Monday, October 31, 2011

Chinese Coins -Finito

Sorry, I am the "shadow" in the pictures.  While it is very cold here this morning, the sun is shining.
Chinese Coins - Front
Chinese Coins Quilt- Wonky Pieced Back
Finished is always a good feeling.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Back of the Seeds -and Winnings

The Chinese Coins quilt is proceeding nicely.  I have been using leftovers, scraps if you will, to piece the back.  I have a picture of the back, but I promise it looks better in person. The wonkiness of it is totally part of the plan!
There are leftovers from the front of the Chinese coins.  There are pieces from the fronts of several quilts. I think it will be a fun scrappy back on the quilt. If no one loves it enough to buy it, I will be happy to keep it. 
I have been very fortunate lately to win some delightful prizes.(picture later in this post!) 
  I won the book "Spotlight on Neutrals" by Pat Wys, from Pat's Silver Thimble Talk Blog.  Pat kindly included a spool of Aurifil Thread that is already in my machine. It sews wonderfully smooth!

I also won a Sullivan's The Cutting Edge Ruler from a Pat Sloan Blog Hop. The postal service was a bit rough on the package, so the ruler arrived with a crack in one side. (ouch!)  I did a redneck repair with clear packing tape and was still quite happy with the ruler. The edge really does sharpen while you cut.  When Pat Sloan emailed and asked if I received the ruler, I told her the what had happened and that I had repaired it and was happy.  She insisted that I needed a perfect ruler.  So I am expecting a replacement any day.  Wow, that is really how to care for a customer- even when the customer didn't even purchase, but just won.  Thanks Pat!
I also won a spool of quilting thread, Rainbows by Superior Threads, from Domestic Anarchy.  I am using it to quilt the Chinese Coins quilt. I really like this thread. 
Oh yes, here is the picture of the winnings -except the Aurifil that was already in the machine when I took the picture. 
I put an oval around the crack in the ruler so you can see where it is. It is not on the sharpening edge thank goodness. 
There is also a Domestic Anarchy magnet that came with the quilting thread. It is on my fridge now!
Thanks to all the lovely bloggers who gave these delightful prizes.   I am enjoying every one of them thoroughly. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The seed are growing

Those seeds of a quilt I showed you in the last post have grown. They have really started looking like they could grow into a quilt.

They have grown into three long pieces that look like they are related.  I wonder? What if I pushed them together?
Yes, they do look like a happy family.  This is my version of what is commonly called a "Chinese Coins" quilt.   I did columns of strips in various widths.  The widths of the coin strips are 3", 4", 5", 6" and 7".  I put the 5" in the middle and used the others as pairs that add up to 10 (7 and 3--4 and 6) with the widest on the outside. This gives it a balance even though it doesn't "match."   It is a bit quirky- like I am. Ha ha. 
I will back and quilt each of the three sections and then join the with thin strips. These long skinny pieces will be great for using up odd strips of batting.  The great part is that they will be joined when I join the quilt - I don't have to do it beforehand.  Plus I won't have to wrestle the entire quilt through the machine. This allows me to play with some more intricate free motion quilting on a larger quilt. 

I hope you are having a great weekend.  I hope your creativity is flowing and that peace is abundant in your life. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Finished Quilt -and Seeds

The Stair Steps quilt is completed. The binding is on and the quilt has been washed.  My two workmates held it up for me after I promised that they wouldn't be in the picture.  But, you may see hands. First the front:
Then the reveal of the pieced back:

I love pieced backs, they are like a free second quilt. 

Now I have started planting the seeds of my next project. 
See this "mess" ?????

That isn't a mess, really.  It is the seeds - the beginning, the what ifs, of a new project.  I am thinking it will be a Chinese Coins type quilt.  But who knows where my muse will take me as the seeds start to grow.  I only know that I need to finish this one - quilted and bound - in a couple of weeks. 
So much to do, so little time.  How do you fit in extra time for quilting?  

And the Winner is:

The winner of my giveaway of book #4 in the Someday Quilts series - The Devil's Puzzle by Clare O'Donohue - is

Drumroll please.............................

Stray Stitches who said: I have enjoyed all of the Earleen Fowler books - not so much a mystery as a 'who done it'. Thanks for the opportunity to enter your great giveaway

I have to say that I have followed Linda's Stray Stitches blog for a while. So it was a delight when her number came up as the winner.  It you haven't checked out her blog, you should.

Congrats Linda -email me your shipping address and I will get it out to you as soon as possible. 

Monday, October 17, 2011


I got the binding on a quilt this evening, but I don't have a picture to show you just yet. 

Remember that my giveaway ends at midnight tomorrow.  If you haven't entered there is still time!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Treat for Myself

(note:  If you are looking for my giveaway click here. )

Mail came today and it was a delight.  I have spent some time sorting it out, but just look what I got:
Singer Featherweight 221 - circa 1949

A week or so ago on eBay, I saw this baby with only one bid and a few hours left to go.  The price was LOW, I decided to bid and hope.  Honestly I didn't think I had a chance.  Apparently the stars were aligned just right. There were no more bids that night -and I completely forgot about even bidding.  Early the next morning as I was checking email, I saw "you won" from eBay.  Surely not!  So I checked and I had really won.  I paid quickly.  I have never paid so much for shipping on anything, but this time I felt it was worth it. 
After getting the machine set up, I tried stitching.  There was a learning curve to threading the machine.  I did it wrong a few times.  Ha ha.  Then I read that you thread the needle right to left.  Bingo.  I got the tension adjusted easily and just look at those perfect stitches:

I used a purple top thread and a cream thread in the bobbin so I could see if the tension was just right.  It is!  I have read that this little antique machine is perfect for piecing.  I am sure I will be trying it soon.  But for now, I have to cook supper and I do have a quilt to finish quilting on my modern sewing machine..

Have you ever sewn on an antique machine?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Guest Post with Clare O'Donohue -and Book Giveaway

I have recently read and reviewed "The Devil's Puzzle" by Clare O'Donohue.  It was a great murder mystery set around quilters and a quilt shop.  As an avid reader, I love finding out about the author. So when I was given the opportunity to have a guest post by the author, I was thrilled.  Rather than do an interview, I asked that she write about herself and why she writes.  Being of Irish descent also, I asked that perhaps she include a bit about her Irish heritage.   
Okay, I will quit rambling (I can't help it, this is so exciting to me!) Here is the post from the lovely and talented Clare O'Donohue.
I grew up in a house filled with words. My mother, an English teacher, used to recite poetry to us at the breakfast table. My dad told funny stories that he made up on the spot. At the holidays, we were all required to entertain with stories, jokes and songs. My sister Mary and I still do a rendition of “Sisters, Sisters” from the movie, White Christmas, at our holiday celebration. And it rocks.
My parents are Irish, raised on farms on the west coast of that beautiful country. Music is a mainstay of the place, but so also is the craic, an Irish term that translates loosely as fun and good conversation. The ability to tell a good story is a cultural imperative.

I suppose that may be why I was so drawn to words and stories. It’s part of my DNA. We grew up with lots of books in our house, though few were aimed at children. We had Steinbeck, Hemingway, Twain and Dickens as our reading material. We were encouraged (aka forced) to learn the works of poets like Keats, Yeats, and of course, Shakespeare. My brothers, sister and I can quote our favorite speeches from Shakespeare plays, and occasionally still recite them at family dinners to entertain Mom. Mine, by the way, is Henry V’s, “Upon the King,” speech in Act 4, Scene 1. It’s a great piece of writing.

Words have power. They entertain, they incite, they inspire. I realized early on that, even though I was the youngest member of the household, if I could tell a good story, I could command attention. So, from five years old, I did. I changed the endings of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty (ugly stepsisters and mean witches repented in my stories). I told my sister about the lives of the kind monsters who lived under our beds, who protected us from the mean monsters who lived in the closet. I entertained myself on car trips by making up tales about the people we saw when we stopped at red lights. Later, I wrote my stories down, writing my first short novel when I was 15. Stories became my way to explain myself, and the world around me.

When I hang out with family, both in the U.S. and in Ireland, a good craic is always the evening’s entertainment. We tell stories and jokes. My brother, Jack, usually spins an elaborate yarn that has us all believing a nearly unbelievable story, until he bursts out laughing, and we know we’ve been had.

For my parents, there was magic in a well told tale and a beautifully written story. And, clearly, all four of their children took that lesson to heart. Both my brothers, Dennis and Jack, have published essays and articles. My sister, Mary, has an award winning parenting book out. I’ve got my novels. And my mom still recites poetry at the breakfast table, usually breaking into tears at the sadness it, reminding us all about the power and beauty of words.
I hope you enjoyed this bit of insight into the author. 
If you would like to win a copy of the book "The Devil's Puzzle"  please be a follower of my blog (not required, but highly suggested) and leave a comment on your favorite mystery series.  (I would love it if you mention the author's name also.)
And for a second chance, blog about this giveaway on your blog and leave another comment with a link to the blog post. I will be checking.
*** Edit***
The eligibility period for this will run until  midnight central time on Tuesday October 18.  All comments must be made prior to that time to be entered.  The drawing will happen on Wednesday (as time permits) and the winner will be notified. After hearing back from the winner, I will announce the  winner.******

I will probably not reply to comments as giveaways usually draw a large number of comments. However, know that I read every comment that is posted.
And if you can't wait to win, or if you want to read the first three books in this series; check your local bookseller or
Happy reading,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stairsteps Quilt-The Tutorial

Based on reader comments, I have decided to add a tutorial for this quilt.  (This does not include instructions for the borders; I used scraps for the border and "made it work.")

The original idea came to me as I was awakening from an afternoon nap (a rarity for me.)

The idea was this: What if I did a "disappearing 9 patch" but instead of using all patches, I replaced the center row with a solid piece of fabric? First I did a small paper quilt block to test it. I liked how it came out. So I drafted it in Electric Quilt - with a small error. I didn't discover the error until I started sewing the blocks. Lucky for me it didn't make the quilt any less successful.
Let's start:

First take some 5" squares of fabric (I used packaged pre-cuts - you can certainly cut your own if desired.)

Choose a fabric for the stair steps. (I am calling the yellow zigzags "stair steps") Cut strips that are 5" wide by 14" long. (you save an inch in length because it doesn't have seams!)

Sew three of the five inch squares in a together in a row, Then sew three more of the five inch squares in a together in a row. Take these to the ironing board and press the seams all one direction.
Sew one set of three to the length of the 14" strip, sew the other set to the other side.

It should look like this:

Press the long seams all one direction.
Now you are ready to cut this block up.

First, using the center squares, cut up the middle. I measure 2 1/4" from the seam. (Remember after sewing the three squares together that middle one is now 4 1/2" wide- half of that is 2 1/4")

Now cut up the center of the solid strip -again measuring 2 1/4" from that seam line.

Now rotate the pieces into this configuration. (Make your background strips go the same way as my yellow strips!)
Now you will sew it together this way. Cool huh? I am enjoying my "stair step" quilt block. I need to get this quilt finished so I can start on something else!

If you make one of these I would love to see it. AND if you play with the blocks and make a different design, I would love it if you shared it with me.

Monday, October 10, 2011


I posted this as a comment on Pat Wys' blog, Silver Thimble Talk. She asked readers to "tell me about your grandmother or grandfather or someone who had a profound influence on your life." 
This is what I said:

Both of my grandmothers influenced me greatly. 
My paternal grandmother, Granny Black, had a stroke when I was young (I am thinking I was around 10 years old.) The stroke left her paralyzed on her right side. She taught me to bake so that I could help her with Christmas baking. Once you can follow a recipe to make a cake, you can learn to cook anything! Before she had the stroke, she was a quilter. I do remember playing under the quilt frame on the front porch. 

My maternal grandmother was also a quilter. She continued to make quilts until she was no longer able. She influenced me by showing me that perfection in a quilt is not necessary for it to be loved and used. 

I wish I could talk to each of them again and tell them how they made my life better by their lessons.
Let me add to that. My maternal grandmother's quilts were not fancy. Sometimes they were planned, but if she ran out of a fabric, she would use whatever else she had to finish it.  Thus I have a sky blue and orange running brick quilt with one piece of a printed cream on one edge.  She also quilted by hand with embroidery floss in a large, sometimes crooked, running stitch.  I cherish these imperfect beauties. 
Here is one that "lives" on the back of my sofa.
 There are memories sewn into this lap quilt. Most of the fabric came from old clothes and such that she cut up to use "just to keep my hands busy." (and don't I know that feeling!) 
Check out the green curtains from Mom's kitchen that ended up in the mix. I don't know what the white lace came from, but I am sure it was another garment , it was not part of those curtains.

Sadly no quilts from my paternal grandmother lasted past my childhood.  

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Stair Steps

I have made some progress on the little quilt I am working on.  I am hoping to drum up some interest in a tutorial. Someone said "If you write it, they will come!"  The writing of the tutorial is in progress.  
Meanwhile, I will entertain you (I hope) with some pictures of the quilt top.  
First here is the top without the borders:

Next is the top with the borders I have added to it:

And there is nothing quite like finding your "humility block" while you are writing the blog post.  It is a minor "oops" so I am leaving it.  Just looking at the actual top, no one has noticed it. I see it in the picture, but most people (non-quilters anyway) won't see it. 

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Book Review- The Devil's Puzzle

A few posts back, I asked if you read mysteries. Today I am going to review the latest mystery I have finished. (True confession: I have already started another one. I love to read.) 
I must tell you that this book was given to me by the publicist.  I had however, already read two books in this series. One was a gift, the other I bought.  I will say that getting the book free did not influence  my review. 

The book is The Devil's Puzzle (A Someday Quilts Mystery) by Clare O'Donohue.  --Later in the month, I hope to have a guest post by Ms. Clare O'Donohue. (I love that Irish name!) 

This book is part of a series that features a twenty-something woman (Nell Fitzgerald) as the main character.  I like Nell because she reminds me of myself. She is always curious about things.  Sometimes curiosity can put you in harm's way. Even though the victim in this book is already a skeleton, there are plenty of living suspects. And since the skeleton was found in Nell's grandmother's back garden, how could Nell help but become involved in the investigation.  
There are several twists and turns in this delightful plot.  Every time I was convinced that _____ did it, another possible clue would make me wonder if I was right or wrong. 
I found this to be a very entertaining read.  As I had already read the first two books in the series, so the characters were like old friends.  Later in the month, along with the guest post by the author, I will be giving away a copy of this book. The winner will get a NEW copy, not the one I read.

I am still debating posting the tutorial on my quilt. Only five people mentioned wanting a tutorial.  You can see that post here - more comments requesting the tutorial could convince me to write it up. 

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

I won two ways

First of all, I won a Sullivans Cutting Edge ruler from Pat Sloan. This was part of a blog hop. The nice thing (besides winning) is that I got to choose the ruler I wanted. Thanks to Pat Sloan AND to Victoria at BumbleBeans blog where I happened to win.

The second way I "won" was that I had a winning idea.  I was waking up from a nice nap when I had this idea.  What if I took a simple quilt block/pattern and made a minor change.  First I did it by drawing and coloring on paper. It looked good.  So I grabbed some fabric and some 5" squares to do with it and started.  This is four blocks joined together.  It measures approximately 26" square and was pretty easy.  What do you think?
Would you like to know how to make this yourself? If I get enough comments on this post, I will do a quick quilty tutorial on making this block.  It is really easy.  My change made it faster to piece and there are LESS points to be matched up - that is always a plus in my book!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Men Quilt Too!

This post is especially for the "Men Quilt Too!" Quilt show. There is also a link to the show in my sidebar. 

I grew up thinking of quilting as "something my grandmothers did." But then a co-worker gently coerced me into taking a piecing class.  I got hooked hard and fast. 
I started the quilting journey in March of 2008.  The class was on foundation paper piecing.  When I went to the class, I didn't have a clue.  She told me that I would need an acrylic ruler with a quarter inch mark.   So I took a clear school ruler that -yep sure enough had a quarter inch mark on it. Ha ha. Fortunately she loaned me a ruler for the class. We made one simple block in that class- a square in a square. 

In the next class we made a table runner. I knew that in May my niece would be graduating and going off to college.  So, she needed a quilt.  I made her a quilt, but was unable to actually quilt it - it was too large to drag through my tiny sewing machine,  So I tied it. 
Here is a picture of my first finished quilt.
Since then I have made many quilts.  

I have also made purses, more table runners, pillowcases, eyeglass holders and even a cover/pouch for my Kindle. 
One of my paintings with the pillowcases I made to "go with" it. 

Kindle pouch

Table runner

Purse - check out that free motion quilting!
Purse with fabric birds

Table Runner

Purse and eyeglass holders.
Other quilty/sewing endeavors include designing quilts, designing fabric and I have even written one quilt pattern. 

Of course,  as you may have guessed from the blog title, I am from Alabama and still live in my home state.  I have gone to college in Ohio. I have traveled as a repertory actor and actually got paid to be on stage.  Interestingly, I have worked many jobs from cook to janitor to asssembly to acting to secretary, but I have never waited tables.  (What an actor who doesn't wait tables? ha ha - yes true!) 

I have visited England and Mexico.  I like a lot of diversity in my life.  I love music. I enjoy singing in a choir and I play penny whistle, piano and guitar (with varying levels of success.) 

I also love comments and new followers. So if you are visiting from Pigtales and Quilts, or if you just wandered in, I hope you have enjoyed the visit and will follow me.