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


When was the last time you had a “Why?” phase.  I’m having one now.  Lots of weird things going on, good things, bad things, twisted things and things I don’t understand… with me asking, “Why?”  I haven’t had any customer quilts since my last post.  Autumn is supposed to be the busiest time of the year for a quilter, when he or she is finishing quilts for her customers to give as Christmas presents.  I haven’t had any customer quilts in over a month.  Why?

Well, I would like to think the universe is taking care of me.  Lots of things have happened in the past month. The biggest thing that’s happened is my Mother-in-Law passed away October 1st.  She was 79, and with the choices she has made for her life and her behavior, especially lately, has been sending out signals that it wouldn’t be long before she leaves us.  And, she left us rather suddenly.  September 22nd we took her to the hospital, because we thought she’d had a stroke.  Long story short, she had a heart attack and never got to go home.  We have since been trying to clear out her house.  So, I am thankful for this time to be able to concentrate on this, but why?  Why did she have to die?  <sigh>

One of the things that happens when you lose a loved one is the reliving of memories.  As we cleared out part of her house, we ran across my MIL’s recipe boxes.  My husband spoke of his mother making biscuits with chocolate gravy for him and his brother when they were small.  He found that recipe in the recipe box and made it for us for breakfast this past weekend.


It looked like pudding to me, and when I tasted it, I could swear it was chocolate pudding by another name.  I looked up the ingredients for each and found that the pudding has eggs in it, which the gravy does not.  I guess you get those on the side.  😉

To distract myself from dwelling too much on the “whys,” I’ve been working on my never ending “to do” list.  I have only a few pictures to share.  First off, I finally finished a charity quilt I’d had for awhile.  I filled it with feathers, but they are not my best feathers – that was the day the doorbell kept ringing, which made the dog bark non-stop (someone was working on our broken porch, but they haven’t finished it yet – that was Sept. 25), and the phone rang off the wall as well.  I was one jumpy quilter that day.

Full shot

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Close-up of block – the quilt maker (who ever she is) did a splendid job on this.  I basically just outlined the courthouse steps in the blocks and then put feathers in the plain, gold blocks

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I also made a floor cloth to put under my kitchen table.  I have wooden floors in the kitchen that are sun-bleached and worn out.  Since I can’t get them fixed right now, I just made a floor cloth out of a painter’s drop cloth.  I painted the squares and then antiqued the cream color and finished it with polyurethane.  It goes with the old world French bistro theme in my kitchen.

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Speaking of floors, I’ve also been working on the stairs to my basement, but I will tell you more about that later.  For now, I’m just tickled that I actually have a quilt top of my own pieced together and ready to quilt.  I haven’t made a quilt for myself in about 1 1/2 years, so this feels good.  I’ve got another that I am hand appliqueing, but that won’t be done for some time.  And, of course, I have tons of them drawn out on paper and in my head.  Lots and lots of other stuff going on here and ideas and projects on my “to do” list, but my brain is turning into mush.  Why?  I don’t know.

What have YOU been up to?  I really do want to know!  Oh, and WHY???  😉

Playing Catch Up

First off, let me show you the quilting that didn’t show up on Jackie’s Quilt post.

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Stitching this Pantograph was so easy peasy I felt guilty charging Jackie for the quilting.

After I finished her quilt, I caught up on this charity quilt that I haven’t been able to get to in a couple of months.  simply quilts 001 simply quilts 002At this point, I just wanted to finish it, so I opted for a quick edge 2 edge design and then failed at attempted to add a matching border.   It turned out okay.  Not happy with the border, but it’s done.  Our guild has a charity sewing day every February.  Kits are made up for us to piece together and then to quilt.  I was hoping for a bigger quilt, but this is what I was given, and it’s just as well since it’s taken me this long to finish it.

What I am currently working on is the following quilt.  My new favorite kind of fabric is solid colored fabric.  I love the colors in this quilt and how they pop against each other.

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Jackie says her daughter, Kat, can outquilt her any day.  I don’t know about that, but I do love this quilt Kat put together.  She just wanted circles quilted all over it to break up the squares, so here is what I’ve done so far.

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The thread is a light orange – I think this was a good choice on the customer’s part.  As for the circles… my circles aren’t perfect – they are done freehand.  I like the circles against the squares, another good choice on the customer’s part. I’m always impressed with my customers’ choices.  I learn a lot from their tastes and their styles.  I’ll post more pictures when I am done.

Waving at you!

Hello charity quilt that I’ve been avoiding for months now!  In fact, it’s been about 4 months since I took you home to quilt.  Yes, I’ve been busy with customer quilts, the raffle quilt, my birthday, my anniversary, Christmas, etc. but I finally did get to you.  I’ve been avoiding you because I knew there would be issues with quilting you, and I wasn’t sure I could handle it, to be honest.  Plus, with all the sampler blocks, I wasn’t sure just how I wanted to quilt you.  I know, I know.  Charity quilts are a GREAT way to practice and learn new skills.  From the look of the next 2 pictures, I would say that some one was learning how to piece blocks.  But, maybe not.  Maybe the pen lines are there because that’s just how this person pieces together the blocks with more accuracy.  Look closely and you will see lines marked on the blocks.

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Charity quilts are typically made from fabric that is donated, so we don’t see too much quality fabric in charity quilts.  That’s sad, too, because the charity quilts I typically quilt go to a shelter for abused women.  They need something sturdy, yet soft, to hug them through their struggles.  Most of the fabric in this quilt is fairly thin.  The backing looks and feels like an old worn out bed sheet and is pieced in several places, but the seams are strong because they are serged.  Problem is, this creates a bigger issue for the Longarm quilter.  Not only does it mess with the hopping foot as it moves around to stitch, but it creates issues with how it lays on the quilting frame.  You can see that from this next picture.  See how the far end border kind of waves?  That block in the upper left of the picture is called an “A” or “B” cup block (bra cup size).  It will affect everything from the border to the rest of the quilt if it is not taken care of right away.  That is the reason this row of blocks got quilted first.

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Another angle so you can see it better.  In this case, it’s not just the block (now shown in the upper right of the picture), but it is also the border.  If you measure the border to fit the measurements of a wonky block, the borders are going to be wonky as well.  Best practices for fixing this is to follow my tutorial on adding a border at

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As you can see, I quilted out the wavy border.

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But then I got done with that row and rolled the quilt forward and found even more waves.

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Yep, I quilted that out, too.

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I thought I had it all under control.  The wavy borders were now straight.  Then, I got to the last row of blocks and…

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If you look closely at the above picture, you will see that the grain line of  blue and yellow fabric are at an angle, so the stretchy sides are attached to the sashing and borders.  This is why it’s important to try to keep the straight of grain of the fabric next to the sashing and/or border.  Of course, the problem floated down to the corner of the quilt.  So, we’re not done with that wavy border, like we had thought.

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A tip that I learned from Kim Brunner ( was to stitch a straight line across the batting and backing at the top and the bottom of your quilt.  Then, push the edge of the quilt top and bottom next to that line and baste a running stitch across to anchor it down straight.  I do this at the top when I first start and at the bottom after I’ve quilted to the point where I can lift the fabric at the bottom of the quilt   You can see the running stitch on the batting of this next picture.  I’ll pin the top to match that line and will then stitch across it.

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But, to make sure it is square at the corners (I don’t want the bottom to be wider than the top), I use a couple of strategies to square it up before I stitch the top down.  In the picture below, you can see a right angle ruler at the corner of the quilt.  I’ve got that stitching line to line up the ruler along the bottom.  Since there’s not too much on the side of this one, I eyeball it to make sure the sides are straight.

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You can see from the above picture that I’ve got another wavy border along the bottom.  If you try to just stitch through it, you may end up with puckers so I pin as many pins as I need to make it lay flat.

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And, I will make the top fabric a little more taut by “bending” it along the way.

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If that’s not enough to “stretch” the fabric flat as I sew, I may put my fingers on both side of the base of my machine and will remove the pins as I go.

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Voila!  The edge is no longer wavy.

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But, I’ve still got that “B cup” blue and yellow block…

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Okay.  I’ll make sure my inner border is as straight as I can get it by Stitching in the Ditch (SID) along both sides.  I have several tools to help me stitch in the ditch, but my personal favorite is Janet Lee’s Other Favorite Ruler.  Little does she know, it’s my favorite, too!  It’s wide enough for my big hands to fit around (3″) and long enough (12″) that I can aim it along a seam to straighten it out and stitch continuously longer than I can with other tools.

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And, here is the rose colored border.  I love how Brandy Lee (owner of The Quilting Place)  does those swirly things in her borders and sashings, so I thought I would try it.  I’ve got a lot of practice before I ace these!  Go check out her work on Facebook at  Or go to her website at  Like I said, I’ve got a long way to go before I’m as good as she is.

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I put feathers in the yellow, outer border.   If you look at this next picture, here is that blue and yellow block.  It’s not completely flat, but it’s pretty dog gone close.  I think as I quilt more and learn more, I will get better.

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And, the finished product…

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It doesn’t look so bad now after all, does it?  I really did get lots of practice on this quilt and learned a lot.  Hopefully someone will pick this quilt to snuggle up into and will end up loving it.  And the quilt will have served its purpose of comforting and hugging the person wrapped in the safety of this warm quilt.

Hopefully this post has inspired you to make and quilt charity quilts, too.

She’s a handy girly whirly

My husband does not have a handy bone in his body, but I do.  The way my siblings and I were raised, we learned to live with what we had and to fix things.  My husband, on the other hand, is a super chef (at home, not as a career), and I am not.  I cook out of necessity, not because I enjoy it.  My husband has a knack for flavors and creating some of the most scrumptious dishes.  As for me, I sew and fix things.  What more could a husband ask for?  And, when I do fix things, my husband says, “She’s a handy girly whirly!”  He acts like he is amazed at the things I fix.  Of course, I am amazed at the things he can cook!  So, anyhow, this is my latest project.

As you can see, we are in the basement – I call it the dungeon.  That is where my longarm quilting machine resides.  I never seem to have enough counter space, so I built this countertop to sit on top of my 2 cubicle bookshelves.  It serves a double purpose as a work desk for me, as I have a drafters chair that rolls right into place in the middle.

Since the bookshelves are 36 inch square, I took a piece of plywood and had it cut at the hardware store to 3 ft x 6 ft.  I then added trim along the sides that would extend a bit along the bottom of the counter to hold it in place on top of the bookshelves. When I added that trim, I left about 1/8 of an inch lip on the top to insert my cutting mats to hold them in place as well.  I then added some measuring tape sticky note tape stuff along the edge that I bought from JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts.

It serves its purpose fairly well, but I still don’t feel like I have enough counter space.  I am planning on and saving up to finish the dungeon and have added power tools and hardware gift cards to my Christmas wish list.    Others might think I’m weird for wishing for power tools, but I don’t want to feel like I’m in a dungeon while I work and create.  And, I know my husband isn’t going to finish it, nor do we have the $$$ to hire it out.  So, it’ll be me, on my own.  I think I will line 2 of the walls with low bookshelves or cabinets.  Not only will that provide storage, but it will also provide that much needed counter space.  I can also hang shelves on the wall when it’s finished, and there will be a ledge that will run along the corner, so all of that will help.

My dream is to have a small kitchenette and bathroom down here.  The kitchenette would be a great place for me to dye fabrics.  And, of course, the bathroom would be handy for this handy girly whirly.  But… I don’t have a clue how to do that nor the muscles for doing plumbing.  Anyone know someone who would be willing to do plumbing for charity?  😉

As for my latest quilting project, I wanted to work on curved crosshatching.  For whatever reason (I guess it’s the freedom that comes with it), I love quilting charity quilts.  The fabric can be some of the most God-awful stuff and it may not be perfect, but it’s a cheap way for me to practice, practice, practice.  After I got in to quilting this a bit and realizing how much time it was taking up, not to mention the fact that this would probably go to a male child, I realized that curved crosshatching is not the thing to put on charity quilts.  Ever!  I didn’t want to rip it out, so I continued on my merry way.  This was a beautifully pieced quilt, and I could have done so much more and better with it.  But, lesson learned!  And, as I like to say, “It’s all (life) a learning process.”  We make mistakes and hopefully learn from them, and in the mean time, it’s not as bad as we think.  As for this one, if I hadn’t done custom quilting on it like this, I probably would have just done an edge-2-edge, which would have done nothing to add to the piecing on this quilt.  But, then, I’m not sure this did, either.

Where does the time go?

So… I haven’t been posting much on here lately because I have been preoccupied with what seems like a gazillion other things demanding my attention right now.  This past week has been swallowed up by me working on an artist portfolio.  Ever seen an artist portfolio for a quilter?  Neither have I, but since I have bills to pay and a porch that needs repair, I am trying to sell my turtle quilt.  S.ave O.ur S.eas is the name of my turtle quilt, and here is a picture of it.

This quilt is roughly 7 1/2 feet tall by 8 feet wide, so it’s a bit bigger than this picture.  I love my quilts and have a hard time parting with them, but this one is so big and I really have no place to hang it other than the basement.  The county I live in is building a new community center and in need of art by local artists.  What better place for this to hang than a community center where children from 1-100 years old will get to look at it.  Well… that or a library or museum or…

Anyhow, they are asking for a portfolio with an artist statement, artist bio, artist resume, 3 art career references (I have super references for teaching in the public schools, but nothing for quilting), a CD with 10 images of your item, etc. etc.  I had to think what I’ve accomplished as a quilter and that nasty little voice in my head tells me that I’ve accomplished nothing, that I’m a loser, and that my work sucks.  So, it’s been a rough week as I’ve tried to pull something, anything out to put down as documentation.  This is what I came up with in my portfolio.


All the information is in there, and I added a tri-fold brochure of some of my other work.  I don’t feel like I stand a ghost’s chance in heaven of getting a commission on this, but, like I said… I need the money and I have a 50% chance of them saying yes.  Gotta take the chance!  If I get nothing else out of all the time I put into it this week, I will have learned some marketing skills and now know how to put together a presentation folder.

As for what else has been going on, my quilt guild meeting is Tuesday.  Remember that “Letter Challenge” Quilt I was working on that I didn’t like the colors and didn’t think it would qualify for the challenge and then decided I would quilt our names into it?  Well… I still haven’t gotten it done, and it doesn’t look like I’m going to get it done.  I can’t seem to finish it with the colors in the house that I have there, so I need to swap that out before I can quilt it.  I’ll post pictures IF/WHEN I get that done, but I have a sneaky suspicion that it won’t be in time for Tuesday’s meeting.  I still need to finish that charity quilt I’d started.  Hopefully I will have that done by Tuesday, because our quilt show is coming up before the next meeting, and they need all the charity quilts they can get for the show.  I’ve tied up the loose ends for our last speaker (I’m the Programs co-chair for the guild) and still haven’t gotten back to the Opportunity (raffle) Quilt for 2013.  I’m hoping to finish that by mid-November so it will be ready for unveiling on December 4th.  So, my apologies for not getting back to the blob (I mean blog) lately.

Hope you had a great week!

Charity Quilts

One of the things I am doing when I don’t have customer quilts to work on is quilting charity quilts.   This particular quilt was perfect for using a pantograph because it had no borders and no regimented block placement.  I don’t normally like using pantos (pantographs), because it’s not as easy for me to follow a line from a paper and then hope it turns out okay on the quilt itself as it is for me to be able to watch where my next quilting stitch will go (whether it is free hand or drawn on there with a disappearing marker).  At least if I’m watching where I will be going next, I can quickly fix a mistake.  Pantos aren’t as easy as they are cracked up to be, BUT they are great practice for mastering your machine and the pantograph itself.  You will be building muscle memory for when you want to do those swirls and curls and feathers, etc. either on your own or with another pantograph.

I enjoyed this particular design once I got started.

These 2 quilts were very similar, and I was given enough backing for both of them to load as one piece (well, it was pieced but was loaded as one piece), so I put the backing on the frame and then loaded my first quilt, quilted it, and then loaded the 2nd quilt and quilted it with the 1st one already done and rolled up on the frame ahead of it.

This one was harder for me to follow.  I don’t know if it was because the patterns are so “definite” so a mess-up would be more noticeable or what…  Perhaps it is because there is a lot of open space?  Or???

The other thing that was happening while I was quilting this particular pattern was my machine was getting hung up on something.  I never did find out what it was getting caught on.  I would stop each time and check all over, around, and under but with no luck of finding what it was… a loose thread, bumpy seam, cord, etc.  Thank goodness I wasn’t getting paid to do this!