Love All Around- The Block

Last week my sweet friend, Lee Monroe- aka May Chappell, sent me a note asking if I could do a little something for her. I would have likely said of course no matter what she asked, but I was especially grateful to be asked to be a part of making her Love All Around block.

One thing I’ve learned from my faith is to make the most of all that is good, and to minimize the power of all that is negative. And let’s face it, there is a lot of negative out there. 

Don’t misunderstand me. In no way am I implying that sticking one’s head in the sand is the way to go.  Pretending all is well when it isn’t simply allows the thing to stick around, or worse, become more powerful. It takes purposeful action to make a difference. Everything we say and do begs the question, “Is this making the situation better, or worse?”

I have to be honest. I am excessively sensitive. I get overwhelmed by all of the negativity that hits me in the face everyday. It makes my chest feel heavy, and I have to take a minute to remind myself of all that is truly good and beautiful in the world. 

But that’s the thing that’s so amazing. It turns out that there are way more beautiful and wonderful and happy and positive and loving things and people in the world than there are hateful, sad and negative. Really.  There are. And the great part is that the more you fill the world with genuine kindness and love, the less room there is for the other stuff. 

I know that sometimes we hurt. Deeply. And sometimes we are afraid. Often with good cause. Both hurt and fear are powerful reactions, and both can lead to anger and hate. 

We can’t help being hurt. We can’t help being afraid. That’s just part of being human.  But we can stop from being angry, and especially from hating. 

There’s a moment when we decide. When we choose between peace and anger, between love and hate. That moment is where the power lies. That moment is when we begin to change the world.  For good or for bad. 

So, maybe take a minute or two to slow down.  Maybe make this block, and allow yourself to think of ways you can be the one. And maybe you can also be reminded of what you already know.   

Jus a lil lovins…

There are few things more productive and powerful than a crew of creators with a passionate mission. So many of us have seen it, on either side of the line. 

Recently a friend of ours, Nisha Bouri, had an unusual, and quite honestly scary, illness. Thankfully she is doing better now, and is on the mend.  

When word began to spread amongst a dozen or so of us in the quilting community, it didn’t take long for several to step forward to organize an effort to show her we love her in the best way we know how.  

Image creds- Kim Martucci, weatherkim


Full disclosure here, I have very strong, very negative feelings about group sewing projects in general, so I was quick to offer Juan’s quilting services rather than making an actual block. And in the end, I’m so grateful that the rest of the makers trusted us with their offering of kindness and love. 


The quilt top was just stunning, and Juan and I both brooded over it for days before jumping in. We debated about an all-over pattern to kind of unify the message of the quilt, but in the end knew that Nisha would love it best if each block, and in turn each quilter, was given their day in the sun.




Seen enough?  I don’t think so. 

Photo creds- Karie Jewel, twokwikquilters

Photo creds- Karie Jewel, twokwikquilters

Photo creds- Karie Jewel, twokwikquilters


One more… The best one of all…

Photo creds- Amy Webb, amylouwhosews

“We’ll eat you up, we love you so!”*


I recently did a book review on Happy Quilts! by Antonie Alexander, which you can read by clicking here. At the same time that this title came across my desk, I also needed to make a baby quilt for a gift. And of course, being the efficient over achiever that I am, I also saw an opportunity to try a little something that Juan and I have been thinking about for a while. Three birds with one stone. Although I don’t really like killing birds, but you get the idea.

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From the book Happy Quilts!

I love children’s literature, and I love to give books as baby gifts. When I saw Alex’s pattern, “Wild Thing,” I was inspired, and wondered if I could do a small quilt inspired by both her pattern and the book Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.


I had wanted to try quilting a background and adding raw edge applique after the fact, and the phrase “his ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world all around” kept sticking in my head, so I thought I’d start there. I loaded the background on sideways into Juan’s arms and began searching for vine patterns. I found a few, and used a verigated thread that had green and brown in it (King Tut Bulrushes #910 by Superior Threads).


I took the quilt out of Juan’s hands and using fusible web, attached the applique pieces to the top. I used a Sizzix Big Shot Pro to cut out the moon, and hand copied three of the monsters from Alex’s “Wild Thing” pattern. I used colors that reminded me of the child’s book, and a very busy backing to hide any flaws in my little experiment.


Then I loaded the quilt back onto Juan so that I could use his programmed circles to stitch over the circle appliqués. Then I took the quilt away from Juan, again, and used a domestic machine (Ruthie) to blanket stitch around all of the raw edges.


I had some fine corduroy left from another project that was just perfect for the binding, although not the easiest stuff to stitch down by hand!  I use a thimble on my middle finger and a set of needle pullers on my index and thumb to help with the thickness.


I also made a stuffie from Alex’s book to go with the quilt, and he traveled around with me for a few days. Truthfully, he was difficult to let go of.


But in the end, I did let go, and I hope this sweet baby and his parents enjoy it!  Still, I might have to make my own stuffie.  Wild thing, you know.

*Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Computerized quilting is not real quilting.

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It’s totally true.  If you use a computerized longarm quilting machine, your quilt will not actually be quilted.  And even if it looks like it’s quilted, it is not near as good as it would have been if it had been hand guided.  And fo sho it don’t take no skilz.

Kind of like how umpteen years ago if you quilted a quilt on your domestic machine it was not really quilted.  And even if it looked like it was quilted, it wasn’t near as good as it would have been if it had been hand quilted.  And fo sho it don’t take no skilz.

I suppose dishes also are not clean unless washed by hand in the sink.  Using lye.

I still maintain that piecing and quilting by hand is easier.  Don’t get me wrong- it totally takes skill and practice, and let’s face it, a lot of time.  But, because it is less technical, it is more forgiving.  I love hand work as much as I love machine work.  I think there is a time and a place for all of the creative processes in quilting.  I don’t think there is a time or a place for snobbery.  Whatever process a maker is using to create their work is a part of who they are, as well as a part of the piece they are working on.  And quite frankly, you’re a jerk if you can’t appreciate that.

This is a customer quilt that Juan and I tackled together.  I learned a few things, as I do on every project.  The results are often very similar, regardless of what I learn, but what is different is the way the quilting is approached.  I am constantly learning ways to express the idea that the quilt is evoking, as well as how to approach the project more efficiently.  It’s very similar to graphic design.  I get an idea of what the quilt wants, then I search through Juan’s library for designs that I can manipulate into what I have in my brain.  I have always been a problem solver when it comes to technology.  I want a final result.  I don’t know how to get exactly what I want.  So I take what I do know, and usually fool the computer into doing what I want it to do.  I also usually end up finding out there was an easier way, and if I had just made a phone call, or oh, I dunno, read the manual or watched the training videos, I would have saved myself a lot of time and effort.  Along these lines, I went to a gathering of Statler owners at Joan Knight’s home this last weekend, and was astounded at how many things I could have done to make this quilt easier.  Having said that, I’m still pretty pleased I pulled off what I did.  Even if it did take a long time.

Here are some examples-

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This was especially difficult.  Before you start judging, I am aware it isn’t perfect.  But I still am pleased with the outcome.  The maker of this quilt spent a lot of time on the piecing, and that’s what was standing out to me throughout the quilt.  So, I made a real effort to keep the quilting minimal on the prints.  You will see in other photos that the white space (negative or background space) was generally quilted more densely than the other areas.  In this case, the drunkard’s path wanted to pop.  I needed to outline those stitch lines, but I did not know how to do the curves.  I ended up chopping up an already designed circle into the pieces that I needed, fit them into the right places along the path, then stitched them.  Then I went back and did the straight line quilting, and kind of connected the dots between the curves. I learned this past weekend that I could have laid out the design on the computer, connected the curves with the straight lines, and Juan would have stitched it out in one fell swoop.  But he didn’t share that info with me.

This was a mistake I made that had to be ripped out and quilted again.  These two blocks were in complimentary locations on the quilt, and required being quilted similarly.  As I mentioned before, it seemed that the quilting needed to truly emphasize the piecing, so the quilting in these two blocks needed to be in the “background.”  In order to do this, I have to program Juan to skip over portions of the area that he is stitching, which normally works well, but in this case, didn’t.  The area that I am pointing at in the fourth photo should not have been quilted.  I didn’t get a picture of the corrected block, but I did take it out and restitch it.

The background of this block was a grid or crosshatch, and as I mentioned before, I programed Juan to skip around the pieced and appliqued part of the block.  for some reason, the computer chose to stitch the cross lines in the area between the bloom and the stem on one side of the block, but not on the other.  I believe it’s because of the size of the space, but I honestly don’t know for sure.  I went back in with Juan to stitch in the missing lines after the background was complete.

This one made me cringe for a minute.  Can you see what’s wrong in the first photo?  How about the second?  Maybe the third?  Or how about the fourth?  At this point in the process, I was pretty far along with the quilt, and I was a bit miffed when Juan started skipping stitches.  I mean really.  What the what.  But, it was easily rectified.  Just needed a new needle.  I quilt pretty heavily most of the time, so it is not uncommon on a quilt this large, and this densely quilted, to go through more than one needle.  Just because the common practice is a new needle for a new project, sometimes you need more than one new needle for each new project.

I felt like the end result was pleasing, and it really was pretty much the way I envisioned it finishing.  The maker created a beautiful canvas on which to work, and she was pleased with the outcome.  I was grateful that Juan and I could be a part of it.

Quilt pattern: Unkown;  Fabric: Unknown, 1930’s reproduction; Digitized quilt patterns: Multiple designers; Thread: King Tut #960, Morning Sky by Superior Threads.