Friday, December 30, 2016

Reflections, Thankfulness, Creativity and Faith

Not my favorite year. 

Personally we had some set backs. Jobs were lost, income was decreased, youngest daughter had some health scares in the beginning of the year and a few days before Christmas found herself unsuccessfully swerving to avoid hitting a car that ran out in front of her. Car was totaled and we were unsure as how she would get home for the Holidays. In 2016 my husband lost his father, and collectively we lost many icons that we grew up with or who helped to shape our culture. And thus, mortality on this planet that we call home, has stared us in the face in a way most of us find unsettling. My creativity, or time to create was diminished, my candidate didn't win and my hopes for a safe, secure and happy future have been challenged more then ever before.

Ok. So what's to be thankful for? 
My oldest daughter celebrated her 1st wedding anniversary with a man she loves deeply, and who we all love as well. My youngest daughter graduated from college and found a great job in Virginia

Her earlier health scare wasn't as bad as it could have been and she thankfully walked away from that car accident with just whiplash. Her best friend's schedule allowed her to be able to drive  
the 5 plus hours to get her and bring her back home for the holidays. My husband got to spend some quality time with her as they went car shopping and she will be driving back to Virginia in a beautiful brand new car that she got a great deal on. 

Employment was found, albeit at less income but thankfully at less stress, 
and my husband and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. 

(I have better photos of our wedding, 
but I always liked this candid shot of after the ceremony and before the reception.)

While creative time and output was decreased, I still did create. My quilt stitching can be found on previous posts from this year, and I am happy to report that the hand pain has diminished enough that I've even been sewing, (and listing for sale) some quilted fabric beads again...

I also continue to take photos, (and post on Instagram
of the beautiful old worn and weathered barns and buildings in my area... 

I am happy to report that I have slowly, but FINALLY, put aside my fears and anxiety over picking up paintbrush and putting paint to paper. After a almost 30 year hiatus, I am allowing myself to simply play again, no pressure, and oh it feels so wonderful and brings me the most centered calm...

I began with some little leaf and nature studies...

And recently have been exploring some little paintings based on my barn photography...

And while my personal anxiety has often risen this year over diminished hopes and dreams for our  futures, both personal and collective, I try to use that to strengthen the very thing that seems to have weakened.... my faith. It has given me the very thing I need to chew on and contemplate and decide. I am determined to restore it and increase it, and I am looking forward to marching in Washington this January with my daughters and sister in the Women's March on Washington.

Here is to 2017, may it surprise us with unimagined blessings and graces. 
Love, peace and best wishes to us all. xoxo

Sunday, October 9, 2016


This newest quilt started out as an experimental piece based on an improv block I developed and showed in my last post. I call the block "Haystack", so "Hayride" seemed like a fitting name for this quilt. 

I originally set out to only use the left over bits of two polka-dot fabrics that have been in my stash for close to 20 years, but quickly ran out of the darker blue, so I gave myself permission to substitute the plain muslin that I had on hand. (Actually, it's 3 polka dot prints... the dark blue with cream dots, and 2 different cream ones with slightly different blue dots)

The limitations on fabric that I placed, caused the various blocks to each be unique, even though construction method was the same for each. When I ran out of the cream polka-dot fabrics I stopped. This is also the first quilt that I can recollect where I didn't bother to square up the edges and block after washing, as I wanted to keep a utilitarian look as much as possible. Surprised at how close it came to being more or less squared all by itself.

I machine quilted it with, yes, what many seem to consider boring old stippling.... which in truth I love as it provides such wonderful texture. I've said it before, and I will say it again, I do not understand why this humble, free-motion machine stitch has fell so out of favor. 


Friday, August 19, 2016

Rough Drafts

Playing around with some improv piecing ideas recently led me to come up with a block that I am calling "Haystack".  I've named it this because the little 4 rectangles that appear in the block, (most noticeable in the polka dot example) remind me of the rectangular hay bales that appear in the fall fields after harvest time, and then get stacked up for the farm animals bedding and feed. These blocks are just rough drafts, playing with color,  and pattern, and what happens when I do this, or that. 

Now I'm off to play with what happens when I combine some blocks, 
or enlarge some blocks, 
or who knows what?
Oh, I just love exploring possibilities!


Monday, June 20, 2016

Morning Reflections

Still playing with window inspiration. This one is called "Morning Reflections" and as I worked on it, the images that I held in my thoughts were those of old, cracked and off-kilter windows that I see in the worn and weathered white barns around here, and how they reflect the soft, early morning light...

Not one of my best photos, but it hopefully gives you an idea of where the inspiration comes from.
Looking at this, my mind is filled with still a dozen more quilt interpretations of just this one image. Definitely have to explore some more!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Color and Shape

Just a short and simple post... not much time to sew these days, or to blog for that matter, but I wanted to share a little of what I am doing when time allows... simply playing with color and shape. I am using windows, (such as the misshapen ones and the broken ones that I see everyday in my beloved old and weathered barns) as my inspiration jumping off point for shape, and the color is simply curiosity and intuition. This little piece measures 16.25 x 17.25 and is made with Moda Grunge scraps. Machine quilted in a freeform grid pattern with a face binding. (See here for my faced binding tutorial)  

My goodness... that was such an easy post! Maybe I will try to post more often, but keep them relatively short like this... we will see. Till then, be well, and a Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Inconsistent Suggestions for Making a Hanging Sleeve for a Faced Quilt, (or Any Other Quilt for that Matter).

Yeah... that's a long and confusing title, but a true one. Let me explain...

I'm doing this post because I was asked how one would attach a quilt binding to a faced quilt in the comment section of my tutorial on how to make a faced binding. (Which is a good question.) My answer, was basically just make a sleeve like you would for a traditionally bound quilt, add some slack and stitch it down just under the top portion of the facing, along the stitched edge... and then I promised to do a little post on it, as words without pictures can sound confusing when it comes to instructions.

But then when I took some pictures, I realized just how inconsistent I am when it comes to making a hanging sleeve, whether it's for a faced quilt or a traditionally bound one, I tend to be a bit less consistent then I probably should be, so I probably am not the best one to ask about it. However, I was asked, so here we go... 

Sometimes I have the slack folded at the bottom, sometimes at the top. I generally make my slack about 1/2", but sometimes 1/4" and sometimes as in this case it's closer to 1". And sometimes I forget to add any slack at all, as it's not the way that I originally learned, and old habits die hard. (But really, you should add slack, it does help a quilt hang better.)

Sometimes on a small quilt my hanging sleeves are only 2" wide, as opposed to 3.5" wide to 4" wide on larger quilts.

And then there are the seams... sometimes I fold the side seams in 2 times, (for a nice clean finish). Other times, just once, (to reduce bulk) and use a zig-zag to cover the raw edge. Usually I like to have the raw edges of the long back horizontal seam on the outside, hidden against the back of the quilt, as opposed to inside the sleeve itself, but sometimes I forget and do it the other way... oh, well.

My point is, there is more then one way to bake a cake, paint a wall, or make a hanging sleeve. (In earlier days we use to say "more then one way to skin a cat" but that's a weird and rather uncomfortable saying.) But I digress... back to my point... in the end, and in my experience, there isn't that huge of a difference, so do what feels appropriate and if the end result produces a quilt that hangs nicely, you succeeded!

Note: If you are entering the quilt into a show, then you should check to make sure your hanging sleeve complies with the rules, (I believe 4" wide is often the standard) and I would definitely add some slack as quilt shows seem to often use thicker and wider rods or slats then the thin metal ones that I would use on my own quilts hung at home).

But just for shits and giggles, below are pictures and words describing this one pictured hanging sleeve as well as reminders that this isn't the "gospel of how to make a quilt sleeve". This is just one example...

Okay, so here is the back of a faced quilt with a finished hanging sleeve. I've cut the length of the sleeve a bit shorter then the width of the quilt and in this case, I turned the raw sides in just once and finished them with a zig-zag stitch. 

I pressed the sleeve flat, so there is a pressed edge along the top and the bottom.

I lined the top edge of the sleeve about 1/2" from the top of the quilt. (Reminder... you are free to line it up closer to the top, I often do. You just want to make sure that the sleeve won't show when the quilt is hung.)

I pinned it all in place and with tiny stitches sewed the bottom edge of the sleeve down, careful not to stitch thru to the front of the quilt.

Next, I removed the pins and folded that top pressed seam down until I came to the stitched edge of the yellow facing section...

I then carefully hand stitched the back section only of that folded area of the sleeve right along where it butts up against the stitched edge of the facing, leaving that top portion of the sleeve as the slack. (You can pin again if you wish for this.)

Reminder... you don't have to have this much slack, but it works just fine if you do, as the folded section of facing gives the quilt enough stability that it won't flop around. And the reason I stitch it along that edge is that I generally like to stitch my sleeves to the stitched edge of the top binding sections, as it provides a nice niche to butt up against and a straight line to follow.

Next, I stitched the hemmed backside edges of the sleeve down. 

Then I just smoothed the slack back down, so the sleeve is all nice and flat again...

All done. And, as you can see in the top photo of this rambling post, everything hangs just fine and dandy.

And here is a photo of the thin, steel metal rods that I use to hang my quilt. I buy them at the hardware store... have no idea what they are officially called or what they are officially used for, but they are nice and strong and come in various widths, (I get the 1/8" size) and lengths. They can be cut with a hack saw to the length you want for small quilts. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Happy International Quilting Weekend!

Did you know that this Saturday, March 19th is the 25th anniversary of National Quilt Day? To celebrate I will be attending a lecture  given by quilter and author Sarah Fielke and hosted by the newly formed Lancaster Modern Quilt Guild, (Yay! We finally have one!) 
(And for the record, I had nothing to do with helping to form it... way too easily overwhelmed and scattered to ever even attempt such a feet. Kudos to those that rose to the occasion!) 

I've also gotten an early start to celebrating by being the guest lecturer for the Spring City, PA Loose Threads Quilt Guild's 25th anniversary, and gave a trunk show at their annual tea. 
I shared 26 of my quilts up close and in person while discussing their inspiration and encourage everyone to look for their own personal inspiration sources. 
It was a great day! 
Below are some of the little Moo business cards I had printed up for the occasion. Some show my quilt work while others show my local photography of the old barns,  
which of course give me constant inspiration!

And, I also attended the Lancaster AQS Quilt Show which is still going on through the 19th, 
so if you are in the area, you may want to check it out. 

Now, of course with all of these quilt celebrations going on, I've got some new work to share, 
(sneak peek in that top photo). 
But first I've got this little fun announcement...

In honor of it being International Quilting Weekend, the renown hosts of The Quilt Show, Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims have asked me to join with them and other quilt bloggers, to let all of you know that they are opening their doors to all quilters this weekend, giving free access to The Quilt Show, where you can watch their quilt shows this weekend non-stop! (And that's over 200 shows!!)

Along with that they are also having a CONTEST with over $11,000 worth of prizes, including the grand prize of a Bernina 570QE! Just click on that contest link above to enter!
(But first check out my new quilts below!)

Okay, and now for the new quilts...

This may look familiar as it's a quilt top that I pieced way back in 2012, but never quilted. It's very rare for me to not finish a quilt before moving onto the next. (I gather that's a little unusual in the quilt world, yes?) My intention at the time of piecing was to machine and hand quilt it just like it's sister quilt, "9 Patch Quilt in Red and White" seen below.

But I just didn't have it in me at the time to commit to all of that hand quilting, due to the hand pain which was just starting to be a real problem around the time this was made. 
And while I can now once again hand quilt on a small scale, (yay!) I don't think I am quite yet ready to tackle anything past the small size. 

So, I finally made up my mind to pull her out of storage and quilt her up. I was tired of letting her languish, waiting for me to hand quilt her when all she really wanted was to be quilted.
I decided to just go with texture and did a large all over stipple. 

And hey! Sister and brother Modern Quilters, listen up please... stop disparaging the stipple! 
Yes, it was over done, but at this point so is matchstick quilting. 
However, both are worthy of doing if that is what the quilt calls for and you enjoy doing it!

So happy to have "9 Patch Cross Quilt in Green" finally done!! It was inspired by the greens in the  farm fields. The one red strip was added because I like a little happy and unexpected something and it reminds me of the low, long barn that belongs to the farm behind my house.

Here she is with the golden morning sun shining on her... love that texture!

Last but not least, here is the newest quilt that I've made...

This one is called "Off-Kilter". In a previous blog post I talked about gathering quilt inspiration from the sad dismantling of barnes... when all that is left are the beams, (which I call the bones.) This quilt takes similar inspiration, but at an earlier stage... where just one wall is missing, (and there is still time to save the barn!) At this stage, I can peak in and see all the off-kilter odd angles of the barn's interior along with it's contents, 
(which more often then not is a compilation of rusty old farm machinery.)

This quilt is pieced from various shot cottons, cross weaves and chambrays, 
and quilted with improvised meandering waves, 
reminiscent of the rolling hills and newly plowed fields.

So there you have it... all in celebration of National Quilt Day and International Quilting Weekend!
Don't forget to enter The Quilt Show's contest 
and enjoy watching those 200 + free quilt shows this weekend!

Happy Quilting! 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Windy Mansion Road Quilt

When we first moved to this area, one of the first road names that caught my eye was "Windy Mansion Road". The name conjured up wonderful images, and I can not tell you how many times I drove down that road, in the hopes of finding the old mansion that I imagine inspired the road's name.

Alas, no mansion was ever found, at least not by me... I imagine it fell to ruin long ago. But the name is still wonderful, and I thought fitting for this quilt, which is the 4th in my Lancaster County series, all named after local roads and inspired by my, (abstract) impressions of this area, which I have discussed so much on this blog, I will spare you all further words on that subject matter.

Made with assorted shot cottons, chambrays and cross weaves, I worked in an improvised back forth manner between log cabin and house top construction methods, 

(For new quilters, log cabin construction would be when pieces are stitched in a clockwise, (or counter clockwise) direction around a center piece of fabric. House top construction is similar, but pieces are added to the center swatch first along the sides, then to the top and bottom, 
then back to the sides and so on and so forth.)

A back and forth baptist fan quilting design seemed appropriate, echoing the idea of a windy scene. 
(Plus, I just really like quilting baptist fans lately).

I did the binding in two tones of green each pulled from the inner quilt 
and which you can see in the first full size photo at the beginning of this post.

And that's all she wrote on this one folks...