I Spy

My final quilt for 2014 was an “I Spy” quilt for Charlotte’s grand-daughter.  What’s an “I Spy” quilt, you ask?  It is a quilt with lots of pictures to look for, using the quilt as a game board, of sorts.  Here’s a shot of the full length of the quilt.  Can you see what I am talking about?


How about now with these close-ups?  Can you see some of the things you might “spy” with your “little eye?”

IMG_2075 IMG_2076IMG_2074 IMG_2073  IMG_2077 IMG_2078

I doubt you can see much of the quilting, but I added numbers and the letters of the alphabet around the borders.  Inside the borders I just quilted and Edge to Edge (E2E) of assorted drawings of things I saw in the quilt.  I hope Charlotte and her grand-daughter have a lot of fun with this quilt!  I know I did!

Table Toppers

Just in time for the season of giving, this book includes quick and easy projects, perfect for gift-giving.  Projects are from Fons & Porter’s “Love of Quilting” magazine and include patterns from Terry Albers, Debbie Beaves, Jodie Davis, Marianne Fons, Sandy Gervais, Sue Marsh, Kelly Mueller, Debbie Mumm, Wendy Sheppard, Edyta Sitar, Betsy Smith, and Karen Witt.  I found the projects to be colorful and cute with clear written instructions  for foundation piecing, machine appliqué, wool appliqué, etc.  Being a machine quilter, I also really liked that this book has suggestions for quilting after you have stitched the table topper together.

Martingale - Table Toppers (Print version + eBook bundle)

Just in time for Halloween and Thanksgiving…

Martingale - Table Toppers (Print version + eBook bundle)

Cute for Christmas…

Martingale - Table Toppers (Print version + eBook bundle)


Martingale - Table Toppers (Print version + eBook bundle)

Or just because…

Martingale - Table Toppers (Print version + eBook bundle)

There is something for everyone in this book.  Check it out at Martingale’s site here.

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas… aka Karma

How were your holidays in 2013?  I’ve had a lot of time to think, probably too much time.  Forgive me if this post gets too philosophical.  Every year I end up having a melt down around Christmas, either before or after.  I know what it is.  I am waaaaay too tired and way too stressed out to have a level head.  I used to think it was just me, but this year I saw it in so many others.  I vowed to myself that this Christmas was going to be different, that I wasn’t going to over do myself and that I was going to just enjoy the holidays, no matter how much does or does not get done.  If it doesn’t get done, I figure, what’s the worst that can happen?  With this attitude, it was easy for me to see how taxing the holidays can be on each of us – it’s not just me!  😀

I coined a new term… the holiday hag… how easy it is for me to fall into that description, and how easy it is for others as well.  I do have to admit that I did try to get too much done.  I set myself up for this all the time, and even though this year I didn’t try to get as much of the usual holiday stuff done, I still worked on other stuff that just added fuel to my inner hag.  How many of you do most or all of the shopping, wrapping of gifts, decorating, making food, cleaning, etc.?  And we wonder why we get so exhausted when we add that to our “regular routine.”  Beware of the Grinch (short temper) that steals your holiday cheer… the angry customers, the aggressive drivers, and the other rude people who don’t normally behave that way but are just as stressed and tired as the screaming kids waiting for Santa.

So, this year I put most of the gifts in bags, saving time on wrapping.  I only made 1 pie and 1 batch of cookies.  I did all the shopping online.  But… my daughter was coming in for the holidays and I wanted to finish a woodworking project before she got here.  In my last post, I promised I’d share pictures, so here they are.  This is the computer armoire that I built all by myself.  I got the plans from ana-white.com here and adapted them to make an “office” for my quilting business.  I needed a place for my computer, printer, forms, my quilting samples, etc.  And, I wanted to be able to close the doors.


Here it is open, before I put the doors on.  See the green bag down on the lower right?  That has my quilting samples.  Since I live out from the city, I tend to go TO my customers instead of them coming to me.  The blue “storage clip board” has my forms, prices, etc. in it as well as my mileage page.  You can see that the backing of this is made of pegboard.  I wanted the electronics to have ventilation, and I also thought I might use it for hanging stuff from it in the future.  There are 2 drawers and a slide-out for my keyboard.  I ran out of paint while working on this, so it doesn’t look finished, but it’s as finished as it’s getting for now (until I’ve had a GOOD LONG WINTER’S NAP!!!).


Anyhow, I am happy enough with how it turned out, especially since this was my first furniture project from scratch.  And, no, I can’t just ask my husband to make it for me, because he hates (and fears, I think) any kind of “handyman” work.  The reason I HAD to finish this before Christmas (by the way, “HAD” is a figment of my imagination) was because I was rearranging rooms to accommodate the Christmas tree in its new place.  I’ve been wanting to move the stereo into the dining room, which is where the tree has been in the past, and put my new “office” where the stereo was in the living room.  This would also leave a nice space for the Christmas tree, where it “should” have been all along… in the living room.  Ah… perfect!

Needless to say this armoire is very heavy, too heavy for me to be lifting and moving by myself.  But, I did.  And, I also moved the furniture around in the dining room, all by myself except for a couple of last moves that I just could not do.  My husband asked me how I was able to move stuff since he couldn’t (he’s had a herniated disk and has lost a lot of strength).  I used those furniture sliders and a lot of determination – this word will come back later in my philosophical “ramblings”…

So, here we are at Christmas Eve when both my daughters and one’s husband can be here for Christmas dinner and our gift exchange.  You may remember that my mother-in-law passed away in October.  We are still sorting through her stuff and trying to get her house sold.  I brought out some quilts for the girls to look at and my oldest says she gets dibs on anything purple.  I made the mistake of pointing out that the younger daughter likes purple as well.  That’s when the oldest said in what sounded to this mother like a 2-year-old’s voice, “She got first choice of the rings and took the one I wanted, so I get first choice now.”  Well, we didn’t know that at the time.  The younger one said that she could have the ring if she wanted, that she could have it all.  At this point, I just dropped what was in my hands and walked out of the room.  The Grinch was in the room with us and I left before the Grinch took hold of me, too.  My poor son-in-law just sat there, caught in the middle.  I think I felt worse for him than anyone.  All I wanted was for my family to get along and to enjoy the holidays together for once without the Grinch stealing our Christmas.

Is this how family holiday gatherings are everywhere?  My husband was crabby and being a jerk, my kids were jealous of each other and being crabby, and I was on the ragged edge of being sucked right into the “poison” with them.  We all ended up having a good time and a nice (enough) Christmas, but later in bed I thought about my own mother.  She had 5 kids.  How did she do it?  Wow!  Deja vu.  Karma jumped up and bit me in the butt!  I think all 5 of us kids were jealous of each other, each of us wanting to be Mom’s favorite.  My mom rarely ever got on to me, but I will never forget the time she chastised me for being snotty about my siblings.  I am sure I was painting a negative picture of them so that I would look like a shining light in her eyes.  I was stunned when she got on to me about it.  Good grief, here I was on the other end of this with my own kids.  Mom’s been gone for almost 5 years now, and I know she wanted all of us to get along and to be close.  Funny how we’ve all worked on that since she’s passed and how we all now see ourselves as having more similarities than we do differences.  We’ve all gone our separate ways, with 8 years between the oldest and the youngest of us, but our “roots” are the same.  And, we find so many quirky things that are unique to the 5 of us that we don’t see in any one else.  I know now that Mom loved each of us.. the same and, yet, differently, and with all her heart.  I feel the same way about my kids.

The point of this message?  My hope is that each of us will realize that life is short, too short.  My wish is that future Christmases for all of us will be magical, full of Christmas spirit, and that we remember that Christmas is not about things but about the moments of this holiday that we will take with us in memories.  Let’s aim for good and happy memories.  Don’t work too hard but DO play hard.  Don’t worry about perfection because we all have our own individual definitions of perfect, so when you’re trying to make it perfect for everyone, it won’t be, no matter what, and that’s okay!  And, above all, try to laugh.  It’s a great stress reliever.  Happy Belated Christmas to you!  I hope you have lots of fun memories of 2013!

Applique Basket

Here is my latest customer quilt, finished.   She did all this by hand; needle-turn applique.  Isn’t it beautiful?

Wilma's quilt 1 013 copy

And, here is a picture of just the basket of flowers.

Wilma's quilt 1 014

I love her selection of batik fabrics and how she coordinated it all.    She chose this color thread.  What is strange is how it showed up on the background fabric.  I swear it gives off a pinkish color in some places.  It’s funny how you can see a thread in one light and it looks different in another or next to other colors, such as the colors in the batiks.

Wilma's quilt 1 010

So, this is what I did with it.  I was a bit stumped on what to quilt into the basket.  There are lots of things you could quilt into it… berries and vines, flowers, etc.  But, I opted for curved cross hatching, because I thought it would be better understated than too much.  I didn’t want to over power the applique.

Wilma's quilt 1 002

You know how I love to sneak stuff into my quilting.  Well, I couldn’t resist adding a few surprises to add to the garden feeling of this quilt… one more reason why I didn’t want to add too much frilly stuff to the basket and opted for simple curved cross-hatching.  See the overweight hummingbird drinking nectar from the wrong color bloom?  That’s what happens when I freehand quilt a bird that is color-blind.  😉

Wilma's quilt 1 006

And, then there’s the confused bumblebee that looks like it has stingers on both ends…

Wilma's quilt 1 008

Or the butterfly that barely looks like a butterfly…

Wilma's quilt 1 009

But, I am fairly happy with the quilted vine that looks kind of like the vines the customer appliqued onto her quilt… if I could just get those outlines more even and not fat in one place and skinny in another.   I don’t know what happened there.

Wilma's quilt 1 001

Okay, the one at the top of her quilt looks better.  The good thing about being a quilter is that quilting isn’t usually the thing that pops out on a quilt; it’s the colors, the piecing and/or the applique.  So, even though I am not as good as I would like to be (and I never will be – there’s ALWAYS room for improvement), it will still look good if the piecer/appliquer is good.  And, she is!

Wilma's quilt 1 004

When I first saw this lovely quilt, I was concerned about the prairie points sticking up after quilt.  You know how quilting will draw up your fabric?  Well, the prairie points were not quilted, so I was worried I would ruin her quilt.  But, they actually lay fairly flat and look really nice as an frame for her bouquet.  This quilt gets returned to her tomorrow.  I hope she is happy with it and that she likes it!  I was honored to get to be the quilter for this quilt and for her.  She is a special lady who does so much for so many others.  I hope when she looks at this quilt on her wall that is makes her smile.

Marking a Quilt

I know most quilters mark designs onto quilts, and I mark my own quilts all the time.  But, I am always afraid to mark on customers’ quilts.  So, I have been trying to find alternate methods of getting a design onto a quilt.   Remember the Press ‘n Seal method?  You have probably already tried the following strategies.  I have, too, but it’s been awhile since I’ve tried them, so they are new to me yet again.  One strategy I tried on Mickey’s quilt last week was to bring my laser light to the front of my machine instead of using it in the back for pantographs.  You can see how I drew her dog onto the quilt.  On the left is the picture of her dog in black and white.  I took a green highlighter and marked on the paper what I wanted to draw onto the quilt.  Can you see the little red dot under the dog’s paw?  That’s the laser light that is attached to the front of the machine.  When I move the laser light along where I highlighted, I will be drawing with thread onto the quilt.  You can see the finished product on the right.

MD quilt 001      MD quilt 002

It’s not perfect, but it is one way for me to avoid marking on a quilt.

With the quilt I am working on right now, I am trying onion skin paper.  I’ve tried tracing paper and vellum.  Today I used the onion skin paper.  I bought a roll of this from Du-All Art & Drafting Supplies.  It’s 50 yards long, so hopefully it will last awhile.  The cost, with shipping, was about $32.

The artist for this quilt wanted her applique to shine.  She had twisted vines along 2 corners, leaving the opposite 2 corners blank.  I could have quilted anything in there.  A lot of people would have put feathers in there.  Personally, I think feathers are sometimes over done.  I love them, but I also love to see variety in quilting.  So, I decided to use this quilter’s applique as the basis for the quilting motif along the blank corners.  I figured that would better show off her applique.  First I traced her design onto the onion skin paper.

marking quilts 001

Then, I adapted her design to fit into the empty corners, by folding the paper and creating new curls in the vines.

marking quilts 002 marking quilts 003

You can see here that the design is too long, so I will just take the vine from that curved corner and stretch it around to meet her appliqued vine (the area between my fingers).

marking quilts 005

Now I have the 2 corner vines drawn onto new paper and ready for quilting.

marking quilts 007

I’ve got it pinned onto the quilt and am ready to stitch-in-the-ditch (SID) around her appliqued vines and will stitch through the onion skin paper onto the quilt.

marking quilts 008

After I quilted through the paper and quilt sandwich, I ripped the paper off.  It snapped off cleaner than both tracing paper and vellum.  I like it!  So, I think my preference between tracing paper, vellum, and onion skin paper would have to be the onion skin paper.  Good thing I’ve got a 50 yard roll, because I’m sure I’ll be using it for future projects.

Stay tuned for pictures of the finished product in the near future!  I’ll be filling in the area around the applique with stippling so it will pop!

Hide & Seek in the Hexie Garden

I’ve been working on a quilt for Mickey Depre.  You may or may not know her as the author of


You can find Mickey on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PiecedHexiesWithMickeyDepre.  She also has a website at www.mdquilts.com and her blog is at www.itsafiberlife.blogspot.com.  Mickey has a very creative mind that often goes in overdrive, so she has been very busy lately.  Just this week she was working on taping videos for Craftsy and she is currently in the process of writing her next pieced hexies book as well.

So, she asked me to help her out a bit with this (what I call “vintage”) quilt top she got from ebay.   She needed it quilted and she gave me full range on what I thought should be done with it.  You know, that can be lethal, for some people.  Well, I sure didn’t want to mess it up, and, honestly, I wondered why on earth she would choose me to quilt for her.  So, I was going to do my best with what I’ve got.

mdquilt 002

And, what I’ve got is the ability to draw from pictures using thread.  Would that make me a thread artist then?  I LOVE whimsy and fun things, so I knew I wanted to draw stuff like that on her quilt… if she was okay with that.  And, she was!  For whatever reason, in my mind I pictured her dog peeking around the baskets and playing in this garden of hexie flowers.  So, although I was going to quilt the flowers to look like flowers, there were 2 side borders that needed to be filled with <something>.  I extended flowers and leaves into those borders, added a few baskets of flowers and put a couple of dogs out in that negative space as well.

Here is a shot of flowers in the baskets.

Mickey's final quilt 014

The backing fabric is 100% combed cotton.  I thought it was polished cotton and bought it because some friends said the feel of that polished cotton on the backs of quilts is scrumptious.   When I got it home and took it out of its protective wrap, it looked like cotton sateen.  Okay, I think I can live with that.  But, I was almost horrified when I took the quilt off the machine after quilting this quilt and looked at the back.  Most great quilters I know like to quilt with solid colored fabric and, even better, they like to quilt with unusual fabrics, mostly to show off the quilting.  You can’t see the quilting too well on the front sides of quilts, but if you have a solid color backing, you can see it there.  And, you can “really” see it well if it is on shiny fabric.  This is where my horror lay.  It looked like satin on the back of this down-to-earth and “functional” quilt.  Not only that, but you could REALLY see my quilting!  My eyes bulged and I lost my breath (and not in a good way).  You see, I am still a little insecure about my quilting abilities and am not sure I’m ready to have my thread art screaming to the world, “Look at me!  Look at me!”

I tried to get some good shots so you could see the “sheen” of this backing fabric.  Here is one of the flowers.

Mickey's final quilt 005

Do you see the dog wagging its tail?

Mickey's final quilt 008

Here’s one of the dog’s face.

Mickey's final quilt 007

Here’s a few of the front side.   Mickey and her husband are hockey fans, I believe, so it would have been nice to add that to the quilt for one more personal touch.  But, how do you get that to fit in a spring garden?  Well, soccer is *kind of* like hockey, right?  So, I put a soccer ball in the garden for their dog to play with.

Mickey's final quilt 013

Their dog looking at the soccer ball…

Mickey's final quilt 021

Here is one of the wonky baskets of flowers I quilted into the side borders.

Mickey's final quilt 018

And, finally, before I was done, I had to add one more picture of their dog in the middle of the bottom of the quilt, peeking out at them.  You might barely be able to make out the “Peek a Boo!” I quilted right above the dog.  The word “Peek” is right under the pink flower on the left.  It’s written at an angle into an arc around the top of the dog.  Can you find it?

I had so much fun quilting this for Mickey.  I hope she will be happy with the quilting and can live with the backing fabric.  O_O

If you haven’t had a chance yet, hop on over to Mickey’s website  and take a look at some of her creative work!

Marking a Quilt using Press ‘n Seal

Remember that link I told you about awhile back where the blogger uses Press ‘n Seal to mark her quilts?  Here is the link in case you need a refresher: http://quiltsbyrosemary.blogspot.com/2011/06/marking-quilting-pattern-using-pressn.html.  Well, I decided to try it on my latest quilt.

I’ve been working on one of my quilt guild’s raffle quilt, or as they like to call it, the “2013 Opportunity Quilt.”  I am letting the cat out of the bag here by posting pictures.  I am nearly done and want to have it finished by our next meeting on December 4th.  I just have a few more motifs to sew and a small border and then I can take it off the quilting frame, bind it, put a hanging sleeve and quilt label on it, and it’ll ready to be hung for “unveiling” at the December 4th meeting.  As you will see from the pictures, it’s an Asian themed quilt, with kimonos all over it.  I won’t put a picture on here yet of the whole thing, but will wait until after the official unveiling on the 4th for that.

I quilted interlocking circles along 3 borders.  It was a little tedious trying to do that around applique Kanji (above, shown before quilting the interlocking circles), but necessary to make it look okay.  Clam shells were quilted inside the kimono blocks and a different Japanese motif was quilted in the middle of each kimono.  I won’t tell you too much about the kimonos, because I want to save that for the final unveiling pictures.  But, I can post a picture of one of the kimonos.

I used the Press ‘n Seal that Rosemary suggested on the above block and the block pictured below.  Here are a couple of pictures of the process.


I had already copied all my patterns onto vellum paper and am planning on using those in the same way, but I wanted to give the Press ‘n Seal a try on a small area before I try it on a larger area.

If you know anything at all about Judy Lyon, you know she does amazing things with pantographs.  You can find her work here: http://www.meadowlyon.com/.  When I saw her pantograph “Geisha Garden,” I knew I had to have it, and I wanted to add it into this quilt.  But where?   I already had the whole thing planned out, so the only place it would fit would be on the bottom border of the quilt.  And, how on earth would I get it on there?   Unless you are Matt or Bradie Sparrow, who can quilt a pantograph from the front of their machine using a BobbinCam http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRDp2LZOPv8, then you need to come up with another way.   Normally a pantograph is quilted from the back of the machine, so I would have to be VERY precise with how I did this.  Plus, I had the quilt loaded to face the front of the machine, so that would mean taking the quilt off and reloading it the other direction.  That’s when I decided to just draw the design onto the quilt, but that, too, would be difficult.  I could use a roll of paper, but paper that is too big will get torn and mess up.  So, Press ‘n Seal was the way to go with this.  And, you know what?  It worked really well!

Drawing it onto the Press ‘n Seal… See why I HAD to put this design into the quilt?


Pressing it down along the bottom border – it worked REALLY well and stayed in place the whole time.




After I ripped the plastic off…

The only “con” for this, I think, was that it took a little longer for me to pull the plastic off than it did for me to run the stitches over the Press ‘n Seal.  Be careful of tiny little places where the plastic can get stuck.  Try to either sew those closed or make them bigger, more open spaces.




Quilt Retreat

One of the guilds I belong to had a quilt retreat this past Saturday.  It was my very first quilting retreat EVER!  I thought to myself, “What on earth am I going to do for almost 12 hours at a quilting retreat?”  I mostly have longarm quilting to catch up on, so I had to really think about what to bring.   A friend suggested I bring something I hadn’t been able to work on in quite some time, some of my UFOs.  Well, I have a couple of those, so I took along plenty of stuff, sure I’d finish each and every one of the 4 items in my bag.  As it turns out, there is a LOT of socializing at these retreats and not as much work gets done as you might expect.  Actually, in my case, it was AVOIDANCE.  I started this quilt over a year ago and, after volunteering on the board of 2 separate quilt guilds and in between all the eye surgeries, this project got pushed aside, balled up, messed up, and out of the way on so many occasions that I had forgotten about it.  At this point, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to finish even what I did on Saturday and this project would be pushed to the back burner again and again.  And, it probably will, because I just have too many ideas floating around in my pea brain, demanding my attention.  It can get really frustrating, and I try to avoid quilting challenges, because that just sets my mind awhirl once again.  But, I am SOOO happy that I got this portion of the quilt done.  It will be the foundation for future dabblings to add to the quilt.  So, here is a sneak peek of what I worked on Saturday.




And, here are some pictures of folks who also attended the retreat.



If you are a quilter and haven’t yet attended a retreat yet, you should try it!  Even if you walk away with only one thing completed, you will feel like you’ve accomplished a lot!