Michael Miller Fabric Challenge Top Nine!

Michael Miller fabrics are wonderfully inspiring! I love the 9 finalists shown in the post from the Modern Quilt Guild. May they help creative energy begin to flow for all who see them.

The Modern Quilt Guild


We had over 750 entries for the Michael Miller Fabric Challenge! Everything from clocks to quilted jackets. The competition was fierce…but we were able to narrow it down to the nine top entries. The rest is up to Michael Miller to pick the top three!

Those three lucky winners will be announced on August 1st and they will receive a posting on the Michael Miller blog and “A year of Free Fabric”.

MMF Top 9 Tammy Lawson-Indianapolis MQG, Colleen Molen-Individual Member, Deb Westerberg-Lake Superior MQG, Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill-Southern Connecticut MQG, Judy Durant-Seacoast MQG, Kim Simpson-Melbourne MQG, Abby West-Individual Member, Cath Hall-Portland MQG, Michelle Hart-Phoenix MQG

Click on the photo to see the gallery.

Congratulations to all of you! As well as all the participants. Check out #mqgfabricchallenge and #michaelmillerchallenge to see some outstanding projects!

Are you or your guild interested in becoming a part of the MQG? Read about membership here.

View original post

Quilt Class at MAM: March Inspiration 8

Embed from Getty Images

I took a quilting class in this wonderful space today!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This afternoon I took a quilt class in the gorgeous lobby of the Milwaukee Art Museum.  The group was divided into four sections:  improvisational quilting (inspired by Gee’s Bend style quiltmaking); hand applique (inspired by the floral quilt); hand quilting (inspired by the star quilt); and crazy quilting stitches (inspired by the crazy quilt in the exhibit).  The groups rotated through each of the four areas spending about 45 min. or so at each station.

I had fun meeting fellow fiber enthusiasts, and it was especially wonderful to spend time being creative in that amazing space.  The teachers were excellent and I picked up several good tips and ideas.

As I was driving home north along the shore of Lake Michigan, I stopped to take a few photos.  The ice has finally begun to break up, so there is some open water peeking through here and there.  The shards of ice that are strewn about and piled up in various configurations created a decidedly other-worldly scene. Is there an ice planet?  This is what I would expect it to look like.

Lake Michigan ice; March 8, 2014.  Image by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Lake Michigan ice; March 8, 2014. Image by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Lake Michigan ice; March 8, 2014.  Image by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Lake Michigan ice; March 8, 2014. Image by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Lake Michigan ice; March 8, 2014.  Image by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Lake Michigan ice; March 8, 2014. Image by The Tromp Queen, CC license

Final Few February Haiku

This post marks the end of my February Haiku (part of my Joy 365 project).  This was more difficult than the January photos.  I am already behind on March!  I’m not sure what I will be doing with March yet.  Stay tuned, and as always, thank you for reading and following The Tromp Queen!

25 Tues — First rehearsal with area HS students preparing for upcoming district solo/ensemble contests.

image by TTQ
image by TTQ

Singers prepare songs.
First run-through:  a little shy.
Music minds the gaps.

26 Wed — Meet with photographer at Milwaukie’s Art Museum lobby to take head shots for my new job as MCC accompanist.

image by TTQ, CC license -- at Milwaukee Art Museum
image by TTQ, CC license — at Milwaukee Art Museum

Hair, make-up, jewelry:
Head shots at Art Museum.
Carved marble profile?

27 Thurs — Driving across the state from east to west. Going through Pville en route to quilt retreat.

Driving Driftless roads
Passing bluish-white meadows
Trees and cows dot hills.

Tears rush to fill eyes.
I don’t live here anymore.
“Home” is elsewhere now.

28 Fri 

image by lynn Dombrowski attribution, sharealike CC license via Flickr
image by lynn Dombrowski attribution, sharealike CC license via Flickr

Favorite coffee shop:
Time to chat with my dear friend.
Joyful day begins.

quilt and photo by qurikyjazz aka Jill CC license
quilt and photo by qurikyjazz aka Jill CC license

Next stop: Quilt Retreat.
Bound with stories, tools, advice,
Hugs, laughter, sorrows.

Connections endure:
Souls and voices — we still hear.
Fabric soothes us all.

Tutorial: Cover Ugly Ceiling Tiles with FABRIC!

Zita with smiling cat fabric.
Zita with smiling cat fabric.  (Isn’t every craft project easier with a kitten underfoot?)

I’ve been feeling crafty lately.  Even more so than usual, I should say.  In our new home, I have the luxury of having space for a sewing room.  It is dubbed the “Creativity Room” by a friend, so I’m going with that!

One of the problems with my new space is the UGLY ceiling.  It is one of those drop ceilings that are often in basements.  (Yes, my Creativity Room is in the basement).  Not only is it ugly when brand new, it is even uglier when it is old.  Mine is also grimy and yellowed.  I thought about replacing the tiles with new ones but money is a bit tight now (with the move and all!).  I also thought about just painting them white or something.  Nah, too much work!

Then I realized — I have yards and yards of fabric!  What if I covered those ugly tiles with fabric that I like (but not LOVE, of course, that fabric must be saved for possible quilt projects).

The question though, was HOW to attach the fabric to the those awful tiles.

I talked it over with my daughter and we decided to try starch.  I remembered reading somewhere that it was possible to use starch to make fabric stick to walls, and we thought it might work on fabric and the tiles.  Long story, short:  It didn’t.  We couldn’t mix the starch thickly enough that it would stick and then dry without having the fabric fall off once it was back on the ceiling.

Hmmmmm. I wondered about Mod Podge or maybe some sort of adhesive.  We considered duct tape, but we thought the fabric would sag in the middle.  Finally I decided to try Aleene’s Tacky Glue.  This seemed to do the job!

The basic steps:

1.  Buy a house with an ugly dropped ceiling with old, grungy, yellowed insulated tiles.

2.  Be a quilter who has a humongous fabric stash (or know one).  Alternatively you could visit a fabric store and buy a bunch of fabric on sale.  Goodwill or Thrift stores could be a source for fabric, too, if you think creatively.
Tacky Glue

3.  Gather a pair a scissors, an iron and ironing board, some Aleene’s Tacky Glue, a large work surface and a tall person (or be one).  A very long needle is helpful, too.  You’ll see why later. Having a kitten underfoot is not mandatory, but it does make things more annoying.  Oops.  I meant “exciting.”

remove one of the tiles
remove one of the tiles

4.  Remove one of the old, grungy, yellowed insulated tiles.  Lay it out on your work surface with the plastic side up (insulation down).

5.  Choose a piece of fabric that is large enough to cover your tile.  (If you are a fan of crazy quilts, you could, of course, use smaller pieces of fabric and make each tile a collage — but I didn’t do that).

measure by eye, hold the spot, then clip
measure by eye, hold the spot, then clip

6.  Measure along the longest edge (by eye is fine), hold the spot, make a snip with some scissors, and then tear the fabric.


tear were you snipped
You might not need to tear it all the way across so don’t go crazy with the tearing (unless you don’t care about wasting fabric then tear away).  When you think you’ve torn about the width of the tile — check it to see.  Again do this by eye. Make a snip going the other direction and then tear away.

holding the "width" spot; snip then tear
holding the “width” spot; snip then tear

This time you can tear the whole thing because you should be heading back toward the edge where you started measuring. You’ll end up with a rectangle about the size of your tile.  I gave a little leeway on the fabric on each wide — about 1/4 to 1/2 inch on each side or so.  You can cut it exactly, but this is my project and that isn’t my style.  I won’t judge you though, if you have a streak of persnicketiness and/or perfectionism.  (You probably don’t or you would have stopped reading by now.)

But I digress.

7.  The next steps need to be done, but it doesn’t matter which order you do them in.  Iron, Glue, Apply.  You need to iron the fabric and you need to apply glue to the plastic side of the tile. I’ve done it glue then iron then apply the fabric to the tile.  I’ve done it iron then glue then apply the fabric.  It works either way.

Iron that fabric!  I like this spray starch.
Iron that fabric! I like this spray starch.

Ironing:  Most of my fabric has been stored in bins for years, even decades (not kidding) — so it needs to be ironed.  I like to use steam and some spray starch.  I like Mary Ellen’s Best Press.

glue squigglesGlue:  Cut the top off the glue like you mean it.  No little hole for you!  You need to let that glue pour.  Apply a stream of glue around the edge pretty thoroughly. Then I wiggled it around everywhere covering the surface with squares and zig-zags and squiggles.  I also experimented with pouring a glob of glue on the tile and brushing it around with a square of cardboard. (You could use a brush, but I didn’t want to go find one).

glue squigglesYou may have figured out by now that one of my mottos for creative projects is “IT’LL BE FINE!”

Tacky GlueApply the fabric:  This part is easier if you still have help from your tall person/daughter/random person but I managed it alone for most of my project.  Hold your nicely ironed fabric close to one side or edge of the glued tile.  Place it gently on the glue, pretty side UP away from the glue and smooth it carefully from the center.  You can adjust the edges and even lift the whole thing and re-position it if you do it quickly enough.  If you have massive amounts of fabric hanging off an edge feel free to trim it off.  I found most of the small excess fabric I had folded nicely up into the metal frame.

better?  YES!Ceiling tiles covered with fabric8.  When you are satisfied that your fabric covered tile is ready to go back up into the ceiling (no wrinkles, etc.), carefully flip it upside down and maneuver it back into the space it came from. I did one tile at a time after I discovered that, at least in my ceiling, not all the tiles were the same size even though they looked the same.



doll needle
doll needle

If you can’t get the tile to lie flat again, this is where the long needle is helpful.  I had a doll needle that is hugely long.  It is used for sewing eyes and sometimes limbs onto dolls.  I poked it into the insulated tile and pulled gently down at a slight angle and it worked!

Use the doll needle to poke and pull the tiles unto place if needed
Use the doll needle to poke and pull the tiles unto place if needed

You can also raise the tiles on either side a bit and reach above and push down.  But then that other tile is out of place — IT’ll BE FINE! adjusting the tile

I’m trying to decide if I should paint the metal frame black or possibly cover it with some sort of black tape. (The tape idea sounds easier to me than painting all those little frames).

I’m thrilled with how my ceiling is turning out.  I have just about six squares left.  I am planning to paint and do some other decorating before I show photos of the whole room.  I will keep you posted.


5 stitches and a tube of glue

quilt and photo by qurikyjazz aka Jill
quilt and photo by qurikyjazz aka Jill

This date is the one year anniversary of the day after the night I cut my finger badly with a rotary cutter.
Badly enough to warrant a late night trip over the river and through the woods to a not so nearby ER.
Badly enough to need 5 stitches (including one through the fingernail) and a tube of glue.

The tale has a happy ending, so don’t be afraid to read on.

Here is the summary of that eventful night that I wrote up as a Facebook note last year on the “morning after,”  November 9, 2012:

finger stitches2 finger stitcheshere begins the Facebook note

So here is the whole “finger” story for those who need to know gory details.

I am at a quilt retreat with 9 fabulous quilting friends in a lovely house in DeSoto, WI. We arrived last night and will stay here til Sunday morning.

After sewing a couple of bindings on nearly finished quilts, I decided it was time to begin a brand new project. It was only 10:30 pm so I was not yet breaking the quilter’s rule of “don’t cut after 11 pm”.

I cut five skinny strips with a strip cutter and then — the next cut
— OUCH —
I had my left index finger on top of the groove I was cutting in! I knew I had really sliced it hard, so put pressure on it instantly and went straight to the sink. I ran cold water over it and kept the pressure on it.

Several people there gave advice (–there is never any shortage of advice with a bunch of quilters in the room!–) and we decided I should keep the pressure on, hold it above my head and get ice on it. I had the pressure on it for about 45 minutes or so, but bleeding still wasn’t stopping.

One friend started looking on her phone for the closest hospitals. Finally, after an hour and a call to my husband and to my on-call Med Associates nurse and advice from a friend (You are a pianist, it is your livelihood, you should go if you think you need to) — I said let’s go. Jean and Christina were the designated ER crew. By this time it was nearly midnight and though I had a pretty good bandage on (thanks to Christina and several of my well prepared for emergencies friends). I was worried it was still bleeding under there and worried about infection and healing and about how deeply it might have cut.

We went to Waukon, Iowa which was about 20 min. away. The nurse took one look at it and called the on call Dr. to come. He arrived a good long while later. He gave me two shots to numb it and started stitching it up. He was quite the comedian. I asked him where he went to med school and cracked, “Oh, was I supposed to go to med school?” Hilarious. He had several more jokes as we went along.

The result was five stitches including one THROUGH my nail! He used a tube of dermabond to seal it up. He said the pain would be numbed mostly for five or six hours. He said Friday it would hurt but by Sat. it should be feeling better. He thinks I will be able to play Sunday night for the concert if it is bandaged up to give it some protection while I play.

We got back to the house at about 2:30 am. Christina and Jean even sang on the way home to keep me entertained.

We saw several varmints, a deer and a train but managed to complete the trip safely.  🙂

those eyebrows
those eyebrows (Photo credit: inajeep)

If you don’t know what a rotary cutter is, Google it. It is like a round razor blade that is VERY very sharp. It cuts multiple layers of fabric all at once.

photo via flickr mollygolightly
photo via flickr mollygolightly

Another highlight of late night ER trip was the very handsome orderly DAN. Jean can give more details, if anyone needs to know. 😉

Final season cast (2008–2009)
Final season cast (2008–2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

here ends the Facebook note

The cut happened late on Thursday night. Careful readers will notice that I had a CONCERT the following Sunday afternoon. One of my jobs at that time was piano accompanist for two university choirs. The concert usually involves about 1 hour or more of pre-concert warmups and run-throughs and then the concert itself which can last anywhere from an 1 to 1 1/2 hours usually. For this concert we had some special guests playing with us so the warmup time was extra important.

Steinway & Sons piano

I had bandaged the heck out of my finger to prepare to play. I wrapped it and covered it with a “finger cot” (which looks like a tiny condom for your finger in case you’ve never seen one of these things!).

An example of a finger cot
An example of a finger cot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyway, it was a little painful during the warmups but I could stand it. What I couldn’t stand was the feeling of all those bandages, though, so between songs I took the bandages and padding off and just put the little finger condom thing back on.

THEN….I accidentally hit my finger underneath the piano as I was adjusting my skirt or something. O.M.G. It hurt. It throbbed. I was surprised that blood wasn’t pouring out of it. I nearly burst into tears. The special guest (clarinet) asked if I was okay and I said (nearly in a sob) “No, I just bonked my finger and I have five stitches in that one!” He was horrified. He had no idea I was playing that way. By this time the director noticed I was in pain and was concerned immediately. When I explained what happened he gently said, “You’ve got to leave the bandages on.”

I said I needed a break to re-bandage, so they grabbed a replacement pianist from the choir. As they continued without me, I ran to the dressing room and let the tears go. I couldn’t see how I could possibly get through this concert. The music at this level is always challenging, always demanding — even on a regular night it is easy to make mental or technical errors if you aren’t on top of your game. But I was beginning to doubt whether I could physically do this or not in my current condition.
In my bathroom haven, I looked at my finger. The stitches were intact. There was no bleeding. Yes, it was painful. Painful didn’t begin to describe it. But it didn’t look like there was any new damage.

After the tears subsided, I took a deep breath. I decided I COULD and WOULD do this. It didn’t matter how much it hurt for the next hour or so — I would get through it. I decided there was no way I could hurt my finger badly enough to cause further damage by playing normally in the concert. I don’t know if what I told myself then was true or not, the important thing is that I believed it at that moment and believed it for the next hour or so.

I splashed cold water on my face. I tidied up my ever crazy looking hair. I gathered up my courage and went back out there.

We did it. I made it through. It is still very difficult for me to listen to the CD of that concert. I hear several places where I am hesitant or where there are a few blurby notes, but I think any casual listener would not be able to tell I had I a severely injured finger that night.

My finger? Thank God it is completey healed and nearly back to normal. There is the teeniest trace of a scar and a very very small loss of sensitivity, but it could have been much much worse. I’m grateful, thankful, and blessed.

The quilt? It is nearly finished. I still need to put the binding on.

I did manage to finish the quilt top and get most of the backing pieced that weekend before we left the retreat. Later that fall, I had it professionally quilted (QuilThyme). I chose to put fabulous orange minky on the back and picked out some cool quilting patterns to complement the modern look of the quilt.

Names I considered for this quilt
“Over the River and Through the Woods to Waukon ER We Go”
“I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends”
“No Tears For Me and My Finger” (Argentina…)
“Waukon The Wild Side”

I’ve decided to call this quilt “Five Stitches and a Tube of Glue” unless someone out there comes up with a better name for it!

Here is a preview of the almost done quilt:

This post is the explanation I promised in an earlier post: Quality Time with Quilt Friends — These tables are protected by a special type of mat that is used with rotary cutters, wheel-shaped razor-sharp cutting tools that can slice fingers as easily as several layers of fabric. (I will explain how I know this in another post, another day!) https://haskerj.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/quality-time-with-quilt-friends/

Harriet Powers: Folk Artist and American Quilter

From Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Alamac for October 29 I learned about folk artist and quilt maker, Harriet Powers.  I had never heard of this woman or her quilts until today.  I say “her quilts” literally because there are just two.

Her life must have been an extremely difficult one, but this woman who was born a slave had the heart and eye of an artist.  She most likely created many incredible objects during her lifetime, though maybe not since money was scarce, she had nine (or more) children, and work to care for and feed that many people would be never ending.  I’m thankful to have found out about this woman, her story, and the two quilts she left behind.

Take special note in the back-story below when she sells one of these quilts for $5.  It breaks my heart!  I guess the silver lining in that story is that we have this quilt today, and it might not have survived otherwise.

First, I want to share the section from The Writer’s Almanac about Harriet Powers and her amazing quilts.  This is the first section.  Then I will show you each of the two quilts with some information and descriptions of the quilt blocks for both.  I hope you are soon inspired by Harriet’s story as I am.

Today (October 29) is the birthday of Harriet Powers, born into slavery outside Athens, Georgia (1837). She was married at 18 and gave birth to nine children. She lived most of her life in Clarke County, where in 1897, she began exhibiting her quilts at local cotton fairs. She was believed to have been a house slave and first learned to read with the help of the white children she cared for.

Harriet Powers, slave folk artist.
Harriet Powers, slave folk artist. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Powers’ quilts used a combination of hand and machine stitching along with appliqué to form small detailed panels. She then organized these squares to unfold a larger story, much like a modern graphic novel. This teaching style of quilting has its roots in West African coastal communities, and her uneven edging of panels mirrored the complex rhythms of African-American folk music. Through her quilts, she recorded legends and Biblical tales of patience and divine justice.

Only two pieces of her work have survived: Her Bible quilt of 1886 (see photo below), which she sold for $5 in the aftermath of the war, now hangs in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Her Pictorial quilt of 1888 is displayed in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Powers’ work is now considered among the finest examples of Southern quilting from the 19th century.

English: Photo of Harriet Powers' 1886 bible q...
English: Photo of Harriet Powers’ 1886 Bible quilt by Rhonda Leigh Willers of the University of Wisconsin – River Falls and obtained from African-American Artists (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1885 – 1886 Harriet Powers’s Bible Quilt (Smithsonian Museum of American History)

Harriet Powers, an African American farm woman of Clarke County, Georgia, made this quilt in about 1886. She exhibited it at the Athens Cotton Fair of 1886 where it captured the imagination of Jennie Smith, a young internationally-trained local artist. Of her discovery, Jennie later wrote: “I have spent my whole life in the South, and am perfectly familiar with thirty patterns of quilts, but I had never seen an original design, and never a living creature portrayed in patchwork, until the year 1886, when there was held in Athens, Georgia, a ‘Cotton-Fair,’ which was on a much larger scale than an ordinary county fair, as there was a ‘Wild West’ show, and Cotton Weddings; and a circus, all at the same time. There was a large accumulation farm products–the largest potatoes, tallest cotton stalk, biggest water-melon! Best display of pickles and preserves made by exhibitor! Best display of seeds &c and all the attractions usual to such occasions, and in one corner there hung a quilt-which ‘captured my eye’ and after much difficulty I found the owner, a negro woman, who lives in the country on a little farm whereon she and husband make a respectable living . . . . The scenes on the quilt were biblical and I was fascinated. I offered to buy it, but it was not for sale at any price.”
Four years later, Mrs. Powers, at the urging of her husband because of hard times, offered to sell the quilt, but Miss Smith’s “financial affairs were at a low ebb and I could not purchase.” Later Jennie sent word that she would buy the quilt if Harriet still wanted to dispose of it. Harriet “arrived one afternoon in front of my door in an ox-cart with the precious burden in her lap encased in a clean flour sack, which was still further enveloped in a crocus sack. She offered it for ten dollars–but–I only had five to give.” Harriet went out to consult her husband and reported that he said she had better take the five dollars.
Mrs. Powers regretfully turned over her precious creation, but only after explaining each of the eleven panels of the design, which Jennie Smith recorded. Briefly, the subjects are Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, a continuance of Paradise with Eve and a son, Satan amidst the seven stars, Cain killing his brother Abel, Cain goes into the land of Nod to get a wife, Jacob’s dream, the baptism of Christ, the crucifixion, Judas Iscariot and the thirty pieces of silver, the Last Supper, and the Holy Family.
In her narrative about the quilt, artist Jennie revealed why she was so taken with it: “Her style is bold and rather on the impressionists order while there is a naievete of expression that is delicious.” In recent times, historians have compared Harriet’s work to textiles of Dahomey, West Africa.
The Bible quilt is both hand- and machine-stitched. There is outline quilting around the motifs and random intersecting straight lines in open spaces. A one-inch border of straight-grain printed cotton is folded over the edges and machine-stitched through all layers.
Harriet Powers was born a slave near Athens, Georgia, on October 29, 1837. At a young age, she married Armstead Powers and they had at least nine children. Some time after the Civil War, they became landowners. Eventually, circumstances forced them to sell off part of the land but not their home. The date of Harriet’s death, Jan. 1, 1910, was recently discovered on her gravestone in Athen’s Gospel Pilgrim Cemetery.

Bible Quilt Harriet Powers (reproduction quilt)A brief synopsis of the stories, based on what Powers told the woman who bought her quilt, and preserved in the Smithsonian institution:

First Row
1: the first panel (beginning in the upper left) depicts Adam and Eve in the garden of Paradise, at the moment when the serpent is about to tempt Eve.  As someone in class suggested, this may be why the serpent still has feet–it didn’t lose them until after the fall.
2: Eve has given birth to a son.  Some interpretations see this as a combination nativity/Eve-Abel-Cain, and it seems reasonable to assume that both meanings are intended.
3: Satan and seven stars.

Second Row

Lower left corner of Harriet Powers' Bible Quilt:  Smithsonian Museum
Lower left corner of Harriet Powers’ Bible Quilt: Smithsonian Museum

4: Cain kills his brother, and blood pours from his neck.
5: Cain is looking for a wife.
6: Jacob dreams about the angel on a ladder.
7: The Holy Spirit is present in the brown bird-like object; the scene is the baptism of Christ.

Third Row

The Crucifixion block detail; Harriet Powers Bible Quilt, Smithsonian

8: the crucifixion, with the sun and moon turning into blood.
9: Judas and his silver.  The large star at the bottom refers to a star that was seen in 1886 for the first time in 300 years (according to Powers).
10: the Last Supper, seen from above.  Judas is dressed differently from the others who are all in white.  Not all the disciples are shown.  11: the Holy Family and the star of Bethlehem.

Italicized information above is from the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of American History website page for Harriet Powers’s Bible quilt.

The only other remaining piece of Harriet Powers’ textile art is her Pictorial quilt of 1888.  It is held by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Powers’ work is considered among the finest examples of Southern quilting from the 19th century.
Neither of Harriet’s historic quilts is currently on display, which I think is a shame.


Appliqué quilt, dyed and printed cotton fabrics applied to cotton. The quilt is divided into fifteen pictorial rectangles. Worked with pieces of beige, pink, mauve, orange, dark red, gray-green and shades of blue cotton.

Powers is thought to have orally dictated a description of each square of her quilt to Jennie Smith, who had purchased the first quilt Powers made, and arranged for it to be exhibited at the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta in 1895. This second quilt is thought to have been commissioned by a group of “faculty ladies” at Atlanta University, and given (together with Powers’s descriptions) as a gift to a retiring trustee. What follows is Powers’ descriptions of all fifteen blocks starting in the upper left and moving to the right. 

1. Job praying for his enemies. Job crosses. Job’s coffin.
2. The dark day of May 19, 1780. The seven stars were seen at 12 noon in the day. The cattle all went to bed, chickens to roost and the trumpet was blown. The sun went off to a small spot and then to darkness.

mfa Boston
1st sq: Job 2nd sq: The dark day of May 19, 1780.

3. The serpent lifted up by Moses and women bringing their children to look upon it to be healed.
4. Adam and Eve in the garden. Eve tempted by the serpent. Adam’s rib by which Eve was made. The sun and the moon. God’s all-seeing eye and God’s merciful hand.
5. John baptizing Christ and the spirit of God descending and resting upon his shoulder like a dove. 


Harriet Powers quilt mfa Boston
(L) John goes overboard (R) God created male and female 2 of every kind

6. John cast over board of the ship and swallowed by a whale. Turtles.
7. God created two of every kind, male and female.

Falling Stars of Nov. 1833
Falling Stars of Nov. 1833

8. The falling of the stars on Nov. 13, 1833. The people were frightened and thought that the end had come. God’s hand staid the stars. The varmints rushed out of their beds.
9. Two of every kind of animal continued…camels, elephants, “gheraffs,” lions, etc.
10. The angels of wrath and the seven vials. The blood of fornications. Seven-headed beast and 10 horns which arose of the water. 


Harriet Powers quilt mfa Boston
(L) Cold Thursday of 1895 (R) Red light night of 1846

11. Cold Thursday, 10 of February, 1895. A woman frozen while at prayer. A woman frozen at a gateway. A man with a sack of meal frozen. Icicles formed from the breath of a mule. All blue birds killed. A man frozen at his jug of liquor.
12. The red light night of 1846. A man tolling the bell to notify the people of the wonder. Women, children and fowls frightened by God’s merciful hand caused no harm to them.

Harriet Powers quilt mfa Boston
(L) The clock and the hog. (R) Creation of animals.

13. Rich people who were taught nothing of God. Bob Johnson and Kate Bell of Virginia. They told their parents to stop the clock at one and tomorrow it would strike one and so it did. This was the signal that they had entered everlasting punishment. The independent hog which ran 500 miles from Georgia to Virginia, her name was Betts.
14. The creation of animals continues.

The Crucifixion

15. The crucifixion of Christ between the two theives. The sun went into darkness. Mary and Martha weeping at his feet. The blood and water run from his right side.

English: Photo of Harriet Powers' 1898 bible q...
English: Photo of Harriet Powers’ 1898 bible quilt by Rhonda Leigh Willers of the University of Wisconsin – River Falls and obtained from African-American Artists (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



The italicized information above is from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Harriet Powers Pictorial Quilt webpage

Mini Ironing Board Tutorial

This is a really good idea for any quilter friends out there! I’m going to make one of these. Thank you to Measured and Slow blog for such a great post!

Measured and Slow

I’ve been doing a lot of paper piecing and scrappy blocks lately, which requires a lot of ironing. The way my sewing space is situated, there isn’t enough room to have the big ironing board next to my desk, so I have been having to get up and down to iron my blocks. This is okay when I’m doing just a little bit of piecing, but with paper piecing, that can mean getting up 12 or 15 times! My hip quickly let me know that this was not a situation that was going to last for long, so I started thinking of solutions, and what I ended up with is this:


Originally I was going to make just a mat that could be rolled up and put away when not in use, but I really just don’t have the space on my sewing table, especially when I’m in the middle…

View original post 746 more words

Quality Time with Quilt Friends

photo by quirkyjazz aka Jill
photo by quirkyjazz aka Jill

I recently found out one of my quilt friends is dying.

She has been fighting breast cancer for well over a year now.

She tried alternative medicines (including a trip to Ecuador for frankincense treatment) and traditional treatments (surgery and chemo, etc.) but the battle for her body is being won by the cancer this week.

I have known Barb for years. We belonged to the same quilt guild for over a decade. I’m guessing 16 years? I got to know her not only through the guild meetings and guild quilt shows, but also through her volunteer position in the guild as co-tech ed organizer. Her partner in crime for tech-ed was her buddy Annette. They were so hilarious together. Barb, tall thin and dark haired, and Annette, short round and grey haired, reminded me of a great comedy team along the lines of Stan and Ollie (but neither being stupid or mean!)

Wuppertal-Oberbarmen: Stan and Ollie. Flying C...
Wuppertal-Oberbarmen: Stan and Ollie. Flying Circus (Photo credit: wwwuppertal)

Barb and I also got to know each other at the guild quilt retreats* (see explanation below), held annually in Feb (or March) and October (or September) depending on when we can get reservations at the retreat space. Barb and I often ended up sitting near each other as we were quilting and often chatted as we worked. Eating meals together is one of my favorite parts of quilt retreats, and I would often find myself sitting near Barb and getting involved in a lively conversation.

Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

One of the first conversations I remember having with Barb was when we discovered several mutual interests: Jane Austen, Colin Firth and more specifically those two together in the A&E production of Pride and Prejudice. Oh my! I thought I was a big fan, but she left me in the dust.

She had seen nearly every movie Colin Firth had ever made (and he has made a LOT of movies).

Cover of "What a Girl Wants (Widescreen E...
Cover via Amazon

She regaled me with the story of seeing Colin in leather pants in the movie “What a Girl Wants.” Barb claimed she stood up, fist in the air and yelled “YES!” (Annette confirmed this was true. So funny!)

She told me the story of finagling DVDs of all the PBS Jane Austen movies from either her cable company (or satellite, idk?) because she had reception issues when the movies were aired. She got them ALL! She was very persuasive.

A gyro sandwich with meat, onions, tomato, and...
A gyro sandwich with meat, onions, tomato, and tzatziki sauce in a pita as served at The Greek House in Norman, Oklahoma, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We both loved eating at Athenian Grill in Dubuque. She would always tell me when the place was closed (it went through much drama and changes of ownership). We would always commiserate whenever that happened (and it happened often!).

She told us stories from work. She taught computer classes at a community college. I am sure she was a fabulous teacher and that she was much loved and appreciated by her students. As a fellow teacher (though I teach music), I pick up on passion and dedication when good teachers talk about students and classes. Good ones care. A lot. And you can tell just by listening to their stories. Barb was a good one.

Barb certainly had her quirks, too. She and another friend created an elaborate reward system to try to keep themselves motivated and on track in their quilting projects. There were monetary rewards for certain amounts of time spent, for completing projects and for I don’t remember what all. The part that fascinated me was that the money was IMAGINARY and that the amounts were quite small. Once I asked, if the money wasn’t real anyway, why they didn’t reward themselves with higher pay? Like maybe more like $100 an hour instead of whatever less than minimum wage they were paying themselves?

American Money
American Money (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

She replied, “Well, we don’t want to go crazy with it.” (I am shaking my head and laughing out loud as I write this and remember this conversation. SO FUNNY.)

The other amusing thing is this imaginary money reward system actually WORKED for them!

The forked head of a seam ripper
The forked head of a seam ripper (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another “Barb” thing I enjoy is the way she talks herself through a project. She is a perfectionist. She will tear things out that I would never dream of fixing. She usually has a running commentary going about the fabric, her machine, the pattern, the project in general, the intended recipient, or the reason she is making the thing. She struggles to follow directions at times, and also likes to have confirmation from anyone who can hear her that she is doing everything correctly. Barb manages to do this without being annoying.

Barb often would be working on projects for her nieces and nephews (whom she dearly loves). She worked on one Buggy Barn (a quilt pattern company) star pattern for her sister for several retreats! The stars had lots of pieces and each piece had little borders around them. The whole project was in pale colors so all the work didn’t really show up that much. This is not the exact pattern, but it was very similar to it.

Carra making a baby quilt (pinwheel).

Several of us encouraged Barb to just quit working on it because it seemed to be frustrating her so much. But she kept working steadily on it and I am pretty sure she did finish that project eventually. (For many quilters finishing a project is not mandatory. A lot of us are excellent at picking out, designing and beginning projects. Finishing them? Not so much.)

Last fall, as we sat in the sewing room at our retreat I kept hearing an inner voice tell me to ask Barb’s permission to pray with her about her cancer. She had been through several months of alternative treatments by this time as well as some traditional medicine. She was wearing a cute brown pageboy wig, so her hair was gone from having chemo.

I looked for times to talk to her quietly but in a room with 20 creative, happily sewing quilters, there is not much down time and not much quiet time. I argued with myself about the prayer idea for at least the first day. Why me? Someone else could do it. The inner voice was not giving in. Yes, you. Yes, now. Do it.

So I went over to Barb’s table. I asked if she would be comfortable with the idea me gathering everyone who wanted to into a circle of friendship to give her support for her upcoming treatments. She said YES instantly. So I turned around and asked people to gather. I did not want to assume prayer would be the word everyone there would use for what we would do — but whatever I said — everyone came over. We held hands. We stood in a circle. Everyone looked at me. I asked if anyone wanted to say a few words or lead a prayer or anything — someone said “You do it.” So I did.

I don’t remember what I said, but I poured my heart out. We need Barb healed. We need her with us. This cancer needs to get out of her body. We wrap her in our friendship, love, comfort, encouragement and support.

I’m usually a crier. (See any number of my previous blog posts!) I’m not much of a public prayer either. But this was on my heart and I did what my heart (I believe it was the Holy Spirit) was telling me to do. This is one of those times that I believe the power of prayer was not only a mental but also a physical experience. Is there an energy that generates when people hold hands and stand in a circle and all focus their thoughts and minds on one person? — I don’t know. I felt something, though. Love, Faith, Friendship, Compassion. Words don’t mean anything much at a time like that, though.

I didn’t cry (much). At least I was able to continue talking and to form relatively coherent thoughts for which I am truly thankful to this day!

At the end of my words– everyone, EVERYONE, hugged Barb and whispered encouragement to her. Tears were flowing. Barb thanked us and shed a few tears of her own. It was a wonderful moment of personal connection between all of us in that circle.

Prayer Circle
Prayer Circle (Photo credit: graysonakerly) (Note:  This is not the friendship/prayers circle we had for Barb.  There are not quilters! We held hands and we are not young boys. But you get the idea.)

As the weekend went on, many of the other quilters came over to my table to say how much they appreciated the circle. I think many of us had the thought that something should said or done to show Barb our love and support, and we were thankful to have found a way to express that to her.

photo by quirkyjazz aka Jill
photo by quirkyjazz aka Jill

This year, we knew that Barb was near the end of her life. We had some roses both in the work room and on our table in the dining room in her honor. We gathered again in another friendship circle to pray for her and for ourselves as we were missing her presence with us.

As I visited with the quilters there, I found at least one of them working on a “Barb” project. One that she had worked on, but had not finished. She was hoping to get it finished for Barb before she died.

Prayer circles? (3)
labyrinth (3) (Photo credit: Rohan Talip)

I just got word a short while ago that Barb died in the early hours this morning (October 1). My heart is sorrowful, but my spirit is comforted to know that she free of the cancer and is now pain-free. I miss you already, dear friend.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes,
and there will be no more death
or sorrow
or crying
or pain.
All these things are gone
NLT Rev. 21:4

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. These two Chur...
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. These two Church Amish women are engaged in quilting. Quilting bee . . . – NARA – 521135 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

*Quilt Guild Retreats:  A Brief Explanation

(Modern quilt retreats are NOT like the photo above!)
Imagine 20 creative women (mostly strong-willed and not afraid to express their opinions about anything and everything) sitting around a long large conference room. Each person has their own work table and chair. On each table is a sewing machine, light, and quilting tools/gadgets. Most people have fabric nearby, some cut into pieces large and small and stacked ready to sew. The stacks are neat or messy depending on the creative style of the person. (I’m in the messy category — is anyone surprised?) In the center of the room are several “cutting tables.” These tables are protected by a special type of mat that is used with rotary cutters, wheel-shaped razor-sharp cutting tools that can slice fingers as easily as several layers of fabric. (I will explain how I know this in another post, another day!)

Everyone works on their own projects at their own pace. If you need advice or opinions, just ask. Someone (usually SEVERAL someones) will gather ’round to opine. You can stop to take a nap or a walk (either outside in the verdant gardens or in one of the meditational labyrinths) or just take a break to sit and chat.  

It seems that we eat every 15 minutes, but in reality we eat three times a day down in the spacious dining area with extremely large windows overlooking beautiful pastoral farmland. The Mound (short for Sinsinawa Mound) has a fabulous bakery, so we often have their home-made dinner rolls, breads, pies, cinnamon rolls, etc. 
Some people finish several small projects, some bring one large quilt to assemble, some bring hand work only. The point it to spend uninterrupted time together doing something we love — quilting — with people we enjoy.

Yes, we sit and sew and talk and eat for three day (or more if we can manage the time away!).

And we love and enjoy every second of it.

Fabulous Fabric Finds

fabric colors
fabric colors (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been organizing my new “Creativity Room” this week.  A friend and I decided that “Sewing Room” was too narrow a name for this space.  I plan to do scrap-booking, make jewelry, write, sew, quilt, knit, do embroidery — who knows!  I am thrilled to have a whole room in our new house to dedicate to being crafty and creative.  It is one of the big pluses so far from our recent move.

My job for the last couple of days has been to sort ALL of my remaining fabric into categories, find a place to store it (either in a tub, on a shelf, in a cupboard, project envelope, whatever), and then LABEL it clearly so that I will always know where to find what I want.  (hah!)

It has been great fun (and hard work) to get a good close look at and to touch/feel each piece of fabric.  Fortunately I had help from a fabric-loving and hard-working friend as I packed, so some of the sorting was already done!  I have lots of categories: batiks, black and whites, brights, Asian, African, neutrals, solids, red/orange/yellow/green/blue/purple, blue and yellow, florals, holidays, novelty prints, kid prints, Civil War era reproductions, 30’s era reproductions, textures, new and inspiring, and vintage.

The vintage category is the reason for this post.  I found 50s fabrics that I think are too fantastic not to share!  I also found the daffodil crocheted doily that I mentioned in a comment on another post.  (I found it, Theresa!)

Here it is!


I love the detail of the daffodils.  I’m sure that someone skilled with an iron and spray starch could get those flowers standing tall.  But since I just dug this out of a rubber-maid tub where it was in exile for several years, I think it looks pretty spectacular after being squished flat for so long!  The colors are still very bright.

I appreciate the handwork that goes into embroidered pillowcases, into crocheted doilies, into tatting, and the like.  I used to gather pieces at these sales, usually spending no more than 25 cents for anything.  I got this wonderful daffodil doily during the Champaign-Urbana era of our lives.

We used to live in Champaign-Urbana (Illinois) in the late 80s and early 90s, while my husband was attending graduate school there.  I held various jobs, but at one point I had three part-time jobs that gave me Friday afternoons off!

C-U has amazing garage sales and estate sales.  There is a large population of students moving in and out every year (because of the University there) as well as the town population of professors and other residents who stay/live there for years and years.  This blend of folks and households yields a wonderful extravaganza of all types of merchandise.  (I haven’t lived there since 1995, so things may have changed — I hope not, though!)

I was relatively new to quilting back then so I often looked for yard or estate sales that mentioned fabric.  I once bought 2 boxes of fabric for about 4 or 5 dollars.  There was more than a hundred yards of fabric in those boxes!  I was thrilled beyond words.

I remember one estate sale that had a whole room full of fabric and this sign:  “All the pretty quilting fabric is gone.”  I found that NOT the case at all!  Even then I had very quirky taste.  I’m sure whatever they meant by “pretty quilting fabric” would not have been my first choice anyway.  In the end, I bought several large pieces of fabric (many were several yards each) — all for 25 cents per piece no matter how large or small.  I’m fairly sure that the fabrics I’m featuring in this post (below) came from that estate sale.  I’m not positive, but I do remember getting a lot of very cool 50s fabric at that house.

Now the fabrics.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I named these “Atomic Flowers” because I think you can see the influence of the atomic age (all those flying electrons!) here.  My guess is this is 1950s era fabric not only because of the atomic influence, but because of the colors and the stylized design.  There is no information on the selvedge edges.

Here is another vintage fabric.  This one is a border print with black, white, chartreuse and gray.  The images could be interpreted as possibly chickens, some sort of candelabra, and something that looks like a llama with a very bushy tall tail!

The fabric looks like it was previously used in a skirt or possibly as curtains.  There are machine stitching holes and small slits (as would be used to match pattern pieces) along the top and the bottom of the pieces are hemmed in a wide hem.  The sides are raw, but look like they were in a seam at some point.

Ballet, anyone?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I love the girls and young women on this fabric!  I love the hairdos!  I love the ballet outfits and the little tableaus!  I especially love the pianist!  (I wish I had “That Girl” hair!!  Anyone else out there remember Marlo Thomas?)  The bright red background is still vivid and bright.  The whole thing screams “1950s” to me.  This is yardage; it was never made into anything.

This next item is much older.  I found this darling little 30s era doll dress mixed in with some of my grandmother’s fabrics.

I don’t know if she made it or if maybe one of her sisters or maybe one of my Aunts might have made it.  I’ll probably never know.

The skirt is made from feed sack fabric.  It is pale pink with circus themed characters.  There is a clown with blue polka-dotted clothing and tiny blue monkey riding a white elephant.  I also see several different striped balls and a duck dressed up like a band leader.  I also see several trees that look a lot like Christmas trees… ?  Not sure what that has to do with the circus, but oh well.

The dress is not hemmed because the selvedge of the fabric is there.  The back is open.  I wonder if it was held closed with a safety pin or a few hand stitches?  Or if it was never finished and never used on a doll at all?

My grandma used to tell me stories of going to the feed and flour mill to pick out the prettiest bags to use for her projects. I have a small stash of her fabrics, but not many feed sacks.

The last fabric is a doozy!  This fabric looks like it was once a skirt.  Someone took the time to detach it and to save it, and I’m really thankful they did.

I was immediately struck by the artistic nature of the characters and colors.  My first thought was, “Here is the topic for my next blog post!”  There is something Picasso-ish about it.  I also catch a drift of Don Quixote in there. Whatever the source of the appeal:  I love it!

Maybe it’s just me.  What do you think?  What do you see?

The selvedge on this last fabric is very clear:  A Signature Fabric, “Circus Days” Created by Hans Moller, of Associated American Artists c1953.

I did a quick online search to see what I could find about the artist and the organization.  I found an article by Karen Herbaugh.  Read it here.  The Associated American Artist group was organized in 1934 to try to make fine art more affordable and available to the general public.  Between 1952 and 1957 several well known artists designed fabrics.  The chart in the Herbaugh’s paper lists many fabrics, but Circus Day by Hans Moller is not on the list.  I sent an email to the American Textile History Museum, whose fabric collection is one of the features of the article.  I’ll let you all know if I hear anything!

Quilting on 9/11/01

English: Overview of New York after the north ...

I wrote this on September 11, 2011.  This is all still very clear in my mind, so I am sharing it with you in memory and in honor of all those who died that day (and in the weeks, months and years afterward).

Quilting on 9/11/01

The morning of September 11, 2001 I stopped by my friend’s house to pick her up for a day of quilting in Dubuque. Our quilt guild was having a work day that day to make quilts for one of our community service projects.

She opened her door and as I looked in at her TV I could see a huge plume of smoke coming from one of the WTC towers.  I asked her what on earth had happened, and she told me a plane had just hit one of the towers.  Not much else was known.  We didn’t know if it was an accident or what it might be yet.

We got it in the car and drove, listening to the radio on the way. The second tower was hit and then we knew.  This was no accident.

We arrived, got our equipment set up, and the workday began. People discussed the news and their fears as we sewed, cut, pressed and trimmed.  The older ladies remembered their thoughts and fears on the day of the Pearl Harbor bombing. One quilter was supposed to have flown to see her daughter that afternoon, but the flight was cancelled.

It became clear that this was a concerted attack as the news of the other tragedies at the Pentagon and of Flight 93 in PA came. We listened to the radio some, but not all the time.  We sewed. We talked.  Some were very upset and scared while others were quiet and shocked.  Someone asked if we should all go home.

Another older lady stood up and said — though I’m summarizing here I remember it very clearly — “I don’t want to be home alone and afraid.  If this is the beginning of another US involvement in a war as Pearl Harbor was, then I want to be HERE quilting and doing something good to help others.  I’d rather be here with all of you than face this alone at home.” There was a murmur of agreement.

The cutting, pressing, sewing, talking continued.

We worked and most of us stayed until mid-afternoon.

Benjamin was in kindergarten that fall and Sarah was at the Children’s Center that day.  I picked them both up and tried to continue with our normal evening — dinner, playing, etc.  I was anxious and desperately wanted to turn on the news but since they were so small (not quite 3 and barely 5) I did not want them to see and hear the horrible things that had happened that day.  At some point that day I took a picture of Sarah smiling and looking cute in her Dorothy costume, which she wore most days at that time.  That photo says 9/11/01 in the corner and is part of my memories of that day.

I waited until the children were in bed and finally got to turn on the TV news.  By that time of day most channels were not giving details of what had happened that morning; they assumed everyone had been watching all day.  It took a while before I could piece together the sequence of all that had happened in my mind.  I did not see the video of the plane hitting or of the towers falling until later that evening.  It was horrific.  Worse than I imagined.

I remember hoping that Bush was a better man
than I thought he was.
I remember thinking the whole world had
just changed in a single day.
I remember thinking my children were going to grow up in a world where this event would shape the future.
I remember thinking of all those people who had died
so suddenly, so tragically, so bravely.
I remember the silence of the swarms of people as they trudged across the bridges
out of New York
with the smoke and haze surrounding them.
I remember the looks on their faces.
I remember those fragments of the towers
standing in the rubble.
I remember wanting to hug my family and keep them safe, somehow, no matter what.
I remember being worried about the future.
I prayed for understanding, for peace,
for strength, for courage — and I still do.

I haven’t watched many of the programs that have rehashed the events of that day.

My heart still aches to think of all those families and children and parents and friends who lost loved ones that day.

Last spring, I had the opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial in New York City.  Here are some photos I took that day:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tuesday Tutorial-Swirling Stars

Swirling Stars quilting tutorial from TheInboxJaunt — just in time for July 4th! Check out Lori’s creative and exceptionally well done quilting and I hope you’ll be inspired to try it out. I am going to as soon as I get the chance to set up my new sewing area!

The Inbox Jaunt

Swirling Stars, Free Motion Quilting Tutorial

Just in time for the Fourth of July, we have the Swirling Stars for our Tuesday Tutorial this week!

This is a great way to embellish any patriotic quilt, but it also looks great on summer quilts, sailboat quilts, boys quilts, military-inspired quilts….I’m sure you can find a spot on ANY quilt for this motif.  So let’s get started…

Swirling Stars, Free Motion Quilting Tutorial

Draw three lines to serve as “rails”–just guidelines to keep things tidy.  In the sample below, the rails are one inch apart.  Stitch a spiral with a long tail.  In the sample below, the tails are two inches long.   (See the spiral tutorials HERE and HERE.)

Swirling Stars, Free Motion Quilting Tutorial

From heavy paper or tag board, cut out a small star.  (Draw one, print one, or look for a stencil.)

I found this stencil at JoAnn Fabrics.

Swirling Stars, Free Motion Quilting Tutorial

Swirling Stars, Free Motion Quilting Tutorial

Use the stencil or the cutout to draw a star around each spiral.  If…

View original post 260 more words

Quilt Show Haiku

lots of quilting.
lots of quilting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I attended the International Quilt Festival in Chicago today.  Vendors from all over the world come to sell their quilt related items.  Quilters from all over the world send photographs of their quilts then the very best are exhibited at the show.

I enjoy going to quilt shows for several reasons.  The first and biggest reason is to spend a fun day with quilting friends.  We all pile into a bus at some insanely early morning hour and travel together to the big arena or venue.  We laugh and talk and laugh some more.  We disembark, shop, look, buy, eat, (repeat until time to go back home on the bus).  Then we talk and laugh and show each other what we bought on the trip home (and usually eat some more, too!)

Another reason is to shop the quilt show vendors.  Yes, we have the internet and ordering from practically anywhere in the world has become very commonplace.  But for quilters — we prefer to see and touch the fabric to make the best choices.  The best way to do this is, of course, is at your local quilt shop — but the second best place is at a quilt show where you can shop from hundreds of different stores all in one day.  Today we shopped stores with wares from India, Colombia, Ghana, Laos, and more countries than I can remember and from stores representing many of the 50 United States.

The third most important reason (and the order of these reasons is different for each quilter) — is to see the quilts.  It is inspiring to look closely at the stitching, the threads, the fabrics and to study the different techniques that are used.  We are awed by amazing workmanship and detail, among other things.

Quilters are a jolly bunch for the most part.  It is not uncommon to strike up very meaningful conversations with people either as you look at the quilt show or as you shop the vendors.  Offering advice, encouragement and/or commiseration is common and almost universally expected.

As I sat down to write this evening, the idea to write haiku about today popped into my head.  I decided to bravely give it a try.  Please let me know if you like them!

by artist Cat Larrea, on display at Quilt Festival Chicago Studio Art Quilt Associates' "Deux" exhibit. via IQF fb page
by artist Cat Larrea, on display at Quilt Festival Chicago Studio Art Quilt Associates’ “Deux” exhibit. via IQF fb page

fabric lovers merge
inspiration strikes quickly
finishing falters

Color galaxy

colors converging
eyes focus: rapt attention
image transfer zone

Silk Fabrics
Silk Fabrics (Photo credit: Kelly McCarthy)

softness sliding so
slinky silky shimmering
slipping through fingers

If Leaves Could Choose by Priscilla Kibbee from the Deux exhibit.  via IQF fb page
If Leaves Could Choose by Priscilla Kibbee from the Deux exhibit. via IQF fb page

like-minded spirits
find solace and joy as new
friendship begins now

Pixelated Color Wheel by Kati Spencer. Part of The Modern Quilt Guild Showcase at #quiltfestival from IQF fb page
Pixelated Color Wheel by Kati Spencer. Part of The Modern Quilt Guild Showcase at #quiltfestival from IQF fb page

color speaks to souls
inner space expands to meet
creator within

4X5 Modern Quilt Bee, Hive 6
4X5 Modern Quilt Bee, Hive 6 (Photo credit: mollyjolly)

design, texture, space
line, color, style and movement
pleasing to the eye

Math Homework II by Serena Brooks. Part of the special exhibit "SAQA: Deux" on display at Quilt Festival Chicago via IQF fb page
Math Homework II by Serena Brooks. Part of the special exhibit “SAQA: Deux” on display at Quilt Festival Chicago via IQF fb page

Confessions of a Chronic Creative Collector

Asterisk Quilt Fabrics - detail of backgrounds
Asterisk Quilt Fabrics (Photo credit: Cut To Pieces)

I may have some hoarding tendencies.

One of my very good friends very delicately told me this once.  As I have spent the past couple of weeks or so sorting, donating, packing, pitching things I am more inclined to agree with her than I was at the time she said this to me.

I’ve had several kind and generous friends helping me sort and pack this week.  One of my young college student friends read me the riot act about how much “stuff” I have.  She challenged me to explain why I needed to keep each item as she was getting ready to put in her box.

After she left, I pondered my status as a hoarder.  Did she have a point?

I think my biggest collection is definitely quilting fabric.

Think?  Know.

Let me re-phrase that.

fabric stash
fabric stash (Photo credit: megrje)
Fabric stash 20-6-2012
Fabric stash 20-6-2012 (Photo credit: lindakl)

My biggest collection is fabric.  The majority of it is indeed quilting fabric, but there is a lot of “other” in there, too.

(Note: the photos here are not of MY stash.  I just googled fabric stash.  See?  I am not alone in my plight.  Plus, I have more than both of these combined…)

Some of it is unbelievably ugly.  I can not imagine what ever might have induced me to buy the stuff!  What was I thinking?  What possible use did I imagine for it?  Some of it still inspires me so much I wanted to leap out of my chair, cast off the bags and bins around me and run to the sewing machine to creative a wonderful new quilt design.

I tried to be firm with myself.  If I no longer LOVE the fabric, I need to let it go.  Over the course of several long days, I filled 9 large white plastic kitchen trash bags with fabric.  This is the fabric I’m letting go!!  By weighing the bags and using the formula of 4 yards of fabric equaling about 1 pound, we came to the conclusion that I donated nearly 400 yards of fabric!  (Nearly 100 pounds!)

The fabric going out the door is being diverted to several very worthy quilt groups in the area. It comforts me to know that the organizations that are receiving my fabric will make lots of people very happy and bring lots of joy to people and soldiers in need.  Quilts of Valor, our local guild, a local quilting bee, and the large guild in a neighboring city are all getting some of my former stash.)

storage bin
storage bin (Photo credit: giveawayboy)

I lost count of how many bins I’m keeping.  But my goal was to cut my stash in half, and I think I stuck fairly close to that goal as I went along.

poupées waldorf blonds
poupées waldorf blonds (Photo credit: littleshambles)

In the basement, I found large black plastic trash bags of unprocessed wool roving.  I was going to make Waldorf style dolls and stuff the dolls with this wonderful organic fiber.  (I made one doll.  I had a two Rubbermaid tubs full of wool roving leftover.  My daughter is now 14 so you can imagine how many years these tubs of roving have been sitting down there in the basement).

1 (The Beatles album)
1 (The Beatles album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another thing I have a lot of is CDs.  We have been a member of a CD club since about 1989.  I used to buy dozens of CDs a year, for several years there.  I bought them mostly on clearance or when they were on super low sale prices.  I also love a store called Frugal Muse that sells used CDs for $2 to about $5.  I like to have legal music, so I still buy CDs.  (I wrote a blog post full of resources for finding free mp3s  in cyberspace.  https://haskerj.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/free-music/).  I have extremely eclectic taste in music.

Wicked (musical)
Wicked (musical) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a musician, music teacher and pianist — I have many, many music books.  MANY.  Books for church music, books for teaching public school, books for solo singing, hymnals, classical music, pop song collections, musicals — I’ve got it all.

English: Salt and pepper shaker in the Pig Mus...
English: Salt and pepper shaker in the Pig Museum in Bad Wimpfen, Germany Deutsch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I collect salt and pepper shakers.  I like old ones that are out of the ordinary.  I never spend more than about $3 to $5 on them, and some I’ve gotten at yard sales and from elderly relatives’ estates.  I especially like animal shaped ones, and ones that are not alike.

Flow blue vegetable server in the "Norman...
Flow blue vegetable server in the “Normandy” pattern produced by Staffordshire potter Johnson Brothers c. 1890 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I collect blue and white dishes.  I have lovely white cupboards, sunny yellow walls and have blue and white dishes, plates, bowls, and cobalt blue glass all around the tops of my cupboards and hanging on the walls of my kitchen.

my button box
my button box (Photo credit: sarahgb(theoriginal))

I collect buttons.  Old buttons.  New buttons.  Not round buttons.  Glass buttons.  Buttons made from shells and other natural materials.

English: A Hakka-style floral print fabric tot...
English: A Hakka-style floral print fabric tote bag. ‪中文(繁體)‬: 客家花布包 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like old purses.  Actually I like tote bags, too.  Cool colors, interesting textures and shapes, well designed and crafted, handmade, leather, humorous sayings, canvas tote bags, well lined lovely fabric, fringed, beaded, small or large — you name it.  If it calls my name, I struggle to balance my needs and wants.

Eri Silk Scarf, Pink & Brown--$40
Eri Silk Scarf, Pink & Brown–$40 (Photo credit: Fair Trade Designs)

Lately I’ve been collecting lovely scarves.  This is a good thing because I’ve gained weight over the years, and no matter what size I am a scarf will still fit!

English: Gemstone Necklaces
English: Gemstone Necklaces (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I also love earrings, necklaces and watches.  (i.e. I have too many of all of these things.)

I probably have more cashmere sweaters than I really need as well.

(Yes, I do.)

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...
Cover via Amazon

BOOKS!!  Oh my, do I love books!  I enjoy my Kindle very much, but I still love to turn the pages in a real book.  Books that touch my heart and soul are dear to me, and I have many that I love to read over and over.

Delicious Thai food!! :-) ..."Green PaPaY...

Cookbooks always inspire me.  I love to cruise the clearance cookbook area in bookstores.  We live in a town where the range of ethnic food available is Chinese or Mexican.  You can also have pizza or subs galore.  If you want Indian or Thai or Middle Eastern — you have to cook it yourself, and I do — frequently!  I also enjoy collecting community cookbooks; those  recipe collections made by church groups, community organizations, and clubs.

My family claims I have a lot of shoes, too.  No comment.


Quilt Block Bonanza

Jake Finch’s Wonky Star quilt block tutorialwonky star

Click here to get the pdf directions for making this block!

If you see this quilt block and think — WOW!  That looks great!

You might be a quilter.  If you aren’t already a quilter, you can become a quilter.

That’s right.  You heard me.  YOU can become a quilter!  If you have access to a sewing machine, know how to thread it and make it go, and can sew in a straight line — you CAN do this!  A few other supplies will make it much easier than anything our Grandmothers could ever have imagined:  a rotary cutter, a cutting mat, and at least one kind of plexiglass quilting ruler.  If you watch one of the quilting tutorials below, you will see these tools in action.

The quilting tutorials at the Missouri Star Quilt Co. are a great source for basic knowledge website.

This chevron quilt made from 10″ fabric squares is one of my recent favorites at this site.


If you don’t want to learn from a video tutorial, then look online or in the phone book for the closest Quilt Shop.  Ask around.  You won’t have to ask many people before you find a quilter.

Most quilt shops offer beginning quilt classes at least a couple of times a year.  Sign up and take a class!  You will not regret it.

Another source for interesting project ideas and how-tos especially for more free form designs and art quilts is at the Quilting Arts TV website.

Click here to see all the lists of videos available at Quilting Arts TV.

Here are several sources for free quilt paterns:


Very cool free quilt pattern, Double Cross by Pam Rocco.

Double Cross

I like Pam Rocco’s free quilt pattern for Pants Pocket!

Pants Pocket


This Flavalicious quilt is made using fat quarters of Bali batiks from Hoffman Fabrics.  Free pattern!

tutti frutti

Re-blog of “Cross It” Quilt from Zen Chic (Part 2)

This Zen Chic pattern has me feeling very creative! I am so excited to have found this wonderful blog post describing how to make a quilt using this pattern with some added tweaks by the blog author, Karie.

The Aurora Sewing Center Blog

Welcome back! Yesterday I shared with you part 1 of my “Cross It” Quilt…hopefully you haven’t forgotten already, you can check out part 1 of this post here….but the pattern looks like this:

Zen Chic So as I mentioned, I could see this finished quilt in my mind, so I had a pretty good Idea of how I wanted to quilt it. I knew I wanted to extend the “sticks” into the borders, and add a few horizontal “ghost sticks” to balance all the vertical lines.

2013-02-22 18.53.50Using my Frixion heat erasable pen I marked all the extended lines by continuing out the pieced sticks, and then started pinning! I decided that I would not draw on my horizontal lines until after I quilted the vertical lines so that I could really place them where I wanted  them.

2013-02-22 19.01.38

 I tried to pin only in the “negative” space between my “sticks” so that I would…

View original post 405 more words

Fortune Cookie Sagacity

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fortune Cookie Sagacity

I have been collecting these fortunes in my wallet for several months now.  Recently some wonderful friends gave me a lovely collection of fabrics.  (Thank you women of SAI!)  Tonight  the setting sun was giving off such a lovely warm glow.  I was out in our yard taking photographs of the daffodils in this warm light.  The germ of an idea sprouted:  I could use my lovely fabrics as the background for my favored fortunes in the last rays of setting sunlight.  I hope you enjoy the results!

A house without books
A house without books
inner peace
inner peace
because you love it.
because you love it.
not everyone sees it
not everyone sees it
that little extra
that little extra
smallest candle
smallest candle
heal through love
heal through love
Fortune cookie
Fortune cookie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)