Archive for July, 2009

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!

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

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.


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.

Another photo

This lesson was on using a clipping mask to distress the edges of a photo. I took the photo in Florida a few weeks ago and while it’s very monochromatic, I like it.

Again, for anyone wondering — I’m taking the class at It’s one of several I’ve taken there and have learned a lot about using Photoshop Elements.

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

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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Photos lifted from Chris

I didn’t take many photos this weekend but Chris had his camera and I borrowed these two from him. The first one is of Keith and I and the second one is of the McLaughlin’s – my brother Pat who was the one getting married is next to Mom.

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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

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.

St George Island, MD

The wedding is tomorrow. Enjoying the time with Chris and the rest of the family.

Painting Rocks

When the boys were growing up we always did a lot of arts and crafts and I got a kick out of this kit in Barnes & Nobles the other day because at one time we were into painting rocks. If I’d been home, I would have bought it just to paint a couple to send to the boys.

When I got back to Mom’s I was telling her about the kit and she told me she still had some rocks we’d painted on one of her visits…..we can’t remember who painted which ones but she had these 4 tucked away in her drawer.


Mom and I are taking the train up to my sister’s in Maryland today and then on Friday will head down to my brother’s for his wedding, I’ll fly home from Maryland on Sunday with Keith so I’ll be covering a lot of miles and modes of transportation (train, car, plane) over the next few days.

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