Some Days I Hate Technology….

I have never been so glad to see Friday this week in a long, long time.


You know how it goes.  When you’re young and carefree (read young adult), you look forward to Friday for lots of reasons:

There are parties.

There are dates.

You can sleep late.  Really late.

Alcohol is generally not an issue when you’re in your young adult years.


However when you reach a more …  mature stage in your life, the weekend means something else:  You don’t have to deal with adulthood for perhaps twenty-four good hours.  At this point the kids are grown and out on their own (hopefully), and you can settle into a few hours of mowing the grass and a good glass of wine or three.


This week… this week for me was a real…witch.

hard drive melt down

To begin with on Monday, for whatever reason – virus, update gone horribly wrong, whatever—the files on my laptop decided to disappear. Gone.  Completely.  Not to be deterred, we have Carbonite that backs my hard drive up, so I figure we’re all good.  I got on line, chatted with a nice person named Cory, and was told that since it was more than 24-hours since the hard drive breakdown occurred, I would have to manually reinstall the files since Carbonite had already back up pretty much a blank hard drive early Monday morning.  In other words, the latest back up had nothing in it.




So, all this week, it’s been a process of downloading zip files and re-installing.


Those folks out there that know me well remember one very important thing about me at this point:  I have no patience for technology that is slow or doesn’t work.  The biggest hurdle I had to get over with my long arm Loretta was that there was a technological learning curve and I had to take my time to learn it.  I’m the type of consumer that if I pay good money for something, turn it on, and it doesn’t work (or at least is user friendly), I’m on the phone demanding customer service fix it now.  I’m nice about it, but I have no time for dilly-dallying around a piece of equipment that doesn’t do what it says it will do on the box.


I’ve spent hours of my life downloading files this week.  Hours that I will never get back.  On the bright side, I am incredibly thankful that we did have backup, that Quickbooks was backed up on a flash drive, and that the back ups did work when re-installed.  Nothing was lost – nothing but hours of my time at the office and at home


Then my car decided it had to throw itself into the mix.  I drive a GMC Arcadia.  I like it (most days), but on the whole, when I get in the car, put the key in the ignition, I expect it to react accordingly and take me where I have to go.  Let me insert at this point, I do take care of my vehicle.  It gets its oil changed on time.  It has regular maintenance and tune-ups.  And it’s filled up with fuel every Wednesday when I’m running errands.  So Thursday I get in my car to go to work, pull off Emsley and onto Kivette and begin to try to inch the speed up to 45 mph, because that’s the speed limit.


No going.  It won’t get itself out of first gear and now the engine light is on.


Like I said earlier, after the computer and now the car, Friday could not get here fast enough.  I turn around, go back home, and call the DH because as far as cars go?  My blonde hair doesn’t stop at the root.  It goes clear through the brain cells because I know nothing about vehicles.  Long story short, there’s this tiny button on the side of my gear shift.  When you press the button, it puts the car in manual mode.  Either you have to press it again to take it out of this mode or turn the engine off for a while and the computer resets itself.  Evidently, I had pressed the button when I moved the gear shift from “Park” to “Reverse.”  I’ve had this car for nearly two years and have never pressed that button.  This week, of all weeks, I did.  My day was in tatters due to another computer.

I know technology is not inherently evil, but this week it certainly had it out for me.  That said, I got literally nothing done in my quilt studio this week.  I’ve been working on the Halo Medallion, Country Inn, and Farmer’s Wife.  I’m holding off on Santa’s Loading Dock until this week when my group meets again.  I’ve decided I’m not happy with my tree, and Lisa has promised to show me how she did hers.  Fate being what it is, I did find some of the pencils she used to paint her tree at the Heart of the Triad Quilt Show last weekend.  A lesson is in order.


There will be no blog next week due to the fact that The Applique Society’s annual meeting is taking place on Friday.  It’s in Pinehurst  and I’m excited about it.  I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to be President of this phenomenal group this year and I am eagerly looking forward to actually meeting some of the women that I conference call with once a month.  I will also have the opportunity to meet Anita Smith, the lady that organized and “birthed” this organization.  Much fun, laughter, and mayhem (not to mention fabric shopping) will ensue.  I will have pictures and stories on my next blog….just remember ladies, what happens in Pinehurst, stays in Pinehurst…


Still quilting fearlessly as technology allows….


Love and Stitches,


Sherri and Sam



Challenge Accepted

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter.  We had a great time hiding eggs with the granddarlings.  Everyone was here and then we ordered pizza and had dinner together.  It was terrific family time that will be cherished.  I kind of felt sorry for my friend Janet who sent me a text saying that they would not be dying or hiding eggs this year – her two granddaughters decided they were too old.  I figure if I tell the girls I have money in some of the eggs they will keep hunting eggs until they’re thirty.  A Mimi has to do what a Mimi has to do…

I spent a good deal of time the last two weeks working on the Halo Medallion and Santa’s Loading Dock.  We’ll talk Halo first.  I finished all 32 scrappy stars.  I put on another green floater and sewed the stars in strips and put them on as  a border.  They went on lickety-split with no issues.  I’m working on the circling geese now – which are flying geese, paper pieced on a curve.  Then these are inserted into a Drunkard’s Path block.  So many, many curves!


Confession must be made at this point that Santa’s Loading Dock took most of my time.  And in this year of Fearless Quilting, this challenge has finally taken hold of my imagination.  I never thought I would literally face down another pattern that was more difficult than Dear Jane.  And with Jane, it wasn’t so much the blocks that were difficult (but I’d be lying to you if I told you they were easy), it was the lack of directions that made the quilt contrary.  If the book by Brenda Papadakis is the only tool used during construction, the quilter is faced with nothing but line drawings of 4 ½-inch blocks.  That quilt’s saving grace is the wonderful bloggers that go into great detail on construction and the Dear Jane software that makes paper piecing a lot easier.


I wish I could say that Santa’s Loading Dock has the same set of resources, but it doesn’t.  Lisa, Linda, and I are kind of muddling our way through it as best we can.  And every time we think we have it figured out, we have to back up and think again.  The pattern is little to no help, as even the time line for construction is not accurate.


However, I’ve always loved a challenge and this is definitely a challenge in every way, from figuring out when to make what section to how to applique the pieces on.  We’re working on the big window right now.  I’ve made the snow section and the icicles  and have worked on the snowman and the tree.




Right now I’m  pretty sure that as I finish each section (the floor, sleigh, window, toy store, and reindeer banner), I will have to applique the figures on each section.  If I wait and put the entire background together, I will end up manipulating an 80”x80” quilt top through my machine while trying to applique a lot of tiny pieces.  This leaves me attempting the following process:

  1. Each figure will need to  be enlarged per the directions in the book.  Fortunately, only the tree  needed to be enlarged to 200% and my home copier/printer could handle this.  Rudolph is a different story.  I’ve tried enlarging the red-nosed reindeer both portrait and landscape on legal paper and he’s not cooperating.  I see another trip to Office Depo in my future…DSC00786
  2. SoftFuse is my web of choice for making sure everything sticks together. Since the drawings in the book are not reversed, I make sure that these enlarged copies are dark enough that when I put them on my light box, can see them clearly without having to go over them with a pigma pen or a fine-tip Sharpie.
  3. The challenge with the snowman was that he was a tiny guy, no larger than seven inches. Mary Buvia gave him a large personality with lots of tiny details.  I used my stiletto a lot to hold down the pieces as I assembled him.  I put him and the tree together on an Applique Sheet.  If you’ve never used one of these wonderful notions, let me assure you they are a great thing to have on hand.  The sheet is semi-transparent, so you can slide your pattern beneath the sheet and still see it.  Then you can assemble your pattern on top and iron it together.  Because the applique sheet is impregnated with Teflon, the fabric pieces will stick together, but they won’t stick to the Applique Sheet.  When the piece cools, it can be peeled off the Applique Sheet and then ironed onto the background when you’re ready for it.

The tree was an entirely different story.  Lisa, Linda, and I had many discussions about this tree.  Like the snowman, this tree came small, but loaded with details.


The tree in Ms. Buvia’s pattern was white and I thought it blended in with the snow too much.  Lisa agreed.  So Lisa, being more artistically inclined than I am, painted her tree on fabric and then will applique it on the background. It. Is. Gorgeous.  I will ask her if I can take a picture and share it on my blog.

However, I am not that ambitious.

I didn’t want my tree all white, so I spent a good portion of one morning searching for some kind of frosted green fabric.  Fortunately Michael Miller has a line of Fairy Frost Fabrics and I found these greens:


They give the impression of a light snow or frost covering.  They’re perfect for the tree.


The second challenge I faced with this tree was it had 42 individual parts.  Forty.Two.  That’s a lot of parts for a tree that’s about 10-inches tall.  I drew each individual part, making sure I had some seam allowance for the parts that overlapped.


Since evergreens are darker on the bottom and lighter on the top, I varied my material as I went up the tree, to try to be a little more realistic.  And even with the pattern beneath the Applique Sheet, this was a tough piece to put together.  Since there were so many pieces, I made sure to number them in the same sequence Mary Buvia did on her pattern.  And as soon as I got several pieces down and tried to add another, something would shift, or I would breathe too hard, and I had to re-adjust.  So, as soon as I got to a point where I could iron several of the pieces together, I did.




DSC00791After letting it cool and peeling it off the sheet, I took it over to my light box to see if I had left any gaps.  Sure enough, there are a few, and the blue sky fabric in the window will show through, but it will make it even more realistic in my opinion.  Mother Nature didn’t make any solid tree and there’s no way in hell or high water I’m making this tree over again. 

I’m happy with my progress with the Dock this week.  Rudolph will be a bigger challenge, but I’m kind of looking forward to figuring him out, too.  As soon as he’s done, I need to find a huge light box and chalk in the window on my fabric.  After that I can begin to applique everything.

Besides all of this, I did get two blocks completed for my Farmer’s Wife Quilt and two blocks completed for my Snowman Challenge.  I still have to embroider faces on my snowman, but I will do that at Tuesday’s Sit and Sew.


Still Quilting Fearlessly….


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam



Maturity Has Gone Out the Window

I’ve always thought that there are two marks of a mature quilter.  The first is understanding that not every quilt you make is destined to be a show quilt. That’s not to say that you don’t do your best work on each quilt, but the mindset that every quilt made is to be entered in a quilt show can suck the fun out of quilting.  There are certainly one or two quilts I make each year that I feel are show-bound, but most of the quilts I make are for fun.  The pressure of making each quilt as perfect as possible is just too much.


The second mark of a seasoned quilter is knowing when to walk away from a pattern that’s just not working for you. A person that’s been quilting awhile knows instinctively what patterns appeal to him or her and what blocks are to be avoided at all costs because they are that quilter’s kryptonite.


And that’s where I am at with Santa’s Loading Dock.  Yes, this is my Year of Quilting Fearlessly, but if I did not have so much money tied up in fabric for this thing, I may very well turn tail and run.  Please keep the following facts in mind as you read the rest of this blog:  First, I have been a member of AQS for over a dozen years.  Second, I have seen this quilt in person and it’s gorgeous.  Third, I did read through the pattern twice before beginning.



Mary Buvia designed and made this quilt. She did a spectacular job.  I saw the quilt at the Paducah quilt show in 2013.  It is truly breathtaking.  I instantly wanted to make it to hang in my living room during the Christmas holiday season.  The American Quilter’s Society published Mary Buvia’s pattern in a book called Santa’s Loading Dock Quilt in 2012.  At this point I firmly blame AQS for the faults in this pattern.  Many quilters are perfectly capable of making an original quilt, but are not good at writing directions.  This pattern is a case in that point.  I’m not sure if AQS didn’t take the time to have another quilter make this quilt with the directions for this book or minimally have a quilter proof read the directions.  With either case, the shortcomings of this pattern should have been glaringly easy to pick up.


However, with as much as I have already invested in this quilt, both in time and money, I’m going to continue to keep working with it.  I have started on the floor.  My group met this week and it was decided pretty much to throw our timeline out the window.  Before the floor is attached to the globe background, the window, clock, toy store doorway, and reindeer banner need to go on.  It’s only with those made and at least tacked in place that you have a true reference of where to place the snow flakes, Santa’s sleigh, and the continents.


Is this the timeline in the book?  Nope.  The reindeer banner is eighth.  The window is fourth.  The floor is sixth.  The clock is tenth.  If someone had proofed the directions or made this quilt with the directions given, I think all of this would have been changed in the book.


I don’t fault Ms. Buvia in this predicament.  She made this quilt while her husband was dealing with cancer.  She may not have really wanted to deal with this project again once the quilt was completed.  However, AQS certainly has the resources to have the pattern proofed or even to have a quilter make this quilt to make sure the directions given truly reflect the process.  At this point, I would have paid extra to actually purchase the printed pattern in the correct size.


So, my word of caution at this point is Quilter Beware of Pattern.  Realize what you’re getting into when you begin (which I did), and how much of a challenge the quilt may be (which I didn’t).


There will not be a blog next week, since it’s Easter weekend.  Enjoy your family and I hope you have extra time for quilting!


Still quilting fearlessly despite everything….


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam



Still Seeing Double…

This has been a good week.

After about a month’s worth of moving the kids’ in their new home, dealing with vehicle issues, and husband with double vision, I have to say, this has been a good week.  The kids are moved in.  Most of the vehicle issues have been resolved (I do still need a new set of tires).  And the DH had a good doctor’s visit this week.

Bill still has his double vision, only it’s not quite as bad and now it happens more when he looks down.  A visit with his optometrist was very helpful.  To put it bluntly, his brain really took a jolt when we were hit from behind.  She likened it to a platter of Jell-O that is suddenly spun around…the gelatin keeps moving even when the spinning stops.  His eyes have got to learn to work together again.  This means more exercises and some patience.  She does believe that give or take a week or two, the double vision should go away on its own.  Meanwhile there is less and less of it.

So, this meant I had serious time in the studio this week.  I got these Farmer’s Wife blocks completed….

And I have these snowmen blocks finished, but still need to add the embellishments.

I’ve got about half of the stars completed for the third border of The Halo Medallion.


Now to catch you folks up on the inspiration for this year of Quilting Fearlessly….


My good friend, Lisa, came up with brilliant idea.  We all had finished the background and knew the floor had to go in next.  She threw the floor and sleigh up on a wall with a projector.  She found some left over Christmas wrapping paper – the kind with the square inch markings on the wrong side – and taped this up on the wall to draw the floor and sleigh out on.  As a result, we have an accurate template for the floors.  After Linda finished with it, it was handed off to me.  It took an entire evening to trace the whole thing, but it is now on some newsprint that I will use to paper piece it.  Sam was a huge help supervising the process.



My fabric order from Hancock’s of Paducah arrived this week for the floor.  It was only a week late – oy-vey.



The plan is tomorrow, since the DH will be in Mt. Airy at a tournament, I will begin to lay the Loading Dock floor.


Finally, many, many thanks go to my good quilting buddy, Susan Pierce.  She read my blog from a couple of weeks ago, and felt really badly for me.  Monday morning, she arrived at my office with this.



Gotta love your quilting friends.  They’re the best!


Love and Stitches…


Sherri and Sam (Head Quilt Supervisor-in-Charge)