Snowballs Really Flowering

I spent the weekend in LA. No machine. I brought my handwork with me and was able to sew four Cross blocks (Flowering Snowballs)! I have said that each one takes me an hour and a half, but these, except perhaps the first, did not take me an hour and half each. I really blew through them.

One has two pinks, but I tried hard on the others to make all the corner pieces different colors. I started to run out of greens and really need to add some violet or purple to the mix. I’ll work on cutting some different colors this weekend.

Now that I have a good amount of blocks, I decided to lay them out. They are really looking good! I just love the design that is made when the blocks are set together.

Artquiltmaker on BlogHer

I had no idea that Artquiltmaker Blog had become famous until I was testing out a new blog search engine called Zuula and found this blog all over the place there. Not sure how I feel about that! Happy, because of new readers, but scared because of the opportunities for spam. We’ll see how it shakes out, but it is exciting!

Wallpaper as a Design Resource

While I was stumbling around my other life, I read ResearchBuzz. At ResearchBuzz, Tara reviews a variety of different sites, tools and features that the Internet throws at us. In today’s newsletter, she reviews a historic wallpaper site called Wallpaper in New England. Ever on the hunt for design sources, I took a look.

There are lots of flowers and border prints. The thumbnails are small. Many are muted colors, but design and layout inspiration abound. I took a look at Accession Number: 1985.26.685, which would be a good layout for a quilt. Take a look and get inspiration from a new place.

Doing Time by Judy Martin

Judy Martin, a quiltmaker whose work I LOVE, sends out a periodic newsletter. She is finishing a book and sent out a newsletter, which had the article listed below. Since I have been attempting to engage in the process rather than the product of quiltmaking, I could very much relate to the article.

DOING TIME (Judy Martin’s Quilting Newsletter for September, 2007)
I read a lot of comments online and hear a lot of things that make me think there are a number of quilters for whom making quilts is a chore. Hear me out on this.

There’s a certain satisfaction that comes from finishing any task, whether it’s doing the laundry or a big project at work or making a quilt. There’s the satisfaction of knowing you completed something; the satisfaction of seeing the end result and being happy with it; and in some cases the satisfaction of getting something out of the way so you can get on to something else.

Lost in those varying sources of self-satisfaction is the satisfaction of the process. I enjoy making quilts, from the first spark of an idea to drafting the pattern to choosing fabrics to cutting the fabric to sewing the component parts back together again.
The process never fails to thrill me. I like making quilts. When I finish a quilt, there’s the thrill of seeing the end result, but there’s also a little bit of emptiness to go along with it. The only way to fill this void is to start another quilt.

I hear and read things all the time, however, that lead me to believe that for some people making a quilt is a chore, akin to cleaning the garage, only it takes longer. For them, finishing the quilt must be just another notch on the belt.

There are two things about that that bother me. The first is that if quilting is a chore, perhaps it’s time to find a new hobby. If you are not happy until you are done, if it’s only about how many quilts you can complete and not about how much you enjoy each quilt you make, then it might be time to move on.

The other thing that bothers me, and it’s a corollary to the first thing, is that when FINISHING a quilt is what drives you, then you’re going to look for patterns with chunkier and clunkier pieces. With less to cut out and less to sew, your quilt will be finished in less time. But it will also be less interesting to look at, and the satisfaction of having done it will not be as long-lasting. Or you’re going to look for smaller projects, like wall quilts, pillowcases, or table runners. (Don’t get me wrong: I make those things, too, but shouldn’t the motivation be that one wants and needs a wall quilt or table runner, not that one needs a project that can be finished

My recommendation is instead of judging yourself by how many quilts you make, consider how much you like each quilt you make and how much you enjoy making it. Enjoy the process; cherish the result.


I haven’t had much time to post lately, but wanted to post something. The ‘Net gods and Time goddesses are conspiring against me to get the job done. I uploaded a boatload of county fair photos to Flickr, thinking it would be easier to share them. HA! I got the nasty message that I needed to upgrade my account, because they were hiding all but 200 of my photos. I finally tried to bite the bullet and do it, but Yahoo/Flickr is having a glitch and won’t let me pay. This has happened at least 3 other times when I have tried to upgrade, so perhaps it is not meant to be! Stay tuned for Fair photos: coming soon to a blog near you! 😉

I also worked on Cross Blocks (Flowering Snowballs) while I was in LA over the weekend. I finished four, but haven’t been able to press or photograph. Stay tuned for Cross Blocks: coming soon to a blog near you! 😉

While I did a little facilitation in making this quilt, MavMomMary did all the heavy lifting, then we had it quilted. This is a quilt for one of the nephews. The light green squares have drawings done by friends and family

News and Notes
Patricia Cummings has posted her book, Redwork Embroidery and Needlework Traditions in Europe and America, on her website. Previously reviewed nationally, and previously in print, the book is offered for your enjoyment and enlightenment, free of charge. Both quilts and antique textiles are shown in the book.

Enjoy it at

NOT All Talk and No Action

Darling Boy and I drew together last night and I started the visual journaling I have been wanting to try. I didn’t do any writing, which I think I should. I found a picture of a fabric flower (fusing probably) in a catalog and have had it pinned to my design wall for ages. I thought of creating an applique’, but never did. The first step to an applique’ is a drawing, so I did some drawings using different media last night.

Felt tips pens.

Colored pencils and chalk pencils.

The drawings didn’t come out the way I expected, but I am not disappointed with the results. I still have the CPS article in my mind and my drawings look very different. If I am going to do much of this, I will have to stop comparing my drawings to anyone else’s and become comfortable with my own style.

Thinking Blogger Award

Kristen awarded me the Thinking blogger Award. While it has taken me awhile to post this on my blog and write about it, I was really glad. I don’t think I have ever really shared my writing in any meaningful way beyond letters to friends, essays at school and my thesis. Receiving Kristen’s Thinking Blogger Award made me feel like I had achieved something.

I started this blog, because:

  1. I needed to jumpstart my quiltmaking work after a long drought of time and ideas. I figured if I had an audience of regular readers, it would help me to keep at sewing and writing.
  2. It was a regular opportunity to write for a reason: I was gearing to up to write something longer and needed to “train.”
  3. I wanted to share what I was doing, including pictures, so that I could get feedback without joining a quilt group.
  4. I wanted to chronicle my progress.
  5. I wanted to explore one subject thoroughly.
  6. I like the concept of social networking and the technologies associated with it.
  7. I wanted to show that an ordinary person could also do extraordinary things sometimes.

I did not start this blog to:

  1. Blather on about my personal problems
  2. To talk about the entire universe of ideas and information.

Part of the Award is to make note of other blogs that inspire me or make me think. Here they are in no particular order:

  1. Yarnstorm creates a beautiful blog. The design of the blog itself is a work of art. Then I get the joy of looking at her photos and her projects and her color sense. It is fresh and well written. Her photographs celebrate the ordinary [work of women]. I especially like this post.
  2. Jan at Be*mused has a wonderful sense of design. Her photographs are little works of art. They really exemplify her sense of color. Her title looks like the Bewitched logo from a zillion years ago. An example of her fabulous color sense is in this post. I also like the photos she posts about projects that inspire her, which she follows up with examples of her interpretation.
  3. Red Shoe Rambling. I admire Deb’s perseverance in posting every day; she committed to doing it and she does it. She also has gorgeous photos. They are really different from Be*mused and Yarnstorm. I love the ones she posts of nature. I also appreciate her bravery in posting photos of when she was a kid!
  4. I really like Laume’s Studio, because she describes her projects and thoughts about them. Again, she posts wonderful photos. Laume looks at the world the way I do. She posts pictures of patterns that she sees in her daily life, such as this post about the photo of fence.
  5. I supposed I could have chosen more than 5, but in sticking with the rules, I decided to only choose 5. It was difficult, because there are a lot of bloggers I admire: Deirdre (love the tabs on her blog and she always reads my blog. Also, she is a master painter), High Fiber Content (Julie is fearless in trying new things. Her blog is also a great chronicle of all the various projects in her life), Fibermania (Melody Johnson is so consistent and cheerful in her posting), I chose Pamdora’s Box, because of her drawings and her sense of humor.

You can read Kristen’s post about my blog is here. You can find out about the Thinking Blogger Award in general here.

CPS Writes Tips for Creative Sketchbooks

This is the e-mail newsletter that Cloth Paper Scissors sends out. I am including it here to give you another resource for creative sketchbooks and journals. If you want more information go to the Cloth Paper Scissors website.

In This Issue
Sketchbook Tips
The Buzz on “QATV”
Pre-Order Quilting Arts Gifts

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Fiber & Mixed-media Trends from Cloth Paper Scissors Issue 47

In this issue of Cloth Paper Scissors Embellishments, you’ll learn tips for keeping a sketchbook, news about “QATV”, and the latest on Quilting Arts Gifts.

Tips for Keeping Sketchbooks


In the most recent issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, Jean Littlejohn shared her process for making sketchbooks from recycled, otherwise unwanted books. Here are some tips for starting your own creative sketchbook:

  1. There are no rules. Your sketchbook can be formal or informal, a pastiche of ideas or a whole work based on a theme.
  2. Prepare your pages ahead of time. Start with a recycled book like Jean, put a color wash on white pages, or doodle in the borders. Anything to get over being intimidated by a blank page.
  3. Carry your sketchbook with you. You never know when inspiration will strike.
  4. Include a glue stick, a permanent marker, and watercolor pencils with your sketchbook, as well.
  5. Record the mundane as well as the profound. Beauty is often found in the simple moments of life.

The following books can also help you create your own special sketchbook:

Do You Hear the Buzz?


Many of your favorite fiber artists joined Patricia Bolton last week to shoot episodes of the upcoming “Quilting Arts TV” show that taped in Cleveland. The Internet was buzzing as Lesley Riley, Frances Holliday Alford, Judy Coates Perez, Pam Rubert, and others blogged about their experiences. Patricia also taped segments with other talented artists you’ve seen in Quilting Arts Magazine, including Natalya Aikens, Laura Cater Woods, Jane Dunnewold (pictured here, with Patricia), Robbi Joy Eklow, Wendy Richardson, Susan “Lucky” Shie, Tracy and Allison Stillwell, Shelly Stokes, Beryl Taylor, Mary Ann Tipple, and Elin Waterston, plus many other creative people from the quilting world.

To read Patricia’s take and see more photos, visit the Editor’s Blog.

Don’t Miss Quilting Arts Gifts

bookOur special Gifts issue has gone to press, and it’s a winner, loaded with projects, patterns, and a list of the latest must-have gadgets that you’ll enjoy for the holidays and beyond.

You still have time to pre-order and take advantage of the special pre-order discount. Quilting Arts Gifts is available by pre-order and on select newsstands only.

For more events, projects, challenges, and new and exciting mixed-media products and books, visit our website, If you are a current subscriber of Cloth PaperScissors® Magazine, or if you place a subscription/renewal order with an order, you will receive 10% off our retail prices on all your purchases (excluding subscription orders and renewals).


Cate Coulacos Prato

Features Editor, Cloth Paper Scissors


I am still thinking about creative journals/sketchbooks. The Darling Child draws or plays his clarinet each evening before he starts playing his hand-held devices. It is much easier to create a new habit with someone else, so I have decided to draw at the same time he does each evening. Even if it is just 5 minutes, it is a start. There are lots of ideas for drawing/visual ideas swirling around in my mind, so I have to make a start. We’ll see how it workss.

Hiatus Progress

I decided that this brief interlude while the 9K is in the shop can be considered a Pineapple hiatus. I don’t want to take the blocks off the wall and put them away, because then it will be a year before I get back to it, so having a small break where I can work on different projects will be rejuvenating for my work on the Pineapple.

Although I spent most of the day working yesterday, I did have time to make the baby blankets. I get a yard of flannel and hem the edges. On the 9K, I have a variety of decorative stitches and letters that I can use to make words. Between flannel baby blankets and gift bags I have tried nearly all of the stitches on my machine and found which ones I like for which type of project. Usually on baby blankets, I use the star pattern. I also use the letters to make words which say “For Baby Last Name” and “Made by My Name.”

However, with the 9K at the doctor, all of that is out the window. In using the Jem, I don’t have very many options in the decorative stitch department and I have no options for words. I made due and used the zigzag and whizzed through all 6 blankets. I still need to wrap, get cards and send. I don’t know if I will make bags for them, but we will see. It is a good way to spread the word about gift bags.

Above are the fabrics that I used. The two left hand fabrics will go to the baby due in October (person I want to impress), the two purple fabrics will go to the baby due in December (colleague/fellow librarian/friend), The two right hand fabrics will go to the second baby due in October (colleague/fellow librarian/friend).

So, #1 on the list is complete.

  • 6 baby blankets: two colleagues and one person I want to impress are having babies: 2 each
  • Binding for Sharon’s quilt.
  • Binding for Serendipity Puzzle.
  • Gift bags: I have lots of fabric for bags, and Christmas is coming.
  • Cut out fabric for test blocks. I am going to start looking at new machines soon and I want to have some piecing in my own fabrics, which I can use to test the machines.
  • Wash and press new fabric.
  • Replenish Pineapple strips.

I was also able to work on pressing some fabrics that have already been washed and cuttings strips for the Pineapple, but I am in no way near done with that and I doubt I will even be able to make a dent.

Making Lemonade

When you have lemons, make lemonade.
As you know, the machine is gone and I can’t work on the Pineapples (Well, I suppose I could, but I want to be sure all of the problems are consistent by using the same machine). I have a Janome Jem, which I have only used a handful of times, so I have formulated a list of other things I can work on while giving the Jem a little workout. Here it is:

  • 6 baby blankets: three friends/colleagues are having babies-2 each
  • Binding for Sharon’s quilt.
  • Binding for Serendipity Puzzle.
  • Gift bags: I have lots of fabric for bags, and Christmas is coming.
  • Cut out fabric for test blocks. I am going to start looking at new machines soon and I want to have some piecing in my own fabrics, which I can use to test the machines.
  • Wash and press new fabric.
  • Replenish Pineapple strips.

I also have a lot of hand work, which I can now work on since the thimble came back from vacation:

  • Pamela’s self portrait from June 2006
  • Pamela’s garden from June 2006
  • Pamela’s house and garden from May 2007
  • Kissy Fish

So now I am going to get off my duff (computer) and start some of these projects.

One good thing about the machine being gone is that I could get a good picture of the Pineapple blocks.

Oh Joyous Day!!

I had a lot to do today, as is par for the course, I guess. I needed to be out of the house early, because I had an appointment and wanted to stop by my designer as well as take my machine in for a service before the appointment. (Just to cut the drama, I accomplished it all!).

I was feeling quite sad as I packed up my machine, knowing that it would be at least a week before I would be able to work on the Pineapples again AND that now I had to spend valuable time going in search of a thimble. The thought of no fiberwork was too upsetting to even contemplate, but the machine really needed the service. My dealer went out of business and the subsequent dealer who serviced my machine was subpar IMO, so I hadn’t taken it in for service in a long time.

I sucked he drame, uncertainty and all of my worries up and took the poor machine in. Then I went about my business of the day. Eventually I made it home and went up to the workroom. The first thing I saw, sitting smugly in the middle of the floor looking like it had just returned from an illicit rendezvous, was the thimble. I was elated! And puzzled. The floor of the workroom was somewhere that I searched and, unless I am going selectively blind, the thimble wasn’t there.

Regardless, I am thrilled. I can make progress while the machine is gone and I don’t have to go and try to replace the thimble. I will definitely buy a second thimble the next time I am at a quilt shop or show that has them.

Sad Day

Today I lost my thimble. It was in my little handwork bag, I think, when I worked on the Cross Blocks (Flowering Snowballs) on Tuesday. Now it is not there. I loved that thimble and used it constantly for handwork. I can’t do handwork without it. It was a small silver thimble in a very classic style that my mother gave me some years ago. I supposed I have to go and seek out a new one, but it won’t be the same. I am really sad.

Making Cross Blocks (Flowering Snowballs) Tutorial

Judith asked about making the Flowering Snowball blocks, so here is a visual tutorial. Please note that this is the “Jaye-Way” and may not get you an prizes at Houston.

I would suggest that you read the book by Jinny Beyer on handpiecing, as she has a lot of good tips, though she doesn’t recommend using a felt tip. You can use a mechanical pencil to mark, if you want.

I am using templates and handpiecing them. I use a black or red Pilot (formerly SCUF) ultrafine point felt tip pen to mark around the templates. I use grey Aurifil thread and a thimble. Sometimes I put wax on the thread to keep it from tangling. Use whatever needles you like. I use betweens for piecing.

Practice with the felt tip on fabric. You want a thin line with no blobs at the end. I usually run over the end of the template a little and start lessening pressure on the tip right at the end of the template. If you leave it in one place too long, you get a blob. Blobs are bad for precise handpiecing and they look ugly, too.

Trace around the templates on a hard surface. In this case, I am using the book as hard surface. Trace on the back/wrong side of the fabric.

That tiny print says to flip the template 180 in order to get the most pieces out of your fabric. I was cutting 4 pieces from each fabric, but found that to be too many. I will use the ones I have, but am now only cutting one or two. I am trying to keep this quilt to a reasonable size (HA!) and to have as much variety in the fabrics as possible. If I like the fabric, I can always go back and cut more of it, right?

I trim around the templates by eye. I don’t measure the seam allowance. I try to keep it to arounda quarter of an inch and not to get too close.

Detail of trimming.

Here are the pieces cut out.

Here is the pinning. First, I pin right in the corner just inside the drawn line. I poke it through the foreground (colored) fabric first.
This is the back of the pinning. Same deal goes here. I come up through the back. Get the pin right in the corner where the drawn lines intersect and just inside. Remember you have drawn around the template, so the drawn line is a little larger than the template. This is why I try to pin AND sew just inside the drawn line.

Here (above), the pinning is done. Note that I put two pins close together at the beginning, but I take the first one out right when I am ready to sew, so I can start. The second one holds the pieces together while I get started. I try to make small, even stitches that are evenly spaced. Remember to look at the back as you sew so that you are poking through the back right inside the drawn line.

It is ok that the piece is wrinkly, because you want to match up two curves that are going in opposite directions. Use the bias to make them match.

How the Pieces Go Together

My whole philosophy, which I am pretty sure is a general quiltmaking philosophy, is to go from smaller to larger. This means to build the blocks by making the smallest patches into larger units and then putting the larger units together to make a whole block.

First, take one corner piece and one background piece and sew them together. Sew/pin with right sides together. Curves require, at least for me, a lot of pinning. For pinning, start at each corner and put pins in by lining up the corners of each piece with each other.

When you sew the corner and background together you will have a unit that looks like the above unit. You can see how the felt tip lines show through, which is another reason to sew just inside the drawn lines. They won’t show on the front of the quilt if you keep them in the seam allowance.

Seeing the felt tips lines here also allows you to see how they line up, if you do the piecing correctly.

Add another background unit. Note: I am trying to use all different fabrics in each position in the block, but you don’t have to do that.

Now you have quite a large unit. You will need two of these units per block.

Sew the center patch to one of the corner (foreground) units.

Here is how he unit looks once the middle patch is attached to a corner.

Sew a second corner to the center patch.

With this unit complete, you are ready to attach the side unit to the center.

So, just do it. Attach a side unit to the center.

Once you add that unit to the middle piece you are nearly there. The above piecing is the hardest part (but not like you are taking the SATs without a prep course), because the seam is long and the middle section is quite floopy. It also takes a LOT of pins. Make sure you sew through where the seams match several times to keep it strong and make sure the seams line up. I care about that stuff, but you don’t have to match your seams.

I don’t always press the patches after I sew them, because I am sitting on the couch watching TV while I sew (why do you think I have a hand project?) and am too lazy to trudge upstairs to press. It makes the piecing a lot nicer if you press as you go.

Add the last unit and you are done!

Completed square. I usually trim the block after I am done with the hand piecing. Make sure you don’t cut over any of your seam lines, because your piecing will unravel if you do. This is not machine piecing.