Monthly Archives: January 2014

a little of this, a little of that

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Were you able to spend any time at your machine during our recent arctic spell? I’m working on some Dresden plates for a class, and trying to come up with a fabric adaptation of a knitted shawl pattern for myself. It’s cold in my favorite reading spot and I’m trying to find the perfect shoulder wrap. If it works, I’ll be sharing it in a demo at the shop.  I love that classic Dresden plate pattern, but not so much in the classic way–with 30’s reproductions and lace. I’ve been exploring to find other ways to use the plate or fans and have found some that are “out of the box”. I’ve made a wreath with the blades in the past, but these are beyond that. The internet is such a great source for inspiration. I started with a google image search and then just started following links. Amazing how much time goes by before you even know it. Here are two of my favorites so far. click here, or here.

I get inspired to make soup when it’s cold and blustery like it has been. Nothing quite so comforting. Here’s a good-looking recipe that I think I’m going to try soon. I’ll have to make a good list for the grocery store first. The light clam chowder version that is in the sidebar looks worth a try too. Click here for the recipe.

Heading out for a walk now with my canine companion. It will seem like a heat wave!

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Filed under antique quilts, recipes, Uncategorized

Wednesday’s Wanderings

Hi everyone,

how are you keeping warm?

I find that these days I need that extra 20 minutes after coming in from the cold to just sit under the quilt, with hot tea or coffee – just to warm-up and bring myself to normal – and only THEN I can function properly! Of course all this winter stuff is nothing new for us here, but sometimes just listening to all the media talk makes me feel apprehensive and nervous, then Marley and I go out and I realize – oh it’s not that bad, just normal Buffalo stuff… 🙂 Granted, even our walks are shorter a bit and I even saw my snow-dog lift his paws few times during the walk, when it starts being a little uncomfortable… but just look at his face after the walk! I swear he is smiling every time!


This was just the other morning. With that face, how can one NOT be happy to go out and have a good walk? Marley is really my best health plan, I tell you.

For the emotional and mental health – well, quilting is there of course! I am feverishly working to fulfill my January plan and that means few late nights too since, of course all other life is going on. I will make it, I will make it…:)

Speaking of all other life – I am teaching not one, but two beginners quilting classes these days and it is just so much fun! Total of 13 new addicts in the making my friends, ha ha!! What I love THE MOST is the fact that I am seeing more and more young women wanting to learn and do quilting – pure thrill!! For example, among current 13 students I have, at least 7 are under or around their thirties! As I said – thrilling! This is one of my newer class samples:IMG_0963

Simple half-square triangles and all different types of quilting, binding etc. Have to say I haven’t made a quilt in just TWO colors in a long time…but really like this one!

Speaking of young quilters – do I have one to show you! Marilee Hatzenbuhler is not only so extremely talented and amazing young woman and quilter – she is our Martha Eddy’s niece and our Marjorie’s Hatzenbuhler daughter too!! She used to be our member also but she lives in Boston now. Thanks to this amazing technology we have now, you can still enjoy Marilee’s amazing work, right here ON HER BLOG . But of course I am going to entice and inspire you with some of this amazing young quilter’s work right now – just take a look! (shared with Marilee’s permission)

MHatz-4 MHatz-5and some amazing quilting:

MHatz-1 MHatz-3MHatz-2

These were some of Marilee’s first trials on feathers. One word comes to mind here – spectacular!

She is also a new quilt pattern designer and you will soon be able to buy her patterns! If you are on Facebook, you can follow Marilee’s inspirations and work on her page HERE .

Hmmmm…me thinks, this talented young lady should come to visit family and give us a trunk show at the guild sometime this year – don’t you think? :)

Of course with mom and aunt both amazing quilter’s Marilee has such a good foundation and inspiration, but what I think is so spectacular is that because of her, so many more YOUNG women, who maybe didn’t have that exposure in their family, will be inspired and encouraged to try it. Did I mention how thrilling this is? Maybe I did a few times… he he.

I can’t wait to share with you all the creations all my young ladies in classes will do in coming weeks. Teaching others is truly such an inspiration – share your stories, I am sure you all shared your love of quilting (or any other hand work) with people in your life.

Stay warm and stitch on,


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Filed under eye candy, free motion quilting

running reds

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Are you a pre-washer or not? This seems to be one of the BIG quilt questions that can separate a group of quilters into 2 camps pretty quickly. (Another one of those questions–Do you use steam when you press your seams? but that’s for another day) I am a pre-washer. I have had a few nasty surprises in my quilting career that took all the fun out of some projects. I almost had another one yesterday.

I finished a log cabin quilt to be used as a class sample. I had used some dressmaker’s chalk to mark a garland in the outer border. When I got the whole thing done and bound, I threw it in the washer to get the chalk out, and to give it that nice crinkly look a quilt made with 100% cotton batting will get. Yep, I had used a deep red in the center squares of the cabins and repeated it as the inner border. It had been pre-washed. It was a fabric from a major producer of high quality quilting fabric (no names to protect the “innocent”). And yep, you are ahead of me, it ran. I had washed it in cold water and the gentle cycle with a color catcher. Fortunately my quilting guardian angel had me look the quilt over before I threw it into the dryer. After saying a few choice words, I put it back into the washer with a second color catcher and ran it through the cycles again. This time the red came away from the surrounding fabrics (but the color catcher stayed white, don’t ask me how). Into the dryer it went, hopefully setting the red dye.

I will always be a pre-washer! But I have learned that it still doesn’t guarantee fool-proof results. I don’t understand how so many quilters can skip this step, trusting that since they paid a lot for the fabric that it will be fine.

Here’s a link to a Barbara Brackman story that gives a few hints for those stinker fabrics that bleed like mad.(click here)

Do you have a story about running reds, or a hint that we can use?


Filed under tips and tricks

this and that

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I enjoy looking around the blogosphere at what other quilters do with the old tried and true quilt blocks. You know the ones I mean–the classic half square triangle, log cabin, flying goose (do you say geese when it’s just one block?), four patch, nine patch, and so on. You wouldn’t think you’d see too much new done with those since they’ve been around for so long.    New look (to me anyway) for half square triangles (or friendship stars if you want a bigger unit): click here.

I know many quilters are knitters as well. I just finished some warm mittens for my godsons and a friend, and have some bulky yarns remaining. I was looking around on the internet for an easy cowl neck that I could wear under a coat or perhaps with a turtleneck. Here’s a link to the one I settled on. (click here) If you go to Pinterest and put “cowl free knitting pattern” in the search you’ll find many lovely ones, in a variety of yarn weights.

Valentine’s Day is around the corner (if you have projects to make). At Jenny Doan’s Missouri Star Quilt Company’s YouTube channel she recently posted a cute little Swedish heart project that she made with “scraps” of felted wool. Jenny calls it a Christmas heart, but I think it could be just as cute as a Valentine heart. Perhaps two shades of pink, instead of red and white would make it more “valentine-ish”. You might have some red and white will scraps left from Christmas projects that you could use for this. If you’ve been a crafter for long, I would not be surprised if you already know how to make this. (click here for video) I’m going to use up some odd bits of wool and make some of these for the kids. I plan to put a paper envelope corner, scavenged from discarded junk mail, down inside so the wool doesn’t stretch from the weight of the candies I will be putting in the little pockets. Not all wools or felts will need this, but my scraps are those lovely soft wools from a quilt shop. I also have some wool felt from a red sweater that I bought at the Salvation Army before the holiday that I am going to try for this.

Well I’m off to put a binding on a quilt that just came back from the quilter. TTFN. Keep warm on this blustery weekend.

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Filed under free patterns, gift ideas, knitting, local quilt shops, tutorials, Uncategorized

Wednesday’s Wanderings…wondered back! :)

Hi everyone,

Happy New Year!!

Yeah, I know, I am a bit late for that and a bit MIA lately and I so very much apologize!

It seems that all together, holiday hustle, polar vortex, flooded basement and few other “fun” things combined lately to take me away from regular blogging. I also realized that I needed few days to joust RELAX, do whatever, do nothing, NOT have a schedule…just chill (as my kids would tell me). So I did that too. Loved it. However, now it is time to get on with this year. 🙂

One thing I realized these days (you know, that old year-new year re-cap, re-evaluation, resolution and ….thing? yeah, that one.), is that blogging is a very important part of my life now and when I am not doing it, or when I lag in realizing all my ideas and inspirations – it makes me very frustrated! So – what is one to do? Not sure if I have all the answers but I do know one thing that I AM going to do – stop whining (mostly to myself), get organized and just get on with the program! Ha ha! Sounds funny maybe, but I am really going to do just that. It also sounds easier said than done of course. Well, I got some help…


Yup, you saw that right – got me a BLOG PLANNER! Now we are in business! Ha, ha, yeah having a planner is just a start of course, but it does help! The best part – this one is FREE! Made by Erica, you can download free PDF and print it – if you should need it, it is HERE .

Oh but that is not all. I am so getting organized in this year! I also have this wonderful planner and unlike other, regular planners, the best part of this one in the BEGINNING – where you clearly outline many things, goals, wishes, what works, what doesn’t and HOW are you going to get where you want to be. Sounds all so common sense of course, but it isn’t as clear, at least for me, as when you put it down on paper.


Now this one is not free but for me, it is worth every penny. I found it through the blogosphere and got it on Amazon of course.

So my friends, look out for new, organized me – she will show up eventually! Ha ha!

OK enough with organization (oh yeah, I also cleaned my sewing room!), let’s talk about some fun stuff. Resolutions anyone? NOOOO….and that is not really that much fun. I don’t do resolutions, at least not in the classic sense – do you?

Instead of resolutions, I went this year again with a WORD of the year. Word that is my focus, inspiration, guidance for this year. Last year it was REALIZE – and I meant it in many meanings of that word. Some I did realize, some I didn’t… but that’s last year anyway. This year I choose a bit more narrow sense – my word for this year is WORK. In general it means that I have to work harder for what I want, for what I dream and because I want every minute of my life to count. But in more narrow sense, it will mean WORK ON QUILTS. Well DUH….you will say, what else will you work on Marija? And that is true, except that I want to do it with more focus and plan. The main inspiration, and “light bulb” moment came to me from one of my favorite young quilters and bloggers, Maureen Cracknell. In December Maureen was blogging about all the quilts she made in 2013 and how she actually accomplished her goal to make/finish one quilt every month. And that is one BED SIZE quilt. You can read about the result of that in her post HERE. I just love it.


Simple goal, right? Many of you maybe did it already, maybe many times… Well, not me. And I want to. I really, really want to! Why? Because I have this list of quilts that I want to make for all of my loved ones – my husband, my kids, my mother, my mother-in-law… And somehow this list always gets sidetracked, pushed aside, not completed projects…  There is always a class sample to make, a gift for so and so, pattern to finish, new idea to try…yeah, all that is good, but that LIST is now my main focus for this year! So you would agree – I need to WORK. And please feel free to call me on it too! I don’t know if I am going to have a quilt completed every meeting to show you, but by that third week, I should have at least a top to show you at the meeting – please ask me for it! Ha ha. Seriously now, even if I have to miss a meeting (as it will happen tomorrow, 😦  family stuff…), I WILL have both then next month.

I already have a LIST – which quilt what month and for who. January – a cuddle quilt for my son and daughter-in-law because they are cuddling their little baby in her belly right now…Yes my friends, if you didn’t hear me yet, shouting from my roof top – I am going to be a grandma in May!!! Wooooo-hooooo!!!! It is a girl and yes, first quilt, her mommy’s wish, is already planned and in the making! But of course, not the ONLY quilt… Feeling happy is a major understatement. 🙂

SEW….anyone else wants to join in this “calendar quilt project”? 🙂

You know who else is doing the word of the year? Our recent Seminar teacher, Pat Sloan. Go read what her word is and why, right HERE. Speaking of Pat, you know how she is this pile of limitless energy and fun? She has a new, fun quilt-a-long, block of the month too and this one is called Globetrotting. Blocks are inspired by major cities in the world, starting with Washington DC. You can find all about this one also on Pat’s blog here. She also formed a fun Facebook group for that – lost of pictures, exchange of ideas, questions and all other projects and UFOs, so if you are on Facebook, you might want to check that out too.

I didn’t do a Block of the month or quilt-a-long in quite some time now, but this one really appealed to me. As soon as I read about it, all i could think of is that I actually have fabric from all over the world! My daughter, who travels a lot for work, brings me fabric wherever she goes, so by now I have it from Africa, Bangldesh, Nepal… How perfect is that for Globetrotting quilt?  So here are my fabric:


and here is where I am now – Washington DC block (with fabrics from Kenya and Bangladesh!), half of it, all laid out and ready to sew:


Two gray fabrics above will  be a “mainstays” (and they are commercial, American fabrics), in all blocks and sashing, red and royal blue are ones I have most of so they will be “sprinkled” all over too and then the rest will be…well, Globetrotting!!  This should be interesting!

There is another, really fun BOM I found and it has a very good cause that I love.  Fat Quarter Shop is doing a WISHES quilt-a-long that will benefit Make A Wish Foundation. Every month you will get a free block pattern, even a YouTube instructional video, and all they ask is that you make a contribution to Make A Wish Foundation. You can do it in their, lovely fabric choices (Wishes collection from Moda – very yummy!) or do it as a stash buster, but either way it is such a great cause and it should be a lot of fun. I have my fabrics piled-up, made fist donation already and so hope to keep up every month! (with my “big plan” from above and new grand baby…it will be a miracle, but at least I will try!).

I hope I didn’t lose you in all these wanderings of mine but you know, it has been a long time and I have so much more to tell you and share with you and hope you will share/tell back – you know how we love those comments! Leaving you now with few photos for inspiration or meditation…:)

Have a wonderful Wednesday,





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Filed under eye candy, free patterns, Quilt-a-Long

the most beautiful sewing machine in the world

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

That’s the opinion of the man filming this video. ( most beautiful video) I ran across him totally by accident at YouTube and have watched just a couple of his videos. Love his Sussex accent. If you enjoy this video, look over his list and I’m sure you’ll find some others of interest, particularly if you enjoy old/antique machines.  If you have the time have a look at the one featuring the toy machines.

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Filed under antique machines

getting back to a routine?

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

It seems that life is ever so slowly getting back into a normal routine. The holiday decorations are back in storage (except for the outdoor wreath on my gate), the kids are back to school (except for the snow days), and I’m back to the machine (except for when I’m knitting).  Do those exceptions all mean it’s not a normal routine? Hmm…

I’m working on my favorite type of quilt now. It looks fairly tricky, but it’s actually quite simple. Don’t you love that kind of pattern? This one is from one of the jelly roll and pre-cut books by the Lintotts. I have several of their books: well written and clever ideas for those pre-cut bundles that are so hard to resist. I’ll get the exact title for you shortly. (Here it is at amazon.)The only ever so slight trickiness comes from the fact that the rows are actually on the diagonal, rather than the regular horizontal and vertical. The diagonal set of the blocks is what makes it look more complicated that it is. Photo soon.

Here’s a link to some very interesting art work. It’s amazing to think that these quilts are not made from fabric–they are sculpted from wood! Have a look here. ( I had a reader ask about what I was attempting to show you at that link. When it opens, all 4 of the items in the illustration are wooden, even the clothing. The one to the farthest left is a sculpture of a quilt. Click on it to go to more pages of quilts, all of them sculpted from wood).

That’s all for today folks. TTFN.

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it’s back…

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Just finished watching the last bit of Downton Abbey’s first episode of season 4. Won’t say too much specifically since some of you fans might not have seen it yet. Several interesting developments-planting seeds for new story lines obviously. I will say that the dowager was surprisingly nice-for her, I thought.

Have you seen the fabric lines inspired by the ladies of Downton? When they began to appear in ads in magazines, I was not impressed at all. Too dull in color for my taste. But now that they are appearing in stores, and I’m seeing a few projects made with the fabric, I’m starting to change my mind. Here’s a link to the photos over at Andover fabrics, with free project plans. What do you think? The purples hint at the Pantone color of the year, just muted down a bit. (Radiant Orchid images) Perhaps those of you who thought you would never have that color in your house, after reading my earlier blog post about it, might find bits of it creeping in. I found a bit of it on a cereal box while shopping before our blizzard. Those ad executives and packaging designers have amazing ways of controlling the colorful bits in our houses.

Any thoughts about Downton?


Filed under free patterns, local quilt shops, Uncategorized


Hello all, Mary Ellen back.

It is amazing when I say 2014 out loud. How can I be this old?! I was reminiscing with a friend about a football party when the Bills came back from behind to the great enjoyment of the crowd and the consternation of the dogs in the room. I ended up with a Doberman in my lap who was very upset by all the shouting! Twenty one years ago! How can that be?! Yikes!

Anyway, back to resolutions. Are you like me, resolving every year to work on your UFO stash? (Don’t tell me that you’re one of those quilters who has no UFOs because you always finish a project before moving on to the next one!) I want to actually do something about some of my UFOs this year instead of my usual tactic of just shuffling them. A few days ago I was browsing some free videos at QNNtv. One title intrigued me. Something like “Dealing with PIGS”. (Do you know that acronym? Projects in Grocery Sacks) (click here for the video) Lori Baker, who is creative editor for Quilters Newsletter magazine, was being interviewed and inspired me to do something about a few of my own PIGS.

The first tactic she talked about was deciding if you really WANT to finish the PIGS? If not, she suggested taking the fabrics out of the sack, and redistributing them into your stash to use for other projects. This hint applies mostly to those kits we buy at quilt shows, etc. and never seem to get around to starting. Some of you know that I teach and give demos at a local shop. I usually try to show each project in several colorways or styles of fabrics. A few days ago I finished up a log cabin project in the colors that the shop currently has in stock, in a rather scrappy arrangement of the colors. I know that scrappy is not everyone’s cup of tea. I wanted to also do a more traditional version of the project, having each log cabin exactly the same as all the others. Instead of buying more fabric or going to the stash, I  decided to go to my cache of kits and found one from the days of old. You may remember a quilt shop out on Stone Road near Lockport that was a favorite for many of us. Judy gave so many quilters their start in this addiction we have. She was quite the enabler, if I do say so. The kit was (notice past tense) for a bed size quilt in very traditional creams, blues and reds. A beautiful cabbage rose print with a not quite navy background was the focus fabric for the outer border.  The colors and fabrics are still lovely, IMHO. I had to be honest with myself, that I was never going to make the quilt. So I disassembled the kit and found that I had just what I needed for the log cabin project. Enough lights, enough darks, an inner border, an outer border, and a red for the center square. Perfect! I think this tactic is going to work well for me; I saw other kits hiding in there that I know are not ever going to be made, so those fabrics are going to find other projects to live in.

Another tip the guest Lori shared was how she gets so much done in 15-30 minute blocks of time. She used to get up early to quilt for a half hour in the morning before her family was up. She shared how in that short time of peace and quiet each day, she was able to accomplish so much at her machine. The key was making the rule for herself, and having the materials for her projects at the ready. Now that her kids are older she has modified the rule–but still she finds that by making a new rule for herself she is able to get a lot done, in small bites. I think I can make this work for me. I have a pile of project samples from my demos at the shop that are in various stages of completion. I make up samples to show the steps along the way to the end project and often end up with 4-8 versions of the same project, all partially complete. The samples will range from “just begun” to “just needs one last thing”. I’m going to start putting all the versions of a particular project in some sort of box or case, next to my machine, and work on them for a few minutes each time I sit down. Just reducing the stack down to one project to look at will be less intimidating than the mountain of all of them. My first one is going to be the pile of incomplete Christmas stockings. Each one only needs a little bit to bring it to completion. I think 15 minutes per session will work for me-the first 15 minutes of each time at my machine will be spent on finishing up those stockings. Of course the first hurdle is to find the box or case, and to go through the mountain of PIGS to get those stockings out and organized. I feel like a general gearing up for a battle!

So how about you? What are you going to do with all of those PIGS at your house?

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Filed under local quilt shops, scrap quilting, stash reduction, UFO reduction, Uncategorized