Monday, November 12, 2018

Batik Trail

Batik Trail

Here I go again, mixing and matching dies to create old favorite blocks. This time I made one from the 1920's – Snail Trail, also called Monkey Wrench in some old magazines.  
Sea blue leafy batik fabric is paired with crisp white and bordered with a cross hatch print. Each 12” block is made up of a center four-square, adding triangles to expand the design. 
It looks more difficult than it really is, especially because of the perfect cuts with AccuQuilt. The dies I used are: 55018 small value die (2 1/2” squares); 55006 half square triangle (3 ½”); 55031 half square triangle (4 ½”) and 55001 half square triangle (6 ½”). 
Free motion quilting was done in medium blue thread in a meandering design. Finished size for Batik Trail is 30” square.

Both my Singer and Janome machines are humming! I'm still working on my Christmas project, as well as cutting and stitching more scrappy star blocks. I've laid out several vintage quilts in EQ8, and I'm always on the lookout for more ideas.
a life
that you will

Monday, November 5, 2018

Windy Flight

During our early October camping trip, I sewed flying geese blocks (cut with my Accuquilt cutter before we left). Once home, I arranged them in groups and added a 6” border. Don't these colors of navy, gray, green, and turquoise look great together? Some of the prints repeat the triangular design of the blocks.
Windy Flight
For the back, I cut and sewed 6” squares in the same colors, plus one flying geese square, then added double borders. I used a white and gray variegated thread and quilted randomly spaced wavy lines to give motion to the design. Windy Flight, my latest favorite quilt, is 58” square.

Refrigerator update: The saga continues but the end is in sight. I am so thankful for Lowes extended service! Since the part can't be found, they offered to refund our original purchase price for the frig! The check is on its way. Hooray!  
The down side...I have to choose a new frig and hope that it is more reliable. I know two things. 1) It won't be an LG. 2) We will absolutely buy the extended service from Lowes.
►►►►  ◄◄◄◄
The amount of good luck 
coming your way 
depends on 
your willingness to act. 
--Barbara Sher

Monday, October 29, 2018

National Cat Day & More

Here's a shot of our sweet Callie taken this morning. She's stretched out in the sunshine, relaxed and happy. It's National Cat Day so she'll get a few extra treats to celebrate.
Wednesday is Halloween; we're going to dress up as old retired folks. OK, not really dressing up, just wearing our normal clothes. It's been a while, but I recall wonderful costumes for many Halloween celebrations at work.
I'm already stitching for Christmas! A charity project is in the works that will bring smiles to the faces of strangers during the holidays. What better way to celebrate?

Refrigerator Update: Still nothing. We have received two of the parts but the other is still pending, possibly on back order or sailing in on a slow boat from Korea. No one knows.

is the ability 
to count down 
before you blast off

Monday, October 22, 2018

Pretty Stars

While last week was busy, I did make time to relax by sewing a few random blocks. I like to experiment with scrap die cuts to see how well they might look in a quilt. It's nice to have the scraps already cut and sorted by size so that I can just start stitching. Most of the time I use EQ8 software to design but there's nothing like hands-on sewing to check that seams match.
These two different size Ohio Star blocks are lovely in aqua, purple and peach prints left over from other quilts. This will be a long term project in progress, sewing random blocks in similar colors when I have a few extra minutes. I haven't even thought about how to set them into a quilt, only that I'll use a white background in all of them. I'm sure several layouts will come to me when I get enough blocks finished.
For the time being I'll use the triangles and squares I've already cut, but my scrap baskets are nearly full, so I'll find an afternoon to add more. My sewing to do list is always long and interesting. I have too many ideas and not nearly enough time to finish them all.
I like to think this desire to create came from my ancestors.  They were women who took pride in the fact that they saved every scrap of fabric to make something beautiful or functional. 

Refrigerator Update: Still broken. Two repairmen have come, compressor failure is the diagnosis. Parts are on order and should be here by Thursday. We did get approval for food spoilage refund from Lowe's. Their extended service people have been easy to work with and efficient. 
A word of warning, though, do not buy the LG refrigerator with a linear compressor. According to the repairmen, those compressors consistently fail after 2-3 years, even though it was highly recommended in initial reviews.  

Monday, October 15, 2018

Midnight Star

This week's quilt is my version of the Hunter's Star block, using pieces from the Accuquilt Lemoyne Star and 4 ½” square dies. Rich brown and cream print and a subtle midnight black swirl provides the contrast needed for a striking design. 
I added a 3 ½” leafy brown border to four 9” blocks to make a 25” square table or wall quilt. I straight stitched along each section in a square pattern with tan thread. Backing is the same brown leaf print. Midnight Star is another favorite; I plan to sew a bigger one later.  
It's finally feeling more like fall! Now that we're home from camping, the temperatures have dropped. I wasn't exactly planning for 90 degree days on our October retreat, but we still had a good time at Defeated Creek. There was a breeze off the lake and our site was shady. Two side trips had us exploring the Roller Coaster Yard Sale and the Granville Quilt Show I wrote about last week.
Our trip was relaxing, even with the heat. Good books, yummy food, and leisurely walks fit perfectly into my plan for taking things as they come and enjoying the journey.
One little monkey wrench when we got home Friday: our 3 year old refrigerator had quit. All food lost. Four trash bags full of mushy, thawed and questionable stuff. We plugged in our 24 year old frig; it is now running fine in the basement. 
Fortunately we have extended warranty, food spoilage reimbursement, and the repairman is expected today or tomorrow. Who knows how long it will take to get parts, fix or replace?   To be continued...

Monday, October 8, 2018

Granville Quilt Festival

On Saturday, we took a road trip to Granville, Tennessee. Our destination: a quilt show, part of their annual fall festival. Oh the quilts! Amazing designs, outstanding stitching, fabulous colors, and a combination of modern and old standard designs, all draped over the pews at Granville United Methodist Church.
My favorites were the antique and hand-quilted categories. Tiny, perfect hand stitches, in narrow rows only ¼” apart made me feel totally inadequate but inspired. The quilters featured in the show are all artists. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

The festival was spread over the entire little town on the Cumberland River. Quilts were draped over porch rails on most of the historic homes. The E.B. Sutton General Store, the Granville Museum, and Sutton Historic Homestead featured 1950's quilts along with their regular displays.

Demonstrations of frontier life, spinning, weaving, blacksmithing, wood carving, basket weaving and more went on all day. Live music at the gazebo and a lakeside stage for Jazz on the Cumberland kept everyone entertained. Booths were nicely curated (no tacky cheap stuff or yard sale junk here). Most were Tennessee and Kentucky craftspeople. 

As a former tourism director, I want to congratulate Granville for an excellent festival. This was the most organized event I have ever seen in a little town. There were helpful volunteers everywhere, excellent signage, trams & golf carts to and from convenient parking areas, all the shops and homes were decorated and I'll bet all the residents were participating in some way.
If you want more info, has details.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Maple Syrup

I've been waiting to share this quilt until it felt more like fall. I mixed several dies to create four leaf blocks in rich autumn colors. 

Sashing is a coordinating vine print; backing and binding are a yellow and brown scalloped stripe. I quilted in straight lines with a creamy yellow thread. 

Maple Syrup is 27” square and could be used as a table mat or wall d├ęcor. It's hanging in my dining room now.

Autumn is a wonderful time of year. The crisp air is invigorating but relaxing. Brilliant leaves, cooler temperatures, hoodies, boots, camping, and fall festivals are my favorites. For the record, the pumpkin spice flavor craze in hundreds of foods and beverages is not for me. I love pumpkins as decorations but I can't stand the taste.
This year I plan to embrace the glory of fall by slowing down, taking it all in, and enjoying every moment. My life, my decisions, my journey.
shows us
how beautiful
it is to
let things go

Monday, September 24, 2018

Jazzy Rings

I've always wanted to make a double wedding ring quilt, but the thought of cutting out all those precise little pieces put me off. Not to mention the curved seams, which have to be stitched slowly and accurately.
Thanks to Accuquilt, my worries are over! Their die has the option of solid or pieced rings, and cuts perfectly aligned pieces with notches to match seams. Love it! I found the die on sale and right away I cut a sample block of blue scraps to make a table mat.
For Jazzy Rings, solid rings were more suitable for the larger scale fabrics I chose. The centers are white prints with gray and black, center squares are black prints. Bright and colorful, the 38” x 49” size works for a baby or child's quilt. I outline quilted the rings with white thread and stitched the centers in a squared design. The back is a white and gray print and it's finished off with bias binding in a light gray to coordinate.
Jazzy Rings
I've already designed a couple more versions. I need more time to create, and I'm running out of quilt storage space but that won't stop me from sewing whenever I get the chance. Forget housework and cooking, you know where to find me.
Today's fabric
is tomorrow's quilt.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Follow Your Path

I've been thinking. Yeah, I know that's dangerous. It usually means something is about to change. Around here that could be anything from moving furniture to planning an adventure.

My thoughts are that there should be an easy rhythm to daily life. When everything is going smoothly, you feel in sync with your surroundings. There's a sense of peace, joy, accomplishment, and satisfaction with yourself. That comfort level isn't easy to maintain, however, because circumstances have a knack for changing just when you think you're on the perfect path.

Managing change is crucial to keeping that balance. Change is how you learn. You have to decide whether to get back on track or head off in another direction. It's important to set your own itinerary. Try to filter out what really doesn't matter, what can wait for another day.

Structure your life to fit your expectations, not those of others. Fill your time with the things, people, and activities that make you smile.  Remember, it's your path.

From anywhere you are, there is a path that will lead you to where you want to be.”  – Ralph Marston

Monday, September 10, 2018

Lilac Medallion

Lilac Medallion

On this fall morning, I had coffee on the back porch and enjoyed the cooler temperatures. What a welcome change!

This week's project is stitched from pieces in my remnant box, finished last month. It's a 30” square, made up of nine kite blocks cut with Accuquilt. 

Sweet lilac prints and dots are paired with white and cream. The color layout forms a medallion shape. The backing is a tiny purple rosebud design. I quilted with white thread in parallel rows of continuous triangles.

Today seems perfect for a little yard work, a bit of cleaning, and of course, our windows are wide open to the 70 degree breezes.

Take time to savor
the first hints of fall

Monday, September 3, 2018

Town & Country

Town & Country

Another week, another quilt. I designed this one to combine the formality of crisp black dots and stripes with casual retro prints in salmon and cream. Town & Country is constructed with elements from three Accuquilt dies. I sewed triangular side sections from the kite block to form a rectangle, then added a 2 ½” square and 4 ½” half square triangles.

Backing and binding features the salmon and tan print. Free motion stitching was done with tan thread in a meandering pattern. This throw, 44” x 54” in size, would make a charming accent for any room.

Today is Labor Day, and a holiday for most people. After retirement, holidays are sometimes just another day, but I appreciate one that honors workers. 

I wouldn't be retired if we both hadn't worked hard for 40 years and saved our earnings. Our parents and grandparents had normal jobs: farmer, carpenter, truck driver, plumber, salesman, office manager and retail sales. By example, they instilled in us the need to provide for ourselves.

America was built by ordinary people, from towns and the countryside, who labored to make a better life. I have no tolerance for lazy ones with their hands out who cry that they deserve more. To them I say: Don't be upset with the result you didn't get for the work you didn't do.

Here's to American workers, who deserve this day off because they earned it!

Without ambition one starts nothing.
Without work one finishes nothing.
The prize will not be sent to you.
You have to win it.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, August 27, 2018

Lemon Lime Spritz

A refreshing little quilt in bright greens and yellow, this one was quick to sew. I cut the pieces with Accuquilt's bow tie 4” die by Alex Anderson. Turning the blocks made a pretty lattice pattern on this 32” square called Lemon Lime Spritz. 

Free motion quilting was done in a swirling design, diagonally across each block with bright lime thread. The backing and binding are a lime print fabric. Cute baby quilt, I think, or a cheerful table topper.

It's a hot August day in my corner of Tennessee. I'm inside, drinking coffee, doing a bit of Monday morning cleaning, and contemplating which design to start next. And, best of all, there are two dudes outside painting the trim on our house. Better them than me!

Just because you CAN do it yourself
doesn't mean you have to,
or that you want to.
~Christine Brummell

Monday, August 20, 2018


Colorful and modern describes today's quilt. Splashy prints of pink, aqua, and orange are accented with touches of lime and yellow. Constructed entirely of equilateral triangles, their arrangement creates larger triangular shapes in alternating directions. It's busy, bright and fun to sew.

Perfect points were possible thanks to precision cuts with the Accuquilt die. I cut extra triangles and stitched a row of them to set between two pieces of paisley fabric for an interesting backing. Coordinating striped binding adds flair. I quilted double rows on the horizontal seams in bright pink thread. Equilateral's final 44” x 46” size is good for display or snuggling.

As I worked on balancing the color layout on my design wall, several alternate ideas and combinations came to mind, so you may see more triangles in the future.

Useful Notion:  Scrap pieces from this project came in handy last week.  This little quilted zipper bag didn't take long to sew and made a cute birthday gift for J's sister.  

Monday, August 13, 2018


I quilt for enjoyment and relaxation. I love the entire process from design to the last stitch. The whisper of an idea can be transformed into a beautiful item. Dreams to reality.

I finished Dreamcatcher a few weeks ago. It is an adaptation of a quilt photo found on Pinterest. The combination of a shoo fly block with 9-patch star block isn't new, but the color placement gives it a modern look.

I combined scrappy bright prints and solid light gray on this 42” square quilt. I used Accuquilt dies: 3” finished triangle in square, half square triangle and square. I laid out the colors in EQ8 software before fine tuning on my design wall. Backing and binding is a gray and white triangle print. Stitching with gray thread in large overlapping circles across the blocks creates the dreamcatcher effect.

Sewing and cutting can be quite messy, because I pull out lots of fabrics to audition for a spot in the quilt. I try to put everything away after I finish, clean off my tables, sweep up bits and threads. A clean space gives ideas room to grow. But not always. That next quilt is waiting to be stitched.

Sometimes magic hides behind chaos.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Blue Streak

This little quilt has motion, don't you think?

Four Lemoyne star blocks in blue paisley and plaid are framed with blue dots, adding plaid for the outside border. Blue Streak is 32” square, bound and backed with a blue ticking stripe. It's quilted with cream thread in a serpentine stitch.

Accuquilt dies made quick work of cutting and sewing, so I had time to whip up a few small mats in different blocks to coordinate the look. Another pretty kitchen set done!

She's normally a quiet person,
but she'll talk a blue streak about sewing,
if you let her.


By the way, I entered a new quilt block design in Accuquilt's contest.  If you'd like to vote, link hereThanks.

Monday, July 30, 2018


Today's quilt is another great way to repurpose scraps, or useful remnants, from other projects. I cut 3½” squares of cream homespun cotton, then bordered it on two sides with 2½” strips of mixed bright colors. Old fashioned cream and black print 5” squares were cut to alternate with those blocks.

Corners is a fresh vintage style version of the attic window pattern. At 41” square, it could be used for a baby quilt, table mat, or wall hanging. Backing is a tan and cream stripe with scattered navy and dark red triangles. Quilting in a light tan thread follows the angles across the quilt. I used Nature's Touch 80/20 cotton batting for a slight loft. Stitching on it was smooth and easy with a walking foot.

So many projects planned, and it seems like so little time! Yeah, I know I'm retired but we always have things to do and places to go. No boredom around here! There's something new around every corner.  I always try to enjoy the journey, whether I'm mowing grass, cleaning house, or sewing a quilt.

Life is short.
Time is fast.
No replay.
No rewind.
So enjoy
every moment
as it comes.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Summer Sampler

I'm back after a much needed break to catch up on a few chores. Being a carpenter's helper, housekeeper, lawn care associate, and home organizer is hard work in this heat. Not quite caught up, but I feel better now that my surroundings are neater and my to do list is shorter.

I did squeeze in sewing time to finish another project.  Summer Sampler is an adorable retro style table topper or wall hanging, made up of four different blocks in the same colors. The cheery red and blue daisy and strawberry print was my inspiration; I found coordinating fabrics in my stash to cut triangles and strips with Accuquilt dies.
Summer Sampler

The bright white tone on tone print is the perfect contrast, set off with plaid sashing. This cute 30½” square is channel quilted with white thread in a decorative zig-zag stitch. Wouldn't this brighten up the breakfast nook in a country farmhouse kitchen? It's for sale now on my Etsy site.

By the way, aren't those veggies pretty? Local farmer's markets are brimming with fresh produce right now. There's nothing like the rich mouth-watering flavor of Tennessee tomatoes right off the farm. 'Mater sandwich on white bread with mayo...mmmm good.

It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts
while eating a homegrown tomato. ~Lewis Grizzard

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!