Monthly Archives: June 2012

working out at the sewing machine

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Had my annual checkup this week, and got my annual advice about getting more exercise. As I decide annually, I will try to do more. (yah, right!)

But to be honest I do notice that more than in my younger years, I feel tired and sometimes sore after a long session of stitching. Does that mean quilting is a workout? No, more likely pieces and parts are either suffering a bit from repetitive motion, or stiffening up from not enough motion. Recently on the Quilty video series (with Mary Fons, daughter of Marianne Fons of Fons and Porter fame) there was a video about stretching out before and after sewing. The nurse who was the guest gave several good ideas for quilters, many of which could easily be done right in your sewing chair. It would be good for all of us to take care of those quilty aches and pains, so we don’t have to give up our favorite pastime.

Here’s a link to the FREE video: sewing stretch out.

I’ve been stretching a different set of muscles the past couple of days–mostly those hamstrings one stretches when bending over in the garden, or whatever muscle group(s) are used while kneeling to weed. (Big graduation party happening next door soon–want to make sure whatever garden is visible while they look over the fence is in good shape.) I’m ready now for the mulch delivery. Here’s hoping the heat index goes down soon!

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blog candy winner

Hey all, Mary Ellen here.

Just got the random number to choose the blog candy winner from our little survey about sewing with shoes on or off.  Yay! the number 7 comment wins. Send me an e-mail (address in guild roster) so we can arrange how I’ll get your prize to you.

picking blog candy winner

you know who you are (check your comment for your number)

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reversible binding

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I dug out an old pattern the other day which I have made many times. It was designed by Karen Montgomery, famous for her runner from striped fabric which uses the 60 degree triangle ruler. The date on this pattern is 1992. On oldie but goodie for sure. It is a “quilt as you go runner” which ends up reversible, with two different triangle/strippy designs on either side. She puts on a regular binding made with a fabric that matches both sides. I want to put a reversible binding on it, made with 2 fabrics so the binding that shows on either side matches the fabrics on that side.

I have done this before, using directions from Anita Murphy. I think Anita came up with the “quilt as you go” method WAY before anyone else did. The trouble is that most of her things are out of print, and if you find them on eBay they are really expensive. I would love a copy of her book about the drunkard’s path pattern. She was (is?) so clever and her directions are great. If anyone has that book, I’ll buy it from you!!

I will be teaching this reversible binding technique next month and wanted to be able to direct folks to a resource or two. I found this pair of videos done by Sharon Pederson (of Rose of Sharon and die cutting fame) for The Quilt Show. Sharon’s method is nearly identical to my favorite Anita method. You might like to add this technique to your bag of tricks. It’s a great way to take your table runners or reversible placemats up a notch. Here’s a link to part 1, and here’s the link for part 2. In Anita’s method, you miter the corners as always, where Sharon does not. Just follow Sharon’s directions for constructing the binding, but make it long enough to go all the way around the quilt. Then do everything about attaching it in the way you always do. Try it, I think you’ll like it.



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on or off?

Hi, it’s ME.

Let’s see if we can bring out a few comments from those who have been lurking around this blog. Don’t mean to offend anyone, lurking is the “blogger” term for reading but never commenting.

I’m hoping this painless question will make it easy for you. No need to compose even a whole sentence. No spell checking, no grammar checking, easy peasy.

Do you sew with your shoes on or off? A one word comment will be fine. Just scroll down a bit to where it says “leave a comment”. Click on that and a short message will appear. Below that will be a box that says enter comment. Click on that and type your answer. Thanks!

Oh, BTW there will be a bit of blog candy for a name chosen at random from the list. You have until Wednesday at noon.


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catching up

Hello everyone, Mary Ellen back again.

Well this week kind of got away from me–haven’t posted in a while. I’m sure you all have had weeks like that too. Didn’t have much time to sit over my coffee and mull all the world’s problems, coming up with my solutions. “If I ruled the world,…”

So what’s new everyone? I’ve been playing with my 60 degree triangle rulers this week. I have had the 8 1/2″ one for a long time–you know the one that makes that popular runner from a striped fabric. I have the larger one now also–it’s 12 1/2″ tall– and am exploring what it can do. Of course one could just repeat the tricks the smaller ruler will do, but I’m trying to find some others as well. I’m doing demos on this ruler this week and want to have some new things to share. Have you used your ruler (you have one of these I hope, every quilter should!) to make cutting out hexagons a breeze? With the burst in popularity of  hexagons, these rulers totally eliminate having to draw and trace hexagon templates. I have come up with a way to attach the hexagons together by machine too, so maybe I’ll actually do something with Grandmother’s flower garden. Of course with larger hexagons, although the tiny ones could be done by machine as well. Just not as nicely.

Got a sneak preview this week of some of the new Halloween fabrics. I got a bag of fabric and patterns to make into samples for this fall at the shop where I teach and demo. The Halloween fabric is the cutest I have seen in a long time. They (whoever they are) say that Halloween is soon to surpass Christmas as the most decorated holiday in our country. Doesn’t surprise me. Although not everyone celebrates it, more do than celebrate Christmas. Also no presents to buy, cookies to bake, cards to sign and send… And of course, kids of all ages love the dressing up part of it. The weather usually is much nicer for those who do want to do some outdoor decorating.

Sorry I missed the guild meeting this week–got to see the “show and share” via our photo gallery though. Loving the Lucy Goosey blocks that are being shared. I hope more of you are playing along, and are just too shy to show your blocks. Thanks to our web guru for all the work he’s done and continues to do for us.

Have you signed up for seminar yet? It promises to be a fun time! Join us for a class or two, and definitely for the lecture. Beth Ferrier, our lecturer this year, could be a stand up comic IMHO*.

Well, I’m off to drag the lawn sprinkler to a new spot and then up to the sewing machine for the day. This sprinkler gig is usually an August thing–we’re not normally this dry in June. My garden is protesting-those annuals haven’t sunk their roots down deep yet. I know it’s blasphemy to many of you, but I’m praying for rain. One of those nice gentle warm all day kind. The kind where you can just hear the grass and garden sighing and saying “ooh that feels good!”.



(* Ta Ta For Now, and In My Humble Opinion)

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antique quilt patterns

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I have admired antique quilts for years. Our family has a few, and I own two. One was made for me before I was born, and sadly I must admit that is enough to make it antique. It’s a very simple polka dot quilt. My great-grandmother had set herself a goal to make a quilt for each of her great-grandchildren. Mine is the last one she finished.

The second is an Iris applique quilt that the same great-grandmother made for my mom to celebrate her 16th birthday. In our family quilts were used, not saved. Sadly this iris quilt is in bad shape. The edges are so tattered that there is no saving them-and there are irises appliqued all along the edges. The center of the quilt is a large iris medallion. I have been searching for the pattern and designer of this quilt for many years. It is very similar in style to some of the “kit” quilts that were popular in the 40’s.

When I ran across this index of antique patterns mentioned in another blogger’s post today, I was so excited. I think I’ll be purchasing one or two of them-if I can narrow down to the likeliest to contain the iris pattern. Perhaps if you are an admirer of old quilts, or are interested in the old-time designers, these may be of interest to you too.

The indexes will only contain black and white drawings of the blocks, no directions for how to construct them. Another fun past time of mine is to analyze blocks I come across to determine how to piece them. I know that when the old blocks were designed, templates were the rule of the day. (I continue to be amazed by the geometry skills that those designers had-no computers to help them, and maybe no protractors or compasses either!) I learned to quilt drafting my blocks on graph paper first, then converting them either to templates or sometimes “ruler cut” blocks. This was prior to the dawn of rotary cutters and strip piecing. In my mind those two innovations were like the discovery of fire, or the invention of the wheel! Not every block can be strip pieced but it sure helps speed up the process, and definitely helped my accuracy of piecing. Sometimes those antique blocks adapt to strip piecing so easily and sometimes not so much. That’s the challenge for me. (I know–kind of geeky, but aren’t math teachers supposed to be geeks?)

Maybe I’ll find another star for our quilt-a-long in one of the indexes. I have the third one for us all ready for July. Don’t forget to take your Lucy blocks to the guild meeting this week, or send photos to Don, our webmeister.

BTW, here’s a link to a flickr group of Nancy Cabot blocks made in modern fabrics. (Nancy is one of those old-time designers. She designed blocks for the Chicago Tribune.) What would you think of a quilt-a-long of some of those antique blocks? Or we might use one of the many books that are out with collections of blocks-the Elm Creek series come to mind, or the Farmer’s Wife book? No need to decide yet, Lucy Goosey will run until October and then we’ll break til the end of the year so we all can finish our quilts! (TFPIC!) Guess what that acronym is for!

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sew and tell Friday

Hello all, ME back again.

A while ago I shared how Marija and I have decided to make sure that posts go up regularly by giving ourselves assignments. My assigned day is Friday and I was looking for a catchy name for it. Came across this name (above) at another blogger’s site.

This morning I listened to another podcast from Pat Sloan. (If you haven’t tried them yet, I still encourage you to give it a whirl. They’re free and can be listened to on your phone or mp3 whenever you wish, or via your computer. Gotta be better than listening to regular talk radio!) When the dog and I returned home from our walk, I went to her website to see what she had up for today. It’s an interview with a quilter I had never heard of–and will be going back to visit again and again. Here’s a photo of one of her quilts, with absolutely spectacular quilting on it (see below). I found the block which will be the next Lucy Goosey star on this quilt. Can you guess which one it is? You’ll see soon, after I write up the directions.

isn't the quilting spectacular?

wonderful quilting

Another thing I found and enjoyed at her blog was a link to her flickr group of cathedral window projects. I have always admired a cathedral window quilt–nothing new about that. I was really taken with the photos of the many pin cushions made up in very modern fabrics. Goes to show why some block designs are so timeless. They look great in any fabric. I think that instead of pincushions, these would make terrific ornaments or door knob hangers. I know that somewhere in my “archives” I have the directions for doing a cathedral window block by machine. Now I have the incentive to find them. I’ll share too when they surface!

Stay cool today, aim a fan at your sewing machine and have at it!


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bits and bobbles

Hello all, Mary Ellen back again.

Hope you had a great weekend. Fathers’ Day was super for all of you? Another excuse, if you need one, for getting together with all the family. Perhaps not quite as fussy a day as the celebrations in May for moms. Dads are more BBQ, boats and beer than cake, curls and champagne–at least mine anyway.

Wrote last week about Liberty cottons coming out with quilting weight fabrics-to be released here in the US in the fall. Lets nominate a local shop and all start lobbying for the shop to carry Liberty. What do you think? I found the Liberty boards at Pinterest this morning. Some gorgeous projects to be found there, and inspiration for all fabrics, not just Liberty. The various fabric flower uses of Liberty are very pretty, I think.

Do you own a dresden plate template? Maybe you purchased the Darlene Zimmerman one after she spoke at our guild? If you have that one, or any other one which has a straightedge on the top and the bottom, you can easily use it as a tumbler block template as well. Here’s a nice tumbler quilt using that template. I like the way she has included some “focus” blocks, fussy cut from a larger print. This would also be a nice way to use up some panels-cut up the panel into blocks and mix them among the tumbler sections. I’m think of several of the Christmas panels (way too many) that I have in my stash, and my increasing stash of Christmas scraps.

Was reading on the Pat Sloan blog (next year’s seminar national teacher) about a UFO busting challenge. She notes that almost all of our UFOs are projects intended for ourselves. Somehow we put ourselves down farther on our priority lists. She challenges us to get out one of those UFOs which is for us, and finish it this month. Good idea, I think. Maybe I’ll work on that “never again” quilt I talked about in a recent post.

If you have a UFO that is intended for yourself, tell us about it in a comment.

PS. Don’t forget to finish up a Lucy Goosey star or two, and take it to the guild meeting this week so we can get photos for the album over at our website. Part of the fun of a quilt-a-long is sharing photos of our blocks so all can see. Cool to see other color choices and the different look they give to the same block design. Don’t be shy! The photo can be just of the block without you in the photo, if you wish. Just insist to our guild photographer, or send in your own photo!


Filed under eye candy, free patterns, Lucy Goosey

rainbow ripple

Hello all, ME here.

Kind of sounds like an ice cream flavor, doesn’t it? It’s actually a great bright quilt. Shows how the humble half square triangle and solid fabrics can be made into a wowser of a quilt. I’m always looking for more ways to quilt with my walking foot and I appreciated the close up of the quilting. I get so many questions from quilters at the shop about ways to quilt other than free motioning. (Is that a word?) I keep a collection of quilting designs that could be done with a walking foot-some photos, some sketches, some my own ideas, some CASED* from magazines and quilt shows. There certainly are so many that one needn’t stay in the ditch-that’s actually harder to do accurately anyway. Does anyone know of a quilt shop in the area that has a nice selection of solids like the ones used in the rainbow ripple quilt?

Here’s another design from the same blogger making a great pillow from solids (shot cottons actually this time) and half square triangles. I’ll bet one could make quilts for the rest of your days just using squares and half square triangles. Love the simplicity or the complexity that can be achieved with that most basic of blocks.

Are you going to watch the Wallenda walk today? I go back and forth-it’s history in the making as the hype is saying, but I’m a bit concerned about the fall in the middle of the journey across. I’m suspecting that Nik is in for a difficult time in the mist and air currents over the middle of the Falls. Do I want to watch it? Let you know next time.


*from the rubber stampers and scrapbookers, to CASE (verb): to Copy And Share Everywhere.

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Quiltspirations – in several sense of the word

Hi everyone,


I just had to share this quick – Quiltspirations is a new, looks-like-fun game fro us quilters, from designer Ebony Love (up and coming designer and long arm quilter with great ideas!).  I saw a post about it on Facebook, that led me to the Moda Fabrics blog that explains somewhat what it is, althought I think all the details and possibilities are still to be determined. Do you think we need this for the Guild? Sound like that to me! 🙂 I just got information form Ebony on both, how to order it on-line and how our local quilt shops can order it too – yay!

I like the word Quiltspirations. It came to my attention today quite serendipitously it seems – I just finished last night and posted today on my blog something that could definitely be described by that word! In trying to “come back” to regular blogging, (and yes, still catching-up here…) I wrote a short post about the subject that took some of my recent time – my garden. However, even though gardening takes the time away from stitching, it is so worth it – as a quilt inspiration of course! LOL! So check out my blog and let me know what are your thoughts! 🙂

OK, here is one Garden-Quiltspiration for you:

Have a wonderful Tuesday,


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