Here’s to 2022!

It’s that time of year again.

The time when I review the quilty predictions I had for 2021, give you my forecast for 2022, and announce next year’s theme.  First, let’s look at what I thought would happen in 2021 and see how right or wrong I was.

  1. More brick-and-mortar quilt stores would close in 2021.  I’m rating myself at 50 percent with this one.  I believed at the beginning of the pandemic, quite a few quilt stores would fumble the ball and close.  With no non-essential businesses allowed to function, I honestly thought by 2021, a large number of them would just decide to shutter.  What I didn’t allow for…and had no idea would happen…was the huge number of folks who purchased a machine and taught themselves how to sew.  This, coupled with the fact quilt stores sold fabric, and fabric was needed to make masks, made the shops flex and many updated their websites or offered curbside pickups until customers could once again return to their shop.  As a result of new sewers/quilters, a good number of retail quilt shops not only survived but have thrived.  Those that did close didn’t try to meet customers’ needs and demands, or the owners were ready to retire.  So overall, I’m rating myself a solid 50 on this prediction.
  2.  There would be few in-person quilt shows.  I was correct on this one.  There were very few in-person shows during 2021.  Most guilds cancelled their show, or hung their quilts outdoors for people to drop by and look at.  Houston still went on, but without the vendor market.  Still wary of Covid or any of its variants, everyone erred on the side of caution.  Some quilt show organizers put on virtual shows, but according to statistics, most quilters weren’t impressed.  We like to see the quilts in person and touch what we want to purchase.  I do believe 2022 will be better.
  3. Zoom is here to stay.  And boy is it.  Once quilters, quilt teachers, and quilt guilds learned how to navigate this user-friendly software, we didn’t miss a beat.  Guilds, bees, and sit and sews met virtually.  Quilt teachers and program presenters quickly picked up on how to share the screen and drop in Power Point presentations.  Virtual quilt workshops filled quickly – and honestly what’s not to love about taking a workshop from the comfort of your own quilting space?  I love hearing how guilds are making this work for their membership – from spectacular speakers to having the ability to garner members from all over the world.  Per usual, hand us quilters lemons and we make lemonade.  I rate a solid 100 on this prediction
  4. Quilt groups will grow and have new members.  I was right.  Zoom gave groups and guilds the opportunity to engage new members from literally anywhere in the world.  The need for masks pushed many people to thread a sewing machine for the first time in a long time or the first time ever.  A good percentage of these “newbies” were bit hard by the sewing bug and have joined quilt groups.  Now we must foster their love of the art and their need for the knowledge of all things quilty. 

This brings us to 2022.  What do I think will happen to quilting this year?  Working on the assumption 2022 returns to some kind of normal existence again, here’s what I believe is on the horizon. 

  1.  Zoom will still be a major player in our quilting world.  The Zoom genie is out of the bottle and most quilters seem to be pretty comfortable with it.  From having monthly guild meetings to workshops to quilt groups, I think on many, many levels, Zoom isn’t going anywhere.  I believe small quilt groups may still meet in person, but there are too many positive qualities about Zoom for us to just toss it by the wayside.
  2. In-person quilt shows will return.  I think they have to, in order to survive.  Best case scenario, local guilds may have gone two years without a show.  Quilt shows generally fund the broadest part of their base budget.  They need to have a show if at all possible.  Large quilt organizations, such as AQS, also want to get back into the show business as soon as possible.  With vaccinations and masks, I’m pretty confident we will see an uptick in real-life shows (versus virtual ones) and if these are successful, I expect shows to return to their normal schedule.
  3.  Brighter colors, but more expensive fabric.  The pandemic was a tough time, but the fall out afterwards isn’t any easier.  And like quilters of the past, today’s quilter will want brighter colors of fabric to lighten their surroundings.  Whether it’s the modern colors and prints or the brightly colored feedsack reproductions, I think our color palettes will be lighter, sunnier, and clearer than last year.  However, I think fabric, like everything else, will be more expensive and maybe even harder to find.  I’m lucky I live near Pineapple Fabrics and their huge fabric warehouse.  However, if the cargo ship juggernaut remains floating off the coast of California, we may find some fabric difficult to obtain.  Cotton supplies are already at an all time global low and was trading in November at levels not seen since 2011.  The United States is the third largest producer of cotton, so our prices may not be as high as some European countries.  You may be glad you’ve cultivated an extensive stash.
  4. Get used to “organic quilting.”  By this, I mean almost improve quilting.  I think with many new quilters entering our playing field, we will experience a time of new innovation.  While they may understand the basics (consistent seam allowance, accurate cutting, etc.), they may very well throw out the rulebook on slavishly following patterns.  They may not see the need.  If they enjoy the creative construction part, with fabric they love, they will opt to make the quilt they want to make the way they want to make it.  Not a bad idea at all.
  5. T-Shirt quilts will get an upgrade.  And to top this, I think they may lose the name “T-Shirt Quilt” and be re-invented as “Memory Quilt.”  These quilts will include more than just t-shirts.  Fronts of ball caps, baby clothes, scraps of important clothing (think christening gowns, prom dresses, graduation gowns), scouting patches and the like will also be front and center as well as important T-shirts.  I think everything from quilt layouts to quilting will change.  Forget nice, neat, predictable rows of t-shirt fronts and backs.  I’ve already seen changes in this type of quilting and those changes have been well-received.  I expect to see more, and this may very well be one of the most creative quilting trends in 2022.
  6. Comfort will be key.  One of the most interesting changes the pandemic brought was the whole persona of “working from home.”  Most of us, at least some of the time in 2020 and 2021 had to work from home.  This brought a whole slew of changes in itself, but the biggest perk was you didn’t have to get dressed up and go into the office.  We quickly learned Zoom calls only showed you from your waist up.  Dress shirt and sweatpants?  Yes!  Blouse and pajama bottoms?  I’m in for that.  This idea of comfort has carried over into quilting.  I think quilts will continue to have soft backings such as minkie or flannel. 

In this line of thinking, I also believe quilting clothing may be making a comeback.  What leads me to this assumption?  A few days ago I was doing some online window shopping and came across this:

This pretty, little quilted jacket sells for $355 at Saks Fifth Avenue.  Well, it definitely caught my eye and I did some more online research only to discover several retail establishments are carrying several quilted clothing options.  Our quilts may not only be dressing our beds, but we may also very well be dressing in our quilts before the year is out.

Six predictions for 2022.  It will be interesting to see how right and wrong I am in about 365 days.

And now, as we get ready to flip our calendars over to the New Year, let me introduce you to the 2022 Sherriquiltsalot blog theme.  For 2021, I was all over the quilty map.  We were pulling out of the pandemic, some of us faster than others, but the overall sense of feeling I had was just to survive this year.  When 2021 began, the vaccines had just rolled out.  I was anxious for my 80-something mother to get hers.  My brother was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, and both kids were moving away.  There was a lot of upheaval in my life and everyone else’s I couldn’t help but think if we all could just get through 2021, 2022 had to be better.

Maybe.  Maybe not.

Either way, we’ve learned a lot in 2021 – about each other and quilting.  So, the theme for 2022 is

Make It Yours.  We’ll take a deep dive into some more advanced techniques, and I’ll detail how to take ideas and patterns and change them to help you make the quilt you want to make.  There will still be blogs on quilt history (I’m currently researching Baltimore Album Quilts) and hopefully some interviews.  The pod casts are done, but there is a general consensus we may need to by-pass these and go straight to video.  Quilting is more of a visual thing than a spoken medium.  We’ll see how it goes.

Until next week, make your quilt yours!

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam


Merry Christmas

My Christmas blog is never long because I know everyone is busy baking, wrapping presents, and putting the last stitches in quilted gifts.  This year – and the one before – have been unprecedented in social and political strife.  Increased inflation, higher prices on everything from soup to nuts, and the cargo stranglehold which may have some of our Christmas held hostage, doesn’t make for “days merry and bright.”  As a matter of fact, on the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of “happy” ahead in the New Year. 

However, this year and every year, I remember another time and another place.  Where a young woman and her husband traveled for miles to return to Bethlehem.  And in the cold, still night a baby’s newborn cry announced the promised Messiah had come.  A star hovered over His birthplace and angels proclaimed His coming to a group of shepherds and their sleeping sheep. Wisemen began a long trek to find the Christ-child and in his palace, King Herod stirred with an unease he couldn’t explain.

This Christmas, I wish for you a peace that passes all understanding and a joy which comes from knowing this time of crisis will pass.  Things were rough in Bethlehem, too.  Joseph and Mary weren’t traveling to see family for the holidays.  They returned to Joseph’s hometown to pay taxes.  The little family didn’t have a warm bed adorned with quilts, but a stable, some clean hay, a few swaddling cloths, and a manger.  And they rejoiced when the angel choir split the quiet of the dark night with their refrain, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and goodwill to all men.”  Not too shabby of a birth announcement, if you ask me.

And that is my Christmas wish for everyone.  May His peace keep you and may we all love each other a little more and a little harder next year – Glory to God in the Highest and on earth, peace and good will to us all.

Merry Christmas!

Love to all, from My Quilt Studio to Yours,

Sherri and Sam


Making a Quilt Without a Pattern

It’s almost 2022…

We’ve covered quite a few topics this year, and with this blog, I’d like to tie a few of the concepts together and show you how some of the formulas work together to help you make the quilt you want to make.

To begin with, let’s take a look at this quilt:

And let’s decide, for whatever reason, you just have to make this quilt.  But there’s no pattern, you have no way to get in touch with the designer, but you really, really, want to make this quilt.  Where do you even start?  This is what I want to cover in my blog. I’ll also be upfront with you:  This is the way I work.  Other quilters may work through the process differently and still come up with the same results I will.  As with nearly all things quilty, there’s more than one way to do things, and you have to find out (mostly by trial and error) which method works best for you.  So, let’s take my process step by step. 

Step One – Check Your Resources

If you know the name of the quilt, you can use Google or Duck, Duck Go to see if you can find the pattern.  If you are viewing the quilt at a quilt show, sometimes the maker will list the designer or pattern on the label of the quilt, or it may be printed in the quilt catalogue or the information which is sometimes posted beside the quilt.  With this information in hand, quite often you can track down the quilt pattern on the internet.  If this is possible, go ahead and purchase the pattern from the designer.  I realize with some quilts it’s fairly easy to determine how to make them without pattern in hand, but keep in mind quilt designers make their livelihood from their patterns.  Help them keep their expenses covered by buying the pattern.  This will allow them to continue to design patterns for us.

Step Two – Where to Start

If you can’t find the pattern anywhere, now you have to decide whether to proceed or not.  If possible, take pictures of the quilt, or make screen shot of it on a tablet, phone, or laptop.  However you grab the image, it’s helpful to have the ability to enlarge the entire quilt and/or certain parts of it.  Once the image is procured, look closely at two areas:  The largest quilt block and the block which you believe will give you the biggest challenge when constructing it.  Sometimes this will be the same block.  For me with this quilt, the most difficult blocks are those pieced cornerstones.  These are small and I will need to be careful with accurate cutting and handling the bias.  The largest blocks aren’t complicated at all.  They are a nine patch, which I can make without any problems.  So, why do we look at the largest square? 

They take up the most quilt space and the smaller blocks and sashing play off of it.  It’s important to know exactly how big to make it.  If you’re copying a quilt you can actually get your hands on, this is easy. You can measure the block and keep moving.  However, if all you have is an image, an estimated guess will have to work.  With the quilt above, I know the largest block is 14 1/8-inch finished.  Now I must add a half-inch seam allowance.  So, 14 1/8 + ½ = 14 5/8-inches.  Once the nine-patch blocks are constructed, they should measure 14 5/8-inches, unfinished.

Next the measurements of the block unit must be determined.  Since I have this quilt in my possession, I can actually measure the units and add ½-inch seam allowance.  If you’re making an educated guess with a block, I suggest graphing the block out on paper or with a computer program to get your unit measurements.  With my 14 5/8-inch unfinished block, I know the small squares 3 ½-inches, finished.  Adding the ½-inch seam allowance makes my cutting directions to read 4-inch squares.  I will cut four 4-inch squares.  The large center square measures 7-inches square, so I simply need to add the ½-inch seam allowance and cut these squares at 7 ½-inches. The side rectangles measure 7-inches by 3 ½-inches. I will need to a half inch to each of these measurements to have the seam allowances.  They will be cut at 7 ½ by 4-inches.

If you’re a regular reader, you know adding the seam allowances follows the information I gave you in this blog: Which you may want to keep handy as we work through this quilt. 

Step Three – Construct the Remaining Blocks

With this quilt, that means the pieced cornerstones.  And if you look at the quilt, you will observe it has not only square pieced cornerstones, but also triangular pieced cornerstones.  We’ll work with the square ones first.

There are four 4-patches, a center square and four rectangles.  All of the squares – from the one in the middle to every one of the squares in the four-patch – are ¾-inch finished.  When the ½-inch seam allowance is tacked on, this means the squares will be cut out at 1 ¼-inches.  The finished rectangle is 1 5/8-inches x ¾-inches.  When the ½-inch seam allowance is added, they will be cut out at 2 1/8-inches x 1 ¼-inches.  After they’re assembled, the pieced cornerstones should measure 6 1/8-inches, unfinished and 5 2/3-inches finished.

The triangular pieced cornerstones work differently.  If you’re like me, my first inclination is to make a square pieced cornerstone and then slice it on the diagonal.  This can work, if on the diagonal cut, you allow for the ¼-inch seam allowance (in other words, don’t cut it directly on the diagonal, but slightly off center).  However, this wastes fabric and if you don’t get that diagonal cut exact, you may have a difficult time getting the pieced triangle to fit exactly the way it should in the sashing.  It’s easier (and more accurate) to piece this cornerstone in a triangle.  Some of the initial measurements are the same as the square pieced corner stones, but you’ll cut fewer.  You’ll need six 1 ¼-inch squares plus two 2 1/8-inch x 1 ¼-inch rectangles.  However, if you look along the long, diagonal side of the rectangle, you can see we need five triangles.  Here’s where the HST formula comes into play.  We know by looking at the whole pieced cornerstone and the triangular pieced cornerstone that they are symmetrical – in other words, we could take two of the triangular cornerstones and join them along the diagonal and it would be a perfect matched for the pieced square.  So, from this, we can safely assume the triangles at the edge would be half of the finished ¾-inch square.  Knowing this, we can use the HST formula I introduced in my blog :  We take the finished size of the square, add a 7/8-inch and this gives us the measurement of the square needed to cut in half – ¾-inch + 7/8-inch = 1 5/8-inch.  We need to cut three 1 5/8-inch squares and then cut them in half on the diagonal. 

The solid cornerstone squares and triangles are next.  These are easy.  They need to be the same unfinished size as the pieced cornerstones – 6 1/8-inches.  To determine the size of the solid triangle cornerstones, take the finished square measurement and use the HST formula again – 5 2/3-inches + 7/8-inches = 6 ½-inches.  Cut these squares once on the diagonal. 

Step Four – Sashing

If per chance the quilt you’re copying doesn’t have sashing, you can skip this step.  However, the quilt used for this blog has some really nice, stripped sashing.  And despite the fact this strip-pieced sashing looks complicated, it’s really not.  To get the length of the sashing, you normally would measure the largest blocks and cut the sashing the same length of the block.  However, this quilt has cornerstones, and you must allow for them.  When we measure the sashing on the quilt, it’s 9 7/8-inches in length.  We know the sashing must be the same height as the cornerstones, so it must measure 5 2/3-inches.  There are five strips all the same width, which means we must divide 5 2/3-inches by 5, and this gives us 1 1/8-inches.  For both the length and width of the strips, we have to add 1/2-inch seam allowance:

9 7/8-inches + ½-inches = 10 3/8-inches long

1 1/8-inches + ½-inch = 1 5/8-inches wide

Step Five – Corner Triangles and Setting Triangles

Here we bring in one of my favorite formulas – Quilting Cake or 1.414.  Let’s work with the four corner triangles first.  These are the smaller of the two types of triangles.  To determine the measurements of the square which will be cut in half on the diagonal, take the size of the largest finished square, divide by 1.414, and 7/8-inch for the seam allowance.  Our largest square is 14 1/8-inches finished.

14 1/8 divided by 1.414 = 10

10 + 7/8 = 10 7/8

We cut two 10 7/8-inch squares and cut each once on the diagonal.

Now for the setting triangles.  Still using the largest block’s measurements, we multiply by Quilter’s Cake and add 1 ¼-inches for the seam allowance.

14 1/8 x 1.414 = 20-inches

20-inches + 1 ¼-inches = 21 ¼-inches.

There are eight setting triangles, and we can get four triangles per square.  We’ll cut two 21 ¼-inch squares and then cut them twice on the diagonal. 

Step Six – Borders and Cornerstones

This is the easiest part.  Even if you’ve copied this quilt down to the closest 1/8-inch you can, the process of putting on borders should be done correctly so you won’t have wavy borders.  It’s not hard.

  1.  Square up the center of your quilt and measure it lengthwise at the edges and middle of the quilt.  Add these three numbers together and divide by three.  Cut your lengthwise borders this measurement.  With this quilt, the side borders are 59 3/8-inches x 4-inches, finished.  When ½-inch seam allowance is added, this brings the cutting measurements to roughly 60-inches x 4 ½-inches.  Pin, sew, and press the seam allowance towards the border.
  2. For the top and bottom border, you measure across the width of the quilt three times:  at either edge and the middle.  Add the three measurements and divide by three.  With this quilt, you should come with 67 3/8.  However, there are cornerstones at all four corners, and these measure 4-inches.  Since there are two on either end of the top and bottom border, we subtract 8-inches (for both 4-inch cornerstones) and we cut the top and bottom borders the same as the side ones – roughly 60-inches (technically, it’s 59 7/8, but I really dislike 1/8-inch measurements).  Cut four 4 ½-inch border cornerstones (4-inches + ½-inch seam allowance), sew to each border end and attach to the quilt center.

Annnndddd you’re done…well, all except for quilting, binding, and putting on a label.  All the measurements I’ve given you can be plugged into almost any quilt you want to copy or any quilt you design yourself.  Even the most complicated ones.  However, before I end this number-heavy blog, let me throw in a few “Sherri-isms” I go through when I copy an antique quilt or work through designing my own. 

  •  Copying antique quilts or quilts made from blocks which have no copyright (because they’ve been around for hundreds of years), is fine.  Copying a designer’s pattern that’s still under copyright is wrong.  As a matter of fact, it’s illegal.  I give myself permission to research the quilt for several days before I commit to copying it.  Yes, I feel this strongly about it.  Designers sell their patterns in order to pay their bills and put food on their table.  If I find the pattern, I buy it.
  •  I do the math, set it aside, then re-do the math a few days later.  If I come up with the same results, I get to cutting the fabric.
  • If the desired look is one which falls into a particular time frame, I use Reproduction Fabrics that fit the era.
  • While these directions are literally step-by-step instructions, if I were making the quilt, there are a few of them I’d change:
  • I would strip set the four patches and sashing.
  • I would definitely use a focus fabric or a fussy cut print for the center squares in the large block.
  • This quilt offers several opportunities for chain piecing.  I’d use that technique as many times as I could.

One last thought before I leave you.  When you’re copying an antique quilt or developing your own design, remember the differences between assembling an on-point quilt (which is what is illustrated in this blog) and a rows-and-columns quilt like this one:

With a rows-and-columns quilt, you sew the sashing on the right side of the block, sew the blocks into rows and sew the rows into the quilt center. 

An on-point quilt is sewn together like this:

I always told my students to tilt their heads to the left when dealing with an on-point quilt.  That small change in your perspective allows you to see how the quilt is put together.

Until next week, Quilt On!

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam


Quilters in 2021

Quilters are an interesting group of people.  When I first started quilting in the mid-eighties, we were primarily women, and the average age was around 52.  Most of us were mid-level professionals, our children were older, and if there was a local guild, most quilters had at least some passing knowledge of it and/or were members.  About 10 years ago, Premier Needle Arts began tracking quilters.  As the internet encroached more and more on our everyday quilting lives and shopping habits, PNA wanted to know what was motivating quilters, how much were we using the internet, how was our shopping habits changing, and how much we were spending on our craft.  They devised a survey and sent it out to hundreds of quilters.  I began receiving this survey in my email box about seven years ago.  It’s my understanding PNA works in cooperation with various brands in the quilting industry to collect the names and email addresses of the quilters who are sent the survey.  It’s a fairly detailed and generally takes about 45 minutes to an hour to complete. 

This year the survey was sent to a random portion of the email lists from Handi Quilter, Connecting Threads, Superior Threads, Craftsy, National Sewing Circle, and National Quilters Circle.  All-in-all, over 1 million quilters received the survey in February and of that number, 30,000 filled it out and returned it.  Eighty-nine percent of the respondents were from North America.  Demographic data, such as race and geographic location, were optional portions and many quilters chose not to answer those questions.  According to  PNA CEO Mark Hyland, of the demographic data which was collected, there was no significant differences between groups.  Now for the down-and-dirty about what this survey and other data tell us.

  1.  There are currently 85 million active crafters in North America – meaning people who have worked on at least one creative project in the last year. 
  2. Crafts and crafters generate $35 billion in sales annually.
  3. There are currently 10-12 million quilters, and the quilting market is expected to approach $5 billion by 2026-2027.  In 2020, there was more than a 12% increase in the number of new quilters. 
  4. Quilters are spending more time quilting (maybe this is still the quilting hang-over from Covid?).  The survey discovered 51 percent of quilters are spending more time quilting than in previous years. Thirty-three percent said they were spending the same amount of time quilting and 16 percent stated they were actually quilting less.
  5. Shopping habits (and this one surprised me) – the survey found out 65 percent of quilters would rather purchase all their quilting supplies from a local, independent quilt store.  This is the preference.  However, of that sample, the same percentage actually followed through with the preference – they shopped local before they went online and purchased what they couldn’t find in a quilt shop.  I assumed – wrongly – after Covid locked us all down, everyone would continue to go online to purchase supplies.  I am so delighted I was wrong.  Local quilt shops are treasures and need to be supported.  However, beginner quilters were more likely to shop Big Box Stores rather than a LQS.
  6. What does the average quilter look like?  The average quilter is female.  She is retired and approximately 65 years-old with an average household income of $60,000.  Despite being of retirement age, 17.5% have full-time jobs.  She’s quilted more than 10 years and spends more than six hours each week working on quilting projects.  She owns an average of four sewing machines.  Another surprising fact:  Fewer than 30% pay someone else to quilt their quilt.  They prefer to do it themselves.  She is online every day.  What’s she doing on the internet?  Well, despite preferring the LQS, 30% more quilters are shopping online than they were last year.  And YouTube is now the go-to option to learn new techniques and obtain patterns (25.4% in 2021 as opposed to 13.0% in 2020), versus websites and blogs, which were number one last year.  Research is also another big online task for quilters.    
  7. Sewing is the gateway drug to quilting.  New quilters report sewing is their main hobby besides quilting.  There are now 33 million active sewists, more than a 10% increase over last year.
  8. “Availability” trumped price this year.  Because of out-of-inventory issues brought about by the Pandemic, quilters were quicker to purchase supplies based on availability, even if those supplies were a little more expensive than normal (I believe that…just ask me what I paid for ¼-inch elastic at the beginning of the Pandemic to make face masks….).
  9. Despite lockdowns and shipping disruptions, nearly all quilters spent the same or more money than they did three years ago.
  10. Sixty-three percent of quilters still buy and read magazines, but overall, magazine subscriptions have decreased over 15% in the last five years.
  11.  Fourteen percent of quilters report they attended at least one virtual quilt show this year.  However, their overall experiences with online quilt shows were disappointing and subpar.  Eighty percent say they wouldn’t attend such a show in 2022.  And here I have to agree with these quilters.  While the Zoom/Online classes, meetings, lectures, and workshops I attended were excellent, I was overall disappointed with online quilt shows.

So, what does all this mean for us?  I mean, all these numbers are great…even eye opening, but how do we apply them to our quilting world?  Let’s skip the dollars spent (because we all know we spend money on our craft) and go right to the number of folks quilting.  Currently we stand at 10 – 12 million quilters, with a 12% increase in 2020.  This is a seriously large demographic.  If you belong to a guild, and it’s not paying attention to these numbers, perhaps you need to bring them to your executive board’s attention.  If you noticed during the Pandemic, it was really difficult to find a sewing machine at some of these Big Box stores.  I vividly remember walking into a local Walmart in February 2020, cruising over to the fabric and craft department, and discovered no fabric (except for a few stray fat quarters), no elastic, no interfacing,  and no sewing machines.  People had to stay home, so many of them learned to sew in order to make masks.  According to the survey, sewing is the gateway drug to quilting.  If these new sewists are quilting, then our guilds should reach out to these folks, welcome them with open arms, and assist them in learning more about quilting.  This is important not only for them, but for us as guild members.  We’re aging out.  We need new ideas and fresh enthusiasm.  We need to accommodate them by arranging Zoom meetings if necessary and maybe even mentoring programs.  Guilds are seriously negligible if they don’t tap into these numbers. 

Internet and computer technology are other areas both quilt stores and guilds should be observant about.  While the majority of quilters still love their local quilt shops, we are becoming tremendously savvy about online options.  If the LQS has a website where customers can pre-order items, it should be user friendly and kept up-to-date.  Likewise with guild websites.  These should be kept current and easy to navigate.  However, the biggest change by far with quilters is the availability of online classes and meetings via Zoom.  Frankly, I had never heard of Zoom before the pandemic.  I was keenly aware of FaceTime on my iPhone, but this Zoom-thing was nowhere near my internet consciousness until 2020.  I know some quilters like it, others don’t, and some have no opinion, but it’s a tool we can no longer ignore.  It’s nearly the end of 2021, and after a couple of years of Zooming, we’re all pretty familiar with the program.  For guilds, Zoom has opened up the potential of acquiring speakers from all over the world and is allowing guild members the freedom to meet regardless of weather or pandemic numbers.  It also allows people from all nations and states the opportunity to join our local guild. 

I think what guilds (and perhaps other sewing groups) need to remember is we’re aging.  The average quilter is now 65.  Sometimes it’s difficult to drive – especially if the guild meeting is at night or it’s miles away.  Zoom is a great alternative during the winter when it gets dark earlier.  It allows home-bound members the opportunity to still meet with their guild-friends and participate, instead of being shunted aside.  I realize Covid changed the way we do a lot of thing, but it’s also allowed us opportunities to expand our horizons and keep quilting.  The one great quality about quilters is we do adapt to change.  And more often than not, we take this change and make it work positives in the field of quilting. 

In closing, I’d like to leave you with a binding tip.  I know that’s kind of a random topic after writing over a thousand words about the PNA survey, but this idea isn’t long enough for a blog, but it’s kind of a handy idea to tuck away if you ever deal with this situation.

I am in the middle of making my son and daughter-in-love a quilt as part of their Christmas.  The binding is white, and there is no right and wrong side to the fabric.  When I have fabric that has no right or wrong side, or the sides are so close in color it’s difficult to differentiate, it’s easy to sew the binding wrong.  You’ll think you’ve sewn it right sides together, only to find as you’re sewing on the binding, you didn’t.  This can lead to quality time with a seam ripper, as well as some colorful language.  To avoid this situation, this is what I do.

 After I cut my binding strips, I fold each strip wrong sides together and press it.

  •  Then I unfold it, so I can see the crease I just pressed into the fabric.  The side that has the crease is considered the right side of the binding strip.
  • Join the strips with the creases facing each other and sew as usual.
  • Fold in half again, wrong sides together, and re-press before sewing to the quilt.

This is a great system if there is no right or wrong side to the fabric (like my current situation), or the right and wrong sides are so close in color, they’re difficult to distinguish (like batiks).

Now for the very last word. For those of you who have prayed for my brother, Eric, I need to give you a very joyous update. On November 30, he underwent some follow up tests (including another bone biopsy) to see if the stem cell transplant worked effectively. We found out on December 2, the test results came back as “No Cancer Present.” The doctor told us he was in remission! Thank you so much for keeping Eric and the rest of my family in your thoughts and prayers. This will be a joyous holiday season, indeed!

Until next week, Quilt On!

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam


Hand Sewing Kits — What’s Needed and What Isn’t (and it totally depends on who owns it)

I almost decided not to make this topic into a blog.  All of this came about from one of my many online Sit and Sews when the topic of “What should go into a hand sewing kit” came up.  I was busy trying to determine why my Grandmother’s Flower Garden was giving me such grief (which I’m hand sewing – and I had used a full diamond joiner when I needed only a half-diamond) and was only just a tad tuned into the discussion at the time.  I was surprised to find out the opinions on this topic of hand sewing kits were varied – they went from the bare basics to “What are you sewing?  A wedding dress?” 

Instantly, I was intrigued.  So many opinions over a hand sewing kit? Who knew?

I’ve made at least three hand sewing kits in my life.  And let me add at this point, a hand sewing kit is different than a hand applique kit.  I have a hand sewing kit and at two different points in their “leaving home” years, I’ve made each of my kids one.  I think it goes without saying my children’s kits are different from mine:

I sew.

They mend.

I thought it might be helpful to go over the differences.  The following are the basics for any sewing kit.

  1.  Needles.  The sewing enthusiast needs more variety, but both kits need several different sizes.  And needles aren’t expensive.  Buy the good kind.
  2. Pin Cushion.  This doesn’t have to be fancy, but a place to park needles and pins is helpful.  If you’re making a sewing kit for a non-sewer, make sure it’s big enough they can see it and won’t lose it.
  3. Pins.  Some good straight pins are needed.  The enthusiast may want an assortment from applique pins to the flower head pins.  For everyone else, some nice silk pins or glass head pins are great.  Pins aren’t expensive.  Don’t get the super cheap ones which leave large holes behind or rust if they get damp.
  4. Scissors.  These should be small-ish.  Most quilters like nice scissors.  I keep a pair of Karen Kay Buckley’s in mine.  If the kit is for some else, get a decent pair of scissors and caution the person not to use them to cut paper.  And be sure to put their name on the handles.  Scissors have a way of walking off.
  5. Needle Threader.  Some folks’ eyes are still good enough they don’t need assistance pushing the thread through the eye of a needle, but if they’re in a hurry, a threader is one of the most helpful tools to have in your kit.  Threaders run the gamut.  They can be simple, like this:

Word of caution here…if this is the kind you go with, put two or three in the kit.  My experience with these is they break easily.

A little more complex:

The light is a nice thing to have.

Or this:

Which a lot of quilters tend of favor.

  •  Some kind of fabric marker.  It can be a Frixion, a blue water-soluble pen, or a number 2 pencil.  Non-sewing people will at least need to mark hems and where to place a button.  Quilters need fabric markers for all kinds of reasons.
  • Small Ruler.  This doesn’t have to extend the entire 12-inches or beyond, but something along the size of a sewing gauge is needed to measure hem length and draw straight lines.  Quilters may want something longer and wider, depending on the project currently under their needle.
  • Thread.  Remember a hand sewing kit is different than a hand applique kit, so you won’t need silk thread or a variety of colors.  Stick to the basics, especially for the non-quilter.  White, cream, black, gray, brown, and navy tend to work nicely for everyone.
  • Buttons and Fasteners.  This is definitely for the non-quilter.  I quilt.  Please don’t ask me to mend.  It’s a good idea to have a variety of buttons in different sizes and in some neutral colors.  A small card of hooks and eyes and one with snaps are also nice to have.

For me, these nine items are necessary in the basic sewing kit.  I know some of you are thinking, “Hey, I can find most of these items in those little sewing kits they sell at the dollar establishment.” 

Yes, you can.  I purchased one of these for my daughter before she left for college, and I think the scissors fell apart after one use and the thread was pretty bad quality.  Meg doesn’t sew, and even she knew the thread was awful.  Plus, it was so tiny it got lost.  By purchasing you own tools (for you or your kids…or whoever), you can control the quality and make sure the kit is big enough it doesn’t accidentally get tossed in the trash. 

These last items are for the hand sewing enthusiast – someone who’s will be spending serious time with needle, fabric, and thread.

  1.  Thread Conditioner or Beeswax.  Nothing is more aggravating than fighting knots in your thread.  Either one of these helps keep the knots at bay and makes your whole sewing experience much easier.
  2. Magnifier.  There will be times when you need to see your marked lines or stitches up close.  A magnifier or a pair of reading glasses are super handy.  And the reading glasses aren’t expensive.  I’ve found you can purchase a case of 12 pairs on Amazon which costs less per pair than those at the dollar stores or elsewhere.  And they come with cases.  You could feasibly have a pair in every sewing kit/project box in your studio.
  3. Basting Glue.  Sometimes you just need a dab or a dot.  A small bottle or a glue pen is a wonderful thing to have in your kit. An aside here…as far as I know basting glue wasn’t a “thing” when Meg trotted off to college.  I wish you could have seen her face when she saw me using some on vacation.  “My hems could have been fixed in two seconds,” she said, “instead of running you down to get you to hem my pants or spending my time doing it.”  Maybe it does belong in a “regular” sewing kit?
  4. A Thimble.  I know some of you would have put this little sewing tool with the first nine items.  However, I think the person who is only using a sewing kit for an occasional mend won’t go through the trouble of putting on a thimble – much less learn how to use it.  They want to mend whatever it is that needs mending as quickly as possible and move on with their day.  It will more than likely be the sewing enthusiast who spends hours hand sewing who will use the thimble. 
  5. Clips.  These little gadgets:

Are great to have in your kit.  You can keep block pieces or units together.  They can corral templates.  And you can get them in cute little containers like this:

Which will snuggle right in your sewing kit and keep the clips securely in one place.

  1.  Small Iron/Pressing Mat.  Even though you’re hand sewing, there will come a time when you need to press the units or the block.  If you’re away from home, having ready access to an iron and pressing mat is a great thing.  These may not need to stay in your kit all the time, but if you’re taking your hand sewing project on vacation or to a retreat, definitely make sure you’ve packed these in your kit.
  2. Small Rotary Cutter/Small Cutting Mat.  Like the small iron and pressing mat, these are tools you will want if you’re sewing away from home.  They’ll come in handy if you need to cut out additional pieces or true up a block. 

Sewing Kit Containers

This is kind of a personal decision.  If the sewing kit is for someone else, you may want to find a container which fits the person’s personality or likes.  The only cautionary statement I’d add is make sure the container is big enough it won’t get lost and make sure it fastens securely.  I’d also put their name on it – especially if the person is living in a group setting such as a dorm or shared apartment.  And I’d put their name on as many tools as I could. 

When I began hand sewing in earnest, I had dreams of finding the perfect container which could handle all my needs.  I had fond memories of my paternal grandmother’s kit, which was an old cigar box.  Grandma Moore hemmed and mended. She didn’t hand sew quilts, so the cigar box worked fine for her.  All she needed was a place for scissors, thread, needles, and a sewing gauge.  My hand sewing kit needed to be a little more extensive. I have several packets of different sized needles, scissors – all the tools listed above and probably a few more I didn’t think about to add to this blog.  I looked at bags and boxes on quilting websites.  I looked at containers at office supply places.  I finally found the perfect hand sewing kit here:

A small tackle box. 

It has moveable partitions and two “shelves”, plus a large bottom with enough height I can add an iron and mat with no problems.  Added bonus:  A tackle box was much less expensive than bags and boxes sold at quilt stores.  And if you think tackle boxes are all green and camouflage-y, think again.  Evidently there are as many women fishing as there are men. 

Christmas shopping season is upon us and if you have someone in your life heading off to college or living on their own, a sewing kit may be a welcome gift.  I can’t say any hand sewing skills taught will stick (I just finished sewing a button on my daughter’s shorts), but it’s certainly a great thing to have in a pinch.  I’ve gotten so I put mine in the car every time I head to a wedding or some such event.  And most of the time someone there is glad I did. 

Until Next Week, Quilt On!

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam