Friday, August 21, 2020

Quilting and A Sense of Accomplishment

When reading other quilters' blogs and talking to quilters I know, it seems that the favorite part of making quilts for many quilters is the piecing process. Taking those small pieces of fabric and putting them together is a bit like completing a puzzle. Using a pattern but then changing it slightly and using different combinations of colorful fabric are parts of an intense creative process. And then seeing the whole quilt top coming together right before your eyes is especially satisfying. Doing the piecing as I put the quilt top together has always been my favorite part of quilting. 

Even though I have always enjoyed the piecing process more, I used to follow through with layering the quilt top, the batting, and the backing so that I could quilt the three layers together. As a matter of fact, at the end of 2017, I had only one quilt top that I had not finished. Somewhere along the way, I told myself that I could always finish the quilting later, and lo and behold, before long I began to have a stack of unfinished quilt tops! That stack grew to be a whole drawer full of unfinished objects (or according to quilters' lingo--UFO's). 

To be successful at quilting the three layers together requires practice, and for some quilting techniques, it takes lots and lots of practice. I had good intentions. I would prepare some practice squares while setting a goal of trying some new quilting techniques every day. I didn't do so well with that goal because it was always more fun to work on piecing another quilt top. I'm at home most of the time because of the pandemic, and at the beginning, I made lots of face masks. However, after completing many masks, I decided to move on to some quilting, and one day, I opened my UFO drawer to reacquaint myself with those quilt tops I so enjoyed making. By not finishing those quilts, I had banished those tops to a drawer instead of giving them a place in my home where I could enjoy them daily. That realization turned into determination to complete those UFO's! My nearly empty UFO drawer speaks to the number of quilts I have finished so far. 

The feature of this table topper is the colorful bird fabric.

What to do with a small amount of fabric?--Make this table topper.
Butterflies are the focus of this table runner. It just calls for
a  vase of spring daffodils in the center!

This pinwheel quilt features cardinals on a snowy black fabric.
The picture was taken before the black binding was attached.
This multi-colored runner is made from charm squares (5 inch squares).
This three fabric quilt turned out to be one of my favorite quilts that I've made.

And it's already displayed on a quilt rack in my living room!

With all the work to complete the quilts came a true sense of accomplishment. I am still not as confident about the quilting process as I am about piecing quilts. The quilting I have used on these completed UFO's is simple, mostly using a walking foot instead of doing free motion quilting (which requires more practice). However the sense of accomplishment that I experienced as I finished those UFO's will give me the motivation I need to once again complete quilts right after the piecing process. Hopefully my UFO drawer will become the former UFO drawer when it no longer holds unfinished quilt tops! 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Blushing Peonies, Dahlias, and Kale--Oh, My!

My latest quilting project uses a beautiful fabric line by Moda called Blushing Peonies. The focus fabric showcases peonies, of course, in vibrant shades of deep coral, charcoal gray, and apple green. 

I am using a simple pattern with blocks large enough to feature the focus fabric as well as the companion fabrics. Here you can take a peek at some of the blocks sewn together ready for the borders. 

Pattern: "Take a Walk Around the Block" from Take 5: Quilts from Just 5 Fabrics by Kathy Brown

The inner border will be a lighter coral, and I'm using the focus fabric for the outer border and binding. 

I'm eager to add the borders and finish the quilt top, but today was a beautiful day with sunshine and temperatures in the 70's. I took a break from my sewing machine to travel with my husband to a greenhouse about 30 minutes away from where we live. This greenhouse is our go-to place for herbs, vegetables, and flowers for our garden and yard. However, this weekend at the greenhouse included a special festival with music, craft vendors, and food booths. The many blooming plants were simply a feast for the eyes.

And these ladies came to the festival dressed for fun!

My husband and I had a delicious lunch, viewed all the crafts, tasted homemade pesto made from local basil, and came home with some ready-to-bloom dahlias. 

In addition, we will add another variety of kale to the varieties already planted in our garden. One of my favorite spring treats is a kale salad made with freshly harvested kale, sliced almonds, shaved parmesan cheese, and dried cranberries. Yum!

Tomorrow may be a rainy day where I live, so I may again be at my sewing machine for the afternoon working with flowers on fabric as I put the borders on the blushing peonies quilt top. 
I have received no compensation for the mention of companies, patterns, or fabrics in this blog post. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Quilt Books

I divide quilt books into two different categories--books that include quilt patterns with the instructions necessary to make certain quilts and novels that include quilting or quilts in some way. In today's post, I would like to showcase a few of my favorite quilt books in each of these categories.

As I've mentioned in previous posts here and here, one of my favorite quilting methods is paper piecing. Therefore, it makes sense that my favorite quilt book has patterns based on this technique. That book is Little Gems: 15 Paper Pieced Miniature Quilts by Connie Kauffman.

You can see below two of the quilts I made from patterns in this "little gem" of a book. 

Pattern: Forest Fire by Connie Kauffman

Pattern: Spinner by Connie Kauffman, modified by Sharon Katz
Recently, I purchased a small amount of two fabrics that I plan to use in another of these mini paper pieced quilts from Little Gems. I will combine these two fabrics with a couple of other coordinating fabrics for a new miniature quilt.

In the Beginning fabric by Jason Yenter
I have become acquainted with the work of a new-to-me quilt designer, Doug Leko. Doug is a young man who grew up being involved in his mother's quilt shop. He now owns the company, Antler Hill Design. Doug designs stunning quilts in collaboration with Moda fabrics, whose fabrics he showcases in his designs. I am drawn to Leko's patterns, and I now own two of his pattern books, Town Square and Winterlude.

Several of Leko's books feature holiday fabric. I plan to make a holiday quilt from the fabrics shown below, but in the future I will also use some of his patterns with non-holiday fabrics.

Forever Green by Holly Taylor for Moda Fabric
One of my go-to quilt pattern books, Let's Do Lunch by Anderson Designs, features small projects such as a wine tote, placemats, and table runners. I find the patterns in this book to be very accurate with clear instructions and suggestions. 

Here is a sample of a table runner quilt top I made from a  pattern in this book.

Pattern: Toast Points by Anderson Designs
Even though I have other quilt pattern books I enjoy, it's time to move on to works of fiction that include or feature quilting.  I am a regular reader of, my friend Debbie's blog. In a recent blog post, Debbie introduced her readers to the author, Elizabeth Berg. Upon Debbie's recommendation, I read one of Berg's books, and I'll have to say that I am hooked on Berg's writing. My latest book by Berg, The Art of Mending, includes quilting in a small way as the narrator of the book is a quilter. It was fun to read about quilting from the narrator's point of view, and it was obvious that Berg knows quite a bit about the world of quilting through her apt descriptions of fabrics, quilts, etc. from a quilter's perspective. Berg makes her characters come alive, and she sprinkles what I consider to be gems of wisdom throughout her writing.

Quilting plays a role in The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, the bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees (one of my favorite books of all time). A powerful and moving novel, The Invention of Wings is set in early nineteenth century Charleston and is the story of an urban slave and the daughter of a wealthy landowner following their connected journeys for thirty-five years. 

Before closing this blog post, I must mention children's books that feature quilts since I am a believer in the power of children's literature.  You may visit a previous post where I showcased the book, Under the Quilt of Night by Deborah Hopkinson.

I have received no compensation for the mention of books, patterns, fabrics, or designers in this blog post. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Quilting and Perseverance

After reading this blog post's title, you may be asking what perseverance has to do with quilting. Well, until today, I would have asked that question too. In a recent post, I shared a mostly completed quilt top. Using only three fabrics and a simple pattern, I enjoyed seeing how large 18 inch blocks began to come together as they formed a chain-like pattern down the entire quilt. 

It's almost always an exciting process to begin a quilt, especially when using a new pattern. Finishing a quilt top is almost always gratifying as the last bit of stitching ends up in a completed product. This time, however, has been a little different. 

Starting this quilt top brought the same excitement as usual when I begin a new project. I found myself "in the flow" as I rhythmically worked on one block and another. Then--I took a break. I traveled a bit and read a bit and became inspired as I planned other projects. Today I returned to my mostly completed quilt top to find that the rhythm and flow I had earlier was just not there. I wanted to get the quilt top finished, but now putting the last few blocks together seemed repetitious. 

Sewing the last row of the quilt
It took a bit of self-discipline and a lot of perseverance to keep at it until the last stitch was in. This may have been the first time in my quilting years that I experienced this not-so-enthusiastic finishing of a quilt top which in turn required perseverance. 

Pressing the completed quilt top
I am feeling a sense of accomplishment for having persevered today with my quilt top. The end result is pleasing to me since the pattern is so different from what I've made in the past, and the quilt will be completed with just a binding rather than my usual borders. 

Pattern: Dream On designed by Jocelyn Ueng from Quiltmaker March/April 2013
But speaking of completing the quilt top I now have three UFO's (unfinished objects)--GASP!! I am usually a quilter who finishes a quilt top and immediately sets about adding the backing and batting, quilting the entire quilt, adding the binding and label, and presto--the quilt is complete!  Somehow the excitement of new projects awaiting negates the feeling that I should completely finish a quilt before starting another. In the past I have often made quilts to give as gifts. It feels a little different to make quilts just because...just because I like the fabric...just because I want to try a new pattern...just because it feels like the right time to attempt a new technique...just because. Since I'm making quilts right now that have no timeline or deadline, I can feel free to make a few of those quilt tops now and finish the quilts later. 

During this whole process of finishing my quilt top today, someone else showed a lot of perseverance too. My cat, Enzo, persevered in keeping me company and watching me sew from the top of a chair in my sewing room!

Enzo the cat

I have received no compensation for the mention of items or companies in this blog post. All opinions are my own.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Quilt 'Til You Wilt Days and A Few Other Favorite Things

I just love those days when I wake up with nothing on my schedule. After a leisurely breakfast followed by a steaming cup of my favorite tea, I decide what I want to do for the day. 

Most often, on these "free" days, I choose to quilt. Because I have the whole day in front of me, I can "quilt 'til I wilt." (I borrowed that phrase from a quilt shop, Tiny Stitches, in Marietta, Georgia. An eight hour group sewing day called "Quilt 'Til You Wilt" is offered once a week at this shop.) I have had a few of these quilt 'til you wilt days at my own sewing machine in recent weeks, and the product of those days is a quilt top that is about 3/4 complete. The quilt consists of just three fabrics and some whopping 18 inch blocks. Here you will see a partial view of my mostly completed quilt top featuring some of my favorite colors.

Pattern: Dream On designed by Jocelyn Ueng from Quiltmaker March/April 2013

I paused in my quilting to travel for a long weekend. My husband and I drove a little more than two hours to a neighboring state. Our main reason for choosing this particular weekend was to hear our favorite singer/songwriter, Peter Mayer. Peter is from Minnesota, but just once in a while he travels to perform in the southeast. We try to catch his concerts when they are within a few hours of where we live. The lyrics to his songs range from inspiring to nostalgic to funny. He is a master on the guitar, and his voice is engaging and quite pleasant, like no other songwriter I've heard. Below is a sampling of Peter's work, a song he wrote called "Dorothy's Pie" from his CD Novelties. The song references a true story about his mom and dad, and it is one of my favorites. My husband spoke to Peter during the intermission and unbeknownst to me requested this song, knowing it was a favorite of mine. During the second half of the concert, Peter honored the request, and so I was able to hear him sing it in person, much to my delight!

Among the activities during our long weekend was a visit to Congaree National Forest. As you may know from previous posts, visiting national parks is one of my favorite parts of traveling. We didn't know quite what to expect since this newer national park is smaller and not very well-known. We were pleasantly surprised as we walked a 2.5 mile boardwalk through beautiful vistas of trees and water. 

Several rivers drain into this area causing flooding at least once a year. It was interesting to see trees that flourish in this environment and to learn about the benefits of the flooding that bring necessary nutrients to this wilderness area. 

We chose a good time of year to visit this particular national park. Because of the abundance of water and the heat during the summer months, mosquitoes can be a major problem in the park. We were glad that the posted mosquito meter was only at a "1" during our visit in early March.

Back home now from my long weekend away, it's time to think about spring, one of my favorite seasons (the other favorite being fall). Even though it is not officially spring, the daffodils in our yard are in full bloom. 

Just like this time last year, the snap peas, lettuce, spinach, and broccoli are planted in our garden, and a few stalks of asparagus are pushing through the earth. I'm eager for the time coming soon when I can walk into the backyard and harvest these favorite spring vegetables to use in a healthy and delicious meal.

Over the years, I have enjoyed collecting pottery. My husband was recently gifted a new piece of pottery made by Peg Morar of Asheville, NC. It is a unique piece in shades of blue and sage green with dots of red. This may have become my favorite piece of pottery that we own. I immediately placed it on our dining room table along with a quilted table runner in coordinating colors.

So, when will I have another of those favorite quilt 'til you wilt days? Well, I'm not sure since very soon I will be at another of my favorite places--a quilt and sewing expo. Stay tuned as I might just share that experience in a future blog post. In the meantime, please leave a comment and share a few of your favorite things!

I have received no compensation for the mention of items or companies in this blog post. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Quilting is a passion of mine, but at the same time, it is a calming and meditative activity for me. I sometimes listen to favorite podcasts while I'm in front of my sewing machine. Other times, as I've mentioned in a previous blog post, my time spent quilting gives me time to think about all kinds of topics. Quilting in combination with listening and reflecting often leaves me with new insights.

I have been sewing a lot lately, working on a new quilt top. It's a simple pattern using only three fabrics, so it's been a perfect time to ponder topics that come to mind. 

Curiosity has been at the forefront of my consideration in the past few days. My husband and I recently attended an event where the theme was curiosity. Although the speaker for the event was pleasant and personable, I felt he didn't cover the topic of curiosity in a very convincing way. What the event did, however, was to spur my own thinking about this subject.  

Just the word curiosity takes me back to my teaching days. What I wanted most for my students was for them to become life-long learners. I truly believe that maintaining a sense of wonder and curiosity fuels a desire for learning during one's entire lifetime. On occasion, I asked my students to find and share a few "wow facts" which were facts that made them stop and think, "Wow, that's amazing!" As these wow facts were shared, there were a lot of wide eyes filled with wonder and curiosity (including mine). This assignment gave me insight into the topics that engaged my students' curiosity. 

As we know, curiosity seems to come naturally to humans. We can witness this natural curiosity in toddlers and young children as they explore their world and ask many questions, including the famous "Why?" that many young children continue asking until their understanding is satisfied. As children grow older, it seems that some of that natural curiosity gets drowned out with other parts of life sometimes getting in the way. The question then becomes how we can rediscover our natural curiosity as adults. I have a few suggestions:

  • Slow down and take time to allow for wonder.
  • Show interest in others and their pursuits.
  • Know that there is always something new to learn.
  • Make a point of being around others who voice their wonder, curiosity, and amazement.
  • Find activities or hobbies that spur creativity and innovation.
  • Spend time in nature where it's so easy to be amazed by awe-inspiring sights and sounds. (Many of those wow facts shared by my students related to nature.)

To close, I will share a few quotes about curiosity:

The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
                                                        --Albert Einstein

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
                                                       --Walt Disney

Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.
                                                       --e.e. cummings

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Not 1, Not 2, But 3 Quilts!

Fabric, so much fabric! That's how I feel since I bought fabric for a quilting class and then decided not to take the class. I have found from experience that it's best to choose a quilt pattern and then look for fabric that fits the pattern. However, this time I'm doing the opposite. I have been perusing my patterns and pattern books trying to match patterns to all the yards of different fabrics I purchased. I'll have to say that I have had fun throughout this search and match process. It has reacquainted me with the quilt books and patterns that I own, and for the most part, it has been a creative endeavor as I try to imagine how the fabrics would look put together in certain ways. It has also been a bit of a mathematical process as I've calculated the yardage needed versus the yardage I own of certain fabrics. If I've calculated correctly, I will be able to make not just one and not just two, but three lap size quilts out of the fabric as well as two bonus table runners!

I decided to make one of those table runners first. I was delighted to find a pattern that uses only two fabrics since I have quite a bit of a teal batik and a coordinating cream and teal batik print. Below is a picture of the completed quilt top on my design wall. I still need to layer the batting and backing, quilt it together, and add the binding. 

Pattern: Toast Points from Let's Do Lunch by Anderson Designs

My next project will be one of the lap size quilts using the same fabrics as the table runner but adding a third coordinating fabric--a lighter teal with dark teal dots. The fabric is cut, organized by  into ziplock bags, and ready to sew. 

The other lap size quilts will use a variety of fabrics rather than just two or three different fabrics. Similar in color to my first two projects will be a quilt that will use a batik focus fabric swirled with teals, greens, and purples. 

I am modifying a pattern so that it showcases the main focus fabric, but it will also feature blocks of pinwheels that include these coordinating fabrics.

My third quilt will have quite a different colorway of corals, greens, and grays. I will most likely use a quilt pattern that I have used before when I made a quilt for my daughter. It's interesting how some fabrics and patterns just seem to be made for each other! After making this quilt, I should have enough fabric left for a simple table runner. 

Fabric by Moda Fabrics

I believe my search and match process has provided me with enough projects to last for a while. It's fun to plan and to blog about planning, but it's even more fun to sew! That means it's time to get back to my sewing machine. Stay tuned to see how my planned projects progress. 

I have received no compensation for the mention of fabric, patterns, or companies in this blog post. All opinions are my own.

Linked with: Over the Moon, Wonderful Wednesday, Linky Tuesday Freemotion by the River, Needle and Thread Thursday