Sunday, December 30, 2012


I may have told you I'm engrossed in another word project. This is where I am working on it.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Flowers in December!

My friend Julie sent me these lovely flowers! They were delivered to me at work, and brightened my day big-time! I don't have a window in my office, and this makes a very nice change! They also smell divine!

Thank you Julie!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Millie and I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

2013 Calendar

When I was shopping for a 2013 calendar I saw this one, and -obviously- I knew it was the one!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Slouching Toward Christmas

I haven't been doing any sewing. I've got the tree up, and the house decorated. The Christmas shopping is complete, and I've even gifted myself a few little things.  My wordy project is moving right along. It's just like when I get totally involved in making one of my word quilts. The project gets into my blood and gets top priority for all my free time to the exclusion of all else.

Here's Millie on a Seminole patchwork kitty quilt I made back in 2007. The colors were inspired by Danika Patrick's team colors a few years ago. Yes, that Danika Patrick, the racecar driver.  You never know where you'll find inspiration, so you best be ready for it!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I couldn't let 12-12-12 go by unmentioned.  Not much sewing going on at my house. I've got the Christmas decorations up, which includes this real Balsam Fir tree.  I spent Sunday baking cookies.

Decorating by yourself isn't as much fun as with friends or family, but my son is 3,000 miles away, so I have to make do. It's going to be my first Christmas without him, so I'm trying to make the best of it. I had a long Skype conversation with him last night, and that's cool. I am a big fan of Skype. It's one thing to talk to the kid, it's another to actually SEE him.  He can show me where he is (he was in Hawaii on Thanksgiving) and I can show him what I am doing.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sewing Up the Christmas Random Planks

I got out of work early on Friday and started sewing up the Christmas Random Plank Quilt.  I cut a piece about 76" long, lined it up with the rest of the strip and sewed it together. I added a few more strips and then saw this:
I did NOT like the two red strips almost perfectly aligned. So I ripped it out and moved the strip around to the other side, then kept going.
After a while I'd lay the quilt on the floor, and then place the big strip next to it, to decide where I wanted to stitch it down.
My self imposed rule was to use the strip as it came off the pile. I could arrange it on either side of the quilt any way I wanted. I didn't modify the big strip by trimming pieces down.  I used the strip as it came. I did have to wiggle some things up or down a little bit so the accent squares didn't line up.
 by the time I stopped for the night, I had nineteen strips sewn together.  I cut my original strips 2-1/2" wide, so this is about 38" wide.
I'm pressing the rows after sewing four or five together. Otherwise it just gets unmanageable.

It's not a bad way to make a quick quilt. I made the random planks because I had a lot of 2-1/2 strips already cut, and I wanted something quick. If I were to do it all over again, I wouldn't leave any strips the full WOF. I don't like they way they look when they fall next to each other. You can see it here in the first pair - there's a long gold strip next to a long red strip right in the middle.  It's not particularly interesting.

This is going to be a quilt that will live on the back of the couch during the holiday season, so I can wrap myself in it when I lie down on the couch to read or take a nap. Or it will be used for guests, so it's going to be just fine.

I had HGTV on while I was sewing this up, and one designer said "If it's perfect, it isn't interesting to look at." I think that's not far from the truth.

I don't know how much more I'll get done over the weekend. I have to get the Christmas tree up and decorated, and the house needs a good vacuuming!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Risk, Process, Create! Wow!

When I wrote yesterday's post, I was worried I'd come off as a pompous egotistical snob. I didn't mean to.  I've always had strong opinions, and alas, I have a history of speaking my mind. I never expected to be applauded. Thank you ladies, for leaving the very supportive comments yesterday.

My friend Becky, who owns Quilted Threads, and I have long lamented customers who: buy all the fabrics in one line; make quilts from patterns or kits only; and otherwise rely on safe, proven and predictable methods of making quilts.

I have given this subject a lot of thought.  WHY do they do this?  I think many quilters do not feel comfortable mixing fabrics or breaking rules, and I think it could be for a few reasons.

1. They don't want to waste their money.

2. They want it to come out "perfect."

3. They don't want to make a mistake and look stupid. In other words, they are afraid.

All are perfectly understandable, and perfectly logical.  What I said about Jelly Roll Race quilts is true: they're great for quilters who otherwise are incapable of taking a real risk.  A jelly roll quilt is pretty much a known commodity.  The more creative quilters regard them with disdain, because we can see them for what they are - contrived.  But if making a jelly roll race quilt gets quilters ever so slightly out of their own comfort zone (also known as their "box") then it's not necessarily a bad thing. If it helps them to then look at it and say, "Well, gee, that was fun, but the end result just doesn't do it for me... what could I have done differently... " that's a learning moment.

Students learn because they have entered the psychological state of "being teachable." They've opened the door to learning something new.  But opening that door means you have to take a risk.
 We have to encourage other quilters to see the world outside their own boxes. It starts with just one step. 

I wouldn't make a jelly roll race quilt with a real jelly roll in a million years (I can think of at least a dozen more interesting things to do), but I'm a lot farther away from the traditional place where I started than a lot of quilters are. For one thing, I view my stash as merely raw materials.  The stash isn't doing me any good sitting there on the shelf. I have to CUT into it; I have to SEW it up; I have to RIP things APART; I have to TRY, and TRY AGAIN, and in so doing, I LEARN while I CREATE. 

I guess that's the big difference. I am more interested in CREATING than REPEATING. I am less interested in the PRODUCT than I am in the PROCESS.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The One Strip

Here is the One Strip.  Since I don't know exactly how long it is (and no, I am not much interested in measuring, and re-stacking this strip), I won't be sewing it the way the Jelly Roll Race instructions ask. (I am not going to cut off the first 18" and throw it away. That's just dumb. I started my long strip with a short strip!!!! LOL!!!)

I have a hard enough time sitting still for an hour, let alone parked in front of a sewing machine feeding fabric for what feels like infinity, so that ain't gonna happen.  Here's what I am thinking I might do:

Since I want my quilt to be about 60 x 80 inches, I MIGHT measure out 84 inches from the starting end of the strip. I'll mark it with a pin.  Then I'll fold the strip from that point and sew two layers together. When I get to the fold, I'll cut it apart, open it up, and THEN....

I'll decide which side I want to add the strip to, and sew that edge! I am pretty sure when I get to the end, I'll cut the strip, and then move to the other side and keep going. In other words, I'll go around as if I were in a circle. I might zig zag and go back the way I just came if I like the way the fabrics work better. I'll see when I get there.

Remember, the only reason Jelly Rolls exist is to get you to BUY THEM.  Jelly Roll Races exist to get you to USE THEM. Then you can BUY MORE.

Jelly Roll Race quilts ALSO get quilters to LIVE DANGEROUSLY by TAKING CHANCES and letting the chips fall where they may, because we all know quilters like making things PERFECT, and they are loath to TAKE RISKS.

Allow me a wide streak of EGO here when I tell you I have no such fears or inhibitions.  Heck, if you've been following my blog for any length of time you know how I start a quilt without a clear idea of what I'm doing, and have absolutely no trouble making the same element two or three times until I get it the way I want it. I love to see what happens by ACCIDENT (made fabric).

HOWEVER, I draw the line at STUPID. I draw the line at BORING, PREDICTABLE and UGLY.  One visitor to my house once asked why I would MAKE a chessboard when I could BUY one at a store. My reply? "Why would I pay money for something UGLY when I can make something BEAUTIFUL?"

So when I tell you I am going to break the rules for the Jelly Roll Race, you can be damn sure that if I don't like the way the colors line up, I am NOT going to sew them together. I will tinker with them to get it to look BEAUTIFUL.

Because it's my party and I'll cry if I want to.  So to speak.

And yes, I've ALWAYS had this I-gotta-be-different streak. All my life. All. My. Life.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Random Plank Progress

I cut my strips, and I added my accent blocks to one end of each.
Then I stacked my strips in the order I planned to sew them.
Making the gigantic strip.
One strip.  Very funny.

You don't really expect me to -gasp- follow the "rules" when I make this thing, do you?

Good, because I won't. LOL!!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Random Plank

Five years ago I made 20 Christmas-themed kitty quilts (and sold them in less than 24 hours!)

I had a bag of Christmas themed fabrics left over that I've been moving from one spot to another for the last five years.
 Several times I tried to give it away.

Then I remembered those "Jelly Roll Race" or "Random Plank" quilts that I've seen on the blogs recently, and I thought it was a good idea. So I checked my bag of fabric and found a lot of precut 2-1/2" strips, but most of them were dark, so I made a trip up to Quilted Threads and bought five yards of fabric.
I'm cutting more strips, and I've going to do one of these so-called Random Plank quilts with a Christmas twist.

I've finished the Free Pieced Butterfly Tutorial.  You can purchase a copy at my Etsy Shop, The Patchery Menagerie, for $5 USD.  (I do have to make one teeny-tiny change and it will be ready late Monday.) The tute has been tested and approved!  Whee!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Butterfly or Moth?

Mistakes can be learning experiences if we let them.  This "moth" is the result of my attempt at trying to make a butterfly with "eye spots" on the wings.

This was the original butterfly (above). It looked odd, but when I turned it upside down, it looked better.  The body was the wrong way around, but I removed the wings and turned the body upside down, then resewed the wings to the body. Now it looks a lot better (top photo).

Don't be afraid to push your ideas around a little. Try not to let them get the best of you.

btw, the Butterfly Tutorial is complete. It is being tested by a couple of my quilting friends, and may be released next week. It will be in PDF format, and available by email request only for a small fee.