The Perfect Piecing Pocket Guide is Here!

Have you seen it?! My newest book, The Perfect Piecing Pocket Guide is here!

First things first: it’s cute and small. It’s meant to go into your sewing bag when you head to a retreat or class. It’s the perfect quick reference for any quilter.

Second, like my first book, this one is full of photos and tips. As a friend of mine used to say, it hits the high spots with the most used blocks quilters tend to make. Remember, it’s a pocket guide so it won’t have all the information that my first book, Piecing Makeover, has in it but it has most everything you need to get out of a quilting jam.

You can order signed copies through my store, at C&T, Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, or Barnes and Noble.

It’s a perfect gift for quilting holiday exchanges or a stocking stuffer!

Happy Piecing, everyone!

Perfect Piecing Pocket Guide

It’s here! It’s here! It’s here!

And ermehgoodness, y’all. My pocket guide is adorable! I’m absolutely in love! Is it too much to toss it into a purse and carry around? Asking for a friend.

In all seriousness, the Perfect Piecing Pocket Guide is the mini-version of my best selling book, Piecing Makeover. We took the most common block mistakes and put them into this guide. This book is easy to toss into your sewing bag when you are heading to a class, take to the quilt shop if you are planning and designing your own quilt AND just before the holidays it’s the perfect stocking stuffer for ANY quilter.

You can get a signed copy in my shop, or you can buy a copy at C&T or Amazon.

Check it out and be sure to let me know what you think. I hope you like the pocket guide as much as I do!

Mending Matters

A friend of mine recently asked for help with one of her prized possessions: her grandfathers WWII wool blanket.

It has been loved and washed a million times, mended with feed-sacks by her mother, and another cover put over that. Over the years, the blanket has been washed so many times that the covering was fraying, and coming apart. She needed it fixed.

The caveat? Keep the feed-sacks and covering on it. Make a duvet.

The fabric on the outside of the blanket was thin and had been stretched from weight, use and time – the blanket weighs 8 or so pounds! the original weighted blanket. I mended the cover by simply pulling the fabric onto itself and whipstitching the pieces together, Where I could sew seams together again, I gently sewed them together along the old seam.

I covered the edges of the blanket with a large binding to preserve their integrity.

The cover is made with two coordinating batik fabrics. I serged all the edges of the duvet so it can get washed repeatedly. I mitered the corners to create a frame around a center panel. The sides are mirrored. I attached ties to the corners of the blanket and the cover to keep them together. The duvet closes with a zipper.

Log Cabin Quilt

Quilts, metaphors, and Log Cabins.

The Log Cabin is one of the most recognized quilt blocks. We know what to expect with Log Cabin quilts. We know that the block represents home, stability. We know the patterns we can create using this versatile block. We know how to put scraps together to maximize creative effect using value. There’s order, and symmetry, but when I pulled out the pieces to start working on this quilt again, I was feeling anything but order. In fact, I wanted to speak to the uncertainty of the last few years.

We have all experienced chaos, trauma and some sort of upheaval since Covid pandemic interrupted our lives in 2020. At times, life has been anything but certain and stable. So why Log Cabins? We know what to expect when we make these blocks and place them into a quilt. We know what our lives should look like so what happens when our lives take a turn? What happens when the blocks aren’t arranged in an easily recognizable pattern? When life is sort of back to normal but not quite. When the blocks and the patterns sort of create a pattern we know and understand but then twist and turn so it’s not the same patterns we know and love. Things make a little sense but they aren’t normal as our lives creep back to what we once knew. This quilt pattern speaks to normal and traditional, but the layout is anything but normal and traditional. The foundation of our lives were supposed to look one way but they didn’t, and the blocks should look one way, but they don’t. Organized chaos as we look for a way to make sense of it all.

While I was piecing this quilt I was contemplating something a friend said to me several weeks ago: that I can speak up and speak my truth, however unpopular or sharp, and that I offset it because I put beauty into the world with my quilts. Both things can be true.

Metaphors abound. Speak your truth. Create beauty. Be unequivocally true to yourself and others.

84 Days

Today is day 84. I started The Artist’s Way 84 days ago. I’ve wanted to complete the book and lessons for years. I tried several times before and I always failed. Like most things, when you are ready to do the work, it happens and it finally did. It was time.

Every morning for the past 84 days I’ve woken up a half hour early to write my morning pages. I never disliked this practice, even when I attempted to work through the book before, but since I started writing 84 days ago I’ve really learned to embrace it. To love it. I look forward to the morning quiet with my thoughts. Pencil to paper, letting everything go without judgement or sense. I mean, who can be sensical at 5:45am anyhow?

The process of writing my morning pages has transformed me. I can’t begin to imagine a day without putting my musings in my journal. I’m convinced it helps keep me grounded (well, more than normal) and it’s a safe place to let out all my frustrations, anger, joy, dreams and ideas as well as work through some feelings and concepts. It’s place that holds my innermost thoughts and helps let my creativity find an outlet. The pages help me bring all the creative pieces together in a cohesive manner. It takes time but they come together. The author calls this serendipity. I’m learning to lean into that word and its meaning for my life and my work. I’ve always believed that things happen for a reason and that a higher power has a hand in that…now I’m convinced. The meditative moments put it together on several levels.

I can see and feel a transformation in the last 84 days. I’m eager to sew again. Eager to work. Ideas are flowing and I’m excited to spend time in my studio. I’m even picking up old projects I set aside and I’m finding joy in finishing them. If only I had more hours in a day. 🙂

The lessons are important but the pages? The pages speak to me. I’ve learned a lot about myself and that’s been incredibly valuable. I’ve learned about some limits and boundaries, allowing time for myself and the practice has helped guide me about what deserves my energy and attention and what does not. What is important and what isn’t. Mostly I’ve learned that as long as I create art for myself, then I’ll be happy. The most important customer is me ❤ and I’m worth every second of my time.

You are, too.

If you are feeling stuck and want to explore your creativity in a different way, I highly recommend the book.

If you’ve read it before, do you still do the work? Do you go back to it? Has it helped transform your art?

Zero Waste Quilting

Weird concept, right? The idea came to me a few months ago after chatting with Liz Haywood. She’s a former fashion industry designer turned zero-waste garment maker. Her designs are lovely and they utilize every inch of fabric with virtually no waste. Genius, right?

After our chat, I started to ponder the idea of zero waste quilting and why we relegate leftovers to overflowing scrap bins instead of having an intended purpose for them; other than “I’ll throw those in another quilt down the road”. As quilters do we need scraps: 100%! And I LOVE a good scrap quilt but, if you are anything like me, you don’t need copious amounts of strips in bins taking up space in your sewing room. It gets overwhelming and then instead of action, we do nothing out of fear.

I know a lot of quilters that use leftovers for the backs of their quilts and I’m a huge fan of that but, again, if I’m honest, it’s not my go-to for making quilt backs. I generally like the backs of my quilts made from yardage. So what do I do with all the leftover pieces I have from making a quilt top? And, as a maker, how do I create and add beauty to my world and my space AND handle scraps all while considering the impact of my work on the environment? Enter the zero waste concept.

In my mind, this is really about intentionally creating and simultaneously considering how to use all the fabric you have for multiple quilts instead of making a quilt and tossing scraps aside for later use. How to get two (or three) quilts from yardage by cutting a specific way or buying slightly more fabric so you can get more than one quilt from the yardage you purchase? There’s definite forward thinking involved here. Or, as was the case with my Aether Quilt and All Squared Up quilts below, it was me thinking through how I could use leftover pieces using designs I already had.

The first quilts I made with this concept in mind were my Aether Quilt and an updated version of my All Squared Up quilt. I cut the background pieces for my Aether Quilt in such a way that I could use the remaining blocks to make another version of All Squared Up. I have a 7″ x WOF strip of most of the ombréd fabrics and I’m working on ideas to use those all the yardage is used in 3 quilts. Genius, right?

Aether Quilt
All Squared Up

Some of this is luck. Much of it, really. My original All Squared up design was made in 2006 but the math for both quilts worked out so I could get two quilts from my yardage. Two quilts. Two different looks. One collection of fabric.

The second set of quilts in my zero waste series is my Little Lone Star and a yet to be named scrap quilt. I used the scrap diamonds on the back of the quilt but still had more diamonds remaining in a pile I wanted to use. The shape limited options so I decided to insert the diamonds between dark grey fabrics to create a quilt with negative space.

Little Lone Star Quilt
Little Lone Star Quilt Back
Quilt made using Little Lone Star scraps

At the time, I did not realize I was working on this concept. I just wanted to use the scraps. Like all things, concepts and ideas evolve without even realizing it. This is one of those moments. I’m sure I am not the only quilter to have this epiphany.

The third set of quilts in my zero waste series are my Little Lone Star quilt and my yet to be named Sawtooth Star quilt. After making the Little Lone Star I had leftover triangle scraps. Big enough that they needed to be used but I didn’t want to toss the fabric. So I thought about how I could use the pieces. What am I going to do with a scrappy triangle that doesn’t have a place in another quilt? Make a Sawtooth Star. I already had half the flying geese made.

Each of these quilts measures 40″ square so if you need to make small, coordinating quilts or want to have a few small quilts on hand for future use (I’m looking at you, baby quilts), this is a perfect combination! I’m currently working on quilt 3 using the the remaining triangles I have made and hope to have that completed soon.

Little Lone Star
Sawtooth Star

Will this work for every quilt and every design? No, it won’t but if makers and designers can consider how to bring designs to the market that try to embrace this concept we’d really be able to introduce something specific and intentional to the market that has great value. Perhaps a solution is to include a bonus pattern for the zero waste quilt in our pattern offerings? Or list it as a separate pattern at a slightly lower cost? Bundle patterns that allow makers to have zero waste quilts?

I don’t know what the answer is, and every maker will have his/her/they opinion about it but nothing will happen if we don’t try to create change. So this is my first (and apparently second and third) attempt at creating change. My hope is that we can share options for bonus quilts (zero waste) to bring immediate satisfaction and use to the market. Use the fabric. Make the quilts. Help our wallets. Help shrink our stash. Help the environment by keeping pieces that might otherwise be discarded out of landfills.

Happy Quilting, everyone!


Gifts of Time

The gift of time.

When I was a child, my Gam gave me a nativity snow globe.  My younger self didn’t appreciate it but now, as an adult, it’s a treasured gift.

Every year, just after Thanksgiving, I carefully take the snow globe from its styrofoam packaging and place it in my living room. The globe sits there until decorations come down on January 6th. Occasionally I wind up the music box on the bottom and listen to the snow globe as it perfectly plays Oh Come All Ye Faithful.

No one is allowed to touch the snow globe. It’s old, fragile, and very special to me….a happy reminder of my Gam. I don’t know if she knew this when she gave me the snow globe so many years ago, but it’s a gift that continues to bring me joy every holiday season.

I always hope that handmade items elicit the same feeling when I give them to friends or family. Some friends of mine and I participate in a gift exchange each year. This year I wanted to make something special. My gift went to a friend that puts so much time, effort and energy in to many aspects of her life. She creates such beautiful things and I wanted to do the same for her.

Enter the gift of time.

Gifts of time show up in so many ways. A phone call. A cup of coffee with a friend. A walk around a lake. An item you made. An item you love and share with a friend.

Time to make. Time to pick out. Time to wrap with care. Time to send. There are infinite possibilities.

For me, I suppose, the thing I love most is unboxing a special treasure, year after year, is experiencing the same joy I did when I opened the gift for the first time. Knowing that someone cared enough to make (or pick out) something special. An ooh. An ahh. A smile on my face.

My intent with this years gift of time is that my friend feels the same way. A reminder that someone thought enough about her gift to make a special something; a smile when she uses the items made just for her.

For this holiday season that includes:

Cloth napkins with mitered corners
Notecards I made (name on bottom right removed for this post)
And a mug rug because every day I wish I had one for myself to avoid coffee on counters

Not pictured: a book I knew she’d like.

The gifts were inspired from her birthday wish list in which she only asked for the gift of time with her friend’s because, truly, there are few greater gifts than that.

Whatever your holidays look like this year, I hope they are truly Merry and I hope that whatever you celebrate (or don’t celebrate) brings you peace and joy.

Seasons of Change

I love long, winding roads. I don’t know if the anticipation of what’s coming next and finding out what the future holds or if, like in this photo, I can enjoy complete aloneness. I can be one with my thoughts that, perhaps, include what IS around the corner? Or just marvel in the beauty of this space. Clean air. Quiet. Nature. Space.

The road to Camp Mikell

A few weeks ago, I went on a much needed getaway. I spent the weekend with 6 other quilters in a quiet retreat space in North Georgia. It was exactly what I needed. I was able to finish quite a few WIP’s and spend time focusing solely on myself. Three days of being selfish. It was glorious.

I finished another version of my All Squared Up quilt.

When I made my Aether Quilt, I specifically cut the squares from yardage a specific way so I would have enough fabric to make a version of this quilt using the leftover pieces. I’m absolutely in love with how this quilt turned out and cannot wait to get it back from my friend, Regina.

I finally finished this Little Lone Star quilt. I started it for a zoom class and, since I teach in stages, I had sections here and there, creating a lot of small, sort of pieced parts. I love how this turned out! Sweet. A little masculine. Definitely cozy.

Little Lone Star Quilt

This is one of my best selling patterns. It’s fast and easy to assemble and perfect for a jelly roll! For this version, I used a jelly roll plus a few other strips from fabrics in my stash to round out the look I wanted. The green squares and triangles are from a Kona cotton, but I’ve also made this quilt with Essex linen.

I continue to work through the book The Artist’s Way. I’m loving the process and how I’m changing. There is so much to share about it (and I wrote some about the process in my previous blog post) but this has been so freeing and exhilarating. If you have the desire, I highly recommend the book to all creatives.

Happy celebration of seasons, and self, changing.

The Artist’s Way – an update

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I started to work through the book The Artist’s Way several weeks ago. I’ve owned the book for years. In fact, I began working my way through the book two years ago, and another two years before that. I suppose I wasn’t ready for the work because I never managed to make it past week two and, like all things, when you are ready to do the work and accept the outcome, change will happen. You can’t set great ideas in motion without doing the work. I’m happy to report that I am currently in the middle of week four. Since a few people have asked about the book and my progress, I thought I’d give an update on what I’m uncovering.

This is where I sit each morning to write my morning pages. It’s dark outside these days, but the view doesn’t really change. Except for the dirty chairs – sometimes the handprints are cleaned. ;/

I think the most important items to share are that I’m committed to doing the work and I recognized that I was at a point that I wanted some things to shift in my creative life and needed the push to make necessary changes. Now, can a book really push me to make the changes? No. It can guide me. I have to do the work. The book is merely a tool to get me there. Am I seeing changes already? Absolutely.

Read on.

When I decided to pursue this work (again. third time is the charm, amirite?), I knew I’d need to hold myself accountable to actually DOING THE WORK. I also wanted to do the work. You have to want to do it. Period. I cannot stress that enough. I decided to share my progress on Instagram to hold myself accountable to my entries and lessons. Now, you don’t see the journal entries or lessons, those are my private thoughts about laundry and carpool <<laugh, laugh, laugh>>, but you see the date and my pencil, empty pages waiting to absorb the contents of my head. I originally posted a few images in my feed but decided I didn’t want a feed full of, basically, the same photo so I’ve moved them to my stories and a highlight. Days are dated. Accountability in check.

At first I was dreading the 5:45am wake up calls but I need the extra twenty minutes to write my morning pages and while, frankly, I wasn’t thrilled about the hour, I find that the early morning musings and getting all the minutiae out has been extremely liberating for me. I didn’t realize how much the contents of your head could muddle your path until I put those thoughts on paper and got them out of my way. It clears my head and helps me focus on what needs to be accomplished for the day. As I enter week 4 I find I’m less stressed and far more focused. I’ve been more productive than I’ve been in a while and it’s a really good feeling! I feel creative energy around me and I’m soaking it up like a sponge. I’m excited to do my work!

I’m learning a lot about myself as I work my way through the book. Today I actually WANTED to write a little more but didn’t have time. The book is helping me put some events in my life into focus and work through how some small things can have a big impact on a persons creative journey – like my 4th grade art teacher criticizing the shadow on my artwork. Seriously. We were tasked with drawing a landscape. Mine incorporated a building and I wanted a shadow to fall on the grass beside the building. Instead of making my shadow a darker green, I had a black rectangle next to my building for the shadow because I wasn’t old enough to know that it was a darker hue. I’d like to point out that NO ONE ELSE in class even thought to incorporate a shadow, but my art teacher criticized me harshly for my creativity. Like all trauma (yes, this was an artist trauma), I remember my teachers face, the place, and the actual piece of work I was creating. I remember her less than encouraging comments, and how’s that’s how we derail art journeys for children. Recognizing that now is how we (I) reconcile the damage from that child artist and work towards a sense of recovery. I realize I sound a little hippy, dippy, trippy here, but work with me, people. ❤

On a more practical level, I’ve always been pretty good at listening to my spidey-sense. It usually doesn’t steer me in the wrong direction, and now I’m really learning to lean into it and owning what that can and does mean for me -personally and creatively. I’m choosing to notice serendipity and acknowledge it as a helpful tool for my art and life. I’m open to accepting things that happen for a reason and to listen when they do. I’m also working to not second guess the signs.

Would I recommend this book to makers? Absolutely. Has it been helpful? Tremendously. Am I seeing changes in myself? Yes, and for the better, I might add. I’m a work in progress, for sure.

I’m excited about what the next 8 weeks hold and how the process will continue to unfold for me. If you have the desire to unblock your inner creative, I cannot recommend this book enough. Even if you go and buy the book, flip through it, and hold onto it until you are ready, you’ll be glad you have it when you finally are ready.

Ada, a Friendly Spider

I don’t like spiders. In fact, I’ve really not liked them since I was 9 and suffered through a bite from a Brown Recluse. I came home from Girl Scout camp with a nasty bite on my arm. I was in a three sided cabin that week and, well, that makes it easy for arachnids to sneak in and make a meal out of you. Yes, it was as awful as you think it would be and I’m lucky that my parents were on top of things and sought quick treatment for me. I think my oversized, bright red forearm was a clue? Seriously. I had a Popeye on spinach forearm. It was not a good look for 9 year old me.

Fortunately, I came out of that experience only mildly traumatized about spiders? I remember 13 year old me freaking out about a spider the size of a pin head on my ceiling so I think I’ve come a long way since then. Mostly I just avoid them and, even though I don’t like spiders, I try to scurry them out of my house with a piece of paper or a cup (or both) when and if they make it inside. I mean, one bad experience with spiders doesn’t make them all bad and just because they aren’t smart enough to stay out of my house doesn’t mean I should squash them, right? I’ll be honest. I want to squash them, but I also want to be a friend to Mother Nature so I don’t. It’s not easy, y’all. It’s all about balance. And trying to be a good human. And not leaving a mark on my white walls.

Anyhow, a few years ago a gorgeous orb spider wove a silvery web outside my bedroom window. As much as I don’t like spiders, I was absolutely mesmerized by her. Perhaps it was the close up view of her world from behind a piece of glass. Maybe it was watching her work day after day to keep her web tidy and secure. I don’t know what it was but I was absolutely fascinated with her. I watched her for weeks and was inspired to draw this embroidery of her. You can click on the images for a free download of the designs.

It’s taken me three years but I finally made Ada into something useful.

To make your own Ada you’ll need:

(2) 8” squares of fabric for top and bottom of mug rug
(2) 8” squares of InsulFleece (you can get some here)
(1) 8” square of batting
45″ of scrap bias binding
thread for quilting
needle and thread for embroidery (I used 12wt Aurifil Lana Wool)
contrasting carbon paper

Print the design and trace it onto your fabric. Put a piece of white carbon paper (or whatever color carbon paper you are using) between the fabric and design then carefully applied pressure with a stylus to transfer the image. If you are using dark fabric, I recommend using white, pink or yellow carbon paper so it will show up on the dark fabric.

Partially completed piece that shows the outline of the spider since I forgot to snap a photo before I began stitching.

Take a needle and thread of your choice and lovingly stitch, following the outline of the spider. For this particular piece I chose to use a split stitch. DMC has a great resource about stitches here if you are looking for a little inspiration.

Once you’ve completed your spider you can start to assemble the mug rug.

Top, backing (those spiders glow in the dark, y’all!), and scrap binding
Glamor shot of batting and InsulFleece

Put a piece of InsulFleece on either side of the batting with the shiny sides facing OUT like then put the spider embroidery, right side facing out, against one side of the InsulFleece, then put the backing, right side facing out, against the other side. Once you’ve created a sandwich, quilt as desired then attach binding.

I opted for simple, diagonal quilting using a variegated thread.
Scrap piece of binding because nothing makes a spider less scary than pink and turquoise!

Turn the binding to the back of the mug rug and hold it down using clips. These clips are seriously one of my favorite sewing room tools and I highly recommend everyone make the investment. I use them all. the. time.

Lots of clips on a small piece but they keep everything tidy!

Don’t forget to pay attention to the corners!

Et, voila!

Mug rug, coffee, and breakfast! Perfect way to start the day!