Sunday, December 31, 2017

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful!

Happy holidays everyone! I hope this finds you well and looking forward to a brand new year.

For those of you living outside the purple zone on the weather map, it’s bitterly cold here, with single-digit temperatures and double-digit below zero wind chills. That’s breath-taking cold. Bone-chilling cold. FROSTBITE COLD! Jim has kept his "arctic" expeditions to a minimum, braving the elements only to trek down the driveway for mail or to shovel snow. Each time he opens the storm door, it whines in icy protest as if to ask, “Are you sure you want to venture out today?” 

I'm keeping warm under a cozy new quilt that my friend, Mary Conley, gave me for Christmas. "The blocks might look familiar," she whispered, as she placed it in my lap. Indeed they did! They were red and green nine patches I'd abandoned years before when I first started sorting my life into projects worth the energy to complete and those that were not. 

Apparently, Mary saw more potential in my castoffs than I did. She saved them, then stitched them together almost 20 years later, returning them to me as this wonderful finished quilt! 

I like how she set the blocks on point with homespun plaid as the alternate fabric. This layout adds visual interest, particularly where the setting triangles (cut on bias) meet the border (cut on straight of grain). 

Her choice of a swirling, blustery, wind-like quilting design couldn't be more appropriate!

Mary, I'll think of you whenever I use "our" quilt, which here in the purple zone will be just about every night

Friday, July 21, 2017

Will Strip for Fabric!

Hi everyone. Hope you're keeping cool this summer. I get so lethargic and irksome in this heat. Most days, it’s hard for me to do much more than nap! 

My Piecemaker friends shared photos of quilts they made from our Spider Web fabric exchange
 (previous post). It’s fun to see each quilter's interpretation of the classic string-pieced pattern. Enjoy! 

Oh, and here’s our friend, Patt, who dressed as a stripper, because... how else would you dress for a "strip" swap?

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Hey, Macarena!

It’s been a while since I posted a bona fide, start to finish, pieced with my own two hands kind of quilt. I made this Spider Web in a sew-along with my Elmhurst Piecemaker friends back in 

Our theme was “pastel.” To ensure everyone had a varied assortment of fabrics to work with, each participant contributed six yards-worth of pastels, precut into strips, to share with the group.

On swap day, the tables overflowed with colorful strips! We paraded around the room to the festive rhythm of “Macarena,” snatching a strip from each table we passed. With all the laughter and fabric flying, we looked like a crazy Conga Line or a game of Musical Chairs. ”Hey, Macarena!”

Some people chose randomly; others had a color scheme in mind. For my quilt, I selected 1930s-style colors and prints. 

After sorting and sewing strips together, I used this 45 Degree Kaleidoscope Wedge Ruler (directions included) to cut the eight segments needed for each block. 

Coordinating the placement of colors within blocks was lots of fun... 

but, I liked the scrappiness of mixing random colors just as much.

Nothing went to waste. Leftover strips found their way into my scrappy border.

Spider Web 
84" x 100"
Machine quilting by Stover Quality Quilting.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Another Year Older

23 February 2017

Dear Barb,

My birthday quilt arrived and I wish you could see the ear to ear grin on my face. What a happy piece of patchwork to open on a gray February day!

Your Log Cabin doll quilt is charming. Such sweet colors! Is there anything better than pink and blue sitting side by side like this? 

I appreciate your sharing that last bit of bird toile on the back. It makes an elegant foil to those quirky conversation prints on the front. Baseball players and baby faces — Such fun!


Your birthday quilts always take the edge off turning another year older. Thank you for this keepsake of our cherished friendship, Barb. I love my new little quilt and you too!

CLICK HERE to read about previous birthday quilts.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Humble Orphans

I have a memory from my early friendship with Barb, of visiting her sewing room and exploring a drawer full of “orphan” quilt blocks. You know the type of thing: spare blocks, abandoned blocks, or other assorted oddments, pieces, and parts of former quilt projects. What fun it would be, I thought, to arrange them like puzzle pieces into different quilt layouts.

That’s exactly what Barb did when she made this birthday quilt for me. It’s all humble “orphan" blocks from her stash. The quilt measures 10” x 12” and is “randomly” set with blocks of different sizes, made to fit by adding on or trimming back, as need be.

I’m guessing Barb started her layout with the vintage Shoo Fly block, then added Broken Dishes to continue the classic blue and brown color scheme. When the strip of Flying Geese was too long to fit, Barb simply cut it off, leaving a partial block.

Adding to the quilt's "make do" style is a backing sewn from beautiful chintz scraps. Barb also varied her binding strips, just as a long-ago seamstress might have done had she run out of her intended fabric.

A gentle tea bath gave the quilt its aged appearance. Don’t you just love that detail?

About that time, I spotted a sweet vintage bowl on Etsy. It was only 3” tall, with a hefty round base, and the loveliest shade of blue. "That's just what I need," I convinced myself, thinking it would look great filled with old brown buttons, atop a scrappy quilt... 

even though I had no such quilt until Barb sent me this one. I went straight back to Etsy and bought the blue bowl too. Happy birthday to me!

By the way, these are Barb's "miscellaneous block" drawers. See what I mean? Wouldn't you love to reach right in there and play?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sweet Hearts

Happy Valentines Day!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Happy New Year?

So… where were we when I last posted? Oh yeah, smack dab in the middle of the worst year ever! 2016 brought an unrelenting onslaught of tragedy: wildfires, floods, mass shootings, bombings, protests, iconic celebrity passings, and unprecedented political farce. 

Some of you are also aware of the sadness that befell our family last April with the tragic death of my brother, Carl. I'm heartbroken, and nine months later, still paralyzed with grief.

My friends weathered the storm right along with me and listened, without judgment, as I ranted and rambled on and on. They supported me with patience and love, coffee and chocolate, but lately, I've noticed them directing me toward more constructive pursuits.

My friend Kathy always asks if I’ve written a new blog post, and Linda has gone so far as to issue an ultimatum: "No new quilt photos until you start blogging again." I haven’t had the energy or focus to muster up more than a few words, but gradually, I’m finding my voice again.

Linda even sorted my sewing room in hopes of unearthing something to pique my interest. Well, something finally did -- an assortment of homespun plaids, all precut and ready to sew. Kathie Holland, do you remember sending me this kit years ago?

The 2” and 3.5" squares go together like this, using Mary Elen Hopkins’ connector squares method:

Star points form where the blocks intersect.

18" x 27"

Wanda Hanson sewed them all up for me and even added plaids from her own collection to create a generously sized table-topper. Look at the beautiful stripe Wanda chose for the back and binding. My favorite autumn colors!

She machine quilted it in diagonal parallel lines. 

I enjoy pairing it with some of my favorite pottery. 

There’s a real sense of peace to this quilt.
Simple. Understated. Perfect!