What’s behind it all?

I know this could be a profound question,  but I am thinking a little more straightforwardly than that this morning.     The trees across the street are blooming and I am thankful for the stunning view as I work diligently on the many projects I have going.    What a great blue sky day.   Warm, even the air smelled like spring.  IMG_2311

SO  then on Wednesday at the Guild meeting the speaker had a lovely trunk show, and in several instances showed the same quilt pattern made in two different colorways,  and in a few cases, two different sizes too.      The next day,  my view changed with the weather and I realized that it was a perfect real life way to show you how much difference the change of a background can make.   SO here is the overcast photograph.IMG_2313











The only real difference is that the sky is white.   So next time you have a plain white background by default,  take a moment to consider choosing a more dynamic background.

I want to also update you on the quilt I talked about last week,   I consulted Bill Volkening, quilt collector and historian,  and he had a full album of quilts like it,  from Badalang,  China,near Beijing,  made in the last 20 years or so for the tourist trade.     That does explain the pandas.

I am excited for the summer showcase,  all about dolls.   We will be including real dolls, their things,  and even Sunbonnet Sue!!  How many of us learned to sew by making things for our dolls?   We are never too old to enjoy them.  Watch over the next few weeks as the details get finalized.

Tomorrow is Crazy Quilt Club,  and of course Sunday is Easter,  I wish the very best to you and yours.    May your spring be full of blue skies!!!

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Mystery Quilt of a different kind

I have a quilt in the shoppe for  a few days now that is one of a kind as far as I can tell.   The customer who brought it in says it was given to her organization as a donation and they wanted to know more about it before deciding what to do with it.    Of course there was no information at all.    Now most of the time I can pretty much tell right away the basics,  when and sometimes where it may have been made,  style, any content that might be significant,  even answer the How did they do that question.    I’ve seen plenty of quilts in person and more in photos and enjoy being able to inform the owners about their quilt.    This one has me questioning.


Mystery Quilt front

So this is the front.   The round embroideries appear to me to be South American, and  the colors of the folded patchwork support this thought.   But pandas?  and upside down dragons?   And that poor panda at the bottom has an arm and leg detached from it’s body.     The black frogs are pockets.    Very odd.    The fabrics are all kinds, even some with metallic threads,  rip stop nylon,  some might even be gro-grain ribbon.    There is paper inside this quilt,  you can feel it crinkling,  and in a small space where there was a loose seam,  said paper seems to be a lightweight brown craft type.   ( Like you might use in packing ) It is all very strange.   The skill with which the folding was done varies throughout.     As I am wondering about all of this,  the owner turns it over and there are only more questions.


Mystery Quilt Back

SO this is the other side.  Once again it looks South American to me,  but what are those critters?   Are they spiders?  snakes?  Do they all have wings or is it just decoration?  some appear to have feelers.   They are stuffed hard,  so this was not a quilt to be used as a covering.    All the critters are hand stitched,  many from knit fabrics and all of this embroidery was done by hand with varying skill levels.  The patchwork is improvisational but does follow a plan.     I wonder at the idea of putting all this work into the back of a textile.    The dark blue that covers the edges and frames it all is done  unevenly and I can’t help the feeling that whoever did it just didn’t have a working knowledge of how to work with fabrics in this way.   There seems to be some minimal batting/stuffing in a few places, but not throughout the quilt, and it does not appear to be quilted or tied in any way.



Here’s a few closeups of each side.    If you have any ideas about this one I’d love to hear them.

We have regular hours this week even though the local schools are on break,  and Saturday the 20th is Crazy Quilt Club.   I am hoping that some of my quilters who work in the school system can join us Wednesday for WIP Wednesday.     I might still have this Mystery quilt in shoppe so you could see it in person.




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UFO sightings?

Twice this week I had discussions with customers regarding the best way to keep making progress on their projects.    My first suggestion is come to Work in Progress Wednesday and I can help keep you on track and motivated.     The second suggestion is to keep your UFO where you can see it.   If you have a dedicated sewing space leave it set up so you can just go there and grab a few minutes each day to do some little bit on it.    If you don’t have that space,  leave the bag, box or basket that holds it in a place where you have to walk around it once in a while.     The idea is that out of sight is out of mind.    I think that this idea is why creative types are frequently a bit messy and look disorganized.    When there are many projects going and all of them are purposefully left out where they can be seen,  staying neat and tidy gets to be challenging.    That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

AlaskaMy most current UFO project is the sample for Alaska,  the BOM that begins tomorrow.   I had hoped to have the entire top finished but that is just not going to happen.   I am a little more than half way there and it is going very nicely.      I will be updating the Alaska page here with in process photos for the April blocks later today.     If you are doing this one please make use of them as a resource.


This coming Tuesday is Hand stitchers Club.    We will hopefully finish the Blackwork bookmark and choose our next project.    We will be choosing between two nice projects that will make for a pleasant spring and summer stitching experience.     I would like to remind you all that the club is open to everyone regardless of experience,  and that you do not have to be doing the same project as the group.      The stumpwork club will continue on Henry our little teddy bear.

See you all soon.

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Fit to be Tied

I was quilting a vintage top last week and noticed regular pairs of small thread holes, and then one or two had blue yarn shreds in them.   They were regularly spaced and I soon realized that the top had once been a tied quilt.    This set me to thinking about tied IMG_7173quilts.    These days we don’t see too many of them.   This scrappy one is in my personal collection.  It has a very heavy batting that might just be an old wool blanket.   The ties are all of a dark blue yarn,  and randomly placed.    These kind of quilts were often tied.



IMG_7176This one is my vintage silks Crazy Rails,  and it is tied with small stitches that are invisible on the front,  and barely visible on the back.  This has no batting in it, like most crazy quilt types.     While we are at it,  crazy quilts were most often tied also,     as this top will be when I finish doing it for the customer who owns it.IMG_7177

So the question is,  why tie?  and is it Ok to tie a quilt instead of quilting?       So yes, it is fine to tie a quilt as long as you do it well and securely, especially if your batting is very heavy, bulky or otherwise hard to stitch through.    I once worked on a quilt that had another older worn out quilt as the batting.  They were tied.   You can also tie a quilt if you want the fluff of a comforter and have very puffy batting.     Be sure that you have enough ties in it that the batting wont shift on you.  Read the batting package for the spacing recommendations.

You might also consider tying the quilt if there is to be no batting.   Crazy Quilts and vintage tops that need to have seam allowances protected while in storage fall in this category.   If there is no batting to shift you only need to tack it here and there to keep the top and back layers together.    In some ways the ties act as basting in this situation.

Tying a quilt is also a quick finish.   In the time it takes to baste for quilting with pins or thread you can be done and get that warmth on the bed.   The placement and color of  the ties can enhance the design too.    Honestly if I am making a quilt for a toddler, or very tactile person I sometimes add a few ties just to give them something to play with as they snuggle in for a nap.   It can also act as an interim finish till you decide what kind of quilting you want to do (or while waiting to afford the longarm person )   The quilt on my bed for the winter has a wonderful fluffy wool batting in it and is tied.   It is too big for me to do on a domestic machine and I don’t want someone else working on it.  It is tied for several seasons now and is doing fine.

If you have a project you would like to tie,  feel free to do it at the shoppe.  Just call and be sure the tables are available if it is a big project.     If you bring some friends to help we can be done in no time flat!!!

On April 6 we will have our first meeting for the Alaska BOM.    We are all ready to go.   I have handouts ready,  kits cut and I am still hoping to have the entire top done by then,  but it is going to be close.    I lost some time to a rotten cold this week, and a few other project deadlines that snuck up on me.     I have room for one more person who wants to choose one of the alternate color schemes.   See the Alaska BOM page for choices and call me.







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Does it bring you Joy?

There is a trend out there for decluttering.   The mantra is, “Does it bring you Joy?”   If the answer is no then you are supposed to discard it.    I think this misses the point and is an over simplification of having respect for the materials and tools of life,  and also rejecting the idea that more stuff equals a better life.    Yes, this includes your sewing room.   I know it is odd for a shop owner to say,  but it is very easy to bury oneself in bags, boxes and piles of things and that can stop you in your tracks.      So my message for you today is that organization can help the joy to flow more easily.     The creative process is


I could use another bed Mommy!!!

full of clutter and mess,  but a small amount of order within that facilitates getting things done,  and that is one of the biggest joys.

So if your sewing space is a mess,  start simple.    One of the best things in my sewing room at home is cubby type shelving.    I use it to hold yardage,  which I fold in a uniform size by rolling it around my long cutting ruler.    In theory they are sorted by colors.   I have another place for bolted yardage, one for fat quarters,  and for smaller things I use boxes.   If the pieces are really small I cut them to charm squares,  or add them to one of my baskets of strips.   These scrap containers are awesome,  and anything that doesn’t work in one of those categories gets put in a big bag that I use for stuffing draft blockers and doggie beds.

If you do find fabric that you truly don’t want,  there are plenty of uses for it that will IMG_2280bring joy to someone.     If you are truly stumped feel free to ask me to help.    Ugly and cheap fabrics make great foundations for string piecing patterns, or my  favorite Pineapple Blocks and boy will those projects use up fabric.  Of course there are just fabrics with patterns you wont use for yourself.  Juvenile, novelty and seasonal fabrics are great for give away projects.   This colorful beach balls design is being donated.    It will bring someone joy,  we just don’t know who yet.    Didn’t she do a great job?    She is going to quilt it herself too!!!

Tomorrow is Crazy Quilt Club,  and our first meeting for the Alaska BOM is on April 6.     I have finished the bits needed for April, but I’m still working away, with the goal of having the entire sample top done by the meeting.     I have room for one more person doing an alternate colorway.    All the blue fabric is spoken for.    If you are interested see the fabric photos on the Alaska page.       Also there are a few of you who have not yet picked up the final block from the Barbara Brackman project.       Please come pick them up so I can clear space for organizing the next project.    Remember that Work in Progress Wednesday is a great option if you need help finishing.

Happy Spring  (even though it is snowing right now)   —  See you all soon !!

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National Quilting Day

Tomorrow is National Quilting Day.   The tenth one to be exact.   This crazy activity of ours is so important to us that we made a holiday.   Most of you my dear readers are already dedicated quilters,  but this holiday is a wonderful opportunity to spread our enjoyment to others.    There are two major ways to share your love of quilts with those around you.   The first and probably most obvious is to give them quilts and quilted objects.    Of course when you gift quilts,  it is important that the recipieIMG_2173nt understands what an amazing gift it is,  and that is where the second way of sharing comes into play.   You can teach someone to quilt.    I am reminded of the saying about teaching a man to fish.

In order to support both the giving of quilts and  the teaching of quiltmaking we are having a sew in tomorrow.    I have a bunch of donated fabrics that will be available and pre cut for a simple pattern so that whoever walks in can sit down at a machine and learn a little about quilting.    How fun is that??     By the way, the fish quilt is by my friend Rene Pasquale.     If you want to come down and play with us the event runs from 10:30- 4:30     I hope we get the entire top done so it can be given to community quilts asap.

A couple of updates and reminders for you.    I wanted to share one of those big block of the Month projects I talked about last week.   Since I am sure you are wondering,  it is 98 inches square,  exactly the size planned.    Well done!!!   It is now on its way to the quilters with one of our extra wide fabric for the back.   IMG_2262

Crazy Quilt Club has been moved to next week.    And if you were curious,   the planned horse show was cancelled due to the horses having a virus.  We went to see my daughter anyway because she was bummed.     So was I,  but it was great to see her and spend some time even though she comes home for spring break today.

Lastly,  space in the Alaska Block of the Month is filling very fast.   Contact me immediately if you want to be part of this awesome project.  Alaska


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BOM as WIP, not UFO.

This week I helped a customer to make some critical decisions about large quilts that had been Block of the Month projects done either through the mail, or with other, now defunct quilt shops.     One top is now done, and the other nearly so.   Both programs were long enough ago that the fabrics in them are no longer available.    This presented several challenges which I believe have been overcome by some creative use of the scrap fabrics she had wisely saved.

As I have just handed out the last kits for a very large and complex Block of the Month that has taken us over two years it felt like a good time to talk about the finishing aspects of a big complex project.    First,   keep up with the project during the program if at all possible.    The directions and details discussed in class will stay fresh in both your mind, and that of the instructor,  and it will prevent the backlog from being overwhelming if you do miss a month.    Next,   take advantage of any extra helps available.    In the case of programs here that means come to Work in Progress Wednesday and if needed make an appointment to work on it with me at other times.

black calendar close up composition

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Third,  give yourself a time frame,  as in aim to get it done in time to enter it in the fair, or one of the fall shows, or to give as a gift at a celebration.    This strategy works with any big task,  but the key is to break it down into components and give each of these a “do by” date.    It also helps to write in time for working on it,  in PEN in your calendar.    It sounds a little obsessive but it works.

My goal in sharing these tips with you is to help you get the big projects done in a timely manner.    That customer I helped this week was super frustrated by the projects,  one of which was about 10 years old.    Kits rarely have excess fabrics,  so my last tip is  that if you have the opportunity to purchase extra fabrics from the line used in your project, do it.   Even a year from now it might not be available.    You can always make a pillow or other small project to go with the big one if there is extra,  but if you run out it can be problematic.


Alaska, our next BOM

We will be closing about 3 today and will re open Tuesday morning.   I am going to see my daughter in her very first horse show.    I will let you all know how it goes.    Tuesday is also Hand stitchers club,   materials for the new projects are listed on the club news page.

fabric scissors needle needles scissors

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Saturday the 16th is National Quilting Day,   and I will have machines set up and materials on hand to make some bed pillowcases and a scrap quilt for charity.   If you want to contribute your skills,  fabric, or loan a machine for the day let me know.   I will post more about it next week, but you wont want to miss it.


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