Wednesday, July 28, 2010


While you may be spending some time with a book or a movie that is similarly named, you also might want to spend some time with this. You might like the other side better. On some days... I know I would. Kidding, Bill. (Who I know reads this blog)
This arrived on my porch yesterday. It's a new lunch box available from Moda Home. Or is it?
I have an older model that you might have seen on this blog last year. I made a little adaptation and it is my traveling sewing kit. What you need is a few things I know you have around the house..... a small piece of fabric, cardboard, scraps of quilt batting, and tape. What you might not have is this.Some extra strong double-sided tape. It's pretty simple (believe me, it has to be. I did this all by myself)What you see here is a piece of cardboard approximately 10 1/2" x 6" on top of 3 layers of wool batting. If you have wool, use it here. As a matter of fact, save all of your wool batting scraps as it is wonderful to use to stuff pillows, pincushions, and such. On the bottom is a scrap of lovely Moda fabric about 2" larger all the way around. The batting is a bit larger than the cardboard.
Now, just pull the fabric taut and tape on the back. I used duct tape. Here it is from the back. Not very pretty at this point. Next, I put on 4 strips of the double sided tape.Once the red paper is peeled off the double-sided tape, just put that baby up on the lid of your lunch box. Fill with all your sewing tools and you are good to go. Now, I'm getting to the really good part. In honor of this blog's 300th post. (Yes, we have rambled on here about rugs, quilts, movie reviews, puppies, and lame pictures of groceries for 300 posts.) We would like to reward you for your patience. Make a comment to this post and you could be the winner of this sewing kit. Your kit will be filled with some of those goodies shown. It will also be filled with other goodies you don't see. We'll pick three winners. One gets the goody stuffed sewing kit and the two others - well, just goodies. Enter by midnight, Sunday August 1st. Good luck.

In the meantime, I am planning more posts on hand quilting tools and techniques. Thanks for all the great questions.

Laurie & Polly

Monday, July 26, 2010

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Quilting Hoops

The previous post showing my quilting hoop prompted a lot of questions. Below I will share everything that I have learned about hoops in my many years of hand quilting. When I teach a hand quilting class, it is understandably the first time most of the students have attempted hand quilting. They come to class with an assortment of tools, most of which have been purchased recently. Often the tools are more a hindrance than a help. Lately when I teach I provide a detailed supply sheet. This isn't to be difficult and it isn't because I have an arrangement with a supplier - it's because I want you to enjoy the hand quilting process. Almost nothing is more enjoyable than hand quilting - IF you have tools that help you instead of fighting you at every turn.
This is my hoop. It is over 30 years old. I have a spare stowed away, but thankfully I haven't had to break it in. The edges are all rounded and it is baby bottom smooth. This isn't necessary in your hoop, but if you use it a few years - you too will appreciate this small detail. It didn't start out that way. The edges were flat - just like the edges in your hoop will be. Don't worry about this. This is just one of my ramblings about quilting that I can go on and on about. (nod your head and patronize me here) Anyway, this hoop, or something very much like it is all you will need to quilt any size quilt. Ever.

When I teach hand quilting, the shops that I teach at ask about ordering supplies. In the past few years I have looked at all the hoops available and my favorite is the hoop made by the F. A. Edmunds Company.

These hoops are easily available to your local quilt shop and are reasonably priced. I recommend the 12" size. My hoop is 11" and I haven't seen one in that size in years. The 12" is your best bet. I believe this size hoop retails for around $20.00. There are several other companies that make hoops that are just as nice, but are a little bit more money. The cheaper wooden hoops sold at the chain stores are not a good value. They are pretty much worthless for quilting. They are flimsy and your quilt will pop out every couple of seconds. Do not waste money on them. Also, do not get the plastic hoops advertised as quilting hoops at chain stores. The ones with the ridge inside to grip the fabric...... NO. This is just a large embroidery hoop and is not what you need. When you are doing embroidery, you need your fabric to be tight and taut in your hoop. When you are quilting, this is the last thing you want. When I try to explain the difference in class I will often say "the quilting hoop is really much more like a sewing bird than an embroidery hoop." At this point, most of the students will look at me like I have a day pass from a walled institution. If anyone actually knows what a sewing bird is - they may know what I mean, but usually not. What I do mean is the quilting hoop shouldn't hold your quilt taut. What it really is - is a third hand - much like an old fashioned sewing bird was a third hand for seamstresses. Okay, I will try to explain.....This is my hoop with the quilt in it. Notice the slack. With my left hand underneath at the 7 o'clock position, I punch up until my fist can be about 1 or 2 inches above the hoop. This is usually the misconception everyone has about putting a quilt in a hoop. I know it was mine. I won't tell you how many quilts I hand quilted before I knew to deliberately keep slack in the hoop. Now, the quilt is basted. (as yours will be) Use whatever technique that you like: sew basting, pin basting, or spray basting. (I guess more info on basting is needed in another post.) People mistakenly think that if your quilt is slack in the hoop, it defeats the purpose of basting. No. This basted quilt has all 3 layers of the quilt sandwich in place and they will not shift, but it still needs to be slack in the hoop. Did I explain that right? It is hard to see in that picture, but this quilt is spray basted and sew basted right along the very edge. I always sew baste on the very edge to keep the edge fixed.

When I hand quilt, I start somewhere near the middle and work my way to the edge. Here is another quilt that is almost finished. I haven't started quilting the border yet. When I baste a quilt I want to have the backing and batting about 6" larger all the way around. 5" is okay, 6" is great. The 6" here is rolled up and pinned to the edge of the top. I keep it in this state until I get to the border. When I am twisting and turning the hoop in the process of quilting the center - I want the raw edges turned in and kept pristine.

When the center is quilted, I unpin the edges. This is what you see here. It allows me to move the hoop so I can quilt all of the border. There are half hoops that are designed to do this, but after using them and owning about 4 or 5 of them in my life ..... believe me, this is much easier. If you always make sure to have the backing and batting about 6" larger than your top - you will be able to quilt to the very edge with a round hoop.
This is sort of hard to explain in still pictures, but this is my first stitch. (Oh yeah, the rubber finger thing and the thimble - again, another post is needed). Notice the slack.

This is the end of the first stitch, with the needle going straight down. This is impossible if you don't have any slack in your hoop.
Here I am coming up for the second stitch.
All I can tell you is that the above steps work for me. I hope it helps. I found this video on you-tube. It shows the correct mechanics of the quilting stitch. Enjoy.


Oh, and make sure to visit my friend Glenn's blog this morning - he has a little announcement and a give-away!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday Night Fever

This is the quilt I am working on right now. I have been hand quilting it for a couple of weeks and have some more to go. When things are going right (and they pretty much have been), hand quilting is very enjoyable. About the only thing that isn't cooperating is the weather. It is hot and extremely humid. So far the strategy of central air, several fans, and ice cold sodas is making it comfortable. Wish I could show you more, but you will just have to bear with me a little longer.

But, if anyone was wondering where all those berries went to live.....

While the rest of you are out going to parties, dining, dancing, and driving convertibles with the wind in your hair, I'll be here contentedly quilting. Happy Saturday Night.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Art Fair - Part II

Geez, I sounded like a big party pooper in the previous post, didn't I? Dire warnings of dehydration and veiled threats of vehicle confiscations. Forget that - just drink water and don't park in private lots and you will have a grand time. Thank You. (Courtesy of the Ann Arbor Convention and Visitors Bureau).Okay, now for more art.........Next were these beautiful abstract paintings that reminded me of fabric collages. They are by painter William LaChance.

In the booth of Chris Roberts-Antieau there were lots of fabric paintings/collages. This very large picture is "The Blues"Sorry about the reflection on the glass. These portraits in fabric and thread are really wonderful. We in Ann Arbor have loved Chris's work for years and now the rest of the world is catching on.

Onto this intriguing photography..... I wish my other photos turned out better. This is the only one that came out. What we have here are contemporary photos with a very vintage look. They are by Michael Bryant and he uses a toy camera to get this effect. They were all framed impeccably. Really, really awesome.

Finally today is the mixed media of John Whipple. I love this stuff. I am kicking myself that I missed the workshop he and his wife Lyn had at Found last weekend. Hopefully it will be repeated and I will make sure to get a seat.
And now what has become a mini-tradition.... a Berry Patch was consumed at Afternoon Delight before the bus ride home. Yum.

51st Ann Arbor Art Fair

It's that special week of July. That week when you cannot meet anyone downtown for a cup of coffee, you can't get a haircut, and you can't eat at your favorite restaurant. Well, you could. You could meet for a cup of coffee, if you really wanted to, and you could get a haircut if you go out of town and you could eat at your favorite restaurant if you made reservations weeks ago. Downtown Ann Arbor is transformed into Art Fair.This morning I caught the bus in front of the house and made my way downtown. First of most Art Fairs, it hot. Really hot. I saw lots of vendors of cool drinks and water and several free "Ann Arbor Tap Water" drinking fountains. Come on down for the fun, but keep hydrated. Right across from the drinking fountains was a fleet of ambulances (ambuli?) just in case. Let's hope nobody needs them.My destination was the original Art Fair that is around N. University and the Burton Tower. Here you will find the fine artists and well known artists. It is always inspirational. My first stop was at Kathy Frey's booth (booth #243). She makes sculptural wire jewelry. If you know me, you know she must be really out of the norm for me to stop and gawk in a jewelry booth. I'm just not a jewelry person, but I would definitely make the exception for Kathy's work.Click on to enlarge to see the delicate beauty of Kathy's work. You can see more of here stuff here. Kathy also had her book "Elegant Wire Jewelry" on hand. It is published by Lark Books.Next, I stopped and chatted with Marcia Derse in Booth 238. Marcia makes fabric constructions. You know, what we call Art Quilts. Lovely, Marcia.
When I asked Marcia if I could put this photo on the blog, she stepped behind the booth to grab a card for me. I saw she also had this behind her booth. Fat Quarters. She might still have some, but they were selling like hot cakes. Not only is Marcia a fine artist, she is also a fabric designer. Troy Fabrics has produced this collection for her. They really look like hand dyed, hand painted fabrics. Nice. Marcia showed me her new collection of strike-offs and we had a nice "fabric designer chat" about Quilt Market and such. And to finish off this tri-fecta of feminity at the Art Fair. How about these hats!
Aren't they beautiful! They are by Ignatius Hats. Oh, how I wish I could wear hats. Well, I can. It's just that there are people who can wear hats and people who shouldn't wear hats. Unfortunately, I am of the latter. Hand made and gorgeous.

Well, there is more, but I'll save it for later. If you do plan on coming to Ann Arbor for the fair, check out the Art Fair website and plan your driving and parking accordingly. Seriously. The municipal and private towers make most of their revenue this week. If you see this.....They mean it. Hope to see you here!!!


Sunday, July 18, 2010


If you have been to northern Michigan this time of year, you know it is cherry season. There were tons at the Farmer's Market yesterday and I indulged. Very early this morning I started a cherry cake. The earlier you can turn off the oven on days like today, the better. I pitted a quart of cherries and set to work. I have owned several cherry pitters. There was the one that had the cherries fall down a tube onto a plate and you smashed down on a spring loaded handle to guillotine the poor little things. It was very dramatic, but not very effective. I have gone back to this old stand by.It's simple and it works, but no matter the method, cherry pitting is a slow job. This version, or versions very much like it, get good reviews on Amazon. That said.... I still might have to get this one - just for kicks.

We opted for cherry cake instead of cherry pie because we just like cake better. With all the work involved and the calorie load - you might as well get what you really want. Here is the recipe I used.

Cherry Almond Pudding Cake

Pudding Cake:
3 cups cherries
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup milk
1 cup toasted slivered almonds
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup boiling water

Cherry Sauce:
1 cup cherries and reserved juice from 3 cups of cherries, above (4 cups frozen cherries - total or 1 quart fresh tart cherries - total)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Butter a 9" x 12" cake pan. Sift flour, baking powder, salt into a medium bowl. Set aside. In a bowl of a mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs and extract. Add the flour mixture and milk, in increments until combined. With a spatula, stir in cherries and toasted almonds. Spread batter into pan and sprinkle the top with brown sugar. Slowly add the boiling water on top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until set.

To make the cherry sauce, add the remaining cherries, lemon juice, sugar, water, cornstarch and extract into a medium saucepan. Stir over medium fire until just boiling and the sauce becomes a clear red color. Serve a slice of cake with cherry sauce and a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream.
Bon Appetit


Friday, July 16, 2010


"Nothing happens until something moves" Marcus Aurelius

Oh, not much going on here? How about you........?

Polly is packing and getting ready for Nantucket. I am scribbling design notes to myself, running inane errands, walking dogs, and once in awhile - stitching on a quilt. Other than that.... the highlight of the weekend might be grocery shopping at the Farmer's Market tomorrow morning.

How exciting is it here?? Well, how about this....

(Note to self: You can never have enough quilts on hand to make a dog's life comfortable)


Wednesday, July 14, 2010


It is mid-July so it must be time to head to Nantucket. And yes, I leave this weekend for an 8 day stay on this beautiful island. I start the week with a workshop I will teach for the Nantucket Historical Association at The 1800 House. When you can, check out all the classes they offer each summer - there are many I would love to take. The weekend will find me at Nantucket Country where I have my annual Show/Sale. Also a chance for me to catch up with friends and customers. Always a good time when you are there.

Nantucket should be on all "Places I Must Visit" list if you have not been there. I am hoping to convince Laurie to join me next year to teach a class and enjoy the island. I will try and take photos and update when I return.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Halloween Night Winners

Gee, I guess I hit a nerve. You folks sure had some good stories!

The house guest situation here is going great. Now that they have settled down a bit, the boys are happy and inseparable. There has even been an improvement in Gibby's behavior. You see, we have had Gibby since he was a pup and most of all his doggy buddies here are females. Since Otto has been here, well, to put it delicately....... Gibby now knows how to lift his leg. Our little boy is growing up.

So, here are the two winners our manly boy dogs picked.....

terri - you have won the fat quarter bundle and Spooky pattern

Sharon - you have won the Charm Pack™ and the Treats Not Tricks pattern. Email me here and I will get them out to you in a jiffy.

Thanks Everyone!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Spike and Chester

Remember the old cartoon that had a big bulldog and a little annoying terrier? The terrier would bug, bug, bug the bulldog? That is what the last 15 hours have been like. Poor Otto. He cannot get any relief from Gibby. Gibby would be happy to puppy wrestle 23 1/2 hours per day. After their morning walk (hey, that was an experience! one leash for each arm) I had to give poor Otto a time-out from Gibby and put him in a crate. Just so the poor guy could take a nap. I don't think Otto had this result in mind when he was trying to get in the door to find Gibby last night. 10 month old Gibby is RELENTLESS.

Okay, enough of that..... Are you ready to start thinking of crisp days, falling leaves and things that go bump in the night? This is a Fat Quarter bundle of Halloween Night and a pattern for the Spooky quilt. Here is the Charm Pack ™ and the Treats Not Tricks apron pattern.Make a comment here on this post about your worst house guest experience or about anything at all - before midnight July 11th and you could be a winner. 2 entries will be picked by Otto and Gibby and you could win either the Fat Quarter Bundle and pattern or the Charm pack ™ and pattern. Ta-ta.


Postscript: In rereading, I see I might have given some wrong ideas about Otto. In no way is he a bad house guest. I do think his house guesting experience might be a little trying for him. His host, Gibby is the difficult one. Seriously, how can a good guy like this be a bad house guest?Here he is trying to catch a rest from puppy wrestling.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

House Guest

We have a house guest. Leigh Ann and her family are taking their annual trip to the beach and we have Otto. Otto, the smartest dog in the world. When he arrived 3 hours ago he ran up to the porch and swatted at the door handle. When several attempts of pawing it didn't get the wanted results, he bodychecked the door. He was anxious to get in and visit Gibby. After 3 hours of doggy spit, muddy paw prints, and puppy wrestling, the two are finally at rest. I spent the day cleaning the house. I'm glad I didn't spend a lot of time with a mop. That would have been futile. Oy! It's going to be an early night. Come back tomorrow for a give-away. A fabric give-away, not a puppy give-away - no matter how tempting ;) KIDDING!


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy 4th!!!!!

Hooray for Liberty!
Happy 4th Everyone! We hope everyone celebrates with loved ones, and you have a relaxing day of baseball........
Fireworks.....and a little quiet time to take needle in hand.....Have a great holiday!
Laurie & Polly

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Getting Ready For The 4th

Oh, this made our day!!!! Go HERE to get the tutorial on how to make this adorable dress from the Bar Harbor bandanna fabric. Polly and I are only disappointed that they won't fit us. The blog Aesthetic Nest is new to us - but it already has become one of our favorites.


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