Monthly Archives: January 2015

sewing by and for guys

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Nearly all of us have sewn a quilt for a male family member or friend. But…have you ever sewn with a male family member or friend? Not so many of us.

I have mentioned Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt Company here before. She and quilter Rob Appell are starting a new venture together: Man Sewing. I think it will be fun and I’ve already subscribed to get the first few videos. I have 2 grandsons turning 8 today. Maybe I’ll be able to get a quilter out of one of them. One of them is very interested in any type of machine, and I’ve got a machine with considerable bells and whistles that he might find to be “awesome”.

Have a look at Jenny and Rob’s skateboard quilt here. click here  Great idea for the boys in those “middle” years.

Here’s a link to Rob’s intro to his series “Man Sewing”. click here

If this is the first you’ve heard about Rob Appell and his quilts, go have a look at his designs and his other quilterly projects here. He is not just a quilter wannabe. I think his applique will blow you away. click here.

We’re at the end of the first month of 2015. How are you doing on your gift making challenge? I’ll be asking for reports in my next post, so get ready to fess up.

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Filed under "modern" quilting, 2015 gifting challenge, applique, free patterns, gift ideas, guy quilting, pre-cut bundles, Uncategorized

Signing your work

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Do you label or sign your quilts when you finish them? I generally do except for table runners and toppers. I’m finding more and more when I change the “quilts” for the seasons or holidays that I like to look on the back to check when I made the piece. I’m often surprised-sometimes by how old the piece is and sometimes the reverse, by how recently I made it. I’m just checking for dates.

I do hope that all of my pieces will find good homes after I’m gone. What would those owners want to know when enjoying my quilted art works? Maybe I should be including more information. Isn’t it fun when examining an antique quilt to find the quilters name and date somewhere-even more fun if it tells where and why it was made? We should be adding those little surprises to our own quilts for their future owners down the road. I recently saw a tip for those of us with somewhat fancier machines which have the capability of stitching the alphabet–not necessarily an embroidery machine. Many higher end sewing machines can be programmed to stitch out words and phrases. The hint I read suggested stitching at least your name and date onto the binding near the fold before applying the binding to the quilt. She suggested you could then position the binding so that information ends up on the back sometimes, other times on the front. She also suggested stitching messages to the recipients-sometimes with a thread that is nearly, but not quite, invisible against the binding color and other times with a highly contrasting thread so the message stands out. That reminds me of a quilt I made for my softball playing niece when she went off to college. Each square’s quilting was a phrase I would hear when watching her games and practices. “Batter, batter, batter!” “Good eye!” “Go, Kara!” and many other of those “sporty” encouragements. Jjust one square had the message-“call your Auntie!” Kara is now 27, working in Washington DC and still has that quilt on her bed.

Generally when I sign my quilts I use a permanent pen and just write my name and date completed somewhere on the back along a line of quilting. I think I’m going to try this binding idea out on my next one. Here’s a link to some other ideas for labelling quilts. Click here.

How do you label your quilts?

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Filed under antique quilts, tips and tricks, Uncategorized

Hey, I know her!

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Look at this site that I was mailed from Free Quilt  I know her!! I think many of you do too.

click here

Congrats on your moment of fame, Marija!


Filed under Uncategorized

odds and ends

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

How’s everybody enjoying the new season of Downton Abbey? I haven’t watched the 3rd episode yet, but I am enjoying the season to date. Love that Maggie Smith/Dowager character. She says the darndest things! And Lady Mary’s escapades…my, my! Have you purchased any of the Downton Abbey fabrics? I think they’re on the third collection now. I’ve used a few as fillers in a project or two for the shop where I teach, but have not gone for an entire project with them as of yet. How about you? If you did make an entire project, what was it? Quilt? bag? purse?

I get the newsletter from Superior Threads regularly. Bob always includes a joke-very tame and inoffensive. Often they include a play on words or some sort of pun. Love myself a good pun. Since I am working on a very common goal of eating better this year and hopefully losing a few pounds, I had to chuckle at the joke he included in today’s issue. Complete credit for this is given to Bob at Superior Threads.

Don’t know why I didn’t figure this out sooner.  I use shampoo in the shower and when I wash my hair, the shampoo runs down my whole body.  Well, printed very clearly on the shampoo label is the warning, “For Extra Volume and Body.”  No wonder I have been gaining weight!
So I got rid of that shampoo and decided to shower with Dawn dish soap. That label reads, “Dissolves fat that is otherwise difficult to remove.”

Will be working on some log cabin blocks today. I’m making up a bunch so I can show my beginner students the versatility of this classic block. I have an article from a past Quiltmaker magazine showing about 50 ways to use half square triangles. Those same layouts are possible with log cabins, or any block with a strong diagonal division. Drunkard’s Path blocks can be used that way . Next time you see a new or interesting block using half square triangles, imagine it as a quilt instead–substitute a log cabin for each half square triangle and voila!

Did anyone else pick up on the news stories last night of the dangers of sitting for too long? Very bad for your health in many ways. So those of you who have set up your sewing room with an ironing board and cutting station near by so you seldom have to get out of your chair–it’s time to rethink that layout. The suggestion was to get out of your chair for several minutes during every half hour. Some companies are encouraging the use of work stations/offices which require standing. Some even have treadmills running below the desk. Yikes. How would we set up a sewing machine so we could sew standing up? Brings to mind another old quilter quote–”If I sew fast enough, does it count as aerobic exercise?”

What’s on your sewing machine right now?



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One man’s trash…

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Last night we had our annual auction at our quilt guild meeting. Throughout the year member’s earn “quilt bucks” by getting involved in our guild’s activities. Basically it is monopoly money, but it has been a successful motivator for many of our members. For example, one might earn 5 bucks for making a block for our charity committee, or 10 bucks for sewing the binding onto a charity quilt. We have a few guidelines for amounts to be awarded, but each chairperson has some leeway as well. Bucks are then saved by the members throughout the year to be used to buy items at our annual January auction. Items for the auction are donated by members. It’s a good chance to clean out our sewing rooms of excess fabric, kits, patterns, UFO’s etc. This auction is certainly an example of the cliche that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Bidding was very spirited on some items, reaching  $300 on one. (Keep in mind–monopoly money!). This year we had a new wrinkle (pun intended) added. The board members added some mystery items. Wrapped securely in brown paper, only one member knew what was in each of the mystery packages. Some were gag gifts–scraps, pennies, selvages. Some were great–brand new good scissors, best press spray, a gift certificate to a local shop. Fun was had by all, I would say. I successfully sat on my hands and did not come home with any new fabric to add to my stash!! I did bid on one lot of purse supplies-handles, stabilizer, magnetic clasp, and a few good patterns. Paid $100 for it (again–monopoly money!). I also was given a treasure by a fellow member. She found a bag of selvages in the lot she won. To her they’re trash, to me it’s a treasure!! If you are not a member of our guild but think this would be a fun idea for your quilty group, I’d be glad to give you more details. We found out about this concept at a meeting of the NYS Quilters’ Consortium and have adapted it to suit our guild. Always glad to share good ideas! Just reply in the comment section and I’ll get back to you.

How is your gifting challenge coming along? (described a few blog entries back). I’ll admit I’ve not made much progress on my original idea for January (to make a Christmas quilt from a Jenny Doan tutorial). I have chosen the fabrics from my stash and have begun to cut them up. I think this is going to be my next leaders and enders project (Bonnie Hunter gets credit for that great concept). I have completed 2 runners though, that will be Christmas gifts. I needed samples for a class I will be teaching so chose the fabrics with gifting in mind. I think I’ll call that a success for this month’s challenge. I’m hoping to get all the fabric cutting for my original idea done this weekend, and to organize it for sewing. Next I’ll be choosing the February gift project for myself.

Does any one of you have a report for us on your progress on this challenge? Who is playing along with us?


Filed under 2015 gifting challenge, guild activities, quilt bucks, Quilt-a-Long, selvage projects, stash reduction

quilting the new year-2015 gifting challenge

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I’m hoping that tomorrow will begin a return to normalcy around here. The holiday goodies are all gone-either eaten or discarded. The plan to get rid of excess avoirdupois is in place. The holiday quilts and decorations are coming down and being laundered a few at a time. That chore should be complete by the end of the week.

I’m ready to begin my new quilting-for-fun projects. How about you? Quilting for holiday gifting loses its charm after the 10th project or so. Part of my plan for this year is to spread those “gifty” projects throughout the year. I say we set a challenge for ourselves. Let’s complete one gift project per month through the year and report back here. In that gift project, try to incorporate something that will make it fun for you. I’ll remind us at the end of each month. Since we’re just starting this we’ll give our goal for this month now. As the year goes on, when we report on the month’s completion (we hope), we’ll set the next month’s goal at the same time.  To keep this achievable make it just 1 project per month if you want to join in. If your potential recipient is also a reader, you can cloak your monthly report in whatever verbal disguise you need.

Okay then. I’ll start us off. Most, but not all, of the quilt appreciators in my family already own a holiday lap size quilt from me. I have 2 to go. So my first goal is to make one from my holiday fabric stash. No new purchase is necessary. I’ve taken 2 online classes recently about machine quilting with a walking foot. I’ll use this holiday quilt as a practice piece for another quilting technique I’d like to try. I’m going to use a disappearing pinwheel technique from Jenny Doan’s Missouri Star Quilts as the pattern. That’s another thing I’ve found online that I want to try. (Here’s a link to the block I’m going to use. Click here.)

Please join in on the challenge and share your first goal for the year in the comments section. We’ll give encouragement, and maybe I can come up with a prize or two as an incentive to keep sewing!!


Filed under 2015 gifting challenge, free patterns, stash reduction, tips and tricks, Uncategorized