Christmas and Color and Value

It’s that time of year again…the time where we bounce from one holiday to the next.  This week will find me boxing up all the pumpkins and fall leaves in order to replace them with trees and garland and all things sparkly and covered with bows.  The creche will take the place of the cornucopia in the entrance way and I will count down the days until Christmas with my two excited grand darlings.  Children do revive the Christmas spirit in the even the most curmudgeon person.


Speaking of kids, I had the chance to work with Evangeline over the weekend.  At our guild’s show in August, I bought a quilt kit from U Can Quilt.  It was all pink and had Minnie Mouse on the fabric.  The great thing about quilt kits from U Can Quilt is that they are completely cut out and they include backing and batting.  Sewing with Evangeline is kind of hit and miss. Sometimes she wants to really work on it and other times she could care less – but such is the life of a four year-old.  Sunday, she really wanted to work on it.  Since I had moved her sewing machine into my closet, she settled down on my lap with my Janome 7700 and we made some blocks and some memories.

My Girls

My Daughter, Meagan and Evangeline (left) and Elli (right)

She finished two blocks and that was plenty.  This is a small cuddle quilt, just her size, and when we get the top done, I’m going to set her up with my long arm so she can see how Loretta works.

mm quilt blocks

A few short days after Christmas, we’ll usher in the New Year.  This past year has gone by in a blur.  2017 was our year of Quilting Fearlessly.  I’m thinking about a couple of themes for next year…and will let you know soon what that theme will be.

Color and value have also been on my mind a lot.  Color gets the credit with a quilt…we instinctively gravitate towards some colors (in my case it’s purples and pinks) and run away from others (in my case, it’s brown).  Most likely if we see a quilt in colors that appeal to us, we begin to think about making that quilt – not necessarily because we even really like the pattern, but because the colors invoke some kind of emotion in us.

But it’s value that does the work.

I’ve talked about value before and will again in 2018.  Most quilt patterns will call for so many yards of a light, and a medium, and a dark to make the quilt sing.  These light, medium, and dark descriptions are dealing with the color value of a fabric.  For instance, you could have three, lovely purple fabrics in a quilt – a lavender (light purple), a medium purple, and a dark purple.  Unfortunately, nearly all of us tend to use too much medium valued material and this leads to a very dull quilt.  I encourage my students to lay out the fabric they have chosen and take a picture of it with their phone.  Then convert the image to a black and white one.  This black and white picture clearly shows the values – the mediums will appear gray, the darks black, and the lights almost white.  If you have a range of gray, black, and nearly white, you’ve got a terrific color value range for your project.  And it will draw your eye around the blocks and then around the quilt.  Take a look at these two blocks.


Where does your eye go?  Most likely it’s to the dark every time.  The dark pinwheel in the middle of the first one draws your eyes into the center.  The block with the light pinwheel nearly “pops” out at you, since the dark outer patches draws your eyes around the block.

Now let’s throw in a medium in the mix.  In this case, the pink polka-dot is the medium.

Where does your eyes travel now?  For most folks, the dark triangles, regardless of their size, is going to draw your eye to them.  When the center pinwheel is dark, your eyes zeroes in on the center.  When the dark is used for small, outer triangles, your eyes travel around the edges of the block.  When the large triangles are dark, suddenly the medium-valued pink pinwheel nearly disappears as a large, dark triangle grabs your attention.

So not only is color placement important, but color value also must be given real consideration, depending on what kind of statement you want your quilt to make.


Mull this over for a few days…


The next few weeks will be busy ones for all of us.  My shopping is done, but I need to clean the house and then decorate it.  Address the Christmas cards.  Wrap presents.

So much to do…

Let me encourage you to make time for yourself during the Christmas season.  If you wear yourself out trying to make Christmas perfect for everyone else, it won’t be much of a holiday for you, and you deserve a joyful one, too.


Love and Stitches…


Sherri and Sam



A Full Heart and Busy Hands

I love this time of year.  I love the leaves changing colors and the temperatures edging lower.  The sky is so blue it nearly makes your eyes ache to look at it.  I love that it’s nearly Thanksgiving.  When I was growing up, my mom’s big holiday was Christmas.  She and Dad would pull out all the stops on presents and on decorating.  Jingle bells jingled and the tree was always huge.  There were tons of presents and tons of relatives and Christmas is still that sweetest of sweet spots in my childhood memories.

In 1983 I married into a huge family.  My husband had two sisters and two brothers and nieces and nephews nearly as far as the eye could see.  And Bill’s mother’s big holiday was Thanksgiving.  The family was too big and too spread out for everyone to get together at the same time for Christmas, but by-golly-gee when Thanksgiving Day dawned, Lena had pulled out all the stops for her favorite holiday.  Turkeys.  Dressing.  Cake.  Green Beans.  Pie. And her potato salad.  Oh, my goodness could that lady cook.  Don’t even get me started on her biscuits….my beloved paternal grandmother could not even rival Lena’s biscuits and gravy.

Probably unbeknownst to her, she transferred her love of Thanksgiving to me.  I love that holiday because it’s a little slower than Christmas and it is a wonderful beginning to the holiday season.  I love it because there’s a little more time to linger at the table and talk.

And it’s also my birthday…which is pretty darn sweet.  My birthday falls on the 24th, so it’s right around Thanksgiving.  As I was waltzing into the Thanksgiving season this year, I was thrown a loop by my tribe of Sit and Sew buddies – they threw me a little surprise birthday party.

I’ve never had a surprise birthday party before.  It made me just a bit teary.  My best bud Janet made me this cake…

Bday Cake

There’s a story behind this cake.  See, Janet is the Hospitality Chair for the guild.  When we had our Quilt Reception after the judging this year, I asked her to make a cake for the occasion.  And I kept texting her pictures of all these 3-D sewing machine cakes that I thought was just perfect for the reception.

She quickly let me know she didn’t do fondant.

I have no clue what that is…but evidently it’s important on a 3-D cake.   “Fine,” I huffed.  “Then how about a long arm cake?”

She said no to that too.

Hence the reference on my birthday cake.

I got some nifty presents…these girls know me too well.

I have gotten some work done this week.  I finished my pinwheels for Halo.  I had forgotten how much I love those little blocks and enjoy making them.


I was deeply saddened by the death of Nancy Zieman on November 14.


She had been seriously ill for a number of months.  I never had the opportunity to go to Beaver Dam, WI, or sit in on one of her classes.  But back in 1985 when a young 24-year old woman discovered she was pregnant with a baby girl and wanted to learn to sew, Nancy’s programs taught her how to do just that.  I watched her show every Saturday and subscribed to her lessons by mail.  At that time, I knew I couldn’t afford to buy Meagan the dresses I wanted her to wear, but between Nancy Zieman and Martha Pullen I learned to make them.  Those were sweet, precious times as I discovered not only could I sew, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I grew more and more confident as I read through their information and taught myself how to sew.  I am one of many that count myself as part of Nancy’s legacy.

With Thanksgiving next week, there won’t be a blog the week of November 23.  My big birthday plans are to clean out the closet next to my studio and move some project boxes into that and straighten my studio.  Right now, it looks like a hurricane has ripped through it.  I also have treated myself to some zippers for my long arm.  Those will also be installed.


Have a wonderful Thanksgiving….


Still quilting fearlessly…


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam

DSC01089 (1)


And The Countdown is On…

It is really hard to believe that there is so little time left in the year 2017.

I mean, it just seems like yesterday that I put up a new calendar and cleaned up after Christmas.  This past week I deep cleaned the house for Thanksgiving and put up my decorations for that holiday.

In a couple of weeks, all of that will go back into boxes and the tree will come out along with the twinkling lights and greenery.

And suddenly 2018 will dawn.  A New Year with new possibilities.

All of which means one thing for me:  I gotta finish our Quilt Club’s Mystery Quilt.  It’s supposed to be shown at the January guild meeting. That quilt and Sue Garmin’s Halo have been front and center on my machine for about  a month now.  I will show pictures of Halo’s progress soon, but wanted to share what I’ve designed for the Mystery Quilt with this blog.

As I’ve said before, we were given six blocks with the option of making either 12-inch or 6-inch blocks (finished).  I didn’t want to make the large blocks, and was more than happy to make the 6-inch ones since I love making small blocks.   The problem with that is six 6-inch squares makes for a very small quilt, even with setting triangles and setting blocks.  After working with a layout,  I made ten additional 6-inch blocks to form a border with the quilt squares and decided to use a medallion in the middle.

I had hoped to come up with an original design for the middle, but I ran out of time before I ran out of imagination. So, I chose one Esther Aliu’s flower designs on her newest pattern, On My Window Flowers Bloom.  I love her designs and never seem to have enough time to work with them.


I wanted to make it look as 3-dimensional as possible, so I decided to do all sixteen leaves with two colors of green, as well as make the poppies (I think they’re poppies) in two colors of coral.  I introduced a floral black in the cornerstones and will echo that again in the final borders, so I used it again for the vase and a green that is not in the leaves but used in the blocks.  My goal was to use only the fabrics in Connecting Thread’s Firenze collection, and I am happy that I’ve been able to do so.


But let me tell you, getting all of those leaves and stems down was no easy task.  The flowers were much easier.  I think I ended up pretty close to the original pattern, so I ironed everything down and laid out what I had done up to this point.


I am fairly pleased.

And Sam seems to like it.


And yes, he will make an appearance in the quilt….just wait….

This is raw-edge applique, so the next decision that needed to be made was thread.  Fortunately, my mom gave me this thread kit (also from Connecting Threads) for my birthday and the greens and corals match perfectly.



I pulled a black from my Mettler connection.  As soon as I get through making the pinwheel set for Halo, this will be under my needle this weekend.

The High Point Quilt Guild had an awesome meeting last night with the quilter that designed the Harry Potter quilt, Susan Owenby.  She is a powerful quilter with a powerful message.  More on her later.

Until next week, take care and quilt fearlessly!


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam


I Was In The Right Place, At The Right Time…

Every once in a while, I find myself at the right place at the right time…

In last week’s blog, I told you that I was spending the weekend with my mom in Graham.  She had a follow up appointment with the hematologist and I wanted to go with her.  First things first, the doctor’s appointment went wonderfully great and Mom is well on her way back to normalcy.  No more iron infusions are required now and there is another follow up appointment in three months.  Everything is holding steady, but if she gets to feeling “puny” again, she needs to call the doctor’s office immediately.

THAT has been a year-long, hard journey, my friends.  I am so very thankful that her health is better.  And a huge “thank you” from me to all of you who emailed, texted, messaged, or called to ask how she was doing and to tell me you all were praying for her.  I appreciate that and you all more than I can say.


So anyway, back to being at the right place at the right time.  One of Mom’s friends needed my help sorting through some sewing machines.  This lady’s mother-in-law had to move into assisted living.  And she was a quilter.  Her machines and sewing supplies were moved from her home to a storage unit. There were a couple of Pfaffs that I was to look at as well as sort through some boxes of thread and miscellaneous sewing supplies.  So, Friday, before Mom’s appointment, she and I went over to the unit to kind of get a “lay of the land.”  There were boxes of notions, the two Pfaffs, and to the side of them sat a very inconspicuous black box.  It was not very big, but I immediately knew what it probably housed…a Singer Featherweight.

I have been drooling over these machines for years.  Several of my quilting friends have one and I’ve always been just a bit envious of this link to the past of our sewing history.  I opened the case up, saw what was inside, immediately shut it and asked what was the asking price.   A little eBay research later and I walked away with a Singer Featherweight.

What is so special about Featherweights?  They were made to last, for one thing.  The last Featherweight rolled off the line in 1964 and the first one was produced in 1933.  Adapted from the Standard Sewing Machine Company’s SewHandy (bought out by Singer), this little machine was touted by Singer as the “Machine you will sew on, teach your daughter to sew on, and your granddaughter to sew on.” And they are.  They are little work horses that although they only sew a straight stitch, can sew through miles of fabric without a whimper.

Ironically, the Singer Company never called them Featherweights.  Yes, the name is on the manual and like a lot of iconic ladies such as Madonna and Cher, she’s well-known by only her first name – Featherweight.  However, the title Featherweight is nowhere on any of the machines.

From 1933 until 1964 this little jewel was mass produced and shipped all over the world.  It traditionally came in black, although there were a few variants.  Some of the later ones were kind of a cross between white, cream, and mint green.  During World War II, the military had their own Featherweights with a special “crinkle” paint that was mil-spec black to prevent glare.  Those beauties had a leather case that was Army green with military issue numbers on the box.  As a matter of fact, the only thing that stopped the production of the Featherweight was World War II, when metal was in short supply.

Back to my purchase.  Most Featherweights are a 221.  Mine is a 222K – which means it’s kind of an odd-ball Featherweight.


My machine does a few things that the other Featherweights can’t.  For instance, it is a freearm machine, meaning the bed is detachable.  This made sewing cuffs and darning easier.  You can also drop the feed dogs on mine.

The serial number is located on the bottom of the machine and you can use that to find out where the machine was made and the date it was manufactured.  My machine came from Clydebank, Scotland and her birthday is March 14, 1955.  She was one of ten thousand 222K’s made that year.


She doesn’t have a scratch on her and she came with a lot of feet and other gadgets.  I even have a Little Foot made specifically for Featherweights.




Look at these prices!


And a really old packet of needles



The case is in excellent condition and the keys came with it.  I don’t know how many hands this machine has passed thought, but she has had excellent care.  The only thing I’m not sure of is what the clamp-thingie is on the side of the case.  The apparatus in the top of the box is where you slide your foot control into to hold it.


I think Sam approves…


I am happy to have this little baby as my new addition to my ever-expanding sewing machine family!  She has found a good home and I look forward to spending many hours with her in the future.

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam