The view from my sewing machine

The view from my sewing machine

Yes, that is the ocean in my view line. I love to sneak away from Iowa winter for a brief time each year. This year friend Carol is with me. We brought along our machines, folding machine tables, and many projects. You just never know for sure what you will want to work on. I also bring hand stitching as there is nothing better than doing it outside; seventy-four and a light breeze.

Do you recognize this sentence: A quick brown fox just jumped over my very lazy dog.

High school typing class, right?  I think I have it a little wrong as I do not see every letter of the alphabet. It was our warm-up activity each day in class. Sometimes I need a warm-up activity in my sewing room. This project makes for a good one. For some time now when I have had  Civil War fabric on the cutting board I try to remember to cut an eight inch square and put it into a container where I store them.


Years ago I saw this concept of marking the back of your cutting board. Use masking tape to mark where to place the eight inch squares. Use a Sharpie marker to mark the desired cutting lines. I numbered mine in the order I would be cutting them.


My Marking is for the Square In A Square block.  If you look close you can see that this technique cuts off the dog ears before you sew.


You can pair them up in sets of two fabrics for the traditional block.  Or you can use three fabrics for your blocks.  I guess you could have all four corners different if you wanted to.  I have chosen to go with three fabrics in each block.

Having come on my trip with the box of eight inch squares and the markings on the cutting board, this is my “quick brown fox…” warm up activity each morning.


This does give you a set of three blocks with a light, medium, and dark center each time.  I have played with laying them out on my bed and that is another fun activity until bed time.img_5884

There are multiple ways that  you could mark your cutting board.  I discovered this in the box so I must have tried that design also.  I think I have enough eight inch squares that I could play with both designs.


Carol brought along several small kits.  That is another great way to travel.  She even did a lot of cutting before we left home.  She has her first two completed, while I keep changing projects and have nothing completed.  But we are both having fun.  Plus we have discovered that we can sit on our balcony and do nothing and feel no guilt.  That makes this even better than a quilt retreat.






New Quilt Project or Finish Ones Started?

New Years Day project

New Years Day project

Welcome 2017

Start a new quilt on New Years Day is a good omen for a new year.  I decided to do a very small one as there are so many bed quilts still in the works. This is to be a pillow cover and the kit was purchased a long time ago.

The picture is before I clean up the outer edge. Think about what I will have when I do square it up. ALL BIAS EDGES!  The pattern wisely suggested me to stay stitch the outer edge first. I once saw a bed quilt that finished like this and the maker wondered what to do. My first thought was, “What was the pattern designer thinking?” My second thought was, “Why did the pattern not provide a lot of advise to keep this a rectangle quilt without a ruffled edge?”

At our December small gathering the gals showed progress on the blended quilt projects.

Linda's Blended Quilt

Linda’s Blended Quilt

The body of this quilt is finished. Now Linda was dealing with the border fabric that was less than what she needed to finish it as the pattern suggested. She has the two opposite sides identical for a great start.  Cornerstones are helpful when this happens.  She could also not worry about the top and bottom being identical.

Another thought would be if the sides are cut on the length wise grain, should she cut the top and bottom on the crosswise grain?  It will be a lovely quilt no matter how she finishes it up.

Sharon's Blended Quilt

Sharon’s Blended Quilt

Sharon’s quilt is back from the long arm gal who did a great job with edge-to-edge quilting.  Do you like what she choose to use for the binding?  The next picture shows the choice of quilting pattern and thread.  Take time to discus both of these with the long arm gal.  Attach a written note to the quilt as it might not be worked on right away and we all forget things.


Joyce has an interesting border going on her Blended Quilt.


Notice how the inner border goes all the way across the side outer borders. She does not have to worry about matching flower clusters or perfecting a mitered corner.  What a great solution.

These two quilts were also part of our December Show-n-Tell.  The fishy one was finished and was to be a gift.  Now that the waters in Iowa are frozen, the guy recipient may be snuggled up dreaming of better days to come.  Is the second picture ‘Turning 20’ ?



Sharon chose the perfect setting fabric for this sampler.   The shop help actually guided Sharon to the fabric and that is what good store help should do.  They know what is on their shelves better than the consumer does.  If I remember correctly the blocks were left overs from a Penny Haren project.  Notice the binding is scraps from the quilt body and very appropriate.  When using the scraps diagonal joining seams allow for less bulk at the intersections.

The final photos are not quilts, but rather a homemade dress.  My sister made it for me when I was a child.  This is the only one that is still around.  When I was helping my granddaughter put it on, I explained that it was my Sunday dress.  I shared that I also wore dresses to school.  In the winter we wore slacks under the dresses for the walk to school and recess.  Those were the days!



Catching Up On 2016

Today is a New Year, but I am still catching up on 2016. Christmas is yet to go down. Since the family has left I have read, washed towels, read, washed sheets, read, vacuumed, read, made beds, read, cleaned up the left over food in three refrigerators, and did I mention that I have done a lot of reading?

Hexi potholder

Hexi potholder

Before Christmas I sent a few items to the families. Mainly potholders that I had cut out a couple years ago.  I really did some cleaning in the Christmas fabric suitcase.

Carolyn's Gingerbread potholder

Carolyn’s Gingerbread potholder

Friend Carolyn did a lot more work on her potholders.

I had purchased a kit for Santa and Mrs. Santa towels a few years ago at the Quilt Block. They were made and have gone to the family that still has Santa believers.

Last year (or some year) my group acquired the pattern for the Mug Mats and Linda got a couple done.


Joyce got busy and quilted a project we did at another Christmas gathering.  She did a great job, but confessed that she really does not like the project.  How is that for a “Get-r-Done” attitude?

Years ago I purchased a crib quilt top at our guild fund raiser. It has hung nicely in a closet since then. I finally realized that if I added another border(black with colored dots), it would be large enough for a lap quilt. I have a 9 year old grand who loves any pond creature. He also loves the furry fleece that is not as popular as the regular fleece. (probably because it is more expensive and you cannot leave the edges raw.)   If I backed the quilt with the furry stuff it would be a win-win gift. I should clarify that I am a piecer, not much of a machine appliqué person, and not a machine quilter. This project was a skill stretcher.  The frogs had all been ironed on but needed to be machine appliquéd in place.  I did so to the inner parts of the frogs.  But the outside of the frogs I machine appliquéd with the backing in place.  That way they would pop-out more and I did not have to repeat the stitching around the creatures.

I had heard that it was wise to add a batting of plain muslin when doing a fleece backing. I did not do the wise thing.  In the above picture it appears that I had a tension issue and black bobbin thread is showing. Not so. I used a thin bobbin thread.  What you are seeing is fur coming up with each stitch. Re-afirming the concept of no batting with a fleece back, but add a pre-washed muslin layer to prevent shadows and fleece wanting a front showing.

A couple granddaughters received picnic/beach blankets.  I will have to find a picture of them.


Now that Christmas is over us Iowans can expect a couple months of snow.  The above is the wool-work project I prepped so I would have some hand stitching to do.  It is getting close to finished!

Happy New Year to you.  Once I heard it was good luck to start a new quilt on January 1.  I have a box I placed on a shelf when we moved ten years ago.  It is yet to come off the shelf. I think I am going to get it out and hope I at least added a picture of what I was thinking of.


Thankful for “Quiltie” Friends

At this time of year we do think of being more thankful. And I am thankful for all of you. You inspire me to try something new or to just get into the sewing room and get working on something that has lost its original excitement.

I have a small group that meets at my home each month. They cause me to get in gear and prepare for them. Then they bring show-n-tell that inspires me to be more creative.

Joyce's Blended Quilt

Joyce’s Blended Quilt

Above is our current project of ‘blended Quilts’. I know we are a little slow on this fad. It appeared early in the 2000s by Marsha McCloskey and Sharon Evans Yenter. They were inspired by antique quilts and their soft, comforting look.

two of the books on blended quilts

two of the books on blended quilts

Almost a year ago I attended a quilt show in Texas and one vendor’s booth just drew me to it. I am sure you all have experienced that exhilarating moment. I liked every sample quilt they had on display. I left the booth with a book and a lot of fabric.

Donna's center part

Donna’s center part

For all of us this project has been a challenge to our thinking and shopping. Donna’s is above and most of us would want to “organize” things differently, more balanced. But it is what makes the quilt attractive and one really wants to study the quilt and each block. I love your brave spirit, Donna.

Carol's blended quilt

Carol’s blended quilt

Carol made shopping easier by purchasing from one line of fabric. Her struggle was that she bought the fabric prior to selecting a pattern. She ran out of some and did not use others.

Linda was not present for this show-n-tell as she was working an election station. She also bought one line of fabric for her quilt. And she likes her quilt but feels that she missed some of the learning experience. (She sent the picture so she could earn her reward.)

Linda's quilt top

Linda’s quilt top

Once again, we each set our own goal of completion date and then worked backwards as to what had to be accomplished each month. All are on target so far.

Carolyn's blocks

Carolyn’s blocks

Carolyn did not have to fabric shop so far. Instead she went to her stash and found some fabrics that had been moved to storage for a while. They now were perfect for this project.  The top, left side, block is traditional :  light -medium -dark.  The rest are the fun different combos.  I love your braveness, Carolyn.

For our last project there were rewards for staying on our goal charts. We each got to build a house. When we completed the project, the village came together. Here are some of them.



Of course there is also show-n-tell at our monthly meetings. These are some of the treasures shown:




As I must get ready for church this Sunday morning, I will have to share my other thanksgiving of quilting friends on my next post.

Meanwhile, there are a few that got away!


Show Time at the Iowa Museum

The Iowa Quilt Museum opened a new exhibit as we moved into October.  It is a fun one as it’s focus is the all time favorite of quilters: STARS.  Not all quilters like to make stars but everyone likes them in quilts.


Wow did some ladies like to add the sparkle of color to their quilts.

The above  one is dated 1890.  Have you ever heard, “Old quilts are so drab.”?

Here are some more drab color combinations from the same time period.


The fun thing about this quilt is that only one of the nine blocks is pieced correctly.  It happens to be Quilt Week in Des Moines Iowa with AQS in town.  This fun quilt would not have earned a ribbon at a show, but it is still a winner and has been preserved longer than mine will probably be.

The curator for this show, Virginia Berger, reproduced a smaller version correctly for the American Quilt Study Group a few years ago.


The one below comes from 1930.  Pink has gone in and out of quilt styles.  It really faded out about 1890 -1920.


This one really accomplished a quilter’s desire:  first you admire it from a distance and then you are drawn up close to enjoy the details.  Pink was definitely a 20s-40s thing.  but this quilter must have had some darks from earlier times.  And she used them wisely.


What I like about this museum is that it provides for a lesson through time.  It even appreciates us who like to reproduce quilts from the past.  The one below was  done by Liz Porter.


The pattern for this quilt was available in Fons and Porter magazine.

The Iowa Quilt Museum also appreciates the quilt patterns being created today.  The next photo is a pattern designed by  Barbara Cline in Simply Triangles.  I pieced it a few years ago.


I thought that I was so cleaver to flow the stars into the side borders.  It was not that way in the pattern.   Isn’t that a new idea?


The last quilt I am sharing was made in 1930.  That is 90 years ago!


You will be able to see these and many more if you make the trip to Winterset, Iowa.  Fall is a great time to drive the winding roads that way.  Plus Winterset also hosts the John Wayne Museum.  And the Covered  Bridge Festival this this coming week-end.



Get it done! It’s Show Time

AQS is coming to Des Moines this week! Des Moines Area Quilt Guild also has their show as part of the festivities in the same location in downtown
Des Moines, Iowa.

I was the first to drop off their quilts for the local show. It was not because I am so punctual, rather because I was leaving town to watch grandsons play soccer.

I found myself doing my own “quilting” on a wall quilt. Do the rest of you use spray adhesive? Do you protect the area around the project?

layering for quilting

layering for quilting

It had been a long time since I had done any quilting. I went with straight lines and a walking foot.

My attempt at doing quilting

My attempt at doing quilting



Meanwhile my new BFF went beyond the call of duty to have this done in time.  When it was 3/4 done her machine started giving her trouble.  It went in for repairs.  When that did not solve all the issues, she picked up a new part at 6:30 in the morning. How many of us retired people are out of our PJ’s at that time of day?

The back side of my quilt

The back side of my quilt

She really did a great job. I hope it keeps the eye focused on the quilting and not my points. I had all the point strips finished before I started assembling the quilt. That is when I discovered they did not join neatly.  I decided there was a pattern error. Alas, as I got out the pattern, Crazy Curves Continues by Elsia Wilson, I remembered that I had drafted the point section myself. We are always learning and the next project awaits us.



Meanwhile my small group has been getting to the finish line also. What a great show-n-tell we had the last time we gathered.

Linda's top finished

Linda’s top finished

Linda had taken this class years ago at the Adel Quilting and Dry Goods. The top in now finished!

carol's color value lesson

carol’s color value lesson

We had swapped blue strips some time ago to do this ‘oldie but goodie’ pattern by Evelyn Sloppy. Carol’s has returned from the Missouri Star quilting shop and the binding is on. “Done” is such a grand word.


Joyce's projects

Joyce’s projects

At our December gathering we often begin a Christmas project. They rarely get finished for that Christmas. But Joyce is getting caught up on hers. She does her own quilting on her domestic machine. She was getting our input on how to finish the stars.

How to border?

How to border?

This quilt also was one of our swaps. We had done HST the paper way, which is ideal when doing a swap.  It helps having all HST identical is size. This is an Edyta Sitar Pattern. The question now was how to border.

Sherry was the first to have her Curved Seams quilt totally finished!

Sherry's quilt finished

Sherry’s quilt finished

The leader did not even have hers back from the quilter.  We all have the same book, but we each selected which pattern we would do.  It is so fun to see the results.  I had made up goal sheets for this project.  Each gal determined at what date the quilt would be ready to go to the quilter.  They then worked backwards to determine what had to be completed each week.

If they came to the next gathering current on their goals they received a kit to build a house.  At our next gathering they will be planning their village as we are ready to move on to another project.




Quilt classes at sea

When I travel a lot of stuff goes into my suitcases in zip-lock bags. They are light weight. My make-up bag is even a zip lock. I label them with sharpie markers like, Shower.

It was natural that all my fabrics also were in zip-locks and marked which class they were for. For a light weight tote to get them to class I used a simple fabric tote:

lite weight tote

lite weight tote

For me traveling is all about that 50# weight limit and how to get back home with added purchases.

I thought my bag looked nice and then I saw a gal with this bag:


Now I get to my Di Ford class and all the gals have these neat small totes for their hand stitching supplies.:



The gals gave me the source of the pattern and mentioned that they found the pattern a little tricky to figure out.  But it is worth it with all the different slots to sort the supplies.

organized storage

organized storage

Meanwhile all my plastic bags are sliding off the table onto the floor.

For a break we would slip into one of the other two classes to see what they were doing.  I showed you the carry-on suitcase of one of the gals in my last post. I missed getting a photo of her purse, but this is her sewing tool tote:




Day 3 of classes I decided to have some fun and not have my plastic bags sliding all over the place:


Yep, this wash tub was my tote of the day and I showed it off with pride! I also bragged of the price. $2.33

I also explained all the travel uses. The main one is doing hand laundry especially on a cruise ship with tiny sinks. What’s more, I leave it behind when packing for home along with grubby PJ’s and other throw away clothes.

If you are interested in making one of the totes, I did find the pattern after returning home.


Happy organizing for your fall retreat!


Do you remember that line from the movie, Pretty Woman? The leading female actress was playing the part of a street walker and was hired by a very wealthy man. He gave her money to buy a cocktail dress. At the first shop it was suggested that she leave as they would have nothing for her.

The next day the man took her to another store and bought her a new wardrobe. On the way back to the hotel she stopped at the original store. That is were the fun line was stated, “Remember Me? Big mistake, Big mistake.”

First I need to share just how many quilters got off the ship on a free day in Crete.

fabric fanatics

fabric fanatics

Now you may view the fist shop sites as we got off the ship.

floral shop

floral shop


The second photo was taken through the door of the closed shop. Big Mistake, Big Mistake.

We were all hungry for fabric! This was our last port!

Earlier on our trip, our guide to Florence took us to a beautiful fabric shop.

me touching fabric

me touching fabric

Yes, thats me touching very expensive fabric. Like 65-85 eros/meter. I am standing by the men’s shirting. There was also 100% ladies cotton very similar to Liberty of London fabric selling at 65 eros/meter.  We had all walked out of this shop empty handed. We concluded it was an Italian shop for custom tailoring.

On my last post I shared about one of the instructors, Di Ford. On the cruise I was introduced to two other instructors of the needle and my range of stitch thinking has been majorly widened. First I was introduced to Reiko Kato from Japan.

At St Paul, France

At St Paul, France

Reiko has been stitching since she was 4 years old.

Women were wise to take her classes. First because she is so inspiring. Second because she brought kits!  Unfortunately I did not get photos of her four different projects. The below picture is of one of the students progress.

parcial project

parcial project

Now for a photo of how she inspires her students from the past. This gal needs to learn English so that she can become an instructor. Her daughter was traveling with her to do the interpreting for her.


Yes, you are looking at a carry-on sized suitcase. We all thought it needed a covering of some type just to preserve all the tiny details. This over-the-top stitcher had taken apart a suitcase and put it back together with this wool/cotton work on it.

As blogs are to encourage one another in our passions, I will share a photo of my carry-on.

Yup, that's duck tape holding it together!

Yup, that’s duck tape holding it together!

Traveling with Quilters

Wow, I have admired Di Ford’s quilts for a long time. Now I saw that she was to be one of the teachers on a cruise ship; a Mediterannian cruise at that. I have wanted to visit the countries in that region. I could take two items off the bucket list in one trip.

Di Ford with Me

Di Ford with Me

I found Di to be such a charming lady, in addition to a great quilt instructor.  She wanted each one of us to be successful.  I would get to be under her inspiration for the four days at sea.

Our first challenge was needle turn Brodery Perse. I have done it with a blanket stitch in the past. Now I learned how to make a beautiful urn with three different fabrics before I even started putting a flower arrangement together.

My Urn

My Urn

Di helped me see the potential of the fabrics I had brought along. I will say that bringing fabric was a challenge. I wanted appropriate clothes, sewing supplies, and empty space for shopping at seven ports! How much fabric could I pack? I settled for small pieces of many fabrics.

I should add that I was not even laying out the urn fabric in the direction that gave it the appearance of a curved shape. All the small tips became big learning opportunities.

In the above photo you get a glimpse of my stem fabric.  I learned that it did not have to be green.  What a profound bit of wisdom.  I have had the center floral arrangement on my design wall for over a year.  I did not proceed as there was something wrong with it.  Instantly I knew what it was; the green stems want to dominate the arrangement.


I have appliquéd in the past, but it is not my favorite part of quilting.  However, once I was home I could not put it down until it was done.  Of course being travel weary is a good excuse to do some sitting.

Now about that shopping space I left in the suitcase:  Our first port was in France and we were bused to a linen/fabric store.  Deb Roberts is in the photo of the shop.  She is the travel planner for this trip.  I have been on two others of her trips.  She always find great places for us to see.


The shop itself was mainly linens and they were lovely, but we were allowed into the back room!  But even better, we were taken to the warehouse.  And then the basement of the warehouse!


The fabric sold for 9 eros/meter.  With a minimum cut of 3 meters.  Another gal and I split three different fabrics.  Back at the ship we cut them lengthwise to get the longest borders possible.


Did I mention that I love border fabric?

Now the fabric I will be searching for has the appearance of rope.  That way I can continue with the medallion quilt.


I have shopped locally for it already, so I will have to expand my search.  Of course what Di used is no longer on the market, so I will have to be satisfied with something else.

The above quilt is named “Jane’s Garden”  and the pattern will be in Di’s new book.  The quilt did not return to Australia with Di Ford.  Rather it went to France with Carol of Quilt Mania to be photographed for the book.

The AQS show comes to Des Moines, Iowa next month and it will provide me with a lot of shopping opportunities.

My second class will have to wait for my next posting.  marge





Back from the Long Arm Magician

A UFO back from the quilter

A UFO back from the quilter

This quilt was started several years ago and then went into hibernation until last fall when it went along to a retreat, where the blocks were pieced incorrectly repeatedly.  After some time with the seam ripper, determination set in. This one was for my bed. It has tried out its final destination and has moved back to the sewing room to be bound.

Meanwhile my friends are working on curved seams. Carol has hers finished:


Donna is getting close to finished:


Joyce is getting closer:


Joyce did this exactly as instructed in the book, but as I look at it I wonder if there was an easier way. She had to be so careful getting her seams matched to make perfect circles. Could she have just appliquéd, by machine or by hand, the circles in place?

Others are making progress, but I did not get pictures of their efforts.

Of course, most of us have more than one project in the works. This one was shown and snowballs always give the illusion of curved seams. This would be the perfect size as a throw pillow cover:


There are some in the quilt world who consider red a neutral and it works perfect here.

This quilt uses the snowball pattern very uniquely.



Carol bought it as a kit while traveling in Texas. She and I also discovered (like Dorthy) there is no place like home.  Iowa has an abundance of quilt shops but we still like to look for them when traveling.

Sharon likes to have baby quilts on hand ready to be given as gifts:



Sherry made this one patch where the fabric does all the work.  I think she said her sister sets up at a Farmers Market.


My current other project was a “Quilt-As-You-Go” that I started a few years ago. My original goal was one block each week or so.  Somewhere along the way it got side stepped.  When I got it out and did the last two blocks I realized that I had been getting rather good at it, but I was back to square one in my machine quilting skill.  Now I stayed on task and also did the borders.

The technique comes from the book Cotton Theory from a gal in Wisconsin.

IMG_3781 (1)

Sewing the blocks together went rather smooth, but when it came to assembling the rows, things deteriorated. This is when one thinks ‘I will give this to a non-quilter as they don’t know the difference.’

At this rate I might as well do all the binding by machine. You might like to try it.  First attach the binding to the back, so you have better control as to how the front will finish.  Use a walking foot and a stiletto. Or if you cannot find your, use a dull seam ripper.


I do take the time to tack the corners so they will go smoothly through the machine.

IMG_3780 (1)

For this binding I cut the fabric on the bias as I thought the stripes would do well that way, but I may have stretched it as the quilt doesn’t lay perfectly flat now.

I am just happy it is done and I am moving to something that has yet to go wrong.