Amish Thistle – 1985

1985 was a good year. I was working outside the home and still had a few teenagers who hadn’t left the nest. The Quilters Newsletter was still in print. I had a subscription and enjoyed reading it. I had actually started my part time teaching career. Several of my coworkers gathered around my dining room table to learn how to quilt and we had fun.

The March Quilters Newsletter came, and it had a wonderful picture of a thistle. The colors were what we considered Amish. It was beautiful and I had to make it in those colors. I enlarged it. It would be the center of my quilt.

At that time, there were very few quilt books. My first book was Make a Medalion by Kathy Cook.

It would be the perfect setting for the Thistle.

In 1985, all my quilts were hand quilted. I started quilting, and quilting, and quilting. This quilt is 107″ x 107″. It is big and heavy. More times than I can say, it was put aside to work on something else. Something that would be finished.

I don’t know why I decided to quilt feathers in a row that was so busy the feathers didn’t show.

It was hard to quilt black on black.

This fall, I decided to work on Amish Thistle until it was finished. 35 years is too long for a ufo. It seemed to take forever, but I was very happy when the last stitch was sewn. I will place it on my bed. The colors are perfect for that room. Miss Molly is ageing and can’t jump up on the bed anymore, so it will be safe. She has spent many evenings on the edges of Amish Thistle as I was quilting.

I still have some older ufos. A few are in the 15-to-20-year range. Most can be machine quilted, but some need to be hand quilted. Maybe my next hand quilted quilt will be a Dresden Plate. It was pieced and appliqued in the last 5 years. The plates are original to the 30’s. A friend gave them to me. The muslin for the squares was included. Her grandmother made them long ago. I found some 30’s fabric for the back, so all the fabric is original to the 30’s. There are a few that are left over and will make a wall hanging. Everything is basted and ready to go.

There are three bed quilts, including the Ugly Quilt, that are waiting to be machine quilted.

It’s time to quilt.

Have a great day and happy quilting.

More Dorset buttons

My garden hoses are ancient, stiff and very heavy. It was time to replace both of them. Amazon had a good buy, so I bought two, one for the back of the house and one for the front of the house. They arrived in the nicest packaging.

It looked to me like a small project bag. A friend had some clear plastic and shared some with me. I made the new bag a little wider and longer. It is perfect. The fabric is from my stash of Japanese Robert Kaufmann fabric. I made and added a Dorset button in the colors of the fabric. The Dorset buttons dress up a project. We had a Christmas Yankee swap at the mini group today and the bag has gone to a good home. I did leave a long thread tail on the button so that she can remove the button if she wants and add it to something else.

I have lots of clear plastic and plan to make more project bags. It’s a quick and easy project. I think that a Dorset button has to be part of the bag.

The program chair from the Guild had asked me to teach Dorset button making. I said that I would if enough members wanted to take a class. I needed something to display the buttons for the presentation. I decided on a small shadow wall hanging.

Make a package of backing, batting, and a white fabric. Three bright fabric pieces are stacked and cut into curved pieces with a rotary cutter. The cut pieces are laid one at a time on the white fabric in the same position as they were originally. Some of the spots are omitted with some of the white fabric showing. A lightweight piece of white fabric is placed over the bright fabric. Everything is pinned carefully. The seams are sewn with built in embroidery stitches. It’s o.k. if the intersections of the embroidery stitches are not pleasing. They can be covered with a button. There will be some curvy pieces left over.

I applied all of the buttons that I had made, even my first few buttons which were not very good. It’s a reminder of how far I’ve come.

An angel. I have a few beads with a hole large enough to be threaded with the tapestry needle. My next lesson will be how to attach beads that have small holes. The smaller beads will make a beautiful addition to the thread.

A Cartwheel button made with variegated thread with a white edging. I’m trying new techniques with each button.

This was supposed to be a butterfly. It would have looked better if the top strands were closer together and the wings were higher. It’s pretty but doesn’t look like a butterfly. I’ll try again sometime. Maybe it needs a bead for a head.

A Christmas wreath. It was made with cotton tapestry yarn, not DMC embroidery floss. It was quicker to make with the thicker yarn.

There were enough people who wanted to take a class. I have until April to improve my technique and be comfortable with teaching something that I had never heard of until a month ago. I am learning more with each button that I make.

I have taken a Zentangle class and absolutely love doing it. This was not bad for my first one. More classes will be held in January, and I will go. The Zentangles look like quilting patterns to me. After I learn a lot more, I want to figure out how to transfer Zentangle to quilting. I purposely did not go online to check out Zentangle. I wanted to go into the class with a clear mind and get my information from the teacher. Zentangle is now put away until January.

The Christmas wall hangings are up. I enjoyed making the house center in the December Miss Rosie quilt. It was fun to decorate the house and add all the embroideries.

Merry Christmas and a Happy new year.

Have a great day and happy quilting.

UFOs and Dorset Buttons

Three ufos have come back from the longarm quilter.

This quilt was made a few years back in a class at the Vermont Quilt Festival. It had been hanging in my closet waiting for me to quilt it. That wasn’t to be and I sent it to my longarm quilter who did a marvelous job with the quilting. I usually name my quilts but this one has not been named.

I didn’t make this quilt. The blocks were inherited from a friend who was a wonderful quilter.

The Shadow Quilt was made at the first and only quilt retreat that I ever attended. I had bought a layer cake of Easy Spirit fabric at Mardens. The layer cakes were cut in half and the sashing was cut before I attended the retreat. I could just sew. The top was finished there and was waiting for the long arm quilting.

I still have a lot of small tops waiting to be quilted. Maybe, I should go through them and send some out to be quilted.

In the meantime, I have been hand quilting the Amish Thistle. It is almost finished. One of the Dear Jane border blocks is pieced. It seems as if I never finish much in the sewing room. There are just a lot of starts.

I’ve been asked to design another Mystery Quilt for the Guild. I’ve finally decided what the pattern should be and have been making the quilt to see if I could divide it into pieces. The quilt will have 25 blocks. Twelve of the blocks are the same. The remaining 13 can be divided up into months. It is a simple 16 patch block which consists of squares and half square triangles. It’s very easy to make. All my sample blocks are made. I’ll put them together this weekend to see if I really like the quilt. Then comes the hard work of making the instructions. More on this later.

I saw a show on TV where Dorset buttons were made. They looked interesting. I sent away for an instruction book. The book came from England by Royal Post in four days. That was impressive. The procedure looked easy. The book said that one could be made in 1/2 hour. After a whole day, my first one was made and it was awful. I was very low on the learning curve. Four buttons later, I made one that was passible. Not good, but passible.

The next few were better. I’m finally understanding how to make them. Still on the learning curve.

Variegated thread makes a pretty button.

I made a bouquet of flowers.

A spiral button.

A rainbow button.

Making Dorset buttons is becoming fun. I haven’t made the half hour, but they can be finished in an evening. It’s instant gratification. I have a file in the computer with pictures of buttons that I might like to make in the future. There are angels, Christmas trees. flowered wreaths, lace edges, beads, and many different beautiful ways of making a button. I have so much to learn. Now, I have to figure out a way of displaying the buttons. I may even add the first few to show how far I’ve come.

Have a great day and happy quilting.

More Art Class Fun

Years ago, I could hardly wait to retire so that I could join the machine embroidery class. I had seen the projects that my friends had made. It looked exciting. On the first day, I was given a silk screen piece of fabric that had leaves. I was horrified that I had to take the presser foot off the machine, drop the feed dogs, and sew with a bare needle. Fortunately, I had a great, patient teacher. I was able to sew without sewing my fingers. The others were ahead of me with this project and their embroidery was wonderful. It was my first experience with metal thread. I sewed with gold, copper, and silver. When I finished the piece, I had it framed.

The piece is behind glass so the flash reflects.

Another project was the little girl. She is in a shadow box in my bathroom. A fabric picture of the little girl was free motion stitched over the print. She has 3D clothes. She even has a “diamond” earing.

Another project was “The Tapestry”. I call the technique back door quilting. Each block was completed before it was put together. We used different techniques in each block. After all the blocks were finished, we laid them out several different ways until we liked what we saw. Then the blocks were sewn together and a backing put on the whole piece.

This block was made with an embroidery in the hoop. The background was quilted in loops.
Another hooped embroidery with scribbles in the background.
A lace overlay. Beading. Jewelry was added in different places.
I had some antique buttons that fit over the circled fabric. They were paired with antique lace..

Neckties were added, along with lace and beads.

A piece of flowered fabric was added and embellished. Pink beads are in the center of the pink flowers.
3D objects were added to a hooped embroidery.
Another antique button in middle of lace doily.
In the hoop embroidery with stippling.
Free motion self standing embroideries attached to fabric.

We had so much fun making this Tapestry. Each one was different, but they all had the same look. Looking at it again, makes me think about making another one with scraps. In the meantime, UFOs are calling.

Have a great day and happy quilting.

Art Class Fun

I went to an art show last week. The artist is a dear friend that I have known for years. She does awesome watercolors and fabric art. Several of us went to her house twice a month for years for machine embroidery lessons. The best benefit of going to learn new techniques was not learning the techniques, but having the friendship of the women in the group. We were a family. As in all families, as time went by, some moved away, some became sick and passed away, and some had to stay at home because of other commitments. Soon, there were just two of us and the group disbanded. This was a wonderful part of my life.

Several of the items that were shown at the art show were things that we had made in class. It’s amazing how many things I still have around the house to remind me of those days.

We made a lot of different pillows. I only have a few left. Most were given away as gifts.

Annie Louise’s pocketbook. It is 1 1/2″ X 3″.

A four sided under water scene bag. Each side was different. I’m only showing two sides.

We made many pocketbooks. This is a two sided pocketbook.

We made small dolls. The faces were free motion embroidered. The arms were make of wire that was wrapped around a pencil. Then we added scraps of cloth, beads, yarn and other things to give them life. We never knew if they were male or female until we started dressing them.

This is the only one with a name, She is Ruth Ann. One of my students, whose name was Ruth Ann, had a wonderful piece of aqua and purple fabric. She gave me a piece to dress this happy doll.

We sewed on paper, plastic, lace, ribbons, and everything we could find. Nothing was out of range for us. These flowers were made from crepe paper.

A few other things.

A gray sweatshirt was cut apart and embellished.


A pocketbook was made to go with the sweatshirt jacket.

There was so much more that we learned. We made books, pictures, clothes, wall hangings, and many other things. Most of all, we made memories.

Have a great day and happy quilting.

Back Yard Fun

Several months ago I saw a blog where a child blew colored bubbles on paper. It was a “what if” moment. What if I colored bubble stuff with dyes and blew different colored bubbles on fabric. I told a friend about my thought and she wanted to dye fabric with me.

Summer went by fast and fall is upon us. If we were to do it, we had to do it now. It was hard to choose a day that it wasn’t rainy or windy. Finally, the day arrived. The weather was perfect. Three of us met in my back yard. Brenda, Candy and I were going to have fun.

I had found a home made bubble stuff recipe. The fabric was prepared for dying. Brenda made wire wands. Then we started to blow bubbles. Nothing happened. Very few bubbles came from the wands. The ones that did either blew away or just left vague colors. We tried and tried, but the project seemed to be a failure.

It was just a bend in the road. We had a great time and turned the project into something else. I scrunched and folded fabric and did baggie dying. Brenda flipped dye from her fingers onto the fabric and made wonderful pieces. The fabric that we dyed was awesome.

One of the background fabrics. Made flipping dye with fingers and brush strokes.

The red was dye on leaves. The blue was from a small bottle. The purple was from dye placed on the bottom of a cover. The yellow was flicked from the fingers.

Made with a paint brush. The colors blended at the intersections and makes a very nice plaid.

This is a great one. The purple and yellow green are great together.

The purple spots have a blue aurora borealis effect’

The fabrics that were dyed to go with the larger background fabrics.

The next day, I wondered if I had used commercial bubble stuff and real wands, the procedure would have worked. The next day, Amazon delivered the products and I went out to try them. The end result was the same, The technique didn’t work but I still had great dyed fabric.

The background fabric. It was a lot of small splatters on a white background. I wondered what would happen if I sprayed it with water. The dyes, especially the yellow, spread and covered most of the white. I was disappointed at first, but now really like how it looks.

The fabric that was dyed to go with the background.

I have a lot of quilts to think about and great fabric to work with. I’m wondering if the procion dye was too heavy and rit or cool aid would be better. That’s for another day.

All’s well that ends well. We had fun and ended up with great fabric.

Have a great day and happy quilting.

Summer is Over

It is a cool fall day. My outside work is all done except for a few finishing touches. I will keep my bistro set and lawn chairs out a little longer in case of a warm day. The shed has been cleaned in preparation for their arrival.

There are only a few more days left to do the dye project with one of my friends. We have to get together soon and have a fun day before the snow flies. The supplies are all gathered. The fabric has been washed and is ready for a nice day. Hopefully, the wind will stop so we can do our project in the back yard.

Four lap quilts have been finished and given to the Guild to give to someone who needs a quilt. They are not great beauties, but will be warm. They are just the tip of the iceberg of my unfinished quilt tops. There are several more to be finished and sent on their way.

Last week I wanted to use a built in embroidery on a project that I had started. I spent quite a while looking for the pattern on the machine. I had made a book of all the embroidery patterns that were built in on my other machines, but never did for this one. The striped fabric has been hanging on a hanger in the closet for a long time. Time to get it out and make a book. This has been fun. I didn’t realize that there were so many beautiful patterns. I’m sewing a row of all the patterns as they come up. After that is finished, I can add pages of patterns that I changed by making them wider, longer or combining patterns.

This has been a fun project.

The Shadow quilt has come back from the longarm quilter.

I made this quilt at a retreat before Covid hit. The quilting is beautiful.

Claire’s quilt is on the way to North Carolina. She is four months old now and a beautiful baby.

Inspiration for a new quilt seems to be hiding. In the meantime, I’ve decided to bring out the ugly quilt and work on it for a while. Maybe, I can finish it and move it on to a new home. It will be a great way to practice new free motion quilting patterns. The quilting should be better as I work my way out to the border. Miss Molly does need a new finished quilt to inspect.

Have a great day and happy quilting.

Random Thoughts

This has been a productive and also a non productive week. I bought a pattern for a cute little fabric pouch. The ad said that it could be made in 30 minutes. It would be instant gratification and I could make a few for the craft fair. The pattern was downloaded and read. Pictures were included with the instructions. I knew that the first one would take more than 30 minutes while learning the technique. Everything seemed to be straight forward. Then, when I did the final turn, it didn’t look anything like the pictures. It was awful. One whole day was spent trying to get it right. I finally put it aside and will deal with it later. I unsewed to a point where I could make a small zippered pouch. At least something is finished.

I needed two birthday presents. Nancy Zieman had a program on sewing bags from squares and rectangles. Nancy said that this bag was easy to make. She was right. I made two cosmetic bags out of double sided quilted fabric. It was so much easier to have instructions that worked. I might make a few bags from this pattern for the craft fair. The double sided fabric in my stash is gone so I might machine embroider some pieces for the bags. It’s a great way to use up scraps.

The bags will be smaller as I have a lot of 7″ zippers in the zipper stash. Instead of two pull tabs, I might make one tab and a strap. Each bag could be different. The original bag had an outside pocket. It might be omitted on a smaller bag. Lots to think about. More to come on this project.

I have received a quilt back from my wonderful long arm quilter. She makes the quilts come alive. This quilt was made from the 10″ block patterns in Kimberly Einmo’s book, Precut Bonanza. The fabric was from the Robert Kaufman Japanese fabric box.

I still have a lot of fabric in that box. I might use it in this year’s mystery quilt. The fourth clue for the mystery quilt comes out today and I haven’t even started. I’ll catch up when it snows.

My Maine guild is doing a rip and tear project, Everyone brings a yard of fabric. They stand in a circle and tear the fabric in half. Save one piece and pass one piece. Rip and tear the new piece that you receive. Keep one piece and pass the other one. Keep repeating until the piece is small. Then, the challenge is to make something out of your pieces. Everyone has the same fabrics but different amounts of each one.

My Concord mini guild did the rip and tear project yesterday. There were five people there. One member was missing, but we ripped and tore fabric for her. We have set the finished date for the project for February. This will be a fun project.

Most of the fabrics are dark. We decided that we could add one fabric for the background.

The weather should be good this week. Maybe I can finish the fall cleanup in the gardens. Some flowers are still there. I saw some morning glories along with the silver lace vine. I had planted some seeds in that spot, but didn’t think that they germinated. It was a nice surprise.

The geraniums are now in the house. Also, some cuttings which will hopefully root this fall and winter. I should also pot the rosemary and basil. They won’t survive outside. I bought a large plant stand that has 11 spots for plants. I need to fill it up.

Two of my Christmas cactus plants survived their vacation outside last summer. One is loaded with buds. The other has none. I’ve taken cuttings from the third one to keep it going. All three are different colors.

It’s a pleasure to work outside now that the weather is cooler. Planning for next year while cleaning up the gardens make the work go faster.

Have a great day and happy quilting.

Back To The Sewing Room

Life is getting back to normal after my wonderful trip. The sewing room called. I made the mistake of gathering all the finished tops and counting them. It’s overwhelming. I had no idea that I had made so many tops. I decided to divide and conquer. All the tops are stacked according to size. I chose only six quilt tops that were charity quilt size and found backings that were the right size. Also battings for some of them. Today, I’ll find the battings for the rest. All the other tops are put away out of sight until I finish the six. I can pin baste all six and then quilt them, one at a time, when I feel like it. No time frame or pressure. Then, I can repeat until they are all finished. I may even quilt some by credit card.

Miss Molly has been different since she came home from her vacation. I think that her new prescription food is finally making her feel better. She is jumping around and following me everywhere. She has always relaxed on the sofa, but now has decided to use a chair.

The baby quilt is finished. It is ready to go to the new baby,

One quilt is finished and ready to move on. It was made from the box of 2 1/2″ squares.

Dear Jane is nearing the end of the center blocks. Now, I have to think about the border blocks.

Looking at what I have finished, I should listen to the advice from Queen of Your Own Life. Today the blog said “At the end of the day she often felt like she hadn’t done enough, She decided it was time to stop beating herself up for what she didn’t get done and to finally celebrate all the many things she did accomplish.” There are times when Queenisms are very meaningful.

September is almost gone and the gardens need cleaning up for the season. I am amazed at how many beautiful flowers are still blossoming.

I have two hydrangea bushes. The flowers were few this year, but I noticed that three different flowers were on one bush. I’m not sure how that happened, but they are all beautiful.

A year ago last spring, I bought a silver lace vine from a mail order company. It took a long time to get here and looked dead when it arrived. I planted it anyway. It didn’t do much last year. This year, it is growing up a trellis and is beautiful. The vine is still spindly, but the leaves and flowers are heavy. It filled the trellis so I hung strings between one trellis and another one. The vine is almost at the second trellis. I’ll have to buy a bigger trellis next year.

An arched trellis would be nice going over the butterfly bush.

It’s time to bring in the plants that need to overwinter in the house. Plants that have gone by need cutting back. Rogue roses need to be pulled out. This year was a watching year for the garden. Now that I know what blossoms when and where, I have a better idea of what I need to do next spring. I can dream and plan all winter. I do know that I need to have lots of white cosmos. They are so beautiful.

Have a great day and happy quilting.

Parting Thoughts and Other good things

There were so many people who coordinated this wonderful trip. Beth is a press release person who interviewed Jean and me. She wrote a press release and presented it to a reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer. We were interviewed by the reporter on the phone before we left and at the show. There was an article about Jean and me in that newspaper last week.

Sometime during one of our meetings, I was asked to take one of my quilts down to Philadelphia with me. I thought the reporter wanted to photograph me with one of my quilts so I took Basket and Butterflies.

On Friday, we attended a lecture by Kathryn Jenson White. She makes alphabet quilts. It was a fascinating lecture. She is an amazing, funny woman.

Jean and me at the lecture

At the middle of her lecture, she said “My next quilt is —– wait—-That’s not my quilt.” Her quilt holders were holding Basket and Butterflies. What a surprise and honor to have a quilt shown at her lecture and Quilt Extravaganza. She read notes that I had written about the quilt, supposedly for the reporter. I had to stand for a round of applause. At that moment, I was in a state of shock. It was the highlight of the whole trip.

But, there was more fun to be had. After the lecture, Jean and I had our picture taken with Kathryn. I still haven’t received copies of this picture, but will someday. Several people came to me and talked about my quilt. Wow !!! what an honor.

Then “my handlers” asked me to go to a vendor and demonstrate a machine. I said that it had to be a Janome. I have Janome machines and it is the only machine that I know how to operate. We went to the Janome booth. I sat down at the machine and explained how it worked. All the time with cameras on me. It was a new model, unfamiliar to me. Most of the buttons are the same as mine, but there were new features. The dealer and I talked about all the functions. I was sewing a pictorial (a little car) when I asked what one button was. It was a pivot button. I drove that little car right around the corner. What fun. I don’t have that function on my machine but I can do it manually.

At one point, Jean and I were asked to walk up and down the aisles, looking at the quilts, while a drone took pictures overhead. We walked and talked about the quilts. At this point, we didn’t pay any attention to cameras. They were with us all the time. We turned around and were startled because the drone was right in front of our faces.

I talked to the Kangaroo sewing table vendor about my new table and how much I loved it. When I was leaving his booth, he gifted me with a sewing basket.

Jean and I browsed through the vendors in the afternoon. I bought a pattern, some fabric and some honey tea. We had to leave the show. It was closing time.

That evening, we dined at an upscale restaurant. Excellent food. Then back to Lake In Wood for a little shopping at their store.

Driving back to the train station was different than going to the resort. It was Saturday. Apparently, Saturday is wash day. Close lines were full of Amish dresses and men’s pants. It was also yard sale day. Every house in one town had a yard sale. Horses and buggies were all over the place. It looked like a lot of good things at the yard sales. Too bad we had to get to the train station. I love a good yard sale.

The train trip was the reverse of the trip going down. Great service, more excellent food. We were both exhausted. David met us in Boston and took me right to my front door. Jean car was at the office, so she was taken there and then she drove to her home. My house seemed empty without Miss Molly. I was exhausted and went to bed early.

The next day, I brought Miss Molly home from her spa. She had been groomed and must have had a wonderful time. She has been sleeping for two days. Good news. Miss Molly’s lab tests came back fine. She is healthy.

This was a once in a lifetime trip. The My Jump people took us first class all the way. It is an awesome program. Now it’s back to real life. I have to decide what to make next. It’s list time.

I did make a decision while at the show. I have finished piecing and quilting the last row of the Dear Jane quilt. The 12th and 13th rows are sewn together in rows. They have to be added to the rest of the quilt. I was undecided if I would add the outside borders or consider it finished when the inside blocks were done. After seeing the Dear Jane quilts at the show, I am going to make the outside border. They are needed to finish the quilt. I still have to make 52 triangle blocks plus the corners. It really is a long term quilt.

The gardens need cleaning up before winter sets in. I am thinking of a dye project to do outside with a neighbor. Lots to do outdoors before the weather changes. We have had lots of rain, but the next few days look promising.

Have a great day and happy quilting.