Sunday, January 6, 2019

Celebrating 20 Years And More

This month, I celebrate 20 years of quilting.  Wow, what a milestone!  All those years ago, when I made my very first quilt, did I have any idea of how this first step would impact my future?  Not a clue LOL.  Ever since then, quilting has become a bigger and more important part of my life and has led to opportunities I never dreamed of having.

I have been musing everything that brought me to this point, all of the things I've done in the past that made today possible.  I'd like to share a bit about how I got to be where I am now.

Truthfully, it all started when I was a kid in elementary school.  I loved to read the Little House on the Prairie series of books.  I'd read through them all, then go back to the beginning and start again.  I was fascinated with the description of how the women would sew everything by hand, making sure their stitches were small and consistent.  I wanted to see if I could do that too.

So, I played with needle and thread, and some of my mom's scraps.  I also learned in Girl Scouts how to make camping supplies out of wash cloths sewn together.  (Anyone remember "dunk bags"?)  And over time, I succeeded in making my stitches small and even.  I made some bags in which I could carry things.  In fact, I still have two of them!

Yes, they are simple drawstring bags.  And yes, they need a good trip through the washing machine LOL.  But looking inside one of them, you can see just how my hand sewing skills had grown.

I had forgotten about all those features.  Blanket stitch on the bottom to stop fraying!  French seam along the side!  All the raw edges folded inside the drawstring housing.  And those teeny stitches holding it all in place.  No wonder it hasn't fallen apart yet.

(On a side note, I also loved reading about how the Ingalls family got their first treadle sewing machine.  It is still a bucket list item for me to learn how to sew on one.)

I also remember a very important lesson learned by simple trial and error.  I wanted to make a dress-up skirt for myself.  With my mom's blessing, I used an old sheet and her Kenmore sewing machine.  I measured my waist, and cut the waistband that size.  I measured how long I wanted the skirt to be, and cut the pieces that size.  Then I sewed everything together... and it was too small!  I forgot to add in a seam allowance.  Obviously that lesson has stuck with me after all these years.

All those early lessons, those early failures, helped me to grow and gave me a starting point on my quilting journey.  Did I still have a lot to learn?  Heck yeah!  I had to learn about a scant quarter inch seam allowance to ensure everything turned out the right size.  I had to learn about color play, pattern designing, tips and tricks on working with bias edges, and so forth.

So, what does it look like when a quilter celebrates 20 years of quilting?  My quilts went from this (my first quilt ever made, finished on January 15, 1999):

To quilts like these (finished within the last few years):

One of two quilts made for a contest for Capitol Records.
This is a recreation of an album cover by The Decemberists.

Made for a client to match her bedroom decor.

12 years ago I decided to start a quilting business.  I offer quilting services to other quilters who make tops but can't (or don't want to) do the quilting themselves.  I also make quilts to order.  And let me say, some of those client quilts made me grow as a quilter as well.  The ideas people come up with amaze me!

Just recently, all this sewing and quilting expertise has segued into something completely new:  auto upholstery!  With quilting, I knew the materials and the techniques.  It was comfortable, it was safe.  I'm in a whole new world now!  New materials with new properties, new pattern making techniques, new pitfalls, new rewards.  And 3D shapes to be dealt with!  And yet, the one aspect that makes for "high end interiors" - the diamond quilting on the leather - is the easy part.  LOL!

I think I'm off to a good start.

The future is exciting!  Who knows what will develop in the next month, year, decade.  I can't wait to see what is to come.

What about you?  What has your journey (quilting or otherwise) looked like?  What were some of the early lessons you learned that have stuck with you through the years?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Meal Planning

You know, I've always been bad at meal planning.  I would pick recipes to make for the week, I'd shop for those recipes, but always I'd either forget what I had planned, or I would decide that I didn't really want to make what I had planned, or something would happen that would have me fall off the wagon halfway through the week.  I'd end up with ingredients going bad and being thrown away, wasting food and money.

Earlier this month, though, I decided I was tired of getting to dinner time and not knowing what I was going to cook that night, having no flash of inspiration, or missing ingredients if I did actually come up with an idea of what I wanted to cook.  I decided I needed to come up with a system that would actually help me to plan meals... and stick to the plan.

My solution:  Refrigerator Magnet Meal Planning!!

I have the week's menu, including entrée and side dishes, all lined up on the front of the fridge.  This makes it easy to see at a glance what meal is planned for what day.  I have my week starting on Wednesday, as this is the day I do my grocery shopping.

I also have many other entrée, side dish, even dessert magnets ready and waiting for when it is time to plan the next week's menu.

(To be honest, this collection of magnets has grown quite a bit since I took this photo.  I kept remembering more recipes I had forgotten initially!)

So, how did I make this?  I discovered that you can get printable magnet sheets from Staples.  (At the time of this writing, the item number is 386943, you can search for them on  You can put these sheets through your inkjet printer, or you can write on them yourself.  I chose to print mine because I'm a bit OCD and wanted them to look as good as possible LOL.

With my word processing software, I set up a new document as if to print labels.  I used that as my template and filled in all the names of the different dishes I wanted to have available for meal planning.  I used different colors for the different categories:  Black for the day of the week, Red for entrees, Green for side dishes, Blue for desserts.  Not pictured are the ones I added later:  Purple for "Leftovers", Light Blue for "fend for yourselves" (for the times I'm not able to cook for the family).

After printing the documents onto the magnetic sheets and letting them dry overnight, I carefully cut out the magnets along the lines from the label template.  I then arranged the magnets on my fridge so that entrées were together, side dishes were together, and desserts were together.  This makes is super easy to browse through the options when selecting the next weeks' meals, and my kids can even help with meal planning now.

I'm heading into week 4 of using this system, and it has really been working for me!  Because it's all just magnets, I can rearrange the plan if something comes up, i.e. I don't have 2 hours to cook this chili tonight, but I do tomorrow so let's swap today's and tomorrow's plans.  Plus, my family always knows what to expect for dinner.  There's something very satisfying in hearing one of my daughters get all excited over what's for dinner.  :)

I hope this information helps you to master your own meal planning, whether you copy my method, modify it to fit your needs, or do something else completely different.  Happy planning!!

Allietore Update

It's been a long time since I updated this blog.  You can probably see that I use it mostly for weekly updates when participating in Bonnie's yearly mysteries.  Well, I finally have an update on Allietore!

The blocks are finished!

The border fabric is selected!

The quilt top is finished!

It's taken me long enough, don't you think?  LOL!  Now that the top is done and the binding strips (black) are cut, I just have to piece a backing and get it quilted / bound.  That will hopefully happen before Thanksgiving... when the next mystery will start.

Have you finished your Allietore?  If so, hooray for you!  If not, maybe your blocks aren't done aging (like a fine wine) so don't worry.  It will happen when the time is right. :)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Allietare Clue 5

How can it be that we've finished up 5 clues already?  The next clue could be our last... or not.  That's part of the mystery, we don't even know how many clues are left.  What fun!  :)

Do you want to play along with the Mystery?  Go to Bonnie's blog to get all the clues.
Allietare Mystery

Check out all the progress being made by those who are participating!  There is some fantastic work being done.
Mystery Monday Link-Up, Part 5

So, what have I managed to complete?  I worked slowly but surely on getting Clue 5 finished.  I was moving a bit slowly because I ended up growing a very nice sinus infection.  I went to Urgent Care on December 26th and have some good medicine, so I'm feeling much better now.

Here are all my units from Clue 5!

My units are not perfect, but they're close enough for me.  I'm sure they will work out just fine.  :)

I have also been working on making the sashing for the second Grand Illusion charity quilt.  This time I'm using blue in the sashing and the setting squares.  I am curious to see how this color change affects the overall look of the quilt.

Isn't that blue fabric fun?  Batik bubbles.  :)

I hope all of you had a great Christmas and will have a fantastic New Year.  Can you believe that the new year is only a day away?  Wow, time flies!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Allietare Clue 4

Whew, just barely getting this post written in time.  Better late than never, right?  :)

For whatever reason, this clue seemed to take a long time.  Maybe that's because of all the units we had to make, maybe that's because we're also in the midst of Christmas obligations, maybe both.  I finished up late last night (Christmas Eve), so now I can share my progress.

Want to participate in this mystery too?  You can find all of Bonnie's clues on her blog:
Allietare Mystery

Want to see how everyone else is doing on their clues?  Check out the Monday Mystery Link-up!
Monday Mystery Link-Up, Part 4!

Here are my pieces all cut out and ready to go.  I'm loving my variety of neutrals!

Now it's time to assemble!  I laid my units out assembly line style, sewing all the pieces for each set together, leaving them chained together until it was time to press.  You can see the ones farthest to the right (next to Bonnie, my Featherweight) are waiting to have the first black triangle sewn on.  The next ones to the left are waiting to have the second black triangle sewn on.  Lastly I have the pairs ready to be sewn together into finished units.

Doing the sewing this way helped to keep boredom at bay.  I was able to switch up what I was doing every four sets.

And here we are, all my units finished!  Finally!  LOL.  I am now ready for Clue #5.

I also have progress to report on the Grand Illusion reboot.  All the blocks are finished, so I started putting them together into tops.  My goal was always to turn the blocks into smaller charity quilts, and I used a setting that I had seen someone share on Facebook.  I wish I knew who it was so I could give proper credit.  She had used yellow and white to create sashing and setting squares, and I liked how it calmed down the blocks so I did the same thing.  I like how it turned out!

This used up some of the blocks.  I want to make another one of these, using blue in place of the yellow.  After that I will have one lone block left over, perhaps I can make a medallion style quilt using the other units that I haven't touched yet.  I'll share photos when I get it done.

Merry Christmas, and Happy Quilting!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Allietare Clue 3

This week, the group of ladies I've been working with at the quilt shop couldn't meet, as there is another group that meets on the first Sunday of the month at the quilt shop.  It's a big group and would have left us with no room at all LOL.  So I worked at home to finish Clue 3.

Want to play along?  You can get all the clues from Bonnie's blog here:
Allietare Mystery

You should also check out the blogs of all the other quilters who are participating in this mystery.  Their work is beautiful!
Mystery Monday Link-Up, Part 3

I dug into my stash of neutrals, I dug into my stash of strips for golds, and I cut from gold yardage bought for this mystery, and I came up with enough variety to make my strip sets for the 4-patches we need to make for this clue.

Here they are, my 4-patches all finished!  I'm pleased with how they turned out.  There's definitely enough contrast between the gold fabrics and the neutrals.

I got the extra pieces cut out too, so they are ready to go whenever Bonnie says they are needed.

I'm still working on the units from Grand Illusion as my Leaders and Enders.

And here you go, all my Grand Illusion blocks are finished!

It was always my goal to use these blocks, and the other Grand Illusion units, to make 2-3 charity quilts.  I've been collecting images of various settings that others have created for their quilts, these will help me decide how to proceed with my charity quilts.

As you may know, I've been using my 1947 Featherweight to sew these clues and the GI blocks.  I got it from a local lady who buys and restores these machines, so it doesn't have any history with my family.  I hadn't named her, but lately I've been feeling the need to name her.  I Googled popular names from 1947, and with the help of my children we've decided that her name should be Bonnie.  I think it's fitting, don't you?  :)

I hope you're making progress on your Allietare units!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Allietare Clue 2

Sunday is my day to work on the mystery, so I headed off to the quilt shop to work on Clue #2.  Want to play along?  You can get all the information for this mystery at Bonnie's blog:

Allietare Mystery

Want to see all the wonderful variety of all the other people who are participating?  Be sure to check out this week's Link-Up on Bonnie's blog.

Mystery Monday Link-Up, Part 2

I got to the quilt shop, only to find that I was the only one of our quilt group who could make it.  One other stopped by while out doing other things, unfortunately she was feeling  under the weather.  I hope she feels better soon!

The quilt shop is open for 5 hours on Sundays, and I put that time to good use!  While sewing together the units for this week's clue, I also continued using the pieces from last year's mystery, Grand Illusion, as leaders and enders.

Here is some of my work in progress, with my Featherweight getting a good workout.

In the time I had at the quilt shop, I got all the units for this clue sewn and pressed, hooray!

I also managed to make excellent progress on assembling the Grand Illusion units.  Next week the block will be taking shape!

I also have ready the extra pieces that Bonnie said to cut.

I'm so thankful for the time at the quilt shop.  It was distraction free time, which allowed me to get these units finished so I can focus on other projects the rest of the week.

How are all of you doing?  Do you have Christmas gifts to finish up?  I have some commissions to finish and other quilt tops to get quilted, but I should be able to get them all done in time for their deadlines.  I just have to focus until Clue #3 is released LOL.