Stitching for sanity

Can’t believe it’s another Friday already.   Feels like time goes on forever and then I wake up and another week is gone, just like that.   But slowly things are opening back up.  Phase one reopening means that you are allowed to come inside my shoppe with proper precautions. – Yes this means masks.    I may or may not have them available.   As more things open and people are out more the need by the general public will still be strong.   If you have not checked out my videos on You Tube, please do so and subscribe so that you will be notified when I post new ones.   So far I have safe rotary cutting,   Mask making,  ( that needs no interfacing or elastic since both those things are scarce ) and the first two parts of Learning to Quilt in quarantine.   That one is a double nine patch made into a pillow or a small wall hanging.    The last part is coming soon and will be on how to take the 18 inch block and make it a basic pillow.


We have strip sets of 2 1/2 inch x WiIMG_3429dth of Fabric for sale that are perfect for this project.  Our sets are scrappy but coordinated.    We can also set you up with everything else you need for the Quilting in Quarantine project.    Good scissors, fabric markers, templates, needles and threads,  even lighted needle threaders if you need.  Of course we have fabric for masks too. 

In these crazy times, hand sewing is calming and gives a sense of purpose to the time in isolation.    Even as things open up again slowly, the anxiety eats at many people.    Working with lovely colors and doing something tactile and rhythmic has been proven time and again to help.    There is also a sense of purpose and meaning to making something real and useful with ones hands.    I highly suggest you try it,  and even better get the nieces and nephews or grandkids online with you and share a project like this.   


Two last mentions,   I am still taking registrations for the new BOM,  set to start as a private live video and curbside pickup or mailing in July.   And Second,   I have revamped the Quilter’s Trek since the response to the block I posted last week was underwhelming.    The basic block is the same, the strip set is the same, just moved two of the fabric positions, and put the yellow on the outside edge instead of the center.  I will be taking better photos for the website and media.   This used to be Row by Row, but there are a few changes due to current circumstances,   you will still have to come in to get the free pattern but they are allowing mail orders of the kits.    If you know you will want one let me know so I can prep enough of them.    If we are allowed over the summer I will probably offer a workshop too.   I love piecing this pattern.  Did I mention that you can use the templates from Alaska if you have those.      Lets hope that we can soon return to classes in person.  IMG_3629 

Stay Safe, Keep Stitching,  and Text us for a shopping appointment 758 8541


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Apart but together

I am immensely thankful to those of you who made appointments and came in to the shoppe to make purchases this week.  I appreciate every penny you spend as it tells me that you want me to keep fighting to keep the Shoppe afloat.     Let me tell you about a visit at the shoppe in these new conditions.    The floor plan is slightly changed,  you  will notice while using hand sanitizer at the door.   I hope that the smiles are big enough to see even with our masks on.    You will be invited to  have a seat in the white chair at the big tables.   My instinct wants to be able to offer snacks, but that is not a good idea right now.  I will handle the stacks of fabric and you can direct my every movement (just about) till we have everything you need.   One of our large tables has been put in front of the cutting counter so that I can cut what you need and ring up and pack your goodies without us violating the social distancing mandates.    The charge machine is still not functional,  and I am working on that, but once we are checked out with cash or check you may use more hand sanitizer if you wish as you depart.    After you are gone I wipe down the chair, the table, the counter, and the door handles with antibacterial spray or wipes.    Conducting business in this manner allows you to see fabrics and shop in person without handling the stacks until they are cut and packed for you, minimizing the potential for spreading nasty germs.   Sue F. visited and shared these two recently finished projects while she was looking for a backing for yet another one.     If you are needing big battings let me know ahead of time and  I can order as needed.   Shipping is taking a bit longer than usual from every company, and many of you are finishing large projects.

Many of us quilters have issues that make us higher risk, and so I am doing everything I can to minimize your risk.    Although we are not set to officially re open in this area yet,  so many of us have been sewing and are now in need of supplies.   I am doing my best to re stock things like elastic and interfacing, and even threads.  Working with suppliers on skeleton crews has made that process slow,  but I am exploring new possibilities and will shout  from the rooftops when new things arrive.    In the meantime please continue to sew because it is very good for us.    When you need something text the shoppe at 845 758 8541 and I will set up an appointment or curbside if you prefer.

As for me,  I gave my first virtual lesson on Sunday,  if you are needing that please reach out.   It went very well and I am feeling much more confident about such things.    Real time interaction is so very helpful.     I have also made up the sample for the Quilter’s Trek, formerly Row by Row.     I like the busy quality that this has, reminding me of a Persian rug,  or Kaleidoscope,   but I need to hear from you,  is it too much?    I could quiet it down by making some changes in the fabric arrangements.    IMG_3561

The theme for this year is Blue.  and yes there will be some changes in the way the program works.  I will share those with you soon, I must still work out some of the details.    It will begin on June 21.   Please consider supporting this program when the time comes.   By the way, if you did the Alaska BOM with us you can use those templates to make this block.

HArvest MoonAlso please consider joining our new BOM.   As of right now it will start in July,  but as with all plans lately,  we must remain flexible.  The sample is going together very nicely and I am documenting as I go so that if needed it can be done with virtual lessons. The fabrics are lovely and handling quite well.   I imagine that many of you could use a project to dig your hands and brains into that uses new fabrics and techniques that are not too hard.     Now more than ever it is important to do these kind of programs with your local shops instead of the huge online companies.    

Let me once more express to you how much it means to me that you are continuing to support me and spend a little money at the shoppe.   The longer this craziness goes on the harder it is for a small business like mine.     I do also understand that many of you are on tight budgets now, so if you need to work exclusively from your stash you can support the shoppe by following us on Facebook or my YouTube channel and keeping the comments coming.    I am very reassured when I know that my efforts are appreciated.   We have come far in this together,  and it means a great deal to me.   Here’s to staying safe and healthy,  and making lots of great projects together.




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By appointment

This week was mostly concerned with conservation for me,  punctuated by making some kid sized masks for my nephews.   I was supposed to film the second part of the double nine patch video, but my camera support stopped being supportive and hand held does not work for video of hand stitching where you need both hands.   Unless you happen to be an octopus.   The new holder with a nice long goose neck is supposed to arrive today so lets be hopeful.   I am all set to film so once that bit is here I can get to it right away.    I will post an update when the video is uploaded so you can join in.    You can see in the still that I have all my squares marked and cut and even laid out so I am ready to stitch.   If I didn’t mention last week,  this works very well with 2 1/2 strip leftovers from bindings and Jelly Rolls.    At the Shoppe we carry Outside the Lines packs of 2 1/2 inch wide by width of fabric strips that would be excellent for this kind of project.

I have decided that the shoppe will slowly come back to re opening.   One person at a time,  masks required,  and by appointment.    You can text to our regular phone number to set up an appointment.  845 758 8541  The credit card machine is out of commission at the moment so until further notice its cash or check only.    As soon as I have secured a more steady supply of hand sanitizer we will establish some regular hours of operation.    I miss all of you and by now your stashes are needing a refresh.    We have some good things.    Marbella packs of ten fat quarters,  that go beautifully with both the panel and overall print from Paula Nadelstern.     Love these fabrics.

Since so many of the shows for this year are cancelled or postponed indefinitely,  I thought I would share with you this interesting online series of Textile Talks.   Every Wednesday afternoon SAQA has hosted a lecture by an institution dealing with some aspect of textiles and quilts.    You need to register for them but it is free and open to the public.   The ones I have caught have been excellent, and if you are registered and miss the live broadcast they will send the link to a replay.   It is worth your time.

Hope you are all staying safe and healthy.   See you soon!!


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Take a Breather

As the quarantine continues I know that many of you are making masks and other PPE.  While this is very good work and it can help us to know we are doing something to help slow the spread of the virus,  sometimes it is just a lot.   When your mask production numbers in the hundreds it is important to take a breather once in a while.       Speaking for myself and probably some of you too,  even when I need to take a break I don’t want to clean up and put away the production line because it is a bother to set it all up again.    So what do I do as a breather?  Why hand work of course!!!  IMG_3422

I wrote last week about the learning to Quilt in Quarantine series of videos,  and I have been really enjoying the process.   If you are game I’d love to do it as a stitch along.  You can do it with scraps from your mask making and other projects, and it will make for a nice memory piece from that significant work.    It is designed for total beginners who have no real experience,  or access to rotary tools,  but you my dear reader are not that.  You have access and skills so the first video instructions can be skipped. Video one is about the tools needed,  making and using a hand sewing template in the old school method.    Feel free to play along like our ancestors,  but if you like the precision and speed of rotary cutting,  or have 2 1/2 inch wide strips of leftovers from binding and jellyrolls that you want to use then this is the way to go.    You will be able to pick up with the second video that I will post to YouTube for next week.

The piece is one double nine patch block that finishes at 18 inches for a pillow or small wall hanging.    You may make it from 3 fabrics only,  or scrappy.  The small squares will cut at 2 1/2 inches,  the large ones at 6 1/2 inches.   Here’s a breakdown of what you will need:

Large 6 1/2 squares –  4 light

small, 2 1/2 squares – 5 dark,        20 medium,      20 light

backing 20 inches square

Using a 1 x 6 or 1 x 12 grid ruler draw lines 1/4 inch from each edge of each small and large square, on the back of the fabric with a mechanical pencil.   Be sure that the corners are clearly visible and that you can see the lines clearly.   Use a silver or white pencil, or a soap sliver to mark the dark fabrics if needed.     For next week I will get into detail about how to sew a secure and accurate seam by hand and share the link for that video. HArvest Moon

The new BOM project is picking up steam,  please let me know if you want to participate so I can be sure that you are ready since it is not going to exactly follow our longstanding procedure.

Our previous BOM,  Alaska has resulted in some wonderful projects and I have been given permission to share one with you.    Janet J did hers in the colorway I called wildflower,  and she did a fantastic job.   I like it so much I am wishing I had time to make a second one in these colors.   Hope you enjoy as much as I did.   Isn’t it wonderful how some small changes can make such a big difference?    Good Job Janet!! WIN_20200505_18_09_19_Pro

I will be in the shoppe tomorrow Saturday, May 9 from about 1 pm.   If you need something,  text to the shoppe and I can set up curbside pickup. I will return your text with exact amounts, but can’t take credit cards at this time.   Cash or check, and please wear a mask.

Stay safe and healthy, and have fun stitching.



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May Day

So in many traditional societies especially in Northern Europe, where most of my deep ancestry is from, May First was celebrated as the first day of the summer half of the year.    It is a time of fertility of the land, prosperity and celebration.    Usually there are at least a few things blooming and the sun feels warmer every day.    Not this year.  Is is just me or does it feel like nature is doing her best to keep up inside with rainy windy weather all week?    Found the daffodils photo online and it made me feel brighter.   Enjoy.

beautiful blooming blossom blur

Photo by Tim Gouw on  

Thanks to good electricity and lighting I have been able to keep working on the bowtie quilt.   I had hoped to be finished with it by now,  but I had forgotten that it is a very good idea to take regular breaks from work that is so tiny and fussy.  That has slowed me down.   To keep my eyes from crossing I have kept interesting things on my design wall to look at.   This week while doing some more cleaning and organizing of my studio I found a Zip top bag full of nine patch blocks.   The bag was once labelled in marker, but it had smeared and I have no idea what the original owners plans for the blocks was.   It had a few other bits of fabrics too, but not enough to do anything with.   I am not even sure where they came from, but I do know that I was not the maker.    There were a fair amount, and a few unpieced squares that obviously were meant to coordinate.    I’ve put them up and been playing around all week with the layout.    I think I like one where the plain squares are in the lower right too, but what do you think??

As I played with these an idea formulated in my head about a series of videos to do for total beginner quilters in quarantine.    I have begun filming and learning to edit so I can post this Quilting in Quarantine series.    Although many of the quilts that have come down to us were made with purpose bought fabrics,  the romantic idea of a quilt made from whatever you had on hand is pervasive. and lets face it convenient right now.    Anyone who wants to is capable of making a quilt, as long as you are old enough to safely handle scissors, pins and needles.  I will be calling on my past as a public school teacher to interject some history, some math, and of course color and design.    I will post the links in this blog for you my loyal readers,  but the videos will live on my you tube page.  I doubt that any of you will have trouble finding the materials and encourage you to hand sew along using quilting cottons if you are interested.    But if you know any parents looking for a hands on project for kids schooling at home, or someone who has seen all the mask making activity and decided that sewing is a worth while skill please share.    When I can open the shoppe again I will need all of you to come back as regular customers,  but also many new ones to get things going again.

HArvest Moon   Things are on track for the Harvest Moon BOM to begin in July.    It is my hope that we can start to carefully be together for it,  but if not I will mail you the monthly kits and start a private facebook group for video instructions.   Once you are officially registered you will be invited to join the group.     Now more than ever having a project that you can work on with a like minded group is important.     A closed group like this can provide that without causing you to be exposed to some of the more troubling things on social media.    I have even been experimenting with Zoom as a possible platform to run a virtual class here and there,  but for now a facebook group is truly more accessible for this BOM.  Once videos are posted there you can go back and watch, rewind and repeat.   I can also go live.   Yes this new format is an experiment, but wont you come along for the ride?    It’s going to be fun.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, keep sewing!!

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Sane stitching in an insane world.

I think it’s Friday again.   The time seems to be passing so quickly, and yet so slowly under the shelter in place orders.    The world gets a bit crazier each day.   With people I know personally now being tested, or having already passed it is harder and harder to try to maintain normalcy.    Earth day this past Wednesday was especially poignant.   Celebrating the 50th anniversary of that day and watching how quickly nature is responding to less human activity was sobering.    I found myself particularly thankful for the animals I live with.     On my personal facebook page I have been sharing daily photos of the dozen or so species that I keep.   These two images are currently my most popular.

Some are familiar,  you all know Jake.   He misses you all very much.    Some others are more unusual.    Those are my dart frogs,  and they live in a tropical bioactive vivarium that is for all the world a tiny rainforest in a glass box.   They are about an inch and a half long and they are wonderful at keeping me grounded in this strange time.

I have been working on another conservation project.   This is a bow tie quilt from the 1950’s.  The bubble gum pink is the backing fabric peeking through the worn away places.   Somehow looking at the poor condition of it seems symbolic of the state of the world right now.    I am finding a larger than usual amount of satisfaction in this repair work.   With good music playing in the background, doing the intricate work occupies all my focus and keeps me from too much depressing news.   I will post photos of the finished work when it is ready.


One more thing to keep you up to date,   the fabrics for the Harvest Moon BOM will not be shipping until at least June.   This means that the program won’t start until at least July.     I am recording each bit as I work on the sample and it is a project that I know you will enjoy doing.  AS things stand right now it will start as a by mail program supported by video,  but by July we may have other options.   In person workshops are the ideal and we will hopefully be back to that by the end of the program,  but there are other options available in the meantime and we will keep them all open and on the table so we can enable as many of you to participate as possible.    So far the cutting and piecing  has not presented to much technical challenge, but lots of color interest.     These fall toned batiks are wonderful.   The lights are magnificent,  having the surprising feel of antique shirtings.  It is simply an amazing batch of fabrics.    The tiny amounts of brights just make the entire thing pop.      I love the way it is coming together,  and for a quilt with very modern fabrics it feels amazingly old fashioned.   Love that.    You can get on the list by sending me your name and contact info.   

Please everyone stay safe and healthy and keep stitching.


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Keeping Busy

I hope this greets you all still healthy and staying safe at home.   I have been keeping busy with mask making and several other projects.    The pieces I cut for masks at the shoppe cutting counter have run out so I finally had to clear my cutting space at home.

As you can see, it was unusable until I started clearing.   Big difference in the After shot.  Now the key is going to be using it daily so I have the need to keep it clear.    When  have regular access to the counter at the shoppe it is just as easy to cut there, so the table at home became a disorganized storage space.     Yes there are two mats there.   The grey one is nice and large, but unless I need that much length I use the green one that is in better condition.   They both sit on an old drawing table set at a good height, and slightly tipped up at the back because it is more ergonomic.

I have also totally finished the Smarties Quilt. Here is is pinned up n my design wall, and lit from the side so you see the quilting a bit better.   The diagonIMG_3312IMG_3314 (1)al grid is done with the walking foot on and a decorative serpentine stitch,  and the circles that make the snowball blocks into the smarties candies was done in Razzle rayons and big stitch.   It has a nice cozy wool batting so there is a bit more puff than you would have with a standard cotton batting.     

And because I couldn’t help myself I used a strip of improvisational quilting with leftover strips and squares to make the backing wide enough to fit.    I like this look and I think I will use this idea more often from now on.    Why not have two interesting sides to your quilt??   

The second thing I finished this week was a small art quilt about a gray tree frog we had as a pet a while back.   I did the drawing with colored pencil on fabric and embroidered it.    The patchwork is basically an improvised pineapple block, with more coloring and embroidery,  then it was machine quilted and the edges folded to the back for a very clean finish.    I plan on mounting it to a canvas for display.


I know that things are different and crazy for all of us now,   but it is critical that we work together on positive things, and keep our minds and hands busy.   With this is mind I would love for all of us to do the new BOM together.   Even though I don’t usually do mail order I will make the exception for this one so we can work together and accomplish something positive out of all the isolation.    It was supposed to begin in May but the fabrics have not shipped out yet so there is most likely going to be a delay in that.   I am filming the process as I cut and sew the store sample so that our group can function as close to normally as possible.  Our usual discussions may have to be in the comments section for a bit,  but I hope that we will be able to meet in person again soon.      When that happens it will be extra important that you support the small shops like mine so that we can recover.    The big box stores don’t need you,  but I do.    Thank you for sticking with me through this.    HArvest Moon

Until I can see you in person again, I look forward to hearing from you all through the internet.   comment here,  like and follow us on facebook,  or subscribe to my new Youtube channel under Diana Louie.     Be sure to join our conversation!!

Be healthy, stay safe,  and keep stitching!!!

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