"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will."
Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, August 29, 2010


The third quilt I made is a queen-sized flannel for my daughter.  I bought the flannels while on a visit with Sue in Pennsylvania.  Bought buckets of the flannels on sale with no ideas in mind.  My quilting teacher at that time came up with an idea and sketched it out and off I went.  The back is pieced, another trick I stole from Sue.  Also handy because I did not have enough of one fabric for a solid piece.  Now I prefer a pieced back. 

The blocks are flannel and the sashings cotton, necessary to get the wonkiness out of the blocks.  I say it was caused by the flannel, but was most likely due to my inexperience at the time.  This was another project my sister had to talk me through, and thank goodness she did, the results were smashing.   

This quilt I named "My Daughter's Eyes," after the Martina McBride song.  My sister was with me when we took it to The Chestnut Quilter near her home in New Hampshire.  I couldn't decide what pattern it should be quilted in, and so the quilter started asking about my daughter and we described her and then it was decided that Blazing Suns was the pattern to use.  This was the last quilt I made on the 99, I had fits jamming the bulky junctions  through that machine.  


When I started quilting, it was because a friend had a Singer 99 in a cabinet collecting dust in her basement.  I had mentioned I'd like to get back to sewing, and she offered me the 99 and I haven't looked back since.  I have gotten a Pfaff Creative since then, and also have a Singer Featherweight on hand, but have returned my friend's Singer 99 to it's rightful place in her basement.  

The first quilt I made was a very simple Yellow Brick Road using batiks, and I gave that to the owner of the 99.  I do not have pictures of it.  Silly me.  

The second quilt I made was for my son.  It is lovely, and was a project I was ready to chuck out the window a few times, but my sister talked me down and kept me rolling.  Here it is, it is called "Blue Skies."   My Friend Sue in Pennsylvania got me to start naming my quilts, as she always has, and I decided to name my quilts after songs with lyrics that matched the recipient and the quilt.  I think the thing I love the most about this quilt is that my son absolutely appreciates and loves this quilt, it may be his most prized possession.  I love that.  


When my daughter moved off campus into an apartment at the start of her sophomore year in college, I decided it was time for a college quilt.  She flipped through my books and picked out Kaffe Fassett's Yellow S Quilt, with his fabrics.  It didn't challenge my addled mind in picking out colors, and I thoroughly enjoyed the sewing.  The only thing I did not like is that you cannot cut some and sew some and cut some and sew some.  I've found this to be true with many of KF's quilts, you have to cut all of the fabric before making a block, because the fabrics are strewn about in the quilt, and no two blocks are alike.  



My husband grew up in Western Pennsylvania, and his parents came from a very long line of farmers.  Both his mom and his dad grew up on farms that were large working farms.  His mom had many of the quilts from her childhood home, and now we have them.  These quilts were made to be used, it was how they kept warm, so they are very worn out.  In spite of that, they are still absolutely fantastic works of art, and when ever I take one out, I can picture my mother-in-law and her mom and sisters huddled around the quilting frame, passing the evening finishing a quilt for the winter.  This is one of my favorites, and I'd say it was made in the early 1930's:  

Here are some pictures of the many details of the quilt, look at all of the hand quilting:  
 I never did ask my mother-in-law why some areas of the quilt are a dark orange, I suppose they were using what they had on hand. 

When we would go to stay at her home, she would make the bed with sheets hung to dry in the sun (she never owned a dryer), and of course she ironed those sheets.  For warmth, there'd be anywhere from one to as many of five of these quilts on the bed.  Talk about comfort and joy!


My grandmother used to sew patchwork quilts by machine, using what ever old clothes or fabric was laying around at the time.  My sister and I each own a few of them and totally enjoy looking at the vintage fabrics and remembering what dress they came from.  We come from a sewing family and our grandmother made all of her own clothes, my mother all of her own and our clothes.  Many memories in the cloth.    Here are two of the ones that I own: 

This is my favorite fabric. 

 I do not remember what it was originally used for, perhaps my sister does.  I'd love to have yards of it to use now, for children's quilts it would be perfect. 


A close friend of my daughter's returned from Cape Cod with a cloth and ribbon bracelet that she'd paid $30 for.  My daughter asked me if I could make them and I of course said "Yes! for under $2."  Never will I say this again.  I totally hate this kind of sewing, too fussy, too small, too many defects too visible.  It's why I don't make clothes at all.  I like sewing straight lines on things that match up perfectly.  Here's the bracelets.  The store bought version is the one with the anchors.  


Saturday, August 28, 2010


One of the quilts I've been working on this summer is Kaffe Fassett's Earthy S.  I'm making it for my brother and his wife in Colorado.  It's at the quilter's now, but early on in the process my I sent my brother Mark and his wife Karen a tutorial on how to make a quilt.  They recently moved to Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and the colors in this quilt scream "Colorado!" to me. 

First step:  Pick out a design.  Do not use a free pattern or a friend's book, because part of the game is spending as much money as you can.  See--I bought a whole book! 

Second step:  Go out and buy yards of the most expensive fabric available.  Bring it home, spend a lot of time ironing it, then cut it up in pieces.  

Third step:  Sew all those pieces back together again:  

Once you get all the fabric sewn back together into once piece, send it out to a quilter, thereby putting even more money into your creation.  

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Our son Paul was home for a few days and he and our dog Cassy had a lot to catch up on.  Cassy goes completely mental when Paul returns home and she spends every moment by his side when he is here.  Turns out the two of them had so much to share it required a mind meld.  By the look in Cassy's eyes, it would appear she was on the receiving end of some very interesting information.  Darn terrier, she won't share it with me.  


Thursday, August 19, 2010


As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have begun making a quilt for each baby baptized at our church.  It is fun and rewarding.  I try to make the quilts simple and modest.  Here's a couple from this past spring.  

This quilt was 
fun and simple.  I pieced the back to give it a little bit more interest.  The recipients sent me a picture of their baby playing on the quilt.  It is a very sweet picture that hangs on my bulletin board in the sewing room.  

Each quilt has a rather elaborate dedication on the back.  It seems as if these labels take more time than the quilt itself.  

 We had two baptisms in one day this spring, two babies, boy cousins.  I decided to make them quilts of the same fabric.  

This Friendship Star came out a little bit too stark and uninspired, I would make small stars and more of them if I decided to do a similar quilt in the future.  

For the second of the two quilts, I chose pinwheels.  Easy and interesting, I think. 

Monday, August 16, 2010


Need I say more?  I was doing my usual pass around the house with the Windex bottle and a rag, wiping doggy nose prints off of windows mostly.  My darling little Dell Netbook was sitting on the counter open and on, and wow was that screen filthy.  I know better, but something got the better of me and I walked over and squirted that screen and wiped it and that was the end of that screen.  It immediately checked out of the building. 

So, we took advantage of the Massachusetts tax free weekend went out and got me an HP Pavillion Notebook, and I love it. 

Only problem is, all my quilt and other photos are on that Dell.  And, did I back it up?  Of course not.  Today I'll take it to my favorite computer weenie and he'll get everything off of it and onto a removable hard drive and all will be well again. 

Friday, August 13, 2010


When I need a break between big projects, I either tackle a baptismal quilt for the church or a Downy quilt, for the Downy Helping Kids project, their website is here.   When you sign up to make a quilt for them, they send you the fabric and pattern and you supply the batting, make the quilt and mail it back to them.  They then give the quilt to a critically ill child in a hospital or hospice in the United States.  Here is one I will be mailing to them today.   

I machine quilted it using my new favorite easy quilting method that I call "the wave," inspired by My Friend Sue.  It takes very little time and is not at all fussy, so there's no worrying about the quilting lines looking even with the seam lines, because they aren't.  


Here's Diagonal Madness quilted and Bound.  I'm very proud of this quilt, which I tackled just 1.5 years after starting my quilting "career."  As I explained in an earlier post, I went to Tennessee for a weekend workshop with Kaffe Fassett and Bradon M., where we cut and designed.  He gave me a lot of great pointers.  I had the quilting done on a long-arm, I love the quilting, which doesn't compete with the design in any way, and the long-armer used a bamboo batting.  For quilts that are going to be hung on a wall, she prefers the bamboo.  She finds that it makes for a better drape to the quilt, and I agree. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Well, I'll be telling a lot of Lucy stories for this week I guess.  People some times wonder why those of us that welcome foster dogs into our homes do so.  It is because of the small moments like we had tonight with Lucy.  

Remember, this is a dog rescued from a puppy mill, blind probably from birth, and in a cage since birth.  And, as soon as she could, she produced litter after litter after litter.  And, those pups who survived were taken from her at 4 weeks of age (they should stay until 8 weeks and 10 is even better).  Those pups were loaded onto a transport truck that was probably filthy and hot, and driven to their destination, a pet store in a mall.  Those that survived the trip were sold for over $1000, with "AKC Papers" and pedigree charts that are all fictitious.  Some family playing "how much is that doggy in the window" bought one of those pups, not knowing that it had come from Lucy, who had juvenile cataracts, an inherited disorder.  And, those puppies are all probably blind by now, just like their mom.  

Okay, I got off topic there, it's easy to do.  Anyway, this evening as Dave and I were eating dinner on the deck, Lucy once again came out of her crate and to the screen door to wander the yard.  And, wander she did, for a really long time.  In her wanderings, she found a rawhide, likely hidden by our Miss Cassy.  Now, if Lucy's foster mom reads this she'll have a fit, but we let Lucy have that rawhide.  She pranced all around the yard with it, looking proud I'd say.  She held it in her mouth and rolled in the grass on her back.  Then she settled down and chewed.  Dave and I smiled and our hearts swelled.  

Such a simple thing, a dog chewing a rawhide.  I've seen it a million times.  It's a normal thing for a dog to do.  However, it's this moment of Lucy chewing that will make me say "yes" when I am again asked to keep a foster dog for a while. 

Take the time to make the difference in a life, whether it's one of God's human creatures, or one of his wild creatures, great or small.  This is what makes life worth living.


Have neglected mentioning my sister, Christine, the amazing quilter.  Our mom was a professional seamstress and had the smarts, patience and talents to start a 4-H sewing club when we were young.  That's where we learned to sew and knit, cross stitch and crochet.  Christine kept on sewing, making lovely clothes for her daughter, and home decor items, and I kept on knitting.  Eventually Christine discovered quilting and hasn't missed a beat since.   I was a little slow to go back to sewing, and dabbled in it for a while, making some dresses for my daughter and her American Girl Dolls.  Then it was a long break before I was led to quilting by Christine and also my friend Sue.  Christine's eye for color and quilts inspire me--I've been chasing my older sister my whole life, and now in our adult life it continues, as I struggle through color and design while she strolls through it.  Sue lived overseas for many years, 8 of them in Singapore, where she dug into quilting to remain sane.  I'm so grateful to my mom for teaching me, my sister for leading me, and Sue for being part of the cheering section.   Without my sewing room, I'd be totally mad by now.  Christine's blog is here and Sue's is here


OK, so I'm always up to something, at least that's what people tell me.  Luckily I have a husband who gets a boot out of it all and believes (perhaps mistakenly) that I've made his life much more interesting than it ever would have been. 

Sooo, this June he led a team of 17 youth and 5 adults on a mission trip to the Casa San Jose' Orphanage in Colima, Mexico.  My husband is away a fair amount, and so I do as I darn well please most of the time because I can.  When he was in Mexico this year, I went out and got Reesie kitten from Cape Ann Animal Aid in Gloucester, MA, where I volunteer once a week.  I got lucky, she loves dogs and is a great buddy to our Cassy dog.  

Dave considered himself lucky to come home to "only" a kitten, as he has come home to much worse.  Last January he was in Charlotte, NC, for a few days and returned to find me sitting on the couch, crying, right leg in a removable cast.  That morning I'd fallen down the stairs and broken my ankle.  So, from now on, when he comes home to anything but a broken bone,

life seems pretty good to him.  

Hmmmm, maybe I CAN get that laying hen that I long for.  I just have to figure out a way to keep the terrier from killing the hen.  There must be a way. 


We have a 20 year old daughter still at home, a college student.  And, as you all probably already know, when there's a 20 year old girl in the house, a large budget for purses is in order.  Why do they need so many?  I have one.  I use it til it falls apart, and then I buy another at the thrift shop.  Works for me.  Doesn't work for her.  

So, to save the budget from bursting any more than it has, I make purses for her (and often for her girlfriends).  Here are a couple I've recently finished:  

These are made from an Amy Butler pattern, super easy and always comes out nice.  I used Kaffe Fassett fabric left over from a quilt I made for my daughter last fall.  I did have to use Timtex for the upper section, as interfacing alone did not make that section stand stiff enough.  

This I made with $4 worth of home dec fabric from the bin at JoAnne's.  I like making this purse with leftover home dec, as there's minimal interfacing necessary to make it hold it's shape... and it's inexpensive.  I think the buttons cost more than the fabric.  
Here's the inside.  Magnetic snap, top panel same fabric as exterior, then a muslin lining with pockets. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I just had to have this picture as part of my blog.  A friend and I had the dogs together for a play date.  I was out on the deck fixing something, and my friend was in the house, camera handy, and she got this shot of the dogs watching me.  My two dogs are on the left, Misty and Cassy, and her two dogs are on the right, Olivia and Beezus.

Credit for the photo to Rebecca Poulton


So, this past spring I took too much medication or something and got a big idea that I'd make a quilt for every baby baptized at our church.  Little did I know that there would be 5 baptisms in 2 months. 

The first quilt I made is "toy boats," and I loved how pure the white looked against the blue.  To me, it felt like an appropriate quilt for a baptism. 


Last Fall My Friend Sue and I went to a workshop at Tennessee Quilts in Jonesboro, Tennessee.  First of all, it was more fun than a barrel full of monkeys, and second of all, it was with Kaffe Fassett.  He and his partner, Brandon M., gave a great lecture on Friday night and on Saturday we attended a full day workshop run by Kaffe and Brandon, on Diagonal Madness, from his Country Garden Quilts Book. They worked the room as we cut and designed, offering advice and critiquing.  It was a kick. 

Here's the top of mine, and I'll obviously have to add a picture of it quilted.  Sue and I brought a crazy assortment of fabrics we'd each picked out, and not many of them Kaffe's.  We figured it's a workshop on color, and we want to learn to think on our own.  If we want to think like him, we'll stay home and order his fabric, right?  Well, we were pretty much the only two at the workshop with something other than KF fabric and I'm thinking those girls in Tennessee, though warm and welcoming as could be,  were not impressed with us girls from the north.

What ever---Look at how well I learned?


Tonight Dear Husband Dave and I were dining on the deck, with Cassy and Misty at our sides, Lucy the foster dog inside in her crate, and Reesie patrolling the inside perimeters.

Lucy came to the screen and went outside for a good long while (for her, anyway).  At one point she even laid down in the grass.  What a wonderful sight, seeing that girl lying in the grass, knowing that prior to January of this year, her feet had never touched anything but the metal mesh floor of her cage at the puppy mill.

Done lying about, she went to the door and in she went.  We glanced in shortly thereafter to see this scene on the left.  I'm guessing that Lucy didn't notice Reesie at first (her close vision isn't great) and when she noticed her she got that WHAT THE HECK look on her face.  And, of course, Reesie is looking smug as usual.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Here I go, blogging.  My Friend Sue started a blog and I was envious so am following suit. 

Since I have a million pictures of my critters on my computer, that seems like a good place to start.  To the left is my 5 1/2 year old toy poodle Misty.  In the middle is 3 year old Cassy.  To the right is my 3 month old kitten Reesie and her best buddy, Cassy.  They play like mad all day long.

Right now I also have a foster dog in the house.  Lucy, rescued from a puppy mill at 3 years old, blind and shut down.  Through the work of her foster Mom, Denise (who was Cassy's foster Mom) Lucy is starting to come out of her shell bit by tiny bit.  And, on July 26 she had surgery to restore her sight.  She is vacationing here with us while Denise goes on vacation.  She is a simple, sweet girl.  Unfortunately , she is also a poster dog for puppy mills and what they do to a dog's spirit and body.  So, here's my first message to anyone reading this blog:

Get your shoes at the mall, get your dog at a shelter.