Sharon D's Blog

Just say "no" at the Hampton VA quilt show

Rats! I don't want to say no. As you know, we are moving a lot of things out of the house to get it ready to sell - including my life. Uh, I mean my sewing studio (aka dining room). Well, it got worse. Yesterday, Sat 2/25, I went with a bus load of quilters from Wake Forest NC to the Hampton quilt show. Wonderful time! Wonderful show! LONG exhausting day. There were 2 important sad things about yesterday - other than the lights going out in the bus' potty.

First, as I wandered through the vendors for the 2nd time, I found a machine quilting frame for use with your regular sewing machine that looks like it would actually be worth buying. Great show-price, product on hand and everything. I just said no. I also found a task chair that I would have liked to seriously consider taking home with me, too. But, I just said no. We are shedding possessions, right now. Not aquiring them. Of course, I have put all of the info into a task that will pop up on my calendar in about 6 months to remind me to look at these products again.

Second, I traveled with a friend from our quilting group at the senior center. During the trip, I met 3 other very interesting people on the bus who wanted to come and check out our little quilting group. At the show, I ran into a friend from the QOV group in Fayetteville, and another friend from the senior center. Several people at the show seemed very familiar to me. As though I had talked to them at another show, or somewhere. It hit me today, just how much family I have in my quilting life, here.

When we move, and we will, I will grieve that loss of those family connections. I'm not a super-social person. Making friends is not a breeze for me. Since I retired, It has taken a full 2 years to become quilting buddies with this handful of lovely women. It won't be easy to leave the fun and comfort of our friendship.

So - I'd love to hear from anyone in the Johnson City / Jonesborough TN area with suggestions for ways for me to meet new quilting buddies. We make frequent trips there and would love to start meeting people who love to quilt!

Lonely for my sewing room

Ah, the trials of moving. The DH and I are working hard to get the house ready for the market. It's a small house, so I adopted the dining room as my "studio". Of course, it really should be a real dining room when the house is visited by potential buyers. So all of the sewing furniture cabinets and piles of fabric and notions have to go to the storage unit. I'm lost and wander solefully around the house. BUT - yea! there is a "but" - there is still quilting in my life.

The local senior center hosts a little quilting group - we call it Quilt! Quilt! Stitch and Gab. I have my back-up machine stored in my roll-around, along with essential tools and a project. I'm making blocks for Operation Valor. Easy to tote along - just a few fat quarters and some neutral thread and I'm in business! It isn't enough to satisfy me for the whole week, but it helps.

So here's to those wonderful rolling sewing machine totes, a portable project, and the comfort of laughing with my special quilting friends.

34 - still and always

Had a birthday yesterday - I'm still 34. Hmmm, that's how old I was last year, too. Isn't it wonderful that as our bodies age - WE DON'T! I thought about spirit age a few years ago, and decided that I had been 34 since the day I was born. How do I know that? Well, I still love to dance, I still love to laugh, I still love cool mornings, I still love cats, and I still love fabric. They say that you are only as young as you feel. I say that it doesn't matter how you feel. You never age - just your outer casing does. So, enjoy your next birthday - it's a really good reason to eat chocolate!





Quilts of Valor & Painting

Yesterday (6/25/2010), I heard about the Quilts of Valor Foundation from a HandiQuilter ad in this month's McCall's Quilting magazine. I was drawn to the QOV website and after snooping around the sight decided to get involved. If you've never heard of the QOV foundation, they provide an avenue for quilters across the country to make quilts for wounded soldiers or their families. Someone makes the top, and has the option to send it to a volunteer longarmer for quilting. Then the quilt is bound, labeled, and sent to it's destination. Their website is They are also on facebook. The first quilt I will make is the QOV Split Star quilt by Mary B. Hayes (of Thangles). It is available free from either the QOV website or the Thangles website. I have created an EQ7 Project file for that quilt, if you are interested. I'm excited, and am looking for a local chapter of other folks involved with QOVF. See the quilt image below.

As for painting, I am making good progress. I started on the kitchen about a year ago, and then got sidetracked by one disaster after another. However, yesterday I finished up 95% of the kitchen! The kitchen has been a nightmare to paint. There are windows, of course. There is no soffet over the cabinets, so you have to risk your life to paint behind them! Especially, because the wall behind some of the cabinets is 11 ft tall! And, on top of all of that, the kitchen also has 8ft walls that are connected to the 11ft ceiling by "pillars". The highest part of each pillare only takes a couple of minutes to paint, but require climbing a 10ft ladder. So, up and down, up and down. That part is a real workout. My DH is a great help with the pillars by moving the ladder, and attaching the paint tray and being my gofer while I'm on the ladder. The rest of the house will now be a piece of cake in comparison to the kitchen!

What happens to the time?

What has happened to keep me away from QCA for several weeks? Maybe it is waiting on the DH through a severely sprained ankle. And, I was working on 3 other quilts which are now finished. And, it is hot, hot, hot here right now which makes me want to do nothing! Oh well. Now I have the kitchen and dining/sewing room torn up for painting. I like to paint, but I'm such a picky painter, I want to do it myself. So it takes a while. 

Anyway here are pics of those three quilts:

These 2 are baby quilts, 40x40.


Peek-a-Boo Baby and  Baby Hugs. The one below is a lap quilt 60x60, called Hopscotch Garden

Stalled but Still Quilting

It has bene a couple of months since my last post. That's because it's been a while since I finished my last top and I haven't done much on the sewing machine since then. Various things have been going on to thwart my efforts. Tax preparation for one, and in March my DH and I went up north to Tivoli NY to visit my sister. Her husband owns a large orchard up there (180 acres) and everything was in bloom! Apples of all kinds, pears, peaches, apricots, cherries, .. and on and on. They also have a big vegetable garden for their summer farm stand and all of the farmers markets they participate in down by NYC. Anyway we had a wonderful time. Now, my DH is recovering from overdoing it yesterday by staying in bed and I am trying to be quiet. So rather than just sit around and do nothing, I got on my computer and started designing.

The result is a very simple pinwheel design that started with a free pattern I found online. While tinkering with the block I wound up with a tried and true design that resulted in pinwheels all over the place. My modifications were to add some additional colors. It is very simple, but I like it. Of course, it can easily become a more playful quilt by going to a bunch of related prints or batiks and modifying the borders. Come to think of it, I could use some ideas on interesting borders, especially for pinwheels. For now, I've constrined myself to lap quilts and smaller for ease in sandwiching and quilting on my home machine. My EQ design is below.

I like to sandwich my quilts by utilizing a couple of banquet tables set side-by-side either in my quilting space or outside on the deck. But with the DH now down and out for a while, I'm stuck. The tables are so heavy that I can't handle them alone. I've been putting off buying the much lighter, inexpensive, fold-up version but have put it off until other surprise expenses slow down some. Asking for help from a neighbor doesn't seem to occur to me right away - but I certainly could do that. Meantime, I could start moving furniture and prep for painting my sewing space.

Meantime, I'll just go put on some socks. Y'all have a great day! 



Time Marches On

Time does indeed March On
What fun I've been having since my last post! Designing, shopping for fabric, constructing, and practicing longarm skills. If I do not have a project going, I just wander around the house sort of lost. So here's what's been going on:
Gift for Hope: Late in January, I started a quilt for my friend Hope. She had a horrible year in 2009 and has just been getting back on her feet. Starting all over. She needed something to remind her of just how much she is loved by her friends. I finished it the morning of our lunch date. She was overwhelmed. She not only loved it, but knew that every stitch was filled with encouragement and love.
Practicing Longarm: About mid-February, I had finished a VERY simple baby quilt top to use for longarm practice. The practice session was exhausting, since I had to really concentrate on what I was doing, and take in a lot of information, the process took longer than I had hoped. Even though I didn't finish quilting it, the session went better than I had expected. The only drawback is that renting the machine is expensive, and if I plan to sell a quilt, I need to keep the cost of construction under control without sacrificing the quality of the materials I use.
Designing new quilts: Since my last post, I have been designing and constructing more quilts. Since I've retired I have been lost and wander around the house or play solitaire unless I am sewing or buying fabric. I've designed 3 quilts, 2 lap quilts and a longarm practice quilt. The first lap quilt is called Hearts and Diamonds - with a very simple pieced heart block put on point. The second lap quilt I designed this morning. It's called Time Marches On. As I was working on the block, my darling husband wandered into the office, and said "If you take this half of the block and put the mirror image of it in the other half, it will create a neat optical illusion." He has a knack for looking at a pattern, twisting it around, repeating it, and seeing the result, all in his head. How does he do that? So, he will get design credit! ... The third quilt is another simple baby quilt design I will use for another longarm practice session. All three designs were fun, fun, fun, to work on.
Shopping for fabric: I LOVE MY IVES COLOR WHEEL TOOL! Shopping for fabric is now 0% frustration, and 100% enjoyable. This month I went with the husband to what I have been calling the "old ladies club" in our sub-division. It's actually for all seniors. So this week I went with him. What a nice group. I met 2 people who love to sew and enjoy quilts. So, we are planning a long day trip to Charlotte to shop at Mary Jo's Cloth Store. High quality fabric at LOW prices!  The husband is also on a so-called "social committee" that previews businesses in the area to feature in a new magazine for our area. They were having lunch one day recently and he told them about the fabric store and our little outing. One of the ladies at the lunch got all excited and wants to go to. I'm sure we will have a blast together. The outing is scheduled for March 16.
So there you have it, February 2010 in a nutshell. Happy quilting everyone!

Things I've learned since my last post

This being retired is a wonderful thing. My darling husband cooks and does housework, and I quilt. What could be better? AND I have time to do research to find answers and tips for a number of questions I’ve had. The forums on QCA contain gobs of valuable tips and ideas (thank you all), and both QNNtv and F&P’s Love of Quilting are indeed a wealth of information. So, today I want to record some of the things I’ve learned this month. They are probably techniques you already use or have discarded for better solutions. But even the simplest idea that relieves frustration for me is a delight! My explanations are probably not at all clear, but my intent is to simply share how grateful I am for QCA, QNNtv, LOQ, and all of you. Here’s my list.


1.     Quilting gloves! My hands dry out pretty fast when I handle fabric, so it’s hard to maintain good control. My gloves are now essential!

2.     Binding. F&P LOQ has a great video on binding. I’ve now found solutions to my most frustrating binding issues from that video.

a.      Joining the pieces. Now I just lap the ends, stitch on the diagonal, and trim the seam to size.

b.     Rolling up the pressed binding neatly and storing it in a zip close bag. As it is applied, just draw it from the bag – no longer all over the floor and getting caught the chair rollers.

c.      Starting to sew after turning the corner. Now I just sew a straight line from the top of the quilt top down the seam line. (I think I found this by googling)

d.     Making the final join after applying the binding. Cutting the tails to the right length and making that final seam easily has always been a mystery to me. Marianne and Liz make it look like child’s play with their little binding tool. I make my bindings wider than they do, so I may need to use my trusty little square instead.

3.     Color Play – picking colors is now a breeze! I’ve talked about this book and the related tool in my last blog posting. Since that posting, I’ve picked colors for 2 quilts with confidence.

4.     How to get pencil marks out of fabric. Oops, thought my marks would be buried out of sight – wrong! Formula 409 works great.

5.     Stretching fabric out of shape! Ugh!! I was really bad about this. Turns out a couple of simple techniques will save the day.

a.      Use the right pressing board. My old ironing board with foam padding was part of the problem – too soft and too much give. So, I found a video showing how one person made her own using OSB board, canvas, and batting. I have all of the materials to make one, but I’m waiting for the board’s glue fumes to calm down. It will be 48” wide and I will use it on my cutting table.

b.     Use a dry iron – I’ve always used steam.

c.      And here’s a biggie: Starch the fabric (with homemade starch)! You may not agree with that at all, but for me, this has been a life-saver. I just finished a top using starched fabric. Wow – my cuts were more precise, the patches easier to handle, and my seams lined up perfectly!

6.     Longarm quilting. I took a day-long longarm class last week. Lap quilts are the largest size I can maneuver through my home machine. Not to mention how tedious it is to have to roll and re-roll my quilt every time I need to move my quilting area to a different spot. So, I am going to rent time from my instructor. The top I finished today is for longarm practice.

7.   Pieced batting. Somewhere along the way, I saw/heard a tip on piecing batting. Just butt the edges together and join with a 3-step zig-zag. I set the stitch legth as long as I can, and same with the width. Easy, easy, easy!

8.     Last but not least – PAY ATTENTION. I get on a roll and go into autopilot– especially when making the pieces and parts for blocks. I can’t tell you how many sub-assemblies I’ve had to pull apart because I used the wrong fabrics or made too many.


As you can see, January has been very fruitful, and with my top 8 frustrations addressed, my quilting is even more fun than before. Happy, delightful quilting everyone!


January 2010 Musings

January 9, 2010

After a full week of retirement - I am overwhelmed with glee. I've done only a smidge of housework, just enough to get by. Much of my time has been spent getting my quilting documentation in order. I finally organized my data files so I can actually find what I am looking for, and catalogued "new" quilt designs that had been left un-documented,  For about 10 years, I have crocheted baby blankets for Laura Schlessenger's My Stuff Bags, so now that I have more time, I thought I might do more of that. But, I met a woman in the WalMart yarn section who told me she knits chemo caps. I got in touch with her contact in Raleigh, and am now playing with cap patterns to crochet to send to her. If you are interested in doing something similar in your own area, check out for ideas.

Now, back to quilting. My husband and I received an Amazon gift certificate, so I spent my part trying to get some help with color selection. I just received Joen Wolfrom's Color Play, which uses the Ives Color Wheel, in which the primary colors are yellow, magenta, and torquoise. I don't know if I will get better at selecting colors or not. All I know, is that if I select the colors I like, all my quilts will look alike! Ha!


The Big Picture of My Quilting Focus

I make lap quilts. They are usually between 55 and 60 inches square, and have something to do with pinwheels. I love pinwheels. Lap Quilts are the largest quilts that I can construct comfortably with the tools and space I have.  My designs are very simple, no pieces smaller than 2" on a side, and no more than 6 fabrics. Selecting fabrics is the most stressful part of the process for me, so why make it more difficult than necessary? So far, I have designed 11 lap quilts, and have constructed 6 of them.  To document my designs, I use MS Publisher to create a title page, and I print the rotary cutting diagrams and yardage from EQ. I also have an Excel spreadsheet that calculates binding yardage for bias, length-wise grain, and cross-grain binding yardage. I put all of those pages, along with samples of the fabrics I used, in a sheet protector and keep it in a binder. There is also a page for the specifications: type of fabric, batting, etc., and notes about the process of designing and constructing the quilt. But alas, I rarely use it.

Welcome to Sharon D's Blog

This is my first experience blogging. I decided that QCA is the perfect place to start since we all share a love of quilting. So, please enjoy my first post!

Quilting is a hobby I got involved in 2 years ago. I've never been satisfied to just go along with any type pattern or recipe, I always make changes. The same goes for quilting. As a new quilter all of the designs I found, even the simple and quick designs, were more elaborate than I wanted. So, being a life-long geek, I bought Electric Quilt and started playing. I am by no means an expert at EQ6, nor am I a gifted designer. However, I completely enjoy the process of designing with EQ6 - and that's the whole point, isn't it? As of today, 1/1/2010, I am retired, finally! So I am looking forward to many years of quilting to my heart's content!

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