Be Powerful. CREATE!!

In my class on making Design-As-You-Go medallion quilts, students choose their own center block and borders, one decision at a time. As the quilts develop, the students engage and encourage their classmates in making skillful choices. All the quilters in that class are very experienced and talented. But not all of them design for themselves regularly.

Last night I received an email from one of my spring students. Sarah said, “I feel so liberated after taking your class.

Her ability to create, to design for herself, allows her to become more of herself. Liberated. To be herself. She is more powerful. And I believe we all have that power.


I had a long discussion about art and creativity with my friend Ben recently. I asked Ben, “Why is art-making so rewarding? Why must we make art — write, play, sing, act, paint, quilt, arrange flowers — ? How are we transformed by the creative process?”

Within a much larger answer, Ben said,

I think we are least destructive, even within ourselves, when we are most creatively fulfilled. Isn’t this where we separate ourselves from all other animals? In the ability to create what was not there before? In new and totally unique ways? Doesn’t creative exploration create new and different creative pathways within us? Don’t we thereby become more than we were before?

I think we are most true to our natures when we create, when we engage creatively. …

I think it is rewarding because we are doing what we are meant to do. Growing, learning, trying, failing, succeeding, exploring and expanding our natures.

We are expanding our natures. In my response to him, I agree with his summary and explain my personal experience.

I find creation to be powerful. My tagline on my blog is “Be powerful. CREATE!” I mentioned when we visited in July about my work to regain my personal power after my illness. And I have found that expression through writing and designing, and transforming ideas and colors and shapes into tangible objects is one of the primary ways [for me] to build power.

I keep pushing my personal boundaries of what I can do. That growth makes me more powerful and MORE OF THE PERSON I AM.

A book I read several years ago by Anna Quindlen is called Object Lessons. One of the things that struck me most when I was finishing the book is how the characters, through the period of the novel, all became more themselves. NOT that the book revealed that, but that their true selves were more revealed to other characters and even to themselves through the story. They became themselves.

And funny, I just dipped into the first of the novel on Amazon and I find a passage I hadn’t remembered, don’t remember as being part of the theme of the book, about the 12-year-old girl main character. The passage describes being in school and told by the nun to write an answer to the question “who are you?” The girl wrote “I am still becoming who I am.”

That’s how I feel. … my quilting work has taken off in ways I never would have anticipated. And that also has been creative growth, which has pushed my other personal growth in new ways. Mostly, perhaps, I’ve become more willing to try other things that are different or “hard,” even if not in the realm of creativity.

All I know is that creation helps me become myself. And becoming myself is powerful.

We all have creative power within ourselves, though we express it in different ways. It is a power of transformation. We transform materials, notes on a page, our thoughts, ourselves. We transform others as we reach out to them to teach or encourage. As we exercise that transformational power, it gets stronger. We become more liberated to be our true selves, revealing layers even we did not know were there.

You can become more powerful, too. Be powerful. CREATE!

And on a More Positive Note…

Just some side thoughts here… I am blessed. My heart is full and open, and I am surrounded by love at all times. I have the BEST husband, amazing children and grandchildren, supportive friends.

Whatever whiny moments I have because of quilting “trouble” or minor illnesses quickly get pushed aside. Things almost always look better after a good night’s sleep, which I had last night. Today is better. Thanks to those who chimed in yesterday to offer support as I complained.

I always have music playing in my brain. This is one I “listened” to this morning. Enjoy.


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.