Best Laid Plans

So I was all set to follow up with last weeks post,  but yesterday my laptop at the Shoppe simply wouldn’t start.    It must now visit the Geek Squad, and with the weather today that just wont happen yet either.    So I am snowed in at home hoping that this will post from a 10 year old computer.  (that is why there are no images today )    Today is a lesson in going with the flow.

My studio at home is painted a nice bright sunny yellow,  but it feels smaller than it is because of the clutter.   Today is the perfect day to get it a bit more organized and cleaned up.   Despite the snow,  I can feel Spring getting ready to show itself,  and with that comes renewed energy for creative activities.    I know that many of you garden and spring means planting and yardwork,  but as I haven’t managed to get in a garden in years, for me it means time for new projects.    I will spend today prepping my studio for that surge when it happens.      My  challenge to you is to spend a few minutes today planning and/or prepping for a project you want to accomplish this Spring.     And it follow up on last week,  if you are looking for some accountability,  tell us about it.   You can comment on this blog,  or on Facebook.    And if it is really big one am email or visit to us on Work in Progress Wednesdays can always help.

Lastly,  since this storm is supposed to last for a while yet I am postponing the Block of the Month.    We will meet on Saturday March 10 instead of tomorrow.    I do expect to get the shoppe open tomorrow,  but asking everyone to get there early, and with the parking lot icing so easily it is safer.    The materials are ready for you,  so if you are in a hurry for your block you can stop by during the week to pick it up.    I am expecting to see a least a few of you bring all the blocks you have done so we can see some exciting progress.

Be safe and warm.


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It has been an odd week.  We had spring, almost summer, and winter in the space of a few days.    Strange weather patterns can bother us in a million subtle ways and Laguna Beach005set things off kilter.     The summer teaser has me thinking about a nice day at the beach.     But thanks to a deadline I have been able to keep things moving.   There is great value in the deadline.   It is called accountability.     Everything I have read on the subject of productivity,  and overcoming creative blocks includes some way to introduce accountability.     Writing  due dates in PEN on the calendar,    promising to have it done for an event,    even simply needing to get it done in time to share with a friend — even better if the friend is one who can lovingly let you know if you didn’t get it done.     This is the value of classes, clubs, guilds,  and all exhibition opportunities, from the fair to Houston.   One of the most common things I hear from long term hobby quilters is that they have too many unfinished projects.    One small way to get the nudge needed to finish it all the way is to plan on displaying it.   Gives you a deadline,  gives you a chance to share something that you enjoy, and  it is almost always a social occasion.    And when you do finish you get that satisfaction,  you get the accolades of the viewers,  your self image goes up,  and you might just have room to start something new and exciting.     It’s a win win win.

So I am encouraging you now to do a spring cleaning of sorts and  see what you would like to finish.    If you need help we are still running Work in Progress Wednesdays.   You can simply bring your project and work on it here.   I will be on hand to be the friendly nudge you need to keep your project moving all the way to the finish.    On most Wednesdays the tables are here for you from 10-5.     I try to get a heads up if someone needs to baste something large on Wednesdays, so if that is you please let us know you are coming.    This coming Wednesday we will not be available until 1 pm.    I have an appointment anIMG_0626d we wont be open until that time.    I bet you could use the morning to find at least one project you want to get done, and then we can spend the afternoon getting it done.

Just so you don’t feel bad about those works in progress, here is a photo of one that will be taking quite a long time for me to get done.  –  you see it has no deadline,  so everything that does have a deadline gets done first.  See how that works?

Happy Stitching!!!

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Time for something Fun

IMG_7087What a week.   With fat Tuesday,  Valentine’s Day,  Crazy Quilt Club tomorrow,  and today being Chinese New Year,  I am glad that this mornings fog laid a quiet and peaceful blanket on my yard.   I tried to take a photo of the fog but it just didn’t come across well, so use your imagination.       Jake however was a willing model as he posed with a good luck knot for the Year of the Dog, which begins today.    He is hoping for a few extra treats and extra special pampering.       He already has it pretty good so we will see.

Just so you know that I’m still quilting,  during the recent Growth Rings workshop I used some of the pieces from the demo to make a new sample,  This time using scraps of old-fashioned fabrics and reproductions, with a pink fabriIMG_7088c (from the clearance section and yes there is still some for you ) where the light should be.     It has a totally different look.    It is not quite finished yet because I ran out of bobbin thread and didn’t get back to it yet.    Running out of bobbin thread before you are done is one of those annoyances that frustrates everyone.    I have used up all the leftover bobbins that even vaguely match,  it irks me to have to wind a new one to finish the last two rounds.    Oh well.    It will have to wait because I have some other things to get done on a tighter schedule. IMG_7078

Lastly,  I am sharing with permission this quick shot of Harriet R.’s version of the Block of the Month.   She has been making the sashing and cornerstones setting pieces as we go, from the scraps.  Don’t you think it is coming along wonderfully?

As I am writing, fog has turned to drizzle,  and it’s a perfect day to sew.   Now is a great time to get started on a new project and have it going before it is time to garden.   If you need ideas check out the other pages of our website and join us for something fun!!



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Fat Quarter Tuesday!!

It is a bit earlier than usual this year,  but it is time for Fat Quarter Tuesday!!   Get out your beads and check your stash for missing colors.     Then come in on Tuesday the 13,  also known as Fat Tuesday, and get all the fat quarters you want for a dollar each.   We will fill the air with New Orleans Jazz and some of the Hot Latin sounds of Rio.    Books and patterns that use fat quarters and scraps and other pre-cuts will also be on sale,  25% off.        This is a great time to get inspired and make something awesome,  and a fun way to combat the blahs that often hit this time of year.    I promise that a new project and a few new fat quarters will help you get through till spring.

I have been working on another quilt top that is being tied,  it bevintage hexagonslongs to the same lady as the one I shared last week,  but this one is Hexagons.   They have uniform butter yellow centers,  about an inch and a half on a side.   Some fabrics are in only one flower, some in up to three,  and several are pieced within the hexagon so I believe this to be done as a scrap quilt.



This large detail clearly shows the pink hexies that have been pieced together.  You can also see very clearly that this was not English paper pieced.     She used a fairly heavy single strand to piece the hexagons together in the conventional manner with a lovely small running stitch.      At this size there is no problem with doing all those set in or Y seams.    If you want to try it out,  ask me about the Hex Essentials template and how to use it for hand piecing.     In the meantime,   get those beads ready and come on in on Fat Tuesday.   ( it’s also a Handstitchers Club day and we are doing UFOs so feel free to join us )   See you then.



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I came across this quote, “Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration.  Begin and inspiration will find you.”  – H. Jackson Brown Jr.      I agree.    But beginning is often hard.    One of the reasons I like log cabin blocks in all varieties is thIMG_7077at it is simple enough to begin with a single block and love it.     This one began with a four-inch cut square of red,  and some very typical turn of the last century chrome green and yellow prints.     It is hand stitched, and some of the strips even appear to be torn on grain.   The logs were about an inch and a half.     There are three rounds in each block.      She started with one.   I can tell she did one at a time because of the multiple threads she used to do the


piecing.   When she ran out of one spool, after a few blocks,  she started another.   If she had done them by doing all the round ones, then all the round twos like we so often do the change in threads would present a different pattern on the back.     I can see this because it is just a top for the moment.    ( I will be tying it for the customer this afternoon )    She made 64.   Set them in a 6 x 8 grid in a barn raising set,  with green in the middle.   Don’t you love the way the red centers create a strong rhythm and almost seem to float over the green and yellow?    But she made a pair of interesting choices,  did you notice the corners break with the usual arrangement for a barn raising?     It would lay on a bed very nicely,  adding a bit IMG_7074of interest at the corners of the bed.     Her other choice was to use her leftovers to add a diagonal striped border to only 2 sides.    We can tell they were her leftovers because about half of the green and yellow strips are pieced to make them long enough to work.

So just getting going on a single block can provide the jumpstart needed to make something great.    Log cabin blocks are just the thing when you need to get started.     Unlike this quiltmaker,  you probably can even do the whole thing out of that scrap bag, and clean out a bit as you go.

Wednesday at 1:30 is the workshop for Growth Rings,   one of our Showcase projects this semester.    If you need a quilt top done quickly,  getting started with this big single block will definitely get you going.    Ours is shown in just two colors,  but you could use multiple colors for a completely different look ( How about a jelly roll?  )     There is still space in the class so if you want to join us contact me asap.

Tomorrow the Block of the Month will meet at 9 am.     The forecast is not calling for any more snow so we should be OK.    We will be working on blocks 19 and 20.    Are you up to date?   Now is a good time to take stock of the blocks you have and lay them out together for some inspiration.    Feel free to do this at the shoppe,  and even more fun if you bring them to class so we can all enjoy.

Now what are you going to get started today??

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I have lots of things that interest me,  and I read and watch posts on forums on many diverse subject.     Recently all of them have addressed the idea of working within full_7876_53509_LogCabinQuilts_1limitations.     It sounds like a problem to say I am working within limitations,  and it might be, if they are imposed upon you,  like some form of disability.     But in the creative world,  artists and creators impose limits on themselves all the time.    They have learned a deep secret.   Limits can increase your creativity.       I have thought about this a great deal and have come to the conclusion that this is true because it forces you to explore every possibility within the given parameters.    Doesn’t that word parameters sound more exciting than limits?      If you just did one log cabin block,  said OK now I know how to do it and moved on to something else you would miss out on the hundreds of ways this one block can be varied and colored and set.    All

rob peter to pay paul in log cabin
Playing with Positive and negative space

the images in this blog post came from Pinterest,  and if you have some time,  there are so many more to see.  Just do a search.








Learning to see a simple block in a new way and then acting on it leads to some exciting results.

emily-log-cabin-petals layout





Are you beginning to pick out how the blocks go together to make a larger design?

modern log cabin




How about this modern version?   Can you see how the light half of the block is carefully planned using grey and white for a zig zag stripe?    Did you notice that half of them have grey in the outside layer, and half have white?

modern log cabin randomscrappy




And how very different the block is when the scrappy look is totally random?



This freedom within limits is part of why we have a theme each semester for our showcase.    If you want to explore Log cabins with us sign up or schedule a workshop.    You might just find that self-imposed limits are really the key to limitless creativity.     If you do Facebook,   be sure to like our page because I will be posting more examples of log cabins all semester.

You may also want to check out some fabrics now on clearance,  and note that there is a schedule change for March Crazy Quilt, information on the club news page.


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A Mystery for you

This week,  in between snow delays and cancellations I had a conversation with a quilter who was having trouble,  her blocks came out all different wrong sizes.      We checked her cutting,  accurate,   we checked that she had sewn things in the right order and pressed carefully.    We talked through her entire process.     She said she had even put a new needle and re threaded in desperation.  So I showed her on one of my machines how to mark the bed of the machine with painters tape as a larger and more visible guide for the edges of the fabric.    She said she has marked her machine.       Ok.   Is your lighting good enough to see it clearly?    Yes.    ( Deep breath here )    Sounds like she was doing everything right, but the results were still inaccurate.      I finally asked her to describe her process when she sits down to sew.    She needed 42 blocks for her project.   She said she takes the first 2 pieces,  pins them together and repeats for every block, then sews them together chain piecing.    She said,  it goes “Lickety Split”  this way.      Then she would press them and repeat the process for the next step, easing in or trimming any issues until the blocks were done.        Sounds ok,   but can you guess what I suggested to her?

growth rings

Growth Rings,  workshop FEBRUARY 7.  

I told her to slow down.    42 of anything in a row is mind numbing.  You lose focus,  sew too quickly and get lazy.  Instead, do no more than a dozen at a time,  press carefully and measure the results.  If they are correct do another bunch.   If they are wrong,  fix them now.    Every time you ease it in or trim excess to make it work you are compounding the problem,  and inconsistency adds up fast.    You can still make quick progress this way,  but it is broken up enough for you to stay focused.       And by checking as you go you get better results.

Another thing to do is to choose a block/method that includes some checks and balances.    Growth Rings is one of those, and the workshop is coming up on February 7.     By pre-cutting the strips to exact length you know immediately if your seam allowance is wandering.    This also makes the piecing go quickly.      Join us and make one for yourself,  and then one for someone else, and maybe four together to cover the bed.        See our showcase page for dIMG_6985etails and supply lists.

Tomorrow is Crazy Quilt Club, the first meeting for the year.

Tuesday I may be late opening as I have an early appointment,   If you are planning to come in before 11 that day call to check I got in to work first.     It’s nothing medical so please don’t worry.     See you all in the slow lane!!!!



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