Charity Quilt

Finally got the charity quilt done that I’ve been working on to be donated to Safehome.


I quilted paws all over it to go with the cat theme.



This quilt is so apropos since Safehome is building a pet shelter. If you are interested, you can help them build the shelter by donating here.   They still need over $10,000 to go before they can build the shelter

Cute Quilts for Kids

Martingale has asked me to review a few books for them, so I will be doing a series of book reviews in the near future.  This first review is for a book by Kristin Roylance called Cute Quilts for Kids.

I don’t have any little kids at home anymore and no grandkids to make these for, but as a former teacher, I can tell you that this book of kids quilts will tickle your fingers.  Kristin not only does a good job of spelling out simple directions for beginning quilt makers, but she also adds cute 3-D touchy-feely things to the quilts that little kids will love.  But, not to worry… the added embellishments are sewn down very well OR they are meant to be removed and reattached with Velcro.  Check out this butterfly quilt with the ruffled butterfly wings.  Can’t you imagine a little girl sucking her fingers on one hand and the other hand fiddling with the ruffled wings while she sleepy-eyed cuddles with this quilt?

Or this quilt…  I can even imagine it sitting on a table or used for a picnic.

Check this one out for little boys… too cute!

For a list of quilts inside, the table of contents will give you a clue.

And, check out more of the quilts on the back cover.

If you’ve ever wondered how to make Prairie Points, she shows you how in the dinosaur quilt.  Personally, I think the sailboat quilt is my favorite.  I love the rick rack and the chenille fabric (for waves) she used around the borders and the 3-D flags on the boats.

Many thanks to Martingale and their photographer, Brent Kane, for the pictures above and the book to review – LOTS of fun in this book!  You can buy this book directly from Martingale here  or you can get an autographed copy of her Kristin’s book at her website here.

My New Best Friends

Ever have one of those projects that no matter what you did, things were not going to work out?  This latest customer quilt has been my latest challenge.  It seems like no matter what I do, I can’t get the mojo flowing with my quilting.  My thread keeps breaking, I’ve gone through 5 needles, my machine has a mind of its own and tries to go one way when I am trying to move it another.  I swear, it’s as if I am arm wrestling it – I’ve gotten bad headaches from wrestling with it.  So, my thread art has turned out to be CRAP!  You can’t even tell what some of the drawings are. They say that is you are having a bad day at quilting, to just stop and walk away and come back to it fresh the next day.  Well, you can only do that so many times before you decide you’ve got to get the quilt done and back to the quilt’s owner.

The customer wanted the leaves to extend out into the green and black borders, so I thought an insect would be cute here.  This is supposed to be a fly.  It looks like a tangled mess to me.  So, I will be ripping that out with one of my new best friends.  The other insects look like they need to go to Weight Watchers, but because I have already spent over 30 hours on this quilt, they are just going to have to content eating on the fabric leaves of this quilt.  I feel like I have failed this customer because so much of the quilting looks like scribbling.

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One of the things that happened while I was working on this was I ran the needle through my finger.  It’s healing nicely now, but it sure hurt when it happened.  And, no, I did not get blood on the customer’s quilt.  I jerked my finger out from the needle before it had a chance to drip – that was the first thing I thought about before I felt the pain.  OW!

lantern 001

I was trying to sew a circle into the green square with this itty bitty template.  Can you see how the finger got caught?

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After my finger got caught I immediately ordered a different circle template made by the Gadget Girls.  It has 3 different sizes of circles and looks like this.  I thought it was a bit expensive, but after hurting my finger and the frustration I got from making twisted, wonky circles around that little disc, the cost was worth it for this new “friend” (tool).  You can find them  here.

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And, as you can see, I have much more room to grip onto the template without my fingers getting in the way.  I LOVE this template!

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This is about as close as I was able to get to a perfect circle on this quilt, with my machine fighting me like it was.

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But, I have a few threads to pick out (along with that stupid looking fly in the first picture), so I will be using this new tool.  I love my little blue seam ripper that is about 3 inches long, if that.  It has a tiny piercing point that slides nicely under the thread.  But, it is small for my big hands.  I found this one made by Dritz at my local Wal-Mart for $3.97.  It’s got the small point, but the handle is bigger than my little blue one and is also ergonomic to fit well into the palm of my hand.  I think it is my new best friend.

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With this tale of woe, please don’t misunderstand me.  I believe that in every good or bad thing that happens, there is a lesson.  Although I struggled with this quilt (and I’m not done yet… but almost!), I found out about a better tool and better way of doing things with the circle template.  I also learned that less is more.  Less is many times better than more.  I should have left the fly out of that area.  I also found that when I quilted pebbles into the green squares (which you don’t see, because I picked the stitching out with that “picking” tool shown above), it made the quilt look even messier.  And, with each quilt I work on, this one included, I find things that I like to do with quilting and new ways to approach quilting.  So, even with a punctured finger and a mad quilting machine… it’s all good.  I think when I’m done with this quilt, it’s time to give my machine a good cleaning and check her timing.

Jackie’s quilt

Jackie's quilt

Jackie bought this quilt kit from Lucky Charms Quilt Store in Chapman, KS. She just wanted a pantograph quilted into the quilt to break up the straight lines and to also go with the backing fabric that looks like ocean waves. It was kind of a nice break to not have to think about what to quilt next and to just follow the line of a pantograph. I love the colors and the fabric. What do you think?

How to get out of a creative rut, aka my 2 minutes of glory…

Last week Mark Lipinski contacted me and asked if I would be willing to do a 2-minute segment on his radio show, Creative Mojo.  He wanted me to talk about how I get out of a creative rut.  Me?  Why me?  And, what’s all this talk about a creative rut?  I have to admit that I felt like I didn’t have much to contribute when he first asked me, and then the more I thought about it, some things that perhaps I do differently from others probably helps me stay out of a creative rut.  The problem is… how do you explain it all in 2 minutes?

First off, let me explain that I was raised a poor kid.  We didn’t have much, so we had to be creative in making up our own fun.  Lack of things forces you to use your imagination to creatively come up with a solution for that which you lack.  For example, I was the youngest of 5 kids in my house.  We seemed to keep everything, but sometimes that glue would dry out.  Mom would take flour and mix some water in it to make glue for us to use.  It might have been different if we’d had the money to just buy more glue, but we didn’t.  So, how many filthy rich people do you consider to be creative?

I was fortunate to be raised with a sense of humor.  My dad was the oldest of 15 kids.  When the masses of us get together, there is a ton of  jokes, tricks played on others, and laughter.  We can act very childish, but it’s good-natured and cheap fun.

Also, remember that I’ve had some of the strangest experiences in my lifetime.  Take, for example, the $&!# on top of the chest of drawers story.  You have to keep a sense of humor through all these experiences, or you will make yourself crazy.  Several years ago, I lost my mother; my dog, who was also my best friend; my daughter’s Godmother and left my job only to not get another when we moved that year.  Actually, all that had happened in the span of about 6 months.  I had 6 eye surgeries in 18 months (it’s been almost 7 months now since my last eye surgery).   On top of all this, I have gotten some pretty scary migraines over the years.

Through my grieving and health experiences I have had a lot of time to think, and when you think too much, it can make you crazy as well.  Or, your mind will go into an altered state to try to turn your focus into a healing direction.  Sometimes this is as basic as getting in touch with your inner child (yes, I know… cliche… and another is on its way).  You’ve heard the saying, “when one door closes another opens”?  Well, I’d like to believe that is what happened to me.  There were a lot of signs that it was time for a new direction in my life.  Looking back, I’m glad my life turned out the way it did.  I’m happier now and more at peace with myself and life than I have ever been.  And, I’m okay with acting like a kid now, too!

THAT is what I was thinking of today when I tried to explain how to get out of a creative rut.  For me, the mundane routine of day-to-day life can get me into a rut.  I had a lot of stress in my life in the last 10 years, stress that was making my body revolt and basically kidnapped my spirit when I lost so many things I felt were important in my life.    My routine and my spirit were broken, so my creative mind took over.  You, too, can stimulate your creative mind, but in a healthier way.

When I was training to be a school teacher, I learned that I could best reach all my students by having them use as many of their senses as possible.  If they don’t “get it” one way, take them to an altered way of thinking through one of the senses that is not dominant in that child.  Have you ever noticed how your memory is better if your emotions are involved?  When we get so busy with our day to day lives, we tend to be cognitive instead of emotional.  Our rational side is that nasty little voice in our heads that tell us that we can’t do something, it’d be stupid, we’re not good enough.  But, when we focus on our senses (touch, hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling, and feeling) our emotions get aroused.  Think about all the social events where food is involved.  Do you remember any of those events?  What do you remember about the ambiance of the room?  What did you smell and taste?  Who was talking?  Do you remember what people said?  What were you feeling?

So, today I had 2 minutes to tell people to get in touch with their inner child, to play and explore things in a way that is not “routine” for them, to use their other senses.  If you’re an artist, your strong sense if most likely visual.  And, if you are in a rut, take a break from your visual cues.  Do something else for awhile.  Close your eyes and let your creative mind take you to new places using one or more of your other senses.  Finger paint with pudding.  Listen to music and dance.  Sleep. Dream.  Write down some ideas.  By the way, writing is also a tactile/touch sense.  Okay, so your cognitive mind is telling you that you are not capable of doing a good job.  So what?  Do it anyway and have fun.  Keep your sense of humor and go play!!!  You will feel like a child again, and it will feel wonderful!

creative adult


You can read more about Mark Lipinski and his show, Creative Mojo here.

And, you can listen to how I stumbled through 2 minutes, probably not making any sense at all, by listening to the Creative Mojo Podcasts.  Look for the one for Jan. 16th here.   It may not be up yet; I’m not sure how long it takes for them to post.   I’m at about the 25/30 minute mark (no pun intended).  But, really, you should listen to the whole thing.  He’s got some good stuff to listen to, especially while you’re quilting.  😉