Monday, July 16, 2018

Unfinished Tasks

I am taking today off. 

I need a day to reboot, to tackle some of my unfinished tasks around the house and in the sewing room.

Though I'm usually fairly organized, I have gotten off track and it makes me feel unsettled. I can't think straight until I get a few things completed.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Carnival Dash

Bright white and cheerful print fabrics make up today's quilt. Carnival Dash is 53” square, perfect for snuggling or a summer picnic. I used pieces from last year's yard sale finds with some favorites from my collection, all cut with my Accuquilt churn dash die. Colors were chosen to coordinate with carnival stripes used in the mitered border and for the backing.

The gray plus sign print sashing frames the blocks, making them stand out beautifully. Scalloped quilting was stitched 2” apart with creamy white thread.

I never get tired of designing and sewing quilts. I do have to take time out for basic housework, cooking, laundry, and yard maintenance. You know, those chores that we all have to take care of. But I work on them in between quilting projects.  Who's going to notice a little dust or a few weeds? Important things first!

I feel like I should clean the house,
so I'm going to my sewing room
to play
until the feeling passes

Monday, July 2, 2018

Patriot Path

Patiot Path

Made especially for Independence Day, this red, white, and blue easy quilt was fun to sew. Cutting and stitching was super quick with Accuquilt 3” and 3”x6” dies. The layout reminds me of brickwork so I named it Patriot Path

The backing and binding are a diagonal red and white stripe. Quilting was done in white thread with random vertical swirling waves. This small throw quilt size, (measuring 38” x 45”) looks quite patriotic hanging over my kitchen desk.

I made good use of the remnants to whip up a coordinating table mat for my counter.  Stacked is cut with the Accuquilt large tumbler die. Quilting on this 18” x 28” mat is a double v stitch in white. The backing is a blue and white chevron print that I can flip over when I'm using blue accents in the kitchen.

Have a safe and fun 4th of July, and stay cool!

Update: I reopened my ETSY shop today, adding vintage sewing patterns, children's patterns, and buttons. I'll be adding more, including quilts and fabric, over the next few weeks. You can link here or follow my Useful Remnants Facebook page.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Sewing Bonanza!

I found another yard sale bonanza last Friday: a liquidation of an entire sewing room. Dozens of large tubs of fabric, thread, zippers and buttons, all sorted and labeled! 

I bought ALL the thread and buttons, some fabric and zippers, along with notions, plastic storage trays and a rolling storage cart. Over 330 spools of thread, 105 cones of serger thread, about 50 zippers, 72 yards of fabric, and THOUSANDS of buttons. Most of the fabric was apparel blends, or I would have bought more.

I've been doing happy dances all weekend, thinking of ways to use everything.  It's like winning the sewing lottery. I am energized, happily merging this wonderful find into my already well stocked studio.  I shouldn't have to shop for thread or buttons for a long, long time.

Thanks to LeAnne for the opportunity to keep part of her mom's sewing collection alive and useful.  My space will need to be reorganized to fit everything in, but that's half the fun. My husband is trying to decide whether or not to reinforce the floors on this end of the house.

Do not question 
the size of my fabric/thread/button stash...
unless you think it should be bigger!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Lydia's Ladder

Lydia's Ladder

Today's quilt is my smaller version of one of Granny Rose's old quilts. It features 12" Jacob's Ladder blocks in a square 42" finished size. I used Accuquilt dies to cut the pastel prints, which went together quickly. 

This time I chose the backing/binding fabric first, then picked coordinating fabrics from my collection for the front blocks. I thought a lot about her while working, so I named this one Lydia's Ladder. I copied her quilting as well, using the Baptist Fan pattern. I did not hand stitch, but adapted the design for machine quilting on my Janome.

Baptist Fan machine quilting

Granny's original handmade bed quilt was being used as a furniture pad to wrap around things that needed protection. I rescued it from the basement of her daughter's house, even though it was stained, tattered and torn, probably past restoration. The fabric looks like feed or flour sack prints along with shirting and dress prints. I may use a few of the intact sections to frame or make pillow covers, so it will live on as another Useful Remnant.

Original Jacob's Ladder by Lydia Rose

Antique quilts have such a soft, worn quality to them from being well used. They were lovingly sewn by hand or on a treadle machine, washed hundreds of times, dried on a line in the sun, then folded into cedar chests to be passed on to relatives. They hold stories that we can only wonder about. For instance, I think this was one she made, but I can only guess. Her church quilting bee group shared fabric and made quilts together, so everyone may have stitched on it. Or it could have belonged to her mother since it was so worn. A labor of love anyway, passed down to my mother-in-law, then to me.

Will today's quilts will even last that long?  I hope they do, and that people continue to love them.  

“Quilts reward study. They can look great from 20 feet across the room, and then you get closer and there are little dramas. It doesn’t have to be intricate. It can be simple. It just has to be authentic.”  
Ken Burns, film maker and quilt collector

Monday, June 11, 2018

Sunrise, Sunset

Pink, orange, yellow are the brilliant colors of sunrise and sunset, ruby red grapefruit, juicy oranges and tangy lemons. Nature's beauty provides inspiration for art in this 40” square quilt that shouts summer.

Using drunkard's path die from Accuquilt, I sewed contrasting blocks into 9” squares. Perfect cuts and notches made stitching the curves simple. Quilting was done with serpentine stitch in pale yellow thread across all seams. Tangerine dots made borders and binding. Backing in a 1990's fruit print from my collection repeats the circular pattern.

Once done, I had another Useful Remnants quick design idea. I cut chisels (another Accuquilt die) from the leftovers to make a coordinating pillow cover. Arranging them into two braids, I sewed the strips, then quilted in a free motion loop pattern with light yellow thread.

Everything starts with a sunrise,

but it's what we do before it sets
that matters. K. McGraw

🌑 🌑 🌑

May every sunrise
bring you
May every sunset
bring you

Monday, June 4, 2018

Sea Cross

Last month, I gave a hint about today's quilt. 

Sea Cross

Sea Cross is made from the same fabrics as Poolside, and I don't know which one I like better. What a fabulous color combination! This one is made with Accuquilt's churn dash block, but the fabrics are arranged to focus on the center cross.

This smaller 39” square quilt is made up of nine blocks in navy and pool green prints, separated by white 2” strips. It's framed with a border using 2” x 4” patches. The backing features the same aqua chevron fabric and quilting was stitched in white with a triple swirl pattern.

That's what I love about quilt design: the same block can look totally different once you change color and pattern. Now you know why I make so many quilts!

Addicted to fabric? Me?
Glad there's no 12 step program for that.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Catching Up

On Friday, we came home from camping, and are still catching up. I'm thankful that we left before the holiday because Dale Hollow Dam Campground was beginning to fill with barking dogs, screeching kids, and rowdy people. 

I like it much better when it is a quiet shady retreat populated with old folks like us. We're done for the summer; happily abandoning campgrounds so that families with kids can enjoy them.

Obey River: Dale Hollow Dam Campground

Our weekend was spent doing laundry, yard work, and unloading the Sabre. It's nice to settle into our regular routine, although I do enjoy taking a break now and then for impromptu adventures. 

Some much needed quilting time is ahead for me, beginning today. My backlog of projects has grown since I sewed more blocks and designed five new quilts on this trip.

Whether you're catching up, taking a break, or staying with your routines, have a meaningful Memorial Day!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Road Trip

When we were camping in April, I pieced a bunch of four-patch squares in random color combinations. Once we were home, I added a few signature blocks, resulting in this cute 29” table mat called Road Trip. The bright yellow and white dot backing and binding gives it a happy look. It's quilted with bright yellow thread in a diagonal pattern.

I enjoy sewing in the camper, especially using scraps from my favorite quilting projects. When a small scrap basket fills up, I schedule some cutting time with my AccuQuilt cutter. It's much better than my former system: a huge hamper and boxes stuffed with wrinkled fabric odds and ends. Cutting pieces into commonly used sizes keeps my scrap piles neatly organized and gives me plenty of inspiration.

Starting somewhere 
is better than
starting somewhere 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Blooms For Mother's Day

These gorgeous flowers always bloom in May, and they remind me so much of my mama, Sam.  Jerold's mama also loved flowers, so every Mother's Day we bought them pretty hanging baskets for their porch and patio. A spring and summer of colorful blooms brought them more joy than a couple of days of expensive flowers in a vase!

Sam liked digging flowers nearly as much as she liked fishing. She'd stop by the side of the road to get a wildflower and never, ever passed up a plant sale. She generously shared cuttings and bulbs that I still enjoy today. Quite a few of them came from her mother's flower garden, especially the iris. I often gave Sam pots of perennials, which we planted together in her yard. I hate that I didn't get to dig up any of those daylilies and ferns before her house was sold.

Apparently my love of flowers must be genetic; I have an old fashioned rose that came from my great grandmother and a blooming shrub from my granny. 

This Mother's Day, I'm buying hanging pots for myself, and planting a few perennials in memory of the women in my life who passed on their passion for flowers and digging in the dirt.

are sunshine,
and medicine
for the soul.
~Luther Burbank

Monday, May 7, 2018



Now that our weather has warmed up, I want to share a quilt I finished in March. Poolside is 60” square, made up of lovely 12” sawtooth star blocks framed in white sashing. Pool green and navy prints accent the crisp white stars. It's a modern version of this tried and true nine patch pattern.

I used Accuquilt 4½” square and 2½” HST dies to cut the pieces, and 2½” strip die for sashing. Cutting and sewing was a breeze! The backing is made up of four large framed squares in the same navy and pool green colors. I quilted in a scallop stitch, 1½” apart with white thread.

I love this color combination for summer! Stay tuned for another quilt made with fabric left over from this project. The top is already pieced, but I haven't quilted it yet. There are just too many ideas and not enough time. I have four finished quilt tops waiting for quilting, and dozens of them designed in EQ8 begging to be made.

Project count is up to 18 for 2018, and it's only early May. What a challenge to balance my sewing time with house work, yard work (those weeds!), laundry, daily walks, camping and fun with my sweet husband. It's sunny today, so I need to get in a few chores before sewing.

Relax, unwind
get in a
state of mind

Monday, April 30, 2018

Simple Spools

What better wall art for a sewing room than this bright, inspiring quilt?

I love to display my quilts so I rotate them often. This one has sixteen 8” blocks, made with four-patch squares and half square triangles. The background fabric is a cream and black Moda print scattered with positive words. I chose a different bright color for each spool. On two corners, I set squares of grape with white dots, creating a secondary design.

Simple Spools is 32” square and bound with a black swirl print. The backing is a colorful crazy quilt print in purple, black and yellow. Cutting and piecing was quick and easy with the Accuquilt value die. With this one, It's important to stack the fabric so that the words face the same way in each block. I quilted in cream thread, swirling across the center of each spool, about a half inch apart. 

Putting together a quilt is kind of like working a puzzle...all the pieces have their place and have to fit together in the end. Of course, puzzles have a set design and you have to have all the pieces to finish it. Quilts give you more leeway because pieces can go together many different ways to make unique designs. If one doesn't fit or doesn't look right, you can just make another or rotate the block. That's why I like designing in EQ8 software or manually on my design wall. It is fun and challenging to create new arrangements with the same basic pieces.

If you don't like 
the rules,
make new ones

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Travel Day

Yesterday was a travel day for us, so I didn't get to post.  We drove home from a two week stay at Defeated Creek Campground, then picked up mail and retrieved the cat from boarding.  

It was an interesting trip.  The weather was strange even for April in Tennessee.  Blowing rain, 40 with chilly wind, 79 and sunny, lows in the 30's, snow flurries on my birthday, then more rain. Luckily rain held off for both camp setup and tear down. We didn't walk or sit outside as much as we usually do because it was just too darn cold and wet.

Thank goodness we like each other, since we spent a lot of time inside.  Even though cell service is horrible north of Carthage, Jerold's custom external antenna gave us enough bars to access the internet a little bit each day. (I think it was a nice change to be mostly offline, though.)  We had books, magazines, music, movies, and a good DTV signal.  

We had fun despite the weather.  He worked on some electronic projects and I chain sewed 2" squares together on my little Singer machine.  I finished a crochet cat blanket and whipped up several dish cloths.  We made the usual Walmart and Dollar Store run, and ate fabulous Mexican food in Gordonsville twice.  We cooked several nice meals in the camper.  

Life is what you make it.  

Life is good.  

Monday, April 16, 2018

Making Time

Recently I was in between projects, but needed a little sewing therapy. I grabbed a stack of 2” scrap strips and a box of 3 ½” half square triangles and started making blocks. I made hourglass and strip blocks at random, then laid them out on my design wall as I finished each one. I added a border of colorful dots, and quilted with white thread in a wavy design, stitched ¾” apart. The result is Making Time, a 32” by 35” mat for table or wall hanging, or maybe for the cat.

As I stitched, I thought about how much I enjoyed just sewing. Not following any pattern or design. Just playing, doing something I love. I believe it's important to make time for yourself. It is therapy, whether you're creating art, reading a book, listening to music, walking, doing yoga or meditation.

Recharge your batteries! Take a day off to play. Feed your spirit. That's what I'm doing today.


Monday, April 9, 2018

It's Spring, Right?

Remember back in February, when it was 75 degrees here in Tennessee? Well, now it is April; the high Saturday was 35 with snow flurries, and the low dropped to 25. Good grief! Mother Nature is playing tricks on us. I had azaleas budding, early iris blooming, hosta leafed out and apple trees blossoming. I picked the iris, covered the rest with sheets; hopefully they will survive.

We've been preparing the camper for a spring trek. I don't know whether to pack coats or shorts. Probably both. There are definitely quilts in there. With our unpredictable weather, it could be freezing in June. We always load too much stuff anyway, but I like to be prepared. We are not minimalists and prefer to be comfortable. The basics stay in all season, until we winterize for storage. 

Sewing at the campground? Absolutely. I have a little Singer machine, shoe boxes of cut scraps, a mini iron, and a kit of everything I need to stitch away on small projects. I also use our time away to design new quilts on my laptop. Inspiration is abundant in nature, whatever the weather.

Despite the forecast,
live like it's spring.
~Lily Pulitzer

Monday, April 2, 2018

Orange Beach

Orange Beach
For this rainy Monday I have a bright and cheerful quilt to show you. A sunset orange and aquamarine print from my stash combined beautifully with a sensational aqua, orange and yellow batik that I bought last November while visiting Orange Beach, Alabama. These medium large prints work great with the 12” flowering snowball block from Accuquilt.

Orange Beach finished out at 58” square. I quilted around the edges of each piece in orange and aqua thread. The backing is aqua and white circles that look like bubbles. 

I think it would be fabulous hanging as wall art in a beach house, or used to snuggle for cool nights on the sand. Either way, it says beach to me and I'm ready to go back right now!

By the way, I found the batik at Fabrics By The Pound in Summerdale, Alabama. Go see them if you're ever in the area and need a nice variety of good quality fabric at excellent prices.

I think this is my favorite quilt yet, but I say that all the time, don't I?

If you can't be at the beach,
then surround yourself
with colorful memories
of sand, sun, and sky.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Sassy Bows

Sassy Bows
Wouldn't this make a great baby quilt? The size is 35” square, just right for snuggling up that little cutie. It could also hang on the wall of a nursery or kid's playroom. The 4” bow tie Accuquilt die made quick work of cutting, especially the small pieces. 

I chose random bright colors from my scrap bins, alternated with a mini-dot of white on light gray. I quilted diagonally with a swirling stitch in white thread. The binding and back is a colorful random stripe on white. Sassy Bows went together quickly...I finished it in two days.

I am having so much fun lately, designing and sewing new projects. My creative energy is off the charts. I'm glad I'm retired, but there still aren't enough hours in the day to sew like I want. That bothersome housework, cooking, and grocery shopping get in the way.

Speaking of housework, I did spend a day doing a little spring cleaning and freshening up. I moved a couple of pieces of furniture, changed a few decorative items, and bought colorful dish towels for the kitchen. I had to pick my daffodils because of last week's crazy snow and freezing temps, and they look lovely in vintage vases. 

Seeing all the spring things gave me even more inspiration, so back to the sewing room I go! Supper's in the crockpot.

Spring is the time
of plans and projects.
~Leo Tolstoy

Monday, March 19, 2018

Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde

Colors for this lap quilt were inspired by Mesa Verde  
National Park in Colorado. These rust solid, green print and black/rust prints remind me of the beautiful cliff dwellings and scrub pine trees found in the park. We were there on vacation years ago, but I'd like to go west again one day.

I designed in EQ8, alternating the 4” kite block with a plain corner block. Using Accuquilt dies made quick work of the cutting. I set the blocks diagonally, creating a flowing pattern that I followed when quilting in rust thread. The back of this 48” square is a black/rust print.  

Since Mesa Verde matches the colors in our camper, it will ride along when we head out later this spring. It might come in handy on a cool night by the lake.

By the way, I sewed this as a birthday gift for my sweet husband, but I caught Callie cat taking a nap on it last night. 

If you truly love nature,
you will find beauty everywhere.
~Vincent van Gogh

Nature always wears
the colors of the spirit.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, March 12, 2018

Snow Day In March

Snow Day

Well, isn't this a surprise? Two inches of snow this morning gave me an opportunity for a breakfast of snow cream. A fluffy, pretty snow stuck to the trees and grass but not much on our roads. Now the sun is melting it fast. Not too unusual for Tennessee, though, because I remember snow on St. Patrick's Day and on Easter.

This winter table runner is made from a batik snowflake print, using AccuQuilt wedge die. I whipped it up earlier this year on a snowy January day. 

The backing is pieced from two fat quarters. I used a decorative snowflake stitch for quilting. Snow Day is 21” x 25” size.

Now, forward to Saturday's holiday: St. Patrick's Day! With a last name of Ireland, you know I have to celebrate.

Citrus Mint Stars
I used my LeMoyne Star die to create this little quilt called Citrus Mint Stars. Little pieces, but easy to cut, sew, and piece with the die. Tan solids contrast nicely with two green prints framed by batik sashing. 

For the back, I combined a leftover block with green and cream half square triangles to make one large block. This one is 35” square, quilted with a wavy stitch in tan thread. It's hanging in my kitchen right now.

Gotta go, I need to add extra steps to my daily walk, after snow cream and the lemon pie I made for my husband's birthday.

“Spring is when you feel like whistling
even with a shoe full of slush.”
~Doug Larson

Monday, March 5, 2018

Spring Geese

Today's lap quilt is the result of saving scraps and remnants from other projects. I paired bright spring pastels in yellow, lavender, pink, peach, and aqua with colorful mini dots and a white on white triangle print for maximum contrast. The backing is a coordinating stripe. I quilted with white thread down and across the geese rows in straight lines, then outlined the center blocks. This girly Spring Geese quilt is 48” square.

I had already cut the pieces using the Accuquilt flying geese 3 1/2" x 6 1/2" die. I've been trying to keep up with cutting leftovers into sizes that I frequently use. I store them by size in plastic bins labeled with washi tape, so my stash stays neat and organized. As a bonus, when I want to sew something scrappy, I can just grab the pieces and start right away.

I like to use EQ8 to design, but this time I arranged the flying geese on my design wall as I sewed them. It's sort of like working a jigsaw puzzle. My design wall is simple: just a 40” x 60” piece of 3/4” foam board wrapped with white flannel, hanging on the wall beside my machine.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Green Onions

Green Onions

I had spring on my mind and a song in my head while working on this little quilt. Remember the cool instrumental number by Booker T and the M.G.'s? What a classic!

The blocks were quickly cut with Accuquilt 3 1/3” tumbler die, using colors of clear navy, spring green and crisp white prints. I randomly arranged them in rows, then framed with a subtle white and grey print. Single tumblers were appliqued onto the navy corners. I outline quilted each piece in white, using a straight stitch. Backing is a diagonal navy and green floral print.

Green Onions is 30” x 36” finished size. It reminds me of sunny spring Saturdays, cruising around with my mama in her '62 Pontiac Catalina, with the windows open and the radio cranked up. Gotta love those memories!

Music is the way
our memories
sing to us
across time.
~Lance Morrow

Monday, February 19, 2018

Color My World

How about a bright scrap quilt for this unusually warm February morning? I don't think we'll need to snuggle up in it today, but it still looks cheerful as a decorative accessory. 

A variety of mixed prints were combined with white dots on black to make this 44” square called Color My World.

I arranged three columns of 3” half square triangles with four columns of stacked 3” x 6” strips. All were cut from my scrap stash with Accuquilt dies. I finished by quilting variegated black/gray thread in rows with a large scallop stitch. Backing is a colorful crazy quilt print, with black and white dots for binding.

I'm not sure the ground hog got his prediction right, at least not for us in Tennessee. It sure feels like spring; last Thursday it was 75 degrees and I had windows open to air out the house. Today looks the same so I'm looking forward to taking my daily walk outside.

Thanks for stopping by, make your day colorful!

COLOR is a power
which directly
influences the soul.
~Wassily Kandinsky

Monday, February 12, 2018

Feel The Love

Feel The Love
For this Valentine's week, my featured quilt is a sweet little wall hanging. Scrappy red and white hearts float on a background of pale grey mini-dots. Feel The Love is 23” x 33” and could double as a table mat. Red and white diagonal peppermint stripes are used for backing and binding.  Quilting was done in straight lines 1/2” apart with white thread.

I had a few red squares left over, so I whipped up a 6” square mug mat. These two were last week's project, along with straightening up my work area. Somehow things from other rooms in the house make their way into my space: shirts for ironing, receipts, magazines, sale flyers, etc. I took care of all of that clutter; now my space looks ready for creating more goodies.

Today I am sending lots of love to Fayetteville, Tennessee. Sir's Fabric was destroyed by fire on Saturday evening. What a heartbreaking loss for the owners, the employees, and the community. Thankfully, no one was physically injured. Sir's was a family owned business and I can't imagine how devastating this must be for them. I didn't go often, but I really stocked up when I was there. I am in mourning for the lost fabric.

Valentine's Day...
I'm waiting for the
on the 15th!