Leather – Quilting??

Leather bookmarks

Sometimes I can fit a little project to the side of a quilt on my long arm.  Sometimes I just need a goof off for a half hour or so, and sometimes this even inspires the quilting on the large piece I’m working around.  This happened a couple weekends ago when to the side of the quilt I was working on I quilted two bookmarks.

Bookmarks aren’t a big deal to quilt, they can easily be quilted at my sit down sewing machine, but, I was playing with LEATHER!!! A little more creative than the traditional quilt I was in the middle of custom quilting.  It was just a little play time – something I hadn’t allowed myself time for in a while, and I had FUN!!!

Leather sewing on any machine requires a special needle. How do I know this? – a couple years ago I took a lecture/class with Cathy Wiggins an AMAZING leather quilter http://gypsywoodleathers.com/.  About a year ago I quilted some scrap pieces of leather I had picked up when someone was selling out their stash but hadn’t quilted anything else on leather since (piecing or machine quilting, we all have grand plans for how much we can get done, I now have a small stash of leather – LOL).  So, why not play with a couple bookmarks, as I often tell people at lectures and shows, if you want to increase you machine quilting confidence – start small so you FINISH!!!  Finishing is the biggest confidence boost there is!!!

Leather bookmarks detail

Here’s a closer view of the bookmarks, also made with a scrap of leather. My only disappointment, I couldn’t find my grommet tool to play with for the hole punching .  I’ll be vending at Flights of Fancy Gallery’s Open House the Saturday after Thanksgiving – I’m thinking that’s a good excuse to PLAY a little more – LOL.

Oh yah – I backed them with old ties.

SkETchBOoks & dOOdLiNg

This is the latest book I read, I’ve had it for a couple years and sometimes, you just have to stop and make time to read. I started it a couple weeks ago, the beginning is interesting and the end was informative, it also included lots of websites to research (YEAH!!).  The book is about the different ways textile artists, collage artists, etc. use their sketch books and the different information a sketch book may contain.  Sketches as varied as, how to diagrams with notes, to sketches alone, to sketches with notes to enhance the memory of the sketch.

Long class sketch with notes

I started using sketch books after I purchased Ellie, my long arm quilting machine. I was not a doodler prior to Ellie, I liked playing with fonts like calligraphy and other odd styles for lettering but not doodling.  Learning to long arm quilt has a lot to do with muscle memory so doodling became a must if I wanted to pay my business loan for Ellie.  That said, I doodled all the time – from TV time to business meetings, I doodled anything from loops and hearts, to feathers, to ferns and any other shape I could come up with.  I didn’t  go anywhere without a sketch pad and a pen.

All kinds of random long arm practice doodling

Pens are the recommended practice tool in long arm classes because a pencil makes it too tempting to erase and perfect your shape. When it comes to machine quilting, you really don’t want to be ripping stitches to fix a shape.  Essentially, practice doodling with pen is a commitment from the initial movement of your hand.

Lately (the last year or two) I’ve been way too busy with my real world job and somehow my sketch book found its way out of my daily work bag. So this book was inspiration to add a little weight to my bag and carry, simply, a spiral bound sketch book (65 lb. paper) and slide a black pen into the ringed spine(black against the white paper is always impactful).

Quick sketch from the lake

I went to my family’s cottage on Sunday to do some yard work, a little real world work and sketch for a little bit. If you’ve been to one of my lectures you know – I am not skilled at drawing and my doodles look much better in stitch than pen.  Well although it was a beautiful day, I forgot my house keys and ended up doing yard work the whole time except for the last 15 minutes when I sketched.

Sometimes it doesn’t have to be the best book you’ve ever read, as long as you learn something new or in this case, I was reassured by knowing my sketchbook processes are similar to what a lot of other people are doing. In this case, discovering all the different sketchbook processes from the book reminded and motivated me to return to a process that definitely enhances my creativity, I thank the author for that.

Addicted to UFO’s???

Antique Lone Star Quilt

One of my latest addictions (last couple years)- I like to find other people’s antique UFO’s (unfinished objects)a new home.   I must be nuts because – YES, I have plenty of my own UFO’s – LOL. The antique UFO’s  include

  • Machine quilting a finished patchwork top (have a bunch of these, did I tell you I never find time to quilt my own tops – LOL)
  • Re-arranging an antique top to make it easier to find it a new home (this type of puzzle is one of my favorites)
  • putting antique orphan blocks I’ve collected together to make a quilt using both reproduction and modern fabrics
My stash feed sack that matches the very center of the Lone Star

So, although it’s not quilted this is my latest, re-arrangement of an antique top. I decided this antique top was meant to come home with me upon discovering the center star fabric matched a feed sack (http://www.rickrack.com/feedsack.html – 1920s fabric) that was already in my stash (what were the chances???).  And, as you can plainly see, the scraps used to create the Lone Star are – “beautiful” in their arrangement, well – I like it!!

Unsewing antiques can provide for very exciting piecing challenges! 🙂

What wasn’t quite as pleasing was the stiff printed (not woven) red & white gingham border and the white sheeting background. Bringing this home created an excuse for a family quilt trip (YEAH!!!) – my Mom, Sister (Jackie), Aunt Wendy and I traipsed off to A Notion to Quilt (now closed – boo hoo, miss you Becki) on a quest for background replacement fabric.  We tried about every solid they had, and although red is one of my favorite colors it was furthest from my mind.  In fact, Jackie was the one who, after eight other colors brought the red to audition.

Happy Lone Star – what was white is now red with the feed sack border, we think it looks much happier now!

We all think the quilt top looks much happier now. I’ll quilt it up soon and try to find it a good home.  What’s good about this project – I remembered to take before and after pics, what’s bad – I really think it’s amazing now and I’ll miss it when it leaves 🙁   Keep an eye out for a photo of it quilted – hopefully soon.

MACHINE QUILTING TIP – please don’t use sheets in your quilts unless you are tying them, sheet thread counts are so different from regular cotton fabrics it creates machine quilting tension nightmares  = lots of thread breaks.  They are also very hard on the fingers of hand quilters.

They Liked Me – yeahhh!!

The Threaded Forest – a no stress free motion quilting opportunity!


Last weekend was the 87th Lost Acres Quilt Happening http://www.lostacres.com/. My Mom and I have been attending about 17 years, and my Aunt and Grandmother have since joined in on the excursion!  There are three Happenings per year and the summer Happening has a wonderful buffet of fresh, homemade foods to sample that shouldn’t be missed!!  There are also items for sale: quilts, quilt tops, blocks, fabric and more – I purchased a hand quilted pillow this time (Thanks Mary!)

The day consists of:

  • A little socializing and shopping
  • A lecture
  • Food with more socializing and the ongoing opportunity to shop

The lectures are usually historical or quilt specific (applique, sampler, etc) in nature but for a change, Ginny decided to cover some of the ways quilting has changed with time. One woman covered her methods for completing a multitude of baby quilts for donation, two other women covered their different approach to a town green (with surrounding town buildings) style quilt.

Quick Quilts with Hand Dyes – 4 Patch Stars – if you only have to cut big pieces, are you less afraid to cut hand dyes?

This is the first time Ginny has asked me to speak, and I was honored. I talked about how I moved into hand dying fabrics and the different lines I’ve come to carry: print, tone on tone, trees, landscape, starburst and snowflakes series of fabrics.  I also showed some of my new – Quick Quilts with Hand Dyes pattern samples.  That was the highlight, from their we covered in depth, the different opportunities the hand dyes offered for feed dogs up and feed dogs down machine quilting, specifically LOW STRESS introductions to MACHINE QUILTING, for example:

  • Baby Quilt in 8 hours, including binding with the feed dogs up on the Snowflake fabric

    Baby Quilt in Eight – feed dogs up machine quilting, 8 hrs includes the binding YEAH!!
  • Renegade Hawaiian Quilting with feed dogs up (quick table runner) Quilt As You Go & feed dogs down
  • The beauty of hand dyed Velvet as a doodle practice piece for free motion quilting
  • Beginner free motion & thread painting on the Threaded Forest (tree fabric)

Of course I included a trunk show. All was quiet while I spoke so I think it’s safe to assume it was entertaining or informative or both.  Actually, based on the compliments (thank you everyone) later, I think I’ll add this topic to my lecture listing – who knew there was so much interest in stress free ways to explore machine quilting.

My Menagerie of Pincushions

Gavin the Dragin

I love finding things new homes, from scraps, to orphan blocks, to pincushions. For those of you who’ve seen my booth, you know I love making fun little (some not so little) pincushions.  They are 100% wool (lanolin lubricates the pins) beads combined with oddities I find here and there that are crying for a new purpose that will find them a new home.

Happy Hare

Last show I brought the Atlantic City Camel, this guy was cute as a button with a hundred old pins – three people were very interested and he found a good home. An elephant I had been holding on to for a while finally

Elegant Egg

had the right color wool bead (sometimes what’s in my head doesn’t work out with the finished piece) – his trunk was up so he’ll bring lots of luck to his new home.  And, this beautiful egg for which I made a wool bead with sparkles also found a new home.

Just for fun, here are some of the others in the menagerie.

Please don’t think this is a sales

Elegant egg opened
Blue Bird of Happiness

pitch, I learned the hard way long ago not to buy anything I didn’t want to ultimately own – I can show you a couple quilts I’d rather not own (expensive lesson). This is just a fun little tour of some of my menagerie.

By the way – Gavin the Dragin found a home this morning.

car cushion

Air Conditioned Entertainment – YEAHHHH

velvet – fuschia (hand dyed)

It’s supposed to be unbearably hot and humid this weekend, part of a heat wave, and even if you love summer, it’s not the kind of weather you want to be outside in. So what, may you ask, am I doing this weekend?

Greater Hartford Quilt Guild http://www.ghqg.org/ is having its Quilt Show at Rentschler Field, a few hundred quilts in great AIR CONDITIONING and lots of other quilting pretties to look at. What more could one want on a hot summer day?  Oh, did I tell you there were Vendor Demo’s also – bonus!!! (mine’s on fiber art machine quilting)

velvet – ice (hand dyed)

Since my Mom and I are vending (we’ll be on the 4th floor – good thing there are elevators) I got a preview to one of the activities.  There’s a Scavenger Hunt going on and when you check off all the items on the hunt list, the list is then your entry to a drawing – not such a bad idea.  And who doesn’t like a free prize!!!

I’m bringing newly dyed velvet, cotton and clothes and my Mom is felting soaps – she was working with lavender soap last night and it smelled W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L-L-L !! If you come to the show I’ll hope you’ll stop in and say Hi!!  –  Hope you can make it!

ELIQS and VQF – don’t you hate acronyms?

You might be wondering what I’ve been up to – a combination of real world job overtime, as a result the ridiculous hours, a touch of bronchitis (I think, too stubborn to go to the Doctor) and two quilt shows. The Ugly news – due to a corporate buy out, there’s been a

Eastern Long Island Quilt Show 2017

management change at my real world job = lots of extra hours.  The Bad News – yup, been sick for about 3 weeks and still coughing too much.

And quickly on to the Good News – my Mom and I vended at the Eastern Long Island Quilt Show (ELIQS) for the second year.  Lots of friendly quilters to chat with, did a couple demo’s so I have a scarf almost complete, went to dinner with Oh So Sally and friends which was great!!

Eastern Long Island Quilt Show – fabrics

Two weeks later, and still sick it was off to Vermont Quilt Festival (VQF) with my Mom and my Aunt to see the show and have a mini-quilt retreat. We stopped at an antique shop on the way up and , since I seem to be addicted to the history of textiles (from chintz manufacturing, to whole cloths and crazy quilts, and beyond) I was excited to find a book on 500 years of Samplers.

500 years of Samplers

Did you know the Samplers were more intricate in the 1600’s & 1700’s because sewing skills were considered more important than writing or math in the classroom for women? Society actually thought women would die young from the stress on their brains of learning what we take for granted now.  So, successful shopping at the antique shop and at the show where I purchased an antique tape measure I’ll write about another time.

As for the quilt retreat – I’m working on a “contained” crazy quilt for my lecture and got 15 blocks done – YEEAAAHHH!!! We finalized the sashing, which – thank you Aunt Wendy – became three pieces of sashing instead of one (but  it does look better).  I bought the revised sashing fabric at the quilt show, however I am on the hunt for another yard of the additional fabric for binding.

For those of you who ordered clothes, sorry I’m behind I’ll be finishing the dyeing up this weekend and will send pictures shortly. More project pictures to come, back to my three – four seams each morning –  it takes me a while but this way it gets done.

A World of Quilts XXXVIII — 2017 Danbury

Danbury 2017 booth

What a great quilt show last weekend!! The people at the show were so friendly and fun to talk to, it’s always nice to visit with kindred spirits – it’s inspiring!

I had lots of snowflake and starburst fabric to choose from but my most popular item was the hand dyed silk linen velvet. I brought the hand dyed clothes for a second time and they were well received, took a few orders and some people went home with new clothes.  Ordering more clothes this week so I can restock and fill those orders.

Danbury 2017 – sewing accessories & my Duckie tape measure

Jennifer O’Brien was showing everyone how to free motion quilt on her feather weight which always gets a second look. She also had her Twinkle Star and Square in a Square rulers with all her beautiful samples.  https://www.sew-craft.com/shop/Rulers-by-Jennifer-OBrien.htm We had a great time in the booth, it was really busy!!

The quilts were beautiful, I especially enjoyed the large amount of fiber art. The variety of vendors was well balanced, I didn’t find the fabric I was looking for but I did find the kimono and sari fabric vendor so I definitely didn’t go home empty handed.  If you didn’t make it this year – I’d definitely recommend adding this to your must visit show list next year!

TREASURES from Lost Acres


not so crazy – Crazy Quilt – made of ties and vest/jacket linings

A couple weekends ago I went with my Mom, my Grandmother, my Aunt and my Aunt’s Aunt to the Quilt Happening at Lost Acres (3 generations yeah!). Ginny, the owner of Lost Acres, gave a wonderful talk on the different aspects of quilt donations throughout history.  She covered everything from the donations of quilts to support the Sanitary Commission during the Civil War to charities supported by quilters today.  How great to recognize the generous hearts of quilters and see how quilts had been used as fund raisers and direct donations over the last approximately 160 years.

Her group, Ladies of the Comfort, compromised of many helpers, in 2016 distributed: 24 baby quilts and 98 bed size quilts to: fire victims in Tennessee and Canada, and My Sister’s Place and Salvation Army Transition House (both are in Hartford, CT). Her goal for the group this year is increase donations to 250 quilts.

6″ squares ready to be kitted into bags

My Mom and Aunt and I went home with a large container of pre-cut 6-1/2” squares to package up for members of the Enfield Quilt guild to assemble into tops over the summer. The 6″ squares will be assemble in 10 columns  x 15 rows (125 lights & 125 darks in each bag).  We were excited to work on the project as we drove home but the actual making of the quilt top square kits took a bit longer than we anticipated.  We’re all good though, great conversation about quilting and charities while making kits that will be donated to directly to those in need (no sitting in trailers for distribution for these quilts!! – Ginny’s number 1 rule).

orphan – red star quilt top – in need of LOTS of LOVE

Ginny also sells fabric, orphan blocks, quilt tops and other quilted items at the event. Here are a few of the treasures I brought home with me.  The red star top is in sad shape, hanging piece is part of a missing row.   I’m going to trim the sashing so each block is framed in red then add a red & white print to replace the sashing and use the left over original red sashing to cut corner stones (sometimes my plans change as the project progresses – we’ll see).  We think this other cutie is made from ties and vest linings, kind of a not so crazy Crazy Quilt.  It’s on the fragile side so quilting it up will help the quilt survive (see 1st picture).

Hope to see you at the Danbury show this weekend, I’ll be in the SewCraft booth with my fabric and other goodies!!

I Believe in Education

Want to get better at something? – search out knowledge or when it presents itself in say a show or shop, just sign up for the classes. MQX is just that opportunity.  Is it a great show with wonderful vendors – yes, but it’s also a great opportunity to attend classes with very talented instructors.

Bethanne Nemish binding book

When I started going to MQX quite a while ago all the classes were about long arm quilting (not so now includes piecing & fiber art). I would  take six or more classes in the course of a couple days and by the end of the show it felt like the new knowledge was oozing out my ears.  One instructor (I think it was Jamie Wallen) told us – if you don’t set aside time when you return home to practice what you have learned then you’re losing out, letting the knowledge you obtained slip away like a memory.  After he said that, I started keeping the next week or so of my machine quilting time open so I could practice and retain what I had learned.  I’ve learned a lot over the years, and he was right practicing after increased retention of what I had learned.

beaded binding & scalloped binding samples

So, better late than never, what did I learn at MQX this year? I didn’t realize it at the time but I signed up for two classes with the same instructor, Bethanne Nemish (she’s great).  One class was on her free hand edge to edge machine quilting technique which is beautiful and almost as important – doable design.  The other class was on some of her specialty knife edge bindings.

tongue binding & corded binding samples

We made four styles in four hours – that was a marathon class. The bindings are beautiful, incredibly detailed and time consuming but something I’d be crazy enough to use in one of my quilts.  For perspective,


Time consuming = regular binding time for a quilt X 20 but I love a good challenge.

Above are pictures of the sample bindings I made in class. So, go out and learn everything you can in classes, books or videos and like that instructor said – don’t forget to “do” what you learned or it will slip away.  Happy stitches!!