Monthly Archives: July 2009

How easily do you get bored?

Published / by Mary / 15 Comments on How easily do you get bored?
With a quilt like this with lots of the same block — I like to get a bunch layed out on the design wall and then take 15 minutes here and there to sew one or two of them at a time. I know it would be quicker to sit down and sew them all at once but I have a low tolerance for boredom in my quilting.

I’m puttering along with my binding too – I can’t believe how slow I’m working these days…. in fact, I can’t quite figure out where the days are going.

More donations

Published / by Mary / 8 Comments on More donations
From Sue and her Oroville/Chico California group, these 9 HeartStrings tops that will be finished by me and other volunteers in the coming months and donated to those in need.

Today’s photo editing lesson combined a number of previous lessons. I chose this photo taken in April on our Ireland trip. It has some of the things I loved best about Ireland – the water, the green grass, stone walls and ruins.

I love the wrinkled old fashioned look the textures give it — appropriate for a photo taken in the country my grandparents emigrated from.

More photo editing lessons

Published / by Mary / 2 Comments on More photo editing lessons
The edge burning effect is subtle but effective at making the center of this photo – the tree – really pop out from the background.

In this lesson, a texture was applied to the photo using overlay blending mode and text was added.
The challenge is finding the right photo for the technique — or rather, finding the right technique to enhance the photos. Luckily, I’m able to access all the instructions for the techniques even after the class is over so I can refer back to them as needed.

Some days

Published / by Mary / 9 Comments on Some days
Some days getting up and dressed is about as much as I feel up to accomplishing but I’ve found that getting outside for a little bit each day helps. Today, a walk around the neighborhood, lunch out, and a cup of coffee with my book and now I’m ready to head upstairs to sew a bit.
To see my neigborhood up close — click on the collage to enlarge!

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I was upstairs sewing this afternoon

Published / by Mary / 21 Comments on I was upstairs sewing this afternoon
When I was upstairs finishing all my pink pinwheel blocks this afternoon (yeah!) I got to thinking about my process. I tend to work in a particular way with my scrap quilts — it’s not necessarily the quickest way but it works for me and it goes something like this….
1. pull a lot of fabric in the colors I plan to use and then sort through and refine my selection. I tend to lay them on top of each other with about an inch or two of each fabric showing and remove any that I don’t think will work — with my scrap quilts — more fabrics are better.
2. start cutting enough of the different fabrics to begin to make several blocks.
3. piece a few blocks and put them on the design wall to evaluate how my fabrics are working.
4. make any necessary adjustments — sometimes this means removing or adding fabrics to my mix.
5. continue to cut a while then piece a while — I NEVER cut one of my own scrap quilts out all at once.
6. when I get down to the last *set* of blocks I make sure I’ve got a good mix of fabrics cut for them — I hate getting down to just one or two more blocks and having to cut more.
7. once the blocks are made and up on the design wall, I decide if I need any changes to my planned setting — this could be more blocks or occasionally sashing or a twisted setting or a change in borders.
8. once the blocks are pieced together I usually reassess the plan for borders again — does the quilt need them? is it the right size already? pieced or plain? I love quilts without borders so this always gets a lot of thought because I only add them if I feel the quilt needs them (or if I got tired of making blocks and it needs to be bigger).
On my current quilt I’m up to step #6 with just 5 more brown star blocks to piece — but first, I’ll have to cut and sew more half square triangles.
For me, my most successful quilts are those where I’m willing to be open to making changes as the quilt takes shape.
So, what’s your process? Cut all and THEN sew? Cut and sew together? Start with a plan and stick with it? Start with a plan and modify it as you go along?

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Mail and a finish!

Published / by Mary / 4 Comments on Mail and a finish!
Look what the mailman brought! Six pieced backs for HeartStrings quilts….I can’t begin to tell you how helpful it is when I receive backs already pieced and ready to load on the longarm — it saves me a lot of time and I really appreciate Tish sending me these.

And I finally have a finish! I’ve had a stack of quilts waiting for bindings….kind of unusual for me because I usually keep up better with my binding. This little top was pieced by Cheryl and now it’s all ready to wash and donate.

I also wanted to thank everyone who commented on my post the other day. I’ve written many of you back but in some cases didn’t have email addresses to respond to others.
I’m quilting at a slower pace this summer than is usual for me and I found it interesting to read how strong the committment to quilting is for many us….surviving a lack of time or even periods where we don’t quilt at all but always drawing us back in.

Still working

Published / by Mary / 11 Comments on Still working
I’m piecing the last few pink blocks for the Stars & Pinwheels and then have 6 or 7 more brown Star blocks …I’m ready to get this top finished and move on to something else but I do love how it’s turning out. For instructions and illustrations of the quilt in other colorways see my site.

My photo editing lesson today uses a technique to simulate a photo taken through the viewfinder of an old camera….here’s my original photo taken one evening on the Mississippi River.

And here’s the desaturated photo with the texture applied.
Keith and I were out this afternoon on our bikes along the river, we rode over to the bike shop to buy saddle bags for my bike, then to a farmers market and back across the river to sit in the park and sip some iced coffee — just a gorgeous day that makes me thankful for the beautiful city I live in.


Published / by Mary / 1 Comment on Textures
Today’s photoshop lesson was textures. While it’s nothing special, I’ve always liked this photo of Adam with his cousin taken through the window at Mom’s house.

I tried two different techniques — the first one is more subtle but the texture shows better in the 2nd version.

Have you ever wondered….?

Published / by Mary / 57 Comments on Have you ever wondered….?
I finally spent some time in the sewing room yesterday but while I was up there I wondered what I would do if my interest in quilting disappeared completely.
Don’t panic — it’s not happening but as I putter my way through the summer without the drive I usually feel to be quilting, I thought about all the money I have invested in this hobby that I expect to hold my interest for another 30 years and what a waste it would be if I just stopped quilting one day.
I’ve been quilting for almost 9 years now and if I live long enough … I expect to be quilting well into my 70’s like my Mom. How about you — do you see yourself quilting for as long as you are able to or do you see your interest wanning?

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I’m going up to sew

Published / by Mary / 9 Comments on I’m going up to sew
I spent all afternoon running errands while Chesty was being groomed — he looks so skinny! Now, I’m going to go up and make at least 2 blocks on the Stars and Pinwheels quilt and fill in those two holes on the design wall.

But first, I’ll share the results of my digital editing lesson for the day — desaturating an image, adding a sepia tint, and framing to create a softer, more vintage look to a photo.
Keith & Mary 2002

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Photo Editing

Published / by Mary / 9 Comments on Photo Editing
I haven’t played with my photos in a while so I’m taking a free photo framing class at to ease back in. I’ve also been lazy about taking photos the last few months of anything other than quilting projects so I’ll be looking back through old photos and maybe heading out with the camera some too.

I use Photoshop Elements 7 for my digital editing but also like some of the editing tools in Picasa 3 (it’s free) if I’m in a hurry to make a few changes to a photo.

I’m home

Published / by Mary / 11 Comments on I’m home
My flowers look pretty pathetic after 10 days but I pinched off all the dead ones and watered it well so cross your fingers it comes back to life. Geraniums seem pretty hardy and my baskets last year survived all season in spite of neglect when I was traveling so I’m hoping this one will too.

On my design wall this Monday:

Not much progress before I left on the last trip but you can see the Stars and Pinwheels slowly taking form. I continue to make half square triangles and assemble the blocks – hopefully I’ll get a couple more blocks made this week. I’d also like to get the Hearts top loaded and quilted but first I have a lot of mail and email to get through.