Holy Moly, what comes next?

Okay, maybe I should have ended that with an exclamation mark…


I got the individual sections for the next border made this morning, and got it all assembled.  Right now, it’s been dampened, stretched to what should have been it’s finished size, and it’s drying to that size. 

And, I’m about to sit down with colored pencils and paper and try to figure out what comes next. 

Rob asked me to figure out the pieces.  793.  The size is 20.5 inches, to finish at 20”

Here it is with a dime.  A dime is 5/8” in diameter, which is larger than those half triangle squares.




We’re getting our snow day today.  All Sydney’s activities have been cancelled for the day.  I have waited until the last day to enter quilts in a show and now will need to email the show coordinator scans of my pics and entry forms to get in.  Thank goodness she offered to do that for me.

Maybe she felt sorry for me because I had waited until the last minute.  Maybe I played a little bit of the man card in the women’s world of quilting.

Whatever works.

Okay, everybody.  Now that all I can do is sew…yes, I heard you snicker at how conveniently that worked out…I’m ready to plan the next round.

See ya!



Hardly time to blog

Hardly time to type anything today.  I spent all my time sewing…going from planning


to piecing.


More small work.  The problem with working on Stargazer during the week is I have to walk away from it…usually just when it gets really interesting.

Easier to just work on this over the weekend.

Kathleen shared her experience designing with Sally Collins at a week long workshop. Wow!  

My process is very different.  And, this only gets me to the next round.  I have no idea where I’ll go after that.

Everybody have a great Friday.  This is going to be an uncharacteristically busy weekend and I am not really looking forward to it so much.  Less time to sew and relax.  More time driving here and there.

Hope you’re not snowed in too deep.  It’s cold here…colder than it’s been in a couple weeks.  I pulled on my new green hand knitted socks and they felt delicious on my feet.

See ya!  Lane


Highlights of this week

These are just a few of my favorite moments of the week. 

This is a greeting card that I got for Christmas, along with the frame.  I needed a piece of black paper to back the card with and fill the frame and it took this long to get that done.  Shame.


A Good Cook Knows that it is not what is on the Table that matters, but what is in the Chairs. – Leigh Standley

Thanks, Rob and Sydney.

And, this.


That is a one eighth inch wide strip of white fabric sewn between two other strips.  The coin is a dime.  Just needed to make sure I still could before I try it on Stargazer.  (eek, it has a name…)

And, this.

Blind Trust Project, Do you trust me social experiment.

I watched four seconds of it this morning and started to cry again because I know what happens.  Sydney doesn’t understand why this would make me cry. 

Would you pass by?  Would you stop to watch?  Would you dare to hug?

Hugs are good.  People need hugs. 

Have a great Thursday.  What are your favorite things?



And, that’s after I cleaned up

The neat freaks among you must cringe at the cluttered and crowded pictures I show of my sewing studio.  It’s all part of the cluttered mind.  It doesn’t bother me in the least.  (well, if it gets bad enough, I’ll be bothered, but it has to get real bad first.)

So, in fear that you might not read this post, I’ve lured you in with this cute little vignette on the studio wall. 


This shelf always hung on my Grandparent’s front porch.  It had their spare front door key and some little figurines on it.  Just another thing that needed to be dusted on a screened in porch, but I remember, when I was tall enough, being allowed to reach up and take down the old fashioned long key and turn the big, black lock that opened the front door to the sweetest place on earth. 

Okay now, so after that brief pause to catch my breath from a memory I didn’t know I was calling up, we can proceed to pictures that would have killed either of my Grandparents, in whose home dust was not allowed to settle.  Ever.

Lemon oil and an old fashioned canister vacuum and waxed wood that felt slippery and soft.

Anyway, I digress again as a delaying tactic.


Left side: fabric and patterns, heavy coats, notions; all accessible.  All neatly organized.  And, the best part is I can see it.  I can see where it is and will be able to find it again.  That is a wonderful feeling.  And, I opened up about 10 feet of shelf so I can start to spread out a little bit now.  Unfortunately, that shelf didn’t come available until the end of the cleaning.

This is the right side.


UFO’s and kits and about 15 years of back issues of QNM.  More fabric.  And, sewing machines.  I won’t tell you how many.  It doesn’t matter.

Now, if I could just get through this.


That is a store bought quilt from the 80’s that either needs to be repaired or retired and the rest is scraps that need to be sorted by size and color.  And, I just can’t stop sewing long enough to sit down and do it.  I’ve already done a pile this big, and at the half way point, I just flagged and couldn’t keep on.  Sorting scraps is something I have to be in the right mood for.  It’s not exciting.

Last night, after dinner and dishes, Syd sang for us again.  She started out small, singing through her nose.  But, about half way through, she found her voice…and it was beautiful.  So, she sang it again.  And again, beautiful.  She said she started out panicked, but then it just went away.  And, we heaped on the praise.  Lavishly!

Practice makes perfect. 

Now, if we can just apply that to the practice ACT.



A mini-break

I’m taking a mini-break from the mini-challenge this week, while I draft the next section.  I confess to having drafted the section, pieced it, fouled it up royally, thrown it away, and started the drafting again. 

It happens. 

One day, I want to talk to a pattern designer, maybe even Sally Collins herself…I think she’d take my email…and ask about a professional designer’s process.  Mine is “make it, hate it, try again, repeat until happy” and while that may be the only way I can do it, I’d like to hear that there is another way.  One that doesn’t take quite so much time.

Anyway, the Civil War Stars quilt is in the machine. 


First, all the ditchwork, and then I can start quilting the individual blocks.  I’ll do them with lots of outlining and then fill in the backgrounds with something simple that might have been hand quilted into a quilt of the era.  I just wasn’t willing to take on another hand quilting project right now. 

I’m using a wool batting on this and I am not as impressed as I thought I would be.  It’s “springy”.  Is that descriptive enough?  Cotton has a rough surface that grabs the fabric and holds everything together and stable, no matter how I twist and turn it in the machine.  This wool batting wants to stand up and it doesn’t grab the fabric, so I’ve put in about twice as many pins as I would normally use.  And, I’m being very, very careful to pull the quilt taut as I quilt in the lines.  I’m reserving judgment until I get further along.  I like the idea of a wool bat, but the final result will determine whether it was worth the extra cost and effort to have one.

Thought I’d show the new setup.  I’ve always had trouble with large quilts hanging off the front edge of the sewing surface. I use a drop leaf dining table on the back side of the sewing machine cabinet to hold the quilt as it goes under the machine, but I needed something in front, too.  That drop leaf can be expanded to a table that would hold six, so I can vary the size to fit the project.  I would put a table or a TV tray in front to hold the bulk on that side of the machine, but TV trays are notoriously tip-able and it was a struggle.  For a really big quilt, I’d use a card table, which was more stable, but took up all the extra space in the room and made me feel confined.  Not to mention that it blocked access to the machine, so if I wanted in or out, I had to either collapse the table, or crawl under it.  Now I don’t object to a little crawling, but I really think I might have aged out of that activity.  Especially when I need to stand up in a small, confined space.  I need things to grab onto.

So, I’ve started using one of the roller carts that I keep under the machine table extension.  I keep the extension down all the time, and these two carts live under it.  I can pull one out and sit the bulk of the quilt on it and it helps me fight the gravity effect.  Gravity is not a quilters friend.  If I could only turn on my anti-gravity unit and make the quilt float under the needle, I’d have it made.  I wonder if I could quilt on an air hockey table…now there’s a thought. 


Yes, I did use one of the ugliest pieces of fabric I own for the back.  No apologies.  The only one that will ever see it is the wall on which it will hang.  I’ve had this fabric since I started quilting.  I bought it off ebay, thinking it was gray. 

But, it ain’t, Blanche.  It ain’t. 

It’s a hideous gray/pink.  HIDEOUS!  Okay, hideous is in the eye of the beholder.  Mostly I hate it because it wasn’t what I wanted it to be.  And, because I own NINE yards of it.  Granted, I don’t think I paid but ten dollars, but still, it should have been what I expected, right?  I used less than half to back this quilt.  And, am glad to see it getting used.  Fortunately, it’s a small scale print that is good as a Civil War Repro quilt backing, so I put the other five yards in the Civil War stash.

So, once you have a large enough sewing surface to hold the quilts weight, the next thing is light.  I need a lot of light, especially on dark fabrics…and more especially when I use invisible thread.


We collected several of these drafting table lamps before they got so popular that we couldn’t afford them anymore.  I have four of them, all in the perfect spot to provide the perfect light.  I use “daylight” bulbs.  And, I angle the light in from the side.  This light can be swiveled and provide light for the sewing machine that is two tables away, and faces the Bernina.  Or, it can be turned to the temporary cutting table that I’m using for the mini-challenge block so I don’t have to go to the big cutting table in the garage.  It’s too flipping cold to spend hours out there cutting hundreds of one inch squares.

Well, that’s where the magic happens.  It’s small and confined and people that design studios for a living would say that there’s no way I can accomplish all I do in this small space.  But, I do it.  And, you’ve seen the results, so there’s your proof.

On the parenting front, Sydney is singing a solo at a choir competition this weekend.  She asked several times if she could sing her piece for us last night.  After dinner and dishes, we sat down to listen.  And, it was a disaster!  Five days before the competition, and it was a train wreck.  I had to walk away and think about what I wanted to say.  I wish I was better at this parenting thing, but I got pretty excited and maybe a little assertive, but I basically said that if she was going to sing soprano, she needed to rare her shoulders back and belt it out…actually, I think I said “beat the crap out of it”, but whatever.  And, if you’re going to hunch your shoulders in and sing with a little voice, you need to sing alto.

Oh, you lucky parents that could have stroked her hand and told her she was great. 

I told her that when she opened her mouth and sang, she had a beautiful voice, and she needed to sing loud.  I told her that I knew she could do it, and I told her that her choir teacher, who chose the song for her knew she could do it, too.  And, she just needed to do it.  I even used Lady Gaga’s tribute to The Sound of Music as an example…did Lady Gaga hunch her shoulders inward and look down?  No, she pulled her shoulders back, opened her chest and throat, and let go with it.  (BTW, wasn’t she fabulous!)

Last year, at this same competition, Syd had a panic attack and ended up in tears.  Yesterday, she sang in front of her class and did fine.  Last night, she panicked again when she sang for us.  So, the only way I know to beat that demon is for her to sing for us every night this week.  And, I intend to make it as distracting and weird as possible.  Because if she can ignore me, she can ignore the judges.  Okay, maybe not as distracting as possible, but distracting nonetheless.

Sing, girl.  Sing loud!

Okay, that’s it for me today.  It’s cold out.  Our trees and plants that were trying to blossom are shaking in a cold wind today.  Poor things.  Hopefully it didn’t get too cold to do much damage.  It’s hovering near the freezing mark now.  But, there’s a light rain, so schools are on a two hour delay.

But, work’s not.

Everybody have a great Tuesday.  My boss and I are meeting about high profile projects.  Dang, but I need some big recognition and my small work is not getting it for me.




Well, all the pieces came together this morning.  Remember that I didn’t know what the outside dimension was going to be because I had decreased the size of the pattern. 

Marsha McCloskey’s pattern would have finished at 28”.  Mine finishes at 14”, so a full half size reproduction.  I thought it was going to finish a little bigger than that…more like a 60% reproduction, but hey, half size works for me. 


t’s not perfect, but it’s sure perfect enough for me.  Elizabeth asked me to photograph it with a coin.  Here it is with a dime.


Each of those half triangle squares finishes at 1/2”.  According to the pattern instructions, there are 629 pieces in the block.  I’m not counting them.  But, it didn’t feel like that many pieces, likely because all the half square triangles were cut from two strips of fabric pre-sewn together, so I just had to cut a square with a diagonal line down the middle of it. 

If anyone was going to make this block in half size, my two cautions would be that all the half triangle squares are the same size.  The original pattern, for the larger block, used two different sized half triangle square units.  But, in the smaller size, they all need to be the same size.  And, the second caution would be not to stretch the fabric to make it fit.  If it’s not going together easy, look for the mistake…there likely is one.  Because when it’s all going together right, it goes together easy. And, then the other suggestion is to pin at every seam match point.  Each and every one.  Some of those seams had 36 pins in a 14” long seam.  But, it makes all the points match up so nice.  Well, all but one, but I’m not pointing that one out. 

Here it is with a quarter.  The quarter looks so much bigger than the pieces.


Now that I know the outside dimension, I can start planning the next round.  Here’s the idea sketch.  I think the hst’s in the next round are twice as big as the ones in the first round.  At least I’m hoping so.  I’m tired of those little tiny triangles.


I never would have thought I would have enjoyed the prospect of designing my own quilt.  But, I am.  And, I’m looking forward to picking the next fabrics to set this off.  I’m also enjoying that I’m limited to just three colors; black, brown and off-white.  That makes it even more of a challenge.

As I’ve worked on this, I’ve used the Barbed Wire quilt as my leader/ender project. 


It won’t be long until it’s together.  I’ll likely just finish the assembly now that it’s this far along and not worry about it being a leader/ender.  I need to get it up out of the floor, where it’s been, off and on, since I started the mini quilt.  This one is for Linus and I’ve got another that I’ve started cutting in red and tan.  I love the pattern.  It is too easy for words and feels like it has flown together.  Great for a Linus Project. 

Now that this is together, I’d like to get the Civil War Star quilt pin basted and start the quilting on it.  I also got to spend a couple hours in the yard yesterday.  So much is happening out there.  The daylilies appear to grow while I watch and leaves are showing up on everything.  There’s another short cold snap forecasted for next week, so I’m not putting anything in the ground, but we picked up a couple of pots of color yesterday and I’ve set them around so I can enjoy them, but can also pick them up and move them if the weather gets too cold.

A busy boy is a happy boy…likely because I stay too busy to be truly unhappy.

Everybody have a great Sunday.  I’m trying to pick a paint color for the kitchen and we wasted some money on a gallon that turned out to be wayyyyyyy too orange.  I just put a little on the wall and it looks like one of those orange push up ice cream things we used to get when I was a kid. 

But, I think it would make a great color for the sewing room closet!  Waste not, want not.



Again, already

I did spend the most glorious day in the sewing studio yesterday.  I got the last border on the Civil War Stars quilt and am thinking I might pin baste it later today.  And, I got the binding on the Row Houses quilt, so it’s ready to be hand sewn to the back.  And, I remade the center of the mini challenge block.  And, just like we all knew it would, it went easier and it came out better.


It’s still not perfect, but it’s as perfect as I’m going to get at my skill level.  The good news is that even this builds skills for the next thing I try.

I got started on the eight outer points.  I have these two pieced. 


The black sections were all identical, but these eight come in pairs, and this is one pair.  Right now, they’re undergoing a special Sally Collins technique. 

In her class, I was having some trouble getting my seams to lay flat and appear straight and be the right size.  She slipped up behind me and made this suggestion.  Take it home and spritz it good with water and pin it to your ironing surface the way you want it to look and let it dry overnight. 

Guess what you have the next morning.  Perfectly shaped and sized pieces to work with. 

Later, I read that in one of Sally’s books, so it wasn’t the confidence that it felt like that day in her class, but it sure made me feel special.  The one that got the secret technique.

Of course, that could be because I’m the only one that needed the secret technique.

Looks like it’s going to be a quiet weekend around here.  I’m hoping to do a little more sewing, but I hope I don’t spend the whole weekend in the studio. 

I’m trying to decide whether to apply for a different job at my company.  I love what I do, but I’m not busy enough to suit me and I need new challenges and new successes.  I hate applying for jobs.  I feel so vulnerable.  But, sometimes, it has to be done. 

Everybody have a great weekend.  I’m planning to play it cool and quiet.  Except I have a lesson to teach about makeup and good towels. 

Ugh.  Doesn’t this parenting thing ever take a break?



The latest in handwork

I’ve been inspired watching Tim Latimer applique a vintage quilt kit.  It even got me shopping for one, too.  But, I managed to reign myself in because I have an applique quilt kit…and I’ve had it long enough that it’s almost vintage…

Don’t know when I started this.  But, I know it was a long time ago. 


I have the twelve block kits and the finishing kit.  Each block is a different fruit and generally shows the fruit’s lifespan from blossom to ripe, so it’s got a lot of different techniques and shapes to applique.  It’s been a wonderful and fun project to work on and I do look forward to it being completed.  Someday.  But, it’s pretty work intensive and I wasn’t able to start and finish it in one go.  So, I’ve made a block or two and put it away and made another block or two and put it away.  The grapes one nearly drove me mad.  I picked it early on because I knew it was going to be lots of work and I wanted to do it while I was excited. 

The next block is the plums block.  I know everybody likes to share methods, so here is mine.  I trace the pattern on a piece of shower curtain liner…hey, for 99 cents, you can’t beat it for cheap plastic.  That’s my overlay template.  I can lay it over the background and position my pieces in just the right spot under it.


I trace all the pieces on freezer paper that I press onto the fabric.  I trace around that with a colored pencil. 


I can write the piece number on the freezer paper to help me keep up with them.  The designers at Piece o’ Cake numbered the pieces to make it easier to assemble from background to foreground.  I will lay the piece on the background, using the plastic template for exact placement, pin it in place, peel off the paper and I have the markings left as a guide to needle turn the edges under.  Each block, except the grape block has about 30 pieces.  Jimminy.

Anyway, one day it will be finished.  And, I will love it as much then as I did when I first opened the kit.  The friend that shared this one with me also shared another.  The plan is to machine applique it, not hand applique.  It is just as piecing intensive as this one is and I think I’d be happier finishing it by machine…and I hope it goes faster!

Everybody have a great Thursday.  The plan is to take tomorrow off.  My boss agreed and my calendar is empty.  I plan to spend it sewing.  Then, maybe I’ll want to do other things this weekend. 

I just needed lw to agree that I should start the center of my mini challenge over again, cutting new fabric.  One voice of confirmation was all it took.  And, I started that this morning after piecing another black triangle.  Yes, it’s a lot of work, but who knows, as easy as the black triangles are going together now, maybe the center will be just as easy the third time around.

Except I had to sew the first seam of my flying geese units four times…the first time, I was out of bobbin.  The second time, the bobbin tension was off.  The third time, I didn’t fix the bobbin tension and it was still off.  The fourth time, I re-threaded the whole machine.

No wonder stuff takes so long…I have to do it all like half a dozen times to get it right.

That’s called tenacity.

Bordering on insanity.




Okay, so WIPs are not the same as UFOs in my studio.  A WIP is something that is actively being worked on (work in progress).  A UFO is languishing (unfinished object).  Sometimes, a WIP and a UFO can be created by the same thing, like need for the perfect border or binding fabric.  A UFO can become a WIP when I stumble up on a flour sack that will make the perfect border for that 30’s reproduction fabrics sampler quilt that needed the perfect fabric.

These are a few of my WIPs, and promises of others to come.

Of course, there’s the current challenge project. 


Since you saw a photo, I’ve taken the center apart and put it back together again.  It’s better, but still not just right.  Don’t be surprised if I make it again.  The first black triangle unit I made was a real pain in the rear, but the second one just went together perfect the first time.  My process keeps evolving to easier and easier methods with less and less fabric waste.  By the time I’m done, my skills might be up to making this one.

And, for my leader/ender, I’ve got the barbed wire Linus quilt going together. 


Yes, it’s a mess.  Blocks become rows, rows become a quilt top.  There is a pattern that I followed for the light and medium stars, and I couldn’t figure it out in my head, so once the rows are together, I’ll be able to figure out what I need to piece to make the border.  The border finishes the quilt so that there are no half stars around the edge.

And, the Row Houses quilt would likely be finished and washed, except I didn’t have anything suitable for a binding.  I had perfect prints, but not enough.  Or, I had a yard or two, but it didn’t go with the border.  So, JoAnn’s to the rescue.  I just need to get it assembled and attached to the quilt.  But, I’ve kinda lost my umph on this one as I absorb myself in the mini challenge.


The quilt is quilted with an all-over meander that is pointy and reminds me of wind. 


And, I did a simple ivy in the border.

I finished a pair of socks on Saturday, in the car, on our roadtrip. 


Socks are great little hand work projects.  Very portable.  But, I’ve made like three pair in a row.  Now, I’m ready for something else, so I’ve picked up an applique project for my hand work.  But, that deserves a post of its own. 

Everybody have a great Wednesday.  I have scheduled Friday as a vacation day and I’m not sure exactly how I”m going to spend it, but you can bet it will include attaching a border to another WIP and attaching a binding to the Row Houses quilt. 

I’m ready to tackle my next UFO and see how fast I can finish something else. 



A double holiday!

Valentine's and my Birthday made for a busy weekend.  On Saturday, we went antiquing to celebrate my birthday.  We've learned that it's better to go on Saturday than Sunday, if for no better reason than we can get an earlier start because the stores open earlier.  We had a real nice day, with antiquing at our favorite shops and lunch at a great small town diner, always a great place to find something that's not good for you.  We chose to have our big meal for Saturday lunch rather than battle for a table at a restaurant on Valentine's night. 
Before we left, I finished the quilting on the Row Houses quilt, so more to come on that.  Just need to trim it and bind it, but I had to stop at JoAnn's for binding fabric.  (Okay, any excuse to shop for fabric will work, right?)
That quilt being finished (yay!), I got to start a new project. 

And, you know which one that is.  I made this block from the templates in Marsh McCloskey's book.  And, I made some mistakes and what should have come out as 8.5" only came out as 7".  Jimminy, that's way off.  Clearly, I didn't understand the block.  I assumed it was a pattern error...right?  It would have to be a pattern error.  Couldn't be me.  And, why were there sections cut to finish at 7/8" and 1 3/8" and other sections cut to finish 1" and 1.5"?  Marsha doesn't give size at the end of each step like Sally Collins does, and I was really having trouble at each step, trying to figure out what size it should have come out.  So, I decided to draft the block again, correcting the pattern error.  And, in doing that, I figured out where my errors were in piecing the block.  Oops!  If you're ever going to make this complex block...or I guess any complex block, I suggest drafting it out on paper first.  It really helps to understand why things are the size they are. 
Anyway, since I was going to draft the block again anyway, it wasn't really all that miniature, so I decided to scale it down.  Sort of half size...but not quite.  I re-drew the flying geese from 
7/8" x 1 3/8" finished to 1/2" x 1" finished.  That changed the scale of everything else, so it's not quite half size, but slightly larger than half size...maybe like 60% of the original. 
I got the center pieced yesterday, and this morning I started the first black section that will put the center on point.  Doing this in the smaller size opens it back up to the original vision that I showed on Friday.  And, I wanted it to be a challenge and making it half the size doubled the challenge.  Even using the best of my skills, it's far from perfect.  The center doesn't quite line up the way I'd like, but I'm not sure I'm willing to take it apart and put it back together again.  That will depend on how well the next sections go.  If those are coming out really really good, I might be willing to work a little harder to get the center just right.  Or not.

On a non-quilt note, a couple of weeks ago, our hot water tank went out.  A couple of cold showers later, and Rob took the day off to have it replaced.  His thank you gift for taking care of it all on a day when I was too busy to take the day off was this little trailer.  On Valentine's Day, we added to it, turning the trailer into a summertime diorama; adding the chairs and fire and other accessories.  He found the little beagle in an antique store.  He is trailer obsessed and would love for this to be a picture of our next vacation.  He found a show called Flippin' RVs and loves to watch them restore the vintage RV's that we both love.  

This piece of yard art was my birthday gift from him.  We love having little statues in the garden to give it some structure when other things are filling in.  And, they give me places to tie up vines and things like that.  With stones in the base, it should be great for that.  But, it's almost too pretty to put it outside.  Those bright yellow sunflowers will give some much needed color to my green flowerbeds, tho. 

I picked up a few sewing related things for myself on Saturday.  A couple of vintage patterns and the little coin purse looking thing is a sewing kit.  I love these little sewing kits and have a black one, too.  I can't help collecting them and they take up a little bit of space on my book case.  I don't know that I'll ever make myself a hat, but for a dollar, I couldn't pass up the pattern to at least learn how to.  And, the shirt pattern?  Well, another dollar.  The envelope art was worth that.  

Okay, that's it for me today.  Everybody have a great Monday. Stay warm.  Wish we could have some of the precipitation, but not the snow and ice.  On paper I am older.  So, why don't I feel wiser?

Take care.  Lane


Color like a big boy

I forgot how much fun it is to color.  Even if you’re just using three colors.

These are my first drafts of what to do with the Star Spangled Banner Feathered Star block.


I blew up the sketch from Marsha McCloskey’s book, but it already had shading in it.  So, I traced that..it was remarkably easy.  Then, I made copies of that.  And, then I colored in the star the way I wanted.  I made copies of that and started to draw in borders. 

I’m leaning toward the one on the left.  I love the one on the right.  It was my original vision.  But, if my high school geometry is correct, it is 40” square, before I add any borders (a squared + b squared = c squared, where a and b are equal and c is 28”.  that is the triangle for one side, and the side is two triangles, so double the answer.  Can you do it in your head?  I couldn’t.  Not even sure it’s the right formula.  Mrs S. would be so disappointed), and that’s getting a little bigger than I wanted.  So, I’ve kept coloring in the one on the left and I’m thinking it’s closer to the finished product.  But, first, it all has to be drawn on actual graph paper.  Not the center.  I’m not going to try to scale it down to fit exactly, but the border, using the finished size of the block from the book.  It’s too many pieces and too complex to try to wing it, like I normally do.  I would normally make the border and then add inconspicuous spacers if I needed to, to make it fit.  I’d probably be okay without that, this time.  But that means drawing.  Worst case scenario, I satisfy my need to make the quilt before it ever gets off paper.

Everybody have a great Friday.  Today is Friday the 13, an impractical day to start a relationship because tomorrow is Valentine’s day.  And, the day after that, I get a year older.  Well, on paper.  In real time, I’ll just be one day older. 

And, I’m gonna keep thinkin’ of it just like that…don’t be the one that tries to burst the bubble.  You could be injured.



Art? Or imitation?

You guys know how I am drawn to this quilt. 


You’re probably tired of hearing me talk about it (Pieceful by Sally Collins) and are thinking “just make it already!”

Well, I started it.


An exact reproduction, right down to the two different scales of brown and white check…

And, it didn’t feel right.  It didn’t represent me appropriately.  Oh, sure, it would have taken two boatloads of skill to exactly re-create one of Sally Collins’ miniature masterpieces.  But, I’d never feel right showing it, because it was an exact reproduction.  I needed to change it if I was going to make it.  Somehow make it mine, like different color (blue/yellow would be great, huh?) or change a border or something.  I went to considerable trouble collecting the fabrics to exactly reproduce this quilt.  And, it was only after I had started it that I realized I didn’t want to make it.

So, I focused on the things I love about the quilt.  I love the scale and the piecing, especially the borders, but mostly, I love the color combination.  The brown and black combination is what drew me to the quilt and what made me stand in front of it when I saw it at her presentation and makes me want one of my own.  It was inspired and inspiring.

And, having met Sally Collins and taken her class, I think she would approve of my decision.  I think she would be pleased that she helped me develop the skills to make miniatures and I think she would be pleased that I was inspired by her color combination and her body of work.  And, I think she would be more pleased about that than if I exactly reproduced one of her quilts.  In fact, if it was me, I’m not sure I’d be pleased about that at all. 

That sent me in search of a project.  Something miniature and something I could make in black and brown.  I read a lot of patterns, even full sized patterns that I considered re-drafting to smaller scale.  And, I spent a lot of time thinking about which type of block I’d like to focus on next.  I was drawn to feathered star blocks and that led directly to Marsha McCloskey. 


I’m torn between two of her quilt…the triple feathered star (don’t have a picture, but you can look it up in pinterest…it’s fantastic!) and Star Spangled Banner.


A 28” block with 629 pieces.  Holy Cow!  The star in light, medium and dark browns with that famous larger scale brown and white check in the center.  Black in the background so that the star stands out.  And, if I put that on point with some inspiration from Sally Collins and piece a tiny little scale border to go around that.

Well, you see where this is going. 

But, the book with the triple feathered star pattern is on the way, so I’m trying to keep an open mind and trying not to cut any fabric yet.  But, it’s hard, right?  Once you find a place to go, it’s hard not to start on the journey. 

Have a great Wednesday.  I might need to take a day of vacation to start a quilt….




Okay, I want to point out that the last time I posted about this little quilt, the title of the post was “flat-ish”.  So, please note the implied improvement.  Because I was amazed!


When I finished quilting it Saturday morning, I grabbed it by two corners and dropped it on the floor, all spread out.  Even after all the extra quilting, there was a hump.  Not as big as when I started, but a hump nonetheless.

This is what I started with. 


And, here are the posts where I talked about it.  OneTwoThree.

I had to decide what to do on Saturday morning when I finished it, and I took a risk and had Rob wash and dry it while I actively forgot about it.  When he came out with it, I said “grab it by two corners and drop it on the floor.  see if it lays flat.”  And, it did!  Perfectly flat.

Whoooo-hooooo!  I think he was as proud as I was.

I was fully prepared to start over for this baby if I had to.  But, I don’t.

Just a tiny little bump in the middle that’s maybe a half inch high.



So, now I’m fishing around for another project.  And, I’m quilting away on the Row Houses quilt.  It’s coming together wonderfully and I can hardly wait to start the FMQ.  But, first, all that ditch work.  I’ve read comments from many quilt teachers that the biggest mistake they see people make is to leave out the ditchwork that stabilizes the quilt before you start to do the FMQ.  It’s really hard to FMQ a huge space without getting pleats in the back.  But, it’s really easy to quilt a small space.  Your hands can stretch it open and flat if there are nearby seams to put your hands on.  I learned more about that when I did the whole cloth house quilt last year.  I could only do some of that tight detailed work because I was working within a confined space I had already created with outlining.  Ditchwork in a quilt is just that, some outlining that helps hold the layers together and stable and prevent shifting.

At least that’s what I think.  And, how I’m justifying all the ditchwork on the row house quilt.

Everybody have a great Tuesday.  Lane


For every UFO, there is a reason

I am a firm believer that for every UFO in my closet, there is a good reason that it’s still a UFO.  And, the most common reason is “I just don’t know what to do next.”


I got my Row Houses quilt together this weekend.  And, I added some borders.  Not the pieced borders that Flavin Glover included in the pattern, but nice borders.   After all, this was all about the finish.  And I pin basted it to a nice, respectable brown back and this morning, I started the quilting.  I plan to quilt a small pointy meander all over it that reminds me of wind, eddying back and forth, catching and turning on itself.


I’m anxious to get started on the free motion part.  But, first some structure.  This quilt was a UFO because I ironed when I pieced it.  (I didn’t know better…didn’t know there was a difference between ironing and pressing).  It was nice to hear Patricia say she’d done the same thing and I knew exactly what she meant.  I ironed it and the bigger the log cabin blocks got, the rounder they got along the edges.

There is not one straight seam in the quilt.  Made it very hard to assemble.  There’s puffiness everywhere that will need to be evenly distributed by creating an ever smaller and smaller grid, and then quilting my meander over that grid.  As I quilt the grid, I force the seam lines to appear straight and sew them down that way.  And, it’s working.  But, it took a whole lot of pins to hold those lines straight until I can quilt them.

Kath was impressed by my decision to finish just ONE UFO, and not chide myself for the rest.

Well, when your UFO pile looks like this, you kinda have to come to terms with it. 


Accept it for what it is.  Embrace it.  This is my body of incomplete work.  One day.  Maybe.  And, for some of it, maybe not.  This is just the ones that are started.  There’s an equal amount of shelf space above for the kits that have fabrics gathered and patterns selected, but haven’t actually been started.

Yes, you get to see this photo because I got into the studio closet and finished the clearing up.  I spent hours sorting piles of books that I’d gathered from around the studio and getting all my embroidery floss organized…not sure why that was important, but now, it’s done.  I’m no longer ashamed to show pics.  The UFO pile is about as bad as it gets in there right now. 

As usual, I worked myself this weekend until I could barely stand, and then rewarded myself with some miniature piecing.  And, then I had misgivings about whether it is better to re-create someone else’s quilt or strike out in my own direction, using the other person’s work as inspiration.

I guess you probably know where I came out on that one, but you can still look forward to the blog post anyway.

See ya’.  Have a great Monday.  Lane


What’s next?

What’s next for that man that quilts, now that baby quilt-palooza is winding down? 

I have maybe two hours of quilting left on the second baby quilt.

And, just like everybody, I’d love to start something new.  I love new.  Who doesn’t?  New is good.

This maybe?


or this?


But, I’ve made a deal with myself that first, I have to finish something that is started.  So, I pulled out my second oldest UFO.

The first oldest UFO is a hand quilting project and I already have one of those going…that may never end.  So, I am excused from working on the oldest UFO at this time.  Thank you quilt police.  The official notice came in the mail yesterday.


This is Flavin Glover’s pattern, Row Houses.  I found the pattern, just when my quilting took that turn…when I got a good machine and learned how to actually sew…and match points and understand fabric and quilting. 

Anyway, the quilt is based on log cabin blocks, so each window is the center of a log cabin block and you build around that and then it all comes together as a house…you know, some magic happens and you have a quilt.

Except mine didn’t get past this; twelve houses and twelve rooflines.


So, for my next feat, I am going to roof these houses and get this quilt together and see if I can’t find a nice border or two and maybe do some simple and easy quilting…I will NOT quilt in every ditch…I willlllllll nnnnnnooooooootttttttttt. 

I made two of these quilts.  One was the real one and one was a practice piece, made out of what I considered scraps…and all solids.  I finished the practice piece, including the quilting.  But, I never got back to the real quilt.  The practice piece wore me out on this pattern.  And, it was six houses, so in total, I made 18.  No wonder I was burned out.

So, it’s that time.  Time to draw a UFO to a close.  Even if I just get it all assembled and ready to quilt, that’s something.

Have a great Friday.  My project that I thought elevated last Friday did not…yes, I had egg on my face when they figured out I was testing something that didn’t change…and I found something wrong with it.

Hopefully, nothing wrong today.