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!



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.

Curved Seams

Most of us quilters were at one time clothes makers. We put sleeves in garments. We sewed collars onto blouses and dresses. We did curved seams. But have never thought of curved seams in quilts. My small groups current project is curved seams. We are all working from the same book, but each one picked their own pattern.

Joyce''s curved seams

Joyce”s curved seams

This retired teacher printed up worksheets for the gals to plan their project. They first set a goal as to when the quilt would be finished and ready to go to a long arm. These ranged from 3 -12 months. Once the date was set they determined how many weeks that included.

Sharon's curved seams

Sharon’s curved seams

They were to subtract one week for adding any border and doing the final border. Subtract another week for sewing the blocks together. Looking at the pattern they were to determine how many blocks they would need to make. Divide that number by how many weeks were left. Now they had a goal set for each week.

Sherry's curved seams

Sherry’s curved seams

Some only had to make one block each week while others many and that was fine as it was their own goal.

As it has turned out each one has met their goal each month as we have gathered or they are ahead of schedule.

If they were on target with their goal each time we gathered they each received a few more pieces of fabric to build a house. This is where we currently are on home building:

reward houses

reward houses

Meanwhile, I have set some goals for this year. I am to make two quilts that use up patterns that have been chosen and fabric that has been purchased over the years. I have a number (to embarrassed to share how many) project plans packed in those neat totes.

Marge's goal project

Marge’s goal project

The panels of fake appliqué are reproductions of a quilt someone found a number of years ago. I had seen the original so bought the panels when they arrived on the market.

I should also confess that I am like many other quilters. I read the pattern instructions, but focused on the pictures and missed a step of borders. I now have to adapt the project each step of the way. It all becomes a numbers game. I now have to see if the parts will fit together.


As for the HST, I did the math. I took the total number needed and divided it by the number of fabrics I had chosen to use. Then I cut the paper sheets accordingly. It worked well as a mundane sewing time to go with mundane moods.

May your sewing include the mundane and a balance of exciting to match where our brain is working.

sewin theraphist

I So want to be Sewing


However this is what I am doing:



I am washing Nick-Knacks.  How boring.  Every Nick-Knack and a lot of wall pictures come down for Christmas decorations.  I love the festive look, but the tear down is not fun.


I know I make it more work than is should be, because it is when I do Spring/Fall Cleaning.  Do you remember those days in your past life.  I was a good farm wife.  The whole house got scrubbed twice a year.



Now it never all gets done, but a lot happens in January after Christmas gets all packed up.  Every nick-knack, or should I say “Collection” as to sound less junky, gets a good washing.  All wood furniture gets a good lemon  oil treatment.  Every picture frame also gets a clean up.  It really looks nice when it is all done.  But it takes so much longer than it did 20 years ago.


It could be worse as I remember my childhood and the storm window/ screen switch.  I had five brothers so at least one of them had to help.  There was a lot of scrubbing taking place twice a year.  In fact when we were first married we did this.  Thankfully windows gradually got replaced in the old farm house.


My mom told stories about the spring wallpapering.  The old furnaces produced enough smoke that a lot of wallpaper was replaced each spring.  Actually it was just covered up as they did not strip off the old paper.  I learned this lesson in the old farm house as I once started tearing off wallpaper and plaster came with it.  You just added another layer and it helped with the insulation issue.

I have shared this all to make myself thankful that housekeeping has really become easier over time.  It also has been a great procrastination as I still have work to do in our lower level.


This is were my large design wall is and I covered it with red and white quilts for Christmas.  You might also notice some Nativity flannel graph on the wall.  I get it out for the grands to play Sunday School while here. I add this picture so this quilt blog will have a few quits in the post.

Now I get to go into my sewing room!  I have pillow cases to iron as I finish up cleaning up the guest rooms.

May you enjoy some sewing moments this winter.

Christmas 2015: Done

Yes, I did finish one Christmas quilt:

My Christmas Table Topper

My Christmas Table Topper

Actually I made two of them as one went to my Mother-in-law. And it went a couple weeks before Christmas. When I clear a path in the sewing room and find the pattern I will share the name and source.

My small group had the assignment of cutting out wrapping paper for our November meeting. At the meeting we cut out the ribbons. Everyone went home with a good start. At the December gathering, three gals had finished projects. Isn’t that a benefit of a small group: motivation!  Or should we say “pier pressure”?

Friends table toppers

Friends table toppers



It is fun to see the same pattern with different fabric choices.

I also made a few gifts.  This idea came from the Ladies of the Lake Retreat.


I used the Halloween big bags.  For the backs I used fabric and placed the zipper there.


We will see the durability of these bags as three grandsons got them.  As I was being thrifty I got into a box of old zippers.  My mom was having kids during the Great Depression.  She recycled everything and I tend to keep lots of stuff just as she did.  I just don’t always get it used up.

My small group talked about cutting off the end of zippers to make them the correct size.  Be sure to add a lot of stitches near the cut off.


This was going to be a neat bag.  Front and back were wrappers and it was lined with cute fabric.

The key to cutting off a zipper:  Have the pull at the part you are keeping and not the cut off section.


May you enjoy a Blessed 2016 and enjoy your crafty side.  marge

Happy Easter

May you enjoy celebrating the Ressurection with those you love. My mother often crocheted a spring decoration for my children. IMG_7658 IMG_7659 IMG_7660

Made by Grandma

Made by Grandma

They were fun for the kids to open, but I probably enjoyed them more than the kids did. They still decorate my house each Easter season and mother has been gone for over seven years. IMG_7665 One of my granddaughter’s bedrooms was decorated quite neutral at there house. They didn’t want her to get tired of it. Thus adding a few pillows can set the stage for the current season. This year I made two grandchildren egg pillows. IMG_7663 As for their brother, I had to stay masculine. He just get a new throw pillow that matched his bedroom. The new baby in our family got a tie attached to his onesie. IMG_7669

First machine and hand appliqué

First machine and hand appliqué

It is fun each year to pull out things I made in the past and only appear for a couple months of the year. /

purchased placemats

purchased placemats

I did not make this set of placemats. Rather I purchased them prior to my quilting days. I love the gentle fabrics.

Wool work

Wool work

I made one new spring decoration. I copied one of my friends. I love it as the browns are more appropriate for my house than all the pastels.

First B-day

First B-day

May you enjoy the new springs in your life. We had one treasure just turn one! And only a grandma would buy the headband hat!


I trust that you had a great Christmas time and are now recovered from all the commotion. It takes awhile for my house to recover. new year Part of why it takes so long is that I have to find things back.  I put so much away to make room for Christmas and then I have to find just where I put it.

Ready for hot water and soap bath

Ready for hot water and soap bath

After about 10 days of thinking of where and searching I found two boxes well hidden so they would not get broken. I remember the days of spring and fall deep cleaning. Those days are long past. But my things do get a good dish soap washing when they come back out in January. The furniture gets an oil treatent also. good place January is also a time to plan and set goals for the coming year.  Just what will I spend my time sewing and quilting?  For the last couple years my small group has had each member declare a get-r-done project.  I had set two for this past year.  One of them did come back from the quilter in December and now it is bound.  The issue is, that it was a nice quilt but nothing real special.  I spent a lot of $$$ having it quilted and now I wonder if it was worth it.  Just where do I want to invest my time and money?  Is there a reason that I stopped working on the quilt?  Could I have finished it in a less expensive way and put it to good use?

A once in a life quilt

A once in a life quilt

This year I have asked the ladies to think about a quilt they have always wanted to make, but have put it off. We easily get distracted by a new idea or a challenge or something the group is doing.  You might even have bought the fabric for it, dreaming of making that special quilt.  The above quilt is one of those.  My friend Clarene has finished the top and is now working with her ‘winter in Texas friends’ to get it hand quilted.

A lot of hand stitching getting started

A lot of hand stitching getting started

I have several in mind, but need to decide which one to take on for 2015.  The above photo is that of a quilt I started two years ago, and has been put on hold.  I do want to spend some time on it, but I also want to do that special quilt.  I will post progress on both quilts.  I also need to post what our small group is planning to learn by doing.


Easter bunny apron

Easter bunny apron

As for distractions.  I recently did a short program on APRONS.  The above is one in my collection and I have thought a few times of reproducing it.  Another lady asked for the pattern.  Yesterday I went to a print shop to photo copy all the sections on big sheets of paper and come up with a pattern.  This is exactly what I have asked the group to not allow!  Stay focused on our goals!  But I do have a granddaughter who would look so cute in it!

Another way to hand quilt

Another way to hand quilt

My friend, Clarene, that finished a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt top is working on hand quilting another one.  May you enjoy many relaxing minutes of hand stitching.

Dots of Clean-Up

Another Christmas present is done! Or at least the quilt top is done and it has an appointment with a great long-arm gal.

Love N Mariage

Love N Marriage

These are T-shirts that my daughter brought me with much enthusiasm a few years ago. I did not share her enthusiasm. T-shirt quilts do not excite me. It took three years to come up with an idea. She loved the polka-dot quilt, but it was already spoken for. It was finished and there was still a box of polka-dot fabric.

Finishing the border

Finishing the border

If you have the space, you occupy it, I finished this quilt up in the lower level large family room. There were polka-dots from one end of it to the other!



The big box became a medium box!

Fortunately, there was the final pressing. I like to spray the quilt with Magic Sizing and walk away for it to have time to soak into the fibers. Then I press it. I walk away again to be sure the fabric is dry and cooled down before I shift the quilt to the next part to be pressed.

During these minutes away I began the clean-up and packing away of scraps large enough for another project. My friends might notice in the background that some tiny pieces actually got cut into squares.