Going Around in Circles

I love old cars.  My preferred vintage automobile is a 1965 Mustang.  What do old cars and quilts have to do with each other?  Bear with me for a few paragraphs and I’ll explain.

I’m a retired high school educator.  If you took any of my classes, invariably at some point, you would write a research paper.  I was trying my best to get these kids ready for college.  I had a student who was as passionate about old Volkswagen Beetles as I was about old Mustangs. 

Her research paper covered the history of the VW Bug and for her senior project, she and her father rebuilt a Volkswagen from the frame up.  She drove it to school the day she presented her project.  Years later, I am still in awe of the paper and the project.  It was one of those rare occurrences when the teacher learned far more from the project than the student did. 

I learned the Volkswagen Beetle was designed by Ferdinand Porche (yes…that Porche…the same one who created the snazzy sports car).  He wanted the car to appeal to everyone, so he did a little covert research.  He would station himself outside at a café or park at a table.  On the table he would place shapes … squares, rectangles, circles, triangles, etc.  Then he would ask the folks passing by which shape they liked the most.  The majority of them liked the circular forms.

Thus, the rounded shape of the VW Bug was born.

The tie-in between old cars and quilts is this:  Circles.  Automakers like circles.  So do quilters.  Circles are attractive shapes no matter what you’re making (like cookies…most cookies are circles…so are pies and cakes).  Circles are everywhere – the bakery, in the middle of some flowers, the sky, the playground, cars, jewelry, architecture, etc.  Circles are the third most appearing shape in nature (the first is the hexagon). Half-circles appear as arches in architecture.  Chances are, no matter if you’re a piecer or an appliquer, you’ve made or seen quilts with circles.  Circles can seem challenging, no matter if you’re piecing them or appliqueing them.  However, don’t let the absence of corners or points intimidate you.  If you know how to handle the curves, circles are no harder to applique or piece than their square-ish counterparts.  This blog will deal with applique circles.  I’ll write one on pieced circles later.

We worked with raw-edge applique circles earlier this year (go here: ).  Generally, these circles are straight forward:  Draw the needed size circle on the fusible, cut it out, fuse to the wrong side of the fabric, cut the fabric circle out, fuse into place, then either zigzag or buttonhole stitch around the circle.  Larger circles with gentle curves are easier.  Small circles with tighter curves sometimes have to be sewn one stitch at a time. 

Finished-edge applique circles – no matter whether if they’re to be sewn down by hand or machine – seem to have nearly endless construction possibilities. 



In this blog, I will attempt to cover ten ways to make these circles, but keep in mind there’s probably more ways to construct circles than I have in this blog.  Every time I think I have learned all the methods available, I find out there’s more. 

Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circles

These circles come in two sizes – small-to-medium and large.  Karen also has Perfect Ovals, if you need a more elongated type of circle. 

These forms are made from heat-resistant plastic.  The original set of circles contains 15 different sizes (7/16-inch to 2-inches), with four plastic templates of each size. 

The larger circles are also made from heat-resistant plastic and range in size from 2 ¼ to 4 ½-inches.  Besides use in applique, these are great for constructing the Mariner’s Compass and as a template for Drunkard’s Path. 

Perfect Ovals (which are great for making flower petals), are made from heat-resistant plastic, and each pack contains 20 ovals in 10 sizes, two of each size. 

This system is the circle-making-method I was introduced to when I began applique. I take the plastic circle disk, and trace around it on the wrong side of the fabric. 

Then I cut the circle out.  Don’t cut directly on the drawn line but leave about a ¼-inch fabric margin around the line. 

Thread a needle (helpful hint:  hand quilting thread works GREAT here)  and hand sew a running stitch around the circle, between the outside edge and the drawn line. 

Insert the plastic disk in the center of the circle and pull thread up around it. 

On the wrong side of the fabric-covered disk, and using a small paintbrush, I dampen the edges with starch or a starch substitute, then press with a small iron. 

Once the fabric has cooled, I remove the plastic disk.  I may have to re-shape the circle a little, if removing the disk makes the circle a little wonky.  Between any needed reshaping and sewing then it down, the circle comes out about as perfect as possible.

Like everything, Perfect Circles/Ovals have their pros and cons. The pros are:

  • You can make more than one of the same sized circle at a time.
  • The heat-resistant plastic is sturdy and holds up to some serious abuse.
  • These can be found on Karen’s website, at your LQS, and on quilting websites.
  • They’re not terribly expensive.
  • Karen Kay Buckley’s products come from a woman-owned business.

The cons are:

  • You are limited to the sizes available in the packages.  If I can’t match the size Perfect Circle to what I need, I either go with the next size up or down.  However, in some quilts, this is not possible.  I’ve needed some fabric circles as tiny as 3/16-inch and the Perfect Circles are not this small.
  • You are limited in how many circles you can make.  The original Perfect Circles have four of each size and the larger Perfect Circles have two of each size.  If you’re constructing a quilt with lots of circles, it may take you a long time to make the number of circles you need.
  • Whether you’re making three circles or thirty circles, this process takes time.


These little circle-makers are the new kids on the block.  Applipops are a set of nesting metal washers.  They’re easy to use.  You find the washer which corresponds to the size circle needed, then find the washer one size up from this, so the two will nest snugly together. 

Cut a square of fabric larger than the washers and place it right side down in the larger washer.  Insert the smaller washer inside.

Trim away the excess fabric.

Then with a small paint brush and some starch or starch substitute, thoroughly wet the edges of the fabric.  Immediately press the fabric edges in, towards the center of the Applipop.

Once the metal washers have cooled (because they will be really hot), you can pop them apart and admire your circle.

The Applipop Pro Set (which is what I have) makes eight circle sizes – 3/8″, 1/2″, 3/4″, 1″, 1 1/4 “,1 1/2″, 1 3/4″,  and 2”. 

Here are what I consider the pros and cons of the Applipop Method.


  • Because the Applipops are constructed from metal, they conduct the heat from the iron really well.  This means your circle edges are sharp and don’t get out of shape easily. 
  • I find these easier to use than the Perfect Circles…and this is a difficult thing for me to admit, because I adore Karen Kay Buckley.
  • They come with a holder, so it’s simple to keep them organized and all together.
  • This method is pretty fast so you can make your circles quickly and easily.
  • If you have lots of scraps, this method works well to turn those scraps into super-nice circles.
  • Applipops is a woman-owned business.


  • You can only make one size circle at a time unless you have the Applipop Pro Set or two sets of the regular Applipops. 
  • While the metal conducts heat well, it also retains heat—which means you need to let everything cool completely before removing the Applipop.
  • They are pricey, the costs running anywhere from $35.00 to nearly $60.00 depending on what kind of set you purchase and where you buy it from.  However, unlike heat resistant plastic which may warp over time and use, the metal lasts forever. 
  • You are limited to the sizes available.  Unlike Perfect Circles, the Applipops have bigger “jumps” between sizes.   To get the needed size, it may not be possible to use the next size up or down – there may be too much of a difference.
  • It’s easy to get pleats on the front of your circle if you’re not careful.

English Paper Piecing

This method is definitely “old school.”  You’ll need some card stock, a pencil, a pair of paper scissors, a hole punch (optional), needle, thread, starch or a starch substitute, a small paint brush, small iron, and something to make your circles – a compass, a circle template, drinking glass, coffee cup – any circular shape which is the same size as the needed circle. 

On the card stock, draw a circle the same size you need for your project.  I use a hole punch to make a hole in the template.  The hole makes it easier to remove the template from the circle after it’s made. 

Place the template on the wrong side of your fabric and trace around it.  A small piece of double-sided tape may come in handy here to keep the cardboard template in place.

Cut out the fabric circle about ¼-inch away from the drawn line.  With a hand sewing needle and thread, sew a running stitch between the fabric edge and the drawn line.  Insert the cardboard template in the fabric circle and gently pull up the thread so it gathers around the cardboard and tie off the thread to hold the shape.  With the paintbrush, apply starch around the edges of the fabric.  Using a hot iron, press the edges until dry to help the circle hold its shape.  Allow to cool.  At this point, personal choice can be used.  If you want to make enough cardboard templates for every circle, you can leave the templates in until you’re ready to applique the circle down.  If not, you simply pop the cardboard circle out.  Here’s where the hole in the middle comes in handy – you simply insert a seam ripper, a stiletto, or my personal favorite – The Purple Thang – and remove it without a lot of fuss or the fabric circle losing its shape.

For reference, this is a Purple Thang. It’s truly a great all-around sewing tool and they aren’t expensive.

There are a couple of ideas to be aware of with this method.  First, if you have any kind of scan and cutter, such as Brother Scan and Cut or Cricut, many times these can be programed to cut the size circle needed.  You can make an entire 8 ½ x 11-inch sheet of circles with a touch of the button and repeat the process until you have all you need.  If you have an Accuquilt cutter, there are circular dies, but the sizes are limited. Still, it’s faster than cutting everything out by hand.  Second, it’s awfully tempting to use left-over lined index cards or those cardboard inserts that come in magazines or clog your mailbox. 

Please don’t.

The ink from the ruled lines or the advertising inserts may transfer itself to the fabric when you wet the edges with starch.  And that makes a mess ask me how I know.

Here are what I consider the pros and cons of the English Paper Piecing Method.


  • You get the exact size circle needed.
  • You can produce as many as you need in an assembly-line fashion.
  • If you have some type of electric scanner and cutter, you can produce as many templates as you need with a touch of the button.  Easy and accurate. 


  • Most of the card stock templates will only hold up to a few uses, so you must plan on making lots of templates.
  • This method is probably takes the longest because there are so many steps you must undertake by hand.  Even if you have a scanner and cutter, this type of circle-making takes time.
  • I don’t think you get the crisp edges with this method that you do if you use Applipops or Perfect Circles.

Apliquick/Glue and Orange Stick Method

If I have to make a lot of circles, this is my preferred method.  I find it both quick and accurate.  I will add a caveat to this:  I’ve used this the Apliquick technique for a long time.  If you’re new to this method, you may find it takes a little while to get used to it.  For this method, you’ll need some fusible interfacing or stabilizer, the Apliquick tools or two orange sticks, a circle template in the size needed, pencil, scissors, iron, fine grit sandpaper or a sandpaper board, and a glue pen such as Sew Line.

On the non-fusible side of the interfacing or stabilizer, draw the number and sizes of circles needed.  Cut out on the line.

Fuse the circles to the wrong side of the fabric, leaving about ½-inch between circles and let cool.  Cut the circles out, allowing for about ¼-inch fabric margin around the circle. 

Place the circles on the sandpaper (this helps keep them in one place while you’re turning the edges) and using the glue pen, add a line of glue to the stabilizer.  Hold the circle in place with the Apliquick tool that looks like a fondue fork or one of the orange sticks.  Use the other Apliquick tool or second orange stick to turn the edges over and press so the fabric sticks to the glue. 

It works better to do a small section at a time and it’s okay if the fabric on the wrong side of the circle has some pleats – these won’t show on the right side.  You may need to smooth the edges just a bit with a fingernail.


  • You get the exact size circle needed.
  • This method lends itself to assembly line production
  • It is scrap-friendly
  • It’s fast


  • If you don’t have a few of these notions already in your applique toolbox, this method can be a bit pricey.  I don’t recommend purchasing the Apliquick tools until you know you really like this method and will use it.
  • This method takes a while to get comfortable with.  If you need lots of circles quickly, you may want to use a technique you’re familiar with until you’ve practiced a bit.

Needle Turn

Tale as old as time … that’s what needle turn is to applique.  This is probably one of the oldest, if not the oldest hand applique method out there.  You will need a circle template in the size needed, a fabric pen or pencil, applique thread to match the fabric, and applique pins. The method is simple.  Draw a circle the size needed on the right side  of the fabric.  Cut it out, with about ¼-inch margin of fabric around it. 

I also draw the circle on the background fabric as a reference. It’s helpful.

Pin or baste in place.  Then using the needle turn method, applique into place, making sure to follow the drawn line.

That’s it.  Easy-peasy.


  • This probably the easiest method of circle production
  • It requires no fancy-smancy tools
  • It’s a fairly quick method of circle-making.


  • If you don’t constantly follow the drawn line, the circle will come out wonky.  Most of the time if I use this method, I will also draw the circles on my background fabric.  This way I have both the line drawn in the circle fabric and the one drawn on the background fabric to go by.
  • The edges of these circles are not as crisp as the ones made by the other methods.
  • I find making small circles via needle turn difficult and no matter what, they don’t come out smooth.

Freezer Paper

Most of us appliquers are familiar with the freezer paper technique.  Either we’ve used it ourselves, or we’ve heard enough about it to be familiar with it.  That said, I’ve never been particularly successful using freezer paper in the circles.  I always use it on top of the right side of the fabric.  For this method, you’ll need freezer paper, pencil, paper scissors, a circle template in the size needed, and an iron. 

Using the circle template, draw the size circle needed on the non-waxy side of the freezer paper.  Cut out and press to the right side of your fabric.  Now cut out the fabric circle out, leaving about ¼-inch of margin. 

Pin into place on the background fabric.  Using the freezer paper template as a guide, turn under the fabric and applique down (the same way you would for needle turn). 


  • Most of what you need should already be in your applique toolbox
  • Most freezer paper circles can be reused several times before the waxy underside loses its “stickiness.” 
  • You can “assembly line” several circles at a time
  • This method makes any size circle possible


  • Like needle turn, smaller circles are more difficult to make smoothly
  • You must follow the form of the freezer paper circle closely or your circle will turn out wonky.  Like with needle turn, if I use this method, I also draw the circle on the background fabric as an additional guide.
  • The edges are not as crisp as with other methods

Lined Circles

I use this method the least, because I find it only works best with large-ish circles.  Lined circles use a piece of sew-in interfacing and a sewing machine.  For this method, you’ll need a circle template the size of the needed circle, medium weight sew-in interfacing (you can use fusible interfacing if careful), a fabric marker, your sewing machine, and hand sewing supplies.

Using the template, draw the size circle needed on the wrong wide of the fabric and cut it out, with ¼-inch fabric margin.  Then with the same template, draw a circle on the interfacing and cut it out, again leaving a ¼-inch margin. 

Place the fabric circle and the interfacing circle right sides together.  Using a small machine stitch, sew around the drawn circle. 

To turn the circle inside out, cut a small slit in the interfacing and use that to turn the circle. 

Once the circle is turned right-side out, press it.


  • You can make a lot of circles fairly quickly
  • Most the supplies are probably already in your quilt studio.  Those which may be needed are inexpensive.
  • You may find sewing the circle on top of a piece of stabilizer will result in a smoother edge.


  • I have only had success with this method on large-ish circles.  Smaller ones tend to get eaten by the feed dogs or are too fiddly to sew well.
  • Sew-in interfacing works best.  Fusible can be used if you press carefully and make sure the fusible side is next to the wrong side of the fabric.  Otherwise you’ll fuse the circle to your ironing surface.  And it’s easy to get wrinkles you can unfuse with fusible interfacing.

There are a few “non-traditional” methods to make circles.  I’ve always said outside of the LQS, a quilter’s best shopping spots to find things to use are office supply places and hardware stores.  For circles, you may want to plan a visit to your local hardware.

Metal Washers

These are the types of metal washers I mean:

If you like the Applipop method, but find they don’t come in the sizes you need, a stroll down the nuts, bolts, and washer area in your local hardware may produce some substitutes.  These can be used in the same way Applipops are, however, there are a couple of factors about regular washers to keep in mind if you chose to use them.  If push comes to shove and you can’t make them work with the Applipop method, you can still use the metal washers, just treat them the same way you would Perfect Circles.

  • Make sure the washers are made from stainless steel.  The washers will get wet from the starch used and regular washers will rust.  Stainless steel ones won’t.
  • These washers may be thicker than the Applipops.
  • The inner circles on these washers are smaller than Applipops and the outer rim is fatter.  Make sure they’ll nest properly.


  • You can make lots of circles in all different sizes
  • This is a fairly inexpensive method, and the washers can be reused


  • You may have difficulties finding stainless steel washers which will nest
  • The thicker washers may not give the desired look.

Mylar Washers

Mylar washers look like this:

And some of them are heat-proof – which is not the same as heat resistant.  Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circles are heat resistant – meaning you can use an iron on them, and they won’t melt or warp (at least not for a long time or unless they’re in continual use).  Heat-proof mylar washers may melt or warp from the direct heat of an iron.  So how do we use them to make circles if we can’t use an iron?    Use the same method as Perfect Circles, but instead of pressing the edges with an iron, saturate them with starch or a starch substitute and let dry overnight.  If I use this method and need my circles in a hurry, I have employed the aid of my blow dryer.


  • This is a relatively inexpensive way to make lots of circles in all sizes
  • These are easily assembly-lined
  • Mindless prep – plan to binge watch something while constructing them
  • Mylar washers can be reused


  • May not produce as crisp of an edge as desired
  • Circles may need re-shaping after the washers are removed
  • Must be completely dry before removing the mylar washers


I’ve used this method before I discovered how to use Apliquick to make small circles.  This is a great way to make lots of tiny circles.  As with the metal washers, be sure to use a nail which won’t rust – such as aluminum or stainless-steel nails. 

Aluminum Nails

For this method, you’ll need nails which have the same size head as the circle you need, aluminum foil, starch or starch substitute, and nails.

Cut the circle the size of the nail head, plus ¼-inch.  Completely saturate the circle with starch or starch substitute. 

Cut a square piece of aluminum foil large enough for the circle to rest on, plus about ½-inch margin.  Lay the fabric circle on the foil.

Place the nail head on the circle.

Then crimp the aluminum foil around the nail shank and let dry overnight. 


  • You can make lots of circles at the same time
  • This method lends itself to assembly line prep
  • This is a good way to make lots of small circles
  • The nails can be reused
  • Again…plan on something to binge-watch


  • Watch out for the nail points…
  • The circles may need reshaping a little after the nail is removed
  • The fabric should be completely dry before removing the circle from the nail

With both the mylar washer method and the nail method, I plan to let my starch-saturated fabric at least dry overnight.  This means a little more advanced planning if you use either of these methods. 

From left to right: Perfect Circle Circle, English Paper Piecing Circle, Applipop Circle, and Apliquick Circle
From left to right: Freezer paper circle, lined circle, and needle turn circle

Just like with the VW Beetle, circles are great shapes to use in a quilt.  They are used in so many applique quilts.  You see them in flower centers, grapes, oranges, and berries.  They appear as bubbles and balls and balloons – and the list goes on.  If you applique at all, chances are, you’ll have to make some circles at some point.  With so many different methods available, I encourage you to find the method which works best for you and perfect it as much as you can.  However, I think it’s also important to have several methods in your applique toolbox.  I use different methods depending on the size circle I need to make. 

Just remember, if circles could make a car famous…imagine what they can do for your quilt.

Until next week, Make Your Quilt Yours!

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam


Stuck on Glue

Today’s blog topic is glue – more specifically, fabric and sort-of-fabric glue (I’ll get to the “sort of” later).  I know this sounds like one of the most boring topics I could possibly write about concerning quilting, but hang with me because there’s a lot more to glue than just stick-to-it-ness.  And if you’re strictly a piecer and don’t think you’ll ever use glue because you think glue is only for applique, you may be wrong about that.  There are a few great ways to use glue when you’re piecing. 

First, let’s talk about what glue is. According to Simple English Wikipedia, glue is a sticky material (usually a liquid) which can stick two or more things together. Glue can be made from plant or animal parts, or it can be made from oil-based chemicals.Throughout our lives, we come in contact with all types of glue, from the basic Elmer’s School Glue which saw many of us through our elementary school crafting projects, to a type of adhesive called mastic which may hold our flooring securely in place.  As people who work primarily with fabric – most specifically cotton fabric – our glue world is filled with all types of glues, some which work great and others that are not-so-great.

The first time I heard the term fabric glue was in a beginner’s quilting class around 2000. Before I made only garments – most specifically, heirloom French garments or smocked clothing for children.  Glue was not used, mentioned, or suggested for either of these.  When the quilting teacher threw out fabric glue as one of our optional notions, I was just a tad skeptical.  I was a purist.  Sewing involved pins, needles, fabric, and thread.

Not glue.

However, as I learned to love applique, I also discovered fabric glue could be a great, little tool to have tucked away in my sewing kit.  It worked a lot better than pins – even the applique ones.  If an applique piece was glued down, I didn’t have to wrestle with my thread getting tangled up around the pin heads and points.  I could adhere all my pieces at once and then spend lovely hours hand sewing them into place.  Short of needle turn or back basting appliques, glue worked with everything else from machine to hand stitching.  In less than a year I went from turning my purist nose up at fabric glue to embracing this notion with a religious fervor. 


The chemistry teacher and the heirloom sewing instructor in me continued to have a tickling worry in the back of my mind.  Could glue damage my fabric?   Not immediately, of course, but in the years ahead, could it in some way harm my quilts?  In my quilting world I have two types of quilts – the type which is “used up,” and the type I want to last forever (or at least as close as it can get).  The kind of quilt I want to get “used up” are those made as play quilts, snugglers, lap quilts, and some bed quilts.  Even a few wall hangings.  Quilts which are reduced to a pile of loose fabric and stitches have obviously been appreciated, loved, and used almost every day.  The wall hangings which become hopelessly faded means the person adored having them on a wall in their home. `

Yet there are a few quilts – quilts which I’ve put a lot of time and effort in or made specifically for a really special occasion – I want to have as long a shelf life as possible.  These are the quilts I’ve made for births and weddings or as memory quilts for grieving loved ones.  Some of these quilts have been entered in shows and took home ribbons.  I’ve dubbed these quilts my “heirloom collection” and I hope they’ll be around (intact) for many years to come.  Needless to say, I don’t want anything – from fabric markers to glue – to come back and leave holes or spots.  And while much has been written about the pros and cons of fabric pens and pencils, not a great deal has been recorded concerning the long-term ramifications of fabric glue on quilts.

And to be honest, in my research, I found literally nothing about any long-term ramifications of fabric glue on quilts.  What I have done in this blog is pull together what I know about heirloom garment preservation and what I know about pH balance.  I’ve combined that with the most popular fabric glue brands and have hypothesized about the glue and fabric future. 

One of the issues I covered as chemistry teacher was pH.  This two-letter term is thrown out on everything from shampoo to cosmetics to feminine hygiene products.  We tend to think of the term “pH balance” as something which only pertains to the human body.  To a large point, this is correct, but lots of man-made substances also have a pH.  This term stands for the potential of Hydrogen, or the concentration of the hydrogen atoms in a substance.  Scientists have a pH scale which runs from 0 to 14.  Any material from 0 to 6 is considered acidic, and the closer the pH is to 0, the more acidic it is.  The number 7 is neutral – neither acidic nor alkaline.  Anything from 8 to 14 is alkaline, and the closer the number moves to 14, the more alkaline (or base) it is.  Just the term “acidic” lets you know any substance with a pH from 0 to 6 would probably be bad to have near your quilt.  And this is correct.  It would seem you would want to run as far away from the acidic scale as possible with any fabric – to the point anything with a 14 pH would be great for your fabric. 

This is also incorrect.  Strong alkaline or base substances are just as bad as strong acidic ones.  Quilters need products with a 7.0 to a 7.45 pH balance to protect their quilts against any harm.  Lucky for us, cotton fabrics, thread, and batting are largely neutral.  Even if you’re a pre-washer, by the time the detergent is rinsed from the fabric, it’s back to a 7.0-ish pH.  Battings can be a bit iffy, because the pH balance may be directly affected by how the batt was finished. 

The heirloom French sewing instructor in me is constantly referring back to one of the reasons we spend so much time and effort in making something:  we want it to last and be handed down for generations.  A good chunk of my sewing instructions dealt with the preservation of the garment, how to care for it, and the correct way to store it.  These topics dealt with pH balanced soap, padded hangers, folding the garment in acid-free tissue paper, and storing in acid-free boxes.  While quilts are vastly different from kids’ heirloom clothing, the principles remain the same:  the less the quilt comes in contact with anything acidic, the longer your quilt will survive and be passed down for generations to come. 

Which brings us back around to our topic of glue.  Generally, it’s the applique quilter who uses glue more than any other type of quilter.  We use it to hold patches in place and to secure turned under edges for finish edge applique.  It’s used in some freezer paper processes and definitely in Apliquick-type techniques.  The one characteristic of all of the fabric glues used in quilting is this:  It’s meant to be a temporary bond.  So none of the glues we will look at are permanent fabric glues.  They all should wash out with water.  However, even if they are water-soluble, it’s important to know if they leave any residue, and if so, what could this do to your quilt.

Aleen’s Tack It Over and Over

This glue can be used for a myriad of crafts, not just quilting.  You coat the back of whatever it is you need to adhere to fabric, and set it in place.  Even after the glue dries, you can reposition the applique patch if needed.  I have used this glue and it is thick.  I usually dilute with a little water (about a 1:1 ratio).  It is acid-free and will wash out.  It’s also non-toxic.

Let me be frank at this point.  I use Aleen’s glues for lots of craft projects.  Quilting generally is not one of them. If I need to move an applique piece I’ve glued down, I have found the Tack It Over and Over does leave a residue, even if I’ve diluted it.  And the residue can be difficult just about darned near impossible to remove completely. 


Let me also be honest here:  I love this glue.  It comes in almost any type of application possible.  Roxanne’s has glue in bottles with little spouts, glue in bottles with a needle-tip, glue in tubes with a sponge-tipped dabber, and (my very favorite) in glue stick form.  It is pH balanced (as are Roxanne’s fabric pencils) and dissolves completely in water – your quilt doesn’t feel stiff after washing.  I like it because it holds your applique piece in place pretty firmly – including the glue stick.  I have found it can be difficult to move a patch if you’ve used any of the liquid glue forms.  However, if the glue stick is used, the applique can be repositioned easily.  It contains no chemicals, dyes, or waxes and dries quickly.  Roxanne’s Glue Baste-It is a popular quilting notion and most quilt shops (and even some big box stores) keep it in stock.


Sewline is technically not a glue stick – it’s a glue pen which you can easily refill.  It is water-soluble, and while the glue is blue, it does dry clear.  The pen form can be easier to control than a glue stick.  Sewline is advertised for use with English Paper Piecing, but this is my go-to glue for the Apliquick applique method.  It doesn’t gum up your needle.  It will hold applique pieces in place, but I’ve found it doesn’t have as strong of a bond as Roxanne’s. Sewline is archival quality and pH balanced – meaning if you use this glue in your quilt, you don’t have to worry about it harming the fabric short or long-term.  It contains no chemicals, dyes, or waxes.  The pen is easily refilled, and the leftover glue tubes are great storage places for needles.  Sewline is very affordable and found in a lot of quilt shops and on Amazon.

Quilter’s Select

This is also a glue pen, which means you can refill it.  This glue is colored yellow, but it does dry clear.  It is completely water-soluble, but I have no idea if it’s pH balanced or not – my research never distinctly said one way or another.  This is my second  choice for Apliquick.  I have found this glue a bit more “gummy” than Sewline, but the bond is stronger and seems to hold the applique pieces down better.  It is advertised for both English Paper Piecing and applique.  I’ve only found this glue in quilt shops or quilting websites.  It is not on Amazon. 

Bohin Glue Pen

This glue pen is pink, but dries clear.  Those of you who have worked with Apliquick may recognize it as one of the technique’s glue of choice.  This glue pen is refillable, and the glue is completely water-soluble.  It is pH balanced and contains no chemicals, fillers, or waxes.  I think it glides on easier than the Sewline or Quilter’s Select, and the bond will hold applique pieces firmly in place, but you can still reposition them without too much trouble.  It’s comparable in price with the other two glue pens

Apliquick Glue

Apliquick has used two different types of glue under their name brand.  Until 2017, they used a yellow, refillable glue pen much like Quilter’s Select.  Now they have a wider, non-refillable glue stick (not pen).  This glue stick is about 3-inches long and 5/8-inch wide and is transparent.  This is a pretty soft glue stick, and it takes anywhere from five to eight minutes to dry.  It doesn’t leave your fabric stiff and it’s easy to push a needle through.  However…if you’re used to a glue-pen or longer glue stick, you may find this glue uncomfortable to hold as it is really short.  It costs around $20 for two tubes, so it does hit the pricey range for glues. Many Apliquick aficionados have told me the glue stick doesn’t last as long as the pen – since the tip is wider, you use more glue.  However, it’s pH balanced and is easily removed with water.

Fons and Porter Glue

This type of glue is available in pen form and can be refilled.  It glides on as blue, but dries clear.  It’s water soluble and costs about the same as the Sewline, Bohin, or Quilter’s Select.  I could not find out if this glue is pH balanced or of archival quality.

Sew Daley Glue

Sue Daley Glue comes in two forms.  The first is a glue pen.  This one goes on pink, but dries clear.  Amazon buyers gave this glue 4.6 stars out of 5 and touted that it was great for working with English Paper Piecing.  The second type is in a squeeze bottle with a tip, making it easy to use for finished edge applique or needle turn. 

I could not find out if this glue is pH balanced, but it is water-soluble.  And for you Lori Holt fans, this is her preferred glue.

Jillily Glue

This glue is acid-free, pH neutral, and water soluble – so it checks all the boxes quilters need to feel good about using it.  It has a tapered top, which allows you to put the smallest drop possible on your prepared edge applique.  The tip is made of nylon, so it won’t rust, and it can twist off if you need to clean it.

I had never heard of this glue before researching this blog, so I have never used this glue in my studio.  A Google search on this product returned no reviews (not even on Amazon).  It appears to be a wonderful product and definitely has no longevity issues.  It was developed by Jill Finley, who is a Master Designer for Aurifil Thread and a Bernina Ambassador, as well as a fabric designer for Riley Blake. 

Quilter’s Choice

This is a clear, odorless liquid glue which comes in a squeeze bottle.  It is water soluble, nontoxic, and comes with a precision spout.  Two ounces cost around $10, which makes it a little pricier than the glue pens, and throws it in the same price-point range as Roxanne’s glues.  I could not find out if it was pH balanced or not, and this is the preferred glue of Kim Diehl.  Keep in mind that since Quilter’s Choice is a liquid glue, you must allow time to let it dry before stitching, unlike stick glue or glue pens which require little to no drying time.

I’ve used this glue.

I was not impressed.

The bottle is hard to squeeze and for those of us older quilters who have some arthritis in our fingers and hands, this can be a deal breaker.  I found it dried somewhat stiff and it was difficult to push a hand sewing needle through.  My sewing machine didn’t like it much, either.  My advice, if you have a bottle stuck back somewhere and you want to use it for applique – use the smallest dab possible to adhere your applique pieces.  Like other basting glues, Quilter’s Choice states it doesn’t permanently bond fabric.  However, I did find it was not as water soluble as other basting glues and even after washing, my applique was stiff. 

Nevertheless, this glue does hold one special place in my life – emergency hem repairs.  This glue will hold up to some serious abuse.  When I travel, I always keep a bottle of Quilter’s Choice with me in case I need to fix a hem on the fly.  At home, I’ve grabbed it and did the same thing.  The hem will stay in place for days. 

Elmer’s School Glue

This is the sort-of-fabric glue and before any glue-basting purists turn their nose up at this one, hear me out.  This glue meets every one of the characteristics of a great basting glue.  It’s water soluble and it’s pH balanced.  It will hold an applique patch in place and (unless you’ve applied the glue super-thick), it will also allow you to reposition it if you need to.  The one caveat you must be careful about is it must be the school glue.  Elmer’s has a myriad of types of glue, but the school glue is the one which may find its place in your applique toolbox because it’s water soluble.  Not all of the other Elmer’s are.

Elmer’s School Glue comes in both stick and liquid form.  Personally, I like the purple glue stick best because I can see where I’ve applied the glue.  The white glue sticks go on transparent.  The liquid glue may need a little special handling.  The tip of the glue bottle isn’t exactly conducive to the accurate glue placement needed for small pieces or tight places.  A quilt teacher (who uses Elmer’s religiously) recommended getting these:

Which are available for a few bucks on Amazon.  Fill the small bottle with Elmer’s and the tapered nozzle will allow you to place a drop of glue exactly where needed. 

By far, this is the most economical “basting” glue available, and you can pick this up almost anywhere – from a convenience store to the grocery to the drug store to the office supply place.  You can even purchase it by the gallon.

At this point, I’ve written nearly 3,000 words about glue.  And most of them apply to those quilters who enjoy applique.  However, I did promise to talk about how glue can be used for those who strictly piece.

 It can help you match or make perfect points. 

We’ve all had that one quilt in our lives with lots of points or triangles.  Either the points need to meet perfectly, or the tips of the triangles need to remain intact and not chopped off.  In either situation, most of us pin our fabric in place, slow down our stitching speed and hope for the best.  However, pins can slip out of place.  But I’ve found if you put a dab of glue where the points should match or where the triangle point should be and then heat set the glue with an iron, nothing shifts.  Points come out perfectly and the tips of triangles remain intact.

It can hold the binding in place, so you don’t have to use pins or clips.

Once you’ve sewn the binding to the front of the quilt and folded it over to the back, use a series of glue dabs to keep the binding in place.  I’ve tried this and it works great – there are no clips or pins to tangle your thread around.  For me, a liquid glue worked best. The bond is a bit stronger than a glue pen.  And Elmer’s is my go-to for this technique.

It can hold matched-up paper piecing seams in place.  This works in a similar way as matching points.  With paper piecing, the sections need to line up as accurately as possible.  Use a dab of glue to at the matched seams and heat set it.  Between the glue and a walking foot, your paper piecing should look perfect. 

It makes sewing curves super-easy. 

If you’ve made blocks with curves (like the Drunkard’s Path) you know how tricky it can be to get the curves sewed down smoothly.  It requires a lot of patience and the judicious use of pins.  You need to sew slowly and remove the pins before sewing over them.  I found glue basting the curves instead of pinning them makes life much easier.  The glue will hold the fabric patches in place and there’s no need for stop-and-go sewing to remove pins.

It tames the flannels.  Quilters are used to cotton fabric, which is generally not “slicky.”  Even the high thread counts cottons generally stay in place pretty well.  Quilting flannels are an entirely different animal.  They are not 100% cotton, but have some spandex and rayon incorporated in the flannel.  As a result, flannels are soft, stretchy, and sometimes difficult to hold in place.  I’ve found a glue stick comes in handy with them.  Instead of pinning the pieces together, I glue baste them in place.  This actually works better than pinning.  Often flannel and similar fabrics will “creep” out of place, even if pinned.  Glue basting takes out the “creep” factor.

If you are an appliquer, you probably already have some type of fabric glue in your sewing room.  For you, I hope this blog gave you some useful information about what to look for in a glue and what type of glue – either pen, stick, or liquid –will work best for you.  If you’re strictly a piecer, I hope this blog showed you how basting glue is a good tool to have in your quilt studio, too.  No matter if you’re a piecer, appliquer, or both, just remember it’s important any glue which touches your fabric be pH balanced and water soluble.

Until next week, Make Your Quilt Yours!

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam


A Moment of Brutal Honesty

Okay…let’s have a moment of complete honesty here….

How many of you purchased fabric during the Covid lockdowns?  Can I see a show of hands?

How many of us have sewn all that fabric up?  Again, a show of hands, please.

How many of us have more fabric than we probably won’t sew up in the remainder of our lifetimes? 

I’ll be the very first to admit, I bought quite bit of fabric during 2020.  And in the spirit of complete honesty, I didn’t need any of it.  I purchased it because I wanted to do something to help keep quilt shops up and running during lockdowns.  The quilting arena had already lost far too many brick-and-mortar shops before Covid, and I didn’t want to see any more of those, or the web-based shops, close.  I did what I could to hopefully keep their bottom line in the black.

I sewed a lot during Covid.  I made hundreds of masks and eight quilts (completed – down to the last stitch in the labels).  But did I make a dent in my Mount Stashmore?

The answer to that is a hard no.  No, nope, not a chance, didn’t happen.  So, I thought for this blog, we’ll take another look at our stash – what it is, how valuable is it, how to manage it, and what does it need to look like.  I know I’ve touched on this topic before, but that blog was written several years ago, and truthfully the subject needs to be discussed again. 

In general, “stash” means a back-log supply of something – money, clothing, craft supplies.  It’s an inventory of items you may need for future use.  Quilters often refer to their “fabric stash” (or just “stash”).  This is the extra fabric we have left over from projects or fabric we’ve purchased because we liked it, or it fulfilled one of the “basic” needs for quilting.  The guidelines for procuring a fabric stash vary, but one very important idea to keep in mind is your stash should be compatible with your fabric storage space.  In other words, your house shouldn’t look like an episode of Hoarders with fabric filling every room in the house.  I know some quilters whose stash is limited to a couple of dresser drawers and other quilters who have floor-to-ceiling-come-to-Jesus stashes.  The amount of stash you have may also depend on what generation you fall in.  Boomers tend to have more stash than Millennials. I’m Generation Jones.  Besides being tech-savvy, adaptable, and more ignored than Generation X, our stash seems to fall somewhere in the middle.  And despite the fact most quilters made or started numerous quilts during lockdown, it seems our quilt output did not keep up with our stash input. 

In other words, most of our stashes are fairly large.  And this begs the question, just how much is all this fabric worth?  In 2014, the National Quilting Association surveyed hundreds of quilters about this very question – how much fabric did they have on hand and on average how much did they spend a month on material?  After crunching the numbers, the NQA stated the average quilter’s stash was valued at $6,000 in 2014.  Allowing for today’s inflation, the average 2022 fabric mini-hoard is worth $6,472.26. 

That’s a nice chunk of change.  While you may think nothing about adding a yard (or two) of fabric here and there, it’s important to keep in mind your stash’s overall worth and how to make it work for you.  Here’s where it’s very important to understand what kind of quilter you are because this will not only affect what kind of fabric you will add to your stash, but also affect how much.

The first question to ask yourself is, “Are you primarily a piecer or an appliquer?”  I realize many quilters (including myself) are quite comfortable working in both categories.  It may be difficult to decide what kind of quilter you are because you like making both kinds of quilts.  The easiest way to discover which quilting camp you fall into is: 1). Look at the quilts you’ve made and those under construction.  Are they primarily pieced or appliqued?  And 2).  Look at your quilt patterns and books.  Are they primarily for pieced quilts or appliqued ones?  Whichever technique has the most patterns, books, and quilts – that’s the kind of quilter you are.  For me, it’s applique.  And how I keep, purchase, and manage my stash will be diametrically different than that of a piecer.

Piecers tend to need and purchase larger pieces of fabric.  It takes yardage to produce pieced bed and wall quilts.  Between the borders, neutrals, focus fabrics, and additional lights, mediums, and darks, several yards of fabric are actively involved in a pieced quilt.  Piecers can use a variety of different fabric forms for the yardage.  Jelly rolls, layer cakes, and fat quarters may be part of a piecer’s stash, as well as traditional yard cuts.  Inevitably, once the quilt is cut out, there are leftover scraps.  How the piecer handles his or her scraps depends on if this quilter also likes to applique.  If they enjoy either machine or hand applique, they may want to keep their scraps.  If not, they may be left with large-ish chucks of fabric they’re not sure what to do with.  I encourage piecers to ask themselves the following questions:

  1.  Is there enough leftover fabric to make a smaller version of the quilt – a wall hanging, cuddle quilt, or miniature – and would they actually do this?
  2. Would they make an “after quilt?” An after quilt is a quilt made from the scraps.  This quilt may not look anything like the original quilt, but it uses up the leftover material.  These make great charity quilts or gifts.  The trick with after quilts is to make them immediately after the primary quilt is completed – otherwise the leftover fabric may languish in their Mount Stashmore for months.
  3. Can you use it to sew a quilt back?  The back of a quilt can be just as creative as the front.  It can incorporate leftover blocks as well as leftover fabric.  It just needs to be four to six inches larger than the front of the quilt.
  4. Do you have an active scrap sorting system?  By this I mean, do you take the leftover fabric and sub-cut it into blocks, rectangles, or strips?  The most common sizes are 5 ½-inch squares, 6 ½ -inch squares, 4-inch squares, 3 ½-inch squares, 2 ½-inch squares, and 2 ½-inch strips.  These are the sizes used in most quilt patterns.  You can use these to make four-patch units or half-square triangles or quarter-square triangles.  When you have enough of these, you can make a scrap quilt…which brings us to this question…
  5. Is there a scrap quilt in your future?  If there is, save those scraps and plan to purchase some white quilt fabric in the future when you can find it on sale.  In my opinion, white fabric makes all the different colored scraps play nicely with each other.

If the answer to these questions is “No,” and you’re not into appliqué at all, honestly you may need to periodically clean out your stash and give some of it away.  This can be difficult.  It’s hard to give away fabric you’ve spent your hard-earned cash on.  On a small scale, there are quilt guilds.  If you are a member of a guild, there’s a good chance there may be a “Freebie” table at guild meeting.  You can leave your fabric there with the peace of mind knowing it will find a good home where it will be loved and used.  If you don’t belong to a guild, try Googling sewing and quilting groups where you live.  If the group has an active charity program, they may eagerly take the left-over stash off your hands.  If neither one of these options appeal to you, there’s always Facebook Marketplace and Craig’s List, which may allow you to recoup at least some of your money.

Applique quilters are different.  While, yes, they do need yardage – there’s always background fabrics and borders to deal with – smaller amounts of material are needed for the applique pieces.  Like piecers, applique quilters can (and often do) work with pre-cuts.  The difference between the two quilters starkly shows in the yardages purchased.  Most applique quilters have yards of background fabric in their stash.  For some appliquers, this means creams, ecrus, grays and blacks – the true backbones of the neutral category.  However, we know the definition of “neutral” has changed completely in the last 10 years or so.  This means there may yards of other fabrics (solids, tone-on-tones, and low-volume prints) which can be used as backgrounds.  But by far, the majority of the stash consists of  fabrics for the applique process.  This means an applique quilter’s stash will have every color of the rainbow and then some.  And speaking from personal experience, I can tell you as an applique artist, I look at fabric a bit differently.  For instance, all green material has the possibility of becoming stems and leaves.  This means even unattractive greens may find their way into my fabric mini-hoard.  I can see the possibility in even the ugliest of fabric.  Take for instance this one:

This fabric – as much as it may make your eyes bleed – has wonderful potential for flower centers and petals.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  All the unattractive, unsellable material on the clearance table for a $1.99 a yard?  That can be where I do my best buying.  I can get great bang for a few bucks.  It all has potential if you know how to look at it.  However, here’s where the dark side is – we don’t need a great deal of fabric for applique.  This means we can purchase one yard of material at a time and use it for several quilts.  Instead of our stash being limited to larger pieces of yardage like the piecers, quite often ours is full of one-yard and smaller cuts – and there’s a lot of them.  It’s difficult to manage.  I know most quilters tend to sort their stash either by color or designer.  As an applique artist, I sort by texture and then by color.  Those fabrics which can be used in flowers go in one stack and then are sorted by color. Material which can be used for landscape quilts are in another area and are sorted by fabric for pebbles, bricks, roofs, water, walls, etc.  My Feedsack reproduction fabrics are kept separate, as are my Civil War Reproductions.  Holiday fabrics (which is my smallest stack) are in another area. 

Like piecers, applique quilters have scraps, and these can be our biggest downfall.  Every scrap has the potential to be used in another quilt.  My first applique teacher encouraged us to keep every scrap.





Since I was a newbie and didn’t know any better, I did.  By the end of my third year of quilting, I had a pillowcase full of scraps of every size and color.  I had so many scraps, I honestly did not really know what I had.  So, one day I dumped them all out on my dining room table and took a hard look at my scrappage.  My eyes fell on a slightly-less than one-inch square of green.  And I thought to myself, “What are the chances I will make one leaf out of one color of green?”

Answer:  Slim to none.

I came to the decision I wouldn’t keep any scraps less than 8-inches square.  I could get several applique pieces from a piece of leftover fabric this size.  I do sort my scraps according to color.  Each color is kept in a separate bin, with special bins for busy fabrics with several colors, landscape fabrics, and border prints. 

Applique quilters need to ask themselves these questions:

  1.  How small is too small?  What is the tiniest piece of scrappage you’re willing to keep?  Decide what that is and stick to your guns – don’t keep any smaller than you’re able to work with.
  2. How much background fabric do you realistically need?  If you’re a typical applique quilter, chances are the number of applique quilts you’ll complete will be fewer than a piecer, because applique (either by hand or machine) takes longer than piecing.  If you can complete two or three quilts a year, then chances are you don’t need yards and yards (and yards to infinity) of background fabric. 
  3. When looking through your applique stash, is there one color you seem to have a great deal of?  Is there a color you need to add to?  If this is the case, you may be able to swap some scrappage with another applique quilter.  She may need at least 25 of your 50 blues and you may need 30 of her brilliant oranges.  A fair swap can usually be worked out. 
  4. Like the piecers, can you use some of your leftover fabric for a quilt back, an after quilt, or a smaller version of the quilt you just made?  Any and all of these will help you shrink your stash and manage it better. 
  5. Do you need to Marie Kondo some of your stash?  If it no longer brings you joy, if the fabric is hopelessly outdated, or you honestly can’t see yourself appliqueing it in a quilt, it’s time to move it to a new home.  Leave it on the free table at guild, give to an organization that may use it for charity sewing, or see if you can sell it. 

So why all the reflection about my Mt. Stashmore?  There are several reasons.  First, I am concerned about quilting’s carbon footprint.  It can take up to five months for cotton fabric (as well as other all-natural, plant-based fabric and silks) to decompose.  Meanwhile, as it’s gradually transitioning to this final stage, it’s taking up space in landfills when it could be used elsewhere.  It’s super-easy to just toss scrappage  — even what I would consider salvageable left overs – in the trash and just keep moving.  There may be another quilter who can use what you have.  The good news is that if you can get your cotton scraps down to small enough pieces, they work well in a compost pile.  If you don’t compost, maybe you have a friend who does.  Bonus in this – if the compost pile is outside in the open, birds may decide your scraps are just what they need to make the inside of their nests all nice and cozy. 

Secondly, we’re transitioning – my husband and myself.  We’re both sixty.  Our children are in their thirties and show no signs of returning home other than to visit.  We live in a 3,200-sf house on about four acres meant for a family of four.  We have no desire to spend our free time mowing the grass, tending the flowers, or cleaning the house.  We’re downsizing.  We haven’t found a new home, but we’re looking…which means we have to move.  If you’ve read my older blogs you know my quilt studio is the largest room in my house and it has an adjacent, large, walk-in closet.  And while my next studio may be just as large as this one is, I have no desire to move all my fabric.  I’m working through my stash as fast as possible. 

Inevitably, the last question is “Will all this stash management hurt my LQS?”  Let’s have another moment of brutal honesty here:  Unless the establishment is a huge fabric only retail outlet, the answer is no.  True fact – fabric stores of all types make the least money on fabric itself.  Generally, most LQS’s are lucky if they break even on quilting cottons.  Patterns, machines, notions…it’s this sort of merchandise or the side gig of long arming or classes which produce more income.  In the future I would really like to see the culture of quilt shops change a bit.  I believe (and this is just my opinion), the quilt community may be better served if shops could see the quilter through to the end of the project. For instance, a new quilter enters a shop and wants to make a quilt.  She or he is still fairly new to the quilting world.  The salesperson tells the new quilter about their beginner classes, which charges a nominal fee.  The quilter signs up, pays the fee, and purchases all the needed supplies from the quilt store.  He or she shows up, takes the classes, and makes the quilt top.  Then the salesperson mentions the store has longarm classes so the new quilter can quilt the new top.  Excited because the top is finished and looks lovely, the new quilter signs up for the long arm class, pays the class fee, and purchases the needed backing and batting.  The quilt is quilted with an easy pantograph design.  Now the salesperson tells her new quilter about a binding class or quilt group who can show the new quilter how to bind her quilt.

Within a period of a couple of months, the new quilter has a completed, beautiful, new quilt in which they’ve put in every stitch.  If the quilting bug has bit – and it usually does by this point – the quilter will sign up for additional classes, purchase additional supplies, show up to add to his or her stash, rent the long arm, and the LQS has become the new quilter’s touchstone for his or her quilt world.  This would help the shop build a strong customer base and produce quilters who can handle every quilting step. 

I know lots of us quilters decide not to buy any more fabric.  We may make New Year’s Resolutions about it or come to this conclusion after purchasing a large haul from a fabric sale.  We believe our stash should go on a diet and reduce itself.  I can say largely from personal experience the decision to completely stop purchasing fabric doesn’t work.  I think the easiest way to deal with your stash is to learn how to manage it.  Determining if you’re a piecer or applique quilter is the first step.  This determination gives you the mental freedom to feel okay about how much yardage you’re purchasing and the ability to not over purchase.  Don’t exceed your stash storage capacity.  If your fabric mini-hoard is growing too large, give some of it away or sell it.  If you need smaller chunks of fabric, see if you can’t do a fabric swap with some fellow quilters.

Like Mt. Rushmore, your Mt. Stashmore is truly a beautiful sight, as long as you don’t let it get out of hand.  Learn to manage it.  The last thing I want to see on an episode of Hoarders is a quilter whose stash has taken over her entire house. 

Until Next Week, Make Your Quilt Yours!

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam


Happy Birthday to Us

I think, quilters as a whole, are people who tend to sew their very soul into whatever they’re making.  When I wrote my blog on quilt labels, I told you the label was the holder of the quilt’s story.  It gives dates and locations and occasions.  However, a quilter’s quilts are the mile makers on his or her journey.  They are the beginning, middle, end … the entire plot of the quilty book.  When I look back on my own quilts, I can immediately tell you two things: What I learned from the quilt and the story behind it. 

In so many ways, quilts tell a quilter’s story.  They show progress.  Techniques learned.  How practice made quilt stitches even and color choices better.  When I look at my quilts I remember where I purchased the fabric – was it at my LQS or on a trip to Paducah or Lancaster?  I recall why, where, and who I made it with and for.  They are the silent testimonies of hours spent in my studio with needle, thread, fabric, and usually some Netflix binge-watching and a glass of wine.  They are the result of hours of patient cutting and sewing, ripping and re-sewing.  Second guessing color choices, text messages with my quilting BFFs, and maybe even some swearing and tears thrown in for good measure.  It’s good to look back on those quilts – to see how far I’ve come and realize just how far I still have to go.  I love them, mistakes and all.  They’ve taught me valuable lessons and are the witnesses of many tears (of both joy and fear) and prayers.

I have an equal admiration and affection for quilters.  If you’ve read my earliest blogs, you may remember I didn’t start quilting to make quilts.  I began quilting to meet quilters.  After receiving one of my great-grandmother’s quilts, I wanted to understand these women and what drove them to make quilts.  And in the process of knowing quilters, I fell head over heels in love with quilting.  I still count the women I quilt with (my “unofficial” sisters) among my closest friends.  I quilted with various bees from 2000 until 2012.  It was then several of us High Point quilters got together and formed the High Point Quilt Guild.

Words cannot adequately express or explain what this group means to me.  It’s more than monthly meetings and quilt education.  It’s fellowship of the mind and spirit.  It’s inspiration and education.  It’s a sharing of burdens and fears.  If I am facing one of those painful “life milestones”, these are the folks who call or text first.  I’ve learned so much from each member and have always felt it was a special honor for them to choose me as the first guild president.  

As the calendar clicked over to January 2022, it dawned on us that it was our 10th Anniversary.  And we decided to celebrate accordingly.  Since January is always such an “iffy” month for weather in North Carolina, we planned a party for April.  A call to the church we originally met at confirmed we could rent the fellowship hall and sanctuary for April 2.  Invitations and RSVP cards were sent to all past and present guild members.  Those became a mixed bag of emotions.  The returned invitations allowed us to make sure we had current addresses on all members.  However, in researching some of the current addresses we learned a few former members had passed away.  Some former members we really hoped would attend, did not show up.  Still, when the final count was rendered, almost 70 members RSVP’d in the positive.

Cupcakes were ordered and punch was made.

On April 2, folks began to arrive. Each member – both past and present – was asked to bring five quilts.  These were spread out in the sanctuary for a “Show and Tell.”

Almost 60 members attended.

The Sanctuary was full of quilts.

All of the past presidents except one was in attendance.

There was laughter and hugs and conversations which went on for hours.  Friendships were renewed.  Some former members rejoined.  Some signed up for the spring and fall quilt retreats.  Quilts were admired.  Raffle quilt tickets were sold.

By 4:30, we closed the party down, leaving an exhausted but happy group of anniversary party committee members picking up stray punch cups and emptying garbage cans.  As the last leftover cupcake was stored away and cars were loaded  with quilts, a decision was made:  We needed to do this again on our 15th Anniversary.

A look back on how far we had come as a guild, the quilts we have made, and the friendships renewed, was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  And it made us plan, with great anticipation, what we will do in the future.

Happy birthday to us!

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam….and the High Point Quilt Guild

Photos were made by my wonderful husband and outstanding photographer, William Fields.