Thursday, November 27, 2008

Always time for thanks....

It's late in the evening. My Internet connection has been gone all day, and now is finally restored.
So instead of the big Thanksgiving piece I was intending to write, I'll just take a moment to say I am so grateful for my friends, who put up with me, and for my family, especially my son and husband who cooked the entire traditional feast!

I have learned from quilting that paying attention to a mistake makes it look much larger than it is. So what we pay the most attention to is the biggest thing in out lives.
This is one of the few ways we can take control when times are tough.
Now more than ever it's important to recognise the good things we are thankful for, and if our attention is placed there, it makes our blessings even larger.

I hope you had a good day today, or that at least part of it was good. Think about that good part!
There are a lot of holidays coming up, and I am going to see if I can turn them all into quilting celebrations.
I hope you come along for the ride!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thankful for Fabric...

Thanksgiving is approaching, and I thought it would be a good time to consider things I am thankful for.
But I don't want to just give the "beauty pageant" sort of answers.
Definitely I am thankful for fabric.... all the designers and companies, and also the many very fine hand-dyers who have brought some real quality and variety to our choices.

Today was a trip with Cherry-Cherry to a local shop that's a bit farther than my daily rounds, Country Crossroads. They were kind to carry my patterns during QuiltFest. I am very thankful for the friendliness of shop owners...they are part of what makes quilting fun & rewarding!
CC got some thread needed for continuing a job (nothing like running out and finding the spool you have was it's match by memory & eye time!).
I was on the lookout for some fabric, and found theses lovelies:
"Jumpin' Java" by Sue Zipkion for Clothworks
Really, it's coffee beans all over!
Then I found this swirly stuff, which CC claims she already has!
"Marble" Michael Miller fabrics
Could be it is time for anothe photography lesson, because this fabric is much more green & brown than it appears here.
Last but not least....
Patt. # BTR-5196 from Blank Textiles

What's goin' on here????? These are supposed to be orange flowers!!!!
This looks absolutely nothing like the fabric I bought! I wonder if it actually comes in a pink colorway?
I guess that reminds us to be careful of buying fabric online or from a catalog...who knows what the real color is!

Meanwhile, back in the business world, I have renewed my domain name for another 5 years (sounds really important, huh?) so my website can continue running as
You could visit there and see the new class I've added, "Quirky Bits".
Will I ever manage to get "Perky Old Men" online as a free pattern? I have been promising it for 6 months now!
When I do, you (dear readers) will be the first to know!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Bag of Ugly Fabric

"The Bag gets around."
That what it says on the side of this crumpled brown paper grocery sack.

It all started last November at the Sunshine State Quilters Association symposium. There had been quite a bit of fabric donated for both door prizes and for a sewing competition that would result in a charity project.
After viewing this pile, it was suggested that we have an Ugly Fabric challenge. Several of the ugliest pieces of fabric (as chosen by the guild president) were put into a bag.

All the names of the people attending were put into a drawing, and the one selected would have to take the bag home, make something, and come to the next meeting to show how that ugly fabric was used. Then another name would be drawn, and that person would get the bag.
Of course, more ugly fabric would be added!

The first person who got the bag was allowed to give it to one other person, but it could not be passed further. So it ended up in the hands of A. CoffeeQueen, a known reader of this very blog.
She ended up being quite inspired and made several articles, setting a very high bar for the next bag-holder!

The second poor soul recieved this bag in March, and had to show up in November with her item. Here it is...I have cropped her from the picture to repect her privacy! Or possibly her sanity.

I think she should be very proud of her accomplishment! This is a beautiful carry-all! The patchwork style is called Pioneer Braid.
But then it was time for passing the bag on, and wouldn't you know, my name was drawn! I just might be the only person happy to get this collection of weirdness. And I do mean weird!
This is a small idea of what was in the can't even see the material with flames on it.
I think most of it is perfectly fine!
That piece draped on the bag is really interesting, though. It's a highly polished chintz, and on the selvedge it claims to be both pre-shrunk and to have 2% shrinkage!
I'm not sure how long I have for this project...some yet-to-be-announced date in the I'd better get on it soon.
As I'm working, I'll let get some more pictures of this stuff.
My biggest problem will be adding fabric for the next person.
Because I don't have any ugly fabric...none at all!

Quilting at the Campbell Folk School!

Campbell Folk School classes were just posted for the remainder of 2009, so now is the time to check them out! Click HERE for the link, and then click BROWSE CLASSES at the top right.

Or you can go right to my class by clicking this link.
Am I excited?

You bet!

And only 11.5 months to wait!

I'll be teaching a class based on the mystery quilt I did in 2007, but this one is greatly expanded and will allow students to choose from about 30 patterns to create their own design...wall hanging to bed quilt.

This is the original quilt:
Ah, when I finally get all my quilts nicely photographed on my new stand, you will be the first to be forced to mean the first to have the opportunity to see them!

Ok, I promise the next post will reveal the Story of the Bag of Ugly Fabric!

Yes! I do have an exclaimation mark in every title!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Scrap Basket Returns Home!

This is where my famous Over-Flowing Scrap Basket lives. As you can see, it is not at home!
I'd like to say that "Starter Kit" is for scraps, but it's really a box that held Mason jars for canning. So it makes a sturdy container for some Xmas fabric (please note the word "some").

I just got back from visiting with the Space Coast Quilters in Titusville, to give my lecture about "Taming the Scrap Basket".
Wow...they had a super Show & Tell!
You should go see their show February 20 & 21, 2009, "Quilting From the Heart IX".
They'll have the usual quilt show events, but this one has a Bed Turning as well as demos. I heard that the members practically had to audition to be allowed to do the Celtic applique on the raffle quilt.
Even more important....they are serving up real home-cooked food! And these ladies are just as into cooking as they are quilting.
If you didn't do it already, click on the guild's name and visit their website for more info.

The Old Basket got a good work-out in Titusville, and I had to sort back through it to find some of my lecture items. But I did get it all back in place...And now the Scrap Basket is back in it's home, getting rested up for next year.

This was my last trip for 2008, but I am looking forward to being back on the road in 2009 for lectures and classes from guild meetings, to retreats, November when I return to the
John C. Campbell Folk School in No. Carolina!

Please check in tomorrow....I will tell you the beginning of the Story of the Bag of Ugly Fabric.
The end is yet to be known!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Foiled Again!

Once again my Big Plans to post from the road have been foiled!
I tried, but could not get a strong enough Wi-Fi signal....I'm sorry to have left you faithful commenters without any Patchwork Pie, and I do thank you for checking in!
Here's the scene:

Laptop up and running, but no outside connection!
I had to resort to playing with EQ6. On screen is the block pattern we made at my guild's retreat earlier this month.

Have you been on a retreat for quilters?
It has everything to do with sewing, laughing, and eating.
It has nothing to do with cooking! Everyone agrees that the best part is no planning, preparing or cleaning up meals!

The next most burning issue:
The Mysterious Ms. E's Scrap Basket!

It's pitiful condition is due to some quilters who really enjoyed rooting through and helping themselves to some fabric, as well as Ms. E making quite a number of Mile-A-Minute starter chunks.
Well, she calls it Mile-An-Hour...but it's still a theraputic & non-demanding activity, fast OR slow!
I did bring some green fabrics to add to the basket.
And one thing I know, those scraps will start self-propagating, just as they did for Cherry-Cherry, who now has multiple scrap containers!
Watch out, Ms. E!

This is the Sunshine State Quilters Association's raffle quilt. R-A-F-F-L-E ! I can't speak for other states, but in Florida you can run a raffle if you have the proper registration with the state office of consumer affairs. So yes, we may proudly call this a raffle quilt!
Of course, we all know the price of the ticket(s) is really a donation to help quilters keep doing their good work for charities and the world of quilting.
The quilt is called , "All Around the Town" and has a real variety of house blocks.
Which is mine?
Where else would I live but in The Rick-Rack Shack!

This retreat was also the Annual Meeting for SSQA, and as our special speaker we had Mary Sorensen. Her presentation was "Visual Texture: The Quiltmakers' Secret Weapon", using pictures of quilts to illustrate each point.
There was a lot to learn about fabric selection, though basically she encouraged us to "buy it all!"
I was thrilled that Mary asked for a picture of my Quirky Bits quilt (seen at Show & Tell) to add to the her program!
Of course, now I have to send her some more info about it, and that means I will have to also explain Perky Old Men....
there's no telling where this could lead!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wild Roses Wallhanging & You! "wallhanging" one word or two? SpellCheck seems confused about that issue.
I like it as one word.
If you left a comment here in October, your name was in a drawing for this wallhanging. But if you prefer, you may have won this "wall hanging":
The winner, one of Patchwork Pie's readers who lives in a tropical setting, may appreciate this is a Canadian pattern called Wild Roses (batik). It is Quilt Pattern #3996-1, designed by Castilleja Cotton, 6411 Coach Hill Rd. SW, Calgary, Alta. Canada, T3H 1B4.
Web page:

The runner-up is getting the pattern, because she admired it so much.
For you fans of copyright law, it is OK to give away the entire pattern.
It would not be OK for me to make a copy for myself to keep!

I love patterns like this with simple pieces (and fusible, too!). They give you a good place to start off for creative expression. There is so much I could have done with these Wild Roses, but chose to spend less time on this one.

What I did do was make some 3-D centers with gold embroidery floss, and also outlined where the petals touch so they would show up better. For that I used a darker value of the thread color, in the bobbin & on top.
Which shows up like this on the back:

Yes, it is true I don't care that much about the back. I will always care more about the front.
You can see the leaf shapes, but the thread actually just melts into that backing fabric, and would have been quite nice if I had not gone over the inside petals!
The pink is showing because it's a different color and has multiple rows to make a heavier line.

If the background fabric (on the front) had been more of a solid, I think it would have looked great quilted with the shape of the leaves.
Repeating a pattern shape (pieced or appliqued) is always a good starting-off point for deciding a quilting pattern.

I'd like to know what you're thinking about and working on, quilt-wise. It's easy to leave a comment ...
at the bottom of this post, just click on the word "comments" and a window will pop up for you to write in.
Then type the funny puzzle-like word in the proves you are Human (as opposed to a Spammin' Robot) so that's a good thing, as Martha would say.
If you don't want to use the comment section, please feel free to e-mail me at sunsky
Yes, I left a space in my address so the "spammin' robots" wouldn't send me messages about drugs for body parts I do not have!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Six Unexpected Quilts

Today was Demo Day at my guild, and I stepped in for a friend who couldn't make it.

Her demo was The Super-Size 9-Patch, a really quick baby quilt devised by Anita G. Solomon (
It's a 3 yards = 3 quilt tops idea...two folds, two cuts, then the fabrics are traded around in a different position in each quilt.

I dove into my collection of holiday fabrics and pulled out 6 yards I thought would work, giving me 1 yard to show the cutting for each group rotating through the various demos.

I have set up the fabrics to show just the center & top of the quilts-to-be.
Just scroll down quickly, as these may be too awful for viewing by sensitive eyes!

Here is the first set:
OK, this looks acceptable.

Light corners are not the greatest...

Yes, well.....could be worse. Maybe.
On to another set of 3 fabrics!

Now this is more like what I had in mind!

Oh, no! The penquins have decided to lay down!
Please note that this is not reccommended for directional fabric.
However, when we used this quilt for the Kids Camp (yes, it is "easy enough for a child to do"!), the ones with directional fabric were just enjoyed sideways and nobody got upset.

Actually this looks better in real life....but not much!

I'm going to take these with me to the SSQA Retreat this weekend, sew the pieces into tops, and then quilt them.
What could possible be more appropriate than this backing, blue snowflakes on fleece!

That is not a blurry photo, that's just the way fleece looks.
It's soft, cuddly, and washes well.
And for quilts like these, it is perfect: it makes the batting and the back, all in one piece.
There will be a real binding, as it is the best finish for any wear & tear. I plan to give these away mean in time to enjoy for the holidays!

I'll have WI-FI (or so they say) at the retreat this weekend, so look for some photos of these baby quilts in progress (I promise only a few!) as well as other projects. The best part of a retreat is seeing what others brought to work on.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Shopping the IQA Show

With 1100 vendors, there was plenty to see...and the Quilt Festival in Houston. Despite all the quilt photos, I know what you really want is to find out what I bought!
I know others did far better at bringing home the bounty than I did, but here's the goods:

I was so excited to find a whole booth for the Tambani Project! These are embroideries made by Venda women in Africa. Each one is part of a folk tale, such as "The Hippo Who Swallowed a Girl" and "The Dancing Elephant".
The women make each piece unique by color choice and often their name or initials. Selling these charming pieces not only keeps the stories alive (each one includes the story it comes from) but also helps the women make money to care for their families.
Please visit the Tambani Project (
to read some of the stories, learn more about the women, and order some of these lovely little works (which are washable!).
I can hardly wait to use mine as appliques on some bags and jackets!

I wasn't in the vendors' area more than 5 minutes before I found books to buy!
They all went right into the large shopping bag given to IQA class & lecture attendees (center top).
Check yesterday's blog for details on The Masters: Art Quilts .
Fuse-and-Tell by Laura Wasilowski is more of her work with WonderUnder and shows a journal format for small quilts. I got that in the Artfabrik booth, from Frieda Anderson (another member of the Chicago School of Fusing). I hope I can be her hostess when she comes to teach at QuiltFest next year!
Digital Essentials by Gloria Hansen is written for people like me who are still trying to figure out the difference between pixels and resolution, and where to go once we get it! I was delighted to see one of Gloria's quilts in the competion and realize why she has won so many awards. Pictures cannot do her work justice:
Gloria Hansen's Blushing Triangles 4
I didn't want to make a pyramid of thread to take another photo, but thread is what I was most wanting for this opportunity of having all vendors in one room!
Marathon had cotton "mini cones" on sale, so I got a varigated called Avacado. I also got a reccommended spool of copper color metallic. This company has received a variety of ratings, so I will tell you my own thoughts after I've used it!
Floriani is a favorite of Cherry-Cherry's, so I horned in on her buy-9-get-1-free sort of deal and got a nice dark green called Wreath. This is polyester, and meant for embroidering, so it should hold up well for machine quilting.
Superior Threads, a favorite of almost everyone I know, got the rest of my business. I have 3 spools of So Fine!, a poly that should be wonderful in the bobbin or on top, and 3 spools of King Tut, a cotton thread that is universally loved.
I need to get stitching!!!! And when I do, you will get my honest opinion of all this stuff!
Did someone out there say rick-rack????
Oh, yeah, there was Jumbo Rick-Rack at The Threaded Pear! Any color you want. And the ladies in that booth were dressed up in short red & white striped dresses...they were havin' a good time!
In between is some hand dyed rick-rack, thanks to CC.
The hank of hand-dyed thread for embroidery is from Farm Fresh Textiles and was found in the Quilters Threads booth. I went there especially to meet Diane Harman-Hoog and Beth Wheeler, who have started a Yahoo group for thread sluts...I mean lovers! Join them (us) at the Thread Society.
I also got the ready-for-computer-printing fabric in their booth.
Time for the personal! Cherry-Cherry found wonderful cotton sox...she gave me this blue pair, and kept the ones with cherries, of course.
It was Halloween on Friday of the show, so I decorated an ID badge holder for CC (not shown) and for me. It was already orange & black! All I had to do was cover up the AQS logo (oops!) with some fabric before adding a nice felt cat and, of course, some rick-rack!
In the center you see my Exhibitor (meaning "vendor") badge for Hobbs Bonded Fibers. What a time we had working in the booth! Exhausting, but fun to talk to so many quilters from around the world, and to help them choose a batt for their project. We sold so many wool batts that CC & I had to each get one to take home.
Packing hint: poke a hole in the plastic bag so the air will come out and the suitcase can close!
Since TSA felt it was necessary to dig through our luggage coming and going, I hope they enjoyed my wool batt, dirty sox, and general show papers I packed by the "just dump it in" method.
I have now set a record for links in one blog! Hope you enjoy finding out more about these businesses I have mentioned.
Ain't ther Internet grand?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

More Houston Quilt Festival fun

After a "brief'" pause for attending my guild's retreat, I'm back with a few more comments about the International Quilt Festival in Houston.
I'll be sharing more quilts as the days go along, but in all honesty, I need a day or two working with the show catalog to get all the correct info attached to the pictures. Giving proper credit to the quilt makers is always important.

"Seasonal Sisters" by Gail Thomas, Annette M. Hendricks, and Helen Godden of Vernon, , BC, Canada. (The World of Beauty Award, $7,500 sponsored by

What could be more wonderful than three quilting sisters standing in front of their award-winning quilt? They claimed their faces hurt from smiling so much... and they were still smiling hours later when I saw them in the lobby of the Hilton. And I can understand why!

To see pictures of all the winning quilts, you can go to the International Quilt Association site

There are so many things going on at Festival, it's impossible to do them all. Several "make-it & take-it" classes and demos were set up in the show or vendors' areas.

Making quilts for orphans in Addis Abada, Ethiopia, is a project sponsored by June Colburn and Noreen Fling. You could make some blocks at this sit & sew, using sewing machines sponsored by Janome. I'll be talking more about this project, "Quilts Beyond Borders", as I have several friends involved. Noreen told me they hope to have a very well-known person to be sharing the children's needs with his large group of fans, but I can't tell until it happens! (hint: are you a member of the posse?)

"Olama" by Susan Shie of Wooster, OH

The "Patchwork Politics" special exhibit featured both serious and humorous quilts with political themes. I am a great fan of Susan Shie's work (visit her Turtle Moon studio to enjoy more!) and was delighted to see this one, as well as another in the SAQA exhibit "Masters: Art Quilts". The 2007 work above uses an air pen for her journaling method, while the garden themed quilt in the in the Masters exhibit was written in hand embroidery, her original method. Everyone seems to agree the air pen writing is much better for her hands!
No photography allowed in the Masters exhibit (and a few others)!
But there is a
beautiful book from Lark Books called "Masters: Art Quilts Major Works by Leading Artists" Martha Sielman, author and curator, which more than covers the quilts shown at the Festival. If you like art quilts, this is a wonderful book with all color pictures, over 300 pages and a fantastic price!

I include the follwing for A. CoffeeQueen:

The breakfast of champions! Champion show-attendees, that is. ACQ missed the Houston show for the first time in a few years, and I know she will feel better seeing that the Starbuck's was well supported. I wish I could have shared this banana bread with her.
It was all consumed by the time Cherry-Cherry made it through the line with her scone ( scone photo available). That's the difference between ordering a black coffee and a mocha-latte.
If only CC had realized, she'd have taken the plain coffee, too.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Houston...we have a problem....

Dawn greets the George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston, TX, as seen from the ninth floor of the Hilton.

The trip to the Houston International Quilt Festival was a great success! ....except that I could not get my laptop to work and so I was unable to share it all with you.
Now we try to play catch-up.
Except I am on my way out again tomorrow for my guild's annual retreat. Not even enough time for a load of laundry!
But that's OK. After I get home from that, I have another 7 days before I go on the next retreat. This is why I am so far behind...I seem to be constantly retreating!
But before I go, here are a few quick views of the goings-on in Quiltland:

It's early morning on opening day, and the crowd is lined up all around the Convention Center. There are lots of buses coming and going...even some stretch limos and a bicycle "rickshaw! Quilters from all over the world truly make this an international experience.

Spirit of Mother Earth by Sharon Schamber

This what it's like trying to get a close up view of the Best of Show! Somewhere in there is the talented Sharon Schamber, talking about her quilt and answering what are probably the same questions over, and over, and over.
All the top award quilts are hung at the front of the hall, and many times the makers were right there with them. If I'd won an award, I'd be doing the same thing!
Of course, the trick is, you have to actually enter a quilt (and have it selected) to win!

Sorry for the big glare...I also failed at trying to turn off the flash!

Next to the Best of Show, I know you want to see the fabulous vendors' mall, where 1100 booths were going full blast (that number is not an exaggeration!) with all the latest fabrics, threads, notions and things you never even dreamed of.

I had a very good time...and worked very hard! the Hobbs Bonded Fibers booth, so I got a chance to be part of several different aspects of the Festival.
I guess I'll have to try harder about that entry thing! Or even having a booth at the Quilt Market for the shop owners, the week before the Festival.

There will be more on this later...and a post about the guild's retreat, too.
But for now, I also have to say HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to Patchwork Pie, which started one year ago "as a little Halloween treat for myself".
This is also my 100th post, and I'd like to thank everyone who has popped in from time to time to see what they might find.
You still have time to enter the wall hanging drawing by leaving a comment! I'll do that on November 8.
I am looking forward to another exciting year of quilting and stumbling my way into new technology on my need-to-know basis.
If there's something you'd like to see or read about, please let me know!

And now it's time to change my calendars to November, turn the clocks back an hour...which will end up being the same as the time I was on in Houston....then get to bed.