Thursday, February 4, 2016


Campout Quilt

It's been a while since I've posted anything. I actually forgot that I created this blog!  I decided I wanted a new blog, signed in and wha-la!  Already done!  
In reviewing my two year old posts, I realize I promised more quilt pictures!  I have another blog that I posted the full quilt photoshoot experience on.  ( 
After viewing so many quilt blogs, I had realized my photographs needed a good background setting.  Just spreading them on the bed was not showcasing them. 
With this goal in mind, my husband and I ventured out in search of a place that held possibility.  I remembered a farm that has been deserted; I had been there with my grandmother as a child, and we had driven by it recently.  The place just glows with the love of the people who had once occupied it.   
With a basket of temporarily repossessed quilts and my husband's iPad, we headed to that farm.  My husband played photographer (as I stood behind him looking at the iPad screen) and helped me hang the quilts. It was a great day! And we took more pictures than I am posting here, but didn't want to overwhelm.  
I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I enjoy seeing everyone else's creations!  Feel free to leave a comment.  I'd love to hear from you!  
My Mother's Garden

The Story of My Life - Courthouse steps style with big stich quilting done with Number 8 Perle Cotton
My son (and me) with the flag quilt I spoke of in my last couple of posts and a more close up of the pattern than the photo below. 
Drew's flag quilt hanging on the barn
Layla Loves Red - quick quilt for my granddaughter's Christmas a few years ago
Jaden Loves Blue - Jelly Roll Race made with Snow Days batiks for my grandson's Christmas a few years ago.
Amish quilt - made in the late 90's for my oldest son

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Past Quilts

I love to see what other people have made, so thought I would post a few pics for others like me. 
Here's a quilt that I made for my daughter. She picked the pattern and the fabric. I free motion quilted the entire thing on my Viking Lily. It was a job, but I enjoyed putting my own design in it and even put in a few favorite quotes and sayings. My favorite is from Sleping Beauty when the fairies tell Rose, "Don't touch anything!"  

This one I made for my oldest son and his wife. She picked the colors and I paid to have this one quilted on a long
This one is a flannel quilt that I made for my youngest son. It's rather rustic and woodsy. Just like him. 
This is one I made for my husband. He asked for a "big" quilt. It's called a disappearing four patch. I used fabrics that represented the things he and I have enjoyed doing together: fishing, camping, bicycling, raising cows  and I used a flannel in the back that says, I heart my bike. 

I have several more I can share. But that's all for today. 
Happy Creating!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Handing It Over

Friday after work, my husband and I took my quilt top, batting and backing to a local long arm quilter.  I have never taken my work to her before, but I have heard she is good, and it's all she does.  Her name is Linda, and her place is called The Creative Stitch in North Manchester.
The town of North Manchester is a college town with old houses and quaint little shops.  They are in the process of painting the store fronts, so the sign for her business had actually been taken down that day.  We drove up and then down the street, but couldn't find it.  I typed the address in my iPhone mapping app, and my husband pulled into a parking spot in what he felt was the near vicinity of the business.
I got out of the car with my garbage bag holding the quilt and batting and backing and started walking. It's hard to find the place you are looking for when you are right up to it on the sidewalk.  I remember trying to find certain places while walking the streets of Chicago.  An aerial or street view is much easier.  Luckily, just as I was about to walk past the store, the woman in my phone said, "Arrived."  I turned and saw spools of thread in the window, smiled and grabbed the door handle.
As I entered, I was greeted by Linda, who had so graciously agreed by phone to stay past her closing time of 4pm, to wait for me.  She was friendly and welcoming, and I felt immediately at home.
We laid the quilt out on the table, so she could see what we were working with.  I told her since it is a flag quilt that I wanted an edge to edge meandering star design.  She had me come to her display on the machine and go through several star designs that she had.  We went through thread colors and finally decided on a gray/taupe.
I was disappointed to hear that she uses the same color on the bottom as she does on the top.  The backing of the quilt is dark brown, and I was hoping she would use dark brown bobbin thread.  She said the backing thread tends to show on the top, so she always uses the same color.  I didn't like this idea, but I decided that she was the professional, and, afterall, the back is the back, right?  The frustration of it all was really that the reason I had decided to have her do it was that when I was trying to do it myself, I was getting poke throughs of the top thread to the back, and I couldn't get my tension adjusted right to avoid this.  Now we were intentionally having the thread showing on the back.
Since the quilt is so large, and I was already there, I went ahead and left it.  Her turn around time is great - four weeks!  And she seemed to know what she was talking about, and she came highly recommended.  She must be good if that's all she does, right?
I am a bit nervous, and hope and pray that it turns out okay.  I spent a lot of time cutting and piecing it.  Not to mention the cost of all the fabric, right?  Fabric is so expensive these days - as is everything else!  I don't know about you, but I am shocked every time I get my total at the grocery store!
Anyway, I've been working on this quilt for so long that it feels weird not to have it to work on.  I've started some little owl projects, and am debating doing a craft show with my sister, whose business is called Nine Oh Nine,
My other option is to spend time making a quilt for my son-in-law.  He is the last to join our family and last in line to get a quilt.  The problem is that I am still not sure what quilt to make for him.  My daughter is supposed to let me know.
I guess I will let you know my decision soon.  Happy Creating!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

When At First You Don't Succeed......

Well, I spent a couple hours or more marking my quilt top and pin basting it to the batting and back.  I had my reservations about quilting it myself, but since my husband had purchased me the Sapphire 835 with the bigger harp space, and everyone was saying I should do it myself, I decided to give it a whirl.  I was actually all psyched up about it.
First I got a little frustrated with the marking.  It was tedious at best.  But I marked the main lines that would be hard to do without a guide, and then figured I could use them as starting points and go from there.
The pinning I ended up doing on my breezeway floor, where it was cold and hard on the knees.  But I got it done and headed to the sewing room with my large bundle.
I threaded my machine with the carefully chosen thread from the LQS (that means local quilt shop in quilter's lingo.).  I carefully positioned the quilt under the needle, folded up all the edges (or bunched it up), donned my quilter's gloves and off I went - or so I wish it would have gone.
Immediately, it got hung up.  I quickly stopped and awkwardly pulled the quilt off the machine.  Better do a practice run on a mock up of the project.
I cut some backing from the extra fabric, some batting and a piece of leftover top fabric and made a sandwich.
To save you the grief of having to read about it, and me the grief of reliving this nightmare, I will give you the short version.
After three different needles - a sharp, a quilting needle and a topstitch needle; three different brands of thread (and one trip to JoAnn Fabric in the next town to get said other two brands of thread); rethreading the top thread and the bobbin several times; taking off the darning foot and replacing it; trying every setting of tension numerous times; reading my owner's manual - three hours later, with nothing to show but five sandwiches with the top ecru thread showing through on the brown bottom fabric, I decided to take all the pins out and hire someone to just do a meandering star with their long arm.
I am not happy with my Sapphire 835.  I am still debating on trading it in.  I'd like to be able to FMQ (free motion quilt), because ultimately, that was the purpose of this machine.  It is great at other sewing, but that's not what I wanted it for.
I am disappointed and relieved.  I should have listened to myself.  I really thought a full size quilt was taking on a bit too much with my full-time work and other projects to do.  Everything happens for a reason, right?
But now - what to do about the Sapphire......

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sailing the Blue

October 13, 2014

It’s Columbus Day.  Yay for the day off, but boo for the guy it is honoring.  I don’t know much about history, but I have heard he was real bad!  Anyway, selfishly, it works for me.  Nothing like a three-day weekend - and a paid holiday to boot.  Government jobs my not be the most enthralling, but the holidays are great! 

I woke today with a sore neck.  It alarmed me, because I plan to start quilting my latest project.  Is this an omen? I thought.  Then I remembered that I have been doing yoga planks to strengthen my core.  And I spent an hour on my hands and knees pin-basting the quilt. 

I was looking forward to the day home alone to putz about the house and get into my quilting, but plans have changed.  Thunder and lightning and a nice downpour awakened us.  My husband is a building contractor and had warned me that if it was raining, they wouldn’t be working, as their job this week is a metal roof.  He has been home a lot recently, but not because of the weather – unless you want to say it’s because he has been “under the weather.” 

Last Monday he awoke with a scrotal infection and hydrocele.  I will let you Google that and you will see that it is a very painful and uncomfortable illness.  He is doing much better than he was, at least physically, but his spirits are down.  The pain is almost all gone, but he is not convinced it is getting better. 
I have been trying to be supportive and caring, nurturing and compassionate, but I am feeling a bit at a loss, as I am starting to wonder, too, if more might be done, and the doctors that he has seen are just missing it.  A third doctor may be in the future. 

My husband’s passion is training.  He rides extreme distances (which don’t seem extreme to him anymore) on his road bicycle.  I think this obsession may have something to do with his condition, but he is adamant that it has NOTHING to do with it!  Regardless, he is not able to get on a bike, or run, or swim, and those are the things that make him happy.  He needs, as I feel everyone does, a diverse set of hobbies.  I see elderly people, men especially, who when they lose their physical abilities, become depressed and feel useless.  He does read, and he IS addicted to his iPhone, but it doesn’t feed him like his physical training.  So, if this thing doesn’t hurry up and get better, he is not going to be a happy camper.  Poor guy. 

On a happier note, I have my son’s flag quilt all pieced and now it is sandwiched and pin basted!  I cleaned my sewing machine last night – removing a pile of lint from under the bobbin and surrounding the bobbin case – and I have a new needle inserted.  I have the various colors of top thread set out and my comfy office chair now in position at my sewing desk. 

I moved my Viking Sapphire 835 to the large school desk that we purchased from my husband’s old high school buddy.  He saw it for sale on Facebook and thought of me!  So sweet!  I have been using it with my Viking Lily, but haven’t used it for any large projects yet.  This is where it will really come in handy having all that surface to work on.  I am excited to see how well this works.  It has been several years since I have machine quilted any large quilts.  I had been opting to take them to a lady who does an all over meander quilting with a long arm, but this quilt, the flag quilt, pattern showed the diagram of quilting it, and it looked like something I could handle, especially since my husband insisted on getting me the used Viking Sapphire 835 for Christmas a couple years ago.  It has a larger throat (or harp) space, and it sews faster, too – amongst other features.  My Lily has been a workhorse, and I still love it best, but it’s a bit slow and small. 

I had a little trouble with the 835 at first.  Bird’s nesting on the back of my quilting.  It was horrible and so disappointing, and frustrating!!  So I took it to a nearby dealer, Sew Biz,, where the owner, Donelle, who for $65, cleaned it and said it worked great for her.  She did point out that the bobbin was very specific in its threading.  There is the tiniest little bit of metal lip that you HAVE to get the thread under.  Since then, it has been great!  Although one day I did have it threaded wrong and the top thread kept breaking.  I got out the manual and realized my blunder.  Whew! 

So I am ready to go – EXCEPT – I have to wait for the local quilt shop to open, so I can get the right thread for the bobbin.  Wish I would have thought of that on Saturday instead of on Sunday.  I have two hours to wait.  But hey, anyone who knows me knows that I can find plenty to fill those two hours. 

So Happy Columbus Day!  And Happy Quilting!  

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Birth of a Passion

My quilting started a long time ago.  I didn't know at the time that it would become a life-long passion.  I was about ten or so, and I was bored.  

I hate that word - "bored."  When my children said they were bored, my training from my parents was to put the child to work.   That was their solution to being bored, but as a parent, I realized that there was more to life than work.  I wanted them to enjoy being children and find things they enjoyed doing when they were not working.  It seemed like good training for when they became adults.  From my own experience, I realized that too many people, when relieved from the daily grind, were lost on what to do with themselves and resorted to drinking or shopping as entertainment.  Both, I feel, are not the most productive or fulfilling activities and can lead to an empty wallet and an empty heart.  

My youngest son was easily bored.  Not one to watch TV, movies or play video games, if it was raining outside or snowing, it made it difficult to placate him.  When he said, "I'm BORED!" I would cringe inside.  I knew that I needed to guide him to finding ways to fill that empty time that would instill lifelong skills to lead him to a fulfilling, nurturing space.  It was a huge responsibility.  I soon learned that the only way to placate him was to send him outside – regardless of the weather.  He is a lot like his grandfather and finds fulfillment in what others would call work. 

My oldest two children were easily entertained.  They loved to watch the Discovery Channel, and now joke about their wealth of “useless” knowledge.  My oldest son loved video games, and both of the oldest two loved to read.  My daughter loved photography and painting. 

It was a Sunday when I proclaimed my bored status.  I am sure my mother cringed at that responsibility being laid upon her back.  Since it was Sunday, work was not required.  It was a day of rest, and I am sure my mother wanted a break, too!  My siblings all loved to play together outside, but I rarely cared for their activities.  I am sure when my mother reached deep into her resources to find something to entertain me that she had no idea how it would change my world.  

Out of desperation, she taught me to make patchwork quilts.  She gave me a small envelope for my template, the pin cushion and a stack of scraps she had saved from making pajamas for us kids.  She showed me how to lay the template on the fabric, taking care not to waste, pin it in place and cut it out.  After I had a stack of rectangles, she showed me how to lay them out on her bed to see how they looked.  We rearranged them till the pattern was pleasing to us. She then taught me to use her sewing machine, and I sewed the pieces together. 

The quilt was tied with orange yarn, something we must have had on hand, and the batting was made from an old blanket.  It was the old way of making comforters and quilts.  It seems archaic, but I appreciate it today for what it was – a woman’s way of making art from necessity.  They used what they had, and they made useful things, but they made them with love and care, taking pride in the end result.

My first scrap quilt was just the right size for my dolls, and I would later use it for my daughter when she was an infant.  After I finished the first one, I set about making a twin sized for my own bed.

My quilting was left by the wayside for many years, as friends and school, ball games and school activities took over.  After high school, I married and had children, divorced and remarried, moved around the world, and grew up.  I didn’t pick quilting back up again, till necessity opened the door once again. 

It was the fall of 1989.  My husband and I were living on a meager income.  Christmas was coming, and I could tell that we would not have a lot of presents for the children under the tree.  I decided to make my daughter a personalized quilt.  I had lots of scrap fabric, collected over the years, and using the same technique that my mother had taught me when I was ten, I made a large patchwork quilt, used a blanket for the batting, but this time, I machine quilted the blanket to the back, which was a flat sheet I had purchased from the Dollar Store.  I appliqued her name on the front, and used eyelet lace to edge it.  She still has it today, and she brings it home to be mended, as it is becoming threadbare from use and age. 

My best friend, Deirdre, who was also struggling to buy Christmas that year, saw the quilt and decided to make one for her mother.  She did not have such a stash of fabrics, so went to the local fabric store to find what she needed to complete her project. 

While at the fabric store, Deirdre saw a quilting class advertised.  She begged me to take the class with her.  I really didn’t feel I should spend the money, but after much begging and pleading, I gave in and splurged.  It was at this class that I learned new techniques, and the art of quilting. 

Deirdre and I continued on with our quilting.  We were two stay-at-home moms.  We got together and cut, sewed and quilted together.  We planned and dreamed together.  Although we had learned to machine quilt our quilts, we were enamored with the idea of hand-quilting, so studied up on it, and experimented with hoops and frames.  We aspired to get as many stitches in an inch as we could. Eight to ten is considered good.  We achieved ten and were content with that. 

Through the years and changes in lifestyles, Deirdre and I lost touch for twenty years.  We recently reconnected through Facebook.   I was sad to hear that she does not quilt or sew anymore.  Deep down she is a true artist.  Sometimes, she would wake in the morning and sketch out a quilt pattern that popped into her head in the night.  Most of my creations seem to always come from magazines or books. 

When my maternal grandmother came to live with my mother for a short period before moving into the nursing home after Grampa died, she and I spent time quilting together.  She did all of her work by hand – from the piecing to the quilting.   It was a time of bonding that I will treasure forever. 

I know where the word “comforter” came from, because the feeling of fabric in my hands and the transformation that takes place through this creative act feeds me and comforts me.  It takes me to places that nothing else can.   I don’t think I will ever stop quilting.   My only hope is to possibly get better with each project.