See it, Draw it, Quilt it

Okay, so this is another one of those “I have big plans” posts.  Sometimes, those get a follow-up where the big plans worked.  Sometimes, you just never hear about it again.

I’m working on this baby quilt.


I’ve completed all the ditchwork.  I’ve quilted along both sides of the blue “ribbons”, but not along the joining seams, so I can quilt an “all-over” design that runs around the quilt in bands.  Something textural, and because it’s blue, I was thinking something water-ish.  The printed fabrics have all been ditch quilted on all three sides, and that’s all I plan to quilt in those sections.  When it’s done and laundered, the denser quilting in the blue sections will cause those triangles to puff up and stand out more than the blue sections.  At least, that’s the plan.

I sat down this morning with my copy of 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs by Leah Day.  This is a picture book of her series of free motion designs that she demonstrated online. 


It was very relaxed, no pressure, sitting in the floor and flipping through the book and watching TV.  I’ve found that’s the best way to find inspiration.  If I’m pressured, I can’t decide.  But, if I’m relaxed and open to possibilities, I find stuff I like, and I knew that there was a design in here called Pebbles in a Stream that would likely work if nothing else did.

This is what spoke to me and isn’t water-ish, but it is flowing and would turn corners nicely and I sure do like it.


I like the triangles quilted into this quilt that is made up of triangles.  I plan to “doodle” this during a conference call today…yes, I’ll still be able to pay attention.  Think of just one set of geese with the outlining around it, running through all that blue.  I’d quilt it large because it’s a baby quilt and I want it to be soft and I think I’d only be able to get one line of geese in a blue row. 

I think it would be great!

Or, maybe a big flop.  Babies don’t judge.

Anyway, it’s going to be rainy and yucky this weekend and I plan to see just how much of that blue fabric I can fill with quilting because this baby is not waiting either.  Rob will deliver the other baby quilt today, and I think I beat that baby here.  Now, I’ve got to race with one more and see if I can beat it here.

Everybody have a great Friday.  Our project that has made my life hell is elevating today.  It will either be a really good day.  Or,


I can’t even think of the “or”.  It just has to be a really good day.  Okay?




The beginning of progress

I’m hesitant to show these pics because they are just the beginning.  But, even this much has been a long slog and these are the steps on which the rest of the sewing studio organization will be built. 

First was the TV.  This is Rob’s very professional installation to get the TV up higher so I could see it from anywhere in the room.


The area below is still a work in organization progress, but it sure is coming together nicely.  It’s great to have the electronics concealed in a cabinet.  This isn’t meant to be my work station.  It’s too small for that.  It’s really more of a charging station where I can keep all the electronics and the cords and one big honking surge protector that everything can stay plugged into.

Moving the diorama dollhouse meant I got my window back…


Yay!!  I never would have thought I would have missed that window as much as I have.   Mostly, I missed the ability to cover it with a room darkening shade and keep out the hot southern sun in August. 

And, the treadle two spool found a more permanent home.  I’ve been using it for some piecing.


And, finally, the small progress I’ve made in the studio closet and storage area. 


Don’t look above or below the shelf with the fabric on it, okay?  Cuz I’m not there yet.  But, this was two shelves of fabric stored in bins.  And, out of the bins, it is one shelf of fabric.  That’s significant progress.  I’m using pieces of cardboard for now to separate styles of fabric, but I’ll look for something acid free later.  See the little boxes and bins on top of the stacks?  Those are for scraps from that fabric style.  For example, my 30’s repro scraps are stored where I can best use them, with the other 30’s repro fabric.  As Rebecca says, this is my textile vocabulary…or at least the fancy and special occasion words. 

More progress will be made this weekend.  It’s slow and steady and I’m moving lots of stuff more than once.  I know that sounds bad, but because it’s taking so long, I’m really finding the best places to store things.  Sometimes, that means moving it to a place I think is perfect and then finding the place that really is perfect.

I almost showed you the shelf of UFO’s.  But, not!  Even though I don’t see it as my “shelf of shame”.  UFO’s for me are just part of it.  Those are the quilts that need brain work before the next physical work.  Some of them need more than brain work…they need divine inspiration.  But, I also know that when I’m in the mood to finish something, all I have to do is grab something for that quick ego boost that comes from a completion.  And, no, I did not count them when I folded them.  They’re mine and I don’t need to know how many there are…but I know there are enough to drive some quilters crazy.

Everybody have a great Thursday.  Syd has the dentist this morning before school.  What was I thinking?

Oh, I remember.  If we’re first, they won’t have had time to get behind schedule. 

Yeah, right.  I believe these people start the day behind schedule.  But, we’ll see.



All you need is texture

I’ve been singing the Beatles hit, All You Need is Texture all morning. 

At least, I’m pretty sure those are the words.

When I replaced the scrappy border in this little quilt…


it gave a place for the eye to rest.  (and it turned out I liked that scrappy border better than I thought I did, I just didn’t realize it until it was gone and replaced.)


Anyway, places for the eye to rest are great places for quilting.


I used two patterns, one is called wood grain and the other is pebbles. Little better view of the wood grain below.


I had already ditch quilted along every other seam in the quilt.  So, it was quilted in squares and triangles and long rectangles.  This gave me something in the middle of that to fill the space and break up the regularity. 

In the center, I quilted lines.  First, see how the lines of the fabric run.


I imitated that striped fabric in the quilting (might have to blow that one up to see it good) at evenly spaced quarter inch intervals.


You can also see one of the triangles that is filled with straight lines above.  That is done in all of the flower print fabric.  When the flash isn’t highlighting the yellow in that fabric, the straight lines help it to recede and become much less important.  That was helpful for a boy quilt.

Add a green binding to pull the green out to the edge, and it’s going to be a great little quilt…if I can get it to the Mom.

Rebecca asked if I was free motion quilting that wood grain or if it was marked.  It is FMQ, free hand.  No marking.  I got the idea from this book, Free-Motion Quilting with Angela Waters.


In it, she gives step by step instructions for how to get started on a pattern.  Follow her steps for the first couple of repeats and then it just gets very natural. 


On the first border I put the wood grain in, the knots were very regimented and evenly spaced.  By the second side, they were more natural and randomly spaced (the appearance of random is very, very hard).  I confess to pulling a bit of echo quilting out of the first side and adding some knots to make them look more irregular.  It worked.

Okay, so that’s it for me today.  Everybody have a great Tuesday.  I’m still diligently ditch quilting the blue baby quilt. 

Oh, and here’s a link to the first in a series of really good discussions about stash.  Thanks, Mari!  These articles make good sense.  I don’t have much stash to throw away, but I sure do have a lot that should go to other people that will actually get around to making the quilts I wanted to make when I acquired and kept the fabric in the first place.  So, now, to figure out which organization that is.  I think I’ll check with project Linus.  Most of this was meant to go into Linus quilts, so they would be a good place for it to go…if they have the room to take it.  They don’t always.  Even though we’re not talking about a whole lot. 

Or, maybe we are…

See ya’.  Lane


Another block

I made another star block this weekend.  This time, I used my Civil War repros.


I really want to show the flexibility of the block, so I’m using different fabric styles to make each block.  I don’t quite know what I’ll do with them.  Maybe four small quilts? 

I also got the instruction handouts made and tweaked the cutting instructions a bit.  My next block will be made following the instructions, just to make sure they’re clear.  I thought my deadline for all that was Feb 1, but it was really Mar 1…better early than late, I always say…but I sure could have used those three hours yesterday to work on something else.

I also spent a good bit of the weekend working on baby quilts.  Here’s a peek at some texture.  I added a lot of texture to the quilt.  Texture was all it needed. 


I’ve got the second baby quilt in the machine, working on the ditch work.  And, it has a lot of ditch work…jimminy

Everybody have a great Monday.  Much was moved in the sewing studio, but very little is fit for viewing yet.  Rob did a very nice installation on the TV and components, so that freed up a lot of space.  Now, I get to figure out how to use that space.  Usually, when I clean in the sewing studio, I knock out everything I can in a day.  And, then I’m done.  This whole working on it for a little bit every weekend is a new and novel approach for me.  Hopefully, the result of the extra time spent planning will benefit me for years to come…because I really don’t want to do this again for a long time.

BTW, does anybody else feel like they have too much fabric?  Or is it the general consensus that the one who dies with the most fabric wins?  Rob asked if I needed a “take a number” dispenser and a cutting table to open up shop. 

Now, having too much and getting rid of any of it are two totally different things.



If you have to lose time

what better way than sitting and hand quilting. 

Yesterday, I probably made it sound like I was complaining about losing time while I hand quilt.  But, really, I’m not complaining about that.  The time has to be very peaceful and therefore restorative in order for me to lose track of it.  So, it’s really a good thing. 

The rest of the time I’m losing is just because time passes fast when you’re having fun…and I only say that because it’s much more fun to be busy at the office than to be at the office watching the second hand on the clock.  I’ve done both.  I know.

So, here’s a picture of my hand quilting progress.  This is block 13 of 16 for the background quilting. 


Because I am not a very planful quilter, I’ve decided on what to do in each step and then executed that step across all the blocks before feeling pressured to decide what to do next that would compliment what I’d already completed.  Part of that is because, as the quilting developed, some of my plans were not complimentary, so it made more sense to just complete one step at a time.  The “multi-year project effect” also contributed to that because what I like one year when I start it might not be what I like the next year when I try to finish it. 

I also found this little hole.


I don’t know if it was in the fabric when I decided to use it in the Dresden plate or if it happened during quilting.  Doesn’t matter.  This is the danger of using vintage fabrics…sometimes, they do what vintage fabrics are known to do and I need to be able to adapt to that.  So, I’ll sew a little repair into that…just a bit of darning with a similar colored thread.  If you look for it, you’ll be able to find it…so don’t look for it.

I’ll try to remember to show a pic after it’s done…if it’s something to brag about.  If it’s a wreck, don’t look for it.

Today, I have to turn in about four projects I’ve been working on that are all supporting projects for a bigger project that elevates in the next couple of weeks.  It’s gonna feel really good.  But, then I have my regular work to catch up on.

And, this weekend, I need to type up my handout for the class I”m going to teach so I can get that and my application turned in…deadline fast approaching.  And, I want to enter quilts into two shows, and I need to do the investigation into that.  One is a national show and I’m actually thinking about doing it.  I haven’t read all the details yet, but at least I’m not too intimidated to even look into it.  That’s a step in the right direction.  And, I’m going to tackle the left hand side of the studio closet.  Okay, the floor where I’ve been stacking stuff during a couple weeks of cleaning is really first.  But, after I can get in there again, then I’ll start on the left side.  When it’s all neat and tidy, maybe I’ll show you a picture.  If I never get there, don’t look for it.

You guys know that self confidence has been on my mind a lot lately.  I’ve realized that it isn’t like a thing that’s always there for me.  Maybe it’s not for anybody, even the people that appear to always be self confident.  But, for me, it comes and goes.  Or, it’s collected and spent is a more apt representation.  Right now, the coffers are well stocked, if not overflowing.  I like that.  Y’all remind me how this feels when I complain next time.



A thousand words

Some days, when you don't have a picture, you need a thousand words.  I don't know if I can think of a thousand words to say, but here goes.  I have a lot on my mind right now.

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future...  (sorry if I just gave you an earworm)  I sit down and about five minutes later, I check the clock and an hour has passed.  It's happening when I sit and hand quilt in the mornings.  And, it would be okay, except that I'm not accomplishing enough hand quilting for it to look like an hour's work.  Or, maybe my expectations are too high.  Everything feels this way right now.  Suddenly, it's dark, then it's bedtime, then the alarm goes off and I get us ready to go and then I sit at my desk and suddenly, the day is over and it's time to go home and cook again.  Another day done.

I am drained.  Tired.  Exhausted. POOPED!  Work is long and hard.  I barely have time to take a break.  I feel like I barely have time for Rob and Syd anymore.  I come home, I cook, I clean, I sit in front of TV with my phone, trying to answer email and read blogs from the day.  And, then I collapse in bed. 

If I had a nickel for everybody that told me that story, I could retire.  I just never thought I'd be one of them. 

The good news is that it won't last for me like it does for so many people.  I have better work/life balance than this most of the time. 

But, it's frustrating.  And, trying to cram a week's worth of life into a two day weekend is the craps.  I don't know how people do it for the long term, years at a time.  But, they do.  And, I can do it for a few weeks and then the new year will settle into my normal routine.

In my spare thinking time, like at 1a.m. when I wake up, my thoughts are filled with the past.  Passed friends, fun times, summers in the sun and all that other stuff that looks so good in retrospect but I didn't spend enough time enjoying when it was happening.  One friend in particular has been on my mind lately.  An old beau that passed away 15 years ago.  I know it's not polite to talk about old beaus.  You're supposed to forget them when you find the love of your life.  But, really, did you forget all your old beaus?  I didn't think so.

I saw a guy the other day that was so much like this dead friend that I almost reached out and touched him to say hello before I remembered that it couldn't be.  That was a shock.  Remembering he was gone after so long was like hearing it for the first time.  Such a shame.  Such a short life.  But, such a full life, too.  This was the man that made it possible for me to meet and fall in love with Rob.  The one that showed me how to see my worthiness. 

He wasn't anything special to look at, but his self confidence and natural joviality made him the light around which a whole lot of moths fluttered. I'd seen him a hundred times. He'd never seen me. I was working under the assumption that if i pretended to feel confident, I'd eventually become self confident. And that night it must have worked. When he walked up to me, i was pretending my butt off and my knees were shaking. I was a really good dancer and so was he. That gave us something in common.

It didn't last long...maybe four months, from Thanksgiving until just after my birthday in...what must it have been?  1998?  When I turned 35.  Seems so young.  But my self confidence changed from pretense to blossom under his encouragement.  And, as is so common in the gay community, a few years later, he fell in love with my best friend.  (we joked that a man that good needed to be kept in the family).  They stayed together until the one died, and the other...well, we drifted apart.  I blamed him for the death.  And, he took to drugs to avoid the pain.  Ended up in jail, then moved to California.  We reconnected a couple years ago, but it's not the same.  You can't go back to the way things were and we just don't have anything in common anymore.  But, we were bestest-bestest inseparable friends at one time. 

Things change to make space for better things.

Thirty-five was the turning point for me.  That is the year when I stopped just floating around, waiting for the wind that was a man to blow me where I needed to go.  And, the year that I found out who I was and what I had to offer.  I had some things to work out after that.  Some life I'd missed out on that I needed to catch up.  Some relationships to end and some to change.  Some people didn't last after I stopped letting them use me.  It was a fun and fast whirlwind of a time.  And, I grew out of it.  Just like I should have.  Caught my life up to where it should have been and then, I was ready to settle down and find the guy that would last for the rest of my life.  (although I'm sure there are times when Rob wishes he could get away.)

Be well.  Remember the good old days.  Good friends.  Good times.  And, move forward. 



A weekend’s work

Another busy weekend around here.  Rob and Sydney painted a wall in her room, but I didn’t get a pic last night, and it’s a school holiday, so she is way far from wakefulness.

We also hung a new TV in the sewing studio.  We’re not done, so no pics yet, but it sure is freeing up some real estate in the studio and it caused another long spell of cleaning and organizing.  Rob came in last night and said “this is looking really good.”

I just turned and opened the closet door.

Hidden is good.

And, the closet is next.

But, first, I needed to write the instructions for the block I’m teaching and that meant making another one.  So, I made the one I’m going to enter into a competition at the Georgetown Quilt and Stitchery show.


I added the medium green from my stash. The rest came from the competition kit. 

And, I got that border back in the baby quilt.  I hand stitched it along both sides, all the way around, then I quilted right along the edge of the fabric…just to the high side of the ditch…it was weird to do that on purpose.


The green is much more peaceful and relaxing than the scrappy border was.  This one is a tough call on what was better, tho.  Oh, well.  It’s all quilted except that border now, so no going backsies.  I quilted in all the ditches and now I’m going to do some FMQ in that green border. 

I guess that’s it for me today.  Unless you want to talk about the Shepherd’s Pie and the Ham and Gouda Stromboli and the pineapple upside down cake I made for us to eat this week.  In summer, I don’t even think about cooking on a Sunday afternoon. But, in winter, I love it.  And, we get much more complicated dinners when I do it that way.  Don’t see me coming home and making a scratch stromboli crust on a Tuesday. 

Everybody have a great Monday.  After all that work last week,  the lady who’d created the problems did the one thing that makes me the most crazy.  After having no input more specific than “I don’t know” on a project we were doing for her, she criticized it when it was done…”It doesn’t really do what I need”.  I so wanted to say, no but it really is what you described.  And, it was good work, too. 

Today probably won’t be any better. 

So, I’ll just keep thinking quilting.  You do, too. 



Because I don’t like it

All it took to convince Rob was to tell him this could go from an okay quilt to a great quilt, with just a little extra work.

But, he still asked “can you do that?”

And, I said “I think I can.”

And, he said “then I’m sure you will be able to.”


Ever since I started playing with this quilt again, that scrappy border has bothered me.  It just didn’t fit.  Too many colors, too many patterns, too many styles and designs and themes, and too dark and heavy…the quilt wasn’t scrappy enough to support that little bit of scrappiness. 


I knew I was onto something when I liked the batting better than the row that had been there. 

It’s been removed and I’m going to re-piece it and put it back in again.  There was too much quilting done by the time I got the nerve for me to pull it all out.  I’ll piece the square and then whipstitch it in, quicker than making something else. 

This is for one of Rob’s friends.  Someone I don’t know.  Her first baby got a great quilt and I’d like to give her a nicer one than this was shaping up to be for baby number two. 

I was going to piece the same pattern of large blocks and snowballs, using fabrics that matched the colors in the narrow, striped, separating borders, but now that I see it plain, I think it gives a great place to rest, so the replacement will be something less busy…more plain. 

Babies don’t wait for quilters to re-do. 

Everybody have a great Friday.  We are replacing the television in my studio this weekend with a model that will hang from the wall.  That will free up a lot of room in my space.  It’s one of those weird things…I’m going to love it, but I’m really dreading all the work.  We haven’t moved anything in that corner for years.  I can only imagine the lint and dust we’re going to find. 

Lint and dust are part of quilting.  It can’t be helped…unless you spend as much time cleaning as you do quilting.

Yeah, right.




Uh-oh…just when I was wishing on a feathered star for the time to make a feathered star block, I found my missing copy of Sally Collins’ Mastering Precision Piecing. 


And, of course, because it’s been opened to this page soooooo many times, it fell open to the pattern for Pieceful without any prompting.


That one makes my mouth water.  The combination of black and brown speaks to me.  I’ve collected browns ever since I saw this quilt in person, to make sure I’d have whatever I needed. 

Forty-six and a half inches square of pure delightful deliciousness.

I am very easily distracted.

Meanwhile, I just keep plugging away, machine quilting baby quilts because that’s what has to be done.  Feathered stars and Pieceful quilts are “want to do’s”. 

I might be distracted by about any other thing I needed to do, except babies don’t wait for quilts. 

You gotta get out ahead of a baby; plan and execute and don’t delay.

Babies are like that.  You gotta plot against them all the time.


See ya’.  Have a great Thursday.  Lane


Wish upon a star

A feathered star, that is.

So, I’ve pulled out my book.


And, I’ve picked out my fabrics.


I should be ready to go.  And, I would be, if I had a vast quantity of unused time to fill. 

But, I don’t.  So, I’ll dream for a while longer.  The object is to leave this little collection out, mostly on the sofa, where it will be kind of in the way, so I don’t forget and I actually turn this little idea into a quilt.  But, not to leave it there long enough that other things get added and it turns into an easily ignorable pile.

It won’t be my first feathered star.  This one is still a UFO. 

It was started as a baby quilt.  I picked the pattern from Marsha McCloskey’s book in the photo above.  I wanted it to be monochromatic, but learned in the class with Joen Wolfrom last year that it’s really three distinct shades of green that are very near one another on the color wheel.  But, if your color wheel is just 6 colors, then it’s monochromatic, right?

Anyway, when it was done, it just didn’t remind me of a baby. Baby poo?  Yes.  Baby smiling?  Not really.  So, it went into my closet, where it still sits, waiting for me to quilt it. 

Okay, so who else just got the idea that maybe instead of piecing another feathered star quilt block, I should just finish the one I’ve got started?

Unfortunately, it’s kind of hard for me to look at that much green without getting a bit queasy, and that’s the real reason it’s still in the closet, waiting to be quilted.  Maybe I should try to quilt it in a pair of pink sunglasses…that would change the shading.

Everybody have a great Wednesday.  Work has blown up.  Someone’s poor planning has become my crisis situation. 

Don’t you just love people that do that?  Especially the ones that don’t have to clean up their own messes?

Wouldn’t you just love to pinch their heads until they pop?!

See ya’.  Lane


Plowing in the ditch

My Great Grandmother lived until I was a teenager.  I didn’t spend a huge amount of time with her, but enough to know her.  She was a quilter in her old age, making quilts to keep people warm all over the countryside near her home.  I know these details from her and from my Grandfather.

When she was 16, her father gave her a matched pair of mules so she could work the fields, walking behind a plow.  (parental signs of love have certainly changed.)

When she was a young woman, she would spread a quilt under a tree and leave her half dozen or so children there, under the care of her oldest child, my Grandfather, and she would plow behind a team of horses all day long…for fifty cents a day.  My Great-Grandfather was said to be more of a hunter and a fisherman than a farmer or an earner of cash money.

When I was young, I used to work the field with my Grandfather in his rather large kitchen garden that kept his grown kids and their families in fresh vegetables all season and through the winter.  He plowed behind a mule.  I remember it being very slow and tedious work.  And, that mules are smelly, farty, huge animals that sometimes refuse to cooperate without the proper…motivation.

It was my Grandfather’s choice to plow behind a mule.  It was only later, when I was older and stopped helping in the fields that he paid other farmers to do his plowing with a tractor.

Often, it would be me, my Grandfather, my Grandmother, and my Great-Grandmother, all working along side one another, tying up tomatoes or picking peas.  Sometimes, there were other family members; aunts and uncles, my parents, cousins.  But, most of the time, it was just that smaller group.  I remember picking up sweet potatoes from fresh, earth that had just been turned by a mule and a plow.  The milk that would leak from the cut potatoes would build up on our hands and when it combined with the red clay earth and hardened, became a concrete glove that had to be scrubbed off under running water.  And, bees buzzing through the green bean blossoms.  My Grandmother and Great-Grandmother in their bonnets, with the ties dangling so they wouldn’t be too tight around their faces.  My Grandfather in his blue and white striped overalls. with most of the blue faded out from washing and being hung to dry on the line and then ironed into submission. 

Oh, but what I wouldn’t give to go back there again.

Nostalgia has a very nice way of helping me forget the flies and the mosquitoes and the bees and the fear of snakes and the backbreaking work. 

So, that all came about because I’m doing ditchwork on this little quilt. 


I was going to draw a comparison between the boring monotony of quilting in the ditch and walking behind that plow.  But, after that story, they hardly bear comparison anymore, right? 

Because that dusty plow on a hot summer day in humid Louisiana draws ain’t got nothing in common with me sitting at my Bernina, under the furnace heated air, comfy in my nice white socks and lounging pants. 

My Great-Grandmother was one of my earliest quilting influences and I wish we could quilt together, just for a day.  I’d love to hear about the quilts she made over her busy lifetime.

Have a great Tuesday.  Lane


All in a day’s chores

Well, the weather outside was frightful, which doesn’t happen very often in Texas.  On my drive to bee on Saturday, there was significant ice buildup on the sides of the car.  Nothing to people that have that all the time, but it might be the only time I’ve ever had to drive when ice could build up on the sides of the Prius. 

Rob and Sydney spent the weekend rearranging the furniture in her room.  She’s been asking for a year or more.  But, it’s hard to do favors for a kid that you’re hounding to do her chores and her schoolwork.  Anyway, Rob agreed, so she stayed up most of Friday night packing all her stuff and I suspect most of Saturday night, unpacking it.  I think she likes it better, but it’s going to take time to be sure.

I sewed.  You saw my blockapalooza from yesterday, and I also pin basted these two quilts.

100_7758 100_7759

Tim Latimer posted the other day about how few pins he puts into a quilt, and it made me pause.  I use a LOT more pins than that.  But, then I looked at the differences in what we are doing.  He is hand quilting, so he has the benefit of a hoop.  I’m machine quilting and my hands are my hoop and the extent that I can spread them is the dimension of my machine bed.  I need more pins because of that.  But, I also thought about when I’m hand quilting.  I’ve never tried using pins to baste a hand quilting project.  I do thread basting so I don’t have to remove basting to put the quilt in the hoop.  Do I need to be worried about that?  More to come because I want to experiment with that a little.

I also made a lasagna and a big pot of jambalaya and an old fashioned coffeecake with crumb topping.  And, I hung up all my coats…that’s the only thing I don’t like about winter.  I like to wear the half dozen warm jackets I own, but the season is so short that I might not get to wear them but once.  So, I end up with all of them pulled out and at some point, I can’t stand it anymore and have to put them all away again.

Have a great Monday.  Imagine what I could accomplish if I didn’t have to go to that pesky job.  That thing gets in the way of so much fun. 

And, then I remind myself that without the job, I wouldn’t be able to afford to have fun.

See ya’.




It’s been a busy piecing weekend.  Between these four blocks, I’ve used three machines, two of them my two-spool machines.

These are the blocks I’ve made from my paper pieced pattern. 


I drafted this pattern so I could teach it at a workshop.  Yesterday, I showed up at bee with my sewing supplies and a set of fabrics, a copy of the pattern, and four squares of freezer paper.  I did everything else while I was there to prep the fabrics.  I pieced one quarter of a block in two hours, including cutting all the pieces for the other three quarters.  I pieced the other three quarters in just over an hour.   

These are the fabrics I picked for my test block.  Donna suggested that I use the same fabrics in my class sample that I use in the actual class work, so I wanted fabrics I like, and have enough of to make a four block quilt.  Why not end up with something I can use when it’s done, right?  These are the colors in my sewing room.  Well, with the addition of a nice olive green that will likely show up in some sashing. 


I also needed to make two bright blocks for a feel better quilt for a friend.  Ohio Stars, 12 inch finished. 

And, boy, did I go wild on the bright colors!  These are those brights that I love to have, but so rarely find a chance to just go hog wild playing with. One is batiks and hand dyes.  The other is from my regular stash.  


They make me smile.  Maybe they will make her smile, too.

Everybody have a great Sunday.  I plan to cook and clean and I have some guild business to attend to and two baby quilts to pin baste…and then, maybe there will be time to make one more block.  I’ll write the instructions while I piece the next block.  And, then one more block to test them. Each of these first four blocks will be made from a different fabric “category” to show the versatility of the block.  The next one will be from my Civil War repros.  Maybe I’ll make one out of Christmas fabrics, too.

See ya.  Lane


Sewing studio organization

There are no pictures in this post.  This is an idea post; a place for me to put some thoughts about further organization in my sewing studio so you can comment on them and let me know if any of these ideas...or other ideas that accomplish the same thing...have worked for you. 

First, I'm going to try to stop using sewing room and start calling it my studio.  It is so much more than a room to sew.  It's a room where my life happens; where all my favorite things live, and where I practice many crafts, not just sewing.  And, art comes out of there all the time, so studio seems a much more appropriate name.

I rearranged the furniture in my studio a couple weeks ago.  Here is a post while I was still putting away the last of the items that had been laying around, so the room still looks cluttered, but as I've used the room, things have found their natural homes.  A natural home is a place where I can get to something when I need it, so if it's a sewing machine foot, it lives near its machine or with similar feet, not across the room in a cabinet by itself, never to be seen again. 

Part of this was inspired by photos of other people's sewing studios.  In particular, Karen K. Buckley showed pictures of her fabulous sewing studio at her guild lecture Monday night, and it really gave me some ideas.

Fabric storage.  How do you store your fabric?  I have hundreds of yards of fabric.  Right now, my main stash is well stored in a small shelving unit, separated by color (pictures in this post).  That part is working great.  It's exposed to the air, but I've never noticed any problem with dust or anything else settling on it.  This is very close to the open bins and cubbyholes that I see a lot of quilters use to store fabric. 

But, all my specialty fabrics, like holiday fabrics and reproductions and other special themed prints are stored in plastic bins.  One of the things I've noticed is how much dead space those bins take up on the closet shelves.  Each of those bins has handles at both ends.  Those handles stick out further than the bin.  And, the space below those handles is dead space.  Plus, the bin doesn't exactly fit the shelf, so there's dead space between the top of the bin and the bottom of the shelf above.  I don't have room for dead space.  So, the bins have to go.  The plan is to refold and stack my specialty fabrics, just like my regular stash and divide each specialty group with a piece of cardboard, creating a little cubby for that grouping of fabrics, and taking up a lot less space than storing it in the bin.

Batting scraps.  I have a bin of leftover strips of batting.  I always say I'm going to piece them together to make larger pieces of batting...but I've really only done that once or twice.  I'm good about going to the bin when I only need a small piece, but I'm less good about piecing those small pieces together to make larger pieces.  I think I'm going to spend one day and take all those batting scraps that are similar weight/color and sew them into one big piece of batting to cut from so I can move it out. 

Thread.  How do you store thread?  Is it on one of those peg things where there's a peg for each spool?  Do you toss it all into a drawer and then dig for what you want?  Thread isn't much of a problem for me anymore.  About three years ago, I decided I had too much thread.  I decided to stop buying and start using.  To show my progress, I devoted a 4 gallon trashcan to empty thread spools and cones.  It's about 2/3 full now.  Now, I only buy thread for specific projects.  Now that it's a manageable quantity, I need to focus on how I store it and get it stored better.  Karen K Buckley stores hers in one of those plastic rolling bins that has shallow drawers and she sorts by color.  I also sort by color.  But, my thread will only fill one drawer in a rolling cart, so that's going to be an easy one to organize, I think.

Attachments and sewing machine.  This one is more of a problem.  I have more sewing machines than I can comfortably store.  There are 5 machines plus a serger set up so that I could easily sew with any one of them in the studio.  There is a full shelf of them in the sewing room closet.  And, there are more, stacked in the garage.  Where possible, each one is stored with a set of attachments.  The rest of the attachments are in a rolling bin, one drawer for short shank attachments, one for slant shank attachments, and one for Greist attachments.  There's a seperate rolling bin, just for Bernina attachments and other machine quilting supplies.  Unfortunately, the griest attachments are next to the Bernina machine and the Bernina attachments are next to the Two spool machine.  Those are things that haven't found a natural home for.  The goal for machines is to get them placed in such a way that I can grab any one I want, quickly and easily, attachments included...a grab and go system.

My hope is that reorganizing in the studio closet, and in the studio itself, will make it easier to sit and work on a project because I'll spend less time hunting for supplies.  We'll see.  I suspect that organizing is one of those things that's hard for every crafter, no matter what craft they practice.  I've reached that point where I buy almost nothing.  I already have everything I need to do anything I want.  I'm not tempted in fabric stores or at quilt shows.  I can buy, if I see something I want.  But, it really has to wow me.  No more collecting, just to build stash. 

Hopefully, better organization will make it easier to store and finish my UFO's.  After all, if I can't find it, I can't finish it.

Everybody have a good evening.  My short writing break is about over and I need to get back to the daily grind.  Why is it so much easier to write about getting organized than it is to find the time to do it.  Maybe I'll enact Bonnie Hunter's 5 minute power purge plan and try to knock this out in 5 minute blocks.  Empty a bin now and empty another one later.  Refold and stack...Feel the fabric.  And, eliminate some of the stuff I know I'm never, ever, ever going to sew with. 

My possessions are a burden sometimes.



To teach, or not to teach...that is the question.

I put myself through a lot of unnecessary angst sometimes when I have to make a decision, especially decisions that put me in front of a group. The weird thing is that every time I do a presentation, I enjoy it immensely. You'd think that experience would make it easier. But it doesn't. Its still very very hard to make that decision. If you followed over the last few years, where I've had to decide whether to teach at my LQS and whether to do a guild presentation, then you've read (and maybe rolled your eyes) at how hard it is for me to put myself out there. 
Self confident people are so lucky. 
Rob is a self confident person.  He always has an easy smile and he can talk to anybody.  That makes him a great foil for me.  I'm just one bad odor away from being a cave dwelling hermit. 

I've been asked to teach at a guild workshop. It was  suggested that I teach something related to free motion quilting. But I've taught FMQ and it's hard work. Might not look like it, but it is. It's a complex topic and people often approach it with unrelistic expectations about what they can learn in a few hours.  And it takes a lot longer to teach than these guild workshops provide. Plus, i don't have any experience with modern machines, with all their computerized settings. Imagine the first time I explained tension adjustment, one of the basic fundamentals of a good FMQ stitch, and was told that tension couldn't be manually adjusted on one participants model. Unfortunately, she broke a needle about every 6 minutes of practice, which discouraged us both. 

Anyway, you guys know how obvious ideas sometimes alude me until i have one of those "hit myself in the forehead" V8 moments, when the answer becomes clear. Somebody suggested I teach something other than FMQ. How obvious. Unfortunately, at that moment, she had my right fingers round my back and touching my left ear as she tried to twist my arm into a commitment, so it took a few hours for me to hear the logic of what she said. 
Okay, so here's a funny story from my childhood.  When I was in elementary school, I was supposed to perform in a choir concert.  It was the winter concert and I had either a solo, or a speaking part from the Bible, or both...can't remember.  Anyway, for a reason I don't quite remember, I decided I wasn't going to participate.  My choir teacher tried to pressure me.  And, the more she tried, the more I dug my heels in.  So, my classroom teacher tried.  And, at that point, my heels were dug so far in, there wasn't anything she could do.  So, my Mom tried.  But, by that time, she couldn't have gotten me on that stage with a buggy whip.  I've always been this way.  The more pressure, the more I resist.
Anyway, once my mind grasped the concept that I could teach something else, I started thinking about things I do well, and different than I've ever seen them done before, and that brought me to Foundation Paper Piecing.  I use Judy Mathieson's freezer paper method from her book Mariner's Compass Quilts, Setting a New Course.  I love that you don't sew through the paper, so you don't have to remove all those tiny little bits.  But, I also have a unique way of measuring and preparing the fabric pieces that is different than Judy's. 
I'm going to draft my own block to teach, because pattern copyright stuff is getting crazy complicated, but it will be slightly based on this block, except a little simpler, with only 8 points instead of 16.  This is the QNM Birthday Star block that they offered in 2008, to celebrate the QNM birthday.  I made the quilt from the pattern in the magazine and it started my love of star and mariner's compass blocks and paper piecing.


I even have my first set of fabrics picked out.  This is the challenge block for the Georgetown Quilt and Stitchery show, sponsored by Handcrafts Unlimited.  I've entered quilts in the show, but this will be my first time to enter a challenge block.  As soon as I saw the fabrics, I knew I wanted to piece a star.  In all the shows I've attended for this group, I've not noticed a star block in the competition.  I can add a small amount of additional fabric, but I think all I'll need is a medium green.

I'll use this to create one class sample, and other fabrics to make another.  I need to make sure I can teach this block in three hours, so I plan to take it with me to bee this weekend and time myself while I complete the whole process, from needle punching the freezer paper, to piecing one quarter of the block.  I think if we piece a quarter block in class, the participants will have all they need to finish the block at home. 
So, that's the plan.  I wish it hadn't taken three months to make the commitment. 
But, that's apparently my process.  Whether I like it or not. 
I also need some help with an English to English translation, I'm trying to help a friend in the UK with old fashioned cooked starch...if you're of a certain age, that's the kind we cooked and cooled and thinned and then dipped shirts in, way back in the olden days, before starch came in a spray can.  We've run into a difference in terms, and I'm betting that I have followers that can help us with that.  I suggested she try corn starch.  Is that the same thing as corn flour in the UK?  Also, I suggested rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol).  Is that the same as surgical spirits? 
Everybody have a great Wednesday.  Thanks!  Lane


First finishes of 2015

While I was off work, I managed to finish a few things…

I finished Rob’s fingerless gloves, and just in time.  It was 28* here when he left for work this morning.


These were fun.  I made myself a brown pair with fingers that I plan to wear today, and I made this pair for Rob.  He didn’t want fingers in his, so they end at the first knuckle.  He’ll have to tell me if they were warm…or annoying.

I also finished a Linus quilt.  This is one of the three Linus quilts I got out of Bonnie Hunter’s 2012 Easy Street mystery.


I almost pieced the corners to make this a rectangular quilt, but I didn’t.  I kind of like the octagonal ends and hope some young girl also thinks it’s cool and unconventional.  The back is a black and white printed drape that fell off a car in front of our house one year and I’ve held onto it, intending to use it as a quilt back.  This quilt, with all the black and white prints was the perfect excuse to get that moved on.

And, while it isn’t an exact finish, I did get my Civil War Stars sashed.  Still no decision on an outer border.  But, it will come to me and it’s not like I’m in a big rush.  I certainly have about a dozen other tops I can work on. 


This weekend, we watched The Interview.  It was filthy and vile and we laughed all the way through.  No need to watch it if you’re easily offended, because it sets out to offend everyone.  It’s not that it was a great movie, although there is an actress that steals the show and walks away with it…if you see the movie, watch for her.  She has the best lines and delivers them flawlessly…you’ll know who she is.  Even though it wasn’t a great picture, I am glad I was able to watch it and that the objections didn’t stop the release. 

Everybody have a great Monday.  I hope your new year is starting off just like you would like it.  While I’d prefer if I didn’t have to go to work, it is what it is and I will do my best to enjoy it.  Today is my annual performance evaluation.  Those used to be so scary, but I’ve been doing my job long enough now that I’m pretty confident that my boss likes what I do and how I do it.  If not, I may be very surprised in a couple hours.

See ya’.  Lane



Now that I’ve moved the furniture around in the sewing room, I have access to the dollhouse again.  I’m trying to stop calling it a dollhouse because that’s not what it is…there are no dolls.  It’s really a diorama; a miniature version of some place or event. 


I bought the tin lithograph dollhouse and I’m building room inserts to replace what is printed on the tin with the way I would prefer that the room looked.  I’ve done three rooms now, most recently the kitchen.  It’s the first room I’ve used lighting in and I’m loving the effect it gives.  This is the room, without camera flash, with the ceiling lights turned on.  Just a soft glow, like an old fashioned kitchen in the early morning.


with flash, the details start to show…


I try to put a lot of detail in a room.  I built the cabinets to fit around the sink at the end of the kitchen.


The replacement walls are chipboard, like you’d find on the back of a pad of paper, so it’s plenty stiff while still being flexible and thin.  I can glue the wallpaper to it with glue sticks and then glue things to it with wood glue, and they stay.  The venetian blind, based on the one that was in my Grandmother’s kitchen, was difficult to make.  I should have done a tutorial just on that but didn’t.  It took more than one try and more than one day.


I like to put lots of detail in a room, like the sky fabric visible through the kitchen door window.  See the hen and rooster on the shelf next to the radio?


Even the Hoosier cabinet I built is full of food.


And, even though you can’t see it, there are pots and pans in the cabinets and flatware in the drawer. 

Obsess much?

In case you haven’t seen the other rooms I did, here is the sewing room. 


And, the bedroom.  The carpet is new.  I thought it would read lighter.  It’s a dark green and may not stay. 


So that’s it for my other obsession.  The next room is the dining room, I think.  But, who knows.  There’s still a living room, a den, a deck and a bathroom.  I do it like a real house.  Move in and redecorate a little at a time.

I’ve also been sashing the civil war quilt. 


I don’t know if that dark blue is the actual outer border or not.  We’ll have to see about that.  This is the second set of sashing I’ve done on this quilt.  I was at this point last night and took it all apart and cut something new.  The first set was much lighter and it was a real swing and a miss.  It wasn’t from the same time period or theme and the print was too large.  So, now I have all the sashing to sash a 12 block quilt, cut and waiting…in case I ever need it.

Everybody have a great Sunday.  It’s the last day of my almost two weeks off work.  I’m doing my best not to look back at all the things I didn’t get done.  I just need to celebrate all the things I did accomplish.  I think Syd is celebrating almost two weeks in her pajamas, watching TV.  She made it clear from the get-go that I should not make plans that involved her. 

I think I had more fun than she did.

Be well.  Lane


Finished just in time

I finished Barbara Brackman’s Threads of Memory 2014 BOM yesterday.

Okay, a day late…whatever.

It is 12 star blocks and for the most part, I enjoyed it.  I enjoyed the anticipation of the block each month and I enjoyed putting them together.  I enjoyed not knowing what the finished quilt was going to look like.  But, because I couldn’t print Barbara’s patterns (probably really simple, but I can’t figure it out) I had to draft most of the blocks on paper before I could piece them. 

And, like most mysteries, I ended up with a set of blocks that aren’t as similar as I would have liked them to be.  I think there must be a trick to being able to do that.  My color choices are affected by mood and season, so getting blocks, made across a year, to look similar is a real challenge for me. 


Now, I’ll need to find a sashing that will both pull all the colors together, and stand out against dark, medium and light outer edges.  I wish I’d been more consistent with that.  These are the classic problems of any sampler, especially a BOM. 

And, I’m not finished moving blocks around.  I know I moved them at least twice after I took this picture. 

And, this block needs a more exciting center.  See it in the picture above, top row center?  It needs a little bit of sparkle to stand with the other blocks.


Anyway, these were the last two blocks, eleven on the right, twelve on the left. 


Eleven is not as Barbara designed it.  I had to improvise because I couldn’t print the pattern.  And, twelve was a joy to draft by hand.  She gave just enough dimensions for me to be able to figure out those diamond shaped corners.  No one could be more surprised that it went together with a combination of my drafting and her cutting dimensions, but it did. 

Today, Sydney and I are taking down the last of Christmas.  Rob has been taking down the villages slowly, but I’ve procrastinated.  Mine will involve about three hours on a ladder and my thighs just haven’t felt up to it.  But, I’m committed to knocking it out today. 

So, here I go…

Or, maybe I’ll hand quilt for a few more minutes…you know, just until the show I’m watching is over.

Be well.  Enjoy the second day of the year.