Monthly Archives: July 2017

A Few Small Repairs

Every blog reaches the point where it needs some new drapes and slipcovers as the old have gotten a bit shabby. I’ve begun that process here by deleting one feature – books about quilting that I like, and adding another – quilts I’ve made by type.

I own lots of books about quilting, even after giving away many of my books about traditional quilts and patterns. I make a point of looking at quilting books as they’re published, mostly by borrowing them from my library. However, I think that fewer books about quilting are being published, and that trend will continue. AQS will no longer publish new books, and I’ve noticed fewer titles on offer from other publishers. Some of the books that do get published, many focused on modern quilting and craft sewing, strike me as lean on content.

The availability of digital patterns and loads of free stuff on the internet, especially YouTube videos of techniques, make it so easy to do without books. Then, there are online classes from Craftsy, creativebug, and others. Of course, the classes impact the quantity of  in-person teaching available, as well.

The upshot is I realized I hadn’t added any books to that section of this blog in a few years and very few readers looked at it, so I felt it was time to retire it. You can still read reviews I’ve written by clicking on “books” under Topics. I plan to continue reviewing books of potential interest to me and my readers.

Now to the addition. When I began this blog I grouped photos of my quilts by years. Recently I thought about what types of quilts I’ve made over the years, and decided to sort my quilts by type. Turns out the majority are improvisational and graphic. Of course, my categories are a bit arbitrary as some quilts could fit more than one type. And another person would sort them differently.

I’ve kept the rest of the pages, including tutorials. I like to have tutorials I use a lot in one place. From my site’s stats it seems many people look at that page. Every so often I check to make sure the links still work, so I hope there’s not much link rot.

I’d love to hear your opinions as to what parts of this blog are helpful and/or interesting. Since I began it as a journal of my quilting experiences, I don’t cover topics I don’t care about, and it is indeed all about me and my opinions. I’ve made it public in hopes that others might learn from my experiences, especially from my goofs. One great, unanticipated, result of making my thoughts public is meeting my readers through their comments. Many thanks.


Filed under Books, Commentary

Around Here Week 29

This week I returned to staring at my feet and found sidewalk silt textures. I love how the texture of the cement gives an underlying striping to the swirls left by an intense summer storm. I think we’re missing an outdoor decorating option with boring beige and gray sidewalks.


Filed under Inspiration

Very Short Term Memory Loss

If you’ve ever seen the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” you know how I’ve felt the past week. If you haven’t, let me explain. About a week ago I began to work on a long delayed paper templates project that I designed from a drawing. Here’s the genesis of the drawing.

I believe the final result succeeded in abstracting the object.

I enlarged my drawing and made freezer paper templates for the pieces. Each piece was carefully numbered and color coded, and the sewing order was worked out. The idea was the actual sewing would be a no brainer, just cut out and join the pieces in the already numbered sequence.

I selected a white, gray and black palette, with one color. Originally that color was to be green, but I didn’t like that and ended up using a very muted red.

On day one of sewing I used my master drawing for the big picture and cut out the freezer paper pieces. I ironed the freezer paper to my fabrics and cut out the pieces, leaving a quarter inch seam allowance. Then I saw I forgot to mirror image my freezer paper, and the freezer paper was on the inside, not the outside, of my fabric pieces when I put them together to sew.  I remade the freezer paper templates for my first section, reversing the image this time.

On day two I moved on to the second section. After cutting out two pieces of fabric I realized I forgot to remake the freezer paper pieces, so I stopped and redid the templates for section 2. Then, I ironed the now correctly mirror imaged pieces to my fabrics. Oops, I ironed them to the wrong (right) side of the fabric so I peeled off the pieces and began again, ironing the paper to the correct side (which is the wrong side) of the fabric.

Days three and four were a repeat of day two, only with the third and fourth sections. Apparently my brain was reset each night and failed to remember the mirror image reversal needed. At least I discovered my mistake sooner on days three and four and wasted less fabric. I did spend time each day holding two pieces of fabric up and thinking, which way do they go now?

I resewed section four three times as I changed my mind about the color, so I got lots of practice in ironing the templates to the correct side of the fabric.

In defense of paper piecing, you have less chance of repeating your errors if you’re sewing to one paper pattern than if you’re using individual templates. In further defense, I’m sure the templates technique works better if you have a properly functioning brain that doesn’t delete hard won knowledge overnight.

The final top has a few additions because the cut and dried path didn’t work so well for me. So much for advance planning.



Filed under Commentary, In Process, Techniques

Around Here Week 28

When the weather gets hot gazing into a lily pond does wonders to reduce the perceived temperature. I enjoyed this pond at a local park. I like how the pink/purple overtones contrast with the green. The lily pads and stems of the iris provide great texture, and the flowers give just the right pop of color.


Filed under Inspiration

Remember Those Sewing Pattern Books?

Since old sewing patterns were always the leftovers at my guild’s sales, I was surprised to find that some people actually buy and sell them. I came across the Vintage Pattern Wiki that has 83,500+ patterns you can browse by garment type, decade, or designer. Their definition of vintage – 1992 and older – took me aback as my definition starts a few decades before 1992.

I haven’t actually used a paper pattern for sewing for a long while. No, I’m wrong. I used a paper pattern to make my silk vest. But, with that one exception, I can’t remember the last time I sat down at the fabric store and whiled away an hour or so looking through the Butterwick, McCalls, Simplicity, and Vogue pattern books.  So, it was quite the memory lane experience to look through this wiki.

I can’t believe the wiki has 92 pages of jumpsuit patterns. That’s right, jumpsuits – those impossible to use the bathroom without getting undressed “liberated” items of female clothing. I remember a nifty knee length number I made with a back zipper.

Stretch knit, held up with one tie. Figure flattering, I’m sure.

How could any seamstress go wrong with that bias cut large plaid?

For the devoted 1970s couple, his and her jumpsuits. Love his turtleneck.

Continuing with fashions that should never see the light of day again, here are my choices for best of the worst.

Nothing says the 1960s like a dashiki pattern.

If you want to make a fool of a man, sew up this intrepid explorer number.


That romper seems to be right off the “Three’s Company” set.

What was with those enormously oversized jackets?

This military inspired jacket looks great for smuggling small animals through customs.

I did find some I actually liked. In fact, it was hard to restrain myself from showing countless more. None are from the 1980s.

Deep pleated high waist trousers from 1937. Don’t know about the head gear, though.


A 1957 cocktail dress with deep shawl collar, back bow and burst of pleats.

Another 1950s full skirted dress. Check out the tiny waist and gored pleats.

A 1934 confection that would be wonderful in silk chiffon.

A wedding gown straight from 1963.

Pattern companies have been using celebrities to lend glamour to their work for decades.

An Edith Head suit complete with 3/4 length, fur trimmed jacket sleeves.

You could look like Claudette Colbert with this pattern. I see that a size 16 had a 34 inch bust in those days. The wedding gown pattern from 1963 shows a size 14 with a 34 inch bust. The fashion industry has been working for decades to convince us we’re a smaller size than we really are.

I should point out that the Vintage Pattern Wiki is designed to help sell old patterns, not to amuse the likes of me. If you want to buy old patterns, you can also find many on Etsy, which is where I came across this quintessential 1980s gem.




Filed under Commentary

Around Here Week 27

This week’s photo comes from New Jersey, thanks to my brother. He caught the tail end of a summer storm at sunset. I love the contrast of the dark foliage around the edges with the volume of the clouds. The clouds remind me of wool roving. The color scheme would be perfect for a moody work – the purple/blue/gray and the grayed yellow.


Filed under Inspiration

Closing In On Finished Work

This spring I seem to find it difficult to “close” some quilts. I’m trying to be disciplined and finish WIPs before I plunge into new endeavors, but it’s hard to return to pieces that have lost momentum.

My “Mean Streets” is almost completely free motion quilted, but I’m hemming and hawing about final touches.

My girls have received some stitching attention, and are now attached to the already quilted top, along with some waves. I need to settle on a hot air balloon arrangement and sew them down.

“Stripes 3” has tied me up in knots about how to treat the edges. I finally added some squares (after trying many arrangements) and called it done, more out of exhaustion than artistic clarity. I did incorporate suggestions made by my readers. It’s tucked away in a closet awaiting its turn to be quilted. The tag at the top is to remind me of the piece’s dimensions.

I actually completed one quilt this spring, “Repurposed/Resurfaced,” which uses many fabrics I printed and painted, plus one commercial aboriginal print.

I was pleased when a member of one of my art quilt groups said this quilt made her happy. Recently Elizabeth Barton wrote about why people buy the art they do. Her perspective is it’s a work’s content, rather than the technical skills it displays, that attracts a buyer. Technical skills aside, I know “Mean Streets’ will not be at the top of most people’s must have list – too dark.

I can see that my closet is filling up with work to be quilted, a sure sign I need to switch gears. Of course, I still need to decide if all the tops are worth quilting. Some were made to use up partial blocks and fabric experiments. What leads you to just let a top go and not quilt it?


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects, In Process

Around Here Week 26

In honor of all the fireworks displays that will be set off on the 4th, here’s a botanical fireworks. I have no idea what this six foot tall plant is; most likely a weed, given its size. It could be fun to embroider the bursts of stalks that radiate from the center.


Filed under Inspiration