Monthly Archives: July 2012

Lucy Goosey block #4–wonky star

Hello all,  Mary Ellen here.

I know that this fourth block is going to make some of you very antsy. No, it’s not paper piecing again. It’s a liberated block-I prefer to call them wonky (love that word!)–inspired by the work of designer Gwen Marston. If you are of fan a quick cutting, no measuring, and relaxed precision (is there such a thing?), you will love her work and will enjoy this block. If you are of the camp that will take out a seam 5 times to make sure the points match, then this block is going to send your blood pressure up. Have a glass of an adult beverage, just enough to relax your standards but not enough to make you dangerous with a rotary cutter! Take a few deep cleansing breaths, maybe do a few yoga stretches and then read on!

Here is a link to the wonky star directions. Let me know if you need help with the download.

Have fun.

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Filed under "modern" quilting, Lucy Goosey, Quilt-a-Long

plan for the stash dawgs

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I had an inspiration over coffee this morning. I know that there are dawgs out there in your stashes even though no one has yet admitted to one. How about if each of us with a dawg, cuts a fat quarter of it, puts it in a plain brown paper bag, and seals it up tight. Then at an agreed upon guild meeting we swap bags. A few months later we all reveal the project we made which includes the dawg fabric. Anyone game? If I get a few of you who are willing to play, I will organize (what little is needed!) the swap and come up with  1 or 2 ground rules.  Or maybe this could be one of our next guild challenges? Lynne, are you out there? What do you think?


Filed under guild activities, stash reduction

stash dawgs

Hello everyone, Mary Ellen here.

First I’ll fess up that I have an extensive fabric stash. Certainly more than I can ever use. I should be developing a plan for its dispersal in case I am hit by a bus. There is no one in my immediate family now who would want the fabric mountain I have accumulated. I have donated quite a bit to a variety of charities this year and I have made a concerted effort to use what I’ve got instead of buying more. That said, it has not made a dent. It seems like there may be fabric hanky-panky going on when the lights are off. It’s got to be reproducing itself somehow!

Do I love each and every fabric in my stash? Well, I must have loved every one of them when I bought it. There are some in the mix now though that I now wonder about. Many of the real dogs have been donated. Now they are someone else’s problem. But I do still have a few “stash dawgs”. One is a sizable chunk of a Hoffman fabric called “Traditions Style”. It’s got grapes and berries on it and swirly vines which are some what paisley like. It’s not in my “style” of fabric at all-the colors are ok, but not my favorites by any means. I don’t seem to have anything that goes with it, so I’m sure I didn’t buy it because it “co-ordinates”.

I’ll probably be putting it on the back of a quilt, or cutting it into small pieces to hide its hideousness. (No offense intended if you love fruity paisley!) Here’s a link to a few ideas for using the dawgs in your stash.

I’m fairly certain that if you have a stash, there’s a “dawg” in yours too. What does your fabric dawg look like?

How are you coming on your Lucy-Goosey blocks? Number 4 will be coming up soon-one day next week as soon as I get the directions written. I’ve got the block, now I need to tell you how to construct it.


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Filed under Lucy Goosey, Quilt-a-Long, Uncategorized

Who made this quilt?

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Imagine this scene. Fifty years from now as someone is admiring a gorgeous quilt made in many hours of loving stitching, she says to her companion “I wonder who made this quilt. It’s fabulous. Do you think it was for someone’s wedding? Or maybe it’s a graduation gift. OOh! And look at this baby quilt. Do you suppose a grandmother made this-or an auntie-or maybe the mom while she was pregnant? ” Wouldn’t it be terrible to be looking down from wherever we go after life, to be looking down trying to say “I made those quilts. That blue one with the flowers was for…”

You know where I’m going with this. Do you put labels on your quilts? You really should. If you’re an Antiques Roadshow fan, you know how having the provenance of an antique really helps its value. And even if not for monetary reasons, it is so interesting to know the “story” of a piece. Your descendants will so appreciate the time you took to add a bit of your quilt’s story to the back.

Here are some ideas from several quilt designers for making labels for your work. As they say in the piece. You just gotta.

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Filed under antique quilts, tips and tricks, tutorials, Uncategorized

foundation paper piecing

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I am getting back to some serious sewing time. I’ve taken a bit of a break for about 3 weeks now where I have only sewn a little bit here and there. Now it’s back to my usual mode-several hours each day at the machine. Some of it is sewing for my part-time job making samples or preparing for lessons I’ll teach, some is working on my own pattern pieces to sell, some is for myself (or friends or family). Generally I love it but it’s been nice also stepping back a bit to spend more time at other interests I have.

I’ll soon be teaching a class to paper foundation piecing beginners. I am working on my notes. Is it just me or is this technique one that needs demonstration much more than written instruction? I’m finding even in notes for myself to refer to, diagrams are much better than words. I have referred to several books I own to see how other folks have explained it, and they too use lots of pictures. Of course over the years that I have enjoyed this technique I have picked up bits and pieces from many “expert” techniques. These directions I am trying to write could go on for pages! I doubt that’s what a beginner wants to see when opening up a pattern pack. Hmm. I’ll keep at this…photos? video? diagram? paragraphs? one-liners?… What to do?

How did you learn to paper piece? If you haven’t, is it because of a bad experience with your first project? If that’s it, what can I do to help my students avoid a similar experience? If you love to paper piece, why? How or what did you learn that has made you enjoy this technique?



Filed under tips and tricks, tutorials

a little of this, a little of that

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Yay! It’s raining! I can hear my lawn saying “AAH! That feels great.”

Nice guild meeting last night. Here are a few random thoughts.

1. Had a few questions last night about supply lists for seminar . Everyone will get printed copies of the supply list(s) for their seminar class(es) in the mail in early August. The supply lists for our national teachers are available at their websites if you would like them early (see your registration form or our guild blog for addresses). You do not need any proof of registration to get them; they are available for everyone. We have the lists for the majority of our local teachers now posted at our website as well; the rest will be added as we get them. If you know of a friend, who does not have internet access, who would like a national teacher’s supply list prior to receiving our mailing, have them contact me. I would be happy to send them what they need.

2. Please make sure that the shop(s), guild(s), friend(s) of yours who share your quilting interest are aware of our seminar. If you are a liaison or just a helpful member, let us know if you need flyers or bookmarks to pass around. Glad to have your assistance in publicizing.

3. I was so pleased last evening when Helen Slominski gave me a copy of Anita Murphy’s Drunkard’s Path book. You might remember reading my post about Anita’s work earlier this summer. I sat right down with a beverage to start through the book. Even the introductory basic information was fun to read. Anita has a droll way with words. Let me quote a paragraph to you that rang true with me. Sometimes I spend hours trying to find just the right fabric combination for a project when I should just PICK SOMETHING, darn it! and get to the machine. Here’s what Anita has to say.

“Now if you have trouble deciding or selecting fabric, you might want to try a method that I have found helps me especially when I should have made the project last week. I can fuss and dream and visit with my fabrics and lose half a day. But when the deadline is drawing near, I set the timer on my oven to 30 minutes and when the timer goes off, I use what I have. And truly it goes together remarkably well. I even get compliments on my color selections. Try this timing trick and see if it doesn’t help you get through a decision quickly.”

I’m going to try it the next time I am stuck, and may even use it before that just to make myself learn to “get on with it , for Pete’s sake”. There are many more humorous tips in Anita’s book, that I’ll share now and again. And thanks once more to Helen. I promise to give this book a place of honor on my shelves, and I promise to make a project to share with you all–but I can’t promise when that will be ready to show!

4. Last night I brought a cookie to share for snack time. They went fast, which I hope means you liked them. It’s a recipe I got from one of my students really early in my career before I got gun-shy about eating things the kids made themselves. (If you know middle schoolers, you probably know what I’m talking about.) This is my go-to recipe for cookies which do not need the oven. Everywhere I take them, they are a hit. Add this winner to your recipe box.

Amy’s cookies

Melt together in a double boiler (or nowadays in the microwave) one 11 oz. bag of butterscotch chips and 1/2 cup of peanut butter. Add 5 cups of corn flakes and stir until all coated. Drop by teaspoonful onto wax paper and let cool/harden. You can speed it up in the frig if you have the room. That’s all there is to it. The hardest part is keeping everyone from eating them before they harden. (The crumbs or broken cookies make great topping for ice cream.)

Have a great weekend.


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Filed under recipes, tips and tricks

must see?

Hello ladies, Mary Ellen here.

I will admit I’m not much of a movie goer. That said, this clip from the “HeyQuilty blog” caught my attention. “And I don’t mean to be crude, but if you think he looks good with a suit on, I’m telling you: Joe Manganiello NOT in a suit, sitting at a sewing machine? It’s good, folks. It’s real, real good.”( a plug for the movie “Magic Mike”) There’s Joe, in the photo below. What a cutie. So maybe I’ll be going to the movies soon.

quilty beefcake

This guy sews!

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Filed under eye candy, Uncategorized

Lunch time chat – who loves paper-piecing?

Hello everyone,

I am here with just a quick, lunch-time chat to let you know that I have a new tutorial on my blog! If you love paper-piecing this small project might just be a thing to do while cooling down from summer heat:

I call this one a Summer Song – hey I might even add a small appliqued bird in the center! 🙂

Anyway, this wreath is made from 4 similar blocks, both paper-pieced. Instructions on what you need and how to make it are here, on my blog. What I like about this block is that it can be very versatile, used in borders, small projects, to make a larger block…This is the exact project I use when teaching paper-piecing to beginners and the joy on their faces when EACH block turns perfect, EVERY time is what thrills me every time! I hope to see some of them completed soon and will take pictures to show you, if I do.

Oh by the way – this wall hanging will fit perfect in my newly painted family room – remember the photo I showed you last time? Well, here it is all done – new floor and all:Rightfully so – all done DIY, with whole family pitching in – I am so proud! 🙂 What I really LOVE is our new family photos wall that my daughter arranged – it just makes me smile every time! Well it also makes me laugh with disbelief since my dear daughter found some of my child hood and high school photos and insisted on framing them! LOL!

Here it is as much as mu camera would take in: (but of course I am NOT showing you those high-school pictures! 😉 )

So of course, the wall hanging will go on the opposite wall that is empty now. Well, that is when it comes back from Threads of Time where it hangs as a class sample. Yeah,  my family gets little “surprises” when something disappears from the wall…being taken to TOT for the class! LOL

Do you have a wall/display of family photos? Any tips and ideas how to display them creatively?

Looking forward to see you all on Thursday at the meeting,


PS!! – as long as we are about quilts, walls and hanging them on the wall…just found this good blog post from quilt books publisher, Martingale – very cool! 🙂

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Filed under tutorials

guy quilters

Hello everybody, Mary Ellen again.

When you see a man in a quilt shop, do you assume he’s there to buy a gift for his wife?

If you see a man hand stitching under a shade tree, what do you surmise about him?

Do we take for granted that stitching/quilting is a female domain?

What about those gorgeous stitched kites that were in our quilt show this spring–made by a male stitcher?

Whenever you see or hear about a guy who quilts, do you have a little voice in your head whispering something about his manliness?

Is there a divide between sewing projects that are manly and those that are for the rest of us quilters?

I sure hope we are beyond those stereotypes. Here’s an interview with a dad who quilts who is making quite a name for himself in the world of modern quilters.

And here’s a link to a tongue in cheek video from Tim the Harley Quilter (CFO of Accuquilt) with the Top 10 reasons guys should quilt.

Go teach a guy to quilt!

TTFN–get your next Lucy Goosey block ready to share at this week’s guild meeting!

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Filed under Uncategorized

what I’ve been up to

Hi again It’s ME.

Got away from blogging for a bit, didn’t I? I was surprised to see how long it had been since my last posts, since I didn’t have anything impressive accomplished during my “hiatus”.

I have been taking 2 online classes this month–one based on sewing, and one on my other favorite hobby of paper crafting. In a way the 2 classes are related. The sewing class is from called Stupendous Stitching. The final project will be an “art” piece suitable for framing, based on machine decorative stitches, hand embroidery, and embellishing through couching etc. Right now I am working on what the instructor is calling a “stitch bible”. The idea is to make a sample book (fabric actually) of all the stitches that your machine will do, in the default mode and with changes to the stitch length and width. I have done this for a few of my frequently used stitches, but not on “nice” fabric, and not in any organized way. This time I am going in order from stitch #1 forward through them all, with planned divisions on each page where I change, and note, the stitch length change and stitch width change. I have always advised my students to play with those umpteen stitches we had to have on our machines, but seldom use. Now I am following my own advice and am having fun seeing all the “new” stitches I get via the variations. I have chosen a nice fabric for the base of each page (from my stash 🙂  ), and will have a good reference “bible” when I finish this step. My next homework assignment is to choose some nice threads and begin to build the structure of the art piece on a fat quarter. That is a ways off since I have quite a few stitches on my machine to sample. I need a nice rainy day to stitch away for hours without feeling like I need to be working outdoors.

The paper crafting class I’m taking is called “Stretch Your Stamps”. The idea in this one is to use the stamps one owns for multiple purposes, not just the obvious use of the stamped image. Sometimes it’s through a new ink technique, or a new paper, or cutting the stamp into pieces (gasp!). Basically, the concept is to make the most of the supplies one has on hand, in creative, sometimes unexpected, ways. I’m pretty good at that with fabric and thread, but need some nudging with my paper supplies. I’m finding that as I go through the lessons, I think of ways to transfer the new creative applications over to my sewing world and vice versa. For example, the multiple papers used as backgrounds to some of the stamped projects could transfer to become pieced backgrounds behind applique designs. Changing stitch lengths and widths can transfer to curving, stretching, and reversing stamped images.

I am enjoying these online classes because I can work through them on my own schedule. I can pause them when I need to; I can take several days to get through one lesson or I can do several lessons in one day. I can work on the lessons at unusual hours of the day. The price of this type of lesson series is generally very reasonable as well. In both cases the teachers are available for consultation via e-mail, and there are galleries of what the other students in the class are doing. Very inspirational. I haven’t posted anything to the galleries-need a better camera! These classes are making me want to make that investment instead of relying on the camera in my phone.

How about you? Do you like using the computer/internet for learning new things? Gotta step into the new age, folks, and make ourselves take advantage of the technology around us. Despite the annoying glut of it in modern culture, there are so many advantages if we can make it work for us. (OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now.)


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Filed under "modern" quilting, our other hobbies, tutorials