Monday, December 24, 2012

A peaceful Christmas

I was wondering how I could wish everyone a merry Christmas. This morning my daughter, Heidi, sent me this video of her church's Christmas pageant. Heidi is the director and once in awhile you can see her peeking of the front pew on the left.

Heidi and her husband live in Washington DC and adopted a 2 yr old African American child 3 years ago. I think the pageant shows how different cultures bring their own unique perspective to share with us all. They attend Wesley United Methodist Church, a multicultural worship community with a jazz ensemble for music and a gospel choir. The leader of the congregation is Pastor Kate, an energic white woman in her early 30's.

One of my favorite parts is the camel who arrives and does a rap routine to announce the arrival of the 3 kings.

My granddaughter, Cymia, is the only angel. She arrives about 4 minutes into the video (the video lasts about 10 minutes). Here is the link.

If we could all learn to live, work and worship together like the members of this church, maybe there really could be peace on earth afterall. Join me in praying for peace, here at home and all over the world as we celebrate Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

the design wall

Can you believe I have been designing and sewing quilts for thirty some years without a design wall? Well, it's just a fact. One of the exciting features of my new sewing studio is a design wall. The wall deadends into a corner and the back door to my house is right there. The very light area on the right side of the photo is the light coming in through the window in the door. 

I got up early this morning to paint the entire wall willow green. The rest of the sewing studio has old tongue and groove paneling. After the paint dried I tacked up a white fleece blanket I bought at Bed Bath and Beyond to provide a fuzzy surface to hold my quilt blocks in place. The fleece really works better than flannel as it provides more "stick". The fleece covered the whole section of the wall between my bedroom door and the back door. The smaller section of the wall on the other side of the bedroom door will be used to hang a shelf unit  to display my collection of little antique toy sewing machines. 

Last week I sewed up 20 log cabin blocks to make a second modern log cabin quilt. My first such quilt, "Waterfall" was a great success so I decided to start a series. I am calling this one "Terra Firma". I decided on emerald green because pantone has designated it the color of the year for 2013. These modern log cabin quilts are a lot of fun to sew because I add slivers of color to the mostly white blocks and to some of the colored blocks as well. I get to slice little angled pieces and stitch them in incorporating a random pattern. It's all kind of unplanned and scrappy, my favorite way to make a quilt. I am offering a workshop in modern log cabin quilts. 

Here are some guidelines for making a modern quilt:
  • Quilts are primarily functional rather than decorative
  • Traditional blocks are reinterpreted (my log cabin blocks with slivers of color)
  • Often there is an absence of visible block structure and often use improvisational piecing
  • Incorporate increased use of negative space and often are asymmetric in design
  • Quilts are often inspired by modern art and architecture
  • Use of bold colors, and trendy color combinations; also graphic prints enhance design simplicity
  • Gray and white are popular neutral colors with increased use of solid fabrics in both color and neutral fabrics

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Repurposing rooms - creating a sewing studio

Can you believe that after 25 plus years of being a professional quilter...the first 20 as editor-in-chief of QUILT magazine and the past six as designer, author, teacher and log cabin tool inventor...for the very first time I have an actual dedicated sewing studio. This room used to be my den. I never used my living room except to walk through to get to other rooms in the house. I have moved all seating to the living room and turned the den into the sewing studio. The room is 10' wide and 16' long. Here it is....

I have a long table for my sewing machines for my stitching station. I am in the middle of a project making pineapple blocks. The large table in the lower right corner is my ironing station. The cool thing about my ironing station is that I can iron from either side. to the right and far in the back you can just see the corner of my cutting station. 

Here is a bit of a better view of my cutting station. It's still behind the ironing station. It is actually a 6' long sales counter from an old country store with a wood plank top and two shelves under for storage. 

In another corner hidden from the camera is my book nook with a comfy chair and bookcase when I need to take a break. I feel like I am in heaven. For once I am now squeezing all of my sewing into a little corner of a room that is primarily used for some other purpose. The only purpose this room has is to make quilts. 

How can you repurpose some rooms in your house to create a dream sewing studio?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


My house repairs are all done. The contractor who showed up every morning for 5 weeks is not coming back. He did a fantastic job. No contracting horror stories here, just happy satisfaction. But there is a cloud to every silver lining. Chloe, my darling dog sits waiting every morning for Eric to arrive. Eric was Chloe's new best friend. Where is he? On to the next job of course.

A very said picture. Chloe waiting for Eric to come, but he is finished here and not coming back. This makes me so sad. I will have to give her an extra dog biscuit. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Almost Done

My house project is almost done. The old knob and tube wiring will be completely replaced by tomorrow. The electrical in the house will now be up to code and safe. The old lead paint in the walls has been safely covered up. Phew! What a mess it has been for the past 5 weeks. Yesterday the contractor put the shelves in my guest room closet.

If future guests thinks they will be able to hang their clothes, they have another think coming! Hopefully this will keep guest visits short and happy.

I have folded up a small portion of my quilts and stored them in the closet. If we have a blizzard in Georgia guests will be warm, they can heap quilt upon quilt on the bed and snuggle down for a warm night's sleep.

Since I am starting fresh I have stacked the quilts in categories. Stacks of log cabin quilts, and pineapple quilts are on the middle shelf, There are 2 stacks of unfinished quilts (in the top corner on the left), stacks of quilts for sale (2 stacks - top shelf on the right). There will be a built in cupboard in the dining room where I will store more quilts. The contractor will finish it today. Bottom shelf has boxes of fabrics and threads. 

Question: can I keep it this neat and organized? I hope so!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Circle of Nine

Here is another quilt from my visit to Denver. If you live in the Denver area I highly recommend the Arapahoe Quilters. They are a big group of very friendly and talented quilters. One of their quilters, Terri Lynn Scott made a circle of nine quilt using the book Janet and I wrote presenting these new, easy and creative way to set 9 blocks into a quilt. You can purchase the book from my website:

Lynn used 3 different blocks in her quilt. One block is the center of the quilt, another the four corners touching the center block and yet another for the midnight-3pm-noon-9am positions. Her spacers and borders are the same fabric giving an overall unity to the quilt. Merrie Jones is the longarm quilter. Lynn calls her quilt "Stitching in the Garden".

You can see Lynn's fingertips and her feet...I always love it when quilts have fingers and feet. It makes me giggle and who doesn't enjoy a good giggle once in awhile.

Janet and I are working on a sequel to the Circle of Nine book. The original has been sold out and the publisher is out of stock. Janet and I have a few left to sell so if you are interested in the book, order now! The sequel will be a workshop to make the quilts with expanded information of designing and making spacers. It will be ready by late spring/early summer. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Quilt Inspirations...where I find them

In the midst of my house repair contracting work, it is sewing that has kept me sane. Here is a quilt I made last week. The design is based on a quilt I saw in the Denver Quilt Museum. This is a small museum that has high quality exhibits. If you are ever in Denver area you must check it out. The following 4 photos will show you one way I get inspiration for a quilt and how I turn the inspiration into a finished quilt.

Quilt Inspiration: Antique velvet quilt from the Denver Quilt Museum

Making a quilt map: This is my adobe illustrator diagram of how I interpreted the design. I decided to substitute the red in the original quilt for white in my version. I also used Courthouse Steps blocks throughout instead of the strip piecing in the original.
I used my new Log Cabin Trim Tool to make the Courthouse Steps blocks. 

Here is the finished quilt. Not the best photo but you can see how I arranged the blocks using my computerized map as a guide. I have added slivers of color in some of the blocks. I wish I had used more solid white for some of the strips and not so many white/black strips. This quilt will hang in my new library when I get all the furniture in place.

Here is a detail of one of the blocks. Note on the partial block at the bottom there is a sliver of dark gray stitched in on the right hand side of the block. This will be part of my new log cabin workshop series.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

This blog has been silent for 3 weeks. Why? Because I have been living in a construction zone. My 100 year old house needed some repair work that became a minor renovation of the four front rooms to best accommodate the repairs. Yesterday, the contractor finished the painting in two rooms. I can now use one of those rooms. I have designated it the library. It opens into the living room with a lovely wide arch. My computer and watercolor desk will be in this room (pictures to come later).

In the midst of all the chaos I have been quilting. In fact, quilting has kept me sane as I wend my way through all the furniture and stuff that was moved from the front four rooms to be temporarily stored in the back four rooms. I have little pathways to the sink and stove, the bathroom, my bed and a teeny-tiny corner with my sewing machine set up...well you get the picture. Now some of those pathways are opening up.

Here is the library at 7:30 AM. This is the "before" picture. I will be working on putting the room together the room today and will post an "after" picture this afternoon. Expect that big bookcase to be filled with quilting books before I go to bed.

Sunday Afternoon
It took a bit more time than I thought, but by Sunday afternoon the bookcase was filled and my corner is ready for work. Here is how one corner of the new library is set up with my computer looking out the front window and my watercolor desk looking out the side window.

Chloe, the dog has her bed in front of the big bookcase. I have one empty shelf at the bottom for storage, and all my quilting, knitting, textile and gardening books are organized by interest and subdivided by topic or style like history, art quilts, technique, etc. Let's see how long they stay that way. The books stacked on their sides are too tall to fit in the shelves. At least quilting books have colorful spines. 

Notice all the Noah's Ark sets? These were in my den that is now my sewing room. The only place to display them...the new library. As soon as the sewing room is organized I will post photos and you will see my antique toy sewing and vintage stitch bird collections.