Sunday, January 16, 2022

A Third Baby Quilt for a Benton Avenue Connection

I’ve known my friend Cristina for almost 20 years, since she was 12.  And this also means I’ve know her older brother Alejandro for the same amount of time.  When we popped the top of our house, I used the Second floor of their garage as my studio space for almost six months. This space was also Alejandro’s bedroom, but he was away at college.  He was more than a good sport about sharing his space with me.  Fast Forward: Ale is married, a college professor, and will soon have his third child.  Helios has his quilt and Neoma has hers. These quilts are yellow and black and green and oranges.  This quilt for #3 is from the leftovers of the fabrics from the two quilts.

Google herringbone quilts for directions.  Perfect for 2.5” strips! 


Wednesday, January 12, 2022

A Hand-Quilted Trip around the World


This pretty little Trip Around the World (gratitude to Eleanor Burns and her directions for this favorite pattern) was made from fabrics that play together nicely texturally.  I love the jewel tones, too.  I had to make the pattern smaller because I was working with leftovers and fat quarters.  This is 57” x 72” and a great size for napping.  Batted with wool, it was a pretty fast project to needle, about a month.

                          It’s a nice addition to my quilt ladder which doesn’t have much color. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

My Best Christmas Present


Faced with what seems to be a never-ending supply of quilts and even at various attempts to destash, there are always piles of quilts.  In the fall I had the idea of getting a quilt or "blanket ladder."  It was 5 feet tall and 17 inches wide.  Not bad but getting big quilts on it was pretty tricky.  So I asked Santa for a bigger blanket ladder.  Below is Santa,  and his present was was pretty easy to assemble.  (search for blanket ladder at Amazon - all sorts of options come up.) This new ladder is 7 feet tall and 24" wide.  Much better.    The smaller ladder works great for wall hangings and napping quilt.  During this new year's winter interlude (we aren't snowed in - I've just been pretending for a couple of days) I started the quilt at the bottom of this entry.  Today I'm about to sew the vertical rows together.  And then I think I'll pet some fabric and see which ones I want to play with next!

Downstream, pattern by Yvonne Fuchs, available at

Sunday, January 2, 2022

The Calm Start of 2022

Our first holiday in the condo has been wonderful.  Every room has a lovely view.  We had a nice flurry of entertaining, both small and large groups.  One of the benefits of working on a big batch of purses is that I feel I can reward myself with starting a new project, something big.  Downstream by Yvonne Fuchs has been on my radar for over a year, and I'm making the large napping size.  I don't always follow patterns, and it's nice to know exactly what to cut and how much fabric is needed.  Since John is so totally engrossed with all things football and since we are snowed in (not really but it's just nice to of my winter fantasies), my productivity is off the charts!  Working in the studio, alternating listening to books (just finished Lilac Girls, an atypical WWII read, very good) and music - it's my vision of heaven.  Here's to 2022 - its off to a great start!

Friday, December 31, 2021

2021 comes to an end…

What an odd year. 2020 and 2021 have run together into one odd blur, mostly defined by Covid and broken bones.  Its good to end the year on a positive note, this time with Mors bags.  A guildster needs bags for a charity project, and I've made up these two, with fabric she gave me, to see if these are what she wants.  I sometimes forget how satisfying these Mors bags are to make.  Want to make one?  Go to - directions are there.  Another quick and satisfying project is bowl cozies.  We use ours all the time.  The one below is for me. The black and white fabric is from New Zealand, and all the designs are Maori.

But my main focus of December has been purses for Sew Powerful. I wanted to make 31, but stopped at 25 and got them in the mail.  This year I did a total of 101, which isn't bad considering the turmoil of the big move.

See below for our Christmas Eve table and why we love our new space so much.  Last Christmas Eve John and I took ourselves out of the family mix.  This year, with vaccinations and boosters (and requiring testing for the three unvaxxed grandsons, two of whom tested positive and didn't attend), our dinner was lovely, and all seemed happy to be gathered together.

Two Bowls cozies for John's sister

The other side of the black and white one for my kitchen

One of my favorite purses

Purses from fabrics by Mary Radnor

No design wall for purses so a new rack with 20 hooks!

 2022 is going to be the no excuses year.  The move is over, we are both healthy, the LaGrange house is sold with an early February closing, and I have projects I can't wait to work on!  

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Mid December


This wall hanging is 3' x 4' and intended to be the first of a four seasons series for the dining room fireplace.  I do think this is a lovely tribute to autumn but will also admit it's odd. The hand quilting has created a wonderful texture.  But as I thought about above the fireplace, this just wouldn't work there yet.  But look how great it looks in the kitchen.  That wall has been pretty bare, so I've taped this up just to see whether it belongs here.  And I think it does!

Meanwhile during the day I've been working on purses.  It's December 18, and here are eighteen purses.  Because John does all things Christmas, it's been pretty easy to find the time to sew.  And because we think we have finally sold our LaGrange house, there are less distractions!

This year it's Ben's turn for a quilt.  This isn't exactly a Christmas present.  It's just a good time to give him his quilt.  I used a Japanese canvas which has a very manly look.  It's a heavy quilt - hope his rooms are cold and that he needs this warmth.  I quilted this quilt on my domestic machine.  Even though this machine has a large harp, there was still much quilt wrangling that went on - I could only work on this for maybe an hour a day, and only after I finished my purse sewing.  But it's finished, and I'll be happy to hand it off.  Unfortunately we photographed this quilt on an excessively windy day and were lucky to get any decent shot at all! I love doing log cabins.  The backing for this quilt is a fabric of 8" measures.

Now back to more purses!

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

The Broken Wrist Quilt

Does this quilt do anything for you?  I love it for several reasons.  It was one of the first things I worked on with my broken wrist.  I had just had the pins removed (without anesthesia, just a local - stupid Covid - don't ask) and was doing rehab.  And I'm sure this project helped the rehab along. I've always admired quilts using the selvage edges of fabric.  So I went through my stash and cut off the selvage edges, about a 2" strip.  I also set out scrap strips.  There are no seams on these blocks, just fabrics overlapped and foundation pieced onto 12.5" squares of muslin.  Each of the 35 blocks was batted with wool, quilted individually (perfect summer quilting) and then joined in a quilt-as-you-go technique.  The backs of each block were scraps also.  Nice way to use up these odd bits. 

This quilt doesn’t have an owner yet.  Which is fine with me.  I need to hang on to this for a while, admire it, and reflect on how difficult some of this work was as I was healing and rehabbing.  It pleases me very much.  60” x 84”

Monday, December 6, 2021

Yikes, how did it get to be December?


In all the flurry of November and my trip to Santa Fe and out of towners for Thanksgiving, I continued to sew, just without blogging.  I’m utterly thrilled with a quilt I just finished, but I’ll do an entry tomorrow about this quilt.  It is just too special for a little mention.  The Santa Fe trip was wonderful.  The landscape of this area is intriguing.  It’s so unfamiliar to me.  The clarity of air is noticeable.  So is the aridity and the elevation.  

Our first Thanksgiving in Oak Brook was a good one - we had 8 around the table.  We are just so happy in this space.  And we’re hoping to get a bit happier - we may have found a buyer for our house.  

Small projects for perfect when sewing time is so broken up.  And I've been wanting to make bowl cozies.  We use ours all the time and they need updating.  Several of these were for gifts, and someone bought two pair although I really don't intend to sell them.  They are satisfying to make and use up the cotton and wool batting scraps.  

But the month ended on two very sad notes.  One is the death of Stephen Sondheim.  He was a brilliant artist whose work spoke deeply to me.  I've blogged about Sondheim before.  The ambivalence he often wrote of is akin to Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn.  And his music? Just wonderful.  I felt this same sadness when Julia Child died.  Alexa and I have been going through the Sondheim canon.  And I'm still doing it.  But more importantly and sadly the chief cheerleader among Sew Powerful volunteers and purse makers, Shirley Utz, died.  Pancreatic cancer.  She s leaving a huge footprint.  Her grace during these last few months is a model of how to live.  

My life rhythm has been off with the move.   We love where we are but are realizing that the move was not easy.  And the biggest unease has been the house not finding its buyer.  But I'm snapping out of this irregular rhythm.  I'm very good at sewing my way through grief and sadness.  My December intention is to sew a purse a day and get them in the mail.  Being married to the guy to who all the Christmas allows me the luxury of the commitment.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

No Trick or Treat Candy!

 I like my new home.  It's a condo of people pretty much my age and no children, not that there's anything wrong with them!  We're not in a neighborhood - we're in nature.  And it's lovely. There are walking paths, and our across-the-street neighbor is the Hilton Oak Brook Hills Resort.  Instead of agonizing over what kind of Halloween candy to buy and whether we have enough, this holiday is a candy-free zone.  A nice change of pace.  One negative:  one more leaves fall I we will be able to see an over-the-top magamansion.  I'll need to keep my eyes in the studio.

I've been working on this, now that it's cool again.  This quilt is based on a pattern by Yoshiko Jinzenji and features bit of favorite fabrics.  There are 6 boxes of negative space, each one with different hand quilting.  Sometimes I can't see for forest for the trees, so I asked John to hang this off the balcony for some photos.  I'm trying to vary the stitching, but it just doesn't show up all that much.  So now?  It's just a matter of getting it done.

Meanwhile I went through my batting scraps and made some presents, both for this house and for others. These bowl cozies are so handy for soups and chili and anything else that comes out of the microwave too hot to safely handle.  Mine are in the bottom right - that black and white fabric I bought in New Zealand and it represents Maori designs.  The colorful dots back with orange prisms?  for Eileen.  The bottom left - very dark blue and a dress pattern print for Sarah.  And there are several for Melissa featuring topographical fabric, Native American design,  and house design plans.  It was good to work on small things that are easy to complete!

For the most part John is appreciative of what I do and lets me hang whatever I want.  However, he looked at this wall hanging, meant for above the fireplace in the dining room, and said he didn't understand how this was representative of Fall.  And this is indeed my Fall wall hanging.  Ill admit it's abstract at this point, but I have stitching plans that I hope will make this piece easier to understand.  And if he doesn't get it, that's okay too.  It's 3' tall and 4' wide.  

This quilt is one I started after fracturing my wrist.  I foundation-pieced selvage strips onto batting.  I could operate my machine and was able to do rough cutting by stabilizing my ruler with my elbow.  Foundation piecing meant that there were no seams to iron.  And its obvious I stuck to lights, greys, reds, and black.  Then I attached each 12" square to a neutral backing.  When it was too warm to work on the above Yoshiko-ish quilt, I worked on hand-quilting these blocks.  31 of them or complete.  I'm saving the remaining 4 for some traveling mid-November, and then I'll connect these blocks using the reversible quilting method.  I know the sashing/binding strips on the front need to be neutral, but I'm trying to decide whether I want to do something different for the sashing/binding strips on the back.  I have a few weeks to ponder on this.  And I'll watch the leaves continue to fall.  Happily.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Double-Sided Tape: My New Love

 My design wall is working just perfectly!  None of my taped batting-covered insulation boards have come loose.  Pins go in easily, and single-layered bits just stick so nicely. 

The design wall also holds the finished purses nicely, too.  Most of these four use recycled blue jeans for the body.  And the flaps are from other deconstructed quilted projects.  I am having a serious love affair with double- sided tape! 

Now that the weather is cooler, I am getting back to this quilt.  Most of it is quilted except for the areas surrounded by the fabrics.  Here’s what I tried in one box…

And here’s another…

It’s fun and satisfying to work on these negative spaces.  Every so often I have to unfurl the whole quilt - you know, kind of like you can’t see the forest for the trees, right?  I think I want to hang this in the living room when it’s completed.  But meanwhile I have hung an oldie but a goodie:

I made this well over 10 years ago, and it hung in my dining room forever.  Despite its age, I do think it’s one of my more creative pieces.  These blocks are all log cabins, and I was still heavily into my batik period!  I am loving seeing it up again.  Just to unify this blog post, let me give another plug for the double-sided tape - that’s how this quilt is hung,  and that’s how the area rug above is “mounted” on the carpeting.