Category Archives: books

For all of us who love to read!

Hello stranger…. (and a tiny surprise at the end, so read on! )

…and that would be ME! 😦

Hello everyone,

sorry to be MIA for so long from our blog!! What can I say… just life in general! New job, too much fun with my granddaughter, summertime… excuses, excuses!!

But early this morning, while it was pouring outside and I couldn’t go for a walk with Marley, I was browsing quilty blogosphere of course, with my morning coffee…and thought that this particular new book (and the fun Blog Hop that goes with it), could be interesting for you all too! IRISH CHAIN QUILTS by Melissa Corry


The subtitle is what I really, really LOVE – contemporary twists on a classic design!! And lets just say it from the start – I have no affiliations of course, I don’t even have the book YET! I just love the idea, love the quilts I saw so far and thought to share for inspiration. 🙂 I really LOVE the block that is on schedule today, by Lee from Freshly Pieced!

Anyway… If you like Blog Hops like I do, this book’s release has one and I find a lot of great inspirations on it – you can find it HERE. You will have a list of blogs and dates when to visit and yes some chances to win in there too…hey you never know! Just fun stuff!

So what are you up to these days? Lots of gardening?

In my garden this year, Clematis seems to be a “star” – huge blooms and lots of them!!


Oh but we also have FRUIT!!! The peach tree my husband planted in honor of our new granddaughter (who we all lovingly called Peaches, before she was born) now has peaches!! So exciting!!


Some new quilting and sewing?

In my sewing room…some new fabric to play with, to re-do and re-vamp some old patterns of mine… what do you think? Like?IMG_0599Can we chat about it? (oh, here comes that little surprise….)

Let us all know what you are up to these days in comments!! Everyone that comments will be entered to win a little prize from me!!!

So what is the prize? Hmmm…well that is a surprise too!!! (hey, but I promise it will be good!) Lets try to do this quick and I can even bring the prize to the guild meeting on Thursday!!!

So – GO! Comment away – we are nosy and want to know what are you up to this summer!!!

here is one of the things I was up to recently…making a bunny skirt!! Yes, I know…going a bit baby crazy… but LOVING IT!! 🙂


Wishing you all a lovely day and week ahead, see you Thursday too,


PS – I just realized that I need to be fair to ALL readers of this blog, not only AQG members – so ALL of you are welcome to comment and there will be one prize for AQG member (you all have till Thursday!) and one for non-member, reader at large – you have till the end of the week (just say in your comment you are not a member). PHEW! glad I got this fixed… 🙂


Filed under blog candy, books, Giveaways

Sneak preview and true confession

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

You all know that Bonnie Hunter is coming to our seminar this fall. (You do know that, don’t you?) She has a brand new book about to be released and is showing sneak previews of the quilts in it over at her blog. If you leave a comment over there,  you have a chance to win a signed copy from Bonnie. click here

Now for a true confession. A few posts back I put out a challenge to join in Bonnie’s challenge quilt for this year, called Lozenges. I had said I had a plan to use up my stash of 2 1/2″ strips. Well that was before I thought it all the way through to needing to cut a whole bunch of 1 1/2″ squares to use as the flippy corners. I fess up that the cutting of all those triangles is not a task I want to take on right now. So…I’m going to use a different one of Bonnie’s patterns for my scrap quilt. I have made her Scrappy Bargello before (that’s the one my pup is sleeping on in the photo), but I’m going to see about a “string” quilt to dig into my stash of novelty scraps from my days of making kids’ Eye Spy quilts. I’ll report back soon on the pattern I settle on. Perhaps you would want to join me on this side trip from Lozenges. We’d still have quilts to share with Bonnie in the fall.

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Filed under antique quilts, free patterns, quilt books, seminar, stash reduction

Are you up for a challenge?

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Bonnie Hunter, our upcoming fall seminar national teacher, has just begun a quilt challenge at her blog. Bonnie is a scrap quilter. She doesn’t just collect scraps; she actually makes things with them. (a novel concept to me!). I’m going to try joining in this challenge so I’ll use up some of my scraps too. I might have to tweak the math a bit because I have so many 2.5″ strips that I’d like to use up–hers is going to use 3.5″ strips. Wouldn’t it be great (hint, hint, hint!) if a few of us joined in so we could show her our progress when she comes to seminar in September? I’m going to set aside a sewing day soon to get a bunch of pieces ready so I can use them as “leaders and enders” while working on projects for my classes.

Here’s a link to the challenge: click here.

And here’s a link to an explanation of  the whys and hows of Leaders and Enders: click here.

Are you in?!! If we admit to joining the challenge, it might help keep us on track, knowing others will be asking us about it. I’ll post my progress periodically. Now that I’ve put it in writing, on-line, I have to follow through…right?


Filed under free patterns, quilt books, scrap quilting, seminar, stash reduction, tips and tricks, tutorials, Uncategorized

Modern Applique

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

What can be changed in applique to make it modern? I’ve seen a new book, The Modern Applique Workbook, talked up quite a bit in “the blogs” of late. And I’ve wondered what’s new under the sun in applique land? I’ll be honest up front. I’m not a big applique fan. I’m more of a piecer. I do fusible raw edge applique sometimes, but I am not a hand stitcher, needle turner. But one thing I am is curious. So I’ve been looking for some peaks into this new book that is getting a lot of press.

Here’s a peek for you: click here.   At the end of the post to which I’ve linked you up, there is a list of bloggers participating in a blog hop for the book. I must say I found the close-ups of the quilting on the projects more interesting than their comments about the applique. The photos of the projects are intriguing too-they surely have a “modern” feel.   I suspect this book will be joining my library before too long.

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It’s ME again,

After I finished perusing the book I talked about in yesterday’s post, I went to my other quilt book purchase: Simplify retro by Camille Roskelly. Camille is one of those “modern” quilters who is building a following on a national scale. She and her mom are the team of Moda fabric designers known as bonnie and camille. You might have loved the very popular Moda lines Ruby or Sky or Bliss that they designed. Camille’s premise in this book is using classic blocks, with modern fresh fabrics, often super-sizing the blocks. I’ve been looking for ways to make some of what I think of as the bedrock blocks of quilting, like a churn dash, or a log cabin, more fun for beginners. Generally I’ve liked those classic blocks in a smaller size, like a 4″ or 6″ or even smaller finished size. Seeing them over-sized has given me some new thoughts. We’re talking really big blocks now, 24″ or 36″. I like the focus that puts on the fabric choice(s) and that some of the “nitzy” work of matching the block parts is simplified for rookie quilters when the blocks are bigger. You can easily make a baby quilt or table topper from just one humongous block and a border. Of course not all blocks will work for this idea-for example I can’t imagine a 36″ four patch being much fun, but how about an Ohio star?

What block is your favorite? Maybe you can make something for yourself quickly from one, or maybe 4, of that block done in a very large scale. What block do you think would be fun to try out for this technique?


Filed under "modern" quilting, quilt books, Uncategorized

“We Love to Sew”

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

How are you this fine rainy day? I just finished marking a set of place mats for quilting. They will be another set of samples for the seminar class I am teaching this fall: Get Out of the Ditch. I borrowed some hand quilting stencils from our guild library and am adapting them for walking foot quilting. I used my favorite marker for this task: Crayola washable markers. That’s right, the ones kids buy for school. I have been using them for this sort of thing for several years and love it. They are very easy to work with, to see while stitching, and to wash out when you’re finished. It’s actually time for me to start watching for them as loss leaders in back to school supplies since some of mine are drying out and/or have worn out tips. Also time to stock up on the Elmer’s washable school glue that I use for so many tasks in the sewing room. Often is a loss leader at school supply time as well and can be purchased so cheaply that it’s almost like stealing it! For you traditionalists, gluing makes mitered borders so easy that you might be tempted to put them on every quilt!

A few posts back I wrote about Annabel Wrigley’s new book for tween sewers called “We Love to Sew”. (BTW thank you to the commenters who gave me some good ideas for projects to do with my sewing buddy. Will definitely be suggesting pajama pants since she seems to live in them!) I ordered a copy of the book and it arrived yesterday. What a great book for kids! It is written for the tween sewer. The photos show kids’ hands, and kid models. It definitely has very cute, kid appealing projects. For the most part it is a girls’ book, but some of the projects could easily be adapted to be made by or for boys. There are 28 projects in the book under the headings Accessorize, Five-Minute Fancies, Wear, Use, Decorate, and Cuddle. It doesn’t talk down to the young reader, but it is written in language they will understand. Appropriate cautions to get adult assistance are included where necessary. I don’t know if I’ll be giving this book to my sewing buddy for her birthday, which was the original plan, or keeping it as a teaching tool. Maybe I should just order another copy. If you have a youngster–maybe grade 4 up to grade 8 or 9–who likes to sew or wants to learn, this would be a great book to use with them.

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Filed under garment sewing, gift ideas, quilt books, sewing with/for kids

some new books

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

It is a beautiful morning here in the neighborhood-truly, not tongue in cheek this time. The canine and I had a great walk in the sunshine, and by the end I had taken off my gloves and hat. (whisper-I think spring is in the air) When we returned home, I took a circle around the garden in the spots that aren’t too squishy wet to see what’s up. It’s time to do some clean up of the parts I can reach from the paths–too early to walk on the beds. Don’t get overly anxious you gardeners out there. It’s not good to pack down the dirt walking on it too soon. Lots of leaves are in the beds from our Snyder trees-no matter how late the last fall raking occurs, more leaves come down after. The daffodils are looking great, the hellebores too. Starting to see bits of green on many of the perennials. Got to thinking of my nana and thought I should bring some forsythia inside to force. She always had branches of things in jars on her windowsills in early spring. She would force them into bloom, and then usually get them to root. They would be returned to the garden to expand the stock! I always think of her when I spot the first shrubs blooming. She had a flowering quince bush the size of a Volkswagen bug that was gorgeous every year. Haven’t seen one like it since.

I ordered some new quilt books for myself and they all arrived this week. Our blog discussions of modern quilting were the inspiration for these titles: 15 minutes of Play by Victoria Wolfe Findlay, Liberated Quiltmaking II by Gwen Marston, Modern Patchwork by Elizabeth Hartman, and not so modern Happy Trails:variations on the Classic Drunkard’s Path by Pepper Cory. I think my favorite is Victoria’s book. Her outlook on the process and her love of scraps are transmitted so clearly. She shares her love for her grandmother’s scrappy crazy style quilts that inspires her own style today. I’d love for us to have Victoria at a seminar in the future. I think both traditional and “modern” quilters would enjoy her. Great book for the guild library. I don’t own Gwen’s first Liberated book but I have seen many quilts in its style. Very fun way to work. Jackie G’s seminar class this year is a child of Gwen’s technique. Both of these authors have a tempered disregard for rules that the Quilt Police might want to enforce about the use of color and color placement, precision of points, placement of grain. And that disregard makes for some great quilts. Both authors intersperse reflections on their point of view and creative process throughout the pattern directions.

Surprisingly the 12 patterns in Elizabeth’s book  are noticeably more structured than Victoria and Gwen’s. The piecing is more complex (lots of pieces requiring precision matching, and quite a bit of curved piecing) than her first book introduced. But that is what she was aiming for–the subtitle of her book is “12 quilts to take you beyond the basics”.  I feel the first book (which I also own) was for the young woman, just joining the ranks of quilters, who wanted to make pretty things from fresh fabrics in a somewhat “Pottery Barn” style. Now she has some basic skills and can “take it up a notch”.  Elizabeth does have more construction knowledge than some of  the other modern style designers whose patterns I’ve read.  I don’t always agree with the methods she chooses, but then I seldom follow a pattern the way its written. I notice that some of the newer pattern designers do things in “old school” ways; perhaps after they’ve been at it as long as some of us have, they’ll come to the streamlined methods we have developed over many years of quilting. (That really sounds snooty, doesn’t it?) I do really like Elizabeth’s style and will make a couple of these quilts. The patterns she includes for the pieced backs are as nice as the fronts! They can be quilts on their own, but what fun surprises to turn over your quilt and find some piecing similar to the front. Also great for those times when you have muddy paw prints on the front of the couch quilt and want to give the quilt an Irish wash because company’s coming. (Ask me about my mom’s explanation of that expression.)

Pepper Cory’s book is a reprint of an oldie but goodie. The original copyright date is 1991! I’m getting into the Drunkard’s Path block these days. I have recently come upon a circle ruler from Creative Grids that makes cutting very accurate circles a breeze. The secret to painless(relatively speaking) curved piecing, in my humble opinion, is correct cutting and accurate seaming. Once you’ve got those under control, blocks like the one which is the basis of the Drunkard’s Path are easy to sew. And you have so many layout options, for quilts which look much more complex than they really are, that you can have fun for days coming up with your own designs. These new rulers and gadgets that come out so frequently these days are helping to make blocks, that used to require templates and hand piecing, achievable on the machine.

Have you purchased any new books or patterns lately that you can tell us about? With the price of them so high these days, we should share our opinions. If you’re willing to share some reviews, I’ll archive them here for others to check out before purchasing. I’m off to work on a quilt from a Pam and Nicky Lintott jelly roll book–a mom and daughter team who’ve written several very good books on using precuts. Pretty quilts, well written patterns that you can count on to have no mistakes, which is a rarity!


Filed under "modern" quilting, antique quilts, gadgets, gardening, quilt books

scraps from my inbox

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

All of these little bits were in my inbox this morning! what a day!

modern quilt example: I follow this blog each day and I think Victoria’s work fits my personal definition of modern quilting. Lots of white, modern fabrics with traditional blocks. What would you think about having her as a seminar teacher? Would there be enough interest? Hmm..? How many of our members have an interest in modern quilting? Or would like to explore it?

McCall’s Quilting University video portal: click here  and/or here.  Free tutorials on many topics

free e-book of pillow covering patterns– some modern, some not: click here.

new (somewhat) technique and book I will definitely be trying!: click here.

spent the morning with the little guys at the Explore and More museum in East Aurora. The place was swarming with little people. Had a great time, but boy am I pooped!



Filed under "modern" quilting, free patterns, quilt books, tutorials, Uncategorized

odd bits again

Hello all, Mary Ellen here on this blustery day.

I just blew in from a round of errands. Went into BJ’s to get printer paper and ink in a little drizzle, came out to blowing snow. I thought that was to come later today?! Winter in Buffalo I guess.

Well Downton Abbey fans! Season 3 is over-what do you think is coming next? Spoiler alert-don’t read further if you haven’t seen the season-ender yet.  About a month ago I had read in some publication about the demise of 2 characters with no reference to who those characters would be. Of course I had my own theories of who was going. I must say I didn’t have this one on my list of possibilities. I didn’t cry my eyes out, as I am reading many other fans did. Or do you think they have may have left the door ever so slightly open, that the character may not truly be gone?! And to think we have to wait until January to find out! Those 6 episodes really went by way too fast.

Another one of my stops today was at Barnes and Noble. I was looking for the Generation Q (oops!, corrected!) quilting magazine-they didn’t have it. But of course I did buy some others instead. Jenny Doan, of Missouri Star Quilting, has her second issue out. Haven’t done any more than flip the pages yet. Bought one I haven’t tried before-Sew Somerset. Its subtitle is “the art of creative sewing with mixed-media”. Looks interesting. Will let you know.

I’ve recently finished up a version of the jelly roll 1600 quilt done with a batik assortment. It’s such a fast technique-I got the top done in less than 2 hours. Even with finagling the pairings since the roll I was using had 2 each of 20 fabrics instead of 40 different one, I still was finished lickety-split. If you aren’t fussy about which fabric lands next to which, and you sew pedal to the metal, you can finish this in under an hour. Two quilters working together, each on half of the jelly roll, can do this in no time and it makes the length of the pieced strips more manageable. If you don’t know what I mean by jelly roll 1600 (40 strips x 40 inches each), have a look at this video. It’s a good technique to have in your quilter’s bag of tricks for an “emergency” quilt to be made in a flash. Some quilters don’t like the look of the long strips in the finished tops. There are more and more tips appearing in blogs about how to break those up, and still make a very quick top. My number 1 tip, having made several of these now, is to make sure you are using 40 different fabrics. This will reduce-not eliminate-blocks of the same fabric appearing in your top. If you want to know how to use this basic technique to produce a top of a particular size, this blog entry from Scrapendipity Designs may be helpful. It’s rather “mathy” though. I know some of you don’t like that!  🙂

Lastly, here’s a link to a free e-book of Modern Quilting patterns from McCall’s Quilting. There are 3 patterns in the book. Each is nice-although not every one is my personal idea of “modern”. As you have certainly discovered if you’ve been exploring this topic, everyone seems to have their own definition!


Filed under "modern" quilting, free patterns, jelly roll 1600 ideas, quilt books, tips and tricks, tutorials, Uncategorized

a little of this, a little of that

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Odds and ends found while blog hopping:

Pat Sloan, our 2013 seminar national teacher visits a NYC group: click right here.

If you are a knitter and a Downton Abbey fan as well, you may enjoy these free knitting patterns: click here.

Stopped at Wegman’s today for a few items not to be found at my small neighborhood tops and almost fell prey to all of that extra “stuff” in the seasonal aisle. That’s why I’ve pretty much sworn off Wegman’s for the basics. I did pick up a new magazine from the Fons and Porter group called Quilting Quickly. It is full of patterns from Jenny Doan and the crew at the Missouri Star Quilting Company. If you are an avid fan of Jenny’s videos on YouTube, be forewarned that many of the patterns in the magazine have already been featured on Jenny’s channel. That may be a good thing if you like to have written directions to refer back to and take notes on, or it may be a disappointment if you were expecting all new content. Her intro letter leads me to believe that this is not just a one shot specialty issue, but will be followed by future issues. The print and editorial style is what you are used to, if you are a reader of Love of Quilting from Fons and Porter. Easy reading, clean graphics and page layout. Lots of patterns for the price.

Working on a UFO today! Hope to have it ready for show and share at the next meeting. I don’t know if we’ll have show and share this month, since we have the quilt bucks auction.


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Filed under free patterns, quilt books, quilt bucks, tutorials, Uncategorized