Basket of Fun

June 12, 2019

Here in central Maryland, we’re experiencing a couple of beautiful days in between rain storms. I went out for my second walk this week yesterday. Boy, am I out of shape. I really need to do something about that.

May 30 was sweatshop for Ladies of the Sea with Polly at Spring Water Designs. Polly is ahead of me, as usual. I pressed and trimmed the blocks that have the inking completed, decided on the sashing and the sawtooth border accent color. Still had two blocks to wash before inking and trimming.  I eventually did that but both have bleeding so I need to soak them again to see if some of it will come out like the other one did.

May 31 I embroidered on one of the carrot seed packet pieces for the June Snowman. I really don’t enjoy embroidery but it has to be done sometimes.

June 1 Patty and I went to the Quilters Unlimited show in Chantilly, VA. Quilters Unlimited is a coalition of quilt guilds in northern Virginia around DC. This show is as large as a regional show. They had 500+ quilts and 71 vendors this year. Pretty much an all day affair.

6/2 I finished the borders on the Jacob’s Ladder quilt and made the backing so it’s ready for the quilter. Those cats on the back are huge – 6″. The little kids are doing various things on the cats – eating, playing, napping.

I also decided the border sizes for the Kaffe leaves quilt and cut and stitched the inner border strips.

6/3 was Mimi’s Grad School. That evening was my guild’s summer potluck. No sewing happened.

6/4 I traced the remaining seed packet pieces to be embroidered for the June snowman. I chose the “broach” (it’s a button) for the May snowman.


She’s fused but not stitched. I’ll do that as the quilting, someday.

I finished the assembly of the February snowman. Again not stitched.


I see they’re missing the “coal” pieces. They’ll get them when I do the stitching.

I cut the background pieces for the June Snowman.

I cut the inner borders to size and attached them to the leaf quilt.

Worked on the embroidery for the June snowman.

6/5 Calculated the best way to cut the directional border fabric for the leaf quilt so that all the borders were going the correct direction. Pressed the fabric and cut the side borders. Don’t you just hate dealing with large swaths of fabric? I find them so hard to manage.

I got one side sewn on and pinned the other. Cut the borders for the top and bottom – they have to be pieced to get the necessary width. I decided not to bother matching the print. Don’t think I have enough fabric for that anyway.

6/6 was the daytime guild potluck. Went to JoAnn for batting for a donation quilt and the pillow form for the Schnauzer pillow. No air conditioning at JoAnn that day. Might have wandered around longer if there had been.

Got home and finished the borders on the Kaffe leaf quilt.


6/7 was supposed to be sweatshop with Polly again but she was sick so I had a reprieve. Linda came over. I paid lip service to the ships by studying the border and sashing fabric requirements. I chose fabric for the mariner’s compass blocks for the border corners.

I started to clear out the leaf bin since the top was finished. Found a bag of 35 more fused leaves. After Linda left I rummaged around in the background fabric yardage bins and found something suitable. Got the backgrounds cut and fused the leaves. I’ll wait until these are stitched to choose the fabric for the 36th block. Stitched three leaves – hand buttonhole stitch with #12 pearl cotton.

6/8 Chose the thread for the rest of the leaves. Here’s where the basket of fun comes in.


To hell with the embroidery for the June showman. I dropped that sucker in a hot New York minute to work on the leaves. If you remember, I said above I don’t enjoy embroidery. Except, I do like to do hand buttonhole stitch. Go figure. Anyway, I’ve been sewing leaves ever since last Friday when I got them fused.

6/8 was Jinny Beyer club. We drive an hour each way for a one-hour meeting. Crazy, isn’t it? When Linda comes we leave earlier and have lunch in the village center where the shop is. I sewed 3 leaves that evening.

Only sewing thing I’ve done since club was stitch leaves. I’ll probably get that out of my system soon. Then, I’ll have to buckle down and work on getting sashing on the ships. After the cleaners leave today, I’ll put one of the ships in to soak and hope the bleed comes out.

Yesterday, after my walk I grabbed my book and sat downstairs in my recliner, enjoying the open windows that are so rare in the Maryland summer.



When you fall off the horse …

May 29, 2019

Get back on. No, I haven’t been horse riding. The horse I fell off of was keeping notes about what I’ve done in the studio and writing about them. Even though I wasn’t keeping notes all the time, I’ve got a lot to share.

4/23 – I sorted the scrap bin from the garage. Yay! All the scraps have now been sorted and I have an empty bin to put to use doing other things.

I also completed the assembly of the fussy cut animal quilt body (i.e., no borders yet). I have since ordered and received fabric for the outer border and backing. Inner border comeing from stash. Hopefully, the piece I have is large enough. More about that soon, with pictures. Here’s a picture of the body sewn together.img_20190423_171755.jpg

4/24 – Linda, Patty and I went to the Blue House fabric sale in Westminster, MD. I didn’t find much, even at 40% off. They used to have a lot of grunge colors so I was expecting to find some of those. There was very little, nothing that interested me. The sale made me suspicious. Sure enough, a few weeks later Linda got the email that they are going out of business. Linda is sad because their fabrics were in her wheelhouse. Me, not so much.

4/25 – I had sweatshop with Polly at Spring Water Designs. I did the inking on most of my ship blocks.

When I got home that afternoon, I worked on the step-outs for my guild demo scheduled for May. The demo has since been rescheduled for August.

4/26 – Linda came over. I worked on prepping one of the Baltimore Garden bird blocks.

4/27 – Baltimore Garden class.

One of my ship blocks had bleeding from the ultra-suede. I took a deep breath and followed Vicki Welsh’s instructions and started the block soaking in hot water and Dawn (some clear version with no dyes or perfumes). The bleed did come out. Whew! Polly did like the idea of making the ship look like it was burning because the bleed looked like smoke around the masts. I’ll post pictures of all the ship blocks one of these days.

I worked on the hand stitching of the binding on the T for Two quilt.

4/28 – More work on the T for Two binding.

And, here’s where I fell off the horse. No notes for the next month. I was in Illinois for Dad’s 96th birthday so no sewing happened while I was gone. His birthday is Star Wars day (May 4th). I asked him if he knew that. He just keep saying, “Huh?” He’s extremely hearing impaired so it’s very exhausting to talk to him. Mom said she didn’t think he knew what Star Wars was. I said I’d wondered about that. He looks pretty good in this picture but he’s gotten quite frail.

Red Lobster is Dad’s favorite restaurant. He had been talking about the Red Lobster lobster fest promotion for a couple of months. He fretted because it was over. My brother and I kept telling him “if you want lobster, order lobster.” Usually he orders coconut shrimp, probably because that’s what mom orders, and then complains about the breading, insisting that it didn’t used to be so thick. Mom and I and the waitress always tell him it’s always been that way and to order something else but he never did. This time they had a new lobster and shrimp dinner so he ordered that and, as you can see, was quite happy afterwards. My brother and I also ordered it. It was pretty good. Came with corn on the cob and roasted potato wedges and some sausage. Too much for one meal but made for nice leftover meals.

My brother and the dog sacked out. Smokey is his last dog. Smokey has really declined in health since the previous dog died. Sounds like he may not last much longer. He’s the last dog because my brother wants to travel and he can’t do that with animals to care for.


I was only there a few days so Becky and I didn’t get to do our usual get together stuff. We met for dinner one night and I gave her the T for Two quilt. I wish I’d gotten better pictures of it but I didn’t.


A couple weeks later I was off to my guild’s spring retreat. Four days at the Black Rock Retreat in Quarryville,  PA. Actually, the retreat center is out in the country in the middle of nowhere. I took eight or nine projects just to be sure I didn’t run out of things to do. I didn’t touch two of them, which is fine. I try to take things that don’t require much thought because with 28 people in a big room, there is lots of distraction.

I assembled two smaller quilts the first day.


Ignore the extra bits on the left. I didn’t hang this straight enough to crop out the other project on the design wall. This 16-patch from strips from Genie’s scraps. It will be donated to charity as that is what her family wanted done with her fabric. Charity was a big part of Genie’s being.

I also assembled the Jacob’s Ladder blocks.


I’m working on the borders now. You can see a little of the inner borders on the sides.

The second day of retreat I assembled Sweet Poison. I don’t seem to have a photo of that. More on it when it comes back from the quilter.

I spent the third day making blocks for 9-patch Madness. I’d been using the broken dishes blocks as leader/enders the entire time. This happened.


It’s hard to see because of the dark fabric. This is a connecting corner square. I cut off the outer bit and then the following piece appeared out of nowhere.


Something definitely wrong here. This was my leader/ender. Where did it come from and why isn’t it square? Here’s why.


The bottom triangle is the piece I cut off the 9-Patch Madness block shown earlier. My leader/ender got caught up and sewn into the 9-Patch Madness block. Sigh. I’ve probably made every mistake in the book over time but this is a new one.

The last day of retreat is really only a half-day and not much work happens. Around 10 or 10:30 we have show and tell where we go around the room and everyone shows what they worked on. Then, it’s mostly pack up and leave because we have to be out of the room by 1 p.m.

Nothing to do with quilting but this happened. My handyman finally came over to install the ceiling fan in the living room. It’s the weird looking round thing – a bladeless fan. I also had him help finish assembling the dining room chairs.


He also attached my design wall to the wall. It’s no longer just leaning against the wall. I’m beyond thrilled. I did have to move a heavy piece of furniture though so the design wall didn’t block the outlet. Bless whoever invented hand trucks and those furniture slider things. I was able to move the cabinet all by myself.


I must have done other things but no idea what they were. Actually, one is the project on the left of the design wall. More about it at another time. The one on the right is the May snowman.

Last Friday Linda came over. I realized at one point that she had stopped working and packed up her stuff. I was wandering around trying to find something to focus on. I had a brainstorm and said, “I’ve got something we can do!” Here’s the result.


We placed all the embroidery hoops I’ve been collecting for the last several years. Some I had, some came from guild freebie table, some from silent auction. Now, I have to choose fabric to fill them.

5/25 – Baltimore Garden class.

5/26 – Sew and Tell meets at my house. I cut and fused pieces for the June snowman. After S & T, I assembled the April and May snowman tops. So, during my not taking notes, I must have cut and fused the April and May snowmen pieces.

5/27 – I finished assembly of the April Snowman. No picture of the April snowman right now.

I made the back for the Genie 16-patch quilt. Was going to use a bunch of different blue fabrics but found this backing yardage, so used it. It’s an old Jinny Beyer print.


I also cut up the leftovers from that yardage. Some squares for the guild’s love quilts. Some for my pre-cut stash.

I started the back for Sweet Poison.

5/28 – Finished the back for Sweet Poison. Stay-stitched the edges of the top. Will have piectures when it comes back from quilter.

I nailed the hangers in the wall for the embroidery hoops. The picture I showed earlier was after this happened. When we were arranging them they were held on by blue painter’s tape. That made it easy to rearrange them until we were satisfied.

I filled two of the smaller hoops with scraps from the Sweet Poison backing.

I traced the four carrot embroidery sections for the June snowman. Selected the thread and embroidered one of them in the evening.

I cut the inner border for the Jacob’s Ladder and attached the two long sides. It occurred to me after I cut the two side borders that maybe I should miter them so the corners look better. The perfectionist in me wishes I’d done that but I’m going to live with butted corners.

The house cleaners just left so I’m going to get a late lunch and, maybe, head to the studio. I really need a cook. I’d be in hog heaven then.



April 23, 2019

Now that my memo board is up, I’m trying to get into the habit of writing down what I’ve done when I leave the studio. I often feel like I’ve done very little but when I see it written down I feel more productive.

April 9

  • Sewed the binding, front and back, on the March snowman wall hanging, stitched the coal pieces and did the embroidery. It’s finished except for a label.

Snowmen Will Melt Your Heart: Going in Like a Lion, Coming Out Like a Lamb

I did the applique stitching as the quilting. I used the triple stitch on the machine to do the whiskers on the lion. Probably should have chosen a darker thread because they don’t show up so well. This was my first time stitching the binding on completely by machine. I think I cut it 2.25″ for .25″ binding on front. Stitched in the ditch on the front to catch the back. Occurred to me too late that I should have used my stitch in the ditch dual feed foot. Next time.

April 10

  • Sorted the floral 16-patch blocks into my quilt and other quilts. This is the first sort. When I lay them out, more or fewer may be needed for my quilt.
  • Sewed the binding to the front of the bargello wall hanging
  • Trimmed Flying Home to ready it for binding.
  • Cut some scraps with the Accuquilt
  • Cut paper templates for fussy cutting Serengeti kit from Jinny Beyer.
  • Pieced the front of the Schnauzer pillow cover


I found the Schnauzer piece on the freebie table or peddler’s table at a quilt show. I really don’t remember where I got it. The paw fabric came from stash. My brother has had 6 rescue mini-schnauzers over the last many years. This will be for  him. I need to get a pillow insert, then make the back. I’m not quilting it.

April 11

  • Did some hand sewing of binding on bargello
  • Went to guild
  • Went to sale of former quilt shop owner’s stuff. Bought too much fabric.

April 12

  • Traced and fused seaweed and anemone for Clown School and cut them out.


These are some honking big pieces. Fortunately I had a roll of 36″ wide fusible that I bought a while back. Perfect size for this project.

April 13

  • Went to Stella Rubin’s with Baltimore Applique Society. Saw some fabulous antique quilts but we weren’t allowed to take photos of them.
  • Went to Jinny Beyer club
  • Sewed the binding on the front of Flying Home

April 14

  • Sew and Tell meeting at my house. There were only 4 of us out of the 10. It wasn’t our usual day because of Easter and Passover.
  • Sorted scraps and cut strips with Accuquilt for Gyleen Fitzgerald pineapple blocks.

April 15

  • Did some hand sewing on the bargello binding
  • Sorted scraps and cut pineapple block strips with Accuquilt

April 16

  • Hand sewed bargello binding
  • Made 4 good pineapple blocks and 2 bad ones.



The good blocks. 


The bad blocks. I went off the rails on the last two rounds on these. Sewed the last two rounds on the wrong edges. Then cut the side off one of them. The one I didn’t screw up the cutting on could have been used with the others, I guess. I gave these two to Linda to do something with.

April 17

  • BAS meeting. Debby Cooney showed chintz quilts from her collection and Polly Mello’s collection.
  • Reviewed 5 older magazines. Getting rid of 3.
  • Made two pineapple blocks.


I haven’t taken a picture of the two blocks yet but here’s the back of one before I trimmed it. I think I showed in a previous blog a pineapple quilt made by one of my guild members with stars in the sashing. In Gyleen’s method, the 8th round won’t even show on mine because it will be in the seam allowance. This time I used 2″ wide pieces to serve as both round 7 and round 8. I think this must be how Carol did hers but we haven’t had a guild meeting for me to ask her. This way is much easier and wastes less fabric.

April 18

  • No guild meeting because of Holy Week.
  • Fussy cut animal blocks
  • Designed the fussy cut animal block quilt
  • Auditioned fabrics for fussy animal alternate blocks
  • Arranged the animal squares

April 19

  • Cut and pieced the alternate blocks for the fussy cut animals
  • Sorted scraps and cut strips for pineapple blocks

April 20

  • More hand sewing on bargello. Unsewed the part that has to be redone on the front. A short area of the top ended up not getting caught under the binding.
  • Cut binding strips for the T quilt
  • Prepared the T quilt binding strips that will have the label stitched into them.
  • Sorted scraps and cut strips for pineapple blocks

April 21-22

  • Fixed the binding on the front of the bargello. Finished the hand sewing of the binding. Yay! Will blog about it another time.
  • Prepared the binding and sewed it on the T quilt. Finally!
  • Sorted scraps
  • Assembled 4 columns of the fussy cut animal quilt into two pieces of two columns each.

If you’d asked me what I did, I’d have said not much. By writing it down, I feel like I accomplished a lot. This is an unusual amount of time in the studio. No guild meetings because of Holy Week and other church activities. No appointments. Nothing requiring me to be out of the house. That will be changing soon.


Squirrel in the scrap bin

April 23, 2019


No, not that kind of squirrel. Wouldn’t that be an event? The squirrel in the photo is one of the famed albino squirrels of Olney, Illinois.

What I found was the kind of squirrel that takes us away from what we’re supposed to be working on and makes us start a new project. While sorting scraps (a lot of my scraps come from other people) I found some fussy cut squares of wild animals and some yardage for cutting more. I dutifully made a pile and took it upstairs to give away at the next guild meeting.

A couple of days later, while reviewing some older magazines, I ran across this quilt:

The creative juices started flowing and next thing you know I retrieved the pile from upstairs and designed a quilt inspired by the magazine quilt. The size of the squares in the magazine didn’t work for what I had so I modified it. I cut several squares from the yardage and put everything up on the board. Some of the fussy cuts of other fabrics weren’t quite big enough so I combined them and pieced to get squares the size I needed. Shades of our forebears from yesteryear. That didn’t provide quite enough squares so I hit the stash room and pulled fabrics and cut until I had the right number of squares. Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of the interim steps.


No lions or tigers but bears a plenty, moose, wolves, racoons, opossums, wild horses, skunks. My dad always called skunks “woods pussies”. I remember one visit to my grandparents farm in Iowa when the skunk that lived under the feed shed came out into the yard. My brother who was quite little ( 2 or 3) lit up, said “pretty black and white kitty” and took off after the skunk. One of the adult males (my uncle maybe) who was nearest grabbed him by the britches and held him back while they said “no, you can’t pet that kitty”.

As you can see I used a 9-patch rather than the double 4-patch in the magazine quilt. My squares are 6″ finished (6.5″ cut). All the background and water fabric (the blue and green stripe) came from stash. I found 2 greens that were very similar but they still weren’t enough. I pulled some strips from the 2.5″ bin that resulted from participating in the Quiltville swap group on Yahoo several years ago. Some other fabrics were auditioned including light fabrics and a brown. After looking at the magazine again, I realized that what made the steps stand out was that the background is the same color as the background of the fussy cut squares. Green it is!

The arithmetic was fine except I looked at the wrong number when computing the number of step squares I needed. I cut twice as many as needed. Used up a second fabric as well as the first because I couldn’t get the full number out of the first fabric. Oh, well, now I’ve got a bunch of 2.5″ squares. As I cut the background pieces I pinned them to the empty spaces along with the water squares. Much easier to end up with the correct number of pieces that way.

It’s amazing how fast some projects come together. From conception to cutting, piecing, waiting for a friend’s opinion on the background fabric to being ready to assemble took just a few hours in a couple of afternoons. It’s now in the process of being assembled. I think the brown (peeking in from the left side) will be an inner border. I think I want a print similar to the fussy cut squares for the border. That will have to be a new purchase.  The day this was laid out the Keepsake Quilting catalog was in my mailbox. It has 2 potential border prints in it. Obviously, this quilt was meant to be. Hopefully, one of the prospective back yardages in the stash room will be acceptable for this. If not, maybe I’ll just piece a bunch of greens together. Maybe blue. I’ve got twice as much blue fabric as green.

I need a name for this quilt. Anyone have ideas? So far we’ve floated: In the Wild, Wild America, A River Runs Through It, Walk on the Wild Side.

The leftover pieces of the yardage went to Linda. Would you believe I later found more of a similar fabric? I cut a couple of squares for future use and the remaining fabric bit is waiting to go to Linda.

Rite of Spring

April 8, 2019

Everyone has been asking how it got to be April already. Count me in that group. Didn’t I just report my January progress last week? I feel like I haven’t done much but I’ve been really busy doing it. Saturday I completed that annual requirement of filing income taxes. I was quite agitated by the time that was done. The Republicans’ so-called tax cut resulted in an increase in my taxes of $4500 over 2017. Yikes! I headed to the studio to calm down.

A couple of years ago I matched my floral fabrics with greens and cut strips for 16-patch blocks. It doesn’t pay to do anything but simple sewing when I’m upset so I got out the bin to finish up the blocks. There are enough blocks for many quilts. Here’s the result. These are just plopped on the way as I finished pressing them. They’re not sewn to each other or arranged or anything like that. I was much calmer after finishing these.


I took the previously finished blocks out of the bin and discovered that stack wasn’t just finished blocks.


The pile on the right is the finished blocks. The pile on the left is the blocks waiting to be completed. Oy vey! Here’s what came out of that pile on Sunday.


I was thinking that there were lots more finished blocks so I went digging in the UFO closet. Found this bin of completed blocks. Now, that’s more like it.


Now that ALL the blocks are finished and won’t fit into one bin, it’s time to sort them into the blocks for my quilt (all my favorite blocks, of course) and the blocks for donation quilts.

Here are random shots of other things I’ve done since the early February report.


First block for Baltimore Garden class still in progress. For the March class we were supposed to have the block ready for the flowers. The block is ready to have the first part of one of the flowers stitched. I got a start on the freezer paper pieces for our April class homework. I don’t think I’m going to be ready to sew a bird’s eye by class time.


4-patches from 1.5″ squares.

I laid out blocks I made a couple of years ago at retreat. I laid them out at retreat and had one left over. Someone said I had to make more to finish another row. So, I brought it home and made the blocks but it sat. I neglected to take a photo of it on the design wall. It’s now packed up to go to retreat next month for block assembly. I’ll save the border work till I get home from retreat.


4-patches made from the leftovers of the blocks I forgot to take a picture of.


Some string blocks.


More string blocks.



Blocks for the checkerboard top.



Laid out the Sweet Poison blocks and trimmed them to size.


Made some pink 16-patch blocks.



Got the borders on Mocha Meringue and made the back with leftovers and some added fabric from stash.


Assembled these 9-patch blocks and added a border. This started with already made blocks from the freebie table at guild. I made a flannel back for it so it’s ready for the quilter.


Went to Target this morning and got some Command picture hanging strips so I could get my memo boards up. This door is at the bottom of the stairs so I will see it first thing when I go into the studio. My Target is being renovated so everything has been moved around. While I was looking for what I needed, I found those cute hexagon wood magnets and the pins with hooks. Do I need the hooks? Beats me but now I have them. I must have dry erase markers somewhere but Target had these neat ones that have a magnet and eraser built in. The dry erase boards are magnetic so that’s perfect. I’ve already filled up the bottom board with things that are pending just laying around the studio waiting for a turn. The top board contains the tasks that need to be done next. If the boards stay stuck to the door I’ll be a happy camper. In the process I discovered that the door doesn’t latch securely so pressing on it pushes it open even if it is closed. Have to get my handyman on that next time he’s here.

Things I don’t have pictures of: February snowman is fused. March snowman is ready for binding and needs the coal pieces added. Haven’t started April and it looks like maybe it’s going to get skipped for now.

Clown school: I made a list in January of tasks to do each month and lost it. I did get the background pieced. That was so hard. Cut 2 pieces of fabric and sew them together. Now I need large pieces of fusible web. I think I bought a roll of the long stuff so I need to find it and see if it’s big enough.

Ladies of the Sea: I did get the final ship done. Discovered that I used two stands of floss for some of the embroidery then got confused and switched to one strand. I have to go back and redo about 3 bits on one of the sails so they all match. Polly thought I could leave the big sail as it is since it has two rows of tell-tails. I realize y’all have no idea what I’m talking about but it’ll show up here one day.

Looks like I’ve done more than I thought. Now that the memo board is up I can make notes about what I’ve done when leaving the studio.



Scrap Management

April 8, 2019


Anyone who’s been quilting for any length of time eventually has to pay the piper and deal with scraps. My first scrap management effort began in, let’s say the early aughts/oughts. I don’t really remember. One of my books had a page where the authors recommended blocks with two inch and four inch finished units. The several blocks shown on the page appealed to me so I copied it and started cutting 2 7/8″ and 4 7/8″ half-square triangles. I kept the copy of the paper with the cut triangles. I must not have cut triangles very long because there aren’t a ton of them in the box. Too many scraps didn’t work for those sizes and shapes. On to the next plan.

My second plan was to cut the largest square, in even and half-inch sizes, from 1″ to 6″ from the scrap. I figured if I needed HSTs I would just use the next biggest square and trim. Rotary cutting the exact size doesn’t seem to work well for me anyway. This was time consuming but lasted longer than the first plan. I made the mistake of explaining the plan at Sew and Tell. Kathy has never let me hear the end of it. She’s always asking me, “How’s that scrap management plan working out?” At some point I stopped cutting those as well.

After that I just threw all the scraps into a bin and let them accumulate. Before things got totally out of control I had a tall laundry basket stuffed full of scraps. Something clearly had to be done. I started making string blocks. When the scrap got too small to be a string I put it in the crumb bin if it was large enough to get seams on all sides and still have some showing. Yes, I’m a fabric hoarder. Can’t stand to see anything go to waste. Must be something in the Scots and German genes. I worked out of one bin once a month or more for two years and barely made a dent. That bin is stuffed right now because people kept adding to it. I’ve dragged it to retreat the last couple of years just in case I needed it. I didn’t.

At some point I became aware of Bonnie Hunter and her scrap management plan. Oddly enough I didn’t buy in, given how well my previous efforts worked. When I make her quilts, I prefer more controlled colors and pull from stash.

In 2016 I attended a presentation by one of the members at the York, Pennsylvania, quilt guild show. I wish I’d thought to take photos of the woman’s slides. It was a fabulous presentation. She had several go-to patterns that she cut all her scraps for, such as log cabin. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the rest of them. Anytime she feels like making a log cabin, she pulls out that drawer and goes to town. Echoes of my original scrap plan.


A few years ago I finally gave in and bought an Accuquilt die cutter. I never bought the “it’s faster than rotary cutting” argument because first you have to cut a piece the right size to run through the die. Well, why not just cut what you need if it’s a strip or squares? I can cut those much faster with my Stripology ruler than I can with the die cutter.

When I moved into my current house two years ago, I started sorting my scraps into several categories. Strips and squares that were left-overs went into bins of that size. Odd scraps were sorted into strings, crumbs and chunks. Chunks are pieces big enough to run through the die cutter. As you might have guessed I was being overrun by scraps. Linda sorted them when she was here and finished with her work or tired of it. The chunk bin was overflowing. Something had to be done.

Last week I decided on some go-to patterns for now and started cutting. I started with the log cabin die. What a pain in the ass! It’s a great big honking long die and I only need to use half of it to make 8″ blocks which I think is a nice size. Running it through the cutter created so much static the fabric clung to my fingers, the mat, and anything else it touched. It might be easier to rotary cut them. I finally gave up on that one for the time being.

Somewhere I ran across the Stash Buster Challenge 2019. I liked it. Pulled the two HST dies from my 6″ cube.

I belong to the Stashbusters group on Yahoo! Several of the folks are making Cabin Steps. That also looked like one that would work well. Those two dies also came from the 6″ cube.

Back when Bonnie Hunter was doing the tumbler leader/ender I cut some tumblers and started sewing them together. I got out the tumbler die and cut some of those too since I’d run out of pieces a long time ago.

I have the Gyleen Fitzgerald Pineapple book and tool but haven’t used it yet. One of the members of my guild makes a lot of pineapple quilts for charity. I really like her variation. Here’s one I took a picture of.


Got out the 1.5″ strip die and cut those too. This works well even for small pieces because it uses strips as small as 2.5″ long for the first round.

With the necessary dies out, I got to business cutting the chunks. Did I empty the chunk bin? Not by a longshot – see it in one of the pictures above. But, now, when I need leader/enders or just want to sew something, I’ve got pieces cut and ready to go. I went to JoAnn’s and bought project bins at 50% off for storing them. They’re on top of the cabinet in this picture.


Everything outside the drawer unit is scraps of some kind. The blue bin on the left is one of the unsorted bins, mostly strings. The bins with labels hold the pieces I cut with the Accuquilt. The black bag is full of strings sorted by color for a string star class last year. I want to make 3 more star blocks to go with the one from class. The bottom bin on the right contains 6.5″ squares I cut from my stash back in 1999 when I broke my ankle. I think the idea was that I could use those for charm quilts. Ultimately, those pieces ended up under my desk at work for hand piecing during lunchtime. The blue bag on the right contains neutral strings for Bonnie Hunter string designs. The basket underneath contains some project leftovers that need a plan. This box below I bought today is full of strings that were in a cardboard box I’ve been trying to eliminate without success.


The strips and squares are stored in bins on the otherside of the room and new ones are going into the card catalog in the fabric room. There’s a bunch of small containers that have some small scraps sorted by color. I like the idea of making fabric from crumbs and cutting applique pieces from it. One day.

Back to the original plan – the page from the book with blocks that use common pieces. While I was getting things unpacked and organized here in the new house, I decided I didn’t need to keep the copy of that page because I wasn’t cutting those triangles anymore. I could always make a new copy from the book if I changed my mind. Fast forward to last week. I decided those would be another good thing to cut with the die cutter. Triangles from the die cutter work much better for me than rotary cut ones.

I can’t find the book that page is in to save my life. I think it might have been Fons and Porter but I can’t remember. I think they called them twosies/foursies. Sounds like Fons and Porter, doesn’t it? Maybe I made that part up. Could be Nancy Martin and Marsha McCloskey. Could be some other pair. I remember it saying “we like to …” Looked in every book I could think of that might be it. Nothing. I have one Fons and Porter book I haven’t looked at because, although it’s in my inventory, it doesn’t have a location so I don’t have a clue where it is, if I even still own it. My county library catalog has no books with Fons and Porter as authors. I’m hoping my guild library has it so I can look at it on Thursday. Another option Thursday is to look at the books at the yard sale of stuff from the original owner of Seminole Sampler quilt shop. Otherwise I’ll have to request it from the state inter-library loan. It’s driving me crazy that I can’t find the page because I. WANT. IT. NOW.

To make a long story short, I feel like I’m finally getting a handle on scraps after 25 years or so. I’ll have to live to be 150 in order to use them all. Are they all mine? Oh, no. I rescue scraps like some people rescue dogs and cats. Other peoples scraps liven up the scrap box.

Don’t be surprised if someone else’s plan doesn’t work for you. You just have to understand how YOU work with scraps. Some people love Bonnie Hunter’s system. Some like to keep the scraps whole until they’re needed for a project.

Maybe you just don’t want to mess with scraps. In that case, don’t throw them out – find someone who does want them. But, please, don’t send them my way. I’ve got enough already.

January Projects

February 13, 2019

We have a bunch of geese that commute to the farm near my house every morning. Every night they fly back to their night time hangout. Their flight path is right over my house so we hear them every morning and evening.

A couple of weeks ago we had extremely cold temperatures for this area thanks to the Polar Vortex. This pond where the geese like to hang out froze over. I decided to stop and take a picture last week. I was surprised to see that the geese are sitting and standing on ice. When they’re not on the pond, they’re in the fields looking for food. The day I took the picture the temp got up to the low 70s. The next day it was 20 degrees cooler. In one week our temperatures went from the teens to the 70s. Is it any wonder I have four coats of different weights hanging on the hook by the garage door?

I realized last week that just as Pigpen goes around with a cloud of dirt around him, I leave a trail of stuff when I’m working on certain projects, particularly applique. Here’s my dining table while working on my last Ladies of the Sea ship. There was also a nest of stuff next to me on the couch.


Yes, that’s the Christmas tree on the right. A couple of friends came over and we moved the tree into it’s new storage bag with rolling stand and wheeled it out into the garage where it will live. One hitch in the git-a-long was that the tree is taller than the doorway. We managed.

Look at that mess on the table! I try to be neat but sometimes it just doesn’t work. I did get the block finished by Grad School class on Monday. That was the goal for this ongoing bucket list project.


Unfortunately, when I washed the block, the lighter tan ultrasuede used for the masts bled. See the tan smudges next to the left edges of the sails? I’m going to try Vicki Welsh’s advice and pray that it works. I’ve used this piece of ultrasuede on other blocks but it looks like they are ones that haven’t been washed yet.

New bucket list project for this year was Snowmen Will Melt Your Heart by Curtis Boehringer. The January block is Building a Snowman. The pattern showed it done in black, white and gray. Yuck. January is bad enough without a black, white and gray wall-hanging. One of the benefits of having a large stash is that I got this from it:


Is this not adorable? The backgrounds are bluer in person than they are showing on my monitor. I doubt the photo shows that the black for the hats is a sparkle fabric. Looks like little ice crystals all over the hat. I used a string of asterisks stitch that look like snowflakes to stitch the snowmen. The rest of the pieces were topstitched. All edges were turned under before stitching.

I was planning to have Kim quilt this but there isn’t really much quilting space for her artistry. I guess I need to suck it up and do this one myself – just stitch around the appliques. Someone who likes to embellish would have a great time with those snowflakes on the background of the center piece. Unfortunately, that someone isn’t me. But, you never know. Stranger things have happened. And, Hell did freeze over (Hell, Michigan). Each block is supposed to have the name of the month embroidered on. January, broken into three sections, would be to the left of the big snowmen. Ending with the Y just above the pieces of coal that I see ended up on the points of the snowflake. Looks a little weird but it’s not going to change. Anyway, this also was finished for Monday’s meeting. So far, so good.

The second new bucket list project is Clown School. My goal for January was to acquire the rest of the fabric needed. As large as my stash is, it doesn’t have a lot of pieces over a half yard. And, we’re supposed to buy stuff to support the store that lets us meet there. And, they give us a 15% discount on Grad School days. I did accomplish the goal for this project. Yay! The remaining fabrics, just black and white, I believe, will come from stash. That’s the plan, anyway.


The third new bucket list project is Baltimore Garden. This is a long term project so you’re not going to be seeing a block every month. We had our first class at the end of January. Our assignment for the February class is to prepare a block to be ready to sew. I’m still searching for the perfect fabric for the flowers. I have a 1.5″ strip of a probably discontinued Fairy Frost that would work very well I think. A road trip with Polly and Vera is planned. I’ve already bought two possibilities for the flowers. I’ll probably end up with 20 yards of fabric before I’m happy. I also need binding for a large queen quilt that is a gift to my BFF from junior high school. I’d like to use a Fairy Frost for that. Polly is still dithering on sashing and borders for Ladies of the Sea. If we can’t find what we want at Webfabrics in Purcellville, Va, it probably doesn’t exist.

The Good Fortune mystery fell by the wayside in mid-December when I took my machines for maintenance while I was gone for the holidays. My Janome 9400 stopped winding bobbins the night before I took it in. I had not had good experiences with this machine ever since I got it mid-2016. After talking to the Janome regional rep at a show last June, I took the machine up to Glory Bee’s in Fallston, MD. I wrote up my tale of woe so whoever looked at the machine would know my history with it and my dealer’s so-called technician. Gloria, the owner, spent over an hour with me when I picked up the machine, making sure I knew certain things and showing me some features she likes. She said the tech spent quite a bit of time working on it. It now sews a straight seam with correct tension using normal thread. Before, I had to change the tension before sewing every single time. It’s like having a brand new machine. If I can forget the bad times, I might actually come to like this machine.

I was able to sew clues 5, 6, and half of clue 7.

In the grad school class, we celebrated Eleanor’s 90th birthday. Mimi had each of us make a block, then she and Kim finished the quilt we presented to Eleanor. Isn’t Kim’s quilting gorgeous! My block is third row down, second from left.


I started going to my guild’s retreats two years ago. When I tried to sign up for this year, I was too late – it was full. Oh, no! Got word the day before my birthday that a space has opened up. Yay! Great present! Now I need to see if my roommate from the last two years is going and wants to room together. The spring retreat doesn’t offer single rooms.

The last of the current checkerboard blocks were made. Time to sew them up into a quilt or two or three.


I met all my January goals. Small goals help with that. Can/will I stay on track in February and meet my goals for the next Grad School meeting? We’ll have to wait and see.

Thanks for visiting. I’d love to read your comments.

Good Fortune: catching up

February 12, 2019

I finished clue 4 and cut clue 5 before leaving for the end of year holidays. Meanwhile my sewing machines were in the shop for repair and maintenance so nothing further happened when I got back. After getting the machines back mid-January I finished clues 5, 6 and 7. I’m now working on the last clue and finished sewing the blocks yesterday.


I chose the colors of lime green, purple and orange for the mystery long before Bonnie published her color choices. I showed the picture to a friend at lunch today. She thought it looked like flowers. I was looking through Bonnie’s books and noticed she frequently uses red and orange together,

I had a pile of the red and neutral 4-patches left.


I have a vague memory of Bonnie saying in one of her post-mystery blog posts that there was a mistake in the clue that had us making too many. Am I remembering correctly?

I pondered a while about making the quilt larger to fit a queen-size bed. In the end I decided I was tired of making these blocks and am sticking to the size as published.

I always like to take one of the blocks from the front and blow it up to make a big one-block quilt with borders for the back. I planned out my back and cut some of the pieces for that. I always seem to enjoy making the large block back more than the front. Go figure. I’ll write more about the back when it’s done.

I really like the purple and green star block so I put them side by side to see what that looked like.


I think that might work pretty well if the corners came together with lights and darks opposite each other to make a quarter-square triangle square.

Others have shared their results on Bonnie’s blog. Check them out. Thanks for visiting. I’d love to read your comments.


New Additions

January 13, 2019

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with furniture with cubbyholes and other storage items. Wonder why that is? I have always wanted one of these:


This is a Wooten desk. The open picture is not the same desk as the closed picture. They made various versions from 1870-1884. Very hard to come by these days and can be quite pricey. When I lived in Chicago in the mid-1970s I saw one in a shop window for a while on my daily bus ride. I lusted after that desk but I couldn’t afford to buy one back then. The only way to find one at a reasonable price is if one comes up at a rural local auction. The asking price for the desk on the left above is around $25,000. No Wooten desk for me.

Another thing I’ve always wanted is a card catalogue. I think everyone I know wants one of these. One guild member told me she offered to work 3 more years at her library if they’d give her a card catalogue. They said no.

My friend Vera and her husband are in their 80s and recently moved to a continuing care community at the insistence of family. Vera was not at all ready to leave the house and all her wonderful things. One of the wonderful things she had that she wasn’t able to find a place for in the apartment was this:


Her son got it for her from Duke University. When I found out it was going to be in their tag sale, I got my friend Caren to join me at the sale. I sat here the night before pondering: where would I put it and what would I put in it? I couldn’t buy it without answers to those two questions. I decided it would fit in the fabric room where the piles of bins were. The bins are easy enough to relocate. I decided it would be good for storing strips. One drawer for one color or style in one size. Caren and I got to the sale early and when it opened, I made a beeline downstairs. I was able to buy it!

There are 60 small drawers. So, three for each color/style to store 1.5″, 2″, and 2.5″ strips. The 4 large drawers were made for Vera by her brother-in-law. I don’t remember if the original drawers were missing or she needed somewhere to store clothing patterns. Not sure what I’ll use the large drawers for yet. Probably some sort of scraps.

So, I paid for it. Now I had to get it home. It was bigger than I realized and wouldn’t fit in my Honda CR-V. We thought it would fit in Caren’s car but it was a whole lot heavier than we’d imagined. We couldn’t budge it, even with the drawers out. Oh, no! What to do? We had to have our purchases out of the house by 2 pm that afternoon. Although I could probably have made arrangements with Vera to get it later, the person in charge of the sale would have been very unhappy with us. Somehow we managed to piss her off before the sale ended.

Caren called our handyman, Ray, to see if he could come help us out. He responds faster to her because he is her realtor and manages the rental of her old house. Well, he had an appointment but could come after that. Great! I was as antsy as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Ray does good work but he piddles around and doesn’t show up when he’s supposed to. I was worried he wouldn’t get there on time. While we waited for Ray, Caren and I took the drawers to my house and unloaded them into the garage. When we got back to the sale, we found more stuff to buy and filled up both cars. I picked up a very nice quilt rack for $10. Ray showed up with his helper in the nick of time and got the piece loaded into his truck. It just barely fit. I treated everyone to a late lunch before we headed out to my house to unload. I have some strips ready to put into some of the drawers but I need to clean it up a bit first. As I cut for the Bonnie Hunter mystery I also cut strips for the cabinet.

My other new acquisition also came from Vera. When she was showing me through the house she pointed out the treadle cabinet and said she wasn’t able to take it with her. I said I’d buy it so it wasn’t in the sale. Vera decided she wanted to gift it to me as a thank you for picking her up and taking her to Mimi’s grad school group. I was NOT expecting that. I’d noticed that Vera hadn’t been there for several months. When I found out it was because she was having vertigo and was afraid to drive that far by herself in case she had an episode, I started swinging by to get her. When I broke my ankle, other people hauled me around so I’m paying it forward.

I did a little google search and discovered that this machine has no feed dogs. It is the motion of the needle that moves the fabric. Apparently it’s quite desired by machine quilters which I am not. I wanted to get someone out to do some cleaning and maintenance on the machine before I try to learn how to use it but I intended to wait awhile. Unfortunately, I wasn’t being careful enough when I opened the cabinet to take the picture and it is now stuck in the open position. It looks like the chain that raises and lowers the machine jumped its track and I forgot to pull the belt out of the way before completely raising the machine so it’s stuck between the machine surround and the side of the cabinet. Sigh. I didn’t want to push too hard and break something so, for now, it’s staying open. Now I need to track down someone to work on it sooner rather than later. There is a company in Baltimore that sells industrial machines that used to have someone who worked on treadles in the home. I hope they still do.

Snowmen Will Melt Your Heart: January

January 1, 2019

I’ve have not been good in the past at documenting my quilts. There’s no better time to start doing a better job than January 1st.

One of the projects I selected for 2019 is Snowmen Will Melt Your Heart by Curtis Boehringer. I’m doing it as twelve wall hangings rather than a quilt with 12 blocks. What really attracted me to the pattern was the borders on the wall hangings. Linda came over this afternoon to sew. I chose fabrics and started prepping the pieces.

Here’s January:


The pattern shows it done in black, white and grey. Mine will be more colorful. January is drab enough.


These are my background fabrics. The bottom is for the center and the top five are for the borders.


The snowmen fabrics. The bottom two are for the center snowmen. The top four are for the borders. White on white doesn’t show up well in photos, so from left to right a sort of crackle looking print, a print with little dots, a cat print and a Y2K print.


From left to right: the coal pieces, hats (this fabric is sparkly), arms on the large snowman, carrot noses.


The two on the bottom are for the scarf, mittens and hat for the large center snowman. The top 5 are for the border scarves.


One of these is for the hat bands, probably the bottom one.

All of these came from my stash. It’s days like this when I don’t feel bad about having an extensive stash. I can’t even begin to imagine having to find that many fabrics at one time in the shops.

Two of my machines are in the shop so I can’t proceed to get to the sewing step because I need to use the machine to prep for one of the techniques I’m using. I could drag out the old Bernina but it’s a pain to set up a machine in the table only to change it out a short time later. I may do that if I run out of other things to do in the meantime. My travel machine is ready to pick up but there’s no point in going until the other is ready because the shop is an hour, hour and a half away. I’m anxious to talk to the technician about the 9400. Am I crazy or does he agree that the default tension sucks? Not to mention the other issues. Hopefully it won’t wind a bobbin for him, either.

I’m also in a wait state on Good Fortune. I’ve cut clue 5 and some of clue 6. I need to cut more strips for clue 6. Clues 5-7 need to be sewn. I think clue 7 had a typo because the math didn’t make sense. Haven’t checked yet to see if she’s made a correction.