Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sharon-isms - food for thought

Have you ever heard of the website: Six Word Memoirs? It is a place where people can post a "story" in exactly 6 words. They can also post a picture and  a backstory that explains what the 6 words are about. Here is an example from the list of recently posted 6-words: "My crow's feet wear 15 Wide".

Well my husband is a frequent poster there. One of his latest was about a package of pre-cuts I got from Craftsy. As I was pulling my treasures out of the box, I exclaimed: "Straight cut! No pinking! Oh Boy!" As you may be able to see, the jelly roll edges are straight cut, but the charm pack is pinked. I really don't like to sew the pinked edges. You just never know where the seam line should be. I far prefer "straight cut".

By the way, the charm pack you see was a free gift from Craftsy! I also got a charm pack to match the jelly roll, and a pack of 1/2 yd cuts of the same line. Now the challenge is to remember what I intended to do with them!

News from the Studio


Heart Song Workshop

If you missed the Heart Song wall-hanging or table topper workshop I did for Appalachian Heritage Quilters guild last year, or will miss this year's workshop for the Blue Ridge Quilters Guild, I will be doing one for Heavenly Stitches Quilt Shoppe in Kingsport, TN on November 15, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Sign up at Heavenly Stitches.

Lessons Beyond the 1/4" Seam

On November 1, I will be doing a program for the Blue Ridge Quilters Guild in Johnson City called "Lessons Beyond the 1/4" seam".  Quilting isn't a hobby to many quilters. It is far more.


I love word play. You know, slap-stick phrases. Phrases that confuse, surprise, or disgust, whichever. But usually I have no control over when word play just blurts out of my mouth. Early on in our relationship, my beloved DH would occasionally start to giggle and quickly go write down something. It took me a while to figure out what was going on. One day it dawned on me. It must have been something I said. I'm really not trying to be funny - but it just comes out a little odd.

This week's Sharon-ism

"You don't have to look if you can't see."  (In a Target parking lot in response to a woman backing out of a parking place in her big, view-inhibiting mini-van without bothering to see if there was anything behind her - before cars had cameras.)

Okay, that's plenty of food for thought. Have a great week!
Now, let's go quilt something!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

For the love of quilting

Did you get to view the eclipse last month? I have viewed other local eclipses over the years, but none as close to total as ours was. The DH was such a hoot. He really got into it, and viewed the event using several different methods - just to see what they would look like. All I had was a small
Great use of a Warm & Natural box!
hole in an index card and projected the image onto a paper I laid on the driveway. The DH, on the other hand, successfully tried all of the following: viewing a cascade of small images through a colander; viewing several images in the dappled light coming through our tree in the front yard; projecting the image through a small hole onto a pan of still water - that was interesting; and making a very large projector out of a Warm and Natural box that a 40 yard roll of batting came in. Now THAT was hilarious. To view the image, you had to stick your head in a hole in the side of the box and watch that you don't block the image coming in through a hole in the top of the box.

Inside the box
Colander view
Thankfully, our neighbor was having an eclipse party, and let us borrow their glasses a couple of times - wow! What really gave me a sense of awe was how special the light was when the eclipse was at the maximum coverage. It was not like regular dusk, but more "alive", more comforting. And the
sudden 10-degree drop in air temperature made it really clear how important the sun is to us. We didn't have a full circle sunset - just a little too much sun peeking out, but there was a definite hint of pink to the clouds. It was as though you could see the outline of the moon's shadow on the earth. Amazing.

News from the studio


Welcome home Grown-up Margie

The DH and the truck driver. Margie came in 7 boxes.
Woo Hoo! Little Miss Margie, my beloved 2013 APQS Lenni longarm machine, has found a new home! A lovely lady from about 5.5 hours away came to test drive Miss Margie, and decided she had to have her. I know Miss Margie will be happy in her new home.
Our truck driver bringing the rollers
into the basement.

Now, welcome home Grown-up Margie - my brand-spanking new 2017 APQS Millennium! Yes, her name is also Margie - after my mother who taught me to sew 65 years ago!

Getting Margie on her carriage.
The DH helped as invited.
Margie was delivered on a Thursday, and that Saturday my dealer and her DH came to set her up! Thanks, Sheridan and Jerry! Margie's got lots of bells and whistles, so I've been spending time every day getting used to her new controls, the power fabric advance, thread break sensor, and low bobbin alert (among other wonders of technology). Yesterday, I completed the job of installing zippers on her backing leaders - so now loading a quilt back will be a breeze.

Ain't she a beaut'!

Guild Sewing Bees

The Appalachian Heritage Quilters have a new program this year - sewing bees. At the August meeting we signed up to either host a bee of whatever type we wanted to, or to participate in a bee. I volunteered to host a "piecing bee".  You know, fun, fellowship, and stitching. There is also a knitting / crocheting bee, an applique bee, a hand-quilting bee, etc. You get the idea. I sure hope the bees are a big success. It sure is fun to sew with friends. Oh, by the way, everyone who came to the first piecing bee meeting left having mastered the 1/4" seam!

Learning for the week (and the rest of my life)

Quilters of Gee's Bend, AL
My sweet DH sometimes sends me odds and ends of information from the internet. Today, it was a link to some information about this year's National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough in October. It was an article announcing a performance by residents of the tiny community of Gee's Bend, AL. The title of the article is "The Gee's Bend Quilters". I hadn't heard of Gee's Bend before - so a quick google search took me to a video about the quilters. Such joy of quilting - so simple, so profound. Quilting is first a soul thing. Love, do, quilt. Enjoy:

Gee's Bend Quilters VIDEO

Have a super week! Now, let's go quilt something.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Frenzied Fun!

Have you ever just lost control of yourself and kept doing what you swore you would never do? I didn't know how that felt until a few weeks ago when a friend and I drove up to Wytheville, VA to their Fat Quarter Frenzy. They don't call it a Frenzy for nothing.

Packed laundry basket - washed
As most of you know, I do not keep a stash. I do not usually participate in the guild fat quarter drawing. I don't just buy fabric because I like it. I have to have a plan, a pattern, yardage figured out, and then I shop with a mission to get all of the fabric I need from as few places as possible. BUT - I came home from the fat quarter frenzy with 48 fat quarters - at $1.50 each!! What was I thinking?

Of course, that means I had to wash the fat quarters (batiks bleed, you know), press them, and fold them into nice packages. Then, being a little over-organized (sometimes), I organized them by color families according to the color cards in the Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool. Now they offer a splash of happy colors to the studio.

Occupying a full shelf on my quilting thread case.

The Frenzy was so much fun, I will go to the next one. Now to figure out what I want to do with these!

News from the studio

Words of Life

Words of Life
Dorothy's quilt is finally finished. My trip to my APQS dealer in Hendersonville, NC was a day of fun and fellowship as well as quilting. I used one of her computerized machines, and in no time the quilt was done. The name of the digital quilting design is Hope. It has words like love, hope, faith, courage, and perseverance. Sheridan (my dealer) found it on a free quilting designs website.

Sheridan (Sheridan Kay Quilting) FB

Portals of Peace

Back in 2015, I completed a quilt top which I may have shown you back then. I have finally finished that quilt! It has become a super-special quilt for me, full of hope, peace, and serenity. It often draws me to worship - but I don't know why.

It will reside on a wall in my entry to warmly welcome my guests - as soon as I get a sleeve and a label on it

New Pantos in the studio

Two new pantographs have arrived in the studio: Ground Cover and Feather Puff!
Ground Cover
Feather Puff

New Blog Page: Quilt Patterns

I have added a new page to the blog: "Quilt Patterns". It has links to all of the patterns I sell on Craftsy. You can always find it as a tab at the top of the page. Here it is: Quilt Patterns.

Learning for the Week

Over the last couple of weeks, I pushed myself to finish the binding on the two quilts I showed you above. One right after the other. That came right after a lot of repetitive motion folding the 48 fat quarters plus about 20 more already in the studio. Suddenly, one morning, the muscle under my left shoulder blade went into spasm - and I could not move. A quick text to my chiropractor brought treatment instructions. That was two weeks ago. That muscle is still sore. Why? Because I keep using that shoulder in repetitive ways!!!

Learning: Duh!!

Okay, enough of that. Don't forget to take care of your eyes when you view the eclipse! It's hard to quilt if you damage your vision. Use ISO compliant glasses, or an old fashioned pinhole camera like you did in elementary school. Have a great week!

Now, let's go quilt something!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Charity is from the Heart!

I know, I talked about the call for baby quilts for Agape Women's Services back in May. But, as you know, life is what happens when you have other plans, and my work on the quilts was delayed by other things.

What I have discovered as I worked on them, is a growing compassion for the women who are taking advantage of the loving encouragement of this charity. I had felt a strong urge to make a couple of quilts from my stash, but found myself eager to make a bunch of them. I found this jelly roll of beautiful pastel fabrics from Pineapple Fabrics, and dove in. As I have time, I work on them and am eager to finish them. I plan to hand deliver them, take a tour of the facilities and hopefully, meet some of the clients and offer them my own encouragement.

So, dig in your stash and make a charity quilt for an organization in your local area. Pour your heart into it and pray for the one who receives it. You will be glad you did.

News from the Studio

Charity Baby Quilts

I have finished 2 of the baby quilts and have 4 more under way.  I selected 3 patterns that are so easy, they will make your head swim. You have seen all of these before, but there are some surprises when you determine to make as many quilts as you can from a couple of pre-cut packs.

Jacks on the Porch Baby Size

The Jacks on the Porch quilt can be made into a quilt of any size, just change the number of blocks. For a baby quilt, you will need 13 blocks made from 13, 22" strips in print and an equal number of background strips, plus some yardage. This is a super easy quilt, too. The amazing thing about this quilt, is that you can get 6 baby quilts from 1, 42-strip jelly roll!! Doing the math, 42 strips divided by 13 blocks = 3 (plus some extra strips).
But, each strip makes 2 blocks. So 2 x 3 = 6.

This pattern is available from Craftsy at Jacks on the Porch (lap size).  The pattern is for a lap size. If you purchase the pattern, email me at the address on the last page of the pattern, and I will send you the yardage for the baby size.

Pinwheel Stars

This is from a tutorial from Jenny Doan called "2 for 1 Pinwheel Stars" Each block takes 1 jelly roll strip and some background fabric. Just use 9 blocks and a border or two. You can get 4 baby quilts from one jelly roll! Very cute. I used the Smitten pantograph on both this one and the Jacks on the Porch quilt.

Jack and Jill

I have all of the blocks made using a charm pack called Rainy Day. This baby sized quilt uses 1 charm pack and 1/2 jelly roll for each baby quilt. And, oh so easy! The pattern includes details for a lap size and a crib / baby size. Find it at Jack and Jill.

Heart Song - a wall hanging

Here is Theresa's version of the Heart Song quilt. She used Kansas Troubles fabrics. The thread is from Superior Threads' Fantastico line. The pantograph we used is Pipeline.


New Panto in the Studio

I have a new pantos in the studio. You can find all of the available pantos on the Quilting Designs page.

Quilters' Day Camp

Last week the guild had our annual Quilters' Day Camp. I kinda like it better than a full blown retreat off in the woods somewhere. Drag all of your stuff to the camp location and sew, share, laugh, eat, and gab for three days! We locked the room at night and just left all of our machines, fabric, and all in the room. We just went home for the night and showed up back at camp the next day. What fun! We had thread an little dog-ears everywhere, and fabric left overs piling up in the center of the room destined to become dog beds. 
Even our beloved service guru showed up
to coax a wayward thread from its hiding place
So grab a few friends, find a lockable room at church or someplace, and enjoy each other's company for 3 days! Whoopee! Can hardly wait for next year.

2013 APQS Lenni Longarm Machine is still for sale.

My longarm is still for sale. See the information in the previous post (see below). I lowered the asking price, so it is easy to own. It is computer-ready, and easy to use. Let me know if you need more information.

Enjoy your week! Now go quilt something!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Celebrate Freedom!

Most people just refer to Independence Day as "the 4th". The 4th? Why don't we use the real name of the celebration? Think about this: What about "the 11th"? Who calls 9/11, "the 11th" (actually National Day of Service)? Any, what about 10/11? What about 11/11? If you know what those dates are, you probably refer to the holiday, rather than saying "the 11th". Just to jog your memory, Oct. 11 is Columbus Day, and Nov. 11 is Veterans' Day.

Why don't we do that with Independence Day? It is the MOST important federal holiday in our country's history. Without declaring our independence from Great Britain, we would still be a colony of theirs, and subject to the imposition of laws and regulations that we would have little or no control over. So let's join the Independence Day celebration - the celebration of our freedom, our way of life, and our sovereignty! Independence Day is a joyful time of parades, fireworks, and cookouts AND a time to rejoice and praise God for the courage of our forefathers to stand up for Freedom! Let's call the holiday what it is: our nation's Independence Day.

Note: If you have an American Flag, please fly it proudly and with great respect, this week. You may not be aware that there are protocols of respect for the flag, so here is a link to the specifics: Rules for handling the American Flag.

God Bless you, and God Bless the United States of America.

News from the Studio


APQS Lenni Price Reduced!

As you know, I am eager to order my new APQS Millie longarm, so I have reduced the price on my 2013 APQS Lenni to $7500! If you are considering a high quality, easy to use longarm, simple to maintain, highly reliable machine, contact me to schedule a test drive. All of my contact information is at  the bottom of the flyer. Do you know Wayne Waldroup? He is our guru of sewing / quilting / serging / and industrial versions of those machines. APQS is #1 on his very short list of great longarms because, as he said to me, "they just never break down".

SABRINA'S GARDEN  Got 2nd Place!

My quilt, Sabrina's Garden took 2nd place in it's category in June's Smoky Mountain Quilters show in Knoxville. I was very surprised!

AHQ 2016-2017 Block of the Month

Didn't Barb do a wonderful job on her guild BOM! She add the embroidered "L" in the center after the quilt was quilted. I love the colors and the festive binding. It was quilted with a free-motion spiral, and the center block was custom quilted.

Words of Life

Although this quilt is not yet quilted, I wanted to show it to you. It is a gift for my dear friend Dorothy, whom many of you have met. It dawned on me a few weeks ago, that in all these years I had never made a quilt for her. I used one of the Moda Cake Mix Recipe packs (from which I got enough blocks to make a second lap quilt), and used a batik layer cake and a layer cake of cream background batik. (See below for some tips on working with batiks)

It doesn't seem to be worthy of the "Words of Life" name, but it is. Dorothy's favorite quilt that I put on her bed when she visits has words quilted into it. A digital pantograph was used by my quilter (pre-longarm days) called "Hope". It stitches out words like: hope, love, family, courage, perseverance, etc. Determined to find the digital file of it, I finally asked the quilter where she got the file. So, she sent me the file in just the right format! AND, my longarm dealer also went looking for it and found it online on a site with free digital pantos! So I'm ready to quilt! As soon as I find just the right thread, I will take to the dealer's studio and quilt it on one of her computerized machines. Can hardly wait!

Tips and Techniques


Working with batiks

Batiks, Etc. - Wytheville, VA (a small part of their stock)
Many people are afraid to use either batik yardage or pre-cuts. I don't really understand why. If I am not working on a project that must have prints, I will use batik - every time. Why? It doesn't RAVEL the way print fabric does. You just don't risk losing half your seam allowance somewhere just because you pulled on the wrong thread!

However, there is one and only one thing to be aware of with batiks - very important. Most batiks bleed! Count on it. BUT - never fear! That is a non-issue if you just learn how to wash batiks.

Ok, ready? This is how I do it.

First, YARDAGE: Yardage is easy.
  • Separate yardage by depth of color. Definitely do darks separately!
  • I use the detergent, Synthrapol. It is a special detergent that will release all of the loose, un-bonded dye molecules from the fabric and prevent them from bonding to other fabric! Do NOT use regular detergent. Small bottles of Synthrapol can be found a many quilt shops - but become cost-prohibitive if you use a lot of batiks. I buy it in quarts either from Amazon or Dharma Trading Co
  • Start filling the washing machine with HOT water. Add 1/4 C of Synthrapol for a full load, or adjust the amount and the water level to fit the amount of fabric you have. 
  • After the detergent begins to mix in with the water, add the load of fabric. Use your regular cycle. I usually do 2 rinses. Dry in the dryer on warm or hot.
Now, PRE-CUTS: They are easy too.
  • NEVER pre-wash batik pre-cuts smaller than a fat quarter.
  • Just make your quilt.
  • Done? So, NOW start filling the washing machine with HOT water. Add 1/4 C of Synthrapol for a full load. Adjust amount as needed. Do NOT use regular detergent. Make sure the quilt can be submerged in the water fully. Run your regular cycle. Rinse a couple of times if you want to. 
  • Dry as usual.
That's all there is to it. Just be willing to pre-wash batiks in the right detergent. Next time you want to go to Batiks, Etc. in Wytheville, call me!

How Batiks are Made

It is fascinating to see how batiks are made. This is the best documentary on the subject that I've seen. Enjoy.
Modern Batik Production

Enjoy your Independence Day celebrations!
Now, let's go quilt something!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

APQS Lenni for sale - make room for Millie!

Yes, my beloved APQS LENNI longarm (a.k.a. Miss Margie), is for SALE! It is time for me to move to a larger machine along with a computer! But first, Miss Margie is excited at the opportunity to bless another quilter. If you have been considering having your own reliable longarm machine, the Lenni is just the ticket. It is simple to use, easy to maintain, and makes beautiful stitches. Just contact me if you need more information. You can either email me using the "contact me" form in the right side-panel, or call me at 423-207-6140. And, you are welcome to come take a test-drive. Here are the particulars:

$8,000 (if purchased new, would be nearly $12,000)

Throat Size: 20” x 8”
Table length: 12’
Weight 35 lb.
Footprint: 4’6” x 12’
  • Adaptive Logic Stitch Regulation - best in the industry
  • APQS Bliss ball bearing track system option included
  • Pantograph table and laser pointer
  • Zippered leaders and 1 set of quilt zippers
  • Thread, bobbins, and a pantograph to play with
  • Extra bobbin case, plus some pre-wound bobbins
  • 1 pkg of brand new needles
  • Bobbin winder
  • Basic Training DVD, and CD manual
  • Hard-copy assembly instructions
The Lenni is light (only 35 lb.) and oh-so-easy to use. It is simple to maintain, and will tackle a king sized quilt with ease. With the Bliss track system, it just floats across the quilt. Lenni is perfect for free motion, loves pantographs, and is ready to be computerized. APQS makes top of the industry professional industrial quilting machines. All of their machines have superior reliability, personal, top-notch customer support, and a caring, helpful, and active forum of owners (newbies and the curious welcome!)

Quilting with a friend

Pam's workstation
Wanna know how to make real progress on those projects just begging for attention? Quilt with a friend!! I suggest someone you really like or want to know better. You not only can help each other solve quilting challenges, but also build a stronger relationship with someone who shares your quilting passion. Lately, my friend Pam has been coming to the studio once a week to stitch and gab. What a joy. We share our lives, love for God, and passion for quilting. Our weekly sessions have greatly blessed us both! Isn't her Little Charmer quilt adorable? Thanks, Sandy for your donation of the computer table!

News from the studio

Tricia's string quilt

I just love the simplicity of this quilt and the boldness that the black background gives it, don't you? Tricia made this one a few years ago, and recently finished it up as a gift. Nice job, Tricia!

We used the very versatile, Pipeline panto.


Mary Anna's friend's quilt 

This quilt top was made by a friend of Mary Anna's. Oh my! A real Stunner. And you should see the amazing 1/4" seams on the back of the top! The piecer is a real pro. We used the Poplar pantograph pattern.

Baby quilts for Agape Women's Services

Not long ago, our guild got a call for baby quilts from the Agape Women's Services in Johnson City, TN. Well, I found a pastel jelly roll, and together with some background yardage will get 5 baby quilts from that one jelly roll! I'm making 2 Jacks on the Porch (from 13 strips I get 2 quilts using a 3 x 3 layout) Find the pattern on Craftsy: Jacks on the Porch. BTW, if you use the Jacks on the Porch pattern, you can get 6 baby quilts out of the jelly roll (using a 3 x 3 layout)!

The other 3 quilts use  Jenny Doan's Pinwheel Stars.  Mercy. I haven't finished any of the Pinwheel Stars quilt tops, but I've been working!

King of Glory Wall Hanging or Table Topper

A lovely friend of mine had a birthday last week. In preparation for that, her DH and I schemed for me to make her a wall hanging in the colors she loves to decorate with. So, he sent me a few pictures of some key decorating items so I could get a feel for the style and colors. It was a surprise, and I presented it to her at her celebratory lunch at Olive Garden. Now, the King of Glory greets them as the come into and leave their bedroom. She loved it! (The pantograph is Pipeline.)

Wish I'd invented that

Have you seen the new Cake Mix Recipes from Moda? They are stitch-through papers designed to be used with 10" squares. Ruth Ann at Heavenly Stitches showed them to us at the May guild meeting. Each pack has 44 papers, all of the same layout, and you do the standard "stitch on the dotted line, cut on the solid line" routine. And when you are done, you have the makings of at least 40 - 44 blocks (depending on the number of mistakes you make!). There are 4 different packs right now, with others on the way. You can also get Cupcake Recipes - which are designed for charm packs! Fun and easy! Get them at Heavenly Stitches in Kinsport, TN.

Learning for the Week

Don't run over your fingernail with a longarm needle.  Ouch. Fortunately, I did not put the needle all the way through the finger and the machine and needle are fine and functioning great. My nail was a little banged up, and I just needed a bandaid. Time to put the safest foot on the machine!

You have a glorious Memorial Day weekend! Now, let's go quilt something!