Baby quilts never end up being easy

I am making two baby quilts. Thought I’d make something simple and plop an appliqué on them. Nothing ever turns out simple in my world of no quilt top patterns. I suppose it’s because my father turned me on to Robert Frost when I was a child.

This was the first Robert Frost poem Dad ever recited to me.

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

That poem along with a chorus from a John Coltrane song pretty much explains my whole life AND my quilting habits.

I think that’s why I tackle the hard things and try to do them. I think that’s why I often start a quilt pattern or plan and change the plan in the middle of the project. Ok, I’ll admit it. I ALWAYS change the plan.

That brings us back to this baby quilt. I started with a plan of a quickie Jelly Roll race with a border all in blues. Followed by slapping a sailboat appliqué on it. Good plan. However, as I sat down to the machine, I decided I wanted it to kinda look like ombré. The idea was light blue at the top for a sky effect with dark on the bottom for the sea. Did that and it looked boring. So boring that I had to chop it up and so I frog stitched (seam ripped) apart every 6 rows. Cut those to make quarter square triangles and boom had a chevron design. Cool!

Not cool. Now I had to miter the border. Ok easy peavey.

Now the quilt isn’t big enough. Have to add another border. Bigger border. Now have to miter that so it matched the smaller already mitered smaller border.

I learned why you want to see all your borders together first before you put them on the quilt for mitered corners.

I cut out a paper sailboat to see where I wanted to place it and quite frankly it sucked. So now I scrapped the idea of the appliqué.

Found a cool fishy edge to edge longarm pattern and am long arming that on this quilt.

A two evening project turned into a week.

My less traveled path sometimes takes more time. But I am pleased with the result. IMG_2412.JPG


A Pouch for Carol

My friend, or cohort in quilting crime, Carol, accompanied me to Valli and Kim a really awesome Texas Quilt shop. We saw nearby a store called Cowgirls and Lace. A friend of mine talked about how wonderful a place it was for decorating fabrics and all kinds of things. So of course, we just had to go in.

Cowgirls and lace had upholstery samples for just a dollar. Beautiful stuff!

I asked Carol to pick out three and I also picked out a few. Today, I decided to do “something” with them. I decided to make a useful gift for Carol.

She liked a brown plush fabric with modern colored striped circles on it.

I saw a free pattern on studio Kat Designs that looked really useful. I didn’t use the dimensions as I chose to use the sample fabric without cutting it up. But I did use the instructions. And, I added a few treats for Carol. Which I received as a giveaway from a new shop in Lytle, Texas, named Pyron’sIMG_2380.JPGIMG_2375.JPGIMG_2378.JPG

Plum Inspiration and Alcohol

This has been an interesting spring. It started with a drought and appears the drought will continue. Our plum-tree doesn’t know it though. We have a bumper crop of plums from our lone tree this year. We have been eating plums for two weeks, given plums away to our friends, taken plums to our relatives and still we have plums ripening. What to do?

I looked around at preserving plums and found quite a few interesting pickled plum recipes. Several caught my eye and had ingredients that you would expect such as cloves, bay leaves, anise, and other traditional spiced pickle type things. I especially thought the suggestion of chili peppers was really awesome. I also thought the idea of orange zest and ginger was interesting. THEN I found the alcohol preserved fruit recipes. I decided I could go one better than both and kinda combine the two methods. We will find out in about three months. I settled on combining some of the more interesting flavors with booze to preserve.

Here is what I put in my jar: Fresh plums cut in half, pits removed and used enough to fill a one quart flip top pickling jar about three-quarters full, dumped in two cups of turbinado sugar, 2 cups of Texas produced rum, 1 cup of King’s Ginger and 1/3 cup of Grand Marnier. Tossed in about 1 1/2 tablespoons of whole black pepper kernels and 1 whole dried cayenne chilli pepper. I’ll add more rum as the sugar dissolved and it all settles down. I don’t think you can add too much booze (but I do think you can add too little and not preserve anything), and more booze will be more fun in the end.

I”m thinking I got the major flavors of tart plum skins, sweet plum flesh, ginger, pepper, orange, and hot spicy goodness. Now I just have to wait… and wait.. and shake the jar up to dissolve the sugar.. and wait some more.

I’m tired of geometry in modern quilts

The more I see modern quilt guild type
quilts, the more I like many of them. I like how the actual quilting can create a sense of motion if it’s thought out. I like the quilts that make me think or that make statements even if I don’t like the actual statement they are making. The idea that fabric can evoke emotions is really cool.

However, I am getting tired of rectangles and squares. So many of them look alike. I had a thought a few days ago about how I was tired of geometric patterns and that free form flowing shapes are really interesting to me right now.

So I’m taking three simple fabrics and am going to see what I can do with them. The first two are bland ombré hand dyes in ashy blue and tan. The third fabric is burnt orange that actually is in the same shade as the tan just not diluted w grey like the tan. I’m challenging myself here. Not a single one of my beloved batiks in sight, and a lot of improv free cutting is going to happen. I plan on keeping the geometry to a kind of minimum.

Happy students

John and I completed our freeform table runners this past Saturday. Carol had to leave before finishing and we will finish it up later this week. She picked out some amazing colors of yellow, pinks, oranges and green.

No two table runners ever come out the same because every strip you cut is curvy and done as you are inspired in the moment.

John and I went with colors we can use during the great Watermelon Month of June here in Luling, Texas. Some might say these are Christmas colors. But, here in Luling we know better.


Wonder tape makes for professional looking pillowcase finishes.

I have discovered Wonder tape! Love this stuff. If you are doing a pillowcase type finish and just can’t get those pesky edges to fold in and stay aligned, wonder tape is your friend! It is two sides and tacky so you can reposition the cloth to your hearts content and when you are happy you can use an iron to fuse it down to it will stick really hard. Then you can sew it. It’s a convenient 1/4 inch wide so makes getting that seam to match with the other side of the opening you want to close really easy. After you sew it, it will seems kinda stiff with that tape in there. But it sewed easy and didn’t gum up my needle. The wonder part comes after you wash the item. The tape dissolves away and disappears leaving no trace it was ever there!

I used this in my free form table runner class yesterday and the students projects came out fabulous. Even the beginner never ever sewed before student produced a really well done project. You could not tell where the opening was that was used to turn the table runner inside out.

Detailed Information about the Free Form Table Runner Class Feb 22, 1014

The Free Form Table Runner class being offered Feb 22, 2014 from 10 am to 2 pm. at the Texas Art League Gallery. Sign up at the Gallery. There will be a break for lunch, you can bring your lunch or some students may wish to work on their project so we arrange for lunch from the Coffee Shop, or perhaps a taco run. Iced tea and water available during the class.

Click here for PDF to
save and download.
For more detailed information, Please click on this image for a pdf you can save and print. This flyer will also be available in the Texas Art League Gallery; and, in the Watermelon Shop next door if the Gallery is closed.

The Gallery has limited hours but is open most afternoons Tuesday – Saturday. They would really appreciate more volunteers who would like docent at the gallery so that it may open more hours of the day.

The Texas Art League Gallery is at at 509 E Davis Street, Luling, Texas 78648.

Freeform Table Runner is easy peasy fun! My first artful quilty teaching will be in February!

I’ve put my body where my mouth is and have volunteered to teach a fabric art class. February 22, 2014 will be my big debut. I wanted something that anyone can do, something quilty, and something fun. What to do?

I have so many ideas but some needed a little experience. I tossed around the idea of a fused art piece and that is a real possibility because you don’t have to sew if you don’t want to. The idea of doing self portraits using fabric, fibers and other stuff crossed my mind. But that is probably a 3 or 4 meetings type of thing. A fast piece applique using Rose Hughes technique is on the list for sure. Finally I settled on doing something that looks hard, but really isn’t and can be done in 3-4 hours. We are going to make.. drum roll please… a wonderfully wavy free form table runner.

Lembo is a great sport and volunteered to be my crash test dummy!
If my He-man Texas Cowboy husband who has never ever sewn on a machine before can do this, you can too!
I needed a crash test dummy to try out my class. I wouldn’t want to get myself or my students in over my head. I needed a never ever sewed in their life ultra beginner. After cajoling and promising delicious food I finally talked my cowboy horse loving Texas he-man husband into it. He had never ever touched a sewing machine in his life before. Perfect!

I set a timer and we started. And.. Viola! He did it! If I add a half an hour for setting up and settling down, the class should do this in three and half hours.

Below are pictures of the he-man’s first quilt and couple of other samples, two use batiks and the third uses a wild design and some textured prints. He wanted red, bright red. I like his fabric choices a LOT!

I suggest choosing one focus fabric, something super bright, crazy, different, or big print. And choose the rest as more solid, or finer textured to go with it. That kind of combo seems to work out best. But there are no rules in this class for fabric choices. If you love it… do it!

What makes this so easy?
No straight lines! You don’t have to sew straight.

What makes this so fun?
Every student will make a unique artful free form table runner just their own. Never-Ever’s and experienced beginners will all be successful.

This is free form quilting… easy, no rules, no straight lines, no quilt police looking over your shoulder!

What to bring?
Yourself ready to have fun, learn something new, and take home a wonderful unique artful piece for your home or a gift.

Fabric You will need one piece 15-16 inches wide and 5 pieces of fabric about 6 inches wide cut selvage to selvage (selvages are the edges of the fabric, not the cut edge, this will be about 42-45 inches long).

Optional: for a $10 fee, I can provide a kit of five fabrics for you. Color choices limited to stock on hand. Browns, pinks, blues, greens all batiks.

If you choose to bring your own, keep in mind that many similar printed fabrics side by side may get lost in each other. For success choose one really wild crazy fabric and pair it up with teensy prints or solids that complement it. Batiks or hand dyed fabric are wonderful for this type of free form craziness. Suggestion, choose one really wild or colorful fabric that will standout from the rest. These are only suggestions, if you have a wild crazy idea, just go for it!

Thread is necessary and we will have neutral and black on hand. If you want to use thread to match your fabric, pick a thread which will go with all 5 fabrics you have chosen.

Batting is the stuff that goes inside the quilt to make it have shape and body. We want a thin batting that will take 8-10 inches between quilting stitches. This will hold together better. I suggest Warm and Natural batting or any other that will accept lots of space between stitches. You do not want the all polyester with 3-4 inch between stitches. It will be too puffy for a table runner if you ever wash it, it will puff up.

Sharp Scissors or a Rotary Cutter would be even better. If you have a rotary cutter bring it with a fresh sharp blade. If you don’t know what one is.. that’s okay. Bring scissors, sharp ones. I will have a rotary cutter so you can try it, but the class will have to share if they want to use it.

Sewing Machine If you have a sewing machine in good working order that will stitch a straight stitch and a zigzag stitch, bring it too! Make sure it’s working before class. If you don’t have one, don’t worry, contact me before class and I can arrange to have one available for you (limited to 6 students).

Bobbin filled with thread.

Presser Foot Yes, I forgot to take this vital part of the sewing machine with me to a class once, make sure you have at least the regular straight stitch foot. If you know what a free motion foot is and have used one, bring it. We won’t teach it in class, but you can certainly play around on this project with it.

Except for the cost of supplies, all proceeds from this class will go to the Texas Art League to support their gallery space and future classes.

Example of 5 earth tone batiks used in a freeform table runner
Example of 5 earth tone batiks used in a freeform table runner
Adding a color opposite of the majoriy can really add some spice
Lembo decided to spice it up by choosing a bright red as one of his colors. The red really adds some pop!

(I was asked about fat quarters, if you have them, you will need 7 fat quarters — five for the top of the table runner and two matching for the back. Please cut each of the 5 fat quarters the long way and stitch them into a strip to use in the class. They will make a strip about 9″ x 42″. The last 2 matching fat quarters should be seamed together to make one really fat long strip to be used for the back of the table runner which should end up around 17″ x 42″. Don’t bother to trim these to size. This is freeform and nothing needs to be exact. DO! Remember to cut off the selvage before you assemble them into strips!)

Finally working on a pattern I bought so I can learn a new technique

Going to quilt shows always inspires me. People come up with so many ways to do the same thing. At the Houston a International Quilt Show 2012, I saw a beautiful stained glass style wall hanging in a vendors booth. But it was odd, the ” leading had no seams and wasn’t ribbon or bias. It kinda looked like stitch and slash, but was way more refined. The pattern maker, Linda Everhart, was there with her husband selling her patterns talked w me a bit. She also sold me two patterns. The instructions in the patterns were very clear. As often happens, I got home put the patterns away and got busy with other things.

I have been sick for a couple of days and going stir crazy. So I decided to do a quick project but being sick didn’t feel creative enough to start something from scratch. Also didn’t feel like manhandling some big heavy thing that needed some free motion, didn’t feel like standing at the long arm… . I pulled out those patterns I had laying around and found Linda’s Inspired Dreams. Here it is in progress.







This is basically a whole cloth reverse applique. It’s really fun and fast to do. It’s a combo of fusing and applique as you quilt. You don’t do any sewing at all until you quilt the layers together. Now, for the part of assembly I think is the most fun, stripping off the last of the freezer paper.


I’ll post a photo after it’s quilted.

Silk dupioni table runner

Buying the silk because it was so lovely before I was entirely sure how to work with it meant that it sat around for a long time. The quilting store in Kerrville Texas sold it to me and a lovely lady told me how to stabilize it. She also told me to treat it just like I wanted to before I sewed it together. She said “get it wet before you sew it”. Well I did, I washed it even. Then I tested it. It’s true that if you do this, the silk won’t spot later if it gets wet. I used woolite to wash it. I abused it, put it in my front loader on delicate. However I didn’t dry it, I did hang and air dry it. I ironed it. And then I stabilized it and sewed all over it. Without stabilizing it would have been a nightmare. But the stabilizer kept it from unraveling that much. This is a Christmas present for my Aunt and my Mom volunteered to bind it. She did a great job with the dupioni strips I cut for her. The binding wasn’t stabilized but I did press it with Best Press to make it stiff and hold together some to prevent raveling. And, yes, I used steam. I also found a blog where a lady advised for silk to do a double French fold binding and to NOT press the fold in the binding at all. That is what we did. I think myself and my Mom will do it this way for all fabrics in the future. It came out beautiful and was so easy to fit and to miter.