Free Quilt Pattern · Quilt Bee · Quilts · Something to Think About · Tutorial

Oh, The Places I’ve Been!

Well.  I’m exaggerating a bit.


I went into Los Angeles to meet my sister, who was accompanying her husband for his treatments here, in the Saperstein Center, at Cedars Sinai Hospital.  I’m including this photo so my mother will know what it looks like.  It’s a comfortable room, with private bays all along the sides of the main room.  My sister and I curl up in the comfy chemo chairs (that aren’t being used, of course) and talk while we wait to visit with him.  But this time while he was in treatment and couldn’t be visited, we first went to lunch at a favorite place of mine:

Sycamore Kitchen Yummies

Sycamore Kitchen, which has very inventive and delicious food.

Then to The Grove, where we hit Barnes and Noble because I was looking for Quilty Magazine, because I’d just hit print:

Gingham Quilt

My gingham quilt was featured in “Girls on Film,” paired with Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ.

Gingham Quilt front

Here’s a better look at it, and here’s the blog post about it.  We didn’t find the magazine; my issue came a couple of days later in the mail.


And then Nordstrom’s where just seeing these makes my feet hurt.  The heels on the left remind me of my mother’s “spectator” pumps, worn for years and very stylish.



Then back to the hospital.  We later had dinner at a lovely little Italian place, then it was home for me, as we were both tired and she had to drive to her hotel.


Another place I’ve been is my local community college, where school started.  (The white blobs are where I whited out each student’s name.)  This ought to give you a representative sample of who is in my classroom. I finally have a great class! (Intro to Literature) and I’m more excited to teach this semester than I have been in a while.

Square-in-Square Blocks

I’ve also found a few minutes to spend in the sewing room.  No, I’m not playing in the Economy Block Sew-a-Long.  The pretty pink, yellow and chocolate square-in-a-square blocks are for a friend’s baby quilt, and I’ve already sent them to the quilter who is putting it all together.  We used Red Pepper Quilt’s tutorial *here.*

Into the Woods front

I’ve  already made a quilt out of the (officially known) Square-in-a-Square block, in my quilt “Into the Woods,” (number 103 on the 200 Quilts list, shown below), so I’m squared out. The block in my quilt above is 9″ square, larger than the baby blocks, and I drafted it in my quilt software, QuiltPro.

ABL Jan14 block

This is the block for January for the Always Bee Learning Bee.  Toni of Hoosier Toni wants to make Christmas quilts for her children’s bed, and I thought her choice of the SpiderWeb block was great.

ABL Block with extra Jan14

This is like the one we made a couple of months ago for another bee; the tutorial is found *here.*

MCM January14 Block

This is for the Mid-Century Modern Bee, for Linda of Buzzing and Bumbling.  Her house burned to the ground right before Thanksgiving last year, so we were happy to make her house blocks to help her re-create her life in a new fashion.  This is my own design.  I’ve got a PDF file of the templates here: *Hyde Park House*, but I have to warn you that since it’s a 12″ block finished, some of the templates “fall” off the page, and you’ll have to figure it out the measurements.  What I did was measure the templates, then write the measurements down on the paper.  Then I used that as a guide for cutting out the pieces.  Somehow I ended up short on the height and had to add another strip of green on the bottom.  Just don’t be too precious about this and you’ll get through.  Hey, it’s free and untested, so Buyer Beware.

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 5.08.48 PM

Lastly, my mind has been in Budapest, Croatia and Slovenia, places I hope to go to this summer.  The challenge is when you are in lots of places, it’s sometimes hard to figure out where you need to be.  Today I needed to be here in my sewing room, finishing up the Amish With A Twist 2 quilt top (next post).

And often when you are too distracted with your head in many places, you fall into the procrastinating habit.  I had a student from my last class write to me, as she was worried about trying to overcome her habit of procrastination (although her habit is very slight, truthfully). I told her I sometimes ask myself “What do I want to have done before this day ends?” and sometimes that helps.  Other times it is just not wanting to face that dreaded task every day, so you finally find the resources to get it done.

Although you might think this doesn’t really apply to us quilters, I think it does.  Sometimes we put off tackling the really hard tasks and instead do our bee blocks (Ahem.)  Other times we have sketched out a terrific quilt, but are seduced by the latest trend on Instagram (Economy Blocks) and let that pull us away from doing the hard work of designing and figuring out the quilt in our head.

An article in the New Yorker noted that “The essence of procrastination lies in not doing what you think you should be doing, a mental contortion that surely accounts for the great psychic toll the habit takes on people. This is the perplexing thing about procrastination: although it seems to involve avoiding unpleasant tasks, indulging in it generally doesn’t make people happy.”

So I’m trying to figure out which place I should go next, which direction I should head in my quilting.  Shall I fall back on something easier to do than what I have to (“we often procrastinate not by doing fun tasks but by doing jobs whose only allure is that they aren’t what we should be doing”) , distract myself by buying more fabric (judging from the recent Instagram De-Stash, a lot of people have been doing this one!), or simply surf the web some more to get so many ideas, I can’t possibly make them all in my lifetime (“many studies suggest that procrastinators are self-handicappers: rather than risk failure, they prefer to create conditions that make success impossible, a reflex that of course creates a vicious cycle”).

Ultimately, it comes down to Getting The Work Done: “Since open-ended tasks with distant deadlines are much easier to postpone than focussed, short-term projects, dividing projects into smaller, more defined sections helps.”  And aren’t most of our UFOs the result of procrastination?

So get yourself a notebook, break down the quilt you want to make into smaller steps, and check them off as you go.  It also helps to set a deadline–try the Finish-A-Long if you need a little help with that; because of that I finished several dead-in-the-water quilt tops, surprising even myself with twenty-four completed quilts in 2013.  Not all of these were begun and finished in that calendar year, but that’s when they came alive.    I’ll close with some lines from one of my son’s favorite books, “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss:

On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.

So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.


Happy Quilting!

Quilt Bee · Sewing


A couple of things on this post.  First–a gallery of ginghams from our Project Gingham.  I liked how Sherri did this on her blog and I guess I just wanted a record of all the projects spawned from that long line of garage sale boxes (and by the way, my quilter said she inherited about 20 of those boxes, and will look to see if there’s more gingham in there).

Stacked Coins from Krista of KristaStitched

My Granny Loves Gingham, from Cindy of Live a Colorful Life

Gingham Geese, by Rachel of The Life of Riley

Hucklebuck from Suz of PatchworknPlay

Kris from Duke Says Sew What has two projects: the wall hanging (above) and the yet unfinished gingham curtains (below)

and the last one:

Despite the Memo re: Gingham Day, Sue Does Her Own Thing

from Becky of SarcasticQuilter

Each of these quilters has told about their creative journey in using up the gingham they were sent, so if you’re curious, pay their blogs a visit.


You know how when your 9th grade teacher assigned you summer reading, of say, Beowulf, an epic ancient poem, and you ended up frittering away your days reading comic books and teen magazines?  I’m about there right now.  The Beowulf is equivalent to my Lollypop Trees, and the comic books?  Polaroids!

These are untrimmed, of course, because I’m participating in the *Picture-Perfect Polaroid Swap* of these little cuties over on Flickr, and they specify UNTRIMMED blocks.  Last night when it was a about a bazillion degrees outside and the day was expended, all I wanted to do was some mindless sewing while I listened to This American Life podcasts.  This was a perfect project.

This photo is from Karen of capitolaQuilter and she has a great tutorial on her blog if you want to whip some up.

Rachel of Stitched in Color (above) has a bunch of these little gems made up into a quilt.  And maybe Amy of Little Miss Shabby started the whole craze, with her invention for her Ringo Pie Bee?

At any rate, they are addicting. Here’s my first line of snaps, about 16 to a WOF (Width of Fabric) cut.

I cut out the 2 1/2″ squares for a while, then pieced them.  This is only half of the squares I cut.

After you sew on the top (or bottom) strip (refer to capitolaQuilter’s instruction) there’s a few pieces jutting out, so I laid down my ruler and cut them off.

I guess we could also call these things baseball cards, after the look of these 1910 rareties, inspired by that story about the grandson who found a treasure cache of early baseball cards in his grandfather’s attic.

Beowulf, aka Lollypop Trees, will have to wait because another piece of summer fun is a gathering of our little quilt group: Good Heart Quilters, started at least a decade ago by Lisa and a few others.  We seem to be too busy lately for our regular First Friday meet-up, so we planned an Open House of quilting tomorrow, with a potluck lunch.  I’ve already got my bag packed and ready to go.

And yesterday, this arrived, all the way from Australia!

I held the first two blocks of the Far Flung Bee Swap.

I pulled them right from their package, so forgive the wrinkles.  I was too excited.  Many thanks, Erika!

100 Quilts · Quilts

Project Gingham!!

A long time ago, in a galaxy garage sale faraway, Elizabeth found a whole lotta’ gingham.  She shared with Krista, who really likes vintage fabrics.  Then we hatched the idea to share with a few others. And today’s the day everyone is sharing with us, but first–my reveal!

I’ve titled this quilt: Gingham Quilt.  Really original, but certainly it has to get points for being descriptive, doesn’t it?  I auditioned a lot of different block ideas, and then decided that just about anything would work with these prints, especially a lot of white.  I know some of the checks get in the way of the bow-tie, but I wanted this to be a fun, summery quilt, without freaking out about anything.  So there you go—some things you just live with and love.

I had seen in a Roberta Horton book that she had used a different fabric for the outside blocks in order to create a border, and I wanted to try that too.  I picked up the cool lavender almost randomly, wanting it so it wouldn’t intrude on the crisp white in the middle of the quilt.  A slight shift, only, in that border, and I tried to use many of the darker ginghams to highlight that shift.

Detail of the quilting, which is a spool of thread and a needle.  My quilter Cathy always has a great design for me.

Two glamour shots of the quilt.  I wanted to show one of my favorite ginghams–one not likely ever seen again in today’s mass market.  It’s that true lavender in the middle of the quilt.

I left this picture bigger so you could click on it for detail.  This is made with (deep memory, here, from my CloTex degree) a dobby loom.  The word comes from the early days of fabric manufacture, when a little boy would sit on top of the loom and pull up individual warp (or lengthwise) yarns so the weft (crosswise or selvage-to-selvage) shuttle could glide across and make a design.  Dobby is short for “draw boy,” or so the rumor goes.

If you look closely on the back, you can see white yarns (threads) that are carried across the back, and create the design on the front.  The floating yarns are the tip-off to which side you are looking at. A lappet is another type of machine but it’s my understanding that the lappet can only do one direction of thread, whereas in this design both the warp and the weft are involved.  Like I said, we aren’t likely to see this fabric ever again.


I chose a Jane Sassaman print for the back, and not only because I got a bunch of it for a deal when I went up to Michael Levine’s in Los Angeles, in the garment district, but more because it seemed to be in the mood of the front.

I think of this as the quilt for a picnic, for throwing down on a meadow somewhere and pulling out a wicker basket, kitted out perfectly with gourmet feastiness.  Right.  Not my life.  In reality, I think of the time I went up and took my then 4th-grade daughter out to lunch. . . on the front lawn of the school.  We got a lot of crazy looks from the gardeners and the kindergarteners as we enjoyed our sauteed pepper-and-onion sandwiches, just the two of us, with moms picking up kids in the school’s driveway just three feet away.  It’s a great memory; it’s that kind of a picnic quilt.

Now hop on over to the other blogs and see their Project Gingham reveals!

Krista, of KristaStitched

Cindy, of Live A Colorful Life

Rachel of The Life of Riley

Suz, of PatchworknPlay

Kris, of Duke Says Sew What

Becky, the Sarcastic Quilter


Project Gingham Underway

I had a whole list of winners.  You all shared such lovely memories with me, and I enjoyed going back in time to your childhood summers, popping popcorn to sell, learning to sew at the hand of your grandmother, going to Disneyland.

Congratulations to Rachel of The Life of Riley for joining me on Project Gingham.  The next day to watch for gingham in our quilts will be July 4th, Independence Day for those of us in the States.  That’s kind of the peak of summer for us in the Northern Hemisphere, celebrated with pie, homemade ice cream, lots of overeating (in a good way), and hanging out waiting for the sun to go down to cool us all off and so we can see the fireworks.  And a perfect day to see all these gingham projects!

I’ll post a list of all six of our blogs on here, and if you’ve taken the steps to dig some of the gingham out of your stash and have made  (or plan to make) a gingham quilt project (or ordered some online or even found some in local shops), send me your blog name and address and I’ll list you as well.  Deadline for me to write the blog post and get it listed is June 27th (after all, I’ve got some serious summer fun to attend to!).  What qualifies: a block, or four, or a mini-quilt, or a big quilt.  Check back (pun) and see the gallery of gingham!

While you may think all I do is gingham, I’ve had a couple of other projects going as well.  The above is all the squares, cut out, for my Summer Treat Quilt.

Here’s four sewn together and arranged up on the pinwall.  I like how the borders make a crown-type block.  I always like putting new blocks together to see the new patterns they make when they share borders.  While this does look productive, it’s really an avoidance of my other Grand Summer Project. . .

. . . getting the Lollypop Trees back on the radar.  I’ve pulled all the Kaffe Fasset/related fabrics out from the closet, and traced off the remaining blocks onto freezer paper (the scrolls).

I number all the pieces so I can tell which block they belong to.  Some have over 50 pieces.  And I have nine to go.  Now I’m thinking I’m a bit nuts and maybe I’ll just do nine blocks TOTAL, instead of 12.  Or the sixteen the original quilt called for.

Krista, of KristaStitched, invited me to join her and her friends in their Far-Flung Bee, so named because the members live all over the world.  I’ve never been in a bee.  That’s sort of admitting you’ve never eaten raspberries or gone skinny-dipping, or something.  But they’ve drawn up a schedule and some guidelines and I’m giving it a go.  I’ve gotten two blocks done, and am ready to start another person’s blocks.

Several months ago I put my name on the waiting list to take a class from Becky Goldsmith.  Today my lucky number came up!  The class is quickly approaching–next Tuesday–so tomorrow I’ve got to go out and try to find class supplies, then sew my background for her class on Applique Outside the Lines.  I’m soooo jazzed!


Gingham Giveaway!!

Today’s the day for our Gingham Giveaway.  Krista, of KristaStitched, and Cindy, of Live A Colorful Life, will also be doing a giveaway on their blogs, too.

We’ve put together three packs of gingham fun: three different fat quarters of gingham, plus a full half-yard of Kona white.  Here’s the deal: if you win, we want you to play gingham with us, so make a block or four or a mini-quilt, or add some more gingham and make a big quilt.  Then on July 4th, post your completed project on your blog, with links back to us.

You can enter on all three blogs with one winner per blog (and Cindy and Krista and I will put our heads together to make sure that no one wins twice).  We’ll mail anywhere but planet Venus (but then she’s gone around the sun now–all done transiting for another hundred+ years).

To enter, leave me a comment with your favorite summer memory from your childhood. I’ll close out the giveaway sometime in the early morning of June 6th/7th and post the winner on my blog, after conferring with my buds.

I was the youngest of four girls and was always put to bed earlier than them, which of course, made me nuts because I knew they were doing amazing things while I lay awake, listening to the crickets and their laughter.  But in summer our bedtimes often merged somehow. And one lovely summer’s eve in Boston, Massachusetts, a bunch of children (friends? for we lived in Sudbury–considered the “country” then) gathered together on the big wide lawn, the fireflies blinking and we played Red Rover for what seemed like hours.  Those kind of memories are always snatches and impressions, but I’ll never forget all the adults in the house, lit by golden lights, while we children played on past sundown.

Now leave me your favorite childhood memory of summer in a comment.  And good luck!


~~~Comments are now closed. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow on the blog, but will be in email contact before then.~~


Laying out the Week/Transit of Venus

One of the advantages of summer is a sense that there is All Possibility.  Because the children are sprung from their desks for their summer break, there’s an exhalation of free-dom! We look forward to the Fourth of July, travel plans, a summer to-do list, laying around, getting bored, as well as getting those things done that had put off until there was more time.  Of course, there never is more time–it’s just our perception.

One challenge of this unstructured time–much like when the husband shows up at the breakfast table on his first day of retirement and you think, now what?–is figuring out how to lay out the week.  I remember reading an article about presidents, and one thing that a new president asked a former president was that very question–how to arrange a daily/weekly schedule of events?

Mondays always seem to have a bit more of that quality–that What Do I Do Today sort of feeling, although on Fridays we start laying on the tasks for the next Monday, thinking–I’ll do it later. Friday, I had cut 500 squares for my daughter’s church charity project (making folded flowers for headbands for pediatric chemo patients) and my arm was sore.  After taking the packet to the post office, I knocked off and did other things.  So here I am, cleaning up those loose ends.

Like getting the binding on my mini Gingham Quilt.  Giveaway in two days!  Check back here on Wednesday.

I used that folded-triangle method for hanging it up; I’ll cut a dowel to the length and suspend it over a push pin on my wall.

Still cleaning out the corners, I refolded all my solids.  That pack from Purl Soho is too pretty to undo, just now, so I placed it up on a shelf to enjoy.  Most of these solids are from when we quilters did solids the first time around–in the 1980s.  Roberta Horton had launched it with her Amish quilt books, and we were all mad for Amish quilts where I lived in Texas.  I taught a class on making Amish mini-quilts in the local quilt shop, and you’ll notice that there are very few yellows and oranges in that bin of solids, for the Amish didn’t use those types of colors.  I started organizing them so I can finish up my Summer Treat quilt.

Which led me to an expression of Pained Horror! on my face when I realized that the first cutting diagram I’d put up had two numbers inverted. Gee Whiz, how embarrassing.  This morning I quickly made a new, correct version, which is shown above. . . and is on the post with the tutorial.  Chalk it up to that novel I was listening to last week when I did this; The Shadow of the Wind, with all of its convoluted plot and character lines scrambled my brain. My deepest apologies if you already started cutting.

Sigh. I hate being fallible.

While you’re laying out your week, don’t forget to watch the Transit of Venus tomorrow.  The picture above it NOT of a naval orange (our home town is famous for them), but of the planet Venus moving across the face of the sun.  It’s a Big Deal, astronomically speaking, and the next one will occur after we’re all dead and gone and our grandchildren are enjoying our quilts.  Here in Southern California, it begins at 3:00 p.m-ish and continues until the sun sets.

Don’t look at the sun directly!  There are special glasses available to look through and some astronomy clubs will set up sun-filtered telescopes.  According to one website I checked, ” ‘looking directly at the sun can cause severe eye damage, and explained that a simple projector can be made by poking a hole in a paper plate, and shining the image on a flat surface such as a wall.’  Venus will appear as a small black dot gliding across the disk of the sun.”  Some say that if you cut out a square from that paper plate, tape a square of tin foil over the hole, then pierce it with a toothpick, it will give a much cleaner hole.

Here’s much more info:

More info (from Hub City Stargazers):

Unlike eclipses, Venus transits are truly rare. They come in pairs, separated by more than 100 years. The last one occurred in 2004 and next pair in 2117 and 2125.  Since the German astronomer Johannes Kepler first predicted it in the 17th century, only six have been observed. The upcoming one will be the seventh.

Only two people were said to have seen the transit of 1639. The 1882 transit was a bigger deal — people jammed the sidewalks of New York City and paid 10 cents to peek through a telescope. John Philip Sousa even composed a score called “Transit of Venus March.”  The one in 2004 was viewed by millions — in person and online. has put up a Transit of Venus FAQ, including about how to see it online.  They include a world map that shows where it can be seen.