Review, Blog Hop & Giveaway: Sarah Ann Smith


Sarah was kind enough to ask me to participate in this blog hop. Although I did write a bag review for Purse Palooza at the request of Sara over a Sew Sweetness, I feel like this is a different kind of thing. Thus I am sticking to my guns and saying that this is my first blog hop! Please be kind! I am so thrilled to be part of this blog hop. There are so many great artists who did the September round and now another group of fabulous artists doing the November round.

Bonus and Prizes

There will be a giveaway on my blog.  I have one DVD to give away thanks to Sarah and Interweave Press. You can win this DVD by leaving a substantive comment (e.g. ‘s,ign me up!’ will not work), such as telling me what you thought of the video if you saw it or a clip, telling me what you thought of the review or something else. Sarah may read the posts and comments as well, so throw the girl a bone. 😉 You must leave the comment on THIS post.


I will pick the winner, contact the lucky winner and then send the contact info to Sarah who will get the DVD to the winner.

Sarah will be having a Grand Finale at the end, sometime in late November or early December (I’ll let you know), which will include additional goodies to win from MistyFuse and Havel’s Scissors!

Background and Purchase Details

I have known Sarah for awhile, mostly through an online group to which we both belong. I have enjoyed watching her career and cheered her on as she has reported her quiltmaking successes. This DVD/online workshop is just the most recent in a long line.

The following is from the Interweave email announcing her video, which I thought was a great description: “According to Sarah Ann Smith, not creating would be like not breathing: not possible! Sarah learned to sew after a neighbor girl made an apron for her doll when she was 6; when she found quilting, she knew she had found her passion: art and sewing. A former US diplomat, she draws on her years living in South America, Africa and North America, as well as her travels to Asia and Europe. She specializes in machine work and coloring with thread. Sarah is the author of ThreadWork Unraveled, lives in Hope, Maine, and has a husband, two sons, four cats, a pug and too many ideas!” Sarah’s website is a gateway to all things Sarah Ann Smith. You can reach her blog, store and a gallery of her quilts as well as tutorials, videos, her free bibliography, class supply lists and much more. Her site is very well done.

Art Quilt Design
Art Quilt Design

The video, a $14.95 download from Interweave Press, is called Quilting Arts Workshop: Art Quilt Design from Photo to Threadwork with Fabric Collage and Machine Quilting by Sarah Ann Smith.

The video is a workshop which teaches you her “collage process, from selecting the best photo for your first effort at this technique, to fabric selection, patterning, fused collage, to threadwork at either the top or quilting stage.”

  • Digital download or DVD
  • Available from Interweave
  • Available to international quiltmakers
  • 1 hour 16 minutes in length (first 30 second or so are the FBI warning)

Meat and Potatoes

The first thing I noticed was that the video started in my browser kind of suddenly after I clicked on the link in the email. I don’t watch a lot of videos-I have to actually watch them, which interferes with my sewing productivity, so I prefer audio only so I can sew while I listen-so I don’t know if this is normal. I was able to stop the video with the normal type of computer video controls, so it was no problem. I am thinking that this is a setting on my computer that I would do well to adjust.

I was under the impression that this was a free motion quilting video and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was so much more. Students learn how to:

  • Select a photo for your composition.
  • Choose fabrics, prepare them with fusible web, and alter them with textile paint.
  • Create the working pattern.
  • Fuse the quilt top.
  • Use free-motion machine quilting to bring the fused design to life.
  • Discover Sarah’s strategies for creating an artful machine-stitched fabric collage!

The workshop starts out with an interview with Sarah. One thing that stuck out in my mind, from that interview, is that she says to “learn and be proud of every project you do.” This is absolutely right. You cannot get better without practice. Sometimes the practice means ending up with projects that are not as successful as your next one will be.

The interview sets a tone of encouragement. The tone is positive and upbeat and made me feel like I could do whatever Sarah taught. This tone is continued throughout the video.

The next section discussed materials. After a brief introduction Sarah gets right into the discussion about the supplies, starting with the photo. I liked this part, because she doesn’t just say “take a photo”; she tells us what makes the photo good for her process, the things to look for in a photo and what to avoid. Even in this early stage of the video (2:03), I get the impression that she has thought a lot about the process.

I am skeptical when people describe products which they would like me to use. Do you know how many specialty items I have from classes and projects? I always wonder if I have to have that particular brand or if I can use something I already have on hand. When describing the materials, Sarah tells you why she likes a particular product. She mentioned Saral (remember I told you about that in one of my tutorials?), but also mentioned something similar called Transdoodle (3:58). In the discussion about the two products, she gives the pros and cons. One thing she said about Transdoodle is that it had a heavier chalk layer. That means that I can get more uses out of one sheet. I may have to get some and try it out.

Five minutes in, Sarah is showing the student her method of selecting fabric and giving some hints on painting on fabric. Sarah talks about commercial prints, batiks and hand-dyes. She gives her preferences, but doesn’t disparage the use of any types of fabrics (6:10).

The fabric selection includes modifying fabric using materials such as paints, pencils and judicious cutting to get the right shades and textures. Throughout Sarah tells us why a particular fabric works or doesn’t for the piece.

I also liked it that Sarah gave some practical and useful tips on fusing (9:30): why she uses a certain type of iron, what she uses to clean it in case of a fusing mishap and maintenance of her pressing sheets. The whole time I watched I was thinking of Pam and her Miss Jingle quilt and SherriD with her Unicorn quilt. I am sure they could have used some of the techniques that Sarah shows. I was really impressed with the amount of detail included. It was really useful. It made me think that fusing wasn’t so bad.

Design and composition follow fabric selection (17:55). This is the longest section of the video and really gets into making the bones of the piece. The first part of this section talks about the photo. Sarah gives some examples of variations of the photo she eventually started to use. I was pleased to hear her use terms that we have learned about in the design series.

I was also very interested when Sarah talked about the light in relation to how the light source was positioned and how our eyes perceived the light (20:50). I think that little tips like this, even if I never do her technique, will help me be a better quiltmaker.

Sarah shows two methods of creating shapes (~30:00) for your composition. This is a great addition to the video, because not all of us learn or work in the same way. Having a variety of methods from which to choose makes the video more useful. I also think that there is an appropriate amount of detail. Not too much so as to be boring and not allow for creativity, but enough so that the viewer can make the project while having a bit of leeway to inject what s/he knows about art quiltmaking.

Sarah's Thread
Sarah’s Thread

Remember I said I thought this was a free motion quilting video? Well, Sarah doesn’t disappoint in the free motion quilting department (43:08), though she does not show you in detail how to FMQ. She gives an overview of the important parts in relation to her workshop: needles, thread, FMQ design. Her information will be helpful in conjunction with some of the other FMQ workshops, books and videos out there.

The beginning of this section is really appealing, because of the way she has the thread laid out. During the thread preparation section, she reiterates the issues with the darks and lights that she brought up at the beginning. She also talks about her process, including describing how she works at the machine. For those of not used to working with a lot of thread changes, this conversation is very helpful.

I was pretty impressed with her stitching. She uses a darning type foot (not hopping) and has set the feed dogs to the down position. With these parameters, her stitch quality is excellent. The stitches are small, but not microscopic and relatively even in terms of length. I was also impressed with how a fabric blob suddenly turned into a shadow with nothing more than a little stitching over the top of the fabric. The stitching really smoothed out the lines of the fabric pieces.

The last part of the video is called Gallery and Conclusion (1:10:30) and this is the place where Sarah talks about moving on to your own photo. Using some of her quilts, she explains what she did to make certain quilts work, including where she used precision vs blob fabric pieces. I liked her tip on quilting with light thread in the background to enhance contrast.

Throughout the video, there are hints. Some include such things as protecting your furniture, features of products, details of using particular products and things to watch out for when using her preferred products. Sarah gives examples from particular pieces of her work in relation to the tips. She also gives alternatives, where possible, for tools and supplies that the viewer may not own and may be too expensive or too specialized to purchase. While some of them may seem like pure common sense, the way she interjects them at just the right moment makes the tips and hints even more helpful. They are in context, which helps me remember them when I am actually doing the same action. Something along the lines of muscle memory, I think. This workshop reminds me so much of being in an EBHQ class!

Clearly the techniques take practice if the viewer wants to get as good as Sarah, but she takes the fear out of a lot of the steps with her clear instructions and tips and tricks.

Technical Difficulties

When watching a video, I find that my computers stops and downloads/processes in the middle of the video, which degrades my viewing experience. As a result, I have learned to let the video download and then start watching after most (or a lot) of it has downloaded. I had some trouble with this video. I really think that it had something to do with my computer or the user (me!). This has nothing to do with the production or quality of Interweave/Quilting Arts products. I downloaded the video twice and even after turning off the sleep and hibernate modes on my computer, I wasn’t able to download past about 55 minutes within my browser (Firefox). I was able to fix this by going to my Interweave account, finding the download link and saving the video to my computer. The video took about an hour to download, but then I was able to watch the last 20 minutes.

Wrap Up

I was reluctant about this video in the beginning, but also determined since I committed to helping Sarah with her blog hop. I was pleasantly surprised. This is a great video and I don’t think you would be disappointed. From early on in the video, I felt that not only that could I do Sarah’s collage technique, but that I wanted to do it. Throughout the video, I added some of the supplies she mentions to my Amazon Wishlist and felt excited about using some of the products that had inspired some reluctance in me in the past.

Mean Mom Stuff

The giveaway will be open for 3 days only. It closes officially on Nov.22 at 6pm PDT, so leave a substantive comment NOW. I may not actually get to choose the winner until November 23, but no whining if you can’t leave a comment at 6:01pm.

More Chances to Win:

  • November 14:       Marie Johansen
  • November 16:     Brenda Gael Smith
  • November  19:    Jaye Lapachet (You are here! That’s me!)
  • November 21:     Susan Brubaker Knapp
  • November 23:     Lisa Walton
  • November 26:     Daphne Greig
  • November 28:     Sarah Ann Smith     Sarah writes “Yep–it is US Thanksgiving that day…I’ll write mine up in advance!  Or maybe I should do mine on Black Friday (the beginning of the holiday shopping season the day after…)” Sarah claims this will be The Grand Finale including goodies from MistyFuse and Havel’s Scissors!

Nota bene: I have included some time codes where appropriate as a kind of citation. I hope this is helpful.

Modern Quilts Illustrated Review

Modern Quilts Illustrated
Modern Quilts Illustrated

Just so you know:  I borrowed the image from the FunQuilts/Modern Quilt Studio site. All the pertinent details about the magazine are here.

When I first heard about the magazine, I thought it was a great idea. I love Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle’s work and thought that more of them more frequently would be awesome. Then I saw the price (retail price $14 or they will mail you an issue for $15) and that no pattern magazine would be worth the price.

TFQ bought the issue and kindly loaned it to me to peruse. Now I am on the fence rather than being completely negative just because of the price.

First, there is no advertising. I sometimes enjoy seeing ads, but going through ad after ad to find a snippet of content gets old.

As in their books, the patterns aren’t just patterns. Bill and Weeks give alternate color options, which I think encourages people to think outside the color box. They also offer kits, but tell what exact fabrics they used (with manufacturer and stock number) so you can assemble the fabrics yourself. The blurb about each quilt points out areas to which the maker should pay attention such as “Regardless of the colors you choose, maintaining contrast between the field fabric and the ‘stacks’ is essential. Be sure to make a sample block if you’re unsure if there’s enough contrast.” (pg.4)

The patterns are also interesting to read if a person has no plans to make the quilt. The layout is fun as well.

Palette Chasing is an interesting feature. In it they take a photo and create a palette of fabrics from it. In the inaugural issue, they used a photo from the Library of Congress and used solids. I have seen this activity on blogs and on Pinterest and think it would be a good exercise for anyone who wants to learn about choosing fabrics for a quilt.

I also learned something from the section on Plush Fleece backings. I think that I wouldn’t shy away from trying such a backing.

There are definitely aspects of the magazine that would be worthwhile keeping around for future reference.

I have picked up the issue repeatedly to look through a section again, which is a good sign. I am still on the fence, but we will see when issue 2 comes out.

Craft in America – Beth Lipman

I have Craft in America saved on my Tivo – both as a search so as a show comes on, it gets recorded and also one episode that I can watch it over and over. Recently another episode came on with the theme of family. I watched it, but was still drawn to the Beth Lipman section in the first episode.

Beth Lipman is a glass artist. Many of the pieces that she makes have every day objects as her subject. She makes parts that belong on a table and then puts a lot of the parts on a table so there is a plethora of plates, cups, vases, fruit on a table all made of glass. Her pieces are so entrancing to me. I have watched this segment over and over. Her work is fabulous.

Some of her work reminds me of the pieces in one of my favorite museums, Hofsilber und Tafelkammer in Vienna, especially her piece La Seduction de la Belle et la Bete, 2011. One of the things the two have in common is that they deal with tableware, plates, cups, wine glasses, etc. The other thing they have in common is that there is so much to look at in the installations.

Ms. Lipman’s website will give you a good idea of what she makes.

Something she said in the interview struck a nerve with me. She took some time getting to it, but she ultimately implied that she was driven by death. I have danced around that thought in my mind as well. I think that, to some extent, we all want to leave something behind – to not be forgotten.

I think the fact that quilts have traditionally been every day objects is one of the reasons I like them and enjoy making them.

I hope you can find Craft in America at your library. It appears you can watch them online or via an iPad/iPhone app. Look at the Craft in America website for further information.

Podcast Reviews

Quilting for the Rest of Us

I talked about Sandy’s podcast a little bit back in August, but I wanted to do a real review. Sandy is a relatively new podcaster who started out podcasting like a pro. Her podcast has good sound quality, she is organized and doesn’t say um, uh or like very much. Sandy has a great sense of humor, works hard to make her podcast professional while keeping it human and has a great voice. She has about 20 episodes up as of this writing and I would suggest going back and listening to all of the episodes.

The episodes vary quite a bit, both in length and in content. I think Sandy intended to give a lesson or information with each episode. She doesn’t always get to it, because of listener comments, which is fine with me, because when she talks about listener comments, it seems like a conversation. Sandy’s idea seems to be to create a community, so she honors her listeners by sharing comments. it is nice to hear what others have to say when I don’t have time to read all of the comments on the accompanying blog.

There are other podcasts that provide information and lessons. Sandy does a lot of research into her lessons and seems to do research beyond using the Internet. I particularly liked her color episode. I thought it was thoughtful and provided a couple of points of view that made me think a little differently about color. There was a companion episode on value. Both were really well done and made me want to drag out my Itten color wheel. I appreciate the research she puts into her episodes and appreciate it that she doesn’t perpetuate quiltmaking myths. She often doesn’t take sides, as evidenced in her episode on art vs. craft vs. hobby. I thought the addition of hobby was an interesting twist to this ongoing debate.

Sandy has began to do interviews in about episode 4 and does a really nice job. So far she has interviewed quiltmakers from her guild, a Hawaiian quiltmaker, a longarm quilter and a quilt appraiser. Her interviews are great, because she doesn’t interrupt the interviewee and just lets the artist/quiltmaker talk. Sandy does jump in to keep the conversation going by asking pertinent questions, but never interjects her own experience while interviewing. I really like her style.

I think you will be entertained by the Quilting…for the Rest of Us podcast. Check it out.

Off Kilter Quilt

Frances, of the Off Kilter Quilt, is also nearing 20 episodes. She has some funky numbering going on at the beginning of her episodes, so there isn’t a number 20 yet, but I think Frances has recorded 20 episodes. The funky numbering is an example of the charm of her podcast.

Frances starts out her episodes saying “hello hello, I’m Frances and I’ll be your hostess.” If you don’t listen to anything else (though you should) listen to the beginning of one of her podcasts. The intro is so friendly and welcoming.

Frances is a beginning quiltmaker. Initially I was skeptical about how much I would get out of the content. I was pleasantly surprised. While listeners do get to hear about the idiosyncracies of quiltmaking that puzzle a beginner, Frances also provides thought provoking commentary of various aspects of the quilting world.

In one episodes she talks about Product vs. Process quiltmakers. Frances does not purport to have all of the ansers, but she is a critical thinker and brings up some interesting points on various topics.She uses language really well, has a great sense of humor and sharp insight on the marketing practices of the quilt world. Additionally, her brief comments about her life outside of quiltmaking make the podcast, and Frances, seem real.

Definitely worth a visit!

Interim Goings On

Well, my crappy day was put into perspective by Sandy of Quilting for the Rest of Us podcast fame. Her son was put into the hospital with severe appendicitis. He had surgery and is now in the ICU recovering nicely. YAY! If you have time, put a comment up on her blog wishing her and family some good thoughts. And I will work on getting over my stupid work issues.

If you haven’t listened to Sandy’s podcast, try it out. It is REALLY great. I chomp at the bit every week waiting for it. Sandy is funny, works hard to make her podcast professional, but keeps it human as well. She has a number of episodes up and all of them have some good information. I appreciate her research and find that she doesn’t perpetuate quiltmaking myths. She also seems to use more than the Internet for her research, which, as a librarian, warms my heart.

In my Inbox was this message from Judy Martin:

“Greetings quilters,

Three quick notes for you on a Sunday afternoon.

1) My big kitchen/bathroom renovation begins tomorrow. I’ve begun documenting the project with photos and tales at

2) If you have ever wanted to own a quilt or quilt top made by Judy Martin, the time has never been better. I’m losing a lot of my storage space, and the cost of the renovation scares me. I’m motivated to sell some quilts. Here are all the details:

I’d certainly be grateful if you would pass this along to anyone else who might be interested.

3) While dancing through the chaos, I’m going to try to get a regular newsletter out in the next 2-3 weeks. Thanks for all your support.

Judy Martin

I took a look at the website and can understand needing and wanting to remodel. Of course, nobody ever WANTS to remodel, because the hell seems to go on forever. Take a look at her remodel pictures and her quilts.

Also, from the Good Quilt Customer Service Department comes this story:

I decided that I wasn’t going to use the Hunky Dory Jelly Roll that I bought for the Zig Zaggy Quilt back in March? April? I can’t remember, but it was a few months ago. I can’t always tell what the fabric looks like when I am shopping online.  I ordered the Me and My Sister Favorites as well as the Hunky Dory to see which was better for me and my project. I am a bright color kind of person and the Hunky Dory was soft and not for me and this project. After all of these months I decided that I needed another Jelly Roll for the Zig Zaggy quilt. FQ Shop had some.

I sent the invoice and asked if I could exchange the Hunky Dory Jelly Roll for the Me and My Sister Favorites Jelly Roll. Not only did Kathy at FQ shop say yes, but she also called me to make sure that I wanted a second Jelly Roll. She noticed that I had bought one back in March? April? As I said, I can’t remember,  it was a few months ago. We went over the shipping details and my Hunky Dory Jelly Roll will go back to Texas tomorrow to be added to someone else’s stash. Hooray.

And I will get to make the Zig Zaggy Quilt just a little bigger. I am tempted to put up my portable design wall and lay out the Zig zaggy quilt so I can see what I am facing. My regular design wall has no space.

So, I guess the day wasn’t completely crappy.

New Magazine Review

I have had a few magazines that I wanted to review on my desk for awhile. This week was a good time to share the good and the not so good with you, mostly because I need to clear off my desk. The magazines that made it out of the ‘to read’ pile and into the ‘share with readers’ pile are:

American Quilter, July 2010

Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting, May/June 2010

Quilt, August/September 2010

Quilts & More, Summer 2010

The Quilt Life, June 2010

Quilt Sampler, Spring/Summer 2010

One of the big reasons I wanted to do this magazine review was because of the Quilt Sampler magazine. I read this late in the planning stages of my Long Beach trip. I used it to create a list of items I wanted to see at that see. You already read how well that went.

In case you haven’t seen this magazine, it is a showcase of various shops around the country. I have actually used this magazine in the past to visit shops in my vacation path. I enjoy seeing the different shops and, this time, also enjoyed reading about the owners and what they are trying to achieve. My Long Beach downfall came when I started listing different things I wanted to see. On page 11, I saw the Bella bag from Fig Tree & Co, which I still have not been able to see in person. I also like the tootsie roll/fan quilt on that same page. I would make it in different colors.

One of the nice things about this magazine is that I am able to get a glimpse of the different personalities of the shops. I am probably not going to be able to visit most of them, but I still enjoy seeing them and you just never know! One thing I noticed was that there were lots of non-quilt projects shown. I saw a lot of tote bags, aprons, pillow covers and basket related thingies.

I also appreciated the owners who said they did not cater to all quiltmakers. I appreciated them being upfront and proud of the choices they made about stocking their shop. One of the shops is relatively near me. I don’t need any fabric, but seeing the photos makes me want to go there. It is just far enough away so I haven’t yet made the pilgrimage.

Various pictures of shop displays all over the magazine showed lots of pre-cuts: jelly rolls, FQ packkits, s, etc.

There was  also a page (ad??) of some samples of the Million Pillowcase Challenge pillowcases made from fabrics from different companies. It was interesting see that some people had pieced the cuff of their pillowcases. I am not going to do that, but I think it would be a great way to try out a block or other idea.

Quilt Sampler editors have included the obligatory patterns from each shop, which I don’t need. One was a nine patch with an hourglass alternate block. Very easy. Quilter’s Haven (pg.31) has an interesting design called Lotus Garden, which includes some Drunkard’s Path blocks. It is a more interesting and complicated design than some of the others. I also liked the Happy Days quilt (pg. 103-107. I think a lot of it was the fabrics: dots and cheery sherbety fabrics were used.

Quilts & More has a formula that works for them. It is the same every time with a couple of quilts, a tote bag (always claims to be easy) and some accessories. After I blow through it in 15 minutes, I wonder why I buy it. I am often attracted by the colors. In this case, I did like the bag and the quilt on the front was a circles quilting using positive and negative space.

I was pleased and surprised to find and read an interview with Bari J. Ackerman, a fabric designer. I had never heard of her before this article, but her bag pattern in the article looks interesting. She has a line of patterns called Keeping it Real Sewing Patterns by Bari J.

One of the accessories patterns was embellishing a purchased notebook. It isn’t a journal cover pattern per se, but in that vein. There seems to be a lot of this type of thing going around lately.

Quilts & More makes me think of sitting in a cottage on Nantucket for some reason. I have never been to Nantucket, but is a pleasant fantasy.

Quilt is the most recent magazine I have bought. I bought it simply because of the dot quilt on the front. I was pleasantly surprised to find a fantastic essay by Kaffe Fassett in there as well. There were a group of tote bag patterns and few other articles.

His essay is called Geometry in Patchwork. It is a well written homage to the geometry of classic blocks. He discusses how much he loves the geometry of classic quilts and how the stories and graphic pictures of art quilts fail to hold his interest. He considers art quilts (which he puts in quotations marks) to be a separate form and he questions bringing the art of drawing and painting to the “wonderful world of geometry.” This essay spoke to me after viewing some very graphic (as in full frontal nudity) quilts at the Long Beach show. I firmly believe people should make whatever quilts they feel moved to make. I, however, have a strong negative reaction to certain kinds of techniques in art quilts. Specifically, I am quite annoyed by artists who print a photograph very large on fabric, stitch it a little and call it a quilt. My reaction is why? Why not just frame a photograph and move on?

I appreciated Fassett’s essay, because he steps up and says that he likes geometry. He says it in a coherent way that makes sense in my crazy mind. I feel like I can step in line and say I like the geometry of classic quilts as well. I was very sorry to see this important essay hidden in this magazine. I hope some of you get to read it.

Quilt also has a feature on Dena Designs. I have never heard of this designer, but she has a cheerful and fresh view of the fabric world. She designs for Free Spirit.

Pressing Matters! is also a great article, because it gives the reader an overview of different issues around ironing and pressing. One great tip was to press seams open over a dowel! I can’t believe I never thought of that. It might solve the problems I have with getting my napkin seams to lie flat.

There are a couple of patterns that were intriguing. There are several tote bag patterns in this issue. One is a really cute ruffled tote bag. I saw a ruffled tote bag at Long Beach. TFQ thought I had lost my mind, especially when I showed her the second tote bag in this magazine. I also like the four patch row quilt pattern.

I am not sure I have ever read this magazine, but I will probably read it again.

Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson have added to their quiltmaking empire by creating The Quilt Life. I was completely prepared not to like it when TFQ shared the first issue with me. I wasn’t as enamored with that issue, but I have to admit there are parts of this issue that I do like. I thought the thread article in this issue was good. I read it on the heels of watching the QNN TV episode on thread, so I benefited from that unintended synergy. Jan Magee, also the editor of QNM, is the editor. I could do with someone new as editor just to get a different perspective. I don’t think this magazine is much different from QNM. Ricky Tims has a great essay about walking down the street to get a drink and all the people and experiences he encountered along the way.

They are copying Mark Lipinski’s Quilter’s Home format by having recipes and fewer patterns. I am glad. I have enough patterns to last me two lifetimes. I thought the articles were interesting, especially the one about the evolution of a quiltmaker’s work. All in all I thought this issue was worth the money. I will reserve judgement on future issues. 😉

American Quilter frequently has the winners of the AQS show in Paducah. This issue is not exception. I really liked the Best of Show. It was called Filigree by Marilyn Badger. I like a lot of the different quilts that won prizes.That isn’t even normal for me. Often I wonder why they won and assume that the technique was great. This issue has a lot of great quilts in it.

Frances from the Off Kilter Quilt podcast already said a lot about the packaging of Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting in her essay about magazines in her third episode (part 1). This issue has an article called Sew Many Tips. One talks about wrapping the bottom of wire hangers with selvedges. I would also add some batting if I were one to use wire hangers. I always like the antique quilt article by Gerald Roy. This one talks about crazy quilts. There are mostly patterns in the rest of the issue. Some of the patterns have blocks that are interesting. None of the patterns are exciting enough for me to make one, though. There is an article by Jinny Beyer on Blending Colors. I have to admit that I do like the ads in this magazine.

Various and Sundry Wednesday

Ready for another ride that weaves in and out of the Internet and my mind?

Books, etc

I ran across the notice for Jane Brocket’s quilt book. I stopped reading her blog awhile ago, but was pointed to a link about ribbon, which I have on the mind lately.

A quote from the book via

“One of the great pleasures of doing anything repetitive by hand, whether it’s knitting, making bread, chopping onions or sowing seeds, is that the rhythm of the action allows your mind to wander.”

I bought this book. The US edition has come out, but I decided to buy the UK edition. I don’t mind  those extra ‘u’ added her and there. There is nothing wrong with the US edition. I was pleased to see that the US edition came out relatively quickly after the UK edition debuted.

I bought the UK edition of the Gentle Art of Domesticity and was pleased with the service I received from the Book Depository, so I made my purchase from them again. The cover of the UK edition looks so much better. One fascinating thing about the Book Depository (which LoveAnna turned me on to) is that they have something like a live webcam where you see what books people are buying and where those buyers are from. It is mesmerizing to see people ordering so many books so quickly. I actually saw someone’s purchase of Cello: Grades 1-3 from China!


Anyway, back to ribbon. Somewhere I saw a link to ribbon. I looked at it, which led me to Jane Brocket’s blog, the new book – see above. The ribbon, though was gorgeous. So wonderful for embellishing bags and making markers for journals. LFN Textiles is the purveyor and the website has gorgeous photos. And they have dotted ribbons. What’s not to like?

Pam Rubert of PamDora blog fame recently tweeted a link to Sharon B’s Dictionary of Stitches for Hand Embroidery and Needlework. She has an index on the first page. If you click on one of the links, you see a picture of the finished stitch and where this stitch can be found. She shows step outs of the stitch and gives the reader tips and tricks. If you are browsing, there is a previous/next link at the top of the stitch screen, so that you can just click to another stitch without returning to the index. There are lots of great features of this site and it is great inspiration if you are using handstitching to embellish a quilt.


If you remember my fit of excitement over the 1000 Journals Project, this information will come as no surprise to you. I found the Artbook Coop via Julie and they are doing a sketchbook project. You can order (and pay for) a sketchbook, which will then be housed in a museum. I am not sure I could finish something like this, but my mind is swirling around it.


Brenda Papadakis of Dear Jane fame has a series of block of the month blocks posted on her website for free. It looks like there is an applique’/embroidery block and a pieced block every month.


Last week I had a virus that hit me hard. One day while I was thinking about going back to bed, I stumbled on a blog called Waking Up in Bavaria. It has a really nice clean look and beautiful photography. One of her recent posts is a review of Kaffe Fassett’s Simple Shapes, Spectacular Quilts.  It is hard to read a blog from the beginning when you are years behind. Still I read a bit of her posts from last year and my mind spun into imagination land. I spent a formidable time in my life in that area of the world, though in Austria, not Bavaria, so the landscape is familiar. I also like the clean, spare look of her blog. My mind started to wander around the question of what if I woke up in Bavaria tomorrow?

If you need to organize your studio/workroom, the Quilted Cupcake has a podcast and a long blog post with a lot of resources and pictures of her space. QNN TV also has a segment on organization. The January episodes, segments 1&2, 3&4 take on the topic of organizing your studio from different angles. You have to be a member to watch the videos.

I signed up for QNN TV last year and hadn’t really watched the videos. Last week, while I was sick, I was clearing out my email. Some of the messages in there were notices about new QNN TV episodes being posted. Being fit only to lay in bed, I started watching them. I thought they were very entertaining. They have some cooking segments, which I skipped over, but I enjoyed the episode on specialty threads (January episode, Segments 5&6). They have two kinds of links to the shows. Each episode is broken into about 6 segments and two segments are posted each week. This means that you can watch the different segments or watch the whole episode. I have been watching them in segments.

The January episode takes place in Winterset, Iowa, partially at the Fons & Porter store. They also show the Bridges of Madison County, the county in which Winterset is located. I didn’t know that Fons & Porter had a store, so this was interesting to me. I wish they would have done a tour of the store, but they didn’t.

I really enjoyed the November episode. Jodie Davis hosts with Patrick Lose and they report from Houston Quilt Market. They talk about new products and interview people at the show. I was entertained. I think this was shot while Mark was working out the details of his contract with QNN TV. I thought it would be weird, but Jodie Davis handled his not being there with grace. She made it seem like he would be back soon.

I also enjoyed the February Door Knock episode where Mark interviews Liz Porter. It is great to see that she is real and has a real life. I went away from that interview with a lot more respect for her and what she has achieved.

I wasn’t planning to renew my membership, but I may do it. I will definitely watch the episodes as they come out rather than waiting until my inbox is too full before I get to them.

The Alliance for American Quilts had a contest recently called New From Old. They have posted a series of YouTube videos documenting the quilt entries as they arrive. I thought that was very clever! One of them was by Marie Johansen who sometimes reads this blog. I was pleased to see that Yvonne Porcella entered a quilt, which must mean that she is feeling better. There were a number of Dresden Plate entries and two that could be considered Baltimore Album style. Sunbonnet Sue, Grandmother’s Flower Garden and Grandmother’s Fan also made debuts. Some people put a lot of work into their entries and it occurred to me that throwing something together just to enter wouldn’t work for this contest. Then again, it doesn’t usually work for any contest.

If you ever feel like the quilts or ATCs or blocks or paintings you are making are not fit for the fireplace, take a look at the Bad Postcards site. Looking at the works on this site should a) give you a laugh; b) make you feel better about your own work; and c) make you wonder who ever thought it was a good idea to make matching apron, tablecloth and curtains (you’ll have to scroll down the site to get that one). As a bonus for you fabric lovers, there are some interesting fabrics shown in various postcards. It makes me wonder whether people will be laughing about the photos on this blog in 50 years?

Do artists go under Media or Out and About? I don’t know, so here is Michael Cutlip. Mostly I love his website and the way the gallery is laid out. He is the artist who did the picture in the Decor House, which I wrote about in a post a few weeks ago. The picture I took is crappy, but his work is not, so don’t judge him on my photo.

Out and About

You might have heard (or maybe read it here) that the V&A in London has a quilt exhibit up. They have also just announced the release of a second set of patterns, V&A Pattern Series II. “Like the first box set—which included four books arranged by theme and titled William Morris, Indian Florals, Digital Pioneers, and The Fifties—the second series features four books available individually or as a group: Owen Jones, Novelty Patterns, Kimonos, and Garden Florals. In addition to page after page of color images of the textile designs, each hardcover book includes a CD of hi-res images of the featured patterns.”

Being here in the US, it is hard to get to the exhibit, though I am hoping for some kind of miracle (you know free first class tickets, or something), but until then I have been looking at the videos. My favorite so far is the one with Caren Garfen, which I looked at with TFQ. Her quilt is given a bit of short shrift int he book, but this video makes up for it. I wish it were downloadable to iTunes, so I could look at it again without being tethered to my computer.

My sister gets various creative “notions” in her head and her latest is organza flowers. She saw some she loved at Nordstrom. She said that you sew strips of fabric in a circle to a base down the middle of the strip. Have you ever done this? I may try it.

Kaffe Fassett and Liza Prior Lucy are having a blog tour. There are a lot of new and interesting blogs to look at.

My friend, Kathy, from Everyday Bliss, has a new blog called Everyday Mommy. It is new so I can’t tell you exactly how it turns out, but Kathy writes “Do you want to be a marvelous parent or just like watching others try? Join Everyday Mommy for a wacky and fun experiment! Each week we will delve into one of the parenting virtues, have some fun and hopefully become better parents in the process!” It is fun to watch my friend delve into cyberspace. I know that sounds strange since the web is not new. Before blogs I couldn’t tell how many emails people were sending or what websites they were going to. With all of the cross linking and comments, as well as FB, it is much easier.

Deirdre sent me a link to Woody Campbell’s Photo a Day blog. His photos are a bit large. Still, I like the photo of the refrigerator. I like the idea of documenting normal every day things. I don’t always do it, but I think about it. I read about a guy who took a photo of the same building across the street from his shop every day at the same time for something like 30 years. Do you ever do anything like that? I thought about it when I took a picture out the window of my workroom, but then I never followed up. I suppose it isn’t too late!

Fabric Design Insights

I have been trying to clear out my email.

One of things I do with my email is that I use my Inbox as a To Do list (one of them). I get notices of happenings in the quilt world and leave them in my email Inbox until I deal with them. If people email me, I keep their email until I can craft a thoughtful reply. I get notices of new uploads to various sites. When I go and look at the site, I delete the email. I joined QNN TV last year so I could watch Mark Lipinski. I have found it hard to allocate the time watching the videos so the notices of new episodes have been stacking up. I spent some time watching some videos the other day and found some really interesting.

In one episode Jodie and Mark interviewed Gail Kessler, a designer and Marketing Director for Henry Glass about fabric design and Michelle Bencko of Cicadia Studios. They talked about fabric design including numbers of fabric in a collection and how to get started. Gail Kessler said that she gets contacted every day by people who want to design fabric. She said that the first thing she asks is whether they are famous.

I was shocked, initially, but I think it was a way to get people’s attention; to make them pay attention to the realities of the business. What I understand she meant by her comment was that she has staff to design fabric. I think it is a valid point when she says that what sells fabric is the name on the selvedge and she wants -needs – to work with people who are out there teaching, writing books, writing a well followed blog and willing to help market their fabric via those outlets. Fabric is tough business.

Thinking in terms of business, this makes sense. It is easy to think that something is easy and lucrative. Nothing is ever as easy as it looks and we often don’t know what people do all day when they go their jobs. I think that Kessler’s comments are good. There are a lot of talented people out there who have great skills in design. They can be in house designers for fabric companies and churn out designs that the fabric companies can sell. The missing piece is the marketing and that is really important. If people don’t buy fabric designs, the fabric companies won’t make fabric and won’t stay in business. I think Kessler is right that names sell. It makes sense.

Various & Sundry Thursday

I have been, slowly, responding to ancient emails and dealing with setting up my computer again as I try to recover from the crash. Below is a lot of different things that I have been thinking about or looking into.


As a result the new mystical powers of my computer, I listened to a radio interview about an art quilt exhibit recently. Deirdre sent the link to me awhile ago.

The exhibit was called Modern Materials: The Art of the Quilt and the interviewee was Jill Rumoshosky Werner. She was the curator. I also saw a Flickr group of some of the quilts.

I thought the comments Jill made about her process and the different pieces included in the exhibit were interesting and thoughtful.

I wrote about the Apron contest/exhibit that Jennifer over at CraftSanity is having. I was pleased to see her mention my blog in her blog. Her husband made a funny YouTube video to entice people to take up the challenge. If any of you saw her blog post and came here, leave a comment and let me know.


I am apparently in hunting and gathering mode. I am gathering supplies and fabric for a number of projects (and the class I am taking later this month). I don’t know if I will make all of them, but I am gathering. In a comment from the Happy Zombie blog post I made SherriD suggested a quilt-a-long. I have the supplies coming. Anyone else want to make their own version of the Oh Fransson/Happy Zombie quilt with me?

One of them is the Happy Zombie/Oh Fransson zig-zaggy quilt I talked about on Sunday.

Fons & Porter's Basketweave Baby
Fons & Porter’s Basketweave Baby

The other is the Basketweave Baby Quilt. I saw it again the other night when I watched a repeat of the Fons & Porter episode featuring the Basketweave Baby Quilt. This is part of series 1000. I wrote about this before and thought I would get over my obsession with this pattern, but when I saw the episode again I realized I haven’t. I got a piece of paper and made copious notes on making this quilt. Later, I went to their website to find the project notes/instructions. No dice. They don’t have the sizes or anything on their site. So, I went to see if I could order the magazine that included the instructions. Again, no dice. It is a Jan/Feb 2007 issue of Love of Quilting magazine and it is out of stock. I emailed them to ask about getting the back issue and didn’t hear back. I also looked for websites or information from the designers, Betty Hufford and Jean Nolte. I didn’t find anything there useful there either. I have looked at the library to which I have a card and I haven’t been able to find it. I can’t say that I explored every nook and cranny of their site. I find the Fons & Porter site difficult to navigate. If any of you have this issue and would be willing to loan it to me, leave a comment in this post’s comment area.

I feel a bit stuck, but I also think that I can draw out the design on paper and use that to make a sample. We’ll see.


I have been listening to Pat Sloan’s podcast while I sew. For some reason I don’t download her podcasts to my iPod. Not sure why. Perhaps the Toginet ads intersperse in the podcast is why. Not sure. Anyway, the interviews are really good. So far she has interviewed quiltmakers I haven’t heard before.  One podcast that I really liked was with Bonnie Hunt of Quiltville. I had never heard of her until the podcast. One thing she said was that people who use steam when pressing have problems putting their quilts together. I don’t know if this is true or not. I have always used steam, so I decided to try this out. I have, mostly, not been using steam when I press blocks and elements for a quilt. It is an interesting experiment. I don’t know how long I will do it or if I will never go back to using steam. Some of the things I have found:

  • pressing wrinkles out of recently washed fabric needs steam
  • adhering fusible interfacing to fabric needs steam.
  • I don’t see that pressing seams need steam so far.

I don’t have any other feedback at the moment, but I enjoy the opportunity to try something new. Do you use steam or no steam?

My mom mentioned using Mary Ellen’s Best Press. She said that it really made cutting easy. It might be good to try, but I don’t feel like buying it right now. Mom is going to bring me a sample from her work. The owner offered me one. YAY!

Another Pat Sloan podcast I really liked was the episode with Linda M. Poole. I enjoyed it because Linda was an excellent interviewee. Pat asked her one question and Linda was off and running with interesting comments about her life, family, business and teaching. Linda was well spoken also. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that Linda mentioned my Creative Prompt project. That isn’t the only reason I enjoyed the podcast! 😉 I did see a small spike in comments after that podcast, so, thanks, new readers!

The information related to Pat’s podcast is hard to navigate, though. She doesn’t have much information in iTunes or on her blog about which episode includes which quiltmaker. I had to go to the blogs of two quiltmakers mentioned above to find out which episodes they appeared. I like to have the information right in iTunes.

Inspiration & Momentum

Fabric Closet, Working
Fabric Closet, Working

I had a fabric/project avalanche in my fabric closet last week. A bad sign was that I shut the door and haven’t really gone back in. I haven gone in, looked at it and left again.

I felt like I was losing my sewing momentum last weekend. I am not sure why. I had very little time on Sunday and I just couldn’t get going. I have to try and take my own advice about dealing with these issues. Part of it may have been that I was sick last week and am still feeling the last bits of that illness. I am blaming my malaise on that illness. I think I need to read a trashy novel.

Someone came in my workroom last week and started asking me about the various piles. I sincerely dislike that. Some are projects in process (yes, I need bins for them). Some are just piles of stuff I haven’t put away. Some are hard to explain. Regardless I don’t like justifying my piles. I work better with an organized sewing area.  I need and want to build on the reorganization that TFQ and I did on the fabric closet some years ago. I need and want to reorganize and make beautiful the rest of the room – paint, shelving, the works. There are nice ideas at HGTV that I can use for inspiration.  It all takes money which I don’t have right now. I can think about and plan for what is next in this room:

  • Bookshelves without a doubt! Bookshelves with LOTS of growth space!
  • Murphy or wallbed
  • Drawers
  • More horizontal space (could be a bad thing)
  • Lovely decorations

Color Fun



Last weekend (Saturday) I went to a scrapbook day with a friend and worked on my Austria album. One of the things we did, aside from cut and glue down photos, was watch a video on how to be a better photographer by Nick Kelsh. I thought for sure the video would be on the web somewhere, but all I could find were clips. Look at Nick’s website for clips on using your digital camera to get better photos. I tried his techniques out a bit this week. We’ll see if my photos get better. I’ll let you know when I post them.


I went to Jo-Ann a couple of weeks ago to get a “June Tailor Cushioned Square ‘n Blocker”  for a class with Dale Fleming I am taking with EBHQ in a few weeks. I mentioned this class briefly a few weeks ago. I am interested in  making a circle quilt and I thought it would be a good idea to learn a different technique. My other option is to use the technique Ruth McDowell teaches in her AWESOME Piecing: Expanding the Basics book. The quilt I am interested in making looks similar to the one that Malka Dubrawsky made that was published in Quilting Arts magazine some time ago. She dyed hers and I plan to piece mine. Why, you ask? Who knows? I may make three blocks, realize I had lost my mind and move on. We’ll see.

Anyway, I hadn’t really planned on buying board, though I knew it was a possibility. I wanted to see what it was and what it looked like. When I asked the price, the retail assistant told me and mentioned that they had 40% off coupons in the front of the store. I grabbed one and then went to grab the coupon.  I was able to buy the board for about $10.

I barely ever go to Jo-Ann and I hadn’t been there in a long time. While I was there I noticed they had all of the Fons & Porter notions the two show on their Love of Quilting show. They also had a really good selection of rulers. No Creative Grids, but lots of other brands.

I was in a bit of a rush that day, so I just glanced, and left. Or so I thought. I went to the checkout line and found that Jo-Ann has a HUGE selection of craft magazines. They had some quilt magazines that I had never seen. I picked up the newest issue of  Art Quilting Studio while I was there.

Since I just did a rush visit the first time, I went back on Monday just to look around. In addition to the other projects I have in mind, I have to gear up for Teacher Pillow time, so I am starting to gather materials. Finding affordable pillow forms is paramount. The cheapest one Jo-Ann had was $6.99. $6.99 x 5=too much. I also wanted to look more at their various rulers etc. I saw a Simplicity Studio Ruler Simpli-EZ Tri mate. I never knew that Simplicity made rotary cutting rulers. This caught my eye, because of the shape. I wonder if it will help me, more easily, create the setting triangles for the FOTY 2010 quilt? I’ll have to bring the diamond ruler there sometime to compare and see if I can tell.

I was drawn in by some of their fabric designs.I saw some cherries on pink background that were CUTE! And the prices are great. However I felt the fabric, which I always feel compelled to, and didn’t like the feel of the fabrics, so I passed.

Magazine News

The Jo-Ann magazine selection was as good as ever on my second trip there and I saw the new Quilt Life magazine by Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. I haven’t heard good things about it, so I didn’t pick it up. TFQ said she would send me hers to look at, so perhaps I will do a review after I read it.

Bad news on Art Quilting Studio. They have a new editor who said the magazine would be going on hiatus. I don’t think the new editor shuttered the magazine, but I am guessing that Jenny Doh didn’t want to be associated with a failure. I guess we didn’t give enough support to the 3 issues they did put out. Issues of the latest AQS issue were still available when I was at Jo-Ann the second time. I really enjoyed the first issue of that magazine. I thought the second issue had more of the Somerset look and design – muslin, lace, buttons – and I wasn’t enamored. I did like the in depth interviews with quiltmakers. Denyse Schmidt was in the first issue and Susan Shie in the latest. I am happier with what I saw in the 3rd issue, even though I haven’t read through the whole thing yet. Well, if you like that magazine, write to Somerset.

Finally, I got the latest issue of Quilter’s Home. I was really unhappy with the last issue, which was the first without Mark and the first with the new editors, Jake and Melissa. They did a poor imitation of Mark’s style. I had planned to cancel, but I’ll see how the next issue is before I decide. I am happier with this latest issue. I particularly liked the article about blogs and will try to get ArtQuiltmaker into that list.


I received the Edward R. Hamilton catalog the other day. If you have never seen their catalog, get them to send you one. They have an online presence, but I really enjoy looking through the catalog. I was really pleased to see the book American Quilts: The Democratic Art, 1780-2007 listed in the ART section. It is also only $27.95. I’d like to look at it before I buy, but if it were $10 I would have scooped it up. I love those books which are combinations of history and quilts, but I don’t want to buy a book with a lot of quilt photos I have in other books.

The Quilt National 2003 book is only $2.95! they have a couple of Kaffe Fassett books, the Sally Collins Mastering Precision Machine Piecing book and many, many others. I entered ‘quilt’ into the description field and came up with two screens of search results.


It's A Wrap Pattern by Sandy Gervais
It’s A Wrap Pattern by Sandy Gervais

I decided that I am going to make this pattern, It’s A Wrap Pattern by Sandy Gervais, this weekend. We will see how much of it I get done and if I am able to actually follow the directions. Wish me luck. Hopefully, this will cure my malaise or make it go away long enough for me to make some other things.

I know I have said some things about patterns. I guess I am getting over my snobbery. Hope you won’t hold it against me. I think what I mean is not that there is anything wrong with patterns, but that I like to be able to analyze a quilt and make it by myself without using a pattern. I realize that not everyone has that spatial acuity and that pattern designers have to eat!

Around About Town

Last Friday I had to pick up some tea and return a library book, so I stopped in a little mini-downtown section of SF called West Portal. I parked, walked to the Library, crossed the street and found a newspaper/magazine stand near the place I buy tea! I love those shops where you can see about 300 magazines all at once and buy one issue of foreign home dec magazines as a treat. I have been up and down this street a multitude of times and never seen this place. It may be new. They had a wonderful selection of quilt and craft mags. I had to buy an issue so I picked up an issue of Quilt Mania. I was pleased to find an article about Judy Rothermel and a couple of blocks that were very inspirational. I didn’t know JR designed Civil War fabrics as well as her signature 1930s lines.

After I drank my tea I headed back to the car and saw a handwritten sign in the window of the bookshop saying they give knitting lessons. Hhhmmm.

Spoonflower: Designing Fabric

BryeLynn is the creator and podcaster of Sew * Stitch * Create. She is a new quilter. She has a regular format that includes her coffee of the day, what she is doing, progress on her projects and often a lesson. For the lesson she looks into topics using books and the Internet.  She also has a blog, polls and drawings.

I am almost never caught up on her podcast or her blog. I miss the drawings, but the information doesn’t get stale. I was perusing it the other day to try and enter a contest when I saw this great idea for using Spoonflower!

clipped from

I have known about Spoonflower for a while, but didn’t really have any interest in making my own fabric design.  Truthfully, I don’t know where to begin or what to create.  But tonight I had an “aha” moment.  Morgan and I were looking at a pattern for a fabric egg (more on this soon) and she said she wanted one with her name on it.

blog it

I haven’t tried Spoonflower, but I am eager to do so. I have been thinking about making more of the Windham fabric using Spoonflower.

More Odds and Ends

Judy Martin Video

I really like Judy Martin and always have. I especially love her block books, but they are old and she doesn’t seem to be publishing those types of books anymore. I love block books, but think I am in the minority. I kind of wish she wouldn’t rush out her books, but she does have to make a living, so I do understand why she seems to produce a book a year. She has finally reached the YouTube age with a new video.

The video talks about how to rotary cut odd shapes, specifically the kite shape for her Kyoto Garden quilt from the new book she just published called Stellar Quilts. I have long wanted to take a class with Judy Martin and this is a great start. The video is filled with good information and I really learned something. It is about 5 minutes long and I recommend it.


As I have mentioned, I really like podcasts. I listened to two episodes from Notes from the Voodoo Lounge recently that I thought were really good. One was an interview with Deborah Rapaport, who talks about style. She talks about wearing things that make you feel good and is adamant that sweats do not make you feel good. She does not talk in a way that made me feel like a loser. She talks in terms of transformation using baby steps and she talks about all of this regardless of a person’s size. I have been thinking of changing my wardrobe and my style, especially since all of my clothes are wearing out (great timing!). Perhaps I will take this podcast as a kick in the pants to go to the thrift store and see what I can find?

I also really liked Rice’s podcast with Diana Trout. I have never heard of her, but I liked the fact that she talked about her workroom being a pit until recently. It was a good reminder that things take time.

Paper Craft

My sister loves scrapbooking and paper crafts.  She does really amazing work. She also has all the toys and has brought them with her while she is up here working. I have had a piece on my mind which was inspired by a piece by Dana Barbieri. I want to make a piece like this to start the process of transforming my workroom into an inspirational space.


Originally uploaded by dana.barbieri

My sister has a machine called a Cricut, which I plan to use to cut the letters. Then I will put them on other paper for the background and frame it. I may use bits of wood or foam to make the letters stand out from the background paper. I haven’t decided. Dana used fabric in her piece and I am not sure I will. I’ll have to play around. I am getting closer to execution. My next task is to pick the papers I want to use. You can be sure they will be bright!


I signed up for an EBHQ class in April. It is with Dale Fleming and s/he will be teaching a class called 6 minute circles. I have had a circle quilt on my mind and thought this might be a good jumpstart. There are a lot of odd things on the supply list that I need to start collecting. I am glad I have time.

Mark Lipinski’s Big News

I have heard rumors about what happened between the publisher of Mark’s old magazine (now run by Jake and Melissa) and Mark (bankruptcy, creative differences, the usual). Now he has landed on his feet and announces his new partnership with All American Craft. I have never heard of them, but they must have enough confidence in his star power, because he will be heading up 3, yes THREE, magazines not just one. Good luck, Mark!

Various & Sundry Saturday

I have a lot on my mind…again.

Fons & Porter Basketweave Baby
Fons & Porter Basketweave Baby

My Tivo is taping Fons & Porter periodically. I didn’t ask it to do so, but it started doing it on its own and then I started to watch them. It is nice to be immersed in quiltmaking for a few minutes and get a different perspective. Recently, they had a show on a baskeweave quilt. The photo is from their website. I love the idea of this quilt, because it is not simple patchwork done in rows. The maker has to insert pieces into the middle of already pieced rows in order to get the basketweave effect. The project was originally published in February 2007.  I would like to see if it is actually make-able. It looks pretty straightforward on the show and the video, but you know how that goes. I’ll have to look around at the library to see if they have it. I found that with my Quilt Out Loud membership, I was able to log into the Fons & Porter site, so I have to look around there as well. If I ever had that magazine, it is long gone.

Clipmarks and my Internet security system are not liking each other, so I will have to try and explain about Bemused and the online Quilts Japan preview rather than show you. I was reading the Bemused blog and she mentioned her love of Japanese quilting magazines. She also mentioned that Quilts Japan has an online preview. That means you can page through the new issue. YAY!!!

As soon as I remembered to click the page LEFT button, it worked great. Remember? They read towards the left.

My regular podcasting people, Jennifer at CraftSanity, Amy at the Creative Mom podcast and Annie Smith of Quilting Stash/Simple Arts, are not producing podcasts fast enough for me. At the rate I consume them I could go through about 3 hours of them a week. Of course, I can’t whine or complain (I am certainly not whining or complaining, just stating a fact)  since the podcasts are FREE, the hosts work for free and I guess don’t get paid. Not having new episodes each week, however, means that I have nothing to which to listen. This has forced me to search iTunes for new material. I found some interesting works.  IMy two current favorites are CastOn by Brenda Dayne and An Illustrated Life by Danny Gregory.

One of the things I like about Brenda Dayne’s podcast is that it is about fiber and not just knitting. I wouldn’t call myself a knitter, though I do know how to knit and I admire knitting and would like to knit more, yet, Ms. Dayne does not bore me with the minutiae of knitting. She does talk about the minutiae of knitting, but I am not bored by it. She talks about other things, too. And the way she talks about things is not boring, it is professional, and, real sounding. She squeals with delight in a professional sounding way.

Danny Gregory, author of An Illustrated Life, Creative License and did a series of podcasts in conjunction with the publication of An Illustrated Life a few years ago. I talked, briefly, about that book here on the blog in the past, but didn’t review it thoroughly. His podcasts are about 30 minutes long. Longer segments are broken in two parts. He has a wonderful voice and his conversations with artists who contributed to the book make me appreciate the book a lot more. Perhaps I will look at it again and give it a thorough review.

So far, I have listened to Danny talk with Peter Arkle and Roz Stendahl. I also listened to the Voodoo Lounge interview with Roz and I, now, want to be her. She is amazingly creative and practical in a way where she seems to use every moment of her time and get a lot done. I liked her interview with Danny Gregory, because she says that shopping (e.g. going and looking for the perfect pen to sketch with, or, in my case the perfect green fabric) is not a substitute for creativity. I think she also inferred that you cannot count shopping as part of your creative time. She has a follow-up to that comment on her blog.

One of the things I like about these non-quilt podcasts is that I get exposed to other artists and start thinking about creative things in a different way. I am not going to give up quilt podcasts, don’t worry.

I have never heard of Peter Arkle before. Peter Arkle is a commercial artists/ illustrator. He also does something called The Peter Arkle News. It is a newspaper containing stories of his everyday life. I love the idea. He started it just out of college (??) to show potential employers he could create and idea and follow through on it. It is now an occasional publication, which he calls ‘wheneverly’. As a librarian, I’ll have to use that instead of ‘irregular.’

One of the things I love about podcasts is how I get to hear the story of people’s lives. As I listen to more and more podcasts, I find that listening to professional radio is starting to be a bit boring or….not as interesting. I always liked Terry Gross, but now I’d rather know about her life than listen to her interview people all the time. I am interested, usually, in the people she interviews, but would also like to know about her. I like stories about people. I like to hear about the wonderful things ordinary people do. Have you done an StoryCorps interview? Take your grandma or your dad out to a StoryCorps booth and do one. Or use your new Flip. What is your story?

I love this tree quilt. It is one of those Miami Christmas quilts. I admire the way she put together the fabrics. I found this blog when I was working on my end of the year post and I was looking for the name of a pattern I bought to make the “It’s a Wrap” quilt by Sandy Gervais (obviously, I found it!). Not Your Run of the Mill blog seems to be associated with a shop, but I wasn’t able to find a direct link to the shop, though it looks like she has some interesting things.

My guild, CQFA, is doing a creativity project in 2010 and I am the first presenter. I did a lot of legwork in anticipation of the prep meeting in November and then was unable to attend. Dolores, from CQFA met me about an hour south of here on Thursday. We had lunch, looked at quilt and creativity books and talked about what I would talk about. I feel much more prepared for my presentation than I did before. I, frankly, had no idea where I was going or what I was going to say. Dolores is extremely creative. Sadly she has no website and no blog, but you can see some of her work that I have posted. Perhaps I will post notes or something on what I talk about. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with things that people expect me to do lately. Not to mention the pressure I put on myself! I think I will have to practice the word ‘NO’ in 2010. We’ll see.

By the way, the Dynamic Quilt link in my sidebar provides a list of my delicious quilt bookmarks. If you have any interest in what quilt sites I am looking at, click there and you will see some of the sites I have bookmarked.

Matt Sparrow is talking about creating a TMZ type quilt website. It should be interesting to see what comes of that. I wonder if there is enough quilt news and gossip to make it worthwhile?

Christmas Fabrics
Christmas Fabrics

Nobody can tell me that I do not have the best MIL in the world, perhaps the universe. I love my MIL. She told me recently that I was the best daughter-in-law.;-)  I was helping her wash silver after Christmas dinner. I don’t think the dishwashing was the issue. I like to think she just likes me. Anyway, part of my MIL’s fabulousness is that she gives us money every year for Christmas. I used to spend a weekend gift shopping with her, but she is no longer interested in shopping, so she gives each of us, usually, a magazine and money. If you do not select a magazine, you get some soap or something “to open”. Usually, I hoard my money jealously and wait to spend it. This time, I spent it almost as fast as I could on the fabrics in the photo when I was at Back Porch fabrics. I bought some more pieces of the Lonni Rossi fabrics. I used most of the FQ pack I bought on Marilyn’s Multi-tasker. I have another project in mind for them and wanted to include some in my FOTY quilt. I may wait and include them in FOTY 2010 as I still have a lot of fabric to cut and wasn’t sure I could commit to washing and cutting and sewing all of those additional fabrics before midnight on 12/31. As I write this, it didn’t happen.

For FOTY 2010, speak of the devil, I am thinking of doing another one patch, specifically diamonds. I like what I learned from combining fabrics when I make the Zanzibar blocks. I know I told myself I would create a design that used new and old fabrics like TFQ does and I do see the value in that. As the year came to a close, though, I felt quite stressed about this project. I wanted the cutting and piecing to be done by the end of the year and it just didn’t happen. It was totally my fault for leaving the washing, ironing and cutting until the last second, but still. I have to have fun with my quilt work, so I am cutting myself some slack.

If I do diamonds, I just have to decide what size. I almost bought some diamond rulers at Back Porch, but resisted until I could see what I already owned in the diamond arena.I was thinking of something like a 60 degree ruler.

As of January 4, 2010, I will be working more hours. For various reasons, I have always worked part-time since I left graduate school. My husband, however, has been our house-husband for the past year (almost). Sadly, I cannot afford to pay him at all, even though he does an excellent job. There are just things we need more money to pay for such as healthcare, so more hours at the day job for me are required. I am VERY fortunate that the work is there and the company is willing to allow me to make the change. I am sad to be giving up some of my free time, which I love. I don’t want to make changes in the blog in terms of posting less, but we will see. I haven’t gotten many comments in the past 1.5 months, so perhaps I don’t need to post as much? Again, we will see.

Although, New Year’s Day was yesterday, I want to wish all of my readers a great day and may 2010 be MUCH better than 2009!!!

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I have been a slacker on the days I am not in the office. Yesterday, I decided to make a to-do list so I would have a guide for today. The list was unexpectedly long!

I spoke with TFQ yesterday on the phone and she told me about a podcast by Rice Freeman-Zachary called Notes from the VooDoo Lounge. Since Amy over at the Creative Mom podcast and Jennifer over at CraftSanity actually have lives and aren’t posting podcasts as fast as I can consume them, I thought I would listen to this one and see if I should add it to my weekly repertoire.

I actually listened to 4-5 of them today while I was at the gym and as I plowed through my quite substantial to-do list. One of the artists interviewed, Judy Wise, talks about art patrons. I thought I might as well put the request out there, because you never know. I really like this podcast for a couple of reasons:

  1. Rice (pronounced Ree-sah) has a nice interviewing style. She isn’t too robotic, but is also professional, humorous and has really great speaking voice. I think she hits the podcasting sweet spot very well.
  2. Lots of information about creativity: how to be creative, how to maintain your creative inspiration, how to get out of the hole of no ideas.
  3. Variety of guests.

One of the episodes to which I listened was an interview with jazz saxophonist Tom Braxton. I am not a jazz fan and don’t know much about jazz, but thought I would keep an open mind. I am glad I did, because he was great! He talked a lot about things that are required for living a creative life. He said he thought musical education was important and that making it big because some producer heard your band as s/he drove down the street or you won American Idol were REALLY rare. He also said that a creative life is work and that the performance (on stage for a musician, at the easel for a painter, etc) are a small part of the job. An artist has to get up in the morning (no lazing around in bed), go to the post office and mail packages, practice their craft, market their services, and be professional at all times, etc. He spoke from a musician’s point of view, but what he said was relevant to all creative types. I think that this particular episode is a great reality check for those wanting to live a creative life without being a slap in the face.

I also really enjoyed Freeman-Zachary’s interview with Roz Stendahl. I loved her tips on time management and her practical advice about living a creative life. One thing she says is to track your time for a week in 15 minute increments, so you know where your time goes. Then you will know where you can find a few minutes to be creative. She has a funny, but no nonsense approach to her business. Listening to this interview made me feel good about my to-do list and the progress I was making on it. This is an episode I will put in my ‘Favorites’ playlist and listen to again with notebook and pen in hand.

She also has an episode she calls ‘Rants from the Grammar *itch’. It was hilarious and I want to have the Child listen to it, but the ‘phrasing’ may be a bit old for him. I have to decide if I am comfortable answering questions the episode might bring up. However, i was definitely a worthwhile 15 minutes. I learned about reflexive pronouns from this episode. Of course, I knew how to use them (and, no, I am not telling you what they are. You have to listen to the podcast), but I didn’t know the whys and wherefores. I learned it at some point in the distant past and promptly forgot. Now I know, because she made it interesting to learn. I will probably remember, because thinking about her examples brings a smile to my lips.

This podcast is well worth a listen if you are the podcast-listening type.

Grim. Grim. Grim.

One of the fabulous things about visiting TFQ is the plethora of books and magazines in which  I can indulge and explore. This trip is no exception. She had a bunch of magazines and books for me toperuse. I already talked about some of the books and look for a review of Pat Sloan‘s color book, which was new to me. By the way, Pat has some Aurifil thread boxes shown on one of her recent blog posts. Really cool looking.

I tried to resist reviewing the magazines, but was unsuccessful. I am so disappointed in the recent quilts and projects and COLORS shown in fall and winter issues of some magazines.

One thing is the colors that dominant the issues. Grim. Grim. Grim. I love Fall. When I was out and about yesterday and the day before I noticed the GORGEOUS colors of the leaves on the ground.

Leaves with Flash
Leaves with Flash

Does this look grim to you? Not to me. Look at all that yellow! Look at those dashes of red. Yes, there is black moldy yuck on the bottom, but imagine a cool black and white print for that bit of a quilt.

The first magazine I looked at was the Quilt Sampler. This magazine has an interesting concept, because they introduce readers to quilt shops all over the country. You probably knew that. Using this magazine, I found a great shop in Virginia I could visit while I was back east last year.

This issue, however, is grim… lots of brown, taupe, beige, olive green. Bleah. Not what I need as the sky turns grey and the days get shorter. Yes, there is a pink project and a cool blue quilt pattern as well as color options with lime and yellow. The overall feeling of the issue is brown.

The cover of the new Fons and Porter magazine has a very interesting block. The center block below is rich and complex.

Fons &Porter Dec. 2009
Fons &Porter Dec. 2009

The color option on the inside is even better: black setting triangles with a combination of white, lime and pink.

The rest of the magazine, barring two redeeming articles, has grim colors and uninspiring projects. TFQ made some good points when we were discussing the issue of ‘grim’:

1. There are people who find these projects inspiring (if you are out there, I want you to let me know why you love these colors and projects, because I want to learn!)

2. If a magazine publishes a simple project, they cannot add a more complex variation without giving the impression that the simpler option is lesser. If they suggest that a reader is not up to the challenge of the harder version, they will lose readers. Another excellent point.

3. There are lots of projects for beginning quiltmakers and not much in the magazine arena for more advanced people. We are a hard lot to pin down, because of our experience. The magazines are in the business of selling magazines, fabric, tools and kits. They are not in the business of making me happy.

4. It is hard for some people, and I have to catch myself at this, to imagine a quilt pattern in different color ways.

The two articles in the Nov/Dec issue of Fons and Porter that I liked were Gerald Roy’s column discussing antique quilts. This issue has a discussion of a few 9patches.  One of them is yellow and blue with neon oranges centers and background set in a Streak of Lightning type set. FABULOUS! I would buy a book of his columns from this magazine. I think they are great!

There is also a column called Art of Quilting by Kirsten Rohrs Schmitt called Vintage Vehicles. No patterns, just a discussion of a variety of different quilts depicting vintage cars and motor cycles. One quilt, by Tracey Pereira called the Mini Job (click on the link and see it on her website). It is done on a longarm with thread and then colored with Derwent Inktense coloring pencils. I was really interested to read about that process!

There is a pattern in this issue for an 8 pointed star quilt in Coral Gables Christmas colors (aqua and pink). Not grim.

Reader question: what quilt magazines do you like and why?

Finally, TFQ had the Fall 2009 issue of Quilts & More. The first time I saw this magazine, a few years ago, I found the colors fresh and cheerful. Since that first experience I have picked it up at the store to make the bags pictured and to be inspired by the quilts and colors. This particular issue: grim.

Granted, Q&M is less grim than the others and it has some interesting things to look at such as the yo-yo pillow and the Triple Play pillow article, but, again, the colors are just not me. TFQ bought it because of the Daisy Dazzler tote bag pattern, which I also like.

Reader question #2: OK, readers, I, obviously, need an attitude adjustment about the lumpy colors, so tell me what you enjoy about browns and their cousins, beige, taupe, olive, natural, tan, etc. Do these colors make you feel cheerful and if so, why?

Various and Sundry Thursday

I am on a trip to the Midwest so I wrote this post in advance so you would have something to read, and, hopefully, enjoy,  while I am away. I’ll be back tomorrow and the Creative Prompt will be posted tomorrow like normal. Sadly, as it is a quick trip for a board meeting, I doubt I will have time to check out any quilt stores while I am there.

1. I am a fan of the Electric Quilt on Facebook (and in general, of course!) and was directed to a blog called Piecemeal Quilts via the EQ Blog. The linking sounds complicated if you are not on FB! Sandi, from Wisconsin writes the blog. She has a number of free pattern downloads, paper piecing patterns and examples of EQ work. She is also ‘man enough’ to keep a quilting resources list! It is a lot of work to keep such a list up to date and, from what I saw, it is pretty complete.

The thing that really drew me in to her blog was her writing tone. I seem to be noticing writing tone lately, for some odd reason. She has a nice, friendly and intelligent, but not goofy or insipid tone to her writing. I enjoyed her post on books. I like the books that she likes and thinks that she and I may have the same tastes.

2. When I mentioned Quiltposium on my blog last week, MavMargi pointed  me about another online magazine called Sewn. I took a quick look and it looks interesting. Sewn is out of Australia. The styling is very Heather Bailey/Anna Maria Horner. They have patterns and a gallery as well as a fabric search function. I immediately put the Botanical Pop fabrics I still need in and got an email back pretty quickly. Worth a look.

I am not that enamored with online/digital magazines, because I can’t read them in bed (I don’t want to hear from you people who take your laptops to bed!!!) or on the train. However, I do recognize that I will have to get with the program at some point, because more and more stores are ceasing to carry magazines. 🙁

One of the sites that was a link in Sewn was called Modern Textiles. The Modern Textiles site has lots of navigation choices. I looked at  ‘Sewing Patterns’, specifically the Melly and Me Bags. These are really unique bags. The combination of fabrics are quite bright and cheerful, but the styling is also very different from other bags I have seen. I really want to see the Bon-Bon bag, because I have never seen anything like it. I would like to see the inside of it in order to determine how useful it would be.

I did find that the pattern list did not have many alternate photos of the bags, but that information may be on the main Melly & Me website.

3. It looks like our financial situation will stay the same through the end of the year, so I am gearing up to make some of my Christmas gifts this year. I don’t know if I will have time to make it before Christmas, but I bought the Pencil Roll pattern from Pink Chalk Studio. Julie made me one for my birthday last year and I have started to carry it around in my clear tote. There are a few free patterns for pencil rolls out there on the web, but this one looks like the best in terms of functionality and styling. We’ll see how difficult the pattern is when I get it.

Perhaps I’ll get good enough to modify the design like in Kathy Perino’s version, which she showed on her blog a few weeks ago, and which I wrote about on August 30.

4. Pam Rubert of the PamDora quilts fame has redone her blog. She writes a really great post about the process, and her thoughts, about the changes in the blog world. She talks about circular writing and I think her thoughts are right on point. It seems that the web is leading us around in circles. (ever notice how I link back to previous posts? I am trying to give you the whole picture, but it ends up being circular, in a way) I haven’t played around with some of the things she discusses, but hope to do so in the future.

5. Want free Moo cards? Check out this link for a free pack with your own images. They have advertising, but free (you do have to pay shipping) is still cool. Thanks to Deirdre for the link.

6. I saw a video on the Craft Zine blog for a new book called Bent Objects. it is about the art of a guy who bends wire. There is a hilarious video on the Craft site that is well worth a look. It does explore a bit of the darker side of crafts, which we all know can be the hilarious side of crafts. Take a look.

Its a Major Award
Its a Major Award

7. On 7/29/2009 Quilt Rat left a comment saying that she had given me an award and I should go look on her blog. Jill’s comment about the inspiration in my creative prompts was really sweet and made me feel great. Despite the fact that almost 2 months have passed, I am still really thrilled to have received the “It’s a Major Award.” Thanks!