Monthly Archives: August 2012

Where has the summer gone?

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Despite the facts of our weather this summer, it seems like summer has been very short. Trying to squash lots of fun into the few days remaining. Went to the zoo yesterday with the 5 year old twin boys I have mentioned here before. Made the mistake of buying them each a glass of orange pop early in the adventure! Acted like hi-test gasoline in those little engines. We did the zoo at a very fast clip. The weather was perfect for the day-so many families and school groups were there enjoying it as well. Lots-o-fun!

Picked up a new quilt magazine the other day at Wegmans. It’s called Generation Q. I’ve followed their blog for a while now. (The Q is for quilting.) It says on the cover that it’s the premiere issue-no subscriptions yet. I often start reading a quilt magazine with the letters from readers and this was no different. Wonder where they got the readers if this is the premiere? Anyway guess who wrote the very first letter to the editor?….. My co-blogger, Marija. Maybe she’ll be able to tell us how she got her early issue that she shows in her photo.
Hey, Amherst quilters are everywhere.

We’re in the count down to our annual seminar. Have you signed up for your class(es) yet? Join us for lots of quilty fun.

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Say sha-tock-qwa

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I was surprised to find that title phrase at the top of one of the blogs I periodically visit. When I sounded it out, I thought “is that Chautauqua?” and I was right. All of us around here know about the fall Chautauqua quilting weekend. Mary Fons, daughter of quilting rock star Marianne Fons, who is taking up the reins that Liz Porter put down for retirement will be at Chautauqua with her mom this fall. See her post about it here.

Many of you have tasted and loved Linda Hunter’s easy butterscotch cake. She sent her recipe to me to share with all of you.Click here Butterscotch Cake Recipe for the recipe.

Are you into English paper piecing? Love those Grandmother’s flower garden quilts made with gazillions of hexagons? You might be interested in this new book Hexa-go-go and the blog tour about it. Click here to see what it’s all about.

Babysitting a five year old all day today-wish me luck. I know I’ll sleep well tonight!

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not your grandma’s yo-yo’s

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Are you like me, buying lots of “one-use” gadgets for your sewing? If so, you probably have at least one of those Clover brand yo-yo makers in your sewing room somewhere. Maybe it’s a basic circle, for the traditional yo-yo shape. Or perhaps you went for one of the unusual ones-the heart, or the pentagonal flower, or the butterfly.

Here’s a clever use of those tools, from the designers at Nancy’s Notions. Nancy demonstrates in this video how to use those yo-yo tools for a smocked effect. This really got my creative juices flowing. What can I do with this idea? The holidays are on the horizon-this effect makes a simple technique look quite glamorous. I love those kinds of things, don’t you? Sometimes it’s so easy to fool the recipient of your gift into thinking it took hours to make it, and quite a bit of skill. I’ll never tell–we’ll make it our secret!


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Kim Diehl freebies

Hey y’all, ME here.

Just was listening to an interview done by Pat Sloan with Kim Diehl on the American Patchwork and Quilting weekly podcast. If you haven’t tried those out yet, give them a listen some time. I find them perfect for listening while walking that same old boring route with the dog each morning. I had a chance to eat dinner with Kim when she and Jo Morton were our seminar teachers a few years ago. What a nice lady-very “normal” and friendly. Just like a neighbor or colleague might be. (well…some neighbors and colleagues, anyway!)

She mentions her freebies in the interview. Here’s a link to her freebie section; lots of goodies there for fans. I’m pretty sure I’ll be making her free ornament for some folks this Christmas.

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Wednesday’s lunch-time ramblings…

Hello everyone,

yes, I do know today is Thursday…but read on, I’ll explain… 🙂

These summer days, as long as they are, don’t seem to have enough hours in them for everything! Sorry for not posting in some time, as always – promise to do better! 🙂

Anyway…how is everyone’s summer? Are you thinking holidays yet? Making gifts already? I just love, love love Mary Ellen’s instructions for those triangular coasters! (previous post) Those are promptly added to my favorite list of small gifts to make – thanks ME!

As we start to rev-up our sewing, quilting and holiday gift making, some new tools might be of help…I just saw this blog post from Moda (fabric manufacturer) and …hmmm, not sure what to think about these QUILT STICKS! What do you think?

Another inspiration came from the recent email that came from our Newsletter fairy, Colleen, about Karen Goddard’s quilt being featured on Laura’s Artfabrick blog (congrats Karen!!) – small, fused, fun quilts! Those can be amazing for gifts, for ourselves, to play and explore creatively…Note-to-self: do more of that!! 🙂 So, if you are thinking the same, check out this great tip from another “fusing diva”, Freida Anderson – it is a video and the idea of layering with paper is really cool!!

Speaking of creativity – do you take pictures? Pictures of things that make you smile, that are beautiful, that are inspiration for a future quilt? I do. A LOT. So, even if you are not crazy about them as I am and take just some photos sometimes – why not show them? And not just show them – why not show them at world-famous, ever-fabulous International Quilt Festival in Houston!! No…I did not loose my mind, honest! Yes….you CAN do it, really! To prove it to you – I did it in 2010! Yes I had one of my photos exhibited in IQF in Houston – and SO CAN YOU!!! What in the world am I talking about? Well, in 2010 organizers and directors of IQF took the fact that quilters DO take a lot of photos, usually LOVE and are inspired by them, etc., etc., to be their next addition to the fabulous Houston Festival – hence the Eye of the Quilter exibit was born! I found about it through one of my internet quilting groups (yes, I do belong to a few…) and decided to give it a try – I got selected! I have a lovely card and a pair of admission tickets to prove it – of course I couldn’t go, but I do have a photo of my exhibit piece (somewhere…) that a fellow quilter sent me, maybe I should frame that? LOL!!

But, that is not really important now – go to the link above and read all about Eye of the Quilter, browse through many of your great photos and send it in!! It takes just one email to do it! I just LOVE this year’s theme – Favorite Things – it can be anything!! Hey, it could be an amazing, ambient shot of your favorite quilt! Promise me you will consider it, pleaseeee!! 🙂

Speaking oh photos – quilt photos – you probably heard or saw the name of Gregory Case – he is a professional photographer who does most of the fabulous quilt photos for magazines (Quilt Life, Quilter’s Newletter…) and books. I just found his blog (through my lunch-time Facebook browsing) and you will love to see how just ONE of these great magazine covers comes to be. Blog name is Traveling Behind the Seams – what’s not to like! 🙂

Now let’s get back to reality and my a bit ridiculous title of this post. Yeah, I knew this was coming….I did promise to explain, didn’t I? Well, nothing really new here – I did start to finalize my post yesterday during lunch break…but then things happen in the lab, specially during summers, when young interns are here…let’s not go there, but enough to say that I was needed, my sandwich was not even finished, much less the blog post! HA, HA! Then I came home, went straight to my quilt class (and that part of the day was just fabulous, but more about that (and some photos!) in the next post), had a very honest intention to finish the post after the class but then there is Olympics….and it was volleyball! How amazing was to watch Misty and Kerry win their third gold!?

Needless to say, laptop on my lap went into a sleep mode and so did I…. LOL!!! 🙂 Of course I could have changed the title of this post, but hey, it’s a part of the story, right? So here I am, during the Thursday lunch break, having a great one chatting with all of you! Let me know what photo did you choose to submit to Houston please!! 😉 (photos first, quilt will come in some time too!) 😉 😉



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Orange you glad I didn’t say…

Hello all, ME here.

I was trying to remember, unsuccessfully, a silly knock-knock joke from my childhood that had a punch line that began with “orange you glad I didn’t say…”. That’s all I can remember. If you know this joke, please send it to me to put me out of my misery!

Anyway, got an e-mail today from Quilting Arts about color choices. It seems “Tangerine Tango” is the 2012 color of the year from Pantone. Have we seen shades of orange everywhere this year? Not me, although I’ve stayed out of the stores more than usual. Thinking about the new quilt fabrics I’ve fondled so far this year, I do recall lots of orange. I’ve even purchased some yardage of a fabric with paisley in shades of orange and turquoise. So hot and summery looking. Here’s a link to a blog post from Quilting Arts about orange in quilts. I don’t use much orange in my quilts. I don’t think I consciously avoid it, but I don’t get drawn to it either. At quilt shows I am always surprised at the lovely quilts using lots of orange, and have commented to myself and friends that I should try out some orange. How about you? Orange you glad I made you think about a new color for your quilts?

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that 60 degree triangle ruler

Hello all, ME here.

Wow, I went out to walk the dog this morning at about 7:15. I always check my kitchen weather station just before we leave so I know if I will need a jacket or not. It’s a habit, so even during the summer I check. It was 83 degrees at 7:15! This is not my idea of a great summer day, fans. I want it cooler in the evenings and early mornings. It was very gray and windy while we walked, so the old-fashioned method of forecasting tells me rain is coming-but I think it might be a heck of a storm instead of a steady soaker like we need.

Yesterday I gave demos at a local shop-some of which were giving ideas for using the 60 degree triangle ruler that many quilters have. Once you have made the striped fabric table runner, what else can you do with that ruler? Don’t get me started–it’s a favorite of mine and I have tons of ideas! One easy one is to make triangular coaster or mats, that are variations on the square “box top” coasters that many of us make. Here’s a photo below,

photo of coaster

-not a great shot, but you’ll be able to see what the coaster looks like. I had a request to post my visual for constructing this here at the blog. You might find this to be an easy gift idea for this holiday season. I’d be glad to show you at a guild meeting if the visual isn’t clear. Click 60 degree coasters for the directions.

What you need to know, in addition to what is on the directions, is that you need to cut 4 triangles for each coaster or mat. They need to be equilateral triangles (60 degree) of any length sides, just make sure all 4 are the same size. Keep one of them flat, fold the other 3 in half with wrong sides together and press a nice sharp crease. I just use the outline of the 8 1/2″ triangle ruler, and the resulting mat is a good size for most coffee mugs or iced tea glasses.

Once you have layered the pieces as shown in the included link, stitch all the way around the perimeter with a 1/4″ seam (no opening needed for turning), clip the corners a bit, and turn them right side out through the center opening. Fix up the corners with your favorite tool–chopstick, knitting needle, whatever. Then give your coaster a nice steam press.

Larger ones will make nice mats for under cookie plates, etc.



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Who is Ami Simms?

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I have been a fan of Ami’s quilting patterns, books and teaching, almost since I started to quilt. I am so glad to have learned Ami’s invisible applique stitch a long time ago. I use it for almost everything I need to hand stitch, where I want my stitches to be completely unseen. I rarely take the time to hand stitch my bindings to the back of my quilts, but when I do, I use her stitching method. You truly can not see any stitches, and if I have been careful enough there are no puckers or traces of any kind to give hints of where the hidden stitches are. There is no need to use matching thread for the stitching, they are so invisible! At her website she still sells the book from which I learned this stitch, many moons ago!

I got Ami’s newsletter today. She includes a video showing how to hand stitch a rolled hem. Yes ladies, before there were sergers, we had to do this by hand. Prom dresses, proper ladies’ handkerchiefs, silk scarves, etc. all received hand stitched hems. Once you’ve done one, you have greater understanding and appreciation of the price tags on those hand tailored couture garments from French clothing designers’ work rooms. And true sympathy for the women who did the stitching!

I still follow Ami because she could be a stand up comic, should the bottom fall out of the quilting market. I have heard her in person and laughed until the tears came. If you visit her website, have a look at the worst quilts in the world and read a few of her comments. You might also enjoy her collection of photos of odd signage she finds which she calls “what were they thinking?” And the dog lovers out there will enjoy her pup Scooter and his antics, narrated by his mom.

Many of you who are new to quilting may not know of Ami, since she is not promoted by any of the big time publishers–perhaps you are aware however of the Alzheimer’s Quilt initiative. Ami is the force behind that. In my opinion it’s time for you to learn about Ami and her work.


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