Monday, May 31, 2021


 Color My World is the 2021 Block of the  Month quilt designed exclusively for The Quilt Show by Australian designer Wendy Williams. FREE all of 2021 to Star Members--it's not to late to join in the fun. There is so much of value on The Quilt Show, this is an ADDED BONUS: JOIN NOW

This month we make Tall Building #1, Left Side and Right Side, four of each. While the Left and Right sides are similar, they are NOT the SAME. I recommend you make four of one side before starting the four of the other side, so as not to become confused, since the patterns are so similar:

This is Tall Building #1 LEFT side--the shadow is on the LEFT. When joined to Tall Buildings 2, 3, and 4, LEFT sides, they will be sewn to the LEFT side of a corner Skyscraper: 

The LEFT side is done, the RIGHT side is pieced and is ready to be assembled into Tall Building #1, RIGHT side:

These Tall Buildings are the work of my good friend, Pam, who agreed to work just a little ahead so I have units for our demos and video and I don't have to make extra houses that I will never use again. 

Pam followed my advice from early on in preparing her patterns. Each pattern section is marked so she knows  this is TB #1 RS and which section it is, #1, 2, 3, 4, or the top sections. She also indicated which is the door, window, roof, shadow, and building parts: 

When cutting out the small parts of Background that go on the upper sections of TB #1, you may find you have those small bits in your bag of background pieces leftover from making the Small Houses. They are cut pretty small and I had plenty in my leftovers that I did not have to cut into a large strip of background for those: 

Once the various units are made and trimmed to the proper size of the paper, you simply remove the paper pattern gently, and join each section to the next, being very careful to use an accurate 1/4" seam allowance.

When the lower four sections are sewn together, add the Shadow, that has been carefully cut out with the template for the Shadow. It should be a perfect fit. If it's not, you most likely have a seam allowance problem, either too big or too little. Double check so the shadow fits the lower four sections correctly.

Press firmly as you join the sections and the shadow, a dry iron will prevent stretching as you press. 

I am often asked "What size is this supposed to be?" It is not easy to give you the answer so I am going to show you how to figure it out. These photos show the pattern for TB #1 LS. With an accurate ruler, measure the length of the outside seam on  the top section. Measure the short side,  the side the shadow will go. DO NOT include the seam allowances, just the finished seam. This measures 2 3/8". 

Now measure the outside edge of the TB #1 LS Shadow, not including the seam allowances. This measures 6.5" 
Adding those two measurements, the seam will be 8 7/8" finished. Add the additional 1/2" for the two 1/4" seam allowances and you see that the unfinished edge of TB #1 LS,  should be 9 3/8". INCLUDING the seam allowances:

If you were to measure the longer side, without the Shadow, you would have to add up all the Finished sizes of the four lower parts. It is just easier to measure the Shadow and top section. NOTE: TB #1 RS has TWO sections for the top, each measures 1 5/8" and the Shadow is 6.25", still giving you 8 7/8" + .5" = 9 3/8".

I did NONE of this measuring while making my quilt last Summer. I checked the 1" scale box on the patterns for accuracy and trusted everything would fit together and it did.

Now would be a good time if you like to Stay-Stitch the top and bottom edges on each completed building. This means using a slightly longer stitch within the seam allowance. This helps prevent stretching when handling the buildings as they are sewn together and keeps the lower seams from popping open. If you prefer, you can Stay-Stitch once all the Tall Buildings are joined together, after Month 9. 

I kept my TB #1 LS together in a page protector and put the TB #1 RS in a separate page protector to keep them apart. We won't use them again until after Month 9. 

Next month we move on to the TB #2 LS and RS. 

Let's quilt. 


Sunday, May 30, 2021

A Visit With Friends

 A few weeks ago an old friend asked if she and her husband could stop by for an overnight visit as they returned home from a three week trip out West. I was excited to have them visit. The last time I saw Tom was 22 years ago, at their North Carolina home, when Eileen had me come teach workshops for her guild. I see Eileen every other year at International Quilt Festival:

Eileen and Tom with their traveling home

Eileen and I have known each other since Kindergarten. We grew up 3 blocks apart and went all through public school together. After college, she went in the Navy Nurse Corps, I went in the Marine Corps. We both married Marine Lieutenants from Alabama. We both had sons. We both waited a while for the blessing of grandchildren and are now happily grandmothers: BooBoo and BB.

Maybe most importantly, we both became quilters. Eileen is mostly an Art Quilter, who has works in galleries and public buildings in several locations. Check out her work on her website Fiber Art Quilts

From big works, like Schools Out (SOLD) 62" x 66":

To small works like these:

I am pleased to have bought two of her small pieces over the years--they remind me of my happy place--the beach. I especially love the bits of driftwood and shells she incorporates in her art:

Though they were only able to stay about 18 hours, we had a great reunion. My husband and I enjoyed hearing their "travelogue"--they had been on the road in their Winnebago for 3 weeks. I snagged two photos she posted on Facebook, terrain I have never seen:

Kodachrome Basin State Park, Utah

A Slot Canyon--yes, some people really can slip through there

We enjoyed a good German dinner at a small local spot. They can't get authentic German cuisine in their coastal NC area. After a good night's rest, we enjoyed a simple breakfast in our dining room with more discussion, mostly about our military days. 

Then  it was time for them to hit the road, hoping to make it home in one long day. One last hug:

Eileen wanted you to see what kept her busy on the many hours Tom spent driving. Like most of us, she was sure to have handwork with her on vacation:

We hope to get together again, at their home next time, with far less than 22 years between visits. 

Old friends are great, old quilter friends are the best!

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Quilts I Want To Make, Maybe

 In no particular order, here are quilt designs that inspire me.

An antique:

An antique:
Pineapple Log Cabin blocks by Barb Vedder:
An antique:
An antique:

One BIG log cabin block:

Another BIG pineapple log cabin:

A simple antique:

Let’s quilt.


Sunday, May 23, 2021

Quilter's Last Will and Testament

Every day we get older. And no one gets to live forever. I don't want this to sound maudlin or creepy, but if I was gone tomorrow, my family has a BIG job ahead of them, dealing with all my quilt stuff.

My friends and I have seen what happens when a quilter passes away with a huge stash. I have written several times about the Quilter's Estate Sale of August 2020. Use the Search Box up in the upper left to find those posts.

My primary stash closets when they were looking neat and tidy:

Closet 1

Closet 2

Closet 3

I often say I have a "sinful amount of fabric" and that is true. As well as books, notions, supplies, patterns, magazine articles, projects under construction, etc.

For some time now, I have planned to help my family prepare for the day this all becomes theirs by creating a Quilter's Last Will and Testament. Here are 10 Top Tips on what I think your family  needs to know about your stuff:

1. Who to call? Which quilter friends are willing to help your family sort through and arrange to sell or give away all this stuff.? Name at least 3 good friends, provide their phone numbers. Discuss this with those friends in advance--are they willing to take on this task?

2. Sewing Machines: how many do you have, where are they, serial numbers, when did you buy them and for how much? I currently have two Singer Featherweights, a Bernina 765 in an expensive cabinet and my beloved Bernina Q20 sit-down longarm. When I bought that in 2015, I told my husband it was really "expensive". Note I was not asking his permission to buy it, my money as a professional quiltmaker and teacher did that. But he only understood what that word meant when he saw the credit card bill. Your family has no idea how much your very valuable machines cost or are worth today. The Featherweights are often thought to be "toy machines". One of mine I had painted so I have almost $700 invested in that baby--I want that to go to granddaughter Stella someday. 

3. Your Important Quilts: Which mean the most to you and are the ones you really want to stay with your family? Do you have some that have won major awards or been published that will increase their value? These "Best Quilts" need to be documented in writing, with photos, to help ensure that information stays with those quilts. Make a LIST--who do you want to get your favorite quilts? There are a few I want to go to my grandchildren, Stella and Sam, when they are old enough to appreciate them. Yes, I have given them baby quilts and kid quilts already. I mean the ones I want them to share with their children, long after I'm gone, when they talk about their "BB". 

4. Your Quilts You Would Like to Give to Someone: make a list of any quilts you want given to a specific friend or family member. The "quilt worthy" person who will be so happy to have a piece of  you in their life. If you are lucky enough to know when your end is near, add their name to those quilts in advance. Or, BETTER YET--give that special friend that special quilt while you are able to see them receive it. 

5. Your Quilts that can be Sold or Given Away: is there an organization you want to support?  Project Linus, Quilts of Valor, Guild Comfy/Charity Quilts all come to mind. But there are organizations that conduct fundraisers which might appreciate a quilt or two. Educational organizations and those that support  children in need are possible candidates. I easily have 50 small wall quilts laying around that have little value for sale but could raise a little money for charity. 

6. Put Labels on ALL your quilts. If you don't automatically put labels on ALL your quilts, start doing that today. Here is a Tutorial I wrote about Labels 4 years ago:  Quilt Labels

7. Important Quilts Still Under Construction--again, if you know your time is short, find those good friends and ask them if they would be willing to finish that really important quilt you are working on, as a gift for your family. Not every quilt you ever started--just that special one you ran out of time to finish. Someone will say "yes". 

8. Be aware that most of our stuff  has little value to others, even quilters. The books, patterns you plan to make "someday", magazine articles you saved for 30 years, the 200 pens/markers  in a box. even all your rulers, cutters and mats. People will be happy to take some of it off your hands, but not for money. Now is the best time to start purging that stuff. Have a "swap" or "giveaway" for close quilting friends. This takes work but you bought it all so you really ought to help your family by dealing with some of this stuff now, before it becomes their problem. The only special "things" I want saved for my family are my thimbles. Some are sterling silver, some are inexpensive brass topped thimbles I first learned to hand-quilt with. They are my most meaningful "tools" and take up very little room. I am looking for a special box I can store them in--I will include the story of those thimbles in the box. 

9. The Fabric: It has value, to a lot of quilters. But, again, it's a matter of quantity. I am really in the purge mode this year as I try to reduce some of the "sinful" amount I have. There is a sale/swap/giveaway in my future this year. Just as soon as I sort through those closets again. Do you LOVE all the fabric you currently own? 

10. Antique Quilts and Tops:  I almost forgot this category--I have about a dozen antique quilts and tops, some cost me a good bit of money. some I lucked into for very little. They are stored away from my quilts, in a closet. I must take time to create a LIST of these, what I know about them, what I paid and where I bought them. Sure don't want my kids to think these are just junky old rags...

11. Lastly, write a note to the future about what quilting has meant to you. It has been my most important passion for more than 35 years, more dear to me than anything other than my family. It has gotten me through tough times, brought more joy than I could have imagined, and added dear friends to my life that mean so much--you know who you are. Over the years I have saved a lot of notes I have received from friends and students--they are in a beautiful basket for my kids to find someday. That is a good place for my "letter to the future" to reside. 

These quilts all have to go somewhere. My kids appreciate them but they don't want them all:

The Extra Guest Bed, with several layers

Working quilts--a lot of these are class projects that travel with me

The Rack holds works being quilted or waiting to be quilted

The Living Room--quilts everywhere you look

So, what have I left out? Can you think of more steps we should take to deal with all our stuff? Any of these things can be done now, in bits of time. It doesn't have to take a month of hard work. Just get started. Take one of these ideas a month and do just that. In less than a year you'll be done. Your family will thank you. 

And, let's quilt.


Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Business of Teaching

 It sure seems like a long time ago that I was traveling once or twice a month to teach quiltmaking around the country.  Bookings that were cancelled or postponed are starting to come back now,

I have been quite content to be home, sewing, quilting, designing, all day, every day. My husband and I enjoy each other's company and have plenty to keep us busy so we are not under each others' feet all the time.

My Happy Place

My Studio--the biggest room in the house

As new bookings come up, I hope to keep it to no more than one travel job a month, about 7-8 months of the year. I love "being" at a guild or show to teach and lecture  but the "getting there" part is not the most fun.

Today I booked flights for two upcoming trips, arranged a  hotel for one of those, updated and sent the supply list and lecture description to one guild, and sent prospective dates in 2022 for another guild. And at the moment, I am hard at work on a BIG project that will have me very busy for a while. 

Going to the Ninigret Quilters of Rhode Island in early August will be fun. I haven't been to RI before. They are celebrating their 40th anniversary so chose the Lecture "Ruby Jubilee"--which features the International Quilt Festival Ruby Jubilee in 2014. There will be stories about that great exhibit and my Red and White--By the Numbers quilt and how it came to be.

The workshop they selected is the Charming Sampler, using 3" blocks to learn several skills:

Sample is 33" x 33"

There are two trips in August--Rhode Island and Dallas. Two in September--Houston and Florence, AL . October brings me back to Houston for almost two weeks. Somewhere in there, we will fit in a family vacation to celebrate a big anniversary and a big birthday. 

I enjoy being busy. And it is good that life seems to be returning to some sense of "normal". Now, if I can just remember to slow down enough to enjoy the creative process.

What do you hope to do with the  new "freedom" that seems to be coming our way?

Let's quilt.


Sunday, May 16, 2021

Looking Ahead

 Things are starting to look up now as more than half of all eligible Americans have received at least one vaccine shot. I hope many more do so in the coming months.

This Fall sees the return of International Quilt Market and International Quilt Festival:

The deadline to enter the Judged Competition is May 27--all details HERE.

I will be there for 13 days as I enjoy the Special Exhibit "My Joyful Journey", featuring 22 of my quilts, from the somewhat humble early pieces to the four that have won Best of Show in previous judged shows. It shows my journey and progress as a quiltmaker. I hope I get to see you there.

Quilter's Select, by RNK Distributing, is the wonderful company that has agreed to sponsor my exhibit. I use and love their products, Quilter's Select Threads, Rulers, Rotary Cutters, Mats, and an ever-growing list of excellent quality and well-thought out notions and sewing supplies. Here are some I am using right now:

The most important thing now is to figure out how to box up 22 big quilts. My husband and I will be driving them down--they have to be there by early July. That will be quite a lot of boxes. A few are currently on the walls in my home, several are laid out on the extra spare bed and the rest are folded in a large bookcase. Wonder if I will miss them when 22 are out of the house.  After Festival  they will be shipped back to me. 

In August I will be flying to Rhode Island to present a lecture and an all-day workshop for the Ninigret Quilters. In late August I will be flying to Dallas to tape The Quilt Show again--really looking forward to both of those. In September it's a trip to Houston to lecture and teach for the Quilt Guild of Greater Houston. 

In addition to all the planning for these events, we have been doing some sprucing up of the front porch. I love the painted red front door and the painted battleship gray floor, which looks more blue than gray. Goes well with the "haint blue" ceiling. Add some new cozy furniture and cushions and we have a lovely spot to sit outdoors--only took 21 years to get it this way:

Being close to our grandkids is fun when we get to go to dance recitals and an outdoor lunch. Almost 6 year old Stella did a great job on a big stage, smiling and dancing through the whole number. High School Drama Club is sure to be in her future:

Sweet almost 3 year old Sam, is such a cuddle bug, eager for hugs and kisses. He did great sitting still on the front row and watching all the dancers. He thought the soloists were "pretty". He loves his PopPop:

I hope your life is starting to open up too and we can meet again as we, hopefully, cross paths in the future.

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

In the Works

 At night I like to have hand work I can stitch on, to help me stay awake until the late news.

Here is a small quilt I hand-pieced and am now hand-quilting. Wool batting is so luscious for quilting:

Hexie Stars

Recently I started quilting "Hummingbird Hollow", the variation of Afternoon Delight my friend Janet came up with. Still have to decide what curvy design I want in the white squares and if I want to do any curvy quilting in the floral blocks--they do have cross hatch quilting through them:

Hummingbird Hollow in quilting process

When I think about gifting a quilt to a friend, this is why I want them to have a quilt I made:

A big project of Secret Sewing has just begun that has kept me VERY busy the past week and will occupy most of my time for the foreseeable future. Can't share but it's really good.

What are YOU working on? I hope it's something fun and enjoyable. 

Let's quilt.


Sunday, May 9, 2021

Books I Love

Buying printed quilt books has become less popular in recent years. Several publishing houses have gone out of business. When I have a big sale of my stuff, books are hardly given a glance, even though older books provide much more reference material than current books.

 Here are four books I love and turn to frequently. If I had to pare my library down to the few I absolutely couldn't do without, here they are :

In no particular order:

1. The Art of Classic Quiltmaking by Harriet Hargrave and Sharyn Craig

I often tell beginning students if I could only keep one of my more than 350 books, this is the ONE I would keep. For all the great reference information it provides. This Chapter is on Calculating Yardage: 

There are LOTS of color photos of great quilts--this is one of my most favorite in this book: Sage Tracks. I would like to make this some day. It is used as an example of different Settings and the pattern is not in the book, but I can figure it out:

2. Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, Third Edition by Barbara Brackman:

This is one book I think every quiltmaker should have, especially if you love to piece as I do. It provides more than 4000 patterns, the historical names for them, when and where they were first published. A wealth of information. This edition introduces color sketches of the blocks which can really help you "see" the design in ways you might miss with a black and white sketch.

There is also a stand-alone software version of this book for your computer, both PC and MAC called Block Base +. It allows you to print out any of these blocks in any size you like. It can be used with Electric Quilt, a quilt design software I would be lost without, but it does not have to be used with EQ--it works separately. 

3. The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer:

I love complex pieced patterns with lots of pieces. Again, more than 4000 blocks. I sit for some time, just turning the pages, making a list of potential blocks for new quilt designs.  It also provides historical information for each block and color sketches as well as drawn line designs: 

Included are two transparency overlays that allow you to see exactly how the blocks are constructed. This is especially helpful for  newer quilters who are not familiar with 5-patch and 7-patch designs. 

4. Let's Stitch a Block a Day, 365 Quilt Block Designs by Natalia Bonner:

I have had my Bernina Q20 sit-down longarm for more than 5 years. I love Ruler Work and have learned a lot from Natalia on YouTube and through her books. I debated too long about buying this book but am glad I did. It is now the first place I look when considering potential designs for quilting: 

Because this is the 21st century, see those QR codes on the pages?  Hover your phone/tablet camera over the one you want and you are taken directly to a short video of that block being stitched. Natalia offered these videos free, one a day for a year, then decided to create this book to save them all in one place. Brilliant!

I can see at a glance a wide variety of designs in a variety of shapes. Very helpful as I master my favorite designs.

Be aware as you search for used books online, sometimes they are priced WAY HIGH on Amazon and other 3rd party resellers. I found a used copy of Jinny Beyer's book online for $104 OR you can buy it directly from the publisher for $49. If a book is out of print, I often contact the author first to see if they have any on hand--often, they do.

And when buying from a 3rd party--do your research. You can find The Art of Classic Quiltmaking online, for less than $20, only to discover when it arrives it is a reprint and only the cover is in color, the entire inside pages are all black and white. Buyer beware.

It's no surprise to me that I am a huge fan of these 5 women, all have added a lot to my quiltmaking journey. I am pleased that I know 4 of them personally and hope to meet Natalia one day, to thank her for what she brings to the quilt world.

If you've been a quilter for years, you probably have your favorite books too. What are they?

Let's quilt.