Monday, November 25, 2013

Quick Catch Up

It seems time has gotten away from me for the umpteenth time.  I don't know why I don't keep up with my blog.  Well, I do, but I won't mention it. 

I have been busy in the last 10 months.  Wow, that's a long time.  First of all, I put a Dear Jane quilt in the frame, one of my student's, on January 1st and I finished it on Halloween.  Of course in that time I attended 3 retreats, visited my Mom for 6 weeks or so while she had hip replacement surgery.  I also made it to the AQS show in Des Moines, Iowa the first week of October.  I also lost one of my childhood friends to cancer.  We walked to school everyday.  I still think about her so often.  Her memorial service is this Wednesday.  I miss you Susan.  You were loved by so many!  I also got a new dog...uh, I mean puppy.  Bo consumes waaay too much of my time.

In ten days time, our Twisted Sister retreat group will have their annual Christmas gathering.  We don't do the traditional gift exchange.  We have for the last 3 years conducted a Treasure Hunt or scavenger hunt.  We exchange the treasures that were on the list as one gift and the majority of us find it really fun.  This year's list has been really fun as it got my creative juices flowing. I have come up with ideas for other gifts.  After Christmas, I will post the list and a picture of some of my items and also a picture of what I receive.  Most of us collect the items on the list and we go all out packaging/wrapping each one individually.  It is as much fun to watch the receiver discover everything as it is to collect it for a person.  We also don't know going in who will be receiving the Treasure Gifts.

Last week I created a new blog-why I don't know.  It is called A Traditional Quilter's Corner and I hope to focus on recreating yesterday's quilt with today's methods and tools.  I am going to start off with the techniques I used creating my Dear Jane (c).  Hope to get my first how-to on prepared applique posted by the end of the week.

I have also recently started on a challenge project.  (I always seem to write about starting things, but never finishing them.)  Four of us are going to sew along with the AQSG 2014 quilt study.  Even though we are not members, I thought it sounded like a fun thing to try on our own since we all like Civil War era textiles and reproduction fabrics.  Mine, I hope, will be using a new method to construct an old pattern.  (If it works, you may see it on my new blog eventually.)  If I find it impossible to complete in 10 months, it will be back to the drawing board for me.  But I am really charged by it.  I think I can do it.

Weather here has been cold and wet, but no winter weather to speak of-just rain despite a winter storm watch for 2-3 days.  But temps in the low to mid 30's.  Supposed to get sunshine tomorrow.  But the wood stove sure has been nice this week.  We still have lots of wood to burn from the tornado 2 1/2 years ago.  I dream for a white Christmas always, but rarely do we have one here in Texas.  I will continue to dream.

Sew Having Fun,

Friday, February 22, 2013

Just a note…

Things have been a little wet here this week;  that’s good for the drought but not quite good enough.  But we’ll take anything we get.  It is good sewing/quilting weather though.

I have been keeping busy quilting a student’s Dear Jane© top.  It is slow going, considering it has been at least a  couple years since I had a quilt in the frame.  I have also been trimming up hourglass blocks from a swap we did between 9 of us with my Twisted Sister retreat group last fall.  I have a lot more to trim but it will be pretty when it is finished.  Not so bad if you trim a few a day.  Just take a look in the 19th Century Patchwork Divas book, History Repeated, published by Kansas City Star Books and you can see a quilt that I am working towards.  I am planning on mine having an applique' block in the center from a pattern by Lori Smith.

I am also eagerly awaiting Betsy Chutchian’s new book,   Lizzie's Legacy, also published by Kansas City Star Books.  I know it will be as good as Gone to Texas and History Repeated.  I have had my local quilt shop order it for me.

Also this week, I taught a hand quilting class at Celeste at Quilt Mercantile.  I had 6 students and I heard nothing but good things about my class.  It had been so long since I had taught it that I had my doubts.  Maybe I will have another one in a few months.

I have also been planning a log cabin quilt as I iron and put away my new fabric purchases, of which there have been quite few.  I will get back to that another time.  I am trying to decide just what how many fabrics I want to include-planned scrappy or totally scrappy.

Hopefully this evening I can get my last 2 Prince’s Feather blocks back basted.  I already have the leaves stitched down on the remaining 2 blocks.

Until next I write I am…Sew having fun,


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hello 2013!

It seems like forever since I wrote, close to a year.  But after that last post my year went downhill from there.  Last year was not good for me.  I lost my dad, 3 pets and my husband was in the hospital with meningitis/encephalitis.  This year has got to be better.  Right?  It can’t be much worse is the way I look at it.  It has to be better.

I have not been busy sewing other some applique’ now and then.  I got a new Bassett mix and he is still very much a puppy and into anything made of fiber-cotton, cellulose, thread.  Plus some things that are not edible.  If he’s not chewing, he’s in my lap.  His name is Clooso, like Inspector Clouseau.  He is not the smartest dog we have had, but he definitely has personality.100_1068

I have had one retreat already this year and I had a great time as usual.  I actually finished 2 of my applique’ blocks for my 4 block quilt that I started close to 10 years ago.   Now to finish the other 2 with a dog in my lap.  But any progress is a good thing for me.                                                                                PF crop

This block I adapted from a pattern booklet I adapted from one of Mrs. Scioto Danner’s catalogs.  It said it was for a 24” block but I did not think it filled the block enough so I redid it to where I thought it filled the block better.  The original 9 block had sashing between the blocks so I think that is why it said it was for a 24” block.  The original of this quilt is (or was) in the Denver Art Museum

I have also drafted the block from the plate I talked about in my last post…Inspiration!  I drew it for a 20” block and am thinking about a 9-block quilt with red and green on a cheddar background.  Only time will tell if I get around to it.

I think that’s enough for this post.  I will do my best to blog more in 2013; I do enjoy it.

Sew having fun!


Thursday, April 12, 2012


Where does your inspiration come from from your quilts?  Mine comes from lots of places, usually old quilts, quilt shows or books.  But my latest little quilt has come from my early fabric scraps-early as when I first started quilting in the early 1980’s and a book as well. 

scrap basket

I had planned this quilt for some time but this book I acquired called Simply Charming by Tara Lynn Darr provided the template for me to start this little gem.  This book is a little gem also with great, easy small quilts along with quotes appropriate combining life, family and quilting.

Simply Charming

I am calling this small quilt Very Important Prints or VIP’s.  This is a play on Cranston Print Works fabric called VIP which I have no idea what it stood for.  In my case there is a variety of prints, the majority VIP, but there is a good representation of other fabrics in this quilt as well.  There is Marcus, RJR, Springmaid, Concord, Fabric Traditions, Wamsutta and more.  These are fabrics I first acquired and were in probably my first 3 or 4 quilts.  It’s a scrap quilt which I also love.  I will always have this quilt to remind me of the fabrics that were available to me at the time I started quilting.


I just came back from a trip to see my folks.  I was there about a week and I brought back something that is giving me more inspiration-an aluminum plate.  This plate is 80 years old and when I saw it I instantly thought appliqué.  It is a plate that was made in college by a cousin of mine, but we always called her Aunt Margrette.  She was going to school to be a Home Economics teacher in the early 1930’s.  I really don’t know what technique was used to make this plate, but it is hand made.  It may have been etched or engraved or something else.  Do you see the 8-pointed star?

tulip plate

The plate measures 8” and there is a 1/4” band enclosing the tulips.  I really don’t if when I get around to doing this as a quilt if I would put that band on each block or not.  Right now I am thinking about a 4-block quilt as appliqué is not a technique I enjoy.

You can find inspiration for your quilts in just about anything.  You just need to keep an open mind.

Sew Having Fun,


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Starting Over

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since my last post.  We still have cleanup from the tornado last April as limbs continue to drop out.  I have been to 3 retreats since I last wrote and also visited my folks for a couple weeks.  But the last few months I have been sewing.  Really rare for me.  I attribute it to stopping a medication.

I am in an orange mood for a while.  As I get older I am really liking orange.  I will wear orange when I am an old woman instead of purple.

Here is a picture of a top I completed since last retreat.  It still needs quilting.


I gave the gals 8 small frog preprinted blocks.  It was not a challenge or anything, I just saw them and ordered them. I got the extras and I had been wanting to try the Exploding Pineapple block by Karin Hellaby from her first book Sew Simple Pineapple.  The first link will take you to her website and the link on the book will take you to YouTube for a video by Checker Distributors showing you this easy technique.

I call this piece Stitch for Stars!  My students at retreat have a tendency to go crazy over the frog stickers I give out IF they rip on a block.  I also give them a star sticker when they complete the block.  They have gotten to the point when I asked if they ripped they just say: “Of course, you need to ask?” or something similar.  So I have gotten tough and now look if they say and try to prove them wrong.  A lot of times I do.  I think they now realize that frog stickers don’t come free just because you are working on a Dear Jane block or Nearly Insane or something even easier than those two collections of blocks.

I don’t want to wear myself or you out here, so I will go sew on something.  Next time I will let you see what my new project is and show you another piece that was completely done since I last talked with you.

Sew Having Fun,


Sunday, May 1, 2011


Once again I am remiss about keeping my blog up to date.  This time I will take a break from Dear Jane® and bring you up to date on what has been happening with me.  I have not been sewing and I have not been doing any family history research, not from lack of wanting or trying.   But because on the morning of April 11, 2011 we had an EF-1 tornado go through our area-winds up to 110 mph.  It came roaring through, literally, just before 2:30 a.m.  The power went out, I looked out a north window and all I could see was gray, nothing else.  It sounded like hail was hitting the house.  Actually Stan had not come to bed yet, he was waiting up for it, I guess.  He was just shutting the patio doors and he said he had heard that sound before; they had had a twister come through their valley in 1973 in southeastern Oklahoma.  The sound he heard was that of a freight train.  We just rode it out: what else could we do?  We did not go back to bed, but I did doze on the couch about 5 a.m.

When light dawned this is what we saw…100_0534








This was our biggest problem.  Three good-sized trees (huge) or branches perched precariously over our propane tank.  We also had the electric supply pulled from the house and some shingles pulled off the house.  But all of our neighbors have holes in their roofs.  Our major damage was to our mature oak grove.  One of the main reasons we bought this old ranch-style house. 

Take a closer look to our tree damage.100_0538  

This is the tops of what was was overhanging the propane tank and power supply pole, now in our neighbor’s drive.




This is what is left (nothing) of a row 45 year old row of cedars that separated the two properties.  These are owned by our neighbor, who just got a divorce.  We are curious to see if she will get them cleaned up.  Or if she will wait on us to do it.  One is overhanging and resting on our outbuilding.




      And this is (was) a huge, forked post oak towards the end of those cedars but on us.  One side was forked, which is the half which is still standing but the top is out of the part that is standing.  And the larger fork is on the ground on my neighbor.  She has a huge tree just a little further back that is still standing but the top is out.  This was one ferocious storm.  Just look what it did to my neighbor’s on the other side oak in their back pasture.100_0546 

That post oak was huge, and it busted it right off at the ground at the root line.  Two people could not reach around this tree and the limbs almost reached the ground.

As soon as I saw this one below, I knew it was a tornado.  Notice all the green grass and leaves on the window.


This next one is a dangerous situation and you might have to look hard to see it.  This tree was a beautiful red oak, straight grained and tall.  It is now split almost to the  ground, right in half.  This one will have to be professionally removed-if the wind doesn’t take it first.


It’s to the left of center, the right half curving to the right.  Next picture is a close up view, you won’t miss it.


We now don’t work around this area because of the fear of it falling or barber-chairing with us around.  There is also another good sized top hung up on small branch,  much smaller than the top.  So we just play it safe.



These next two are before and after shots.  This is what it looked like before…nest up in the air.




                                                  And now cut up, not necessarily cleaned up.  There is a lot of wood piled up around here and on the rest of the place.  We already had our wood cut for this winter this year.  I have stacked 4 more and there are 8 piles in the yard to be stacked and we are not done yet.

One more set of before and after shots.100_0565

Three trees here to clean up.  One is from a different neighbor who has done nothing to clean up and still has one uprooted leaning over us which we will not do anything with -yet.                                  100_0568

More wood, more brush.  If the wind would quit blowing, we would burn.  Maybe this week.

So as you can see, we have kept busy the last 3 weeks trying to clean this mess up.  It not easy, just the thought of doing this got us down.  But we take it a little bit each day and we make progress.  It definitely looks better today than it did 3 weeks ago.  Three weeks ago it looked like a thinning operation had been through here.

My heart goes out to those in the southeast.  Just going through this small one is something I would not like to go through again.  And even though there was plenty of damage and one was written off, everyone around here is fine.  We just lost things, which can be replaced.  So I count my blessings and say a prayer for all those affected elsewhere.

To make this a little quilt related, I did start sewing strips together for a pattern of Jinny Beyer’s that is free on RJR’s website.  It is called DaVinci.  You can download the pattern here.  Look for red and black optical illusion.  I am making mine in green and black.

I also got the summer catalog from Hancock's of Paducah and in it I noticed the new line of Dear Jane® fabrics.  This will be the second line that Brenda Papadakis has designed for Windham fabrics from the quilt.  BUT according to this page, at Windham, these fabrics won’t be available until July 1st.  How many can you find that go to original blocks?  I only found 3 and one of those was off color-wise.

The other highlight of my tornado time has been talking with a second cousin once removed.  My second great grandmother and his grandfather were siblings.  The Web is a great thing.  This man is my mother’s age and he now is a beekeeper.  He also fishes Alaska once a year.

That’s it from my little corner of the world.  Everyone stay safe.

Sew Having Fun,


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Way of Working on Jane

Guess I should get back on my blog.  I have gotten side tracked with genealogy.  I have been into that for years.  History and a good mystery all rolled into one.  Actually that is kind of what working on Jane was like since there were no instructions.  You have the history of the quilt and letters from Brenda to Jane and then you have that mystery of figuring out how to do 75% of the blocks.

That is where my process started.  As I said, I started with hand piecing as I knew how to do that.  Not fond of it but I can do it.  I knew there would be several blocks that I would not attempt to machine piece so I thought that was a good place to start.  Then I moved on to other blocks that I knew I could piece, but not easy ones.  I saved the easy ones for times that I didn’t have to think like at retreats or times I was doing things wrong, to get my confidence back.  Or times I just wanted to increase my piece count FAST!

As I did each block I glued a fabric swatch on a copy of page 12 out of the book, like many do.  I also kept a list of block number, number of pieces, date completed, color and How?  That how is a biggie in why this quilt is called ‘In Changing Times.’  This list was my version of a journal.  I have tried to journal at various times, even on my trip to Paducah when my quilt was there and I just don’t stay with it.  My mother and youngest sister journal.  You would think it would come naturally.  But no.

dj swatch sheet

Now how pretty is this?  I even went to the trouble of cutting out triangle shapes for my triangles.  Mine is not as neat as some I have seen, but it is mine and it does have the triangles on it.  Mine is the first one I have seen that have the triangles on it.  One reason I used a swatch sheet is to make sure I didn’t repeat fabrics.  I failed.  While I was hand quilting my quilt I found 2 blocks where I had used the same green print, a Benartex leaf print.  I got to looking further and found that I had put the same print together, both in red and green, right next to each other in my quilt.  I think you can see that I-1 and J-1 are the same print in the swatch photo.  And the other print that is next to same one in the opposite color is the print that I repeated and they are in the positions on M-1 and M-2.  M-1 is repeated in    B-2 I believe.  So since I have those unexpected puzzles in my quilt, I put one more in on purpose.  My husband and I played a game of Tic Tac Toe for I-3 and I quilted in when I did the quilting.  The actual game is stuck in my book.  Actually there is one more thing I need to tell you about my quilt.  I will try to remember to tell you next time; part of it I did intentionally, the other part was pure accident.

One note, as I pulled fabrics that I had put back for this quilt; I picked as I did each block based either on something that would complement the block design, reminded me of something in block design or had to do with the name of the block.

DJ Journal

Back to my process.  Here is my list of blocks and triangles as I did them.  I played bingo with the blocks.  I did all the triangles essentially like they are presented in the book and 98% of them are paper pieced.  I don’t enjoy paper piecing and I personally did not enjoy the doing the triangles.  I know others say they like doing them more than the blocks.  I did not learn anything on the triangles other than it reinforced my dislike of paper piecing.  l learned a lot in doing the blocks.

What did I learn?  Just about everything.  I learned lots of new things to me and I came up with new ways  for me to do things.  Easier, time saving ways for things to be sewn.  I did not come up with the bias square technique, but I used it on several blocks in this quilt.  My students were amazed.  I came up with several methods of what I call strip piecing shortcuts, even for a 9-patch and those corner units on like on D-5 or L-3.  Those are easily paper pieced, but remember I don’t like to do that, so I came up with a method to do that without paper piecing just using an ordinary right angle ruler and it works for me.  Most of my students are not sold on it but it’s because they don’t understand the ruler.  I don’t mind if they paper piece if that’s what they want, it’s their quilt just like this was my quilt.  I learned (figured out is more like it) how to do reverse appliqué.  I  had done some of the easy blocks with reverse appliqué but when you get to blocks like I-5 and M-7, I just couldn’t see it.  I had completed blocks like B-2, B-3 and then C-5 with the background reverse appliquéd on top like Jane did.  In fact, I have 3-4 series of blocks that involve appliqué and reverse appliqué that works its way from easy to difficult.  For some reason, after I completed C-5, I finally figured out how to do those other multilayered blocks like I-5 and M-7- it just clicked.  It probably took close to a year, but it finally happened. 

I am sure there are other things I learned; I know there is- like prepared appliquéd.  My whole quilt was done with prepared appliquéd with Mylar and starch.  I have tried back basting on some blocks since, but still prefer starch and glue on these small blocks.

I have gone on long enough this time.  Next time I will write about where all this has taken me.

Sew Having Fun,