Venting Some Steam, Or Getting to YES

“Just because you haven’t heard me swearing doesn’t mean I haven’t been,” I said to Jim, shortly before dinner.

“What’s wrong? Is the machine giving you problems?”

“No, not the machine. The machine is quilting fine. I’m just not stitching where I want to,” I told him.

So there’s that. I’m trying to do straight-line stitching with the long-arm, stitching in the ditch around the center medallion. It would be easier to do it on the DSM, truthfully.

It isn’t just a matter of getting good lines of BLACK thread that don’t sit on the red piecing. Even when I’m on black fabric, I’m having trouble. One of my blacks is heavily printed, not dyed. The ink is marred with each stitch. That’s bad enough when I’m stitching where I want to. When I have to unstitch, I’m leaving a trail of evidence behind.

YES, (since you asked) I did change the needle before I started. Brand-spankin’ new sharp needle.

YES, I can use a marker after the fact to touch up that $&!#.

YES, I still have a cold, which in fact seems like it’s getting worse, not better.

YES, I’m pretty cranky now.

And YES, I’m stopping for the evening.

Economy Block | Square in a Square

This morning the Quilt Alliance posted about Two Altheas and a Square Within a Square. The Altheas are American tennis champion Althea Gibson, and quilter Althea Orr Diament. Diament pieced and quilted the lovely quilt shown in the blog post. Please take a look.

I note this in particular because my all-time most viewed post is Economy Block ANY Size! (With Cheat Sheet). There must be some romance to this block that has made it so popular. Its graphic simplicity allows a sparkle as the primary block or an accent in a quilt.

And it’s easy to make using my instructions, though the trimming is a little fiddly.

Certainly there are many more ways to set it than side-by-side across the vast array of a quilt. If you didn’t look at the Quilt Alliance post yet, please do. The setting there is interesting and fresh. And my post showing seventeen ways to set economy blocks should spur a quilter’s thinking for more ideas.

Here is the baseball medallion that uses the block above.

Have you made a quilt using this block? Was it the primary block, an alternate, or an accent?

3 Perfect Ideas

Melanie McNeil:

What do you think about perfection? Here are 3 great reminders to spur your thoughts.

Originally posted on Zippy Quilts:

Pieced quilt, circles

The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

1. The perfect is the enemy of the good.

I made this quilt a long time ago to practice circles, and the quotation that inspired it came to mind recently when I was debating which quilts are “good enough” to be submitted to juried shows.  It probably is obvious that the design above is more interesting than the “perfect” one shown below:

pieced quilt, circles

Perfect Isn’t So Good

2. “Perfect” is well enough done that you are satisfied when you look at it, but not so over-worked that you’re sick of quilting by the time you finish it.

To make a perfect quilt, It helps to start with:

  • The right pattern for your skill level
  • Fabric you love
  • Techniques you enjoy (e.g., paper piecing, applique, whatever)
  • The right tools, well maintained

3. You may be more capable of “perfect” than you…

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Ten Quilty Little Secrets

This morning I ran across Quilting Jetgirl’s list of 10 quilty little secrets. She linked back to Amy at, who started the notion.

What ten secrets do I have about my quilting? Nothing I’m ashamed of, I can assure you! So I don’t mind sharing.

  1. Like Amy and Yvonne, I sew over pins. ALL the time. As long as I’ve sewed, I may have broken one needle. But I also use very thin pins, and I’m extremely careful to remove basting pins at the long-arm. And I’m good about changing needles regularly.
  2. I don’t believe in “setting seams.” Truly, I can’t figure out what we’re supposedly setting. Sure, you can get a seam to press open better by pressing it flat first. But is that because you are “setting the seam?” I don’t think so. I think it’s because you flattened the fabrics around the threads, and because you’ve warmed up the fabrics and thread to make them more pliable.
  3. I’m glad for the Modern Quilt movement. It’s brought a lot of new quilters into the world. But I don’t agree there is anything “modern” about it other than style. A kiss is still a kiss, and a quilt is still a quilt.
  4. I get a kick out of having perfect points.
  5. And I get a kick out of having my work sized correctly.
  6. AND I’m not a perfectionist. But I am a pretty-goodist. For me it’s more fun to create when not struggling with size issues.
  7. I’ve rarely bought fabric on-line. I like to feel it and to see the crispness of the print.
  8. I’ve only bought fat quarter bundles a couple of times.
  9. I don’t care who the designer is. The DESIGN is what’s important, not the name behind it.
  10. I am unceasingly grateful to my blog readers, and in particular to those who take a moment to comment. We are connected, and the power of our connection shines when we support each other in our creativity.

Do you have quilty secrets? I’d love to hear them.


Worse things have happened. I cut 34 squares the wrong size. Rather than 1 3/4″, I cut them 1 7/8″.


Generally it’s better to cut things too large than too small, right? After all, if they are too large, you can trim them to size. But since they are already small, and the trimming would be only 1/8″, I decided to cut whole new squares. Trimming seemed just too fiddly. The lucky part was I had plenty of fabric to do so.

I’m making parts for a small class sample. I’ll be teaching a beginners’ medallion class, which starts in October. The class project will teach five different blocks, including the flying geese used in the variable star. It’s a change-up from the standard sampler that many beginners’ classes teach. Of course for a beginners’ class, my design is purposely very simple, using only six fabrics.

This is the design I’m using with solid fabrics.

The sample is another experiment. Generally, medallion quilts don’t use a background fabric, the way the grey serves in this. But modern quilts use a lot of negative space, and modern medallions tend to have more of a background feel to them. Take a look at the Aviatrix medallion here. The pale grey is used from center to outer borders, and I think it is effectively done.

Here are the parts I have so far.

The grey is a little dark for my taste. That merits a big “oh well.” I think it will be very pretty when done and certainly will serve well as a sample.

Up for tomorrow: make the half-square triangles and assemble the top. And other projects await, as well! But I’m making progress.

Taking Control of the New List

Here is the list I started a few days ago. As mentioned then, I have a TON to do over the next two months. Lists help me control where I spend my time, so I often use them when I feel pressured on deadlines.

  1. Get dress hemmed for Son’s graduation dinner. Making appointment for alterations.
  2. Load and quilt project as a favor for someone; return it to them this week. It is boxed and ready to mail.
  3. Quilt and bind Ice Cream sample. Changed quilt name to Sherbet.
  4. Make top for Amish solids sample.
  5. Make top for black and red sample.
  6. Review lesson plans.
  7. Assemble lesson packet.
  8. Make back, quilt, bind African Star. Purchased backing fabric.
  9. Develop new projects/designs.
  10. Write, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite… Have been rewriting…

Sherbet. 35″ square. Finished August 2014.

Kona Cotton Solids

I’m working on a small quilt made of solid fabrics — no prints. I don’t mind mixing prints and solids, but this one is intended to have an old-fashioned Amish feel. Some of the fabrics were purchased at JoAnn’s, and some were from local quilt shops.

JoAnn’s sells solids under two or three different labels. One label (brand) is Kona Cotton Solids. The question comes up regularly about the maker of JoAnn’s Kona solids. If you buy something called “Kona” at the quilt shop, it also will show the maker as Robert Kaufman. JoAnn’s doesn’t say that.

Who makes JoAnn’s Kona solids? Are they made by Robert Kaufman or some other manufacturer? Are they Robert Kaufman second-quality goods?

This morning in the Stashbusters Yahoo site (group forum), someone posted a link to Bonnie Hunter’s Quiltville blog. Bonnie and Robert Kaufman answered this question definitively. I encourage you to read the whole answer provided by Robert Kaufman. However, I’ll summarize here:

  1. Robert Kaufman makes ALL Kona Cotton Solids, regardless of retailer.
  2. ALL Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton fabrics distributed are first quality. Seconds are destroyed.
  3. If you find fabric labeled as Kona Cotton Solids that appears to be of lower quality, the company would like you to mail them a sample.

Where should you buy your Kona Cotton Solids? Many of us like to patronize our local quilt shops, ensuring their success to keep them in our communities. Many of us like the coupons and sales offered by JoAnn Fabrics. Hobby Lobby also has carried Kona solids, but I don’t shop there anymore. So as with most of the rest of my fabric purchases, I will continue to buy at JoAnn’s and make sure I support my local shops, as well.