May 23, 2015

Needle Knowledge

Hello all, Mary Ellen here. I know it’s a busy weekend for all of us, so I’ll keep this short. When I teach classes I am frequently asked questions about the needles I suggest. I usually will list the needle requirement for my classes as a microtex or sharp needle in a size 80/12 or 90/14, depending on what we will be sewing together. I used to buy all types of needles when they went on sale, but now have settled in to generally just using a sharp. (I have so many “quilting” needles that I could probably build things with them. I never buy universals anymore, and am making an effort to use up the ones I have. Maybe I’ll sell the rest at our upcoming guild garage sale! There’s a thought. (BTW did you know that your old sewing machine needles can be used as nails for hanging […]
May 9, 2015

Things mom taught me

Hello all, Mary Ellen here. Many of us inherited our love of quilting and all things fabric from our moms. Our moms are often the best cheerleaders for our quilting efforts. My mom was my first sewing teacher. I was allowed to use the “real” machine when I was a little girl and never had to use “junk” fabric because I was just learning. If there wasn’t money to purchase good fabric for my projects, I learned to wait and save, rather than to buy fabric that wasn’t of good quality. In the days when the standard for well made clothes was clothing made by a dressmaker or tailor, I learned that you wanted your project to look “handmade, not homemade.” I think maybe the perfectionist streak I have came from my mom and great-grandma. Neither worried about the scars to my psyche that would result from picking out stitches […]
May 8, 2015

what are you up to?

Hello all, Mary Ellen here. Have you been busy at the sewing machine lately? Or have you been out in the garden? Or maybe neither or both? I’ve been doing a bit of both. In January I set a couple of quilting goals for myself. Of course there is the usual one to finish more of my UFO’s. In addition I set a couple related to getting out of my quilting comfort zone to try some new things. One is to use more orange in my quilts. Whenever I see quilts with orange in them, whether in shops, or quilt shows, or magazines, I always admire them. But I find that I seldom make orange quilts, except around Halloween. So far this year I’ve made 2 that took me a little more into the oranges. Another one of my goals is to get away from always using white or cream […]
April 24, 2015

going back in history

Hello all, Mary Ellen here. My history as a sewer began with clothing–first with clothing for dollies made with crude little girl hand stitching, gradually working through making my own A line skirts and Peter Pan collared blouses up to making tailored suits and coats. Some of my motivation was financial (in those days, one could make nice clothing spending less than it would cost to purchase similar items); some of my motivation was a desire for unique clothing that would never be seen on anyone else. If you are a watcher of YouTube videos you will know how videos are recommended to you along the side bar or as part of your “subscription” package. Videos about sewing-both quilting and clothing construction–are always in the recommendation list for me. This week I was recommended several episodes of a series called “The Great British Sewing Bee”. I clicked on one of […]
April 17, 2015

Martha and quilts

Hello all, Mary Ellen here. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by such a volume of e-mail in the morning. I have begun to unsubscribe from those sources whose e-mails aren’t “fun” on a regular basis. One of those I’m thinking of dropping is from Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. Very little is free there anymore, and it seems my taste in quilts is evolving away from the styles they feature. Today, however, as I scrolled down through their post looking for gems, I ran across this. I don’t think of Martha Stewart as a source for quilting information, but we know she collects all sorts of things. In this post she featured a group of patriotic quilts. She doesn’t own them all–she was just showcasing them. She does seem, in this video anyway, to have a sincere appreciation for the art. Some of the quilts are amazing. I particularly like the […]
April 13, 2015

sewing for others

Hello all, Mary Ellen here. Quilters are among the most generous people I know. Every quilt guild (I think?) has charitable efforts where quilts are made for others and given freely with no expectation of any return. Many individual quilters sew for others as well. Quilts for preemies, for seniors, for veterans, …, and the list goes on. April is National Autism Awareness month. The diagnoses of autism have increased greatly from when I was young. I’m not sure if that’s due only to more awareness of the syndromes, or if it is occurring in the population in higher numbers than in the past. Probably a bit of both. Almost all of us know, or know of, a child who has been diagnosed to be somewhere along the autism spectrum. This quilting project might be just the thing if someone you care about is autistic. This tutorial is for a […]
April 10, 2015

…and another spring idea

Hello all, Mary Ellen here. I have a bin into which I throw the selvedge trimmings as I’m sewing. It sits to the right of my sewing machine and is getting fuller and fuller. Seems kind of like the loaves and the fishes, if you get the drift. The more I use selvedges for projects, the more the bin fills up. Never seems to reduce in volume. In between the phases of projects I’m making for work, I’m working on a selvedge project which also uses the 60 degree triangle ruler-perhaps my favorite specialty ruler! But I think I will be taking a break from that project because I ran across this one, which is too cute for words (play on the selvedge concept ladies!). I’ll now be looking for a pair of canvas slip on shoes so I can make myself a pair of these selvedge shoes. Yep, you […]
April 7, 2015

another spring quilt idea

Hi all, Mary Ellen again. I spotted this one on my e-mail again this morning. Awhile back here on the blog we had some discussion going about the jelly roll 1600 quilts. (Look in side bar for a category link) This quilt was not made as a 1600, but certainly could be. That one strip that makes it more interesting, is just cut from the finished top, top and bottom ends reversed in orientation, sashing/border added to the cut strip and then inserted into the top. It’s a quick and easy way to take a 1600 quilt up a few notches. The reason I pulled this pattern idea out is that I came across a jelly roll I’d forgotten about, while looking through my UFO’s recently. This quilt would make a great gift for a niece’s birthday, since the jelly roll was chosen with her in mind originally. Check out […]
April 6, 2015

quilts for spring

Hello all, Mary Ellen here. Bright mornings like today give me motivation for many adventures. I took a tour of the yard, where it’s not too soggy, and checked out what plants are peaking up. The gardener in me (and some of you too, I’ll wager) is itching to get out to play in the dirt. I’m going to pot up some dahlia bulbs today-entails getting out to the garden shed and finding the potting soil and pots. I bought some dinner plate dahlias, which my dad’s mom used to always have in her garden. She was in a different growing zone, so she didn’t need to start hers in the house. I’ve resigned myself to the fact the we Buffalonians must start many of our plants indoors. I’m not much of a house plant enthusiast so as soon as it’s warm enough, the dahlias will be transplanted into the […]
March 16, 2015

3 things we should stop doing

Hello all, Mary Ellen here. Although Angela Walters says these are things that machine quilters should stop doing, I think they apply to all quilters–not just machine quilters. If you always send your tops out to be quilted by someone else, the main ideas in Angela’s piece apply to those who are piecers as well. The rest I’ll leave up to Angela: Click here. (p.s. Blog candy coming soon. I’m almost to a milestone in my blogging at this site. Stay tuned!)