Archive for the ‘Blog Challenge’ Category

Christmas Traditions

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

The other night Moosette and I went to see a performance of the Nutcracker. We have done this every Christmas season of her entire life. Well, there was one year that I was really sick and we couldn’t go but we won’t talk about that…

Image result for nutcracker

It all started when she was four months old. All the women in the family went to a Nutcracker performance and had a nice lunch. I sat on the end of the row, ready for a quick exit, because I just knew a four month old could never last through an entire ballet with loud music. I was wrong. Moosette was entranced through the entire performance. My sister-in-law was so impressed that she exclaimed “well, there’s your new tradition” and that was that. Over the years we have seen large production numbers, small town ballet schools (that was this year!), modern dance version and even a comedy. Each year through the teen years I would always hesitantly ask if she wanted to go again and each year she has enthusiastically said yes. WooHoo! Score one for Mommy/daughter time. What holiday traditions does your family have?

We have a winner!

Friday, December 18th, 2015

We have a winner for our book give-away. We shook the magic number generator and…ta da…Charlotte Dunn, your number came up. I asked everyone to comment with what your favorite color(s) are to work with. It was very entertaining reading if you want to go back and take a peak. The answers were all over the place. Quilt shops do not need to go heavy on any one color way anytime soon! Here is what Charlotte had to say…

“I love adding mustard to all quilts. I made the cutest green moose quilt. I kept working and working and it was so not coming together. So, low and. Behold I added mustard!!! WOW, IT WAS WHAT IT NEEDED. It’s one of my favorites now. I’d be honored to win your book. The purple moose is the emails I always look for. Everything needs a moose attached. Merry Merry Christmas. Thank you for a great year.”

And just to be clear…this was a totally random above board choice of the winner. The fact that Charlotte sucked up to me only strokes my ego…nothing to do with her winning! Congratulations Charlotte, can’t wait to see what you do with Sandi’s designs.

The Office Party

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

At this time of year I hear friends speak of their holiday office parties and I get envious. It’s hard to have an epic office party when you’re a one man band…sniff…don’t ya feel sorry for me? At least I know I’m not alone, most quilt professionals are one man bands or a trio or quartet at most. My friend Beth Helfter of EvaPaige Quilt Designs was kind enough to open her home to several of us the other day and we became a full orchestra of holiday festivities.

Beth set out a perfect table complete with the good service and crystal glasses. We had an array of appetizers, yummy salad and (of course)…

lots of desserts! Here’s the whole happy bunch…

Going around the table clockwise: Sue Pelland, Judy Damon, Kris Poor, Kathie Beltz, Renae Mathe, Michelle Banton, Beth Helfter, Jen Watchhorn, Cary Flanagan, Angie Callbeck and myself. Not really trying to imitate Cheryl Sleboda with my partial head…a selfie stick only helps so much for those of us with short arms.

Thank you Beth for allowing us to invade your home. Can’t wait until the next office party!

Blog Challenge update

Monday, December 14th, 2015

31 day blog challenge (1)

I’ve done pretty good with the 31 day blog challenge. I’ve only missed one day due to the website being poofed from existence and one day due to me being me. We’re just about 1/2 way done and I’m pretty happy with those numbers. I thought I would check around the other bloggers taking the challenge and see how their doing. There were some pretty awesome blogs in the group.


I thought you might like to check some of them out too. Simply go to Cheryl Sleboda’s blog (our instigator/blog mentor) and scroll to the bottom. You’ll see all the different folks doing the challenge. Check ’em out. Fun little afternoon/late evening time passer!


Book Review & Giveaway

Sunday, December 13th, 2015

One of the perks of knowing so many talented quilt artists is that they will occasionally ask me to review their book. It’s always a treat – and sometimes I get to see the book before the rest of the world! I feel so special. (Send in my hand maidens with fans, I’m feeling flushed.) Today that honor comes from my friend Sandi Blackwell.


Sandi has made a name for herself by coming up with a technique to create quilts with on-point blocks without all that messy math to figure out the setting triangles. She calls this technique Square-agonals. This is her fourth (yes, 4th!) book using this technique. There is a little blurb in the book that explains the precise math involved to make this technique work but I skipped it. It’s not for the faint of heart to read and is ABSOLUTELY not required to know in order to make these designs. That’s the beauty of Sandi’s methods. I luv people like her!

Basically, you sew some squares and pieced blocks together, do a little slice and dice, give ’em a spin and sew the pieces back together. Then…viola…you have blocks on point. It’s magic. Depending on exactly where you put your initial blocks creates different finished projects. Sandi expertly explains (in both wording and pictures) where to place those blocks, how to make those slices and what the final outcome will be. This book has 6 different projects and each has 3 different design options. That’s 18 different possibilities in one book. There are 2 runners and 4 quilts (lap to queen size). I’m torn between the Babbaloo Quilt which has a modern flair and is in one of my favorite color combos teal/lime green or the Lightning Quilt which is pictured on the cover…or maybe I’ll start with the Legacy For Patti Runner which would be stunning in fall colors, oh but there’s one with stars too…sigh…guess I have to make them all…

You can check out Sandi’s website Stitched Buy to get more info. She also has a couple of free patterns there so you can try the technique and see how easy it is.  How cool is that, you can try before you buy! You can also check out Sandi’s Craftsy classes, hear her podcast with Pat Sloan and more.

Sandi will also be a guest teacher at our April 2017 retreat. We don’t have details yet (it’s over a year away!) but we are taking pre-registration names if you want to be the first to know. Just drop us an email and let us know you want on the list. Retreat Info

You can also get the book for FREE right here. Yup, I’m giving one away! Simply leave a comment here on the blog telling me what your favorite color combo is for quilting. I will randomly pick one on Thursday December 17th at midnight. OK, ok…so I probably won’t pick it at midnight…more like first thing Friday morning but you know what I mean!

Ready, set….comment!

Origami Folded Fabric Ornaments

Saturday, December 12th, 2015


This past fall I had the absolute pleasure of having Ami Simms as guest teacher at our retreat. She is my #1 all time favorite teacher…ever! Anyhoo, today she shared this awesome ornament technique that I can’t wait to try. After watching the original video from Kevin MacLeod I think Ami has improved upon his instructions. These would also make great little gifties for the older set (put a photo of your youngins on the back) or a teacher with a gift card on the back. Hmm…now where did I put my Christmas fabrics…

Origami Folded Fabric Ornaments

Last Minute Gift Idea

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

It’s two weeks until Christmas…how’s your list coming? Getting everyone crossed off? If you have a person or two left I have a great idea. Make them a pillowcase! These are not only good for kids but for adults too. You can choose fabrics (I prefer flannel!) in motifs/colors that mean something to them. One year I gave my adult niece and her hubby a pair with VW bug fabric (they REALLY like VW’s) – you would have thought I gave them a winning lottery ticket. Pillowcases are also good when you don’t know the recipient very well or maybe it’s an older person who has everything they need. We all sleep, even vampires. Here are two cases I finished today for a little boy who likes the outdoors and a little girl who likes arts & crafts.

Flannels selected

Flannels selected

Finished Pillowcases

Finished Pillowcases


There are many different patterns out there for making pillowcases. My favorite is a FREE pattern on my Craftsy site. Purple Moose-Craftsy If you look in the photo below from the Craftsy page you can see the VWs! The pattern includes instructions for standard, king and travel size pillows. Travel pillows make great first pillows for little ones…they also fit in vampire coffins…or so I’m told…

(9) Name: 'Sewing : Pillowcase Pattern


Homemade Thank Yous

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Toffee Blondies In A Jar

During the holidays a lot of folks like to say thank you to those people who make their life easier. The mail carrier, trash collector, FedEx & UPS driver, the bag boy/girl at the market…any one of the “little” people who give you a helping hand (sorry, showing my past life royalty!) Personally I like to do this more than once per year with homemade food items and I don’t call them thank you gifts. I need to call them what they really are – bribes, greasing the skids, payola, hush money, perks. I really DO appreciate all these folks do for me and I truly want to thank them for their service but letting them know that with homemade goodies has a HUGE benefit for me. When I have a package delivered in the mail, my mail carrier Dave will go up my driveway and leave it (along with my other mail) on my covered porch. I see my neighbors packages at their mailboxes dripping in the rain, baked in the hot sun or covered with 6″ snow. I’m guessing they don’t give Dave any treats during the year. Same goes for all the other people I come in contact with on a regular basis. A small thank you treat can really make someone’s day and make them remember you with a smile on their face.


YumOola one of my favorite food sites put together some great items today that could easily be on my food give-away list. Hmmm…now to decide which to try out…

Homemade GoldfishChocolate Dipped Spoons

Homemade Pocky

Free Needle Info For Quilters

Sunday, December 6th, 2015

Do you use different needles for different sewing tasks? Do you date your needles as “1997” and you’re still using it? Do you know what size needle to use and why? These questions are near and dear to my heart. I’m always amazed at the obscene amount of money quilters will spend on machines, fabric, patterns, thread, etc…yet they won’t fork over less than a dollar for a new needle. Let’s see if we can’t change some bad habits…suffer through, there will be a give away at the end!

Embroidery 5PK

Different needles for different tasks:

I know there are more than a few of you out there that will put a needle in the machine and just leave it in there until it dies. You will use that needle for every different kind of sewing you do. Let me ask you…do you use one knife in the kitchen for all your different cutting tasks? Of course not, I’m sure you have several knives. Think about it…would you cut a tomato with that big cleaver or carve the turkey with a paring knife? Oh sure, both jobs would get done but wouldn’t it be easier if you had the correct knife? The same holds true for machine needles. Each different type of needle is designed to do a specific task very well. The different anatomical parts of the needle are made to perform their task with ease. Most of them are pretty self explanatory: Embroidery needles for machine embroidery, quilting for quilting, topstitch for stitching on top (embellishment). The ones that confuse people the most are the microtex/sharp needles and the universals. Microtex have a very pointy point and they pierce the fabric very well. I recommend these for piecing, especially with batiks because of their higher thread count. Universals are not meant to do any ONE task well but to do an okie dokie job at most tasks.  They are less expensive than the other needles so people usually grab those.  The other types of needles are not really that much more. The most popular needle I sell (beside universals) are only $.88 per needle while universals are $.57 each. Are you really going to carve your turkey with a paring knife to save $.31?

Image result for image needle closeup

Change your needles!

Needles can get nicks and burrs which are unseen but WILL affect their performance. Don’t wait until they break to change them. If your machine manual does not have a recommendation for how often to change your needle you can assume the time honored “every 8 sewing hours” or “every major project”. If you are having problems but can’t figure out why, change your needle.


What size needle to use?

Needles come in different sizes for a reason. You need to pair the needle size with the thread size you’re using and the type of sewing you’re doing. Yes, thread comes in different sizes, you should know what you’re using. I wish there was a magical chart that would tell you what needle to use when. Sadly, there is not. Think of it as matching a drill bit size (the needle) to the screw (the thread) you’re making a hole for. If it’s too big the screw will slosh around in the hole. Too small and the screw will be too tight and bunch up the wood (your quilt).

schmetz color code

I’ve taken the needle out of the package…I don’t know what kind/size it is…

It used to be that once the needle was out of the package, good luck figuring out what kind or size it is. Oh sure, it’s stamped but good luck reading it. Schmetz heard our cries and they have now marked all their needles with two colored stripes. The top stripe denotes which type of needle it is and the bottom stripe denotes what size. They even made this handy chart to help you remember.


What about that give away you mentioned?

OK, you’ve suffered enough. If you want to learn more then you need to have your guild contact me to book my presentation “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Needles…but were too afraid to ask…”. Contrary to the dry sounding name, it’s a fun presentation and you may just learn something new. This presentation ALWAYS generates the most questions from the audience!


For everyone else…all orders until 12-31-15 will get a free Schmetz Color Coding Chart printed on card stock, perfect to hang out next to your machine. The first 10 orders will also receive a needle pocket guide. You could also print out the photo above but it won’t be as nice as the one I send you!

Fun With Stamps

Saturday, December 5th, 2015


My grocery store has been having a promotion that has brought back memories. You earn stamps every time you shop then you paste them into the book and earn free knives. Each time I put the stamps in I remember doing it as a kid with green stamps. Anybody else remember those? It was always my job to paste the stamps in the book. Until one day I decided they would make really cool looking tattoos. I carefully licked and pasted them all over my body. Mom was not happy…


Everybody eat up, I need to do more grocery shopping…only a few more stamps. Mama needs a new set of steak knives!