Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Well, my episode on The Quilt Show premiered yesterday and I am pleased to say I did just fine.  It took me all day to get up the nerve to watch the show, but after dinner my husband and I finally sat down and gave it a whirl.   What a relief!  I’ve spent the last seven months since filming worried that I babbled like a complete fool.  (I think they very kindly edited those parts out). 

Here I am with Ricky.  This was right before we began filming and I was explaining the steps I was going to demonstrate.  (Photo courtesy of Gregory Case Photography)


Here I am chatting with Alex and Ricky.  This was right after  filming the demonstration and I think I was a little shell shocked during this bit.  I’m perched on the edge of the seat trying to remember everything my mother told me about sitting like a lady.  Right before we began filming, Alex smiled, leaned over, and said, “That’s right.  You really want to sit up straight for this.”  (Thanks, Mom).  (Photo courtesy of Gregory Case Photography)


Here’s me all by my lonesome.  The filming was all done and I was very, very relieved.  Notice the smile and slightly dazed look. (Photo courtesy of Gregory Case Photography)

quilt show

I’m hoping you don’t find it too egomaniac here if I tell a little of my quilt history:  A lot of professional quilters have spend a number of years developing a quilt career.  That is just not my story.  I think of myself as your average, every day kind of quilter who stumbled into something else.  As we know, different aspects of quilting appeal to different quilters.  I have friends who do the most amazing handwork, for instance – beautiful applique and embroidery.  I envy their skill a lot, definitely lust after the beautiful results, but learned a number of years ago that handwork doesn’t rock my boat.

I’m a technique girl.  I like to buy books that show me how to do something new.  And once I figure out what is what with that new technique, I like to take it out for a spin.  “What if I try this?” I ask myself.  Frankly, those efforts, while they entertain me, don’t usually amount to much.

Here’s another thing: I’ve always liked the look of miniature quilts.  I mean, what’s not to like?  They are awesomely cute!  I made a few along the way but didn’t actually enjoy it very much.  Little tiny patches were too fussy to work with and I found it annoyingly difficult to match seams – which didn’t actually match all that well.  Add in that a small mismatch on a miniature looks anything but small.  No, I wasn’t making a whole lot of miniatures.

Enter “Make it Simpler,” a book by Anita Grossman Solomon on a new paper piecing technique for making six-inch blocks.  Her approach eliminates the step where you have to match and pin all the separate pieces of a foundation.  Wow. 

I was immediately intrigued by the notion of using the technique to make miniature quilts.  My first few efforts focused on making individual blocks.  And the technique works great for that, by the by.  (I’m working on doing more with that).

But then, it was Christmas and while making up gifts, I finished up a miniature quilt I had started a couple years earlier (ahem).  It was a tumbler quilt and I used a traditional paper-piecing technique: I sewed each row of the quilt individually and then joined the rows together.  After finishing, I had it up on the wall so I could admire it before wrapping it up.  As I admired, I thought, “Hey, I could use Fold and Sew to join those rows.”  I still thought I would have to sew each row separately though.

But I continued to look at it and I noticed how the tumblers zig-zagged down the quilt and I thought, “I bet I could sew all the rows at the same time.”  After a little EQ time designing the foundation, I was off to the sewing room. 

Here’s the resulting quilt: the very first one I made applying Fold and Sew to miniatures.  The pieced tumbler section measures 7" by 7" and the quilt 13" by 13".  It was easy.  It was precise.  It was fast!  I was in love.

Enter serendipity:  a number of years ago my husband and I had made a deal.  He was going back to school to get a degree (or two, as it turned out) and when he finished, I was going to take a break from teaching and write a novel.  My experiments with Fold and Sew happened just when I took that time off.  I think during the first week I made five miniatures. 

A couple of months and many miniatures later, I admitted I was not going to write a novel because I was just too darned caught up in continuing to make miniatures.   Since I needed something to show for my time off, I promised myself I would do a book proposal.  A couple of quilt buddies played pattern tester.  I taught classes at the local quilt shop.

And eight months after making my first miniature using Fold and Sew, the book  proposal went in the mail.  A couple months later I got the phone call telling me C&T had accepted the book proposal.  (I made a fool of myself on the phone but that’s a story for another day).

Which is why in April of this year I found myself standing in my living room wearing my pj’s and talking to Alex Anderson on the phone.  She had called to warn me that the day I was filming was “Hippie Day” and cast and crew were dressing up:  “Those guys really take it seriously.  I told them there was no way I could let you just walk into that without knowing.  Do you think you could dress up?”

Yikes.  I went shopping but I have to admit, anything remotely hippie-ish that I tried on looked beyond dreadful and I compromised on the green tunic. ( Those beads are a little sixties, don’t you think?)  I’m glad I didn’t go further though since when I I arrived I discovered they had decided it was too much to film the whole show looking like hippies.  Could I not look like a hippie? 

There are more stories to tell and I’ll get to some of them, but I wanted to tell this  (long) story for other quilters out there who might be dreaming of a quilt career but think that it must be out of reach.  It really isn’t.  You don’t need to enter shows or win big awards or any of that.  I’m thrilled to have a book published, of course, but the thing I am most proud of is that I put the book proposal in the mail.  Whether it got accepted or not was really out of my hands.  Deciding to put in the effort and take the risk was in mine.  I’m just here to say: you never know, so why not try?

And, speaking of miniature quilts, come back tomorrow for a look at another spin I’m putting on the Square-in-a-Square foundation. 

NaNoWriMo:  53, 232 words   Yippie ki-yay!

Monday, November 9, 2009

S.T.U.D. Oct 09

Meg received her swap quilt today so I can go ahead and post a picture now. 

I love the batik fabric that is in the border.  This one  makes me think of Fall back in New Jersey – where the reds get really red and everything smells like wet leaves. 

I love this foundation.  It’s not in Miniatures in Minutes.  It’s a new one I’ve been playing with.  I’ve been having a lot of fun working with it, less than two and a half  hours to cut the fabric, sew the foundation and remove the paper.  Everything lines up and the little squares finish at 3/8".   Nice.

NaNoWriMo update:  my word count is currently 20,210.  One of my students is already at 35,000 words!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Placemat Pattern and Semi-Tutorial

Fiesta asked if I could put together some notes and measurements on the placemat/tablemat.  This isn’t a full tutorial but does give the basics of the pattern.  Here’s a picture of the finished placemat again.  Finished size: 17 1/2" by 13"

You can download a pdf version of these directions from the projects page of my website


  • Kaffe Fasset fabrics: scraps (from teeny 1" squares to 4 1/2" squares)
  • Linen: 14" by 15"
  • Backing fabric: fat quarter
  • Binding: 1/8 yard (I use a single fold 1 1/2" width on my bindings; if you use wider, go to 1/4 yard)
  • Steam-a-Seam 2 Lite (3" by 6")
  • Lightweight interfacing (I use woven): 14" by 15"

Cutting Directions for Cotton Fabric:

  • 128 one-inch squares (I actually cut a whole lot more than that and then just played with the pile to get the color lines I wanted)
  • four 4 1/2" squares
  • two 3 1/2" squares (for the circles)

Cutting Directions for Linen Sashing:

  • Iron interfacing onto linen fabric (I find linen to be very shifty when sewing; the interfacing helps it behave)


  • Cut two 2 1/4" by 14 1/2" rectangles
  • Cut one 1 1/2" by 14 1/2" rectangle
  • Cut two 2" by 13" rectangles
  • Cut four 1 1/2" by 4 1/2" rectangles

The Pieced Squares:

  • These are made using the 13-Square foundation from Miniatures in Minutes.  However, since the finished square measures 4" by 4", you only need an 8 by 8 grid.  Join the foundation pages as usual and then trim the foundation down to size.

  • Though I still marked the red seam allowance lines on the foundation, I did not bother marking letters or creating a fabric guide.  I simply created the fabric layout I wanted and pulled pieces directly from the layout as I sewed the foundation.  (NOTE:  the foundation and directions for the Fold and Sew method of paper piecing are in Miniatures in Minutes). 

The Appliqued Circles:

  • I simply traced the circumference of a drink glass onto the Steam-a-Seam and then fused it onto the background fabric.  If you are measuring your circle, it measures a little under 3" in diameter.  (I used a machine buttonhole stitch to finish off the edges but I did so after the placemat was layered with batting and backing.)

Assembling the Placemat:

  • Determine the layout of your six fabric squares and attach the four 1 1/2" by 4 1/2" rectangles.  Then attach the middle 1 1/2" by 14 1/2" rectangle.

  • Attach the two 2 1/4" by 14 1/2" rectangles to the top and bottom.
  • Add the two 2" by 13" rectangles to the sides.
  • Layer with batting and finish as desired. 

This goes together very easily and unless you’ve done some of the Fold and Sew miniatures already, you won’t believe how quickly and easily those little pieced squares go together. 


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Just a Peek

Here’s a little peek at the S.T.U.D. Oct 09 mini quilt swap.  The theme for this month was “woodland.”  A little hard to tell from just this little bit but I was aiming for the colors to suggest right when leaves are first turning in the Fall: there’s still a bunch of green but the deeper reds have begun.

I’ve been trying out this new foundation with a few different looks.  I’ve been really liking it, I have to say.  Very easy, very fast.  This mini is on its way to Meg and I’ll show the full photo once it gets to her (wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise).

Meanwhile: NaNo continues.  I met today at a local coffee shop (right off campus and feeling very much like a college student hangout for which I am, perhaps, a bit old and should only enter in the presence of younger attendants) with some of my students who are also NaNo-ing it up and we had a grand old time typing away together.

Wordcount: 16,458.  I’m feeling pretty chuffed about that number.  On the other hand, the plot keeps morphing on me.  My original loose idea fell apart about day three and now I don’t have much of a clue.  It’s like someone took random pieces from three different picture puzzles and tossed them all in the same box.  Pieces of this and pieces of that form bits of one picture or another but they just don’t all go together.

I look at the mess and shake my head and just start up another scene.  Time to decide in December whether this is actually worth anything going back to shape into something coherent.  But, for the month of November, WORD COUNT RULES.  It’s always good to know priorities .  .  .  .

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Placemat Swap 2

Julie has received her placemat, so I can show a picture now.  I really enjoyed making this one!  The colors look darker in the photo than they really are – this is actually a very bright project.

I’ll have more teaser photos of another project coming up soon.  I’m mostly taking a break from swaps for the month of November so I can concentrate on Nano, but I’ve got plenty of other sewing to get to as well.  Not to mention, I’ve still got the November web project in process.  I should have it up over the weekend. 

To anyone in the Denver area who might be interested, I’ll be teaching a miniature class at Great American Quilt Factory Sunday, Nov 22.  And then Nov 23 my episode on The Quilt Show will premiere.  More on that later – now I’m off to write more salacious sex scenes. 

NaNoWriMo word count: 9,081. 

Monday, November 2, 2009

Catch-Up, Day One

Still working on catching up on my swaps and the web project for November!  I’ve got bits and pieces in process all over my sewing room (which right now pretty much looks like I’d qualify for federal aid if I took pictures of it and send them on to FEMA).

I can’t show the whole thing yet since it has yet to arrive at it’s new home, but here’s a teaser photo of the placemat quilt I made for Julie.  I’ll have the full photo to show once Julie gets it.

NaNo word count as of this morning: 5, 583  (I wanted to get ahead to counter those days where output would be miserable.  Feeling pretty good about this start, have to say).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

NaNo Me Up

Okay, this has nothing to do with quilting.  I’m just here to say that, once again, I am joining in on the November madness that is NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month.  I did it a few years ago with friends and it was the most fun I’ve ever had writing – which is what happens when you throw the idea of quality right out the window.  (This works for quilting, too).   Anyone who passes that magic 50,000 words in a month goal line is a winner.   I was never so proud of a “You’ve Won!” certificate in my life.

Sad to say, however, last year I signed up but wasn’t really motivated and didn’t finish.  This is demoralizing.  It demonstrates a lack of character or backbone or some other worthy virtue that had clearly absconded for the time being.  I am in sore need of redemption.  How can I ruin that wonderful win by always having to think, “But then I tried again and didn’t finish, didn’t even come close”?  No, no, no.  This is no good. 

Time to ante up.  Which is why I’m here promising to post word count updates on my progress.  Frankly, I’ve always found the threat of public humiliation wonderfully motivating.  (Do I really want to post on my blog that I failed to reach my goal?  Right here in front of God and everyone in Blogland?  Heck, no.)

Not only this, I’ve decided to go for the gusto (so to speak) and write a romance novel.  The ladies of my quilt group have informed me for years that I have a problem because I’ve never been able to write a sex scene.  Here’s what happens when I try: I sit at the computer, all alone with no one looking over my shoulder, turn scarlet as soon as my two fictional bodies come within a foot of each other, panic, and then turn tail (okay, now there’s a truly awful pun) and run.  Fortunately, the immediate application of a significant dose of chocolate has usually dealt with the trauma. 

But not this time.  I am committed.  I have a general idea of my plot with, yes, sex scenes included.   Racy, salacious sex scenes.  I’m blushing just writing that.  (And now I’m wondering just how writing “sex” several times in a single blog entry might impact search engines.  I’m thinking some inquisitors might be sorely disappointed).

And because it’s just too barren to have a blog entry completely sans photos, here’s a few.  Here’s my writing desk (notice how I cleverly drape a quilt for effect, because this is, after all, a blog about quilting):


A truth in advertising moment impels me to mention that my desk only looks that clean because I took the multiple stacks of papers piled upon it and relocated them to the floor.

Here’s a close-up of my two very important guardians.  They keep the writing critics safely at bay.  One looks blustery and the other wise.  Aren’t they wonderful?


But here is where I really write, sitting in this chair with the laptop in my lap.  (Notice additional clever quilt drape-age – when I went into my closet looking for a couple tops to drape here, I found this one and went, “Oh, I’d forgotten about this one.  I really like it.  I really should finish this up!).


Please.  Wish me luck.  I am so going to need it!