Monthly Archives: October 2012

Mystery block unit and the game…

Hi everyone,

yeah…that was me mentioning how glorious weather cuts into my quilting – and look what I have done! Rain, rain, rain…YES – you have full right to blame me!!

But…maybe you will get to sew just a bit more? 🙂

Anyway – I just wanted to follow up on my crazy, quick post from yesterday and make it more clear so everyone will have a chance to play the game and win! I showed you the entire quilt and block that makes it was quite small in the picture, so not easy to see it parts. Remember, I asked what is the PIECED UNIT that makes this star block and what would you call it? So not the ENTIRE block but what SINGLE UNIT makes it? Here is the star:




Can you find it?

Of course, there is many different ways one can piece this star block – and that is the beauty of it – I would love to know ALL of your ways, thinking and creativity – that’s the best fun!!


Off to the vet with our elderly cat Marko (he is 18!), bring sunshine back into your sewing room with some bright fabric and sew!



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It is…isn’t it? IT’S FRIDAY!!

Hello everyone,

can you tell I am ready for weekend? 🙂

Life has been just a bit busy, busy, busy these days and I am so ready for the weekend! There will be some sewing…I am sure of it!! How about you?

This amazing weather we have is really beautiful and – NO, I am not complaining, but…it does cut into my sewing! Oh, it is nice – let’s clean the garage…lets have an extra long dog walk…lets do some more yard work – GEEEZ!! OK, enough whining! So here is a good thing about it – colors! inspiration! – it is everywhere!! Last Sunday my husband and I took an extra long walk along the Ellicott Creek with dogs and I was clicking away with my camera – so here is some glorious autumn inspiration for you:

Don’t you just have to smile when you see these colors?

Jewels in the grass…

Gold on the rocks…

“Fire” in the trees…

Dreaming on the creek…. 🙂
OK, OK, I haven’t gone totally away from quilting, don’t worry! Just wanted to inspire you even more with all these amazing colors. As for me – yes I am inspired too! I was asked to do a quick pattern write up for a design I did some time ago, for the new line of fabric…so  few sleepless nights after, here it is:

So, what do you think? This colorway of the collection immediately called my name – can you guess I am fall-inspired? 🙂

This is collection called Star is Born, by Ro Gregg for Paintbrush Studios – it is so easy when you have a great focus print that you can fussy-cut (blocks in the middle) and then just make one good block using accompanying colors – that’s all I did!

OK – I have to say one more thing – in this design I used one of my most favorite simple blocks – and I don’t even know how to call it!!

OK, can you guess what simple block I am talking about? It is the ONLY unit that makes stars in this quilt!!

I will leave you to guess and let’s make it a gamethe first person that leaves a comment with correct block will get a copy of this pattern once it is published!! (that will be sometime next week)

I will give you a weekend – will check back here on Monday with more pictures, the block and some proposed names for it – and will announce the winner!

Have to run now, it is TGIF you know!

Have a wonderful, fun weekend,




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knitting and quilting

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Quilting isn’t my only obsession. I have tried many a craft in my day-started crafting as a child -so that long span of years from then until now has given me lots of time to experiment. I have a few favorite crafts but, generally speaking, I’m game to give any craft a try at least once.

Knitting is one of my craft obsessions that comes and goes. These chillier mornings and evenings bring it up to the top of the list. I am by no means an excellent knitter-just proficient I’d say. What holds me back is my inability to fix some of the my mistakes. Dropped or twisted stitches usually require me to start over-which is really a wet blanket on one’s enthusiasm for a project. Now a quilting mistake on the other hand, I can fix. I have lots and lots of tricks up my sleeve for those-and I can rip out stitches with the best of them. Somehow it doesn’t bother me as much when I’m sewing, as it does when I’m knitting.

Lately I’ve been writing some of my own quilting patterns. I think it goes back to the many years of writing worksheets, handouts, lessons in the classroom. The task analysis is a puzzle for me. All of the thought processing is a challenge I enjoy–choosing the right words for the directions, how much to spell out vs. how much to assume, deciding how to illustrate a process, if to illustrate a process, deciding what kind of diagrams to include-black line hand drawn or computer generated or photos?

One of my internet subscriptions brought me some essays by knitting designers on how they approach the design and pattern writing process. It’s so individual. One makes the point that when reading a pattern, we should try to understand the designer’s process and philosophy in order to get more from the pattern. Much of what I read in these essays, I thought, applies to quilt patterns as well. Perhaps my thoughts of “why in the world did she have us do it this way?” as I’m working through a new quilt pattern could be answered better if I gave some thought to where the designer “is coming from”.

Whether you’re a knitter, a quilter, or a multi-crafter, you might find some of these essays to be food for thought.

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great easy gift quilt

Hello all, Mary Ellen again.

Got this video in my e-mail this morning. When I find videos from a good source, I usually subscribe to the video channel at YouTube. That way each time a new video is posted, it comes right to me. I’ve been a subscriber to the Missouri Star Quilt Company videos for a long while now. Love Jenny Doan, the mom in the operation of the shop, and her videos.

Jenny’s instructions are nice and clear, she has a nice way about her, they usually feature pre-cuts, and usually are very easy. This video link is for a star quilt with a twist, which uses pre-cut layer cakes. It will work for any size square though, so it’s a perfect one for scraps or yardage as well. Jenny shows a technique for half-square triangle units that I seldom use, to be honest. You get four from a square, but you have bias outer edges. I’m a bit of a stickler about bias, but I will make exceptions. And this is a case where exceptions are the way to go. This fast and easy quilt is too good to pass up. Great way for fast results. New fabrics-new look. Change the size of your square-new look. Mix up the fabrics a bit-new look. Great one to have up your quilter’s sleeve, IMHO!

See what you think.


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Life gets in the way

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Does that ever happen to you too? Life getting in the way of all the things you’d rather be doing? My yard needs lots of work right now;  Mother Nature hasn’t yet killed all the foliage so I think I’ll have to start cutting down perennials if I don’t want to leave all the garden clean up until the snow begins. Have a big batch of tulip bulbs to plant as well, and removing the hosta leaves would make that an easier job. Are you good about digging down nice and deep, adding the bone meal, positioning the bulbs in a nice arrangement, putting chicken wire around the squirrel snacks bulbs, and then tamping nice and firmly? Me either. I just dig out a clump, throw in the bulbs, right the ones that are completely upside down, and then return the clump. If it’s not too muddy I’ll also step on the clump. If the plants can’t take some benign neglect, then they don’t survive in my yard. Every plant for itself, I say.

Don’t have time or inspiration to write creatively today, so I’ll just share some links.

Here’s one for the piecers with left over half square triangles, who want to add something to their English paper piecing. Nice use of scraps.

Holidays are gaining on us, gals. Do you plan to make some of your gifts? Or perhaps you need something for the kids to make to give to teachers, neighbors, etc. Here are some cute ideas for those of you with an overflowing button box.

TTFN. Going back to the clutter control this morning.

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the perfect sewing room

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

What would your perfect sewing room look like? I do several other crafts which have some cross over with quilting/sewing so I would want a combination sewing and crafting room. It would be huge with lots of table space so I could dedicate a table to cutting, another table to piecing, another to other crafting messy tasks. It would have a mini kitchen with a sink, microwave and mini frig. Lots of windows. Of course drawers and closet space galore. I don’t care for lots of clutter as decorations so other than the clutter of whatever the ongoing project might be, the room would be “clean and simple”. And my sewing room would have a sewing elf who would clean up the floor each evening, throwing out the threads and bits, and putting the pins back in the pincushions, etc. Of course in this fairy tale sewing room there is an unlimited budget, both for building and outfitting the room and then for stocking it with the good stuff! And what’s the feature I didn’t mention yet? …a design wall, silly! Don’t we all want a great big one–floor to ceiling, no pins required, well lit and positioned so we can see it from everywhere in the room and step back to ponder or admire our work?

One reader, Karen, is repurposing a daughter’s bedroom into her own sewing space. She is looking for ideas for design walls. Perhaps in the comments she’ll put whatever her constraints are going to be. If you have a good idea or two for a design wall set up, please send in a comment!


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You’ve got to be kidding!

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I borrowed the title from the blog entry I’m linking up here. This quilt is absolutely amazing. Wait til you listen to all the quilter did to bring it together, and you will also be saying …

You’ve got to be kidding!

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October Lucy Goosey


Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

What a busy time it has been! It seems I haven’t been able to sit down for more than a few minutes until after dinner and a dog walk, and when I do I promptly doze off! I think it’s a sign of something-and don’t you dare say old age!

I can’t believe we’re in the last month of our Quilt-a-long! I am working on directions for our last block, an easy variation on the timeless Friendship Star. I am planning to give your directions for a 4 inch, 6 inch and 12 inch finished block and a few possible layouts. I know that not everyone was in love with the first block-that paper-pieced star-and I hear tell that the block # 5 gave a few quilters fits as well. So sorry but perhaps you’ve exercised those quilting muscles a bit. Remember there were practically no rules or guidelines for this effort so whatever blocks you made–Great! You can finish them up any way you wish–runners, pillow tops, hangings, or perhaps even a quilt. I will propose some simple layouts for 4 or 5 or 6 blocks but remember it’s totally up to you. Perhaps we can share finished blocks or tops at our guild holiday get together in December–notice I said blocks or tops, not quilts. If you get your project quilted and totally completed you will be a superstar. Let’s just have the fun of seeing what everyone has made.

Last block and layouts coming soon!

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Some science, some color inspiration, good giveaway and even a recipe!

Hello everyone,

did I scare you yet? Ha, ha!

I simply couldn’t think of a better title for this post…maybe because it is a bit all over the place? 🙂

Oh well, that would be just like me…I am somehow trying to catch up with my life, again. How does this happen? Oh I know – I simply want too much!! To teach, to design, to sew, to cook and bake, to play with my dogs…oh yeah, all that in my spare time. Sound familiar? 🙂  I keep thinking longingly about retirement, but then I remember that all you, my retired quilting friends are also busier than ever, so I might as well not dream about it but get my you-know-what in gear and JUST DO IT. (is that a Nike commercial?)

So what are we all doing while the glorious autumn rolls into our neighborhoods? Are you feverishly working on your holiday gifts and projects? Are you inspired by changing colors to start something new, something just to play, just for yourself? Are you still carried by the great learning wave from Seminar and want to take yet another class? DO TELL!!

For me, it is pretty much all of the above! Told you I am all over the place…. 😉

But let’s start with that science I mentioned – did you think you would hear words thread and microscope in one sentence? Well, scientist in me is happy to find that even that exist! Yes, your different sewing threads are examined under the microscope – not much analysis but just seeing it all is quite interesting. Check it out on this blog.


Thread under the microscope – who knew!? :0






OK, lets talk a bit about colors! What else, when fall is soon going to inspire us with so many glorious colors – I can’t stop clicking with my camera, in fact I carry it in my purse these days. But the most glorious colors are not here yet…so here is some autumn inspiration for you from my files:


  Doesn’t this just say – fall-colored quilt?

I love both, colors and lines in this photo – inspires me to do some curved piecing!




OK, OK – even Marley thinks these colors are fabulous! Ha, ha!

However, if you are not the one to go around clicking with your camera – you can still get some great photo and color inspiration, EVERY DAY in your email inbox – just go to this blog and subscribe to it! Design Seeds outs the smile on my face almost every day!

Marching on down – what was that about a giveaway? Well, for all of you that liked Beth Ferrier’s lecture and classes – here is a chance to win her newest book! Her publisher, C&T Publishing has a giveaway for Sneaky Piecing!

So let’s say you win and simply can’t wait to sit down at the sewing machine to sew, sew, sew… Here is one of those fix-it-and-forget-it recipes that I tried and it was a hit!

         Buffalo chicken is made in crock-pot and it literally has only THREE ingredients!! Here is the recipe !

Oh and want a quick desert – I tried this one too and everyone loved it:

Take a can of biscuits, small frying pan and some oil.

Cut biscuits in quarters and dip them in the hot oil to brown (turn half way)
After blotting the excess oil on the paper towel, roll warm little, home-made tidbits in whatever flavor you like!! (I did mix of sugar, vanilla sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves) – YUM!!!



OK dear friends, that is all from me today! I better be off to my Beginners Quilting class soon – a whole new group of eight eager, enthusiastic, future quilters – YAY!!

Wishing you plenty of autumn inspiration, sewing and cooking,



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