Whew! MAQ!

I have just returned from teaching at Mid-Aappalachian Quilt Conference at Mount St. Mary’s University. My head is filled with inspiration from wonderful, creative students. 

Isn’t this tulip quilt beautiful! It was a luxury to have two days to work on the Appliqué Quilting in Layers pieces. I got to know some lovely quilters that were intrepid and embraced trying new techniques. 

Susie chose to sew a canvas to showcase her original design.

She plans to add detail to this gorgeous dragonfly’s wings with sparkling, gossamer netting. 

Watching the designs build and seeing students master the technique is exciting. I’m inspired to sew another tulip myself!

I also taught Piecing Quilting in Layers. This soft green background reminds me of Spring. I hope I get a photo of the finished quilt.  Many of the students had very good sewing skills and decided to try the more challenging techniques. I got so excited seeing their successful inset strip blocks that I neglected to get photos. Darn!

I would love to have taken these blocks home. 

I am so lucky to spend time with quilters. Sincerely, thank you to all for allowing me to enjoy your company and be a small part in the creative process. 

Bike Quilt Progress

I’m making progress on my bike quilt. I took off the dark border blocks that looked so heavy and confining.  Now I could stand outside Starbucks for a few hours and give away squares for mug rugs. Do you think they would give me a free latte?

I like the lighter gray fabrics much better. It’s ironic– usually my problem is not enough contrast.  

Ok. Just as an aside. How the heck do you spell gray anyway? Gray? Grey? Whichever way I type it, the dang spell check changes it to the opposite spelling! I looked it up in the dictionary and they list both spellings.  I had this problem recently with “Pittsburgh.” Do we really need that “h”? Apparently spell check doesn’t think so. 

(Mini-spell check rant now finished.)   Before I sewed the border row of blocks to the quilt, I decided to try something new. Have you ever applied a double fold binding to the quilt edge, before adding the backing? Whaaat? Me either! But I thought it might be easier to apply this pieced binding, without having to wag around a heavy quilt. 

Wow. This was difficult. Like, don’t try this at home difficult, unless you are a Trained Professional Sewist. It took concentration, motivation and slavish attention to get all those seams to line up. And most of a whole day. All the border blocks were sewed on, with applied binding, as the final rows, on each side

I layered a pieced backing and quilted in the ditch through all the grid lines, horizontal and vertical.

Being careful not to cut the binding, I trimmed the backing even with the edge of the quilt.

I turned the folded edge of the binding to the back, and glue-basted it down with Elmer’s Washable School Glue. Now the binding is ready for hand sewing. Selecting a color of thread will be challenging. I will also miter the corners. That wasn’t my original plan, but I cut the darn blasted edges too close to turn under. Not such a Trained Professional, after all, huh.

I have to say, this binding was a whole lotta work and I won’t be doing it again any time soon, but it looks really cool! And, it’s done! I am very thankful the quilt only has 4 sides. One more would have done me in.

Center Squares

The title of this post could have been “Back to Square One- Again.” I decided I didn’t like the dark outer border. So I worked on thinking about the center squares for the lighter gray inner blocks. 

I fussy cut a whole lot of squares from the bike fabric and pinned them to almost all the blocks. 

It looked like a storm of Chinese confetti blew onto the quilt!

I’m getting a little (a little?) crazy with this fussy cutting. I took all the center squares off the dark border blocks. Still don’t like ’em.

The blocks should have been light gray on the bottom of the wheels so I’ll switch those out. Easily done. 

I took off all the “confetti” bits and just used a few center squares, cut from the bicycle wheels. Less is more– I like it better. I also edge stitched the tires with invisible thread using a blind hem stitch. The edges on the bike frame can be done with a straight quilting stitch when I add the backing.  Today I am concentrating on the border. 

Embrace the Orange

A student in my Appliqué in Layers class had a gorgeous selection of orange batiks. I told her I had very few orange fabrics in my stash. She said, “You have to embrace the orange!”

I have made quilts with orange tiger lilies. This is a small wall hanging I made to remind myself of the quilt selected for the American Embassy Program. The original quilt returned from hanging in the embassy in Kigali, Rowanda very faded. I knew it would happen because the sun is so strong there. I’m ok with that. I feel the muted colors now add to the quilt’s provenance.

I’ve wanted to make a quilt with these trumpet flowers for a long time. I’ve been collecting orange fabrics. It’s the leaves that look difficult and I am thinking about how to simplify them, but stay true to the form. 

I also made this orange tulip quilt. I’m bringing it to my class at Mid-Appalachian Quilt Conference. For a preview into the process, I blogged about making the quilt in this post. Oh, and if you’d like to join us, there are still two spots left, even though the web site says class is full.

I don’t have to search for orange inspiration at Longwood Gardens. There are whole beds of flowers and foliage in every shade of orange. 

The meadow is adorned with butterfly bush — and orange monarch butterflies, their wings fluttering too fast for a photo. I am loving embracing the orange!

Fix It or Let It Ride?

I have been steadily working on the bike quilt. I like the stitching on the spokes. I’m not sure whether they need some actual spoke lines on top of the quilting. Maybe a thick line of something couched down or a thin strip of fabric appliquéd or even drawn with a marker. I am going for more simple, less complicated, so maybe the stitching is enough.

I can’t believe I did this. I trimmed up the appliqué and now it doesn’t extend into the quarter inch seam line. Aaarrrghhh! How many blocks have I done with this technique? Thousands! And I still make this mistake. I’ve had students in my class go home to finish their project (you know who you are) and do the whole tulip like this. When they start to sew the blocks together, it’s “oh s#*t” time. I had an idea– what if you sewed the blocks together, then sewed bias tape over the seams, encasing the appliqué edges. It would look like stained glass. That could be cool!

But not for this quilt. I can handle fixing one block. 

Big sections were coming together. I spent about 2 hours pinning center squares in the dark, outside blocks. I don’t like it. The border looks so heavy…and dark…and confining. I thought about switching out the center squares. I really don’t want to carry the bright, wheel fabrics into the border because I think it will be too strong. Maybe lighter gray squares? That doesn’t feel right either but I might try it. Those center squares! They can make the quilt but they just have to be tried out visually to be decided on.  What I think in my head will work, usually doesn’t. 

Stand and stare.  And stare some more.  What is going on here? Then it hit me. I’ve drawn the pattern wrong!

My sketch had the bike wheels extending into the border on the sides but not into the bottom squares. Well crap. It’s “oh s#*t” time. Do I just leave it or fix it? Will it change how dark and heavy the border looks or actually make it worse? 

Here’s the plan. I’m going to sew new blocks for one wheel and see what I think. The proportions feel so off now that I can’t even think beyond that. Back to work.

Happy Independence Day

Happy 4th of July! I don’t have a red, white and blue quilt to show today. I have made a few, but they have all been donated to veterans in the Quilts of Valor program. That’s a good thing. 

The weather here in eastern Pennsylvania has been lovely, cool in the mornings with low humidity so I have been walking at Longwood Gardens. The water lilies are in full bloom. My favorites are the lotus flowers.

I think their huge, flat leaves are as interesting as the translucent flowers. 

I saw this worker, carefully brushing the grass in one direction. 

The following day, the design was revealed, Stars and Stripes! I hope you have a wonderful 4th of July, with family and friends, barbecues and picnics and the evening ends with a Big Bang!

Conflicting Interests

Work on the bike quilt or go for a bike ride? It’s hard to tear myself away from sewing on this quilt. I’m racing (hehe!) to get it done to show my students at MAQ– Mid-Appalachian Quilt Conference, which is coming up soon. By the way, the website says the Appliqué Quilting in Layers class is full, but there are two last minute spots open. 

I found the perfect fabric for that spoke hub thingy (technical bike term) and I can’t resist sewing the blocks together to see how it looks. 

Boom!  That’s what I’m talking about. No pins, first try. I had to think awhile on how I wanted to quilt the spokes. I knew I didn’t want my usual checkerboard, alternating direction, quilting lines. I wanted the stitching to look like the wheel spokes. I used a Frixion pen and ruler to mark a guideline so the quilting would radiate from the center hub.

This gorgeous June weather is just too nice to stay inside the studio, so when Christine suggested a ride on the C&O Canal, Gary and I joined her and Mark, Elizabeth and Mel and Bill for a ride. 

We rode from Chesapeake City to Delaware City, all along the canal, about 17 miles. 

Oh heck was I ever ready for lunch. 

We always want to sit outside if possible. 

Crabby Dick’s fit the bill perfectly and we had a view of the Chesapeake Bay. I ordered a salad topped with a crab cake. Gary got the crab cake sandwich. We’ve been on a long term mission to taste all the crab cakes, worthy of tasting, in the greater Bay area. No disappointment here– delicious.

We decided to ride back through the town on Clinton street. This might have been a restaurant choice. Lewinsky’s on Clinton. Ahhh…  Oh, I get it. Yikes. Thanks for being the Vanna, Christine! Lucky for my photography, her go-to color is always Kodak Red!

Y’all know I’m a landlubber from Illinois so I am completely intrigued by tugboats pushing barges and seeing all the ships and cargo boats navigating the canal. I really love canals. I like to learn about the history and the construction and hey, they’re mostly flat, which makes riding a bike pleasurable. Still– riding almost 34 miles is far! I’m treating myself to 2 Aleve tonight. Tomorrow it’s supposed to rain and storm. Perfect bike quilting weather. 

Steeling the Show 

Lele Galer’s sculpture “Steel Heart.”

Gary and I spent a very interesting and enjoyable evening last night at Galer Winery. “Steeling the Show” was a garden party to benefit the Oxford Art Alliance (OxAA), a nonprofit community organization for advocacy of the arts and culture. Sixteen artists exhibited their sculptures.

It’s always great to hear some live music, provided by Oxford Alliance music instructors. 

Gary really liked the piece “Planting Time” by Rob Sigafoos. This artist was my favorite because many of the sculptures shown referenced botanical themes. (Darn good with the “art speak,” huh!) Unfortunately this sculpture did not follow us home. 

The organizers could not have selected a more perfect night to dine outside in view of the vineyard. We shared a table with Jim and Emily and took turns making forays to the delicious dinner selections provided by Brandywine Prime. I’m so glad the desert offerings aren’t in the photo– I had one of each. 

In keeping with the steel and sculpture theme, the featured artist, Ellen Durkan, showed fashion design, combining the art of metal and blacksmithing. And maybe something else I can’t begin to define…  Can’t say I’ll be hanging any of those “outfits” in my closet any time soon. But how interesting to see how an artist interprets her medium. Kind of Steampunk minus the fabric! 

The artist, Ellen, modeled her own creation. The audience really enjoyed seeing something quite different. Did I mention there was wine available? We certainly availed ourselves and had a fun and unusual evening. 

We Have a Winner!

I’m so excited for my customer, Susan. “My Emily Monroe Quilt” has won first place in the “By Pattern Catagory” Primitive Quilt Exhibit at Quilt Festival in Houston, this fall. When Susan asked me to longarm quilt for her, I was totally intimidated. I had never tried to outline appliqué before and was scared that I would not be able to do justice to Susan’s beautiful and meticulous work. First Do No Harm, is a longarm quilter’s mantra as well as the physician’s Hippocratic Oath.

Luck was with me, the quilting went well and I am so happy to have contributed in a small way. 

Primitive Quilts and Projects Magazine chose 22 quilts to hang in the exhibit. Susan’s prize includes airfare and hotel accommodations. She is going to have a fantastic time, enjoying the quilt show and basking in well deserved admiration. I have a huge smile on my face! Yea Susan!

Father’s Day

It’s nice to stretch Father’s Day into a few days. Our trip to East Hampton, Long Island, began with a trip to see the Montauk Point Lighthouse. This was the first lighthouse built in New York State. During the Revolutionary War, the British occupied Long Island and kept watch fires burning as beacons for their ships blockading Long Island Sound. After the war, President George Washington authorized a lighthouse to be built in 1792 to safeguard ships and promote international trade. 

I love lighthouses! Of course we climbed to the top to see the spectacular view. 

Pretty sweet to have your daughter take you fishing! The chair is for me. Somebody has to do the official watching and I’m the right person for the job. 

This would be the hard, strenuous way. 

This would be the easy, relaxed way.

Unfortunately, neither method caught any fish but who cares. There was time spent with Kira, a gorgeous sunset and a bottle of chilled rose’ wine. Who needs fish?

They don’t give up easily– fishermen…or fisherwomen. A chartered boat trip with Captain Bob the next day increased the chances for success. Striped bass would be a nice prize and the competition for those holding the rods is fierce. I have added referee to my duty roster.

Yea Kira! She caught the first blue fish. 

I reeled in this sea robin. What a strange fish– it looks like it has wings and it makes a grunting noise. We caught too many of these “trash” fish and Captain Bob was kept busy throwing them back. 

We didn’t get any stripers, but two nice blue fish for dinner were delicious on the grill.

Gary is enjoying a perfect start to Father’s Day with an omelette and a mimosa. 

Happy Father’s Day to all Dads! I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing and enjoyable day.  

Good Time Had by All

The quilting getaway is over. I really wanted to sit on this deck all afternoon with a good book and big glass of iced tea. It was peaceful and relaxing and we had such a great time. 

I even got some piecing done. I added to my stack of Bonnie Hunter blocks that I have no idea what to do with. That’s OK, I’m confident that a pattern will suggest itself in good time. 

I also got these blocks done. They will get set together with sashing and borders.

Thanks to our wonderful hostess, Cheryl, and all my Quiltini good friends. I had a great time sewing, quilting and hanging with you all. 

Quilting Getaway

My friend Kelly, over at Pinkadot Quilts, posted a photo on her blog, of her studio in the midst of packing projects to work on at a quilting getaway. I haven’t packed yet because I have been working on my bike quilt– obsessively — there isn’t any room to walk, much less get out more fabric to pack up. 

This is how I organize my fabrics. Yikes! I hope students signed up for my classes at Mid-appalachian Quilt Conference don’t hastily withdraw. I really am more organized than this mess.   

Kelly also posed the question, “How many projects do you bring to work on at a getaway?”

Well, so far, I do have one… Thanks to this cute fabric pack I bought at Quilt Ledger on Friday. I think my grandsons might like a blue quilt with owls. 

What would a quilting getaway be without something chocolate?

We all know it’s essential to have choices. Quilters say, color gets all the glory but contrast does the work. So I brought red and white for good contrast. 

I think I got the important stuff. 

My quilt guild, Calico Cutters, met this week. This is the raffle quilt we will be selling chances on throughout the next year to fund our charity contributions and program expenses. I think Margo and her committee of designers and piecers did a fantastic job.

I was very excited to be asked to do the quilting–ok, completely intimidated is more like it. 

This was my first time quilting a grid when the lines are interrupted by the design– the stars. It was a challenge but I’m happy with the way it turned out.

I love the colors. I think it will do well at the local quilt shows and other venues because it is unusual for a raffle quilt and I think it will appeal to non-quilters as well.

I walked at Longwood Gardens yesterday. The rose bower is in full, glorious bloom. I don’t have a single rose bush anymore. When we took out our raised bed garden last year, the roses went with it. 

I do have peonies though. This white variety has the most heavenly scent. Oh, The Last Runaway, was a great read. 

Don’t these local strawberries look mouth watering! They are!

1. Strawberry shortcake

2. Strawberry milkshake

3. Strawberry muffins 

4. Chocolate covered strawberries

5. Strawberry pie

I pay attention to the food pyramid and during strawberry season, I think it’s important to choose a variety from the 5 Basic Desert Groups. 



“Is she ever going to get back to quilting?” Yes! I am in the studio and all I want to do is sew and quilt and play with my fabric. I feel so inspired by my hiking and biking trips. It’s time to get to work on something new. I can’t get these gorgeous phlox out of my mind. The play of light and dark purples against the deep, dark greens of the foliage would make a stunning quilt. 

I even have a head start with a stack of blocks I made at our Bonnie Hunter sewing day. I’m not sure what to do with the lighter fabrics yet, I just know I’m going to need them. Since I sewed the blocks without thinking about a pattern, this is going to require research and thought. 

While I was coasting down the bike trail, I was thinking about making a bike quilt using my Quilting in Layers technique. Not much research needed to get a good image.

That super fun bike fabric I bought at Kelly Ann’s Quilting shop in Warrenton, Virginia has been begging to be used. 

Bike quilt wins! There are some design and composition issues to work out, but I’m so impatient to cut and sew, I’m jumping in. Hey, I did test out one block! And there are lots of “plain” blocks to fill in before the more complicated ones. That’s something I love about Quilting in Layers. It can be a linear process, but it doesn’t have to be. I can sew, quilt, appliqué, design in any order. It fits the way my brain works. Open to serendipity!


It’s so interesting to follow a river down a mountain, watching it change and broaden as it flows through different terrain. 

Cyclists used to take a mile and a half detour, following the Casselmann River as it flowed in a tight U shape around the Pinkerton Horn, a huge rock formation. After years of volunteers raising funds and then construction, we get cross the river on a bridge and go through the rock in the Pinkerton Tunnel. This is a great vantage point to watch the kayakers.

The water is fast and the rapids and rocks create hydraulics for the kayakers to play in. I’m jealous! I love to kayak, although I don’t know how to use those sporty little trick kayaks. I’m more of a laze along the river, drifter, kind of kayaker.

Our last tunnel is a modern one. 

The  bike trip ends in Confluence for Gary and I, the start of our journey on the Great Allegheny Passage many years ago. Gary just loves it when the Trail ends with an easy beer!

We choose to sit outside in the gardens and watch the river, pleasantly tired, and wait for our shuttle to take us back to Meyersdale. We rode 65 miles total, Cumberland, Maryland to Confluence, Pennsylvania. Riding downhill both ways from Meyersdale was awesome! There are about 20 miles from McKeesport to Point Park in Pittsburg that I’d like to ride someday, to complete the entire trail. 

Gary brought is fly rod, hoping to get a chance to do a little fishing but there just wasn’t time on the bike ride. So we decided to extend the trip another day and stay a night in Carlisle, PA. Unfortunately he only got a few bites on the Yellow Breeches. 

I spotted a heron, fishing also, no doubt. 

The Yellow Breeches flows from the small lake at Boiling Springs. The river got its name from Brittish Troops washing their white “breeches” and having them turn yellow because of the sulphur in the water. History abounds in Boiling Springs, from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, where it was a stop on the Underground Railroad. The water doesn’t actually boil, it’s bubbles up from the aquifer, freezing cold. Hey, check out that white blaze on the huge tree on the right. 

The Appalachian Trail goes right along the edge of the lake. Laura and I hiked through here years ago, meeting Gary for a pick-up and dinner at the very delicious Boiling Springs Tavern Restaurant. Biking trails, hiking trails, rivers and mountains; I’ve had a wonderful and quite nostalgic, totaly enjoyable trip.