angry face


I rarely write blogs that are not “quilty.”  I like showing pictures about the quilts I’m creating. I like to talk about my quilts and my techniques and new gadgets that I find.  I like to espouse about my wonderful quilting friends and how much they mean to me and how much I learn from them.  I’ve spend half a year encouraging everyone to Quilt Fearlessly. 

However, at this date, I find myself befuddled by the quilting world. 

I was in the field of education for many years, and let me honestly tell you that while that field is full of wonderful individuals that truly love children and want them to learn, it is controlled by politics and politicians who have never sat behind a school desk.  These policies, politics, and in many cases parents, caused me to flee that field long before I was ready to. 

I want to think my hobby and passion – quilting – is immune to these same overtures.  And up until the last couple of years, it has been.  We are living in some unkind and nasty times, my friends.  The world and the quilt studio have become a hostile place.  I’ve always thought of quilters as the types of individuals who live above the fray.  They are the ones that, no matter what is whirling about around them, they live with the serenity if they can just get back to the sewing machine, fabric will make everything better.   Sadly, this has changed in the last couple of years. 

Politics should play no place in the quilting world.  We should uphold each other’s craft, art, and abilities.  We should honor each other’s work and respect it.  Quilts are wide open to a range of talent and interpretation.  None of them are wrong.  The quilt itself speaks to the individual quilter and we should honor that communication even if we don’t understand it or would have made the quilt differently.  The fact that one quilter is a conservative and another a liberal should have absolutely no play in our quilting world.  Our job is to honor and respect each other’s talent, not obliterate each other on social media if we disagree in the ballot box. 

However, in the last couple of months these political disagreements have spilled over onto quilt-related social media.  I would like to make two statements about this:

  1. Stop it.
  2. Be kind. Always be kind.

The last person a quilter should expect to be mistreated by is another quilter. 

To add to this, another well-known quilter was bullied by another well-known quilter about a design.  You may have read that blog.  

And I found something that I sent in an email (yes, an email) show up on Facebook.  The sender of said email asked my opinion in confidence and told me that my opinion would be confidential.  This week I found my opinion on Facebook and the recipient of that opinion was not happy with me. 


In response to that, I can honestly say, if asked, I would have told the recipient the same thing I said in my email, but wasn’t directly asked. And to the sender of the email, I am surprised.  I thought confidential was confidential. 

People…quilters…get a grip.


Remember that movie Bambi?  Remember the rabbit, Thumper?  Remember what Thumper’s mother told him?

 If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all. 

If you disagree politically, big deal.  I’m afraid with 24-hour news cycles, the talking heads have not only taken over our televisions, but have also wormed their way into our psyche so that everything we think about must take political overtones.  Let me let you in on a little secret…what goes on in Washington has nothing to do with what you’re doing in the quilt world. 

If you disagree with another quilter on design, keep it off social media.  No one wants to know it.  Keep it between the two of you and work it out.  In the above circumstance, one quilter took the high road and didn’t mention it at all, and the other harped on it for weeks.  

And if something is told to you in confidence, HIPPA laws apply.  Don’t share it, even if it’s anonymously.  Keep it to yourself. 

Lesson learned this week – I’m not putting my opinion in writing ever again.  Not unless I know you really well. 

Let me remind you that there will be no blog next week, as I’ll be on vacation.  The blog will resume on the weekend of June 8.  Until then …. Be kind to each other and Quilt Fearlessly.


Love and Stitches,


Sherri and Sam



Fearlessly Updating

An update on the project that started the Year of Quilting Fearlessly…


I don’t know whether I’ve had an epiphany or have just come to the conclusion I have to let go of some projects because I’ve grown to dislike them because I never should have started them to begin with, but I’m giving myself permission to let a few projects fall by the wayside, sell them, or just plain give them away.  The conversations I had with quilters when I was at The Applique Society’s annual meeting keep running through my head.  These were artists who have quilted longer than I have and knew more about quilting and quilts than I ever imagined learning.


So, I’m pruning.  Big time.  I’m keeping the projects that challenge me in a good way.  These are the ones that speak to me, touch my heart, and inspire the creative instinct in me.  However, the ones I find myself putting off working on or probably never really enjoyed to begin with are the ones that are now on the back burner.  Lucy Boston, I think I have found you a new home.  Snowmen?  I will probably pick you back up at some point, but for right now a storage bin is your new home.


But Santa’s Load Dock?  While infinitely challenging, I do love this quilt.  I am discovering that the quilts I now enjoy making are the ones that challenge me every time I sit down and sew or stand at my long arm.  Santa’s Loading Dock does this every single day.  I am the one that must really figure out what technique to use in order to get the desired effect.  It’s not spelled out in the directions (actually, very little is spelled out in the directions…).  I have to decide if I am machine appliqueing, needle turning, or using freezer paper for the applique.  In so many ways, this is really becoming “my” quilt.


Remember the struggle I had with that tree?  The tree that had over 40 pieces?  Lisa and I had some time together before I left for Pinehurst and she taught me a new technique with Inktense Pencils.  This is her tree:


She invited me over on a Sunday afternoon and walked me through the steps, giving generously of her time, talent, and materials.  She had traced the tree out on some Michael Miller fabric for me.  She prefers the Michael Miller fabrics for this process rather than Kona or Moda because the Michael Miller fabric has a firmer weave.  The tree was traced with a Micron Pen.  Then, using nature as the guide, we began to color in the tree with the Inktense Pencils.  Evergreens branches are darker the closer the branch is to the trunk and they grow lighter as the grow away from the trunk.  We used to colors of green to get that effect.  Then we blended the colors together with Liquidtex fabric medium, that was thinned with a few drops of water and then heat-set it with an iron.  This Liquidtex has a slight shimmer to it to mimic the idea of frost and snow.




This is my “practice” tree.


After I returned last weekend, I worked on my “real” tree.  I decided I wanted it a little darker than my practice tree so that it could contrast nicely against the white snow and dark blue background of my window.   Compare this tree…



To the tree I initially made with the 43 separate pieces.


The new one looks so much better.  Despite being a pain to figure out, this quilt does lend itself to many techniques.  And in order to figure out which one is best, you have to pace yourself through different ones.  It also allows you to try new techniques.  This trial and error takes time, but this is a quilt of a lifetime.  You don’t want to rush it and you want it to look beautiful.


And this is what it looks like on the background.


I need to start Rudolph and the candle this weekend and then I can put on the start and window panes.  However, I do need to still work on a couple of Farmer’s Wife blocks and the block for the Quilt Club’s Mystery Quilt.


There is a wedding and dance recital this weekend…not quite sure how productive these next two days are going to be!


Quilt Fearlessly my friends!


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam



A Mother’s Influence


This is Mother’s Day Weekend.

And that being the case, I would like to take a few lines to not only wish my mother a very Happy Mother’s Day and thanks for putting up with me for all these years, but also explain what creative influence she’s had on my life.

mom and me (1)

Mom and Me

First of all, you must know that I was raised in a traditional “Southern” household.  Mom and Dad were high school sweethearts and before Dad’s death in 2005 they were heading towards their 50th anniversary.  Mom worked various jobs and owned a couple of businesses before her “retirement” from the workforce. You will notice I put the word retirement in quotes because she technically is still working.  This is where her creative influence comes in.

Besides teaching me that it was wrong to wear white after Labor Day, you’re never more than five minutes late for curfew, and you don’t call a boy before you’re engaged to said boy, Mom was always creating.  She is extremely artistic.  She has painted.  She sews (yes, even a quilt or two), and could have had a second career as an interior decorator.  If you ever have a chance to visit her condo, do so.  It looks like something out of the magazine Southern LivingLet me point out right now that this gene has totally skipped me. 

However, the one creative process that she is known for is her stained glass work.  My mother is a stained glass artist and still teaches two or three times a week at her local community college.  We’re alike in two areas:  First of all we both teach, and second, we are both afraid that if we don’t teach, the art we are passionate about will die with our generation.  The process of quilting and stained glass work are very much alike.  I’ve taken classes from her and was delightfully surprised at how closely the process between the two are related.  So how has Mom’s creative process influenced me?  First, she’s always been doggedly determined to return to it.  There have been a couple of times she’s had to take a sabbatical from her classes.  She’s returned to them as soon as she was able.  The classes allow her not only an outlet for the art, but also a social network of support that is so vital to any artist.  I keep this in mind anytime I have to leave the quilting field for any reason – even it’s only a week-long vacation.


Second, her color choices are terrific.  The influence this woman has had over color choices in my quilts is phenomenal.  She’s never been afraid to throw a deep purple next to a lime green and make it sing.  So, when I’m a little hesitant to make a color choice because I’m scared the quilt police will show up, I do it anyway because she’s taught me that at the end of the process, all the colors sing together in the same choir and the harmony is beautiful.


Happy Mother’s Day Mom.  You are awesome!


Last weekend I attended The Applique Society’s Annual Meeting. It was in beautiful Pinehurst, North Carolina.  The Pine Needler’s Chapter hosted the event and the ladies just outdid themselves.  At this point you may be asking “What is The Applique Society?”  Allow me to explain what this wonderful organization is…

This guild/network/organization is a group of quilters that loves all types of applique and works together to keep this arm of quilting alive and well.  While it is primarily an “electronic” group (we are an on-line presence), there are chapters of us in many states and Canada.  These are groups of quilters who belong to TAS that get together once a month to applique and fellowship.  So, besides the opportunity to have an on-line community that supports each other, there is also the local, physical presence of appliquers.

Founded by Anita Smith, our organization will celebrate our 20th Birthday this August.  I’ve been a member of this group for more years than I will admit and have had the privilege of serving as its President last year and was re-elected this year.  If you would like a glimpse of what we do, please visit our open-forum Facebook page or our website,  Membership is nominal but the benefits are terrific.

Now to the good stuff – pictures of the quilts shown at the meeting!

Quilts made by the Pine Needler’s Chapter and the Sand Hills Quilt Guild.  The quilts with the sunflower and other nature scenes are made by Nanette Zellar who was so generous with her teaching techniques.  Nanette is available to speak at guild meetings, etc., and she is phenomenal.


Words of Wisdom from Nanette


Last weekend also gave me some “down” time.  In addition to a few hours of contemplating my quilting life, I also had some time with Anita.  Besides being the TAS founder (which automatically puts her on the Awesome People list in my life), she has become a friend who I greatly treasure.  Thursday night, we had time together to discuss her work on Love Entwined (if you don’t know what that is, please go to

Anita Smith’s Love Entwined

Talking quilts with Anita is a wonderful combination of what I call spiritual quilting.  I have many, many delightful quilting friends whom I love dearly, but only a few of them have that spiritual quilting quality. It’s kind of hard to define, but the nearest I can describe it is that this group of quilters allow the quilt to “talk to them.”   Color choices, techniques…it’s dictated by the quilt, not by the quilter or even the designer.  These quilters don’t rush the process, they “breathe” with the quilt.  At times the quilt will tell you to stop and rest from the process.  At other times, it will strongly dictate color choice.  It speaks to you.


To me, this is a vital part of the creative process of a great quilt.  Not all quilts do this, and when I run into one that does this with me, the emotional ties to that work of art are strong – so strong that I can look at parts of that quilt and remember what I was thinking during that process, what I was worried about in my life, what I was praying for.  It’s those quilts – if they could talk – are the treasures in my life.


On the way home, I reflected on my conversations with Anita and this process.  And I realized that there are fewer and fewer quilts like this in my life and I need more of them.  I’ve got to make some changes.  It may mean fewer group quilts.  It may mean limiting my work with teaching and quilting organizations.  It may mean abandoning (for the time being) some of the quilts I’m working on now.  I’m not sure. I just know that I’ve got to begin to allow the quilts to talk to me again.  In the process of keeping up with deadlines, I’ve stopped listening.  The creative process is now rushed to meet the date of the calendar and not a place in my heart.  Perhaps this is the one thing that the Year of Quilting Fearlessly was meant to teach me.


Lesson learned.


Love and Stitches,


Sherri and Sam