Classes Coming Up

I’ll be teaching two classes at Studio Stitch in Greensboro, NC, this coming quarter.

First is a “Secret Message Pillow”. Go by the shop to see the sample and sign up!  That class will be the morning of Saturday, January 27, which means the pillow will be finished in time for Valentine’s Day.

scrap quilt

Scrap quilt made with strips that finish 1″ wide

Second, I’m teaching a scrap management class that will show several ways to use even small scraps to make beautiful quilts. I call it scrap management because that’s what most of us need: management of the scraps. One option is shown above.  That class will be March 24 and we will have all day to play with our scraps.

All you need to bring is the basket (dump truck load?) of scraps that have been accumulating in your studio.  Sign up at the shop and come have fun!


An Unfortunate Event

But luckily just the one, not a series.  Here goes…

I’ve said before that I enjoy Pinterest and I use it to save everything from quilt ideas to recipes.  I mostly ignore the ads, though I do note that they somehow have me pegged as needing plus size clothing, which is not the case, thanks!

I know there’s a lot of “profiling” going on at Pinterest as well as most other sites, but usually I don’t worry about it.  However: I recently found an idea I thought I’d blog about, so I started a Pinterest board labelled “blog”.

Oh. my. goodness.  Pinterest immediately sent me a bunch of suggested pins concerning how to “improve” my blog.  The first one I clicked on led to an obviously fake blog post (meaning this person doesn’t really have a blog, she’s just a front for an advertisement).  That was bad enough, but the product advertised is designed to “spam” Pinterest for you by posting your stuff several times a day with “no effort” on your part.  This is supposed to drive traffic to your blog, and it probably does.

Now I wonder how many people are using the strategy of spamming Pinterest to have their stuff put in front of me looking like a genuine pin, when really it is an ad?  I’m always cautious online, but this is ridiculous.

You’ve been warned.  And I’ll go back to blogging nice pictures of quilts next week.

Anybody had a similar experience with Pinterest?

Favorite Quilt Tools 2017

There are lots of great tools on the market these days to make quilting easier.  Here are my three favorites of 2017.

(As always, please note that I receive no payment or product in exchange for these recommendations, and the links are provided only for your convenience.  I do not profit in any way from these opinions.)

Matilda’s Own rotating cutting mat.  I’ve actually had this for several years, since trying it at a retreat.  It’s great for trimming blocks because you just rotate the mat without having to move the block. The picture here is from Nancy’s Notions, where I found one of the best prices on this admittedly-expensive item.

rotary cutter review

Photo from Connecting Threads catalog

The Martelli ErgoCutter.  I’ve written before about how handy this item is.  After I cut off a piece of a finger with an ordinary rotary cutter a couple of years ago, it seemed worth looking for something safer.  I was not happy with the cutters that run on a groove along the ruler, so I kept looking until I found this item.

This cutter is, as the name suggests, designed for more ergonomically correct cutting, resulting in less strain on the hand and wrist.  And, because it is guided by the index finger over the front of the blade, it is less likely to get away from me.  It comes in right- and left-handed versions.  My only complaint is that the blade is slightly more difficult to change than in a traditional rotary cutter.

The Tucker Trimmer I.  I am not a big fan of buying every ruler on the market, but after seeing a friend using this one, I was sold.  It makes construction of accurate half square triangles, combination blocks, and hourglass blocks easy.  I use it with the rotating cutting mat to trim down these blocks, and it is a winner.

What are your favorite tools?


Jayne published instructions on how to make fabric pinwheels on her blog.  This was just in time for me, since I needed decorations for my Christmas packages.  Check out her tutorial here.fabric pinwheels

Naturally, I made a few changes to her instructions 🙂  Jayne’s pinwheels were small, but I needed to decorate a big package.  So I used some of my 5″ squares. (Remember the Nickel Quilt craze? That’s how old these squares are; I was in a swap group.)  If you want to use your own 5 inch squares to make bigger pinwheels, follow Jayne’s instructions but trim them to about 4-3/4 inches after fusing the two fabrics together.  Then make your corner cuts (see her instructions) 1-1/4 inches.  I just marked the center while marking for the corner cuts, so I didn’t need her measurement for the center dot.

Also, Jayne used Steam-A-Seam, which is a good product, but I had Heat-n-Bond, and that worked just fine. I did try gluing the center together rather than sewing it, but I wasn’t patient enough to hold it until it dried.

Finally, Jayne noted that “there will be fraying” since the edges are unfinished.  I think that is unlikely with Heat-n-Bond; I’ve never had trouble with it.  But just in case, I trimmed my edges with pinking shears rather than my rotary cutter.  Remember pinking shears?  Those were what we used to “clean finish” the inside seams on our garments back before everybody had a fancy machine with overlock stitch.  They still work just fine if you saved yours!

Happy holidays!


The Pantone company is an international organization (though based in the U.S.) that defines colors so that they can be reproduced exactly for printing and industrial uses.  Since 2000, the company has chosen a “color of the year”.  The 2018 color, announced this past week, is “ultraviolet”.  Here is the picture of it from their press release.  You can read the whole press release here.

Pantone publishes many color references, and I have one of their books of suggested color combinations.  I love looking at it, but in reality I choose my color combinations based on what looks good to me.  The book is fun anyway, and certainly I could use it if I ever get “stuck” on finding a color scheme.  You can see information on my book and look at some of Pantone’s other resources here.

I’m sure many of you are well familiar with the Pantone color system.  If you aren’t, browse their website just for fun.  And keep an eye out.  I’m always interested to see which industries seem influenced by the Pantone color of the year and which do not.  Will we see an immediate increase in the availability of purple fabric?


Some Useful “Finds”

Today I’m sharing a few non-quilting items that I have found useful for quilting.

Clear Plastic Trash Bags. I keep a package of these handy and wrap any quilts or fabric I’m going to mail in one of them.  I seal it with clear packing tape.  That way, if the box gets wet in transit, the fabric has some protection.  I won’t tell you how I learned that the trash bags you can’t see through are a BAD idea…  Glad makes the clear ones in several sizes.

Binder Clips.  I have these in two sizes as a legacy of Judy Niemeyer’s classes, which require extreme organization.  I now use them to hold binding in a reasonable roll while I’m storing it, to hold quilt pieces together when I’ve cut a bunch of the same size for a project, etc, etc.  They’re pretty handy as chip clips in the kitchen, too–they don’t break like the usual plastic chip clips.  You can find them at any office supply store.

Ponytail Holders.  These are handy for putting around a spool to keep the thread from wandering, tangling, etc, while the spool of thread is in storage.  If found this small size,

which is handy for the smaller diameter spools, for $1 at a store that will remain nameless.  These also come in a larger size that works well for larger spools.

What non-quilting items do you find useful in your studio?



A Finish to Start 2018

This scrap quilt started out when I saw Tonya Ricucci’s “Lego Quilt” tutorial.  I didn’t use her method; you can see my “improvements” here.  I made changes to make the quilt easier for me to construct, and arranged the blocks a little differently, but I’m sure you can see this is based on her idea.

scrap quilt

Scrap quilt made with strips that finish 1″ wide

For 2018, I plan to set aside pieces of each quilt I make so I can have a “scrappy 2018” quilt to remember all my projects!  I named my version of Tonya’s quilt “Scrappy New Year”, and I guess the next one will be “Scrappy 2018”.  Really the pieces in this quilt are so small that every project should have enough left over to put in the quilt.

scrap quilt

Detail of Scrappy New Year

As for the 2017 version shown here, I estimate it contains 1,680 pieces. I have a friend who has beat that number by quite a bit; you can see one of her quilts, (with 5,496 pieces!) here.

Two Links You May Like

The Quilt Alliance auction of donated art quilts has started.  I’m sorry I didn’t get this announcement out last week, but there is still time to bid in Week 1 of the auction if you hurry!  My quilt is in Week 2, which starts November 27.  Check out the auction here:

This is the “promotional image” for my quilt, which is 16 inches square per the contest requirements:

But really, I encourage you to check out all the quilts.  There is one I really like (other than my own!) and will be bidding on.  If you don’t know about the Quilt Alliance, I encourage you to check out their activities here.

Second link:  My friend Melanie at Catbird Quilts recently pointed out a little research project she found.  Another blogger, Vicki Welsh, posted about testing a variety of methods to save a quilt that has been washed with bleeding of one (or more) fabrics.  The results are very interesting, and are also useful for those of us who pre-wash (at least some of) our fabrics. Check out Vicki’s post here.  Vicki encourages you to share her test results, and I encourage you to be sure to link to her original post when you do.

Have a good week!

Finally, A Finish

This quilt was started as a practice piece for a quilt I want to make using this “one block wonder” technique. Finally it is finished and bound!

one block wonder

Floral Fantasy, a “one block wonder” quilt

Here is the fabric from which these one block wonders were cut.  As you can see, it was pretty lively to begin with.

Sassaman fabric

Flower Fiesta by Jane Sassaman

The border for the above quilt is from a different Jane Sassaman fabric.

Here’s the quilt for which this was practice.  It is back in a box waiting its turn.Sassaman fabricsNext week I’ll show some more of what pushed its way in front of that quilt.

Meanwhile, if you want to try a one block wonder, here’s a link to the book.  And the fabric or both quilts is designed by Jane Sassaman, whose website is here.

Practice, Practice

A friend started this quilt about 15 years ago and did a beautiful job, but quilting didn’t “take” with her, so she had this unfinished quilt but not the expected huge piles of fabric, tools, threads, patterns…well, you know.

The wonky shape is my camera angle, not the quilt!

She had already hand quilted a fair amount of it, including quilting around the central motifs and quilting a design in some of the bars.  She just had no enthusiasm for finishing it, so I volunteered.  (Full disclosure: I just took Susan K Cleveland’s Craftsy course on machine quilting without free motion, so I used this as a practice piece!)

I left most of the hand quilting that was already done.

As always, I learned a lot doing this.  First, it was basted using those plastic tacks that were the latest in quilt basting at the time.  They didn’t hold the layers together as securely as the basting spray I now use, so there were some “challenges” in avoiding  puckers as I quilted.  Second, the batting was the fluffy polyester most of us were using at the time, and it isn’t nearly as stable as the Quilters Dream and Warm Company battings available today.  It worked out just fine, but the whole thing moved under the machine needle more than I’m used to.

It was fun to see the changes in the technology of quilting since this quilt was made.  And it gave me permission to finally get rid of my plastic tack device.  More room for the other tools!