“Oh, Sharon, I love it” – Charlott W.

this is the kind of comment I live for when I quilt!

Also my mentor with 20+ years experience on the longarm said “I couldn’t have done better myself!”

I so enjoy every aspect from piecing to binding. Teaching, cutting – even shopping! Well… Especially shopping.

I am heading to Little Rock Arkansas and will be hitting a few shops along the way. Plan to make the “Row by Row” quilt and I have 5 rows so far! Its gonna be fun!

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Created a new sampler last week. It’s so much fun it almost seems like I shouldnt get paid for this – almost! All-over paisley pattern shown first. Then there is a feather stitch pattern. After that you can see an example of some close fill work and some straight line ruler work. I enjoy custom work and large fill patterns both. Naturally large fill patterns are less expensive, but they can produce very nice quilts.

 

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I just completed this quilt and custom quilted it on the longarm. I made it for the Sweet Potato branch of my business for a cute little Two-year-old. It was a hit!

I stopped in at The Country Quilt Shop in Llano, Texas a few weeks ago.

It was almost closing time, but the ladies were very friendly and happy to show off their lovely store. I bought a few things and entered their raffle for a beautiful Texas quilt to raise funds for their guild’s quilt show in March. As I was leaving I  noticed a machine finished quilt binding that is just perfect. I asked them about it and they gave me printed instructions and showed me a sample depicting the process.

First you cut your binding, but instead of one strip, cut two binding strips 1/4″ different in width. The narrower strip will be the outer binding strip that will show on the edge of the quilt.

After you have your two strips cut and long enough to go around the quilt, stitch them right sides together using your quilter’s 1/4″ seam allowance. Press the two strips open and then fold and press the raw edges together right sides out. When the raw edges are pressed together, you will have a piece of binding with a solid strip on the back and a two-color strip on the front. The front will have 1/4″ of the back fabric at the top and the rest will be the second fabric you used in your strips.

After your quilt has been squared and trimmed, you can pin the binding to the back side of the quilt, all raw edges even. Have the two-fabric portion of the binding facing the quilt back. Miter corners as you go.

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When you have the binding in place all around the quilt you can pull it forward and it will look like this.

Press the binding in this position all the way around.

Turn the quilt over and press the binding forward to the front of the quilt.

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Pin the binding in place on the front of the quilt, miter corners on the front and pin in place. Then you can stitch in the ditch between the binding and the narrow flange and have a perfectly finished binding without the hours spent hand-stitching.

Happy quilting and let me know if you have any questions. A big Texas thank you to the ladies at The Country Quilter for passing on this technique. If you are ever in Llano, I highly recommend stopping by – a lovely quilt shop with friendly ladies to help you find unique fabrics and patterns too.

 

Do you have quilt blocks or a quilt top in your closet? It might look like this…

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This mysterious package was found in an elderly lady’s closet. It was passed down to her nephew, and he didn’t really know what to do with it. That is how I ended up with it.

I took the package to a quilt shop and had them look at the pieces. I knew it was a set of Dresden Plate quilt blocks, but not much more than that. It turns out that the pieces are fabrics from the 1930s and they are quite lovely.

I will be placing each block on a muslin background like this:

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The muslin is actually a square, but it is mounted in a hoop while I hand stitch it in place.

 

Once the Dresden Plate piece is firmly secured all the way around, the block will have borders placed on two sides. The borders are called sashing. When I have a row of four blocks all attached, I will create a second row. Each row will have sashing across the entire row. I will then join the rows to form a quilt top that is 4 blocks wide and 5 blocks long.

I will keep you posted as the project grows. When the top is complete I will layer the batting and backing and quilt three layers together.

Keep your eyes open – you may find such a treasure in your closet or the closet of a relative one of these days. You can learn to convert pieces like this into a quilt or you can have someone make a quilt for you. Either way, don’t lose out on the chance to preserve someone’s hard work and enjoy a “new” heirloom of your very own.

Don’t forget – If you’re in Fort Worth – I teach quilting. I also have smooth-sewing vintage sewing machines available at very reasonable prices. Prices start at $40. If you aren’t into sewing yourself, I can take your closet find and turn it into a quilt for you. You just can’t have too many family heirloom quilts!

 

This little guy recently found a home on a desk. Custom made as a gift, this crochet friend is also available as a crochet pattern for you to make yourself. The first one I made is anchored with a bag of rice in the flower pot. This one is anchored with a small amount of cement in the pot. The cement is much more effective.

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Quilts have been with us for centuries. Yes they did make quilts in Europe. They tended to make whole cloth quilts where the cloth was not pieced but the design was in the quilting. They did make whole cloth quilts in the infancy of the United States, but they also pieced quilts from various fabrics and old clothing to get a double use from the cloth.

Small communities would band together and work to put up a house or barn for newlyweds and the ladies would likewise gather a quilting bee to provide a quilt for the couple.

The quilt symbolized the blessing and love of the community as well as continuing warmth in the couple’s new life.

I finished a quilt for a grandchild not too long ago. The process of quilting led my mind to want blessings to follow the child who would grow up warmed by it.IMG_0777 IMG_0780

As these four quilts were requested by the parents of four adult children, I thought about what the wife repeatedly mentioned to me. “My mother always wanted the kids to have quilts.”

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Why would that be important? For the same reason it was important to my grandmother. When the first four of her granddaughters married within a few years of each other, she made a dutch doll quilt for each of them. It was important to her that each married couple have a quilt.

I don’t know if she made quilts for my mom and dad and for my aunt and uncle when they married, but I do know that everyone had quilts. My grandmother had a wedding ring quilt hand-made when she married and her mother before her had a quilt as well.  Quilts were cherished emblems of love of others towards the new couple. They represented warmth, love and care given in a special package.

As I made these four quilts, I realized another fact. People who make a quilt for someone specific think of that person. They ask God to bless the recipients, to give them warmth and comfort. It doesn’t matter who it is for, you want the quilt to be comforting and to be a symbol of your personal work – time spent meditatively over that person or persons who will use the quilt in the future. It also works with quilts when you don’t know who will use it. You pray for someone to see it and just love it. And you hope that the work of your hands, the planning and constructing will bless the recipient for many years of warmth and comfort. Whether the recipient prays to the Universe or to God himself, they well receive blessings when they have something made in this manner. You just cannot pick this up at Walmart for $29.95.

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This block is made from a photo. I take the photo media to a printer and have two 11×17 photos printed on regular paper. One serves as my “go to” or master and the other is cut into pattern pieces. In this example, the skyline was cut out as one piece. The paper was used as a pattern to cut the dark blue fabric into the skyline. I used a glue stick to secure the skyline fabric to the cloudy sky fabric. Once the glue stick dried, I used the buttonhole stitch feature on my machine to outline the skyline and secure it permanently to the sky background.

The next section of the photo was a line of trees appearing between the skyline and the lake. I used a fabric in a similar tone to that in the photo and let it represent the treeline. This was also cut out using the paper as the pattern for the fabric. The tree fabric was then glued on top of the skyline portion of the block with a glue stick. Having the master photo available is very helpful in deciding where to place the treeline on the block. When the glue stick dried, I once again used the buttonhole stitch to secure the treeline to the skyline. This made a stitching of 3 layers, but the machine seemed to have no problem with this thickness. When you stitch through dried glue stick, the needle and thread do not become sticky at all and the fabrics remain flat without interfacing or paper behind as can be required with a wide satin stitch.

The lake composed the entire foreground of this photo. I placed a light blue fabric under the tree line, glued it in place with the glue stick and then buttonhole stitched the bottom of the treeline to the water fabric. I used the rotary cutter and cutting mat to trim the sides of the “water” and align them with the skyline and treeline.

My Dallas Skyline block was now complete. I placed sashing around the block and prepared to incorporate it into the quilt.

When the quilting was done, I used a pattern of small choppy waves for the water quilting and swirling wind for the sky quilting. The city skyline was outlined in the quilting.

This photo was taken from the shore of White Rock Lake in Sunset Bay.

Dallas Skyline on Quilt

For the art quilt, I will begin with the block on the top left. This is an appliqued Texas flag block.

This block is three simple rectangles. The white rectangle is placed horizontally on top, red on the bottom. A seam is made to connect the two. Press the seam to the dark (red) side and then align the blue rectangle with the left edge of the red and white rectangles. Stitch the seam and press toward the blue side.

Cut out your star. Use Elmer’s glue stick or a good quality glue stick to adhere the star to the central location of the blue rectangle. Glue down the center and all rays to the blue fabric. Wait a bit for the glue to dry, otherwise the star will still be able to scoot around on the blue fabric. You don’t want the star to be able to move at all.

Adjust your stitch setting to the buttonhole stitch that moves the needle forward across your fabric and align the needle with the top right edge of the upward-pointing star ray. From here, stitch around the star always stopping the needle on the outside edge of the stitch to make a turn. Turn at the tip of each point of the star until the star has been stitched around completely.

When the flag block is completed, cut sashing strips to frame the block. Stitch these strips on the four sides of the flag, with two sides extending beyond the flag block and forming a butt end across the other two sashing strips. This means that if you sew the top and bottom sashing on, then you will cut the end sashing strips long enough to stitch across the flag, the top and the bottom sashing strips thus making a full block. You could place a square at one end of each strip but that would be more work. If this doesn’t make sense let me know and I’ll try to explain it better, okay?

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Last week’s blog left you when I woke up in the recovery room after my double mastectomy.

Desiree stayed with me overnight at the hospital and the next  morning she was instructed in the care of my dangling drainage tubes and how to empty and apply suction to them in the morning and evening. She was a great nurse and I couldn’t believe she was so faithful in taking care of me when she was facing health challenges of her own.

There was no additional cancer found, and the lymph nodes they took were also found to be free of cancer. The cancer they did remove was estrogen reactive, so I was going to have to reduce estrogen in my bloodstream.

I failed the trial with the estrogen reducing drugs. I could not function with them – whether due to my fibromyalgia or some other reason, the drugs sent me to bed with bones and joints aching so deeply I could not function. I finally settled on Calcium D-Glucarate and DIM supplements. I get my estrogen tested periodically and so far it has been too low to measure.

When the surgeons operated, there were flat expandable inserts placed behind my pectoral muscles. Over the next few weeks I returned to Dr. Steele’s office every ten days or so for an injection of saline into these inserts. By doing these injections over time, my pectoral muscles were allowed to stretch and make room for my reconstructed breasts. It was a bit like going through puberty again, except for the hormones, of course. I grew slowly until I was approximately my pre-mastectomy size.

When the doctor and I agreed on the final size desired, we scheduled an outpatient surgery to replace the expandable inserts with “permanent” silicon inserts of the same size. I put quotes around permanent because at any point where there is a problem with the silicon implants they will be replaced.

So now I had the shape, but my breasts looked somewhat lonely or as I called it “blind” without any form of nipple on them. They reminded me of those cave dwelling fish that have no eyes at all.

Anyway, after the implant surgery healed we scheduled a nipple surgery where flaps were cut and folded around on each other to create a raised “nipple” look. There was no color, but the shape was there. Mine did flatten a good bit but not enough to make me want to go through another surgery.

More than a year after the surgery I was able to get areolas tattooed on the skin around and including the raised areas. I am well pleased with the outcome, especially when compared to my fears of looking deformed or maimed like some victims of the early years of mastectomies. To quote Meredith Baxter (the mom to Alex Keaton on “Family Ties”) after her reconstruction “I now have the boobs of an 18-year-old girl. Now how many ladies over 50 can say that?!?

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