Archive for November, 2009

More HeartStrings blocks

Our Block Party continues and I started a second set today – these with brown centers.


Join the Block Party!

Choosing quilting designs

Sue requested I talk about how I decide what to quilt on a particular top and while I’m certainly no authority, I’ll share a little of my process.

My quilts tend to be scrappy as do most of the donated tops I get in so I’m usually looking for texture because the designs aren’t going to show up all that well. I’m also looking for quick because of all the donation quilting I do.

I tend to use a thread that somewhat blends rather than standing out and I use more solid than variegated thread.

For very scrappy tops like the string quilts and the recent Orange Crush, I like designs that give really consistent texture – Freehand Baptist Fans, Swirls, Dwirling from the Pajama Quilter DVD, and other pantographs like the clamshells. I’ve found that an allover freehand pattern tends to just get lost AND it can be hard to see my previous quilting lines too.


Freehand Baptist Fans

For scrappy quilts that have more background to them I try to use an allover freehand pattern — leaves are one of my favorites or a pantograph that has motifs that will show up well in the quilt.

Freehand flowers

Freehand flowers


Feather Me Pantograph

Grids are fun – I don’t have as much opportunity to quilt them but on tops like the HeartStrings Happy Blocks or my Boxed Squares, they’re quick and easy and keep the quilts soft and cuddly too.

Freehand Grid

Freehand Grid

I do very little custom quilting mainly because my tops don’t call for it and due to the volume of donation tops I have here, the goal is to quilt them nicely but quickly. So pretty much the only time you’ll find me doing any custom quilting is on a top pieced by my Mom or my Aunt and not that often on those.

One of my new quilting books by Nan Moore has an interesting concept of continuous block designs that are quilted edge to edge and I’ve been thinking about how that might work for me but haven’t tried it yet.

I also have a few tops here that are pieced squares and I’m thinking that I’ll do some type of continuous curve or line dancing quilting on them.

Line Dancing

Line Dancing

Yes, another top quilted

And a back AND batting pieced, quilts trimmed, and even a couple finished quilts have been washed so far today.

This top was pieced by Barbara in FL and quilted with a pantograph called Steam by Norma Sharp. I quilted this one horizontally but it’s one that looks good when you load the quilt lenthwise too with the steam going vertically. I might just do that on a Chinese Coins top I have ready for quilting.


Have you noticed that I’ve been sorting through my pantographs lately?? Steam, Improved Clamshells, Leap Frog, and Double Rose Vine haven’t been used in quite a while.

You have  probably also noticed that I rarely do an overall meander (which would be quicker) on these donation quilts but like to do something a little more special while still keeping them from taking too long to quilt.  So I usually choose an overall freehand design or a pantograph that isn’t to dense or complex.

Keith called and he’s going to be free for dinner tonight so I’m going to walk down to join him. He’s at an in town sales meeting and has been staying at the hotel with the other participants.

Another one quilted

Remember this top from Helen? (This was a Bonnie Hunter pattern– Orange Crush)

I quilted it today with the pantograph Improved Clamshell by Kathie James and while this one takes a while to quilt, I thought the texture would be just perfect for this scrappy top.


It’s one of two I want to donate next month to Habitat for Humanity.

Veteran’s Day

On Wednesday, I was running around getting my quilts ready for my talk and getting Chesty to the Vet and didn’t have time to work on quilts to honor soldiers and veterans. Today however, I finished labeling, washing, and packing 6 quilts that will go to Fort Hood, the family of a soldier killed in Afghanistan, and to Alycia for her Quilt of Valor project.DSC_9080

I’m happy to have a way to show my appreciation for those that serve and to honor my father-in-law and my Dad who were both veterans.

A little fun

Every now and then it’s fun to go to Wordle and see what I’m writing about.


A long day

Even after spending most the afternoon at the University with Chesty, I did manage to get quilts labeled and organized for mailing, mailing labels printed, a couple quilts washed, and even one quilted but now I’m ready for bed!

Pieced by Cheryl and quilted with the Leap Frog Pantograph by Norma Sharp.


Poor Chesty

Chesty was seen at the University today and they’re going to try lithotripsy but are unsure if they’ll be able to get the stones so he may end up with surgery. He’ll have to have anesthesia regardless of which procedure they do but I’m still hoping for no incision.  Of course, I almost choked when they told me how expensive it was going to be….but what can you do? The treatment isn’t optional and besides, we love the little ball of fluff !

Unfortunately, they can’t do the procedure until next Monday (the 23rd) so I’m hoping he doesn’t have any problems before then.

Thanks for all the comments wishing him well.

More help!

Last night Sheree took 4 more quilts for binding and brought these 4 back that she and Cindy bound for me. The first two were sent to me by San (Gypsy Quilter) and are intended as Quilts of Valor.



The Happy Block quilt was pieced by Ann (sent to me by Liz)


And finally, this was pieced by Sue and her group in CA.


What a huge help Sheree and Cindy have been with the binding and makes me wonder why I resisted having help for so long — probably  because binding has always been my time to sit and admire a quilt and think about the person who would receive it and the warmth and comfort it will provide.  I won’t send them all away for binding but for now I’m really appreciate of the help.

Deep Valley Quilters, Mankato

I had a great time last night speaking at the guild meeting. I’m always nervous but I love having the opportunity to talk about HeartStrings. The first photo is of Dee (who invited me to speak), Sheree, and me holding a HeartStrings quilt.

Dee, Sheree, Mary-Mankato 11-09And in this one you can see all the quilts lined up. I’m not used to speaking with a microphone but Dee lowered it for me so it was a little easier.

Mary in Mankato 11-09Got to run Chesty to the University now – cross your fingers!

Lots of quilts to show

Thanks for all comments with sympathy for Chesty, unfortunately he’s going to need to have bladder stones removed and we have an appointment on Friday to see if he’s a candidate for Lithotripsy. If not, he’ll have to have surgery to remove them.

I did manage to get the quilts for my talk tomorrow packed up — I don’t know how those of you who routinely talk to guilds carry your quilts but I had so many I wanted to show this time that these two duffel bags were perfect. The green bags contain four quilts that Sheree is going to help me out by binding.

Chesty gets nervous when he see any kind of packing going on and I’m sure he’s wondering where I’m heading.


Some piecing, quilting, and urine collection

We thought Chesty might have a urinary tract infection so I collected a urine specimen this morning to carry to the vet — not as complicated as I thought it would be using a disposable pie tin to collect and a small Tupperware container to transport. Unfortunately, in additional to a probable UTI he also has some crystals in his urine which are indicative of stones so he’ll go in tomorrow for an x-ray.


And still I managed to get some work done. The teal HeartStrings top is finished.


And this small top pieced by Cecile is quilted.


The quilting is hard to see but it’s a pantograph by Norma Sharp called Leap Frogs and you can probably see it better in this shot of the back.


A little quilting today

This top was assembled by San and quilted today with the pantograph Ebb & Flow. I’m trying to get a few tops quilted to take on Thursday so I can take advantage of Sheree’s help with binding.


Design Wall Monday

I’m so excited that I actually have something on the wall that hasn’t been there forever. I started these HeartStrings blocks last week and now I’m in the process of assembling the top.


I’ll start some more blocks this week as HeartStrings is having a month long Block Party. For details on how you can join in visit the HeartStrings site.

And here’s a simple little quilt that I designed for Mom on my visit in October.  She finished the top and send me this photo today. Isn’t it cute?

mom's frogs

Quilt show

I attended a local quilt show today. Kathy, one of our HeartStrings members is here (standing) in the charity booth they had set up — see the HeartStrings and Happy Block quilts?


While there, I attended the lecture given by Karen McTavish. I’d taken a class from her years ago and she’s always entertaining.


Two more finished

I think I’ve mentioned I’m in love with tying HeartStrings quilts especially when I can use a recycled cotton or flannel blanket for the batting. I tied these two tops pieced by Sue and her group in CA at the sew-in on Halloween with a little help from Sue and Jean and now they’re done.

My favorite first, our usual HeartStrings layout.


I know I talk a lot about hand stitched bindings but these tied quilts with the backing brought to the front are the exception. Ann and Brenda were stitching these down at the Maine sew-in using a decorative stitch and they looked good.


I will however continue to hand stitch my regular bindings. I like the way they look and I don’t have the patience to sit at the sewing machine and sew them twice. This one just needs to be folded over and sewn once. Quick and Easy just like I like it!

Look at these red ties – don’t they look great?

DSC_9012And here’s the second one I finished today too. I’m not as fond of the zig zag setting but I understand that people want to use different settings and it keeps it interesting.


And finally, I didn’t get started on assembling these blocks yet but I’ve got them arranged — except for two that I see in the photo that I want to move around. Keith gets home tonight so maybe after he goes to bed I’ll start sewing some of them together.


Remember Mom’s pineapple quilt?

When I took it to her last month, we decided that it looked so good with her new sofa that I’d come home and quilt another top for our annual donation to her church. We make 2 quilts each year and she pulls two names off the Angel Tree at Christmas.


Quilted with an oldie but good — the pantograph Double Rose Vine by Norma Sharp.


This was a top I pieced earlier this year and combines two of my favorite things –  strings and log cabin blocks. There are instructions on my site and I’ll send Mom some of my leftover binding ends to finish this off.

Now I’m going upstairs to put my walking foot on my machine to work on bindings myself and I might even get a start on assembling the set  of HeartStrings blocks I finished piecing Tuesday night.

Sometimes it takes me a while

This top was sent to me by a member of the Quilting Queens guild along with a bunch of HeartStrings blocks. The blocks were sent to Sue and assembled into quilts but I hadn’t gotten around to quilting this top until today.

I always warn people  that send tops for quilting that it may take me a while to get to them but they DO get finished and donated. I don’t need any external pressure so I make no guarantees about timeframes.  Unfortunately, this is the first time I can’t remember the name of the person sending the top, I thought I had a blog post when it arrived but haven’t been able to find it so shame on me BUT the good news is the top is quilted it’s on it’s way to being finished. (And since my memory seems to be going, I’ve bought a notebook to log tops that come in to me and those that go out to a few of the volunteers that help me quilt).


I freehand quilted flowers from the Pajama Quilter DVD.


I delivered two finished quilts today to Habitat for Humanity — pieced by Sharon and by Kathie both took me a while to finish and donate but they were SO thrilled to receive the quilts and I was happy to be a part of finishing and donating them.

And just because he’s too cute….one more photo of Chesty in his hoodie!


After a visit to the beauty parlor

I know you all were worried that Chesty needed all that fur to get through the frigid Minnesota winter, but just imagine how furry he’d be by the end of the winter.  He’s all clean and shaved but don’t worry, I bought him a new sweatshirt to keep him warm while the fur grows back.


Isn’t this cute?


I started to clean up the quilt trimmings

But I didn’t get very far before I started a new set of HeartStrings blocks. We’re having a Block Party this month and I couldn’t wait to get started. Bad photos taken with my phone but I’m too lazy to go retake them with the camera.

photo (7)

I think Chesty was glad I didn’t get it all cleaned up! He’s very overdue for grooming but I’m finally taking him tomorrow — he will look completely different!

photo (8)