Worth Its Weight in Gold

I’m struggling with inspiration for starting new projects. I only have a couple of UFOs, so picking up an old project to finish isn’t an easy fix. Today I decided to review old posts to see if anything would spark some motivation. The post below from March 2014 doesn’t lend a lot of mojo, but it does remind me that my stash is to use. If it is to be used, I need to use it. Yeah. That simple. Enjoy the rerun…

In my professional career I worked as an investment manager with a large regional bank. My clients included both trusts and individuals, and my job was to try to meet their financial goals, balancing potential risks and returns.

A trust is a document, not a human, but it has its own legal identity and ownership of assets and liabilities. The document specifies, in particular, who receives benefits from the assets owned by the trust, and what those benefits will be. In days past, trusts also often specified exactly what assets could be used. For example, it might say that particular farm property had to be held, or that only stocks and bonds could be used.

One trust with which I worked said that gold coins had to be owned by the trust, as well as financial assets. The coins had belonged to the person (human) who had set up the trust. When that person died, the coins transferred in ownership from the human to the trust.

That same trust also said the beneficiary would receive any income generated by the trust. For example, if farm property is held, the farm creates cash flow, and the net income would go to the beneficiary. With stocks, the dividend stream would create income. And with bonds, interest earned would do so.

Think for a moment: what income do coins generate? I suppose if they were rare enough, someone might pay to see them, as in a museum. But they were not. They were just gold coins, and they generated no income.

Now consider, the coins could never be sold because the document said they had to be held, so it didn’t matter what the price of gold was in the market. The coins would never go to market. And the beneficiary could only receive income, but the coins would not generate income. What value, really, was there in the coins?

No more value than pet rocks.

What gold are you keeping hidden, never to be used or appreciated? Your quilting stash, if purchased new in the U.S. today, would go for about $10-15 a yard. Overseas it may be substantially more. Does your “trust” hold a hundred yards? That would be a fairly modest stash, by many standards. A thousand yards?

You could measure it using a simple estimate. Quilting fabric weighs a little more than a quarter pound per yard. In other words, there are about three to four yards per pound. The photo above shows about fifteen yards of my stash, by that measure. Eyeballing it, I might have 400 yards of stash in total. And mine is small…

Each pound, then, might have a value of about $40-60 in the U.S. Perhaps not the value of gold on the market. But there is value, if…

Do you use it? Do you get the benefit of it? Or do you still go buy new, at $13 a yard, rather than shop the stash?

Is your stash worth the same as the gold held by that trust? If you don’t use it, you don’t enjoy cutting it, crafting it, or giving it to someone who will love it. If you do not use it, it has no value.

Use your stash. Shop your stash first. Enjoy the discovery of fabrics you already love. Challenge your creativity by finding pieces that will work, even if they aren’t what you had in mind. Make sure your stash has value, at least the value you paid for it. Otherwise it’s worth its weight in gold, the gold owned by that trust.

A Gift for My Brother

A few years ago my brother got married. Sister Cathie and I made a quilt for Brother and his bride. Alas, the marriage didn’t last.

But happier times are here. He recently bought and moved into a new home. I thought that a new home, new start, called for a new quilt. I built a quilt top of simple 8″ hourglass blocks. The block is fun to make and packs a lot of pow with its graphic simplicity and contrast. I used fabrics I still love but am not using much. I framed it with a triple border, and enlisted Cathie to help quilt and bind it. It’s big, about 94″ square, so quilting and binding is a big project.

Last Sunday we visited Brother in his new home and presented his new quilt. It looks even better on his bed.


A Gift for My Friend BJ

Recently I mentioned I’ll be giving away a few quilts. I sent off two on Friday, and yesterday (Saturday) the first one arrived for its new owner!

In July and August I had a few quilts displayed in a local quilt shop. One day my friend BJ met me there to take a look, and to enjoy some time together. BJ and I met 18 years ago (MY GOODNESS!) at the bank where we both worked. We worked closely for several years prior to her retirement, and we’ve remained friends since then.

BJ is a sports fan, and while there were a couple of the quilts she especially liked, I thought this one suited her well. It is named Play Ball! and is 46″ x 56″.

This fun little quilt started from a pillow panel. Several years ago, on my first excursion into our local Mennonite thrift shop, I found two square pillow covers. With their vintage baseball theme and strong blues, reds, and greens, likely they were used in a boy’s bedroom. Besides the square(ish) panels on the front, the envelope closures on the back were lined with small baseballs on navy blue.

I used one panel to inspire a baby quilt for my youngest grandchild. (He is going on 5 now, so not a baby anymore.) It uses the Burgoyne Surrounded block on the front and the pillow panel to center the back.

But I still had one panel left. With a nice range of color and value, I continued the baseball and All-American theme.

The dark green tone-on-tone framed the panel to represent the grass of the infield, and then I mimicked the baseline and bases in the corners with cream and tan. Spark and movement comes from the simple border of 4-patches and half-square triangles.

The busy stars print frames all that, followed by borders only on top and bottom to elongate the quilt. This border uses the “economy” block, or square-in-a-square, described in this tutorial. I was able to use four of the fussy-cut baseballs for the corner blocks. Finally I framed the whole thing with red. This gives a balance between the red, navy, and green in the center panel.

I enjoyed making this quilt. I have a feeling BJ will enjoy watching her baseball playoff games and quite a lot of football snuggled under this lap quilt.

Tree of Life Times Two


Cathie’s “Fantasy of the Squirrels” on the left. My “Garden Party” on the right. Click on the picture to open it larger in a new tab.

One of the things I love about quilting is how two quilters can interpret a pattern or an idea completely differently. The photo above shows two quilts made using the center panel designed by Julie Paschkis. My sister Cathie made the one on the left side of the picture. I made the one on the right. Frankly, I think they are both terrific.

If you click on the picture, you’ll see the details of both quilts better. With hers, I love the way the split-striped border creates movement with the light/dark bars’ contrasts. Those contrasts are offset by the soft brown on either side. The triangle points extend the center outward, giving it even more presence. The outside border is a leaf print of blues, greens, and black swirling through, continuing the “fantasy” of the center, and playing well with the green and black print that squares the center. She repeats both the reds and blacks from the center with the corner four-patches, adding to the unity of the design.

In mine the colors are more saturated, the value contrasts stronger. This is a typical difference of how she and I work.

I enjoyed seeing the finished quilts side by side.



Medallion Design Basics Presentation and Trunk Show

A week ago I had the pleasure of presenting to the DeKalb County Quilters’ Guild in Sycamore, IL. My topic was medallion design basics, including examples of design concepts such as unity, balance, movement, and value. I also discussed the components of the medallion format, including the center block, the first borders, intermediate borders, and last borders. Each has a role to play in creating a cohesive design.

Besides the slide show, I brought 11 quilts with me. I asked the guild members to notice a few things generally. In particular, few of my center blocks are very spectacular themselves, though generally they are bold in their sizing and values. Most of my blocks are pretty simple, variations on Ohio Stars or churndashes or the like. None are elaborate Mariner’s compass blocks, or intricately appliqued designs. Those are wonderful centers for medallions, but you don’t need fancy to achieve a great quilt.

What do you need? You need something interesting to look at. The center block is the natural focal point. The borders around the center direct the eye to and from it with differences and similarities in shape, color, and value. Repetition of shapes, especially when varying sizes, creates interest. Repeated similar colors or patterns, with some variations, make us seek out just what the differences are. Diagonal lines are effective in giving a sense of movement, and half-square triangles are an easy way to provide that motion. Variations are as important as repetitions. Too much of one leads to chaos; too much of the other leads to boredom. As with all else, balance is key.

Jim joined me at the meeting, helping to set up and tear down. He also took the following photos.

quilts on racks

Before we began, three of my quilts hung.


Three quilts from my Medallion Sew Along, with good examples of balance, value, color, and shape.

beginning the talk

Great audience of 75 or 80. They use a church hall for meetings.

my medallion

Me pointing out one of my un-spectacular center blocks. Not fancy but it works well!

In addition, Doris Rice, a member of DCQG, allowed me to share her photos. Her complete blog post can be found here. Thank you, Doris! So lovely to meet you.

Flip side

The Flip Side. They also like the back.

Garden Party

Garden Party

Stained Glass Too

Stained Glass Too. Another un-spectacular center, gussied up.

wide view

Quite a contrast in styles.

I enjoyed meeting the guild and sharing my quilts with them. If your guild is interested in a session on medallion quilts, give me a holler.

Making a List and Checking It Twice…

No, I’m not Santa, and I’m not making Christmas lists yet. But I am planning to give some quilts away.

Until about three years ago, I gave away almost every quilt I made. But for a variety of reasons, my pace of giving slowed substantially. Most of those reasons are still in place, so my gifts will be carefully considered. But there are several my heart is ready to release. A few of them have new owners chosen, while others will be more challenging to decide.

Jim asked for one quilt to give away. I’m not sure if he has a plan for that or not, but I look forward to watching the process unfold. One will be a baby present for neighbors, who also happen to be friends of our son. Isn’t it sweet?

Bunnies for Baby

At least one will go to my guild as a service (donation) quilt. I never did like the combination of fabrics.

And I have chosen family and friends for five of them. A few others are candidates for giving, too, but I’ll have to think a bit more about receivers.

One thing I have learned while stockpiling my work is that giving all of them away isn’t okay. Nor is keeping them all. I need a balance between the two, allowing me to celebrate the gifts of love and friendship and family, as well as those of my art and my own need for comfort.

Use the Good Stuff First – Quote Challenge

Melanie McNeil:

Love this philosophy and I’ve written about it, too. And don’t just use your good fabric. Use the wedding china, the real silverware, the glass glasses, the pretty linens. And more importantly, use the best of yourself, your most patient tone of voice, your greatest compassion, your hard-fought skills… If you have comments or likes, please add them to the original post.

Originally posted on Lani Longshore's Blog:

The late Doreen Speckmann used to tell her quilt students to use the good stuff first. “If you don’t, when you die your family will turn that fabulous batik you’ve been saving into a clown costume.” Oh, I know all the adages about saving something for a rainy day, and about keeping special things for special occasions. That’s good advice, too, but when your sewing room is bursting at the seams try doing some projects with the good stuff.

Cram as much beauty into your life as you can Cram as much beauty into your life as you can

You might be worried that the project won’t work and you’ll have wasted your supplies. Ann Anastasio and I taught a workshop called “There’s a Quilt in There Somewhere.” We instructed students to bring the one piece of fabric deemed too wonderful to use. The first order of business was for everyone to cut her special fabric in half. “Look,” we…

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