asked how it was done and heard the term “paper piecing” for the first time.  I never did purchase  the pattern so when I saw this one for English Roses by Eileen Sullivan,  I was not about to pass it by.   The shop that displayed the humming-bird quilt is long gone. You can see this and other gorgeous paper pieced patterns here.

Coming up with the quilting took longer than normal for me.  Quilt tops talk to me. No, I am not the quilt whisperer.  Sometime during the process, the quilting style comes to me. When this didn’t happen, I was stumped.  I really wanted to keep the lines straight and not fight the angles of the piecing.  Finally, it came to me.  I was afraid to use some of the standby marking methods, so I went for painter’s tape.  Pinning the tape turned out to be the key.  It is difficult to see, but I put down the tape out in the opposite order of how it was quilted.  I would quilt a line, remove the tape and then quilt to the next line. I started on the far right.


I really enjoyed the process and yes, I will definitely do this type of piecing again.  It requires staying somewhat organized, referring to a fabric chart constantly, and being focused.  I can do that.  Even in the midst of what most would call a mess, I could put my hands on everything I needed.

Wow, another month done.  This is actually the first UFO that I finished.  The feeling of satisfaction is inspiring.  So far I am 4 for 4.  Now, if I could just be that focused on blogging.



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Becoming An Artist

I was NOT one of those kids that loved Art Class in elementary school.  In fact, I dreaded it. I know, you’re thinking: who ddin’t love art class?  Me.  Honestly, I couldn’t draw.  Horses seemed to be a popular theme among my classmates in elementary school.  My drawings consisted of a house, on a hill, with a tree.  Sometimes I would add a fence.  It always looked like crap.  Then I would add the sun.  A boy showed me how to draw the rays of the sun: long ray, short ray, long ray, short ray.  That image is still fresh in my mind. His name was Peter.  I was very proud of my suns.  But, on a whole; still crap.

You may now be thinking; you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself, it couldn’t have been that bad.  It was that bad and I’m not being hard; just honest.

I was good in math.  This led me down the left-brain road.  It also fit in well with my family.  I liked this road; it made sense to me.  It still does.  My creativity was masked in logic. I was a thinker. Besides, I couldn’t draw so I couldn’t be an artist.  I held that thought for most of my life.

Then I became a sewer and eventually a quilter.  I still thought that I wasn’t artistic.  I was just following a pattern and tweaking it here and there for whatever reason.  I was still a thinker; a creative one. And then one day it dawned on me, I am an artist. I choose the fabrics and I create dimensional art. Whether it is a skirt, a wall hanging, a purse, or a quilt… IS a piece of art.  What an eye opener.

I think as an artist.  The room I create in is “My Sewing Studio.”   I push my talent and have taken my craft to new levels. I try different  techniques and experiment on a regular basis. I am beginning to design quilts. Most importantly, I look at things differently.  I pay attention to color and shapes.

I’m still good at math, which ironically is a great talent to have in the sewing world.  I am still a logical thinker.  Again, a talent I tap into frequently.  But I am also creative and use both sides of my brain. I still can’t draw a horse, or a cat, or a flower for that matter.  That’s just fine with me.


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March: Hunter’s Star


A few years back I bought a Quiltsmart pattern for a Hunter’s Star and fabric to make it with.  Yes, this ended up in the closet.  So for March, I brought it out.  It is an interesting concept really.  Basically you use a printed fusible interfacing to make the blocks.  Super Duper Simple.

Cut up all the pieces you are going to use.  There are a lot of pieces here folks, so I broke them into stacks of ten to keep up.  This is all the fabric ready to go.



OH and then you have to cut apart the printed blocks and that was a pain because they are not in straight columns/rows so no rotary cutting. I’m sure this decision was financially based, but it is not a good one.


Fuse fabric to the foundation.  There are a few steps here so you need to be careful when fusing, because you are leaving the corners bare.  I have an inexpensive iron with a Teflon sole that I use just for fusibles.  If it gets gunky I can wipe if off with a damp paper towel when the iron is cool.


And then sew along the lines!  How simple is that?



Finally there is some trimming to do.  I got a little sassy here and paid for it later.  Cut on the lines.  Do not, I repeat, do not trim with the block right side up.  No matter how careful you are, it will haunt you like a like a ghost in October.

Then sew your blocks together and Voila…..another quilt top is done.  It is time to celebrate.  Well, almost time at least.

There were problems where the stars come together.  You have 8 points meeting, plus the added fusible so basically double the fabric; kind of.  I had a difficult time getting the points to lay flat. I swirled, I hammered, I cussed, and then finally I let it go, like a helium balloon.  Originally I was going to put this on the frame, but after I saw it put together I didn’t want to distract from the piecing. Then there was the bulky seam challenge. Finally there was the gorgeous fabric I found for the backing.  I decided to quilt it in the ditch with monofilament thread.

The quilt itself is a little stiff and will probably soften up when washed.  The yellow fabric was way too light for this method.  I know you can’t see it in the picture, but it is very see thru and in some areas I can see the lines of the fusible. All in all, I can’t say I would do it again or any fusible for that matter.  Yes, it is easy and yes, it looks nice. And yes, if I had never done it, I would try it. And finally yes it is a good method for those who do not have the experience or desire to piece the old fashion way.  And by old fashion, I mean with a good machine and a quarter inch foot.


I did however come up with a way to make the Hunter’s Star block in my head and if I ever really sit down and do it, I will share.

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Sometimes blood is shed

It happens. No matter how careful you are, accidents happen.  Fingers get pricked by pins and needles.  I actually sewed my index finger on my left hand once.  I was being careless and OOPS!  Went into my nail and all the way through the bone. When I say all the way through, I mean it actually went in the bone and came out the other side.  Like a bullet.  Ok Ok, that is a little overly dramatic.  I could feel the tip of the needle, but it didn’t break the skin.   I did manage to score 2 brand new hemostats; one straight and one curved, while everyone was out of the room.  I’d say that was a good day.

Last weekend it was a rotary cutter.  I had just sharpened it with a TrueCut  blade sharpener.

This sharpener really really works.  I do have a decent supply of blades, but let’s face it, they are expensive.  Being able to sharpen blades instead of getting rid of them is economical and yes even a little fun.  Plus it’s electric and I am such a sucker for anything that requires electricity.

So I have a super sharp blade and I’m sitting down to work on a paper piecing project.  Normally I stand to cut, but having to get out of the chair after every seam…..NO THANK YOU.  I know you are thinking, ouch, she sliced her finger.  No.  I managed to flick or drop the rotary cutter on the top of my left hand.  That’s when the blood appeared.  I’ll spare you the gory details,  but I dealt with it myself.  Who wants to spend a Friday evening in the ER? Alternatively, I’m at home, alone,  sewing on a Friday night.

It’s still a little  tender and I may have needed a stitch or two, but I’m a fabric artist. We cut things and then put them back together.  Props to my mom for always keeping butterfly bandages around and showing me how  to use them.

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The Life of a UFO


Anyone who has been quilting for a few years and doesn’t have a UFO is lying. (ok, that’s a little harsh)  Let’s face it, even that idea in your head is unfinished. For those of you who are not quilters, a UFO is an UnFinished Object.  I have a few myself; including 2 quilts that are year-long blocks of the month.  Each quilt has 11 finished blocks and both are safely tucked away in labeled project boxes.  In addition to started projects, I have a number of items waiting for take-off.

There are two questions here.

The first one: How does one create a UFO?  This is quite simple. You are working on a quilt for yourself in the colors of your bedroom.  You spent hours picking out the perfect fabric and the pattern is a little challenging, but not too far beyond your capabilities.  Then one day you’re out with friends and you find yourself in the local quilt shop.  There is a beautiful display of the cutest holiday wall hanging made out of the most delicious fabrics. YOU HAVE TO HAVE IT!  After all, they are selling kits.  Then you get a phone call announcing an expected baby.  You just HAVE to make them a quilt.

This scenario repeats itself over and over again.  Some of these join your unfinished bedroom quilt. The number of your UFOs is multiplying.

Continue reading The Life of a UFO

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International Quilt Day!


Today, March 15, 2014 is International or World Quilt Day.  These types of events always take me to the internet. They really should take me to the sewing machine, but I love to learn, so off I went.  I first tried google and then remembered Wikipedia.  I found an article on quilts and it actually touches on the craft in different countries.  You can read it here.

The next time you sit at your sewing machine, just imagine that somewhere else in the world. far far away, someone else is doing the same thing.

I hope to bind a quilt today, what are your quilting plans?

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Why I love Painter’s Tape


Painter’s tape is magical.  It isn’t permanent so you can use it confidently knowing your fabric will not be ruined. I use it to mark tops for quilting. I tape patterns to my wall.  You can tape someone’s mouth shut. (ok, I’m kidding on that one.) If you are a machine embroiderer, you can tape fabric and other items to your stabilizer.  You can hold applique pieces down. You can tape blocks on your wall and VOILA! instant design wall.  There are just so many amazing things you can do with a roll of blue painter’s tape.  I have yet to have it not come off something, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test it first.  I know there are other colors out there, I just haven’t used them so I can’t comment.

If you use painter’s tape for sewing, please share.

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February: “Owls for Iylah”

Owls for Iylah

February 2014:

Well I am 2 months into my year-long goal.  This is a quilt I made for a dear friend’s granddaughter.  Originally it was going to be a baby shower gift.  The good news is that is was done in enough time for her 1st birthday.

The pattern is The Hoots!™  by Amy Bradley Designs©.  I love the simplicity of this applique and that the owls are so whimsical.

Normally, I like to do invisible machine applique, but I am from the school that one should not use monofilament thread for a baby’s or small child’s quilt.  I decided to do machine embroidery applique with a satin stitch.  If you have a machine that embroiders and you have not tried applique, I suggest you give it a go; it is really a lot of fun.

1st step was digitizing the applique design in my software.  I use Bernina’s embroidery software, Designer Plus 6. This software makes digitizing applique as easy as pie; unless you can’t make pie in which case it’s pretty easy.

I had fun matching the colors and making sure no owl was duplicated; not sure that really matters, but sometimes I get myself locked into designing.  I don’t always recommend this approach, it can really slow me down. The construction of the quilt itself was very straight forward with not a lot of seams to match.  The cornerstones (little squares of color) are floating so even if your seams aren’t spot on, it will not show.  Good qualities in a pattern for beginners.

I started the quilting by stitching in all the ditches.  I highly suggest using a top stitch sole on your walking foot for ditch stitching.  (note to self: blog about stitching in the ditch)  This method is not as easy as it looks and yet it is the one that everyone suggest to all beginners.  Stitching outside the ditch is just as effective and less stressful.

I used polyester batting, not my favorite but again this is for a wee little person.  The blocks themselves needed to be quilted, but I didn’t want to take away from the owls.  I stitched as close as I could around the outside of each owl and then on the inside of the white eye sections. Still needing more quilting, I put hearts in the owl’s bellies and little hearts up in the corners of the blocks. It was important to me that the quilting did not take away from the owls and stayed as much as it could in the background.  I also wanted the quilt to stay soft and fluffy.  Knowing I could not stitch perfect hearts, I digitized them too and quilted them with my embroidery machine.

Striped binding cut on the bias and it was done.  The quilt made it to the birthday party actually wrapped.  PHEW, another successful month.

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Clean as you go?

My mother was a clean as you go person. Kept up with the dishes when she was cooking. You either know or are that type. Me? Not so much. I’m more of a toss around kind of gal. I always find myself playing scavenger hunt while in the middle of a project. Fortunately for me, I have multiple seam rippers, stilettos, and other important notions. In my kitchen I have multiple measuring cups.

There are pros and cons to my way. I don’t get caught up in the straightening up while I’m creating. I have a mess to deal with when I’m done. Honestly, I’m not bothered when it is time to put all my toys away. This is my time to reflect and while I’m clearing my space, I’m also clearing my mind for the next challenge. Most would say that my mind is never really cleared and I will admit they are correct. Every once in a while I suffer from a creative explosion. This usually happens while I’m driving and have no way to jot down my ideas.

OOPS; there I go, getting off topic again.

Bottom line.

There really is no wrong or right way.

The important thing is that you spend time doing what your enjoy.

No matter your passion.

No matter your style.