Wednesday, January 30, 2013

North Carolina

When my sister, Janet Houts, and I teach at Kanuga we always present a choice of two projects. Many quilters make both. Sometimes they bring their own projects to work on and we give lots of help, opinions, and praise.

Here are two projects made by Denise. Two years ago when Denise came to Kanuga she had never made a quilt. She had a clunky old sewing machine that barely sewed a 1/4" seam. Denise made two quilt tops with both lack of experience and a machine that needed replacement. Here is what Denise sewed this year with her new machine.

Denise made Janet's Courthouse Steps table runner and then sewed a project of her own, a big carrot for the Easter bunny. 


Denise is ironing her seams using an Oliso iron. If you have never seen an Oliso, its remarkable feature is the little feet on the bottom that pop the iron up off the ironing surface when you take your hand off the handle. A nice safety feature!


I have a funny story about an Oliso iron, but it is NOT Denise's story, it is Peg's story. It seems Peg was in the hospital overnight and while she was there her home was burglarized. A few days later Peg thought she heard footsteps in her house in the middle of the night. Had the burglar returned? Peg got her gun, got up out of bed and followed the source of the noise. Soon she was in her sewing room, gun cocked, ready to confront the intruder. What did she find? Peg had left her Oliso iron on and it was merrily popping up and down with a little whishing noise when it went up on it's little feet and then when it went down again. Peg almost shot that iron! Oliso was saved at the last minute because Peg took the precaution of looking before shooting. 

Do you have a funny quilting story? Please share it with us. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Four years ago today my granddaughter Madeline was diagnosed with CML leukemia. She was 13 years old. She was admitted to Scottish Rite Children's hospital in Atlanta and for the 1st week she was in critical condition. In the past 4 years she has been living with cancer, and living life to its fullest. We are thankful for the research that discovered the cause of her cancer and the chemo that is saving her life.

Today, as a family we went to church, St James Episcopal, and after the service the priest gave a blessing to us all as we gave thanks for the miracle of the life saving treatment and medicine she is receiving. Then we lunched at a very nice restaurant to celebrate.

Madeline loves to dance, so here she is leaping in the driveway at Biltmore House in Asheville, NC. She is a very optimistic person and has spent the last four years as a busy, active teenager. In four days she will be 18. She will graduate from high school in May and start at Georgia Tech next September. Life is a blessing we have all learned to appreciate every moment of it.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sunbonnet Sleuth Week #4

This week we are making the final 8 blocks for the quilt. Four blocks are in one color arrangement for the borders and 4 in an alternate color arrangement for the block borders. All 8 blocks are the same size...the only change is the color around the identical aqua centers. The finished blocks are 6-1/2" x 10-1/2".

Next week we will put the quilt together.

Remember to leave a comment to put your name in the giveaway of my new book:
Log Cabin Quilts, the Basics and Beyond.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

linking blogs

I have been captivated by the new modern quilts. I am making a series of them using my log cabin trim tool - Yesterday the sewing expo's new blog posted a story about a quilt I made last month in the new modern genre of quiltmaking.

The name of the sewing expo blog is The Maker's Experience. The sewing expo people plan to publish postings by nationally known quilters that will include tips on how they make some of their quilts. It is just getting started so you can get in on the fun from the beginning. I have subscribed to the blog so I won't miss any of the posts. Here is the link:

Here is a small section of the quilt...visit the sewing expo blog to see how I am displaying the quilt in my new library/media room.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sunbonnet Sleuth Week #3

Here it is at last. Another easy week of sewing. Eight more blocks and you are ready for Week #4
Remember to leave a comment on the blog to be entered to win the Log Cabin Quilts book at the end of the mystery. You don't have to make the quilt to win, you just have to become a follower and leave a blog comment. JA

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Kanuga Quilting Retreat

Looking for the 3rd week of Sunbonnet Sleuth Mystery? It will be posted on Tuesday night, 22 January. Why? Because I am leading a quilting retreat with my sister, Janet Houts, at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC and I don't have my Sunbonnet Sleuth files on my ibook. We are teaching workshops at the retreat using our new book, Log Cabin Quilts, the Basics and Beyond. Books and trim tools can be ordered from my website:

To my great delight two of the quilters at the retreat decided to make quilts to donate to the children who are being treated at the children's cancer hospitals in their home towns. Look what they are making....

Here is Denise from Westminster, SC. She has chosen a wildly bright fish fabric for some of the log cabin strips in her blocks and for the borders. She hopes there will be a few fish left over to applique on the back of the quilt. Denise is making 8" blocks using the original Log Cabin Trim Tool.

The photo on the left shows Anne of Jackson, Mississippi sewing the blocks for her quilt. Anne is using the Log Cabin Trim Tool Two to combine 6" and 12" blocks in her quilt. On the right side is the completed quilt top she plans to donate to a teenager on the cancer ward. The design by Janet Houts.

Supporting children living with cancer is a cause very dear to me as my granddaughter Madeline is in remission and living with leukemia. Here is Madeline with her mother and father at a Rally Foundation event to raise funds for childhood cancer research. I can't believe my very proper daughter actually ran wearing a pink tutu and a cap with piggy ears. Parents of children with cancer will do whatever it takes to support their children and have lots of fun doing it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The quilt cupboard

Here is another feature of my house renovation. In this century old house there used to be a fireplace in a wall that opened up into two adjacent bedrooms in the original house plan. One bedroom is now my living room and the other bedroom is the new dining room. When the fireplace was removed the walls were plastered over but it left a small sort of cut out space between the chimney space and the wall in the dining room. The more I considered what to do with this space the more obvious it became that built in shelves would make a great place to stack and store quilts. It didn't take place to fill the shelves with neatly folded quilts.

The bottom shelf holds the quilts that I have made for magazines over the past six years.
The second shelf has quilts I made for my first two books, Circle of Nine and Sashings and Settings.
The next shelf up holds Log quilts made the book, Log Cabin Quilts, the Basics and Beyond.
The top shelf holds a few antique quilts.
The books and my Log Cabin Trim Tool are available on my website:

The Circle of Nine is out of print. I have about a dozen copies left and then I will be out. Janet and I are writing a second edition with new projects and an expanded chapter on choosing and making spacers. We have learned a lot from quilters who have taken our workshops and plan to include these little nuggets of information in the new book. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sunbonnet Sleuth Week #2

Are you ready to start sewing? This mystery quilt is going to be so fast and easy to make. That's the appeal of modern quilting. Lots of straight seams, little or no triangles. Bold colors, oversize prints if you like them or solid fabrics if you prefer.

Sew....let's get started with the first set of blocks for the quilt.

The white in the quilt would most often be a solid white for the modern quilter. The teal can be solid or one of those oversize modern prints. Your choice, have fun!

Remember, leave a comment on this week's installation of the mystery to put your name in the "hat" to win a copy of my new book: Log Cabin Quilts, the Basics and Beyond. The winner will be annouced afte the mystery is completed. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

home sweet home

I spent the week after Christmas in West Palm Beach, Florida. I stayed with my daughter, her husband and my 5 yr old granddaughter in a "vacation cottage" in the neighborhood where I grew up. We took my granddaughter to play at the same playground where I played as a child. It was nostalgic and nice.

The neighborhood is the Grandview Historic District. When I was growing up it was just the "old neighborhood". Many of the older homes are now being bought by young couples and renovated into delightful little bungalows and larger Spanish style residences. The neighborhood is popular again because you can walk to the new City Place with lots of upscale shopping and restaurants. After I moved away from WPB the neighborhood turned into low income housing so it is exciting to see it being reclaimed as the fashionable place to live.

Announcing the newly designated Grandview Heights and Flamingo Park Historic Districts

Our house was on the corner of N Street and Florida Avenue. This is the N Street view. When I lived there the house was white. The pink is pretty and says "Florida". My bedroom was on the second floor with the double dormer window. We used to climb out on hot summer nights and sit on the roof to cool down. The house was built in 1925 without air conditioning or heating. 

This is the front door. We always went in the side kitchen door. The house is for sale. I wish I could afford to buy it for a winter vacation house. I have many happy memories of living there. Peeking through the window behind the tree on the far right you would look  into our little sewing room. We had an Elna sewing machine with those big cams for decorative stitches. I made all of my clothes that I wore to high school on that sewing machine. There was no chain link fence when we lived there. The house is listed for $221,000. My parents paid $14,000 for it in the early 1950's.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sumbonnet Sleuth Mystery #5

Dotty Do-Little

I have caught the modern quilting bug. The quilts are simple, graphic, and quick to sew. The Dotty Do-Little quilt is a perfect project for a beginner or a more experienced quilter who just wants to have fun. There are no triangles in this quilt, only squares and rectangles to cut and stitch. How easy can this be?

The fabrics in a modern quilt are often solid prints. Modern quilts also have lots of white and soft gray with only a splash of color for punch. I still have a preference for prints so this quilt uses mini-dots for the colors and a larger polka dot that is a white-on-white print for the solid white. If your local quilt shop carries Andover fabrics try using "Dimples" fabrics by Gail Kessler. These fabrics will add textured dots and read as solid colors in the finished quilt.  If you prefer you can use the solid colors preferred by modern quilters to make a Dotty Do-Little quilt without the dots.

The finished quilt measures 56" x 72"

Shopping list for Dotty Do-Little Quilt

There will be a surprise bonus give-away of my new book, Log Cabin Quilts, the Basics and Beyond. To enter you must become a follower of my blog AND leave a comment on the blog after one or all of the weekly clues. Quilters who leave comments will have their names entered into a random drawing to win the book at the end of the mystery. The mystery is six weeks long and you can enter six times, with a new  going into the drawing each weekly comment.