Show & Tell (and a Little Wind)

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Les Filles Des Mares

Les Filles Des Mares is not done.  It needs at least a border, possibly two.

Thank goodness for 3M.

I had wanted to find the refrigerator clips that I had heard everyone (The Off Kilter Quilt, Quilting For the Rest of Us) raving about as a hanging solution, but couldn’t find them in my area.  Instead, I found hooks meant for holding wiring (like Christmas lights.)

So I strung a cord (in this case a decorative cord that I had from my brief flirtation making quilted purses) and pinned the tops to  it.

Worked great now that I figured out to pin right next to the hooks and half-way between them.

I also needed to tighten the cord a bit, too, but that was easy since the ends were held in place with binder clips.

And, of course, the wind was a problem, but that was true of the former method of putting the quilt and tops up for photographing.

The finished quilts are a bit heavy and required more pins (note to self: buy a pin cushion for your wrist… it would be much easier than pinning the straight pins into your shirt… and probably safer in the long run.)

Anyway, here’s the “big shots” of the quilts I have been working on for the past couple of months.

In Full Bloom was my Lenten Challenge BoB project.  It's only 62" square, but I've been told that that's "big enough. Yay!  Done.

In Full Bloom was my Linten Challenge BoB project. It’s only 62″ square, but I’ve been told that that’s “big enough. Yay! Done.

Crossed Purposes in all it's glory.  I'm actually happy with the way it turned out and I think that border is the reason for that.

Crossed Purposes in all it’s glory. I’m actually happy with the way it turned out and I think that border is the reason for that.

 

Still Searching for a name for this quilt. It's the one I had originally started in tribute to Maryellen Hopkins, but then pulled the Dugout blocks out because they were the "wrong" color of red... Hmmm. That sounds like a good name for a quilt The Wrong Color of Red!

Still Searching for a name for this quilt. It’s the one I had originally started in tribute to Maryellen Hopkins, but then pulled the Dugout blocks out because they were the “wrong” color of red… Hmmm. That sounds like a good name for a quilt The Wrong Color of Red!

And here it is in all it's finality: Grandmother's Choice. (And you thought I never actually finished any of my quilts!)

And here it is in all it’s finality: Grandmother’s Choice. (And you thought I never actually finished any of my quilts!)

Mood Indigo

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My folded flower pins and hairclips are now available at the New England Quilter's Museum... in case you really need one.

My folded flower pins and hair clips are now available at the New England Quilter’s Museum… in case you really need one.

I have to chuckle that I named the last post “No Show” and then missed blogging last week because of trouble with my ISP.  I swear it was not on purpose!

I had been working on my taxes and the “computer” had been slow, I only got the Fed filed when my Mac stopped being able to load anything at all in my browser.  Naturally, I thought it was me and my machine, but it turned out to be my DSL connection and after many hours of testing, plugging and unplugging, trading wires, turning things off and on, etc. I still ended up having to wait for someone to come on Monday.

So now I’m back.

And, yes, it’s Saturday and not Thursday because I was supposed to shoot all my quilts on Thursday and then blog, but I ended up with a migraine… which lasted until today.

Now we are all caught up.

There are 8 more days if you are playing the Linten Challenge with BoB.  I finished In Full Bloom as a top (which counts for me.)  I  was trying to decide if I wanted to try to complete another BoB before Easter, but dithered for most of last week.

These are the indigo fabrics after washing.  I think the contrast is a bit greater.

These are the indigo fabrics after washing. I think the contrast is a bit greater.

Instead, I went through my jewelry, cooking and quilt magazines and decimated them. (Well, I kept much less than 90%, so maybe I should use some other word.) In fact, I threw so much paper and clutter away that I was astounded that more space wasn’t clear afterwards.

*sigh*

I guess that’s why I ended up with a migraine.

Anyway, one of the quilty things I did do was wash the Japanese indigo fabrics my friend Addie gave me. If you remember, I had considered using them all in a quilt and calling it Mood Indigo, so I did some research on them.

I knew they were Japanese and indigos. I suspected they were Ikat, but I was really surprised to find out that they were made by a process called kasuri.

It turns out that kasuri fabrics are yarn dyed (usually in a process like tie dying) and then woven in plain weave to produce the patterns. For me, it makes the patterns in these pieces even more interesting. Most are geometric, but one has birds in it!

So cool. Now, I’m wondering how I can bear to trim them!

A big problem with these indigos, though is that they bleed.

indigoruns

After washing 4 times with Synthropol, my indigo fabrics are still running… how will I ever catch them?

And bleed.

I washed them four times with Synthropol and they are still bleeding (although much less than before.)

They are also stiff. I read somewhere that I should wash them with hair conditioner to soften them, but I’m going to go on with them as is.  After all, jeans loosen up the more you use them, so maybe the subsequent quilt also will.

I also have decided not to use white or off-white in the quilt in case the dye is still running.  I figure not using very light fabrics should make the kasuri patterns stand out more. Right?

Anyway, I’m off to the farmer’s market this morning (what there is left of it.)  I hope you’ve all been well the last couple of weeks. I’ll try to get those quilts photographed this week!

Oh, and special congrats to my friend Jeff Lomicka for winning a second place ribbon at MQX in Manchester. Jeff and his wife, Cricket are the ones who lend me time on their long arm.  Go Jeff!

 

No Show

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A little happier with Got Dots now that I'm working on the center. Stil

A little happier with Got Dots now that I’m working on the center. Still not feeling the IQ love, but I think I’m beginning to understand it better.

Sorry I didn’t post last week.  I was in a quandary.

Got Dots is not going as well on the long-arm as I had hoped, even though Cricket (and, to a much lesser extent, I) had come up with a border to put on it (a denser version of the quilting pantograph that will be the center fill.)

I like the way the top border turned out, especially with the evil thread I used, but I’m somehow… disappointed… too. Of course, that makes no sense, but it brought up a larger dissatisfaction I’ve been having with my work.

I don’t know if you do this, too, but I get much of my inspiration from looking at other quilts. Usually online but I do try to go to several shows a year (and not just to buy stuff.)

Working on some borders for In Full Bloom, Lenten Challenge BoB.

Working on some borders for In Full Bloom, my Lenten Challenge BoB. I figure I’ll keep adding borders until it’s “big enough” to put on a bed.

When I’m looking at a real quilt, I look at the overall effect and the decisions the quilter made, etc. I see good things and bad things and tuck away ideas for me to try on my own, later.  I do this regardless of the skill of the quilter or the awesomeness (or lack thereof) of the quilt. There is always something good and bad to be seen when viewing other people’s quilts.  I always learn something.

Unfortunately, with the big shows, like the Vermont Quilt Festival, the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival (which I only dream of going to IRL), and even A Quilter’s Gathering, really, really awesome quilts are hung and I do not learn as much.

It’s not because there’s not more to learn, but it’s because I fall in the trap of comparing what I’m doing with what they’ve done. And when I do that, especially with the ribbon winners at shows, I always come up short.

Now, I’ve always said I don’t like the densely quilted quilts that seem to be winning all the laurels these days, but that not strictly true.  Looking at them as if I were looking at a painting, I see the skill involved and I enjoy the play of the textures and thoughtfulness of the design.

Almost but not time to be able to take photos outside (so you can see the whole of Crossed Purposes (former Cross Roads.)

Almost but not time to be able to take photos outside (so you can see the whole of Crossed Purposes (former Cross Roads.)

It’s not, however, where I am going with my own quilts.  I make utility quilts.  I intend for these quilts to be used on a bed, flung over the sofa to be dragged over my legs when it’s cold, curled up on by cats. I see the quilting on these as an additional design element, but not one I want to stand out over and above the other design elements: the colors, the piecing, etc.

However, when I’m confronted by the beautifully detailed, densely quilted awesomeness I see at some shows, I shift into trying to do THAT with my quilts and it doesn’t work.

It doesn’t work because I have always intended my quilts to be utility quilts in the best sense of the word. Companion quilts. Working quilts. People quilts.

And by trying to change them into something they are not, I am just frustrating myself. I am entering into Quilter’s Existential Despair.

I guess I have to remind myself sometimes that these “showstopper” quilts I see at shows are designed for just that purpose and that it’s not the purpose of my quilts. There is a place in this world for all kinds of quilts: showstoppers, utility, traditional, modern, whatever.

Every once in a while I just have to remind myself, re-sort my thoughts about it, and just stop comparing apples to oranges.

A Bad Day

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Notice how different In Full Bloom looks with the coping as sashing... and it will sew together FLAT!

Notice how different In Full Bloom looks with the coping as sashing… and it will sew together FLAT!

I was gearing up to write about my week of quilting as I usually do, but I didn’t do it in the morning (which is when I usually try to write.)

For some reason, I had trouble sleeping and, basically, tossed and turned in the dark until 3 or 4 in the morning.

Of course, when it was time to get up, it was too cold! Two days ago we had 60 degree (F) weather, and this morning we had snow (again.)

So I was running late.

Everything I did, I did too slowly or it just didn’t work and I had to redo it. Everything I wrote, I had to rewrite and, even then, I wondered if a fourth grader without a dictionary wouldn’t have written it better.

Japanese Indigo samples given to me by a friend to make a quilt with.  Trying to see if I can combine them with these blocks in some sort of "strippy" design.

Japanese Indigo samples given to me by a friend to make a quilt with. Trying to see if I can combine them with these blocks in some sort of “strippy” design.

It was just one of those days.

I was scheduled to visit Cricket and the Beast. I had wanted to get there a little early, knowing that Cricket had an appointment.

Of course, I ended showing up 10 minutes LATER than I usually do.

We’ll just let a veil cross over the screen rather than go into my trials and tribulations with the tension, the batting and the two seams I actually got to sew (which will probably have to be torn out.)

You know, some days it’s just better not to leave the house.

As for my piecing projects: In Full Bloom is now in one piece.  I have to decide on a border.

I was thinking of funky, machine appliqued flowers, but I am just about the worst machine appliquer imaginable. I’m actually better (and faster) at hand applique.

I could do the funky flowers in spool “pots.”  I did a wall hanging that was raffled off a couple of years ago with dimensional flowers  in the spool pots and I thought it looked very cute. I’m not sure it would work as a border, though.

A new discovery for me: this little hanger came with some new socks I bought.  It's the perfect width to keep border strips organized and handy.

A new discovery for me: this little hanger came with some new socks I bought. It’s the perfect width to keep border strips organized and handy.

Cross Roads is still in one piece, but now I’m putting on an inner border to give the proper dimensions so the pieced outer border will fit.  It’s sort of like the coping sashing I did for In Full Bloom, but on a bigger scale.

Got Dots is on the long arm, as whined about early.  …moving on…

To try and get some enjoyment back in my life after such a dreadful day, I started playing with some indigo wovens a friend of mine bought me.  I don’t know where she got them (probably San Francisco), but they are from Japan. Not sure that they are “vintage” though.

I’m thinking of putting them all in the same quilt and calling it Mood Indigo.

You know, after looking at what I’ve been doing for the past week, I feel much better about my bad day. After all, it’s only one day and tomorrow I get another chance at a good day.

Coping With Different Sized Blocks

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Grandmother's Choice is now DONE!  Done-done.  Done with a binding Done. Complete at shown. Done.

Grandmother’s Choice is now DONE! Done-done. Done with a binding Done. Complete as shown. Done.

One of the big reasons for my BoBs is my participation in swaps.  I’ve found that even when the participants are excellent quilters, sometimes the blocks are just a little bigger or smaller than they should be.

In the case of Grandmother’s Choice, the quilter was me, and they all should have been the same size (or, to put a point on it, off by the same amount.) Unfortunately, that was not quite the case.

Rather than trimming off the edges, possibly cutting off points, etc. I used what I call “coping as sashing.”

This sense of “coping” comes from joinery and is the method of shaping one piece of wood so it exactly fits the piece next to it.

This was one of the smaller blocks, so it got wider coping.

This was one of the smaller blocks, so it got wider coping.

The blocks weren’t off by much, so I simply sewed a slightly larger border on some of them than others. Then I trimmed all the blocks so they were the same size.

I  matched the corners, treating the blocks with their borders “a regular block” and abutting them rather than using a traditional sashing.

In the current BoB, In Full Bloom, some of the blocks are off by as much as 1/2″, so the variation in “sashing” will be much more noticeable, but the corners will match and the wonky whole will look like I planned this from the beginning.

If had used same background fabric for all the blocks, say unbleached muslin, I could sew coping strips on the smaller blocks to “extend” those blocks and simply cut them (after sewing on the coping strips) to be the size of the larger ones. Then I could use traditional sashing between them if I wanted.

It would look subtle enough for anyone except a quilt show judge (and how often do they look at our quilts?)

Miko has chosen her first quilt.

Miko has chosen her first quilt.

But, I kind of like the checkerboard effect that I got with Grandmother’s Choice, so I’m coping with In Full Bloom in a similar way: each block will have its own fabric border in green, and I’ll get the checkerboard effect by alternating light and dark greens.

DaGM20 Finale

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This is a picture-heavy, but short post with the status of the projects I worked on during Drop and Give Me 20.  I didn’t finish anything (as I had hoped), but I did get some projects off my “to do” list, and one of them will actually be done by the end of the week-end (I hope.)

One Charity Quilt Top (from blocks supplied by my Guild.)

I designed and sewed this Charity Quilt Top using 5″ blocks supplied by my Guild.

Les Filles Des Mares is all in one piece (although not in this picture). Still needs borders... shopping is in order.

Les Filles Des Mares is all in one piece (although not in this picture). It still needs borders… I think shopping is in order.

Cross Roads is also a full top needing borders, but it's no longer languishing in my closet in block form.

Cross Roads is also a full top needing borders (again, not in this photo), but I’m just happy it’s no longer languishing in my closet in block form.

Grandmother's Choice has been machine quilted on the long-arm and only needs the binding (which I hope to complete this weekend!)

Grandmother’s Choice has been machine quilted on the long-arm and only needs the binding (which I hope to complete this weekend!)

And, finally…

Grandmother's Choice has been quilted on the long-arm. All it needs now is the binding (which I have cut, but not applied.)

Fan Dance has its borders!  I am constantly astonished that I actually designed and made this top, and it’s going to be a constant source of stress until I quilt it because I’m afraid I’ll “ruin” it.  (Thank you, Jeff Lomicka, for taking this photo!)

Making Out With BoB

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In Full Bloom blocks from my Guild's boxed block exchange many, many moons ago...

In Full Bloom blocks from my Guild’s boxed block exchange many, many moons ago…

No, I am not having an affair, nor do I have a new boyfriend (at my age shouldn’t it be “man-friend?” or beau?)

Drop and Give Me 20 is ending, and the Linten Challenge on one of my email mailing lists is starting, so I thought I’d give you all a chance to play along.

(BTW, it’s called “Linten” so those on the list who don’t “do” Lent can still play along. This year, we’ve got a good long time It starts on Ash Wednesday (5 March) and runs until Easter, 20 April.)

There are several challenges you can choose from, or make up your own. Originally, my challenge was to whittle down the unfinished projects on my Excel Spreadsheet.

Beat The Blues is a former BoB from the boxed block exchange, so you know I can do this!

Beat The Blues is a former BoB from my Guild’s boxed block exchange. I actually finished and quilted it so you know I can do this!

I tried to start that challenge a little early by going through and actually looking at my projects with a mind towards giving some of the tops away, but only came up with a couple I could part with (and one of those as anonymously as possible, I think!)

That meant in order to whittle down my list, I had to commit to finishing a bunch of quilts during Lent, something I really didn’t think I could do… (even though I’m trying to clear my backlog by going to Cricket’s every week to work on her long-arm.)

So, I’m officially falling back on the challenge that always makes me laugh: “making out with BoB.”

“BoB” is short for “Box of Blocks.” These blocks usually related in someway and just have been passed over in favor of other, more exciting quilting projects. Maybe you’re missing one or two, or maybe you got sick of that project and didn’t want to make as many as the pattern specified.

CirclingGeese

If and when I finish In Full Bloom, this might be my next BoB project

Or maybe you have a bunch of random blocks you made for retreats, exchanges, or classes that are just lying around. Can you throw them out? Donate them somewhere? If not, these are the kinds of blocks that are perfect for “Making out with BoB.”

Your challenge is then to take the blocks and make them into a quilt. It doesn’t have to be a super-wonderful quilt (and you can turn around and donate it when you’re done if you don’t like how it turned out).  Relax and set the bar low. Experiment with borders, bindings and colorways! Right now these blocks are sitting there just taking up space, so there’s really no pressure if you want to try something new with them.

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing with you some of the ways I’m thinking of combining my BoBs to make quilts. I hope you decide to play along!

(p.s. I did finish the borders to Fan Dance, and Grandmother’s Choice is about half-way done on the long-arm. I’ll post the pictures when I get them!)

Rick Rack Paddy-whack

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I've sewn enough pieces to be able to see what the "rick rack" border will look like on Fan Dance.

I’ve sewn enough pieces to be able to see what the “rick rack” border will look like on Fan Dance.

So, day 15 of Drop and Give Me 20, and I’ve pretty much finished my other project and am giving  Fan Dance my full attention.

Fan Dance‘s border has been giving me trouble. First of all, I didn’t actually draft it.  I used a template I already had for a Drunkard’s Path block and some quarter circles left over from another project. That is why the serpentine ended up as thick as it did.

On one hand, it certainly holds its own against the center, but I’m still not completely convinced that it’s what I want.

On the other hand, I’ve gotten extremely good at very small curved seams and am now back to really enjoying sewing circles and curves. so the piecing this border has become somewhat addictive.

As for successfully sewing small curves (small, in this case, quarter circles with a radius of 2.5″ or less ), I have decided it’s a matter of practice, but I tried several techniques and was less than pleased with the result.

centers

Smaller curves are harder to sew than larger ones…but you knew that, didn’t you?

For me, I found that pins don’t really help at that size.  Using my “normal” quilting pins (which are about 2.5″ long so Miko cannot eat them) was cumbersome. They kept getting in the way, and I still had pleats I’d have to take out and resew.

I tried my 3/4″ applique pins, but I kept losing them.  They didn’t like staying in the fabric long enough to keep it in line. I guess that while trying to keep the edges aligned and the curve a semi-circle, I was manipulating the fabric too roughly and out they popped.

The charity quilt is done... not too bad for 5" squares of fabrics I did not choose myself. I wouldn't cry if someone gave it to me...

The charity quilt is done… not too bad for 5″ squares of fabrics I did not choose myself. I wouldn’t cry if someone gave it to me…

I even tried a stiletto, but that still involved stopping and starting to reposition both top and bottom pieces, so that while the edges were more together, and the curve was nicer looking, I still had the occasional pleat.

Finally, I hit upon a solution, which I remember reading somewhere: using school glue. Actually school glue sticks. Since they are non-toxic, acid-free and advertised as easy to wash out, I figured that for the amount of time they will be on my fabric, they shouldn’t harm anything.

I cut out my curves as usual, but instead of pinning, I swiped the school glue stick on the edges of the inner piece. You have to work somewhat quickly, positioning the edges so that both inner and outer pieces meet without pleats. Hold the pieces together for a few seconds and then, voila! You’re ready to sew.

Just remember to only use the glue on the edges.  I don’t think it will gum up your machine if you go a little into where the seam is itself, but try to avoid that. You don’t really need that much anyway.

Up For A Challenge

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Fan Dance is now in one piece and I'm contemplating...you guessed it!... borders.

Fan Dance is now in one piece, and I’m contemplating…you guessed it!… borders.

Yes. it’s day 8 of Drop and Give Me 20, and yes, I have been sewing diligently at least 20 minutes every day. Unfortunately, I have not been writing every day so this post is a bit late.

Since one of my goals for DaGM20 is to actually finish something, I decided I would look at some of my projects that I started and stopped. True UFOs as opposed to those merely waiting for borders or quilting.

The first one I settled on was my red and white quilt, Fan Dance. I had stopped because I had made 4 quarters of the quilt and realized it didn’t have a center focus. I thought it was strange-looking without a center and that it looked kind of dead and blank there. (Several people, both here and on Facebook, pointed out that they thought I was wrong.)

DSC03554Rather than pull it apart, as I had threatened a year and a half ago when I put it away, I thought I’d just go with the layout as it is now and add a border.

Musing on possible borders for it, I woke up with the concept of having a “rick-rack” border. I have two ideas to piece one: a serpentine border using the left-overs from where the arcs were cut away from the backgrounds for the fans, and a sharp zigzag pieced sort of like Seminole strips.

Right now I’m working on the curved one (because I always have to do things the hard way.)

As for my other projects: Les Filles de les Mares is also all in one piece, but it doesn’t look too different from the last time I photographed it,  I didn’t include another photo.

I also went for a “consult” for long-arming Grandmother’s Choice. It was fun to visit Cricket, who I haven’t had a chance to chat with for a while.  We chose the thread, and came up with a design, but didn’t actually start the quilt because we ran out of time…I guess I should talk more at home because I can’t seem to stop myself when I go out.

Untitled at this time, this is a charity quilt I'm making from a kit supplied by our Comfort Quilts group at my Guild.

Untitled at this time, this is a charity quilt I’m making from a kit supplied by our Comfort Quilts group at my Guild.

As you know, I seldom concentrate on one project at a time, so my last little project is actually from my Guild.  I call it a challenge.

We have a couple of charities we donate quilts to, and the chairperson of this group sometimes gathers blocks together and puts them in kits.  I like to take these kits and do something different with them.

This past Guild meeting, I acquired these pink and green 5″ squares. Sewing them to each other as blocks would simply be too pedestrian for me, so, of course, I have to be different.

The challenge, of course, is to take fabric you might never have combined yourself and turn it into a quilt that looks like something says “you” made it.

While I may never combine pinks and greens together in a quilt again (pink…ugh! especially those old, fussy pink prints!) I can honestly say I am warming up to this quilt and that someone (who is not blind or a female under the age of 8) might actually be happy to get it.

So, those are my “Drop and Give Me 20″ projects (at least for now.)

To Border Or Not To Border… That is the Question

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Nearly all of Les Filles de Les Mares is on my design wall.

Well, I’m done with the blocks for Les Filles de Les Mares, and now I am putting together the top. As you can see in the photo I see have a couple more strips of triangles to finish.

But what I’m mostly thinking about is: does it need borders? And, if so, what kind?

So, I did a little research (don’t you just love The Quilt Index? Oh, and the internet in general, too.)

The traditional Ladies of the Lake quilts don’t always have borders. Some have thin, plain borders. Some have thicker borders. (Very few pieced borders, though) I’ve even seen a few on the Internet with stunning, appliqued borders (although I think that might necessitate buying fabric since I will not applique with homespun… that way lies madness.)

So, this week I will be putting together the “main quilt top” and thinking about borders.

Banquetclose

A scan from a book does not necessarily make the best illustration for this quilt. Go check out the book for yourself!

In the meantime, I am working on the pattern based on the Isako Murakami’s Banquet Under the Trees as shown in the book Japanese Quilts (which I mentioned last week.)

I was just so intrigued by this quilt not only because of the fabric the quilter used to piece it (silk wedding kimono, obi, etc.) but also because it looked like Tumbling Blocks, but was obviously pieced like a Log Cabin block.

This is the block on which the quilt was based.

This is the block on which the quilt was based.

Upon closer inspection of the photograph, (oh, how I wish I had a better one to study… or, even better, a chance to look at the actual quilt itself!) I decided it was based on a triangle, not a diamond (as would be the case in a traditional Tumbling Blocks quilt.

From there, it was just a matter of getting the proportions right and drawing up the pattern. I will probably foundation-piece this quilt.

BanquetDraw

My pattern ended up with 3/4″ strips (1-1/4″ cut.)

And, of course, I haven’t named it yet.  I may pick something from my limited Japanese vocabulary.


In ending this post, I just thought I’d put in (yet another) plug for Beth Helfter’s “Drop and Give Me 20.”

As, you know I am a HUGE fan of doing a little quilting every day.

It keeps dozens of annoying people alive, actually. Maybe that’s not exactly a service to mankind, but at least it keeps me out of jail, where I don’t know if they have sewing machines, but I’m fairly certain they don’t have rotary cutters…

If you don’t quilt a little every day, February is the perfect month to experiment. For one thing, it’s short.

Just remember, you don’t have to physically sew every day.  Each day’s 20 minutes can be leading up to quilting over the week-end (for instance, spend 20 minutes each weekday pressing, cutting, or pulling fabrics, setting up for actual sewing over the weekend, or even just another day.)

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