Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I finally have something to show! I have been working on a class sample for my "level two" class. The pattern is called Stems and it's by Fig Tree Quilts. This one is quilted fully, but the class doesn't actually cover that part of it. We'll be covering 45 degree angles (i.e., triangles), sashing, and borders. If we have time at the end of class we'll also go over basic stitch in the ditch quilting.

Photos! I used a Kaffe Fassett strip roll for the leaves. I used King Tut for the quilting. I seem to not be able to quilt loosely. In fact, you may be able to see where I started if you zoom in and look closely at the full quilt photo -- it's the loosest part! I used two whole spools of King Tut (500 m each!) and actually had to quilt the last little corner in plain red Mettler. You can't really see it, though.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What I did at work today

I love my new job!

Also, we found a leak in our laundry room that has resulted in this in our kitchen:
Let's hope that insurance covers it all!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Molly's first embroidery

I'll spare you the details of why I haven't been around too much lately. Suffice to say part of it was the loss of both of our pets (we put Snickers down and then a couple weeks later our cat Garfunkel died on her own). My job situation has changed; I'm no longer working at Quilter's Corner, but I am still teaching classes there. I am, however, helping Swirly Girls Design out with their website and I'll be teaching a handwork after school program at my daughter's school. More on that last thing below. Oh, and my in-laws visited and my daughter turned seven.

In absolutely fabulous news, my husband passed his final actuarial exam! If you follow that link, you'll see a snapshot of the grueling exams he's had to take over the past several years (all ten items in the white part of the table at the top, and then the Group and Health track column below). He's now very near the bottom of the chart, working on his Decision Making and Communication Module. He's hoping to finish that by Monday, and get it graded (passing, of course) so he can go to the Fellowship Admissions Course in December. This should be a gimme. In the unlikely event his paper is not accepted, he'll just have to revamp it and get it done so he can go to the March Admissions Course. But of course, he's really hoping to get it wrapped up before the end of 2011. Me too.

So today a couple of my wonderful sewing friends came over and one of them brought her daughter. She got my daughter interested in doing some embroidery. Her first attempt is a really big running stitch, but then this afternoon I decided to teach her the backstitch. Here's how she did!
If you ignore the chocolate milk stains on the left, I think it's fantastic for a first attempt and just having turned seven! Next she'll do the bird at the top in blue. This gives me confidence for my after school program this year.

Anyway, with school starting in a few weeks and some planned sewing time on the horizon, I hope to update this blog way more often.

Okay, so now I have to go work on my round robin block for the Richmond Modern Quilt Guild. The meeting is tomorrow night. Ah, deadlines, how I've missed you!

Sunday, July 10, 2011


We've decided to euthanize Snickers on Tuesday at 5:30. She has peed in the house several times in the past few days. She's down to 28 pounds (from her typical weight of 55, which itself was on the thin side) and she has a really hard time eating. She is still mobile, but very slow and fairly stiff. She is responsive to us, and of course, that's the hardest part. But I worry that she might fall ill during the night and we don't hear her, or it happens while we're at work and we're not home. So I guess I'm preventing my friend from a potentially agonizing death. On the other hand, she doesn't seem in pain now. Part of me feels guilty because it was her peeing in the house that has made us decide to do this now. Is it just because we are lazy and don't want our house to smell like pee? It is for our convenience?

And Molly said she wants to be there. I hope that's not a wrong decision. Of course, if she changes her mind and wants to stay in the waiting room or the car or anything, one of us will be there with her and won't make her stay if she doesn't want to. But what if she begs us not to do it? How heartbreaking.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

How NOT to make a memory quilt

Here's the story of the other commission I recently had. A woman contacted me and said she had several squares of fabric that people had signed at a family reunion and she wanted them put into a simple quilt to be on display during subsequent family reunions. Sounds simple enough, right? So I said, "Sure!"

When we met, she handed me a plastic bag. All I could see was foil. Strange. It was fairly heavy. I didn't think too much of it until I looked at it much later, when I was ready to make the quilt.

Each of the fabric squares were different sizes, and none were square. They were various shades of yellowish beige. They were all separated by wax paper and foil. They had been "signed" with what appeared to be some sort of puff paint. The paint, or something else, had become very sticky. The wax paper and foil was separating the pieces of fabric. I had to peel them off of each other.

Too make things worse, there were stones, large beads, and plastic jewels plastered all over the blocks. And the writing on many of them went right out to the edge of the fabric. What a mess!

I quickly realized that I wouldn't be able to piece these fabric rectangles traditionally. First of all, I'd have to square them up, which would mess up a lot of the wording and designs. Plus, seam allowances would further ruin any legibility. And the glued-on bits were also often right out at the edge. I'd have to remove many of them to maneuver my sewing machine foot. In addition, I was concerned about the paint and stickiness when I went to press it.

So, I decided to raw edge applique. I went ahead and pieced the background fabric the client had given me, as well as the backing and sandwiched everything. I figured I might as well quilt at the same time. This wasn't going to be a functional quilt, after all.

First I tried a zigzag stitch. My foot stuck to the fabric so badly that I couldn't move it! I thought maybe a free motion foot would work better, since it hops up and down. Nope. It also stuck. I couldn't sew a straight line with it. My experiment was on one of the less sticky blocks and my stitches jumped and wobbled. I couldn't charge anyone for the mess that would have been.

In the end, I tied the blocks on. Even that was hard. I could hardly get the needle through the fabric!
I have been struggling lately with not having any sewing desires. This commission added to that greatly. I realized that I haven't sewn anything for myself in years. I think the Birdie Sling was the last thing I did for me. Everything else has been shop samples, class samples, round robins, commissions, baby quilts, gifts, auction quilts, and things for Molly. So, fair warning: if I "owe" you a quilt (or anything else), it might not come soon. I really need to do some fun sewing for a bit or I may never enjoy it again. Link

Monday, June 20, 2011

How to make a memory quilt

So, recently I finished a couple of commissions. I'll talk about one in a later post, but for now, I want to talk about the one that I really liked. It was tricky to put together sometimes, but I think it came out great. I used the Slide Show pattern from Atkinson Designs, but I replaced the large blocks and some of the small squares with photos printed on inkjet fabric. One word of warning if you ever make this pattern, though: the twin size is huge -- much bigger than a standard twin batting. That's why the borders are so small. I had to trim them down to fit the batting!
The other change is that instead of making the rest scrappy, I just used one fabric, which is a mainly purple batik. If a photo didn't crop to a square well, I used the same batik to fill in to make a square (I've heard these referred to as "coping strips").
It was a graduation gift from some parents to their daughter. I am really happy with how it came out.Next time: How NOT to make a memory quilt!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Auction quilt, earrings and my poor, poor dog

Whoo-wee, I've been busy! My new job at Quilter's Corner is going great! Also, the Richmond chapter of The Modern Quilt Guild is in full swing. Personally, we've also been busy with RT's exam, typical end of the year school activities, and purging all of our ridiculous junk in preparation for a big yard sale this Saturday. I love yard sales. I am happy to give things to Goodwill, but I like to at least try to get something for them first. Yard sale to the rescue!

One thing I haven't done much is sewing, hence the lack of posts. But I have a few things to show. the first is a not-so-great photo of this past year's auction quilt. I stepped into the project after the idea had been determined, so I didn't have much say in how it was put together. Basically, each child chose a country and then they colored the flag for it. This photo shows it draped over some chairs in the lobby of the school. The lobby chairs all have arms, so that's why it looks so lumpy.I have to say, this is not my favorite project. I felt like the kids didn't have much involvement in it (coloring? Really?) and so they didn't have the emotional investment they have had in the past. I don't even know how much it went for! Oh well. If I do it again next year, I'll make sure I have some say in what happens. With Molly being in first grade, this was a new classroom for her.

Over Spring Break I went to Corolla, North Carolina. They rented a house for the week and Molly and I were able to join them for a couple days so RT could study. I bought these earrings.
At first I didn't realize why I liked them so much. There were several styles, all using the same beads, but in different shapes. Later I realized these look like little quilts! No wonder I love them so much!

In sad news, Snickers is not doing great. She's 16 now, which is very old for a Belgian Malinois. She has been losing weight like crazy. For most of her life, she was 55 pounds. A couple nights ago she was down to 29. She still eats, but nothing sticks with her. The vet said she probably has cancer somewhere but she's so old she wouldn't be able to withstand the anesthesia for a biopsy, much less any kind of treatment. I don't know how much longer she'll be with us, but for now we just love her and pamper her as much as we can.
Those bumps sticking out by her waist are the wing-y parts of her vertebrae. And here you can see her backbone pretty clearly.

Those are her hipbones; yes, they are.
A dog with this much undercoat shouldn't show her ribs. But I don't think she's hungry. She eats with the same patterns as she always has (leaves part of her breakfast but eats it all at dinnertime). I think it's just not staying with her; the cancer is taking all the energy and nutrients. This post shows what she looked like in healthier times.

We have had her a long time. We got her when she was seven years old from the Humane Society. I never thought she'd be with us longer than she was with her first family. She's a wonderful companion and we are doing our best to show her that we love her. I don't think she's in pain. She doesn't pant or whine. And she still wags her tail and follows me around the house when I have food. So in that sense, she's just like she always was. What a good dog.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Richmond Modern Quilt Guild has arrived!

I'm so happy to announce that there is a new chapter of The Modern Quilt Guild in Richmond! We'll have our first meeting on Friday, April 15th starting at 6 pm. We're currently meeting at Quilter's Corner in Midlothian, VA. If you sew and are in the Richmond area, please come! We're going to have giveaways, food, and a beading demo by the wonderful Cathy Etter. If you've never met Cathy, you are in for a big treat.

I'm so excited to be a part of this!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Flannel goodness!

I have very exciting news! I'm now working and teaching classes at Quilter's Corner in Midlothian! I'm so excited to be a part of this shop, and looking forward to learning a lot more about the behind the scenes details!

Oh, yeah, sewing.... Okay, I made this quilt for Molly for Christmas. I even had it mostly finished for her to unwrap on Christmas day; I just had to add the binding. It took me forever to get it on the blog, though. Oh well, baby steps, right? There's really no pattern to it. I just cut pieces that were 3, 6, 9 or 12 inches (finished) and pieced them randomly. I bought the flannel at a shop in Michigan a couple of years ago when I went up there for my aunt's funeral. I'm hoping to make a small version for my newest great-niece (who is well past her first birthday) from the fabric I have left over.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The circle of life...

Our cat, Simon, died a couple of years ago. We buried him in the back yard. Molly has been curious lately about what he might look like right now. We've been telling her he'd mostly be bones and some fur (we buried him wrapped in a towel and then put inside one of those heavy duty Harry and David fruit boxes). I assume that's about right. (Anyone know for sure?)

This past weekend we ended up cleaning up the yard. It started with picking up sticks and eventually involved some raking. Most of the leaves were late stragglers that had been caught up next to the fence and house. As I'm raking next to the fence, I kept thinking, "Now where exactly did we bury Simon, anyway? I must be getting close."

More raking; more wondering.

Then, my foot drops about 12 inches into the ground.
Huh. I guess I found out where Simon had been buried. Or, rather, the empty space where Simon used to be before he became fertilizer. The weird thing is, I didn't see anything in the hole. Maybe I had just packed the dirt on top of anything that might have been visible. Whew. Dodged a bullet there. We filled the hole with fresh compost.See it there along the fence?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Shopping, shopping, shopping!

Oh, sure the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival had plenty of quilts on display, but we all know the real reason we go: shopping! Truthfully, I didn't buy much. Being an employee of a quilt shop means I see so many fabrics go by that if I had $1,000 to spend on fabric, I know right where it would all go! And tools can be ordered. No, for Mid-Atlantic, I had my eye on things that I couldn't get at Quilting Adventures. I only bought two things of note (other things I purchased were stocking up on things I could get for a bargain).

One is this ingenious kit. It's laser cut! Such perfect little pieces, down to the notches! It's tiny; it will finish at 16 x 20 total. The blocks finish at four inches. And those curves would be a bear to cut myself. Totally worth the 20 bucks.
I also bought these shoes. Yes, shoes at a quilt show! They are a little dirty in this photo as we were doing some yard work yesterday. But they feel awesome. I have to stand for long periods at work and I've been having some plantar fasciitis in one heel, and these shoes help a lot.
Also, you may have heard that Borders is in bankruptcy, so we did a little shopping there this weekend, too.

Books, 25% off!
Magazines, 50% off!
Good thing my birthday is this month!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival 2011

Man, I am a bad blogger. Just when I think I'm doing well again, something like this happens: I don't post for six weeks! You'd think I'd have more to show for it, but no. Anyway, the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival is this weekend. If you haven't gone yet, there's still tomorrow! As I've mentioned in the past, my Monday night quilt group, festively called "The Other Women," often does round robins. This year we were able to put several of those quilts in the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival!

The way a round robin works is, everyone makes a center or a row. Then everyone passes it to the next person who adds on, and you add on to the one you've received. In the end, you get your quilt back. So for these two quilts, I did the initial piecing and then I also quilted it. Other bits were added by my friends.

For this one, I started with the center.
For this one I started with the row that has the blue waves. It's above the ducks.
My oldest sister, who lives in Oklahoma, was part of two of our round robins. This one is her quilt. I added the top and bottom rows with the half-circles.
This one is also my sister's quilt. I added the little tulip row.
If you want to see these or any others in progress, just click this link.

I didn't buy too much this year. I'll post photos later!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I'm in love!

This past Friday, my wonderful husband and I went to lunch. I said, "I have no ambition. I think we need to get away." He said, "okay, where are we going to go?" I wasn't really meaning this weekend, but thanks to him, we ended up leaving the next morning and spending a long weekend in Philadelphia! I love that we have a small enough family and a great next door neighbor (who is always willing to watch our pets).

So, Saturday we went to the Mütter Museum. Their website isn't very useful, but it was a great museum to go to. It's full of medical specimens. Have you ever wondered what a 75 lb ovarian cyst looks like? Or are you curious about forensic anthropology? Or the skeleton of a man with a disease which causes his soft tissues to calcify into bone? They have it all. It's amazing. To hear a description, you might think it's like a circus side-show, but it's all presented in an educational, non-exploitative manner. In fact, no photos are allowed inside the museum. So here's Molly outside instead.We also went on a short horse-drawn carriage tour of the Independence Mall area (Molly's favorite part of the trip) and saw the Liberty Bell.On Sunday we went to the Franklin Institute Science Museum. Later that day we drove around and eventually ended up at the King of Prussia Mall. I have memories of going there on band trips in high school when we went to Philly to march in the Gimbels parade.

On Monday, we checked out of our hotel. We ate breakfast at a cute diner called Mrs. K's. We had been sick of eating at the extremely overpriced hotel restaurant (seriously? Nine bucks for a bowl of oatmeal? You're kidding me) and were very happy to have found it. The waitstaff was really nice and the locals eating there were friendly and chatty. And a bowl of oatmeal was only about $2.50. No website, though.After breakfast, we checked out Fabric Row. I only went to one shop and was a bit turned off. Maybe I went to the wrong shop. It was crowded and it was hard to see everything. I did buy a bit of fabric to make a ballet skirt for Molly.

The highlight of the trip for me, though, was a quilt shop we stopped at called Spool. This is why I posted that I was in love. The shop was quite small and didn't have a ton of fabric, but what they did have was breathtaking. No batiks, no blenders, no novelties; just designer prints and some solids (and a few shot cottons and Kaffe homespuns and stripes). But what they didn't have in quantity, they made up for in quality. So clean and gorgeous!First impression as you walk in:This is pretty much the extent of their fabric shelves. The only shelves you can't see here are a couple in the back where they have sale fabrics and some home decs.
Here is their classroom area. So cute with the coordinating sewing machine covers!
Another view of their display (really, their only one).
Their patterns.
Here is my haul. First is a laminate that Molly picked out. I need to make the Amy Butler kids raincoat for a shop sample. So I'll make two, so Molly can have one now!
Here's the fabric I bought, just because. It was hard to stop at five yards. The person helping me, who was super friendly, said that the whale fabric was designed by someone local. There were several of her designs there.
And I bought their two bags of scraps. Seriously, you could make something beautiful out of anything they had there. I figured even their scraps would be delicious. I bought the only two bags of scraps they had. If they had had ten, I probably would have bought all ten.
If you go to Philadelphia, visit this shop. I was blown away. So small, but perfect. Only the best of the best. There's a yarn shop next door called Loop that I didn't go to, but they seem to be connected in some way. If I were a knitter, or if I hadn't already spent over $100, I would have gone there, too!