In a Bind…

The binding and the quilt label are two of the last tasks to be completed on a quilt. And at this point, it’s easy to let these two items slide into the “Oh-my-God-is-this-quilt-EVER-going-to-be-done” category and rush through them.


Let me encourage you not to do this.  The borders, binding, and labels are the punctuation in your quilt sentence.  They are the very last statement you can make about your quilt and they should be given same care and workmanship that the piecing and applique are given.  Borders will be addressed in the near future, but since I’m binding three quilts right now, I want to explain how I do my binding in the hopes that it may take away any fear you have about the process.  I’m pretty old-school when it comes to some areas of quilting and binding is one of them.  I like my binding to be dark, as it takes the most wear and tear on a quilt.  It’s one of the first things to disintegrate on an older quilt and the first thing that’s going to show dirt on a newer one.  I like my quilts bound with a double-fold and I like them done by hand.  I also like them cut on the length-wise of the grain instead of the cross-wise grain.


When planning this step, the quilt and the binding must be given equal consideration.  The binding will go around the perimeter of the quilt.  It should harmonize with the top and serve as the last “frame” of your quilt.  Generally speaking, I cut my binding out when I’m cutting everything else out for my quilt.  The pattern gives the size of the finished quilt and often even the number of strips needed for binding the quilt.  So, let’s pick the process up at this point.


The reason I cut my binding out at the very beginning is so that it’s done and ready for me at the end.  For me it interrupts the work flow if I have to get up from my machine and do more cutting and then sew it together.  If it’s already cut and waiting in my project box for me, all I have to do is pick it up, sew the strips together, and then begin the binding process.


I also cut both my binding and borders on the length-wise grain (running parallel with the selvedge).  The length-wise grain is less stretchy and more stable.  If borders and binding are cut along the length of the grain, they won’t ripple.  It also helps stabilize the center of the quilt.  If your quilt is show-bound, it’s even more important to make your binding this way.  I’ve worked with two quilt judges over the last couple of years and the first thing both of them did was run their hands and fingers over the binding to make sure it was full and that the binding wasn’t “bumpy” where the strips were joined.  If the binding is cut on the length of the grain, the strips are longer, so there are fewer of them, and therefore less chance of “bumpiness.”

Ideally, the quilter should buy enough yardage to cut one continuous strip of binding with no seam – especially if the quilt is headed towards a national show.  This can be expensive, but I do know a couple of quilters who do this religiously, no matter where the quilt is going.  The way they absorb this extra expense is that their binding is always a basic, solid color —  black, blue, dark brown, dark gray, etc.  They buy seven or eight yards, designate it for binding use only, and can get several quilts bound out of each color.


So how do you determine how much binding you need?  As stated before, the binding has to cover the perimeter of the quilt, so add the measurement of all four sides together to get the amount needed.  Add 15-20  inches to this to compensate for turning corners, and then a little more if you plan to use left-over binding as a border around the quilt label.  How wide should you cut it?  Well…that depends.

Typically, binding is cut 2 ¼-inches wide.  That’s the “look” of today’s quilts.  Binding width changes from time to time and from quilt type to quilt type.  For instance, if a quilter is making a “historically accurate” Amish quilt, she or he may want to cut that binding a little wider, as older Amish quilts did have wide binding.  If the quilt has two batts in it, then you may want to cut the binding somewhere between 2 ¼ and 2 ½-inches.  One of my show-bound quilts is an applique quilt that has two batts—a wool batt next to the top and a cotton batt under that (the added wool batt makes the applique look as if it’s trapuntoed).  It was dubbed “the beast” by my long-arm artist because the batts made it so heavy.  Because there were two batts, and one of them was wool, I cut that binding at almost 2 ½-inches to make sure it would be wide enough to cover the edges.  Remember, the binding’s job is to cover the raw edges of the top, batting, and backing completely, so it must be wide enough to accurately do this.  If for some reason 100% polyester batting is used, the binding may have to be cut less than 2 ¼-inches because those battings are thinner.


Cut the strips the desired width and sew them together on an angle.  Angled seams distribute the bulk better than vertical seams and are less “bumpy.”  I lay one strip on my machine bed at a 180-degree angle and then position the second strip on top, right sides together, at a 90-degree angle and sew from top left corner to lower right corner.

Do this until all the strips are sewn together.  Then trim the seams to ¼-inch and press open.



Then press the sewn strip in half, wrong sides together.  This is a double-fold binding strip.



Now let’s give the quilt top some consideration.  Once the top is quilted, the batting and back are still extended beyond the top’s edges.  It will all have to be trimmed off before the binding can go on.  The one thing that you don’t want to do is to trim the back and batting even with the top.  Trim it between 1/8-1/4 of an inch beyond the top.  This extra will make sure that the binding is fully filled and there are no empty spots in it.


The next decision to tackle is thread.  The thread should match the binding.  In this case, I have a pretty blue fabric that I’m using for the binding, but it’s difficult to match.  I had to fall back on a neutral mid-tone gray for this one.  The back of my quilt is white.  At this point, it would be really easy to determine I need a gray thread on top, to match the binding and a white thread in the bobbin to match my back.


Nope.  Not in my quilting world.


In fact, I deliberately use a bobbin thread that contrasts with the back of my quilt back.  I know that doesn’t seem to make any sense, but trust me, I’ll show you why in a few paragraphs.  So, I also wound my bobbin with the gray thread I used on top of my sewing machine.  And I used my dual-feed walking foot.  This allows the quilt top, with all its bulk, to feed evenly through the machine and allows the binding to be sewn on easily and without rippling.


Now let’s start the sewing-on-the-binding step.  Avoid beginning to sew at a corner.  My binding method (and most binding methods) are difficult to accurately perform if the binding strip is started at a corner.  Begin about midway down one side and line the raw edge of the binding strip up with the raw edge of the quilt top – not the edge of the batting and backing that is cut 1/8-1/4-inch larger than the quilt top.


Open the binding strip up so that it lies flat.


Turn the left side over to form a 45-degree angle.


Take a few stitches and stop with the needle down position.  In fact, if your sewing machine has the needle-down function, you will want to use it while sewing on the binding.  Believe me, it makes life a little easier.


With the needle still in the down position, raise the presser foot and fold the binding back to its original position, lining up the raw edges of the binding neatly with the raw edges of the quilt top.  This process causes a “pocket” to form and that’s what you want it to do.


Continue sewing until you get to ¼-inch away from the edge.  Tie off.


Flip the binding up, so that it forms a 90-degree angle with the binding you’ve just sewn down.


Fold it back down, so that the fold is even with the raw edge of the sewn binding.


Begin sewing again ¼-inch down from the top of the fold.  This should line up with the previously sewing binding.

Repeat this process for all three sides of your quilt.  Begin the fourth side this way also, but you’re going to run into your binding pocket that you made at the beginning on this last side.  When you get to this point, tie off, and cut the remaining binding off, but leave about a six-inch tail. 


Now you’re going to tuck that remaining binding tail into the binding pocket.

As you’re working through this process and making it your own, you may find a shorter binding tail works best.  I always cut mine about six inches to see how it’s going to fit in the pocket and then begin to trim it.  It’s always easier to make that tail shorter than to wish you had left it longer!  I use a chop stick to push my binding tail into the pocket.  You may need to work with it a bit to get it to lie smoothly.  When the tail is tucked in all nice and neat, sew the remainder of the binding to the quilt (usually this is a small gap of only a few stitches).

Take the quilt to the ironing board and press the binding out.


Flip your quilt over and look at the back to make sure there are no puckers.  Notice on mine how nicely that dark gray thread shows up.  Now I will tell you why I use a contrasting thread on the back of my quilt…


When I turn my binding to the back to slip stitch it down, the contrasting thread serves as a sewing guide.  If the folded edge of my binding meets that gray thread, I know that it’s being sewn on straight.



And look how full my binding is!  That extra batting and back I left around the edge makes sure that every spot of my binding is full and pretty.


Because of the way the binding was sewn, the corners will miter nicely, fully and easily. And don’t forget to put a few slip stitches in the corners of the miters.

This is the way I bind at least 98 percent of my quilts.  As with everything, there are exceptions.

First, if you are binding a quilt with scalloped borders, disregard everything in this blog.  Those a specialty bindings that have to be cut on the bias and may have to be cut smaller than 2 ¼-inch wide.  That’s a whole different blog.

Second, if you have a directional print, such as a stripe, a check, a plaid, or polka-dots, you may want to disregard this blog.  You may opt for cutting them on the bias for a different effect, or cutting directionally so that it looks uniform.  That’s a different blog, too.


Third, even though I much prefer a hand-sewn binding on most things, I don’t always do that, either.  If I’m making a quilt for a baby or child that’s not an heirloom – you know, one that is probably going to be literally loved to pieces – I’m putting that binding on by machine because that little quilt is surely going to be seeing the inside of a washing machine a lot.  I also do machine binding if I’m making a quilt for a cancer patient or some other charity organization.  Those quilts will be laundered a lot.


One of the great things about this method is that other than measuring the perimeter of the quilt and figuring out how much binding is needed, there is no math.  I have found, in the many years I have taught quilting, that most quilters tolerate math pretty well.  They’re formulating how much fabric to buy, how many pieces to cut, and in some cases, altering the pattern to fit their vision.  But when the project is almost over and they have to deal with more math with the binding, it’s easy to just tuck that project away and promise yourself that you’ll deal with it in a week or two.  With this method, the binding is cut and waiting for you and you don’t have to drag out your calculator.


Until next week, Quilt Fearlessly my friends…


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam


Sir Sam, Chief Binding Inspector


Obligatory “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” Blog

I’m back from the beautiful North Carolina coast, rested and ready to get back at life.

We ate lots of good food…


We had a wonderful time last week with our family.

And had a wonderful view…

It was so nice to sit on the back deck every morning, have my coffee there, and read for a while.  I miss it a great deal.

One of the highlights for me with this trip was taking a ferry ride out to Lookout Lighthouse.  I love light houses and North Carolina has a rich history of them. My state is called the Graveyard of the Atlantic for a good reason:  there are literally thousands of shipwrecks along our coast. (  Due to that reason, my state also has quite a few wonderful, old lighthouses.  Lookout was pretty with its black and white diamonds.

The lighthouse keeper’s house was under renovation, so we couldn’t see the interior.  There were a couple of outbuildings that we couldn’t get into either, due to the same renovation and preservation process.


These Blanket Flowers were everywhere.  I love the colors – they’d look wonderful in a quilt.

Lots if inspiration everywhere…

I also got a good bit of reading done.  I’m re-reading Jeannie Sullivan’s book on applique.  If you love to applique and this book is not in your library, go  to Amazon right now and buy it.  It also has a CD with it that has Jeannie’s beautiful patterns on it.


What did I get done while on vacation?  I did get these hexie blocks completed.


I have a plan underway to work on this quilt in the near future:


I still need to purchase enough background fabric to make the white hexies and I have to make a decision on the color of the connector diamonds.


I am really busy with quilts – I promise.  However, I can’t put them on my blog yet because they are show-bound for the month of August.  After our guild’s show August 12-13, I will post pictures of them.  I’m binding like a mad woman and will (hopefully) have a binding tutorial up in the next week or two with my binding method.


My niece and my daughter took good care of Sam while I was gone, but he did miss me and hasn’t let me out of sight very often since I returned.


Until next week…Quilt Fearlessly!


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam



angry face


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

People…quilters…get a grip.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Love and Stitches,


Sherri and Sam



Fearlessly Updating

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


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


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


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


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


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




This is my “practice” tree.


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



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


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


And this is what it looks like on the background.


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


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


Quilt Fearlessly my friends!


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam



A Mother’s Influence


This is Mother’s Day Weekend.

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

mom and me (1)

Mom and Me

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

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

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


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


Happy Mother’s Day Mom.  You are awesome!


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

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

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

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

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


Words of Wisdom from Nanette


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

Anita Smith’s Love Entwined

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


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


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


Lesson learned.


Love and Stitches,


Sherri and Sam


Some Days I Hate Technology….

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


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

There are parties.

There are dates.

You can sleep late.  Really late.

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


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


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

hard drive melt down

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




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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


Still quilting fearlessly as technology allows….


Love and Stitches,


Sherri and Sam



Challenge Accepted

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

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


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


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


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




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

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

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


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

However, I am not that ambitious.

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


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


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


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




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

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

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


Still Quilting Fearlessly….


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam



Maturity Has Gone Out the Window

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


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


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



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


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


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


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


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


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


Still quilting fearlessly despite everything….


Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam



Still Seeing Double…

This has been a good week.

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

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

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

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

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


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


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



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



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


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



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


Love and Stitches…


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



Concussions and Shopping

First of all, thank you so much for all the emails and pm’s concerning our automobile wreck.  Let me give you a little update.


The first, and for a hot second, concern was my left knee, because it did hit the glovebox kind of hard.  But other than a few aches and pains (all completely controllable with Tylenol), I’m fine.  However, there have been some issues with the DH.


Bill was fine on Wednesday night when we finally got home, but Thursday he woke up with headaches and double vision.  I tried my best to get him to go to the doctor, but wasn’t successful until Tuesday night.  After hours in the ER (there were 46 people ahead of us, and most of them were dealing with the flu – so there’s an argument for getting the flu shot if there ever was one), and a CT scan later, the doctor told us he had a concussion.  His eyes are almost working independently of each other, so he’s seeing double a great deal.  It’s a symptom that can’t be cured by medicine – only time and eye exercises.  He is better, but I’d appreciate prayers for him.


He was better enough today that he volunteered to go with me to a quilt shop in Reynolda Village.  I came away with these two prints…


And some gray for the borders of my Country Inn quilt.


Needless to say, even though the granddarlings are back with their parents and the moving situation is no longer such an ordeal for everyone, I didn’t get a lot done this week in my studio.  Next week I swear I’m locking myself in there and not coming out for the week.