A Thousand Tiny Stitches…

… and the development of a quilt class!

Although I have been quiet here for a long while, I’ve been busy. I finally decided that I’d like to offer some quilting classes at the art center where I volunteer. Developing new classes of any sort takes a lot of time, energy and thought, but even more so when the samples are hand sewn. I finally got myself in gear and have offered several workshops at Greenville Center for Creative Arts  and much to my delight, most have had enough students to run! I wasn’t at all sure – at the moment, most of the classes are of the fine art variety and who knew if anyone would be interested in “sewing”. My assumption is that “my audience” does not have machines and are beginners, so the classes have been hand sewing ones. And I’ve been correct so far. These quilts can be called geometric, charm or one patch designs and are frankly easier to sew by hand. I do hope to lure some “seasoned” quilters.

When I think up a class idea, I start to madly sew. Proposals must be submitted long before the workshop is advertised and I’ve gotten skilled at making enough squares so that it looks like I have an entire quilt in the photographs that I submit!

Here are the offerings so far:


If you follow me, you know I’m crazy about hexagons. There’s not much new to show you, but I did do some piecing with half hexagons to add to the design choices. They are so wonderfully dimensional and modern looking for those who think that hexies look like a pattern their grandmother made.

60 Degree Diamonds!

Some years ago, I offered a class using these diamonds and it did not run. They can be made into the vintage pattern called Baby Blocks or Tumbling Blocks, but although I admire those quilts, I didn’t enjoy piecing them for a quilt. I have used them for pillows and squares in a sampler type quilt.

Thank heavens for Pinterest; I found this version with Baby Blocks rotating around a plain (dark) star. It’s an interesting pattern because you see both the stars and the blocks. I tend to like things to coordinate or have a rule and for some reason these are random enough that I have just been piecing blocks and sewing them to the stars.

As I was stitching away one day, I remembered that the pattern called Seven Sisters uses 60 degree diamonds, and I started researching those patterns online. Bingo! I had found a pattern I love stitching! Here is one square so you can see why it’s called Seven Sisters. I do have a rule for each square. I choose a multi-colored batik fabric and that is the star in the middle. Then I choose some of my hand dyed fabrics to make the remaining six stars. Repetition is not my strong suit and using different colors in each star piece keeps me amused.

And here is the quilt top so far. Can you see the underlying pattern – ha! – it’s a hexagon! My design dilemma with this quilt will be how to end it. The initial plan was to piece seven sisters of seven sisters, but I don’t think I want the quilt to be a hexagon. Stay tuned on that…

… and for more stitching to come!

Hand Piecing Workshops!

Although I’ve been quiet on a daily dose, I’ve been working! It’s been a year full of deadlines for classes and workshops. All things that I wanted to do, but it’s kept me very, very busy.

I finally got myself in gear and offered two Summer workshops at Greenville Center for Creative Arts, where I volunteer. Much to my delight, I got enough students to run the class! I wasn’t at all sure – at present, most of the classes are of the fine art variety and who knew if anyone would be interested in making quilts.

The first workshop I offered was Hand Pieced Quilts – Grandmother’s Flower Garden. This will be no surprise to any of you who have been followers for a while – I love to sew hexies! I had a lot of samples and ideas and it was perhaps a bit much for the five women who hadn’t had much exposure to the world of quilting.

Olivia was a very enthusiastic sewer. She told us that she sewed a lot and enjoyed making dolls to sell. I am confident that she will get a throw made with the speed that she sews.

Sarah designed a very striking flower, didn’t she? It is fun to see how people put together fabrics.

The second workshop was Hand Pieced Quilts: 60 degree diamonds (or tumbling blocks or baby blocks). I have offered this before and wasn’t very enthusiastic about it. Though I like baby blocks, I’ve never enjoyed sewing them.

As I prepared for the class, I perused Pinterest and was reminded that a setting for 60 degree diamonds is called the Seven Sisters pattern. I noodled around with that and discovered that I really liked this version! (Perhaps because it makes a giant hexagon….)

Here is a starry, blocky setting for the diamonds. I like this variation as well.

Just about everything needed is included in my workshops. When working with new sewers, I don’t want them to have to run around and buy a lot of supplies. The quilt patterns I am offering are traditionally scrap quilts and goodness knows that I have a lot of fabrics! It’s been fun sharing my stash and seeing others incorporate the fabric in their own work.

I am very fond of holiday themed quilts so I was delighted to see that Shawn brought a Halloween selection to make baby blocks.

It’s been interesting to offer quilt classes to novices. In the past, I have taught in quilt stores and generally my students have had some sort of experience or exposure to quilting. Most of my students at the Art Center were very, very new! In the Grandmother’s Flower Garden class, I presented way too much material and I am learning to scale back what I initially present and see where the students want to go.

Next up; workshops that I hope to offer this Winter. ;-D

My Design Wall is Full!

Here is what my design wall looks like today! There is a lot going on…

The right hand side has to do with my two upcoming workshops at Greenville Center for Creative Arts. The first, covering hexies and Grandmother’s Flower Garden is on Saturday. Six pointed stars is in July. Click here to get more info.

At the top right, you can see a quilt emerging, made up of (hand pieced) half hexagons. There are many ways to sew them together, but this is by far my favorite. It’s such a strong graphic design. The two plain colored areas in each block are my hand dyed fabrics and I have them strewn all over the floor as I pick them out.

The black stars in the middle are six pointed stars hand pieced in a Seven Sister sort of design. Below them is a pattern, first published in Godey’s Ladies Book in the mid 1800’s, called bricks. It is also a 60 degree diamond, but the “sides” of the brick shape are elongated.

The left hand side of the board is devoted to a deconstructed lone star. Using Moda precut fabrics, I have cut out stacks of 2.5″ x 5.5″ fabrics to sew on a Quiltsmart base. I hope to be giving a talk about how to make this amazing design at Island Quilters this Fall. Lots more coming about this project!














A Hand Quilt Along Goodbye…

… from me… My big handwork time of year is over and now the outdoors is calling to me. Time to weed and plant and dye and make the outside beautiful. I do intend to finish quilting that quilt, and when I do, I will let you know!

I do have some hand quilting for you to admire. My friend Louann (The Finisher!) has completed this lovely Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt that she began piecing some years ago. She started it when a friend taught us how to do English Paper Piecing, and she’s been hand quilting it on and off. Isn’t it lovely?


Happy Stitching ladies!

This Hand Quilt Along is an opportunity for hand quilters and piecers to share and motivate one another. We post every three weeks, to show our progress and encourage one another.  If you have a hand quilting project and would like to join our group contact Kathy at the link below.

KathyLoriMargaretKerryEmmaTracyDebConnieDeborah,  Susan, JessiscaSherryNanetteSassyEdith, and Sharon







Interesting Tidbits & Tools

It’s Spring in the Upstate of South Carolina and outside projects are calling to me. I shared the picture of the veggies coming up and they are growing like crazy – – – I can almost taste them! Peter and I are having our annual debate about what shrubs to yank out and how to make some of the gardens smaller. He bought a new tool which enabled us to take out some stumps fairly easily and now I am going to have a large cutting garden! Indoors, I am quilting away on the Mash Up quilt, weaving the rag runner/mats and trying to get going on the double nine patch quilt again. I thought I would share some tidbits with you…

At some recent quilt show or other, I bought this set of nesting circle templates. It’s really been useful. I used it to decide what size the center circle should be on the Dresden Star pattern. In the past I have wandered around the kitchen looking for plates or saucers or lids for the proper circle size, and used bobbins and spools and coins for the smaller ones, but this set plus Karen Buckley’s Perfect Circles is about all I need now. This size is just for templates, but there is a thicker size to use in machine quilting.

Circle templates

At the same show, I bought this hangar to wrangle my rulers. After I bought it, I realized that a belt or scarf hanger would have worked, so you can go buy one of those! All the rulers can be a mess and despite this nice hangar, they are generally all over the place. Oh – I also use rings to keep templates for a particular project together. Nothing like finding them lying about and wondering which pattern they belong to!

Hanging template holder

When I took the class with Edyta Sitar at the Phoenix AQS show, she said that she had sprayed our fabrics with Best Press for extra stability. And then she said she hadn’t actually used that product but made her own – out of potato vodka and water! I Googled it and below is a great post by a woman explaining how to make quilt wash and color catchers. I always pre-wash my fabrics and so I often use something to stiffen them a bit, so vodka is on the shopping list!


A few years ago a blogger got me going on watching the Decorah IA eagle cam. This year, I came across the D.C. one. The eagles are named Mr. President and The First Lady and they have two eaglets. It is the best cam I’ve seen – there are two cameras and it’s infrared at night, so when I was not sleeping last night, I checked up on The First Lady and she was not sleeping either… Often when the eaglets are being fed, someone zooms the camera so you can see everything. It’s addictive for sure.


And here I am jumping up on my soapbox! Pinterest is one of my favorite places on the Web and I can lose time when I’m on it. The ads that started appearing a bit ago were annoying, but fairly easy to get rid of. Now my page is so full of recommendations “from my recent browsing history” that I can hardly find pins by the folks I am following. I am VERY unhappy about it. I found a survey to take about Pinterest, but I don’t imagine they care what I think…

So what’s up in your neck of the woods – peas, snow, tulips, too many UFO’s ???

Ongoing Quilt Projects

I have been less than diligent about working with my wonderful Sweet 16 machine… I started Tommie Lee Turkey in November nad quickly abandoned the project due to Santa making and indecision about what to quilt where. And so the machine sat. The other day I was re-organizing a studio closet and came across my quilt-tops-to-be-quilted pile. I’m not sure if I ever wrote about finishing up the Orphan Blocks Mash-Up quilt. I decided that this was the quilt I needed to practise on and quickly got it layered and pinned.

Ready to quilt Orphans Block Mash-Up

Years ago I was teaching a friend to hand quilt. She was really frustrated with her stitches. I said it took lots of practise and the choice she had was to find some patterned fabric and practise quilting on that until she was happy with her work or to continue quilting her beginning sampler quilt. She chose to work on her project. I have been working on bits of fabric for practise but I finally decided the other day that I needed to take my own advice. I like the mash-up quilt, but I don’t feel precious about it, so it’s perfect for my needs; it has lots of areas for free motion and lots of places for ruler work (straight lines). I am quilting with white thread and so it’s virtually invisible on much of the top, so I don’t find myself constantly saying “that looks crappy, that’s okay…” I also know that when I wash the quilt, it will look even better as the stitches will sink into the quilt. So I am working a little each day and feeling better.

The Halloween Hexie quilt made the trip to AQS Phoenix and I’ve continued working on it at night. It’s so fun to put together.

Halloween Hexies

And I have to share this hilarious picture of Gizmo with you. A week or so ago we had the cats’ teeth cleaned and this vet shaved both ankles for the I.V. drip. With Gizmo’s long hair, we think he looks like a poodle ready for the Westminster Dog Show. We laugh every time we see him, poor guy!

Gizmo's shaved legs


Framed Log Cabin Quilt

Hello from the studio! It’s still here, with its lovely cool pink walls, waiting for me to work again. It has been so beastly hot here  – I think I will be spending the afternoons working here in the cool.

I am still organizing the room… Sometimes I think I am crazy, arranging and re-arranging everything, but I have noticed that other quilters do this as well. Sometimes the dotted fabrics want to be together, sometimes the novelty fabrics want to be seen on a shelf rather than hiding in a bin and now the batiks all want to be stacked together . Whenever I sift through my fabrics, I see new color combinations and think of more quilt ideas. More UFO’s are not what I need, but I love to design quilts in my head.

I am calling this quilt pattern, framed log cabin. Though I like the looks of this design I am not thrilled with it. I am hoping that as I piece more rows together, it will be more exciting… ;-D

Framed Log Cabin

But, progress is being made, with Gizmo’s help!

Gizmo & log cabins

I am also working on pressing and trimming the Christmas Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt to send to my friend Beth for machine quilting! It’s a lot of work to get all the seams flat and the quilt top smooth. This is NOT something I enjoy doing, though it is fun to see it again as I try to make it tidy for her. I am planning on using several of my large Christmas fabrics for the backing. I just have to dig the Christmas fabric bin out of the closet and see what I have.

Pressing GFG


What I Did On My Summer Vacation {ha!}

School children all over the USA have written themes with this title so their teachers have time to test them and get everyone organized for the year. I was always guilty of making my Second Graders write this. I honestly did want to know what they did…..

Just in case you aren’t a regular reader of mine, my husband and I spent most of the Summer living in The Residence Inn in Greenville, SC as we searched for a house and thought I’d share my Summer projects. None of these is particularly creative, but space and “head” constraints made these the perfect projects.

This is a “semi homemade” project that my crochet teacher suggested to me. Have you noticed how much fleece fabric there is in fabric stores? It’s incredible! I buy 1.5 yards of it, which when trimmed makes roughly a square. I use a funny rotary cutter which makes slits in the fabric and crochet an edge around it. They will make inexpensive gifts. The pool ball one is for a relative who just bought a pool table which is in a basement and felt cool to me. Obviously the Christmas ones will be given away in a few months. We have a passel of great nephews whose mothers will not let them use the quilts I have made for them, so surely they will use these once a year.

Crochet edges

I also worked on the Granny squares a bit. I chose an eggplant color to use as a background or connector yarn and decided to crochet a row of it around each square. If you don’t do that, the connector yarn really shows up as lines and looks unattractive. Doesn’t the purple frame each square nicely? I’m wondering about doing another row so they really pop…


The Halloween Grandmother’s Flower Garden made an appearance now and then. Usually it’s one of my favorite things to do, but for some reason, not this Summer.

Halloween hexes

(I worked on the Vermont Shells rug a good deal but am saving that for another time.)

Many, many boxes have been unpacked, but theres a lot to go. I am so looking forward to unpacking and arranging things in my studio area. To say that I have pent-up creativity is an understatement! But I am grateful that I like working quietly with my hands. I don’t know what I would have done all Summer otherwise.

Bits of Free Time for Fiber Therapy

I really shouldn’t complain, but my job for most of this year has been doing house projects and I’m pretty tired of it. I haven’t sewn or quilted on the machines for weeks and at night I have been too tired to do more than stare at the T.V. Before we went away, I thought I had a few days to myself, so I pulled out the half square triangles and started sewing blocks. The feeling of fabric running through my fingers and the hum of the machine made me so happy. As you can see, I got two blocks done and then the realtor called to schedule a showing and so I cleaned up. My sewing machines are being serviced now, so I won’t be able to work on this for a while.

Half square triangle quilt

In another bit of spare time, I pulled out a crochet UFO to complete. I took some crochet lessons a few years ago and made a cute hat. I do not have a photo of that hat, because I left it in a restaurant in Dubuque Iowa! This was the second crochet project that I did. It just seemed like a really fun thing to do and so 3D. This is how it begins…..looks like nothing, right?

Potato chip beginning

It’s called a potato chip or ruffle scarf and I have seen a lot of them in yarn stores and boutiques recently. To make it look ruffly, you crochet  2 stitches in one loop and one in the next and so on. It was amusing to watch that noodle-y foundation row of plain crochet plan become spiral and ruffly in shape as I worked. I plan to wear it with my wool Winter coat and thought it would be fun to add in a sparkly yarn for the last row. I also made it much longer than the pattern suggested as I wanted to be able to wrap it many times around my neck, like a boa!

Potato chip crochet scarf

While we were in our cabin in Hendersonville, I sewed on the Halloween Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt squares. As I pulled them out of their bag, I realized that I had quite a stack. When I spread them out – – – lookee here – – – it’s starting to look like a quilt.

Lots of hexes

I sew a middle and then the “petals” row first. When that part is done, I audition the “leaves” or outer row. You can see above and below, how I try out several possibilities.


This morning I pulled out a purple tone on tone dot that I have. It’s what I have been envisioning for the background or connector fabric. I think it will be good and I so love purple that it will be fun to sew. This is going to be a very busy little quilt!

Background choice

Now I have to collect and pack projects that I can work on in a rental apartment. We will drive to Greenville in two cars….just how many boxes and suitcases and bikes and cats will fit? More importantly, how many sewing machines and fabric will ?