Sunday, December 28, 2014

Finally - some progress

This year I started late with my Christmas preparations but through daily determination, I finished just in time for the big day.  Both Christmas Eve and Christmas day were filled with family and friends, good food and laughter.

In the midst of holiday preparation, my son and husband carried all my sewing furniture and supplies to the new sewing room and I finished putting things away yesterday.  Later this week I will share photos and have a give-away.  But for now........ some progress on my While The Cat's Away BOM.

 Darn!! I thought these were finished but while looking at the photos I see that in my excitement I forgot to add the Back Stitch on the bottom block.  The leaves on each block were embellished with Bullion Stitches outlining the large leaf and the small inside leaf.  Back Stitch was added about a 1/4" inside the large leaf.  I selected different colors for the leaves on each block to complement the flower.

A variety of stitches and threads were used on the flower centers and I left the inner-most circle free of stitching to give the machine quilter a place to add her quilting.  This quilting in the center will "hold down" the centers so they don't pouf up too much.

The centers are cut from the felt that was included in the kit.  Once it is stitch I think it looks OK but it is much more difficult to stitch through than felted wool.  I will be using felted wool on all of the remaining blocks in this quilt.

In addition to these flower blocks, I've made 8 pieced blocks and also pieced 1 sunburst block that is waiting for applique and embellishment.  Let's not talk about the November block that is still in the envelope - OK?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Bev is the Winner

Thanks to all of you who sent in your response to my Berry Bloom Give-Away.  Bev was the winner by over 12 hours!

Let me tell you about Bev.  She is the owner of 44th Street Fabrics, a shop she runs out of her home and is a prolific blogger. Although we have never met, I feel like she is a close friend just through our emails.


 I just bought some of the dots Bev has in stock and there is a lot to choose from.  Right now Bev is having a huge sale - 50% off fabric and 30% off patterns.  Go ahead, indulge yourself with a Christmas gift by clicking HERE and find out how to get these great sale prices.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hubby moved out!

What a surprise to look at my last blog posting and realize that it was almost 3 weeks ago.  Each day there have been so many things to keep me busy,.....and sometimes frustrated. Two months ago I told you about the new studio we were building for my husband's wood carving.  That project was finished on time and then he needed to move.  Oh my, after a few hours he told me that he might need a new bookcase and a very big dumpster.  No kidding..... it took him almost 3 weeks to completely move.  Now he is gone - but fortunately, just to the back yard.

Since that project was going sooooo smoothly, we decided to do a bit of fixing up in the house, remodeling our bathrooms.  I don't need to tell anyone that's gone through this about scheduling delays.  One day in total frustration I told the workers, "I love you guys but I can't wait for the day you aren't here".  Right in the middle of all of it was Thanksgiving dinner at my house.  Oh well, company was understanding that they had to walk to the basement to use the only functional bathroom.

Finally, it's finished (almost), so why not start painting the old carving room into a new WOW color for my sewing room.  I love the new color, my husband said "Really?" and my son asked "Why?".  I will share pics as soon as they get my furniture moved in.  

While sorting through my fabric, books, etc. I found some treasures that had been "lost".  The first is a complete Berry Bloom Kit, and by complete that means pattern, all the fabric and threads for embellishment.  Sorry, the bee clasp is not included.  I took the clasp off a necklace purchased from Chico's and I've heard you can occasionally find them on Ebay.

Be the first to email me with your mailing address at and I will send you the kit.  My gift to you.

As soon as I can get back to the computer I have another great give-away so check back.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thankful for Friends

I have made many friends through quilting.  Some of us keep in touch often while others may just be happy to meet in a quilt shop or at retreat.  Last Friday I was invited to participate in Moonlight Madness at American Quilting.  The shop closed for a few hours of prep time during which I was able to hang some quilts and lay out samples.  Promptly at 7 p.m. the doors opened to a rush of visitors who won prizes, took advantage of discounts throughout the shop and browsed amongst the bolts of beautiful fabric.

What fun to see quilting friends again and catch up.  My husband joined me and said he had a fun time meeting my friends.  My new quilt, "The Honey Flow", was hanging and the bright colors were real eye-catchers.  More than a few visitors have a pile of hexie flowers already made and bought the pattern to finish the flowers off with an appliqued border.

My "Crazy For Embellishment" sampler was also quite popular, especially when I explained that it was created for my beginning embroidery class.  There was a lot of interest and we scheduled a class in February (see side-bar).

Enough about me!  I want to share an amazing quilt with you made by my very dear friend, Debra Hale. Debra and I met in a quilt class about 15 years ago and have made quilts together ever since.  She is a true artist and makes every pattern better with her amazing selection of color and workmanship.  She adds "little" touches to each pattern that makes it her own.  I'm not at all embarrassed to admit that when we are making the same quilt I let her get ahead of me so I can copy.

Debra started with the pattern "Merry Christmas" by Heart to Hand and made quite a few changes.  The applique is wool on homespun backgrounds and each block is embellished.  The biggest surprise?  Debra selected black cotton velveteen for the border and let me tell you, it was the perfect choice.  A lot of photos follow and you will love them all.

 Each letter is outlined with red beads.

 Individual red beads that reminded me of pomegranate seeds cover the gift .
 I especially love the tree so there are 2 photos! Wool strips were stitched to look like pine needles and then colorful beads were added for the ornaments.

Debra always creates a special label for each quilt.

Debra and I always like to make changes to patterns that personalize our quilts and I hope this inspires you to let your inner artist blossom!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Flower Block Embellishment

Embellishing all of the flower blocks on "While The Cat's Away" BOM was my plan for last week then I went to the dentist for an easy (according to the dentist) procedure.  One week later I finally picked up needle and thread after days of pain pills, antibiotic reaction and a swollen face.

All of the blocks have the stem appliqued and the small leaf stitched.  Instead of the suggested straight strip of wool for the stem, I chose to use Rousseau Ric Rac, by Painter's Threads.  This is really a fun trim with a tiny sparkle.  The small inner leaf was stitched according to BOM directions with a Herringbone Stitch and I selected Valdani M26 Pearl Cotton #8 which I also used to add Bullion Knots around both the inner and outer leaves.  A back stitch with Sea Grass, color Crush Crush adds a bit of color.

The flower center is a fussy-cut cotton print and my first stitch is Italian Knotted Border Stitch which looks a lot like Fly Stitch with a knot at the bottom of the "V".  I used Thread Gatherer Silken Pearl size 5 (SP5), color Phoenix Rising and then with SP5, color Sprite Grass added a Lazy Daisy Stitch.

Now I'm really excited about the next stitch around the pink wool.  I used Painter's Thread Silk Gimp, color Marianne to stitch Knotted Pearl Stitch.  The Gimp is a silk thread twisted around an inner core that almost resembles a flexible wire.  A size 15 Milleners needle is just what you need for this amazing fiber.

The outline around the orange wool is my go-to, reliable Bullion Knot in Painter's Thread Pearl Cotton #8, color Mary C.

Today was going to be an all-day stitch-a-thon but....... construction guys were in and out all day helping us with remodeling the bathrooms.  I'm holding out hope for this evening.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Colors To Dye For

The phone rings:  Hi, what are you doing?
Me:  I'm dying

Geez, don't panic!  I'm fine!  I'm dying wool, and talking on the phone.

I get a lot of questions about dying wool as it seems many of you are interested in giving it a try.  And, why wouldn't you be?  Frankly, I can't believe the price of high quality, hand-dyed wool.  A quick trip through the internet shows prices upwards of $80.00 a yard.  I don't know about you but that kills my budget.  You can expect to save about 75% by dying your own which means hand dyed wool is not that much more than today's cotton prices.

For any of you that are interested in dying your own, I've written, "Colors to Dye For, A Guide to Hand-Dying Wool" that is now available for $15.00 in my Etsy Shop, just click HERE.

My guide includes sources for purchasing high quality wool and dyes along with a step-by-step description of my quick method and recipes for 20 colors.  

Did I say "quick" method?  Yes I did.  If you follow my set up, which takes about 3 minutes, you can expect to dye about 4 colors an hour.  I'm not telling a fib here - last time I dyed 20 yards it took just a little over 5 hours and there might have been a coffee or bathroom break included.

One of my secrets is felting the wool ahead of time in my washing machine to reduce time in the dye bath.  Another tip is that I use my turkey roaster right next to the sink so there isn't any heavy lifting or spilling.

The recipes include a good range of bright, but not neon, colors ranging through yellow, orange, blue, green, pink and purple.  

Here are just a few:

Spend a little, save a lot, and impress all your friends!

p.s.  If you ever have turkey dinner at my house don't worry.  I'll cook it in a different pot.

Monday, November 10, 2014


Life seems to come in bunches and it appears that classes do too.  I haven't taught since the Small Town Quilt Retreat last June but suddenly I had 3 groups call and want to schedule my Crazy For Embellishment class.  Crazy For Embellishment is what I call my "Beginner" class and everyone is amazed, and sometimes a little nervous when I announce that we are going to learn a dozen stitches before noon.

Each student is given a kit containing wool, a variety of threads including pearl cotton, silken pearl and sea grass plus the needles needed.  I love seeing everyone so excited when they finish their first perfect Bullion Knot, whip the Back Stitch, laugh at a Drizzle and realize that yes, they can do it!

I began my trio of classes with the Midway Heritage Quilt Guild.  I have taught for this group before and always have a good time.  This photo is my Crazy For Embellishment sampler stitched by Susan Turpin, a member of the Midway Guild.  Susan does lovely work, finishing several of my patterns.

The very next week a group of friends invited me to teach at a private home and because there were only 4 students it was a very relaxed time with the most amazing lunch.  They were so nice that I immediately felt like I was just spending the day with friends.  And you know, within a short time, I was.

This past weekend found me teaching just a few blocks from home.  Hazel Rimmasch arranged everything for the class and even prepared a fantastic lunch.  Hazel and I met at the Small Town Quilt Retreat when we had vendor booths next to each other.  She loved the threads and stitching and was determined to learn.  The class was comprised of Hazel's friends, several of my friends from my quilt group, and women we met at the Retreat.

A day filled with friends and stitching.  Now that's hard to beat.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Circles Made Easy

The Sunburst Block I showed yesterday has a large center circle and 8 smaller circles cut from cotton.  I've tried many techniques for making my appliqued circles perfect and found a new one while browsing my Pinterest feed.  

Yes, that is aluminum foil on my ironing board and this new (to me) technique is explained by Sarah Fielke in a YouTube video that you can watch by clicking HERE  (sorry if there is an annoying ad, just skip it and get to the good part).

For the large center circle I pressed 4 layers of freezer paper together to make my circle template and used Perfect Circles for the smaller flower centers.  The foil paper method worked great for both sizes.  They kind of look like Hershey's Kisses making it easier to hide chocolate in the sewing room.  An unexpected bonus! 

If you would like to follow me on Pinterest just click HERE or on the icon on top of the right-hand column of this blog. 

Go forth and make circles.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Progress Notes

There are so many wonderful patterns, colors, threads, fabrics... oh my..... that I've been a bit distracted.  Since I couldn't decide what to work on next that little demon inside of me that wants to knit sneaked out and I spent a few days knitting on a kit that I purchased a year ago.  Surprisingly, it was going quite well until the addition of a color that just isn't working for me.  Perfect excuse to put it aside and get back to quilting.

Here is another Enchantment bird with a Woven Picot beak and Double Cast-on head feathers.
Chain Stitch defines the inner wing using Silken Pearl #5, Hollyhocks and Hummingbirds.  The lower edge of the wing is bordered by Cast-On stitch using Silken Pearl #5, Midsummer Vineyard which is held in place with a Fly Stitch in Pearl Cotton (some color of yellow) and Lazy Daisy in the Midsummer Vineyard.  

Feather Stitch seamed appropriate for the tail feathers using Silken Pearl #5 in Grape Soda.  Between the tail feathers is a very long drizzle stitch using Silken Pearl #5, Hollyhocks and Hummingbirds with a bead at the end.  The eye is from a hand-made bead (made by my sister, Lynda) that looks just like an eye.  A light lavender Sea Grass outlines the top of the bird using Back Stitch and Fly Stitch along the bird's belly.  Sorry, I don't have all the colors but some of the threads in my bag have lost their name-tags.

Yesterday I spent the entire day in my sewing room and loved it.  I didn't even cook - our Sunday dinner was scrambled eggs and waffles that my husband cooked.  He makes the best pancakes and waffles from scratch.  I don't know the recipe and don't want to learn it.

These blocks are Month 1 of the "When The Cat's Away" block of the month that I'm enrolled in.  I think these are really clever flowers made with half-square triangles.  Since the felt circles were already cut and stitched together I'm going to use them.  The leaves are felted wool from my stash and the stems are probably going to change to something more exciting.

Month 2 is a Sunburst block that is the first of 4 and I've been warned that this is the easy one.  It's a large 24"x24" block and is absolutely beautiful.  I used felted wool from my stash in place of the felt that was included in the kit.  

The 8 flower blocks and the Sunburst now need to be appliqued and embroidered.  Month 3 is already here and is 8 pieced blocks.

I'm really excited about this quilt and the BOM program.  The instructions have been very clear and there is plenty of fabric included.

With such a good start it will be difficult to put everything away to design and stitch a project for an upcoming retreat.  Saturday will find me teaching embellishment in an art studio near my home.

I think there are some more waffle dinners in my near future.

Check back tomorrow so I can tell you about a new trick I learned for making circles.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Don't Like Bologna

My Mom fixed bologna sandwiches for my school lunch and I ate them even though I didn't like them.  But, there was no choice - eat or be hungry.  So I know from experience that bologna can be a meal, even if it's not your "meat" of choice.  

Are you wondering yet why I'm sharing my feelings about bologna?  Well, I've come to the conclusion that felt is the bologna of the fabric world.  Little things chopped up, mushed together and pressed down flat.  That's how both bologna and felt are made.

I know I'm going to get in trouble for this.... but felt, even if it is 100% wool felt, IS NOT the same as felted wool. Do you remember last year when I made the Urban Owls quilt designed by Wendy Williams as a block-of-the-month project?  Felt was included in the kit and in the spirit of learning new things, I used it and blogged about the pros and cons.

Wendy has designed another beautiful quilt, "While The Cat's Away", offered as a BOM through Material Obsessions and I enrolled.  The first month included felt to make flower centers and once again I cut them out, appliqued them together and haven't added any embroidery stitches.  Why? Because other than the bright colors they look really flat, just like the bologna.  And now that I'm a grown-up I have choices.

I'm going to substitute the bologna, I mean felt, with lovely, soft, textural, felted wool.  After the final month of the BOM I will have a give-away here of colorful felt that you can use for a sandwich or a craft project.

The kits are expensive and there is part of me that thinks I should use what is in the kit but my justification is that I don't like it and I'm not going to work on a beautiful quilt with fabric I don't like.  (at this point imagine me with hands on hips and a pout on my lips.)

Hopefully I will get some blocks finished next week that I can share.

p.s.  for all of you that are offended because you love felt and/or bologna, sorry.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Honey Flow

In early spring beekeepers ready their hives for the upcoming summer months in anticipation of sunny days and flowers in bloom.  When the fruit trees and flowers bloom there is an abundance of pollen and nectar for the bees to gather and store – more than they need for their food supply.  This abundance is called the “Honey Flow” which I thought was the perfect name for my quilt with the abundance of blooms, birds, butterflies and yes, a few little bees.

There are 59 Hexie Flowers  appliqued onto a dotted fabric surrounded by the appliqued border.   I used a variety of Kaffe and Kaffe-like fabrics, fussy cutting some for the applique.

 I thought my quilt was beautiful until I took it to Cindy Paulsen at Quilted Connection to work her magic.  Cindy's quilting is amazing and I just wish the photos could show it better.

Gather your bright fabrics and during those dark, cold winter days start creating your own garden to welcome spring with The Honey Flow.

Patterns are available in my Etsy shop by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Transfer of Skills

As much as I would enjoy spending each day creating and stitching, it's just not meant to be.  My husband and I have a new project, a studio for his woodcarving that has been built in our back yard.  That's my husband with Mickey and Juno on his new porch.

The exterior is all finished and to save some money we are doing some of the interior work ourselves.  Now, if you have ever purchased a pattern or kit from me, chances are my husband may have folded the pattern and stuffed it in the bag, cut threads or wool, and may have even folded the fabric in just the right order.  He has helped me and my sister, Paula, pour and label thousands of lip balms, made soap forms, shrink wrapped Heel Thyself and stirred soap.  It's only fair that I help with some of his projects.
To finish off the interior of the studio we needed to insulate the walls.  Sounds easy, right?  Yes, that is one of my cutting boards and rulers topped by a big roll of insulation.  

My fabric cutting skills were invaluable as I cut off sections to fit between the framing boards.  A rotary cutter wouldn't work as this stuff is thick and required a tough box-cutter type thing with sharp razors.  I cut and trimmed through 11 rolls, 32 feet in each roll.  Then, I helped staple the pieces in place.

At the end of the last 2 days I was so sore and tired that picking up a needle seemed like too much physical labor.  But.....sitting under a quilt with a book was perfect.

I have one more give away, another project that is started and up to one of you to finish.  I will have the pics and information here in a day - or 2.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sweet and Simple winner

It didn't take long for Rebecca to send me her address and claim Sweet & Simple.  The give away has been given away.

The More Cleaning Give Away

If there is a prize for the biggest, best blog give away I'm going to win.  My Dear Jane blocks are in the mail to Vangie and I'm finally going to admit that I won't make the Sweet & Simple quilt either.

  • I like this quilt.
  • I like it so much that I purchased kits for every block for a total of $180.00 plus fabric for the setting strips.
  • I like it so much that I made 5 blocks.
Then, I put it away.

This is too nice of a quilt to just sit in my closet, sadly calling my name, and being ignored.  After all, no one likes to be ignored.  Perhaps you ask, "if you love it why don't you make it?"  Well, there is only so much time and I have many more projects that I like even better.

So, here's the deal:  Be the first to send an email to with your name and address (USA only) and next week you will receive 5 completed blocks plus their patterns, 25 pattern and fabric kits for the remaining blocks and the fabric for the setting strips. 

That's it!  Easy! 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Dear Jane

Dear Jane,
My blocks have found a new home with Vangie.  My love for your quilt is only exceeded by the knowledge that the blocks won't be calling to me from the sewing room any longer.



Thank you to everyone that responded to my call for help, literally from across the entire country.   I'm still cleaning so check back for more give aways.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Dear Jane, I'm sorry


 Dear Jane,
I'm sorry that I will never finish your quilt.  You inspire me as I think of your dedication to create all these little blocks and oh my, those triangles in the border.  I've thought of you often when a block has been particularly challenging - knowing how you must have saved every little scrap and worked to hand piece and applique without electric iron, spray starch and rotary cutter.

Yes, I'm a failure.


OK, now that the letter to Jane is complete,  let me explain.  I started the Dear Jane quilt many years ago and after 25 blocks decided that I would never finish and gave the blocks to a friend.  Last year I saw the beautiful finished quilt made by Bonnie Quigley and was inspired anew.  I asked my friend for my blocks back - since she hadn't done anything with them I was of the opinion they were still mine - and made 27 more.  That is 52 finished blocks.

I was ruthless last week in cleaning out the closets.  All spring/summer clothes not worn this year, all winter clothes not worn last year, and coats from many years past were given to a local charity.  With a renewed fervor I moved to my sewing room.  Sometimes you just have to be honest about:
  1. What can really be accomplished in your lifetime.
  2. What you don't like anymore.
  3. What were you thinking when you bought this fabric?
  4. Why do I try to make a Civil War quilt?  I've never been a fan of the Civil War fabrics so why did I ever try to talk myself into the Dear Jane quilt?
If you are interested in 52 Dear Jane blocks please send me at with your name and address and I will be thrilled to rush to the post office and send them to you.  The book will not be included but you probably have your own :-).

Is this the easiest give away ever?  No clever comments, slogans or begging.  Just your name and address.

In the event that I receive more than 1 email the first one received gets the blocks.  If I don't get any emails by Saturday, well, you probably don't want to hear what will happen to them.

Friday, October 3, 2014

More Enchantment Progress

I was excited to get started on these 3 flowers.  They are just so cute at the end of the vine with all the little leaves.  Here is how I stitched them:
  • The vine was made with a Clover Bias maker, the "only" way in my book to quickly make stems and vines.  I cut a strip about 3/8" wide on the bias of a batik print, sprayed it with starch and pressed it until dry.  Then it was threaded into the bias maker, the end pinned to my ironing board, and quickly pressed into a perfect vine.
  • As you know, I'm hooked on Bullion Knots and here they are again outlining the pink flowers using Silken Pearl #5, Hollyhocks & Hummingbirds.  All of my Silken Pearl is hand-dyed by The Thread Gatherer.
  • This same thread was used to stitch along the sides of the orange center section in Basque Stitch.
  • Two rows of Back Stitch were added using Thread Gatherer Sea Grass, Limelight.
  • Pistil Stitches in groups of 3 were added to the bottom edge of the flowers in Silken Pearl #5, Phoenix Rising.
  • Circles at the top of the flowers were covered with Whipped Spider Webs using Valdani Pearl Cotton #8, color M26.
  • Believing that you can never have too many Bullion Knots, I used the M26 to surround each leaf and then added Fly Stitch in the center.
  • French Knots were added to the tips of the Fly Stitch using Painter's Thread Pearl Cotton #8, colors Marianne on the 4 leaves closest to the flowers, Mary C. on the 3 leaves in the center section of the stem, and VanGogh on the top 3 leaves.
A few honey bees will be added around the flowers and perhaps something along the sides of the vine.

We have been very busy the past few days, trying to catch up after our trip.  I'm hoping to steal some time for stitching this weekend.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Enchantment - slow progress

We just arrived back home after visiting our friends in Oklahoma and my husband taking a wood carving class.  There was a little time for stitching and I'm thrilled to have made some progress on Enchantment.

I'm debating on adding something to the red or just leaving it to be quilted.  Yes, more bullions!  I love stitching them and their versatility.  The flower is outlined in Bullion Knots using Silken Pearl #5 in Sunflower and French Knots in Painter's Thread Gimp in Matisse.  Seed beads outline the red flower using a Coral Stitch in Painter's Thread Braided Metallic, Picasso.

More Bullion Knots surround the flower center using Silken Pearl #5, Mermaid Shimmer, Fly Stitches in Silken Pearl #5, Chartreause filled with yet another Bullion Knot in Silken Pearl #5, Hollyhocks & Hummingbirds.
Both Leaves were outlined with...... you guessed it Bullion Knots using Silken Pearl #5, Granite.  The lighter green leaf layer on the top leaf was outlined using the same thread and Chain Stitch.  The flower petals are Double Cast-on stitches using Silken Pearl #5, Hollyhocks & Hummingbirds.  Between each petal is a small Bullion Knot in Sunflower Silken Pearl #5 threaded with Mermaid Shimmer Silken Pearl #5.  Fly Stitch in Granite Silken Pearl #5.

Again, the lighter colored layer on the bottom leaf was outlined with Chain Stitch using the Granite colored thread.  I continued the Chain Stitch down the center and one side to add veins, switching to Camoflage Silken Pearl #5.  Back to the Granite Silken Pearl #5 for Colonial Knots.

I've made good progress on 3 little flowers and will share soon.

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