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!

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