Wednesday, May 12, 2021


I've moved twice in the last 3 years.  The first time was when we moved from our spacious suburban house in California into a 2 bedroom apartment near Roseburg, Oregon.  My husband got a new job up there, so he went off in early June to live in a hotel while he found a place for us to live.  My son and I were tasked with moving out of our two story house in less than six weeks. Between my husband's tool collection, our mutual book collection, and my ginormous fabric and art supply collection...well, it was a lot of work.  It didn't help that it was 110 degrees outside.  It did help that my strapping 19 year old son was there to help. 

I wish we'd had more time for the move because I could have purged beforehand.  Now, that we've been in our new house for 3 years and my studio has been finished for two I find myself still struggling with what to keep and what to get rid of. The scraps above are a perfect example.  Bits and pieces of projects and samples that I don't remember, and I don't know what to do with.  I've thought of piecing them together and making tote bags or pillows, but wonder if I'll ever find the time.

I'd like to call these WIPs, and they might be if I knew what they were meant to be. As it is, it's like some alien spaceship landed, planted a bunch of odd quilting bits, and left me to sort them out.  What are they, when did I do this, and why?

I have no idea.

Of course, I have been quilting now for 46 years so it's not surprising that I don't remember. The fabrics look like they're from around 2010, maybe sooner, who knows? I recognize some batiks and some Kaffe Fassett prints that I know are at least ten years old.

I did some purging during the lockdown, and have set those fabrics aside for someone I know who will be able to use them. However, unfinished things are a different story. If I had all the pieces cut and a pattern I would be thrilled to give them to another quilter to finish.  Unfortunately, I don't work that way.  I tend to make small artsy kinds of quilts, and it would be hard for me to explain to another quilter what I was thinking when I started on my unfinished pieces.  Heck, I don't even know that myself! (or don't remember)

In many ways I'm proud of being a bit "out there" and doing things differently. I don't think I'd be very good at being a "normal" quilter, (whatever that is!). I actually envy those of you who pick a pattern, buy the fabric and actually finish the quilt, (with very few scraps left over).  

I think my "rebel" quilting style has more to do with my own reputation as a normal person.  Most people who know me don't know I have this weird quilting side to me, (quilting isn't weird, I am!). I was the "good girl" in school, although I was never a teacher's pet.  For some reason I'd be just bold enough not to be "that" kind of girl. However, I was naturally shy and quiet so I wasn't exactly an attention grabber. I hated attention! Sit me in a corner with a stack of books, or a needle and thread and some fabric and I'd be happy as a clam.

However, the time has come and gone that I needed to face reality.  It's time to make a big purge, (again!), so I can make space for new things.  The next month will be dedicated to finding a use for these odd bits and pieces.  I'll keep you posted on what I can come up with.  If any of you have a similar problem maybe I can inspire you to either do something with your bits, or toss them and move on.

I have been desperately wanting to post quality photos of my studio and some of the things I've been working on but I have a dilemma.  My cell phone takes terrible photos, and my husband can't find the charging cord for our digital camera.  Hopefully that will be resolved soon and I can start posting about what I'm working on in the studio.  Now that spring is here and it's warming up I plan to spend most of my time out there.  It has heat, but it's too darn cold and dark in the winter so I don't use it as much. I can't wait to get out there and purge and sew.  

I hope that those of you who are mothers had a wonderful "Mother's Day." My family has the habit of turning "days" into weekends. So, I had a great Mother's Day weekend.  I picked up my son at college on Friday morning, then we went out for lunch on Saturday and took him back on Sunday morning.  The best part was that we spent a lot of time together.  He's at the age when he really appreciates his parents and we have a great time with each other.  I miss him, but am so happy he's moving on with his life.

Well, that's it for today.  I've inspired myself to go out to the studio and start digging through the bits the aliens left for me.  Who knows, maybe I can use some of them for the hand-sewing case I designed this morning. 

In the meantime,

Happy Stitching!


Monday, May 10, 2021


Originally Published on November 19, 2010

Yesterday I actually finished piecing my little dog coat.  I ironed it on to some fusible fleece and am going to do a simple machine quilting so I can speed up the process.  I'd thought of doing the quilting by hand but realized that with Thanksgiving coming up, it would be nice to have the coat finished before I get caught up in the holidays. 

Well, it's about time!  I finally finished a project, just in time for the first big storm of the year.

Above is my little dog Indy in his new coat, very snazzy!  The original pattern was very simple, and it went together, (once the patchwork was finished), in a few hours.  I'm very excited about how it looks, it suits him, and with the fleece lining and little fur collar, is also very cozy.

He doesn't usually like coats very much, but he seemed to take to this one.  It gives him a lot of freedom of movement so that's probably why.  Of course, the band around his tummy doesn't interfere with his boy parts so that makes him happy as well.

Here's a detail.  You can see the fur collar and the covered button I used to secure the front.  The part around his neck is attached by Velcro, but it was a little long so the button holds it in place.

He's looking a bit pensive in this picture, I think he was just waiting for the photo shoot to be over!

Here's an overview of what the coat looks like.  Ignore the dirty rug, it's right by our back door. This little guy tracks in all kinds of stuff but I guess it's better that he does his business outside instead of on our new wood floors!

Happy Stitching!


Saturday, May 8, 2021


Originally published November 18, 2010

Yesterday I had some errands to run and was at Target and saw the cutest little dog coat.  Now my little dog, Indy, (shown above) is only about 12 lbs and he gets cold a lot.  During the cold weather he wears a light sweater around the house and a warmer coat outside.

We're expecting a cold front to come through very soon, and I've been wanting to make him a patchwork coat.  He already has a patchwork halter, and it's always a hit, so I thought, why not make him a little coat?

My problem has been finding a pattern for one.  I refuse to pay $10 for patterns but whenever they're on sale, the dog coat patterns are all sold out.  Bummer!

Oh well, I may not be motivated, but if I'm anything, it's creative!

So, when I saw this cute coat I thought, "Hmmmmm, maybe I can use my clothing construction skills to make my own pattern."  Bingo!  So, I bought the cute little coat below.  Now, Indy is a boy and I have to say that if they'd had this little coat in a color other than pink I probably would have just bought it for him and that would have been the end of that, (hint, lack of motivation).  But, curses!  They only had pink!

I love this because it's so simple and will be easy to make a "sloper" from.  Now, for those of you who haven't been through the rigors of tailoring and pattern making classes, you might not know what that is.  Essentially it's a very basic pattern that gives you a good fit.   Most of the time tailors make them for their clients so they can easily adapt them into just about anything.  Once you get the basic fit right, then it's easier to add fashion.  We made them in pattern drafting and they ended up looking like a very simple sheath top and skirt, something Jackie Kennedy would have worn.

Slopers don't usually have seam allowances, but in this case I made it easy on myself and added them on.  Here's how you do it if you have a finished garment and you want to recreate it.  Keep in mind that this usually only works with very simple designs.  Most designers would have an accurate sloper and then make the adjustments to the pattern pieces for more complicated designs.

To make the pattern I lay the garment out on a piece of thin cardstock, (poster board from the Dollar Store works great).  Since this is a pattern that I will probably use over and over again, I want the pattern to be sturdy since I'll be storing it. When I did pattern drafting we used to punch holes in our slopers, put the pieces onto a binder ring and hung them on the wall. 

In this case I decided that I wanted my curves to be consistent on both sides, (very hard to do when tracing), so I'm only making a half pattern.  I lay the garment out as flat as possible, then using a pencil trace around the seam lines, making sure to note things like where pieces are joined, where the collar ends, etc.  I will also mark the buttonhole where the halter ring will come through.  I make construction notes like places where there's binding and no seam allowance, and "center line."  Just think about what you'll need to know about constructing this garment if you go back to make another one months or years from now.  There's no such thing as too much information. 

In this case the pattern piece is so small I can keep it steady with my hand, large pieces may need something to weigh them down so you can get a good trace.  Since this is a dog's coat and the fit is adjustable I'm not overly concerned about small differences between the original and the final.  It won't make much difference, (it's not like I'm on "Puppy Project Runway"!).

Here's the finished pattern, showing the main coat along with the flaps and the collar, (which I will cut on the bias).  It's not the greatest photo but I think you get the general idea.

Now the fun part!  Selecting the fabrics!  Since Indy is such a cute little black and white dog, (so fashionable, and looks good in everything...), I decided to do the coat in black, white, red, and brown, (with a smattering of orange because I love it so much).  I bought the fleece at Joann's for $3.99 a yard, and raided my stash for the rest....Stashbusters!!!

The plan is to do strip piecing to make 1.5" squares.  The smaller squares will allow me to get more color onto the coat, and hopefully they'll be enough left over to make myself a tote bag so we can coordinate.  (This is beginning to get a little bit strange.....)

Here are my selections:
That's it for now!  I have some mojo coursing through my veins so I have to get this going before it's gone.  Hopefully I'll have more to show you tomorrow.  Besides, I want to take the coat back to the store for a refund, (I'm such a bad girl but....note to Target...carry boy colors!!!).

Happy Stitching!


Thursday, May 6, 2021


I have a confession to make.  Sometimes I hate quilting.

OK, I know that in some circles that's blasphemy, but it isn't that kind of "hate." 

Now, we may be getting into semantics here, but there are different kinds of hate.  I can say I hate cilantro, (which I do), but it isn't some horrible thing, I just don't like the stuff.  Of course, there's the kind of hate that sends people into rages and causes all kinds of chaos and heartache, but that's not what I'm talking about either.

What I am talking about is the kind of "hate" teenagers feel for their parents.  Let's face it, sometimes they don't like us very much.  Usually it has something to do with us raining on their parade in some way.  "No, you can't wear that, no, you can't go there, no, you can't play any more video games" know what I mean.  For a teenager, these obstructions to their "freedom" bring them to the "I hate you" place.

As far as quilting goes for me, I have such a passion for it that sometimes it gets turned on it's head.  I love it like crazy, but there are times when I get so frustrated that I want to scream "I hate you" and run into my room, slam the door, and crank up my tunes. 

I don't know about you but sometimes I work very hard on something only to realize that it isn't what I thought it would be.  I think about all the time I spent on it and it gets me wound up.  I keep telling myself what I know is true; that there is no wasted time because every project, no matter how nasty, is a learning experience. However, it's still discouraging and often brings on my grown up hissy fit.

I have gone through long periods of my life when I haven't sewn at all.  There was a freedom about that time that I liked, but I also felt deprived.  I've written before about my passion for quilting, and it's so true.  I can deny it, but it's always there, taunting me, whispering to me from the mounds of fabric....."you know you want me, you know you can't help yourself, you know that no matter how hard it can be that I'm the passion for you....."

And so, like a recalcitrant teen, I turn off my tunes, come out of my room and head down to if nothing ever happened.  I might have said "I hate you" but I don't, not really...

Of course I don't really hate quilting.  It's just that it's one of those things in my life that I can't get away from.  It's always there in the back of my head, and sometimes I wish it would go away for a while and leave me in peace.

But I know that it won't, it can't, it's too much a part of who I am as a person.  I can take a break, but it always calls me back.  Besides, that dinner smells pretty good.....

Happy Stitching!


Image Sources:
Vintage Alexander Henry Fabrics, Check out the current lines at

Tuesday, May 4, 2021


I don't know about you but I really love the smell of fabric!  There's nothing better than walking into a fabric store and getting a good big whiff. 

Some of you may remember the days when the copies handed out at school were "Dittos."  They were some strange combination of blue and white and they had this wonderful chemical smell, (they were usually warm too!).  We were warned not to sniff them because the chemicals could fry our brains, (turns out that was correct), but I still can't forget the overall smell in the room when they were delivered by the school secretary.

The same goes for the smell of fabric.  I love getting a package in the mail, or even opening up a box that's been stored for a while.  Of course, I know that most of the smell comes from the sizing, (which is why cheap fabric smells stronger, like gasoline....another good way to tell!).  But there's still a wonderful scent, even after fabrics have been washed again and again.

I love fabric straight out of the dryer.  It's soft and warm and smells delicious.  I also love the scent that ironing gives off, that slightly burnt starchy smell.  Fabulous!

I really hate it when I go into a quilt store and they've put out some kind of potpourri or scented candles.  It ruins the whole vibe.  I want my fabric scent straight up with no mixers.  Just give me a stack of freshly cut fat quarters, oh, and a fat eighth for the road.

Isn't it funny how scents can bring up all kinds of memories?  Whenever I smell fabric I get excited about all of the things I've made and all of the work still to do.  But there are other unusual scents that bring up wonderful memories.

My father ran truck dealerships, (we're talking big trucks!), and we kids often got to accompany him when he had to go over to get some parts for someone.  Because we lived in an agricultural area, his life, (and ours), revolved around what was being harvested.  If it was tomato season we might rarely see him as he would be working long hours making sure drivers had the parts and service they needed.  They couldn't wait when they had a perishable load to get cross country.

So, we'd climb into the back of the pickup, (there were no seatbelt restrictions then), and off we'd go to "the shop."  It was an adventure because we'd come in through the Parts Department and we'd have to climb over a low part of the counter to get to the back.  Behind the counter were doors leading to a warren of shelves and cubbies, filled with all kinds of interesting things.  I got used to the smell of rubber belts and tires, of parts covered in dust and grease, of oil and diesel, and the distinctive smell of a working shop. 

Now, whenever I have to get my car repaired I enjoy going into our local mechanic's and breathing it all in.  Once again I'm a little girl climbing over the parts counter, avoiding the office with the girlie calendars, and hoping that my Dad would treat us all to an ice cold Coca Cola, (the small bottles that cost a dime).  Those were the days!

I often wonder what scents my son will remember from his childhood and how many of them will be the same ones I remember.  I'm sure the smell of baking chocolate chip cookies will be one of them, as well as that movie theater popcorn scent. Wouldn't it be weird if one day years after I'm gone my son goes into a fabric store and realizes that there's another scent he remembers, one from that studio his Mom was always hanging out in?  

I can only hope...

Happy Stitching, (and sniffing!),


Sunday, May 2, 2021


"Art" has been a long standing difficult subject for me.  I've actually made my living as an artist, but it could be said that what I've done is more "craft" then "art."  That's what makes this all so difficult, what is the difference?

Art is so subjective that trying to slap a label on something or somebody is difficult.  There are those who do strictly traditional quilts who consider themselves artists and those who do painted pieces and call themselves craftspeople.  Who knows what is which and who's going to decide? 

For me "Artist" always seemed kind of elitist.  It was like "I'm an Artist" with nose upturned and eyes turned downward with disdain.  I suppose attending art classes in college didn't do that impression a lot of favors.  Everyone dressing the same while trying so hard to be different.  It was like, "I'm different, I'm controversial, I'm wearing black clothes.....look at me!"  Mild mannered me, (yes I was mild mannered once!), would sit there in my normal clothes and wonder what the heck I was doing there.  These are not my people, I can't relate to them, and they're exhausting to be around.

Of course, a lot of these people were insecure and put on the mantle of an artist so they'd feel more like one.  But who can say what an artist should look like, or how they should live, or what they should do?

I think so many of our ideas of "artists" come from the bohemian days of Parisian garrets with expatriates hanging out in dark cave like cafes and painting naked "ladies" (with whom they also had interesting relationships).  Some of this was actual eccentricity of real artists, but much of it was people who wanted to be artists and thought that having the outer lifestyle made them closer to their ideal.

The fact is that for many centuries artists were also businessmen, (and women).  They created beautiful works of art, had apprentices whom they trained, chased after commissions, and marketed themselves and their artworks to those who had the cash to pay.  Artists that are now considered "great" were treated like employees by their royal or aristocratic "masters." 

I suspect that it's much the same today.  The true "artist" who only creates what they're driven to create is probably more likely someone who works a day job and does "art" for fun.  They have nothing to prove and no one to prove it to, they just do it!  Artists who are trying to make a living at it are well aware of the temptation of going "commercial."  And why should that be a sin?  We all have to survive somehow.

As far as the whole Art vs Traditional quilting debate I've realized that what we're talking about is really apples and oranges, both of which can exist on their own, or mixed together to form a very tart pie.  Traditional quilts are mostly craft.  However, there are times when color and design choices can take a traditional "craft" quilt and turn it into "art."  Art Quilts which may be visually stunning but have little or no "sewing craft" in them are usually considered art.  However, there are Art Quilts where the color and design choices are joined by exquisite quilting technique.  This is where craft and art meld into something marvelous that both sides can agree on.

When we talk about Machine vs. Hand Quilting we're also talking about apples and oranges.  Both quilting styles are valid and beautiful, but they require completely different skill sets.  A fantastic hand quilter might be a horrible machine quilter, and an award winning machine quilter might not be able to do the traditional 10 to an inch quilting stitch.  Does that make one better than the other?  I don't think so, I think they're just different.

I think my main problem with the Art Quilting I've encountered is the same problem I encountered in college.  There's a whole "I'm an Artist and you're not, na, na, na, na, na, na...." that really gets under my skin.  It could be that it's my insecurity showing and that's more likely the case than not.  However, I'm not the only one who feels that way, it's a subject that's sensitive for a lot of quilters.  I think that to many of us who've been around forever we feel much like the early feminists must be feeling.  We did all the work and now you young whippersnappers get to have all the fun. 

And I guess that's what all of this is about anyway!

Happy Stitching!


Friday, April 30, 2021



Click on the image above to read the latest 
installment of "A Piece of Work" on Quiltlit.