Friday, January 29, 2016

Finishing Up Quilting Stuff

I'm working on finishing up the last couple of quilts for the new book. Except for maybe one, they're all quilted by hand. I do it this way because I am a lousy machine quilter and, although it takes awhile, hand quilting is much easier and much more fun. Especially since the quilts are small. Very relaxing too, once you get into the "zone."  

Nothing fancy, you see. (This quilt is from The Civil War Sewing Circle.)

Little quilts are perfect for practicing your hand quilting. I think it really adds something too so I always like to do my part to encourage quilters to try it. Even if the first one you try isn't all that good, keep at it and you'll get better. When I've been away from it for awhile and then pick it up again those first few lines of stitching are a little less straight than I'd prefer. But it comes back and you pick up a certain rhythm if you do it long enough. I'll have some tips for you in the new book.

If you do think about trying to quilt by hand, here's my favorite book on hand quilting - Loving Stitches by Jeana Kimball.  Book includes lots of great tips on needles, thread, batting, etc. plus nice photos. I can't say my quilting fits into the "fine" hand quilting category, but it's fine by me. There's room for the "average" hand quilter too if you stop being afraid of the hand quilting police. I used to think they'd probably stop by and pick me up anytime I quilted anything.  But I stopped looking over my shoulder and they went away.

Some days, though, I can't seem to quilt a straight stitch to save my life. This past week was like that. I had such good intentions of quilting up a storm and getting them finished but I caught my husband's cold last weekend. It waited until I finished my manuscript, however, so for that I am grateful. But, most of this week my head was spinning, my throat hurt and my nose was all sneezy and drippy. I just could not quilt for a few days - every stitch I sewed had to be ripped out because my head was so crazy and I couldn't see straight through my watery eyes. You know how that goes. I gave up and figured I probably needed a little rest anyway. Now I'm better and the quilts will get finished soon. I sure could have used a couple of those quilter ladies in the pictures to help me out, though. Maybe make me some chicken soup too and wrap the quilt snug around me. And tell me a little gossip to keep me entertained. Or just walk the dog . . . . 

I've also decided I will add labels to the quilts - something I really should be better about. Especially since in this new book I wrote a section encouraging quilters to do that, ha ha. Now, how would that look if I didn't even follow my own advice?? Sometimes I do include labels on my quilts, but often I get stressed because of a deadline and then don't have time and forget about doing it later. To me, the time to make a label is when you make the quilt, not three months or (more likely) three years later. My husband likes to nag encourage me to do that. From his comfy armchair, as he watches TV and eats popcorn, mind you. (Hon - if you want to see labels on my 150+ little quilts, YOU sew them on.)  But I will do it this time. 

*  *  *

You know, February will be here soon and that means another month, another small quilt challenge. Wonder what we've got cooked up for you . . .   Something to do with Valentine's Day perhaps?  Hmmmm? 

(Pattern for little scrappy hearts here.)

Have yourselves a good stitching weekend. I know I will.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Show & Tell

Mark your calendars. Come visit with me for a little quilt Show & Tell at one of my favorite quilt shops -  Ye Olde Schoolhouse in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, on Saturday, Feb 13, 2016.   Details here. 

I'd love to meet you. I'm bringing quilts and patterns. It's a cute shop and Jeanie always has a wonderful selection of fabric and tons of other great things. The shop will have kits available to make some of my quilts that are in this book -

If you have a book of mine you'd like signed, bring it along and I'll sign it for you.

Hope to see some of you there!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Yay, I'm Almost Done!

One of the most exciting feelings (and also one of the scariest) is pressing that Send button to e-mail your completed manuscript for a new book to your publisher. But I did just that this morning and now I can finally take a breath. Yay! I'm almost done.

I've been hard at work on a new book since last year and now all I have to do is finish up some quilting and a few bindings on the last quilts before I turn those in next month. I'm very excited. This is going to be a great book. It'll be a little different than the others but I know you'll still like it a lot. (Of course you will - there will be cute patterns for 16 small quilts! What's not to like??)

Now it's up to my publisher (Martingale) to do their magic and turn all of my ideas into something special that all of YOU will love. Can't wait.

Maybe there'll be some hexagons. 

Perhaps there will be a pretty little red and white quilt . . . 

And so now the waiting begins. I'm a little sorry for telling you about this and then making you wait so long but, honestly, I couldn't keep it a secret for a whole year. Hopefully, it will be published by the end of 2016 and you'll have something fun to put on your Christmas wish list later this year. 

Me, I'm going out tonight to celebrate, snow or no snow. And, in a couple of weeks I can get back to working on my Dear Jane quilt. It's been so long. I've missed her . . . .

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


This one is for Jane. She's a snowbird in Florida right now but she asked me to post pictures of winter in Chicagoland. Like she's missing it or something as she sips her wine coolers at the pool. 

Today was very cold. It was 7 degrees when I went out to drop off library books, pick up a prescription and run through the drive through at the bank. I took the dog with me and we stopped to see if the park was plowed. Yes indeed, it sure was, but it was too cold to do anything but get out and snap a picture. Jane - you owe me. 

No one but fools like us out on the road today.

Jane -  I imagine you are spending every day at the pool. Look - we have a pool too.

It's pretty exciting to actually get to go to the park after being stuck inside for days what with all the rain we've had lately.

After less than 2 minutes someone was ready to get back in the car.

We drove past our Underground Railroad house dating from the mid-1800s.  I wanted to live there when I heard it was up for sale a few years ago. But my husband said we couldn't buy it. Something to do with the million plus dollar price tag. The new owners kept the bones but totally renovated it and modernized it so it is no longer a historical property. Pity. I would have bought it and restored it. But, as I said, there was this little thing about the money . . . .LOL.

At least it was a sunny day. It went up to 11 degrees.

Don't stare at it too long.

Ice in the parking lot.

The ice skating pond where my kids used to skate.

Some of you who live in a sunny, warmer climate or are visiting one will be getting down on your knees about now and thanking your lucky stars you aren't here. But don't feel bad for me. I love cold and snow. I went home and made a nice cup of tea and then cozied up with a quilt and my laptop on the couch and finished writing a few patterns for the new book. It's all good.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Make an Easy Quilt in January

Are you ready for more fun challenges this year? In my small quilt groups we're making easy strip quilts in January to kick off another year of small quilts. One every month. By the end of the year, if you keep up,  you'll have enough for a nice wall of little quilts (or perhaps you'll just be sick of them).

This one doesn't have to be fancy. Even a simple one can be fun to make. You can make it artsy or Amish. Make it primitive or bright. Use any kind of fabric.

This is a fun way to use up some of your scraps. I suspect some of you may even have packages of charm squares from the fabric swaps we hold every year. Go on -  cut into them already!

Cut your strips whatever width you think you can work with – 1", 1 1/2" or any other size. Play around a bit and see what you come up with. You may arrange your strips to make a Bars quilt, a Coins quilt, a Courthouse Steps quilt, a Rail Fence quilt or perhaps even a log cabin. Anything goes. Sew some strips together and see what happens. 

There's a cute little Coins quilt in my book Remembering Adelia - one option if you haven’t already made it.

Last year I made a bag using strips of some of my favorite prints. Sewing long strips together to make a simple bars quilt is another option. 

You get the idea. Have fun and if you're in one of my online groups (see sidebar) show us your quilts or projects by the end of January if possible. 

                                         Brooklyn Museum: Browse Objects: Bars Quilt:

So many simple possibilities.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Turn on the Creativity

 The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.


For years now, I noticed that I feel calmer, happier and just plain better when I'm creating something. When life gets stressful, it's even more important to do things that make yourself feel good. Even before I began to quilt the link between feeling good and making things was evident.

                                   I love art and being "crafty" -stamping, card making, scrapbooking, painting, sewing :):

I know from experience that if I stop creating for a time,  it's that much harder to be creative when I get back to it. But sometimes all you have to do is jump in and make a little something and see if you can't get it back.


In order to be creative, you have to create.

This is so simple. In order to be creative, you simply need to make something.

                                            "Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun." A Mary Lou Cook quote to inspire!:

Being creative does not always mean you have to make something BIG. Cooking can be creative. Writing is creative for me. So is playing with beads and making jewelry. Making a card out of lovely paper is creative. Taking photographs is creative. Rearranging your house or sewing space can be creative. Buying a new scarf or wearing your hair differently can be creative. See where I'm going with this? To me, all of these things count as creative efforts and can really get things flowing. For some of us, just looking through our fabric or a magazine gets us inspired again. Doing anything creative allows your creativity to flow better. And, when it does, it feeds your soul.

                                                This is how I feel about my gardening! When I see things grow, bloom, attract butterfly's and bee's, smell good and nourish my family, neighbors and I...MY SOUL IS RESTORED!:

                                                 It seems obvious, but sometimes we need a reminder to refocus our efforts on what truly satisfies us. And an elegant, chalkboard-inspired reminder might be the best kind.:

                                                     Great ideas for tackling procrastination and getting things done! Love this free printable to serve as a reminder!:

For years, I never thought I was creative and I used to wish that I could be as creative as some people. What I did was just play around, it wasn't being creative. When I was 23 a  friend told me: "Of course you're creative. You admire creative people and you love creative things so much - you're just afraid to try anything." I paid attention to that and started looking for small ways to be creative myself and tried not to think or worry so much about failing at what I tried to create. There were some who laughed at my creative efforts. But pretty soon it began to work; the more I tried to be creative, the more creative I became. I now believe creativity is something that can be nurtured and developed in anyone. So if you don't think you're even a little bit creative, I'll just bet you are.


I've also learned that if I don't set aside the time and commit to making a little something on a regular basis, I lose some of that creative urge.  It gets pushed down. So, if you delay because you think you don't have enough time, sit down at your sewing machine for just 10 or 15 minutes. Doesn't have to be long. It's amazing how much you can get into something in even a short period of time. If you make one or two  little blocks every day, you'll have a quilt in no time at all. I love making small, simple quilts for this reason - there's such an immediate satisfaction when you can finish a project quickly.

                                      Maya Angelou Creativity Quote

If you're a beginning quilter, try not to be overly critical of yourself and try not to worry too much about what others may think. Not everything you create will be perfect and that's okay. It's the process that's important. Not every quilt I make is fantastic (Oh no! Really?). Sometimes I fail at color or technique. But, believe me - it's a process and a journey and you just have to keep at it. Make a little something today, why don't you?