Happy New Year and Planning for a Great 2018


Happy New Year everyone!  I really want to thank those of you who read my blog for sticking with me this year.  I am planning on doing more how-tos, reviews, and showing progress on my quilts this year.  I am expecting and declaring that 2018 will be one of the best from start to finish for me, my family, and all my friends. 

I have a lot of fun planned for 2018 and I want to share the quilting/sewing part of it with my readers.  I’m putting this in a list format and we’ll talk more about these over the next few months.

Two Quilt Shows I’m planning to attend.  Will you be there?

  • Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival 22 Feb-27 Feb.  I’m hopeful of having my current quilt in this show.  I’m also hoping one of my friends will be accompanying me.
  • International Quilt Festival in Houston, Nov 7-11.  Again, I am working on a quilt for this show.  We’ll see if I make it on time.  But I also am planning on entering Pendragon in this show.

Classes/Workshops I’m Developing…Not sure where or even if these will happen, but I’ll let you know along the way:

  • Basic free motion quilting for the new sit-down quilter
  • (Intermediate) Organic Free Motion and Other Quilting
  • A Demo-Lecture on Surface Design and Embellishment for Fabric Art
  • Machine Applique…Multiple Methods and When to Use Each One
  • Make a Quilted Bag

Books already started I hope to finish:

  • Quilting for Fabric Art
  • Machine Applique…Multiple Methods and When to Use Each One
  • Surface Design and Embellishment for Fabric Art

And most importantly quilts I am making or hope to make in 2018:

  • The one for MAQF (it’s a secret until after the judging, then I will blog about it)
  • Bayou quilt based on Joel Christopher Paynes artwork I bought the right for one quilt
  • A fourth, and possibly fifth, deep space quilt.  I hope to get the fourth one made for MQX East to celebrate its space theme
  • I have a bunch more show quilts, so we will see what I manage to make beyond the three above.
  • Several utility quilts, including one for my own bed and periodically make up a fast charity quilt.
  • I have dropped two sizes in 2017, still have a long ways to go, but I need to make a few nice new clothing items for me.

Sew Happy in the New Year Everyone!  May your dreams be met, your life be full of love, and your year fun and simply lovely!

By the way, I need some funds to help me keep my dreams for 2018 going, so I am hoping to sell several of my quilts this year to finance my attending the Houston show and keep me in stitches (LOL) and make room in my house for more.  You can see which ones on my website gallery…just scroll over the quilt and you can see the price and size.  Contact me if you are interested in one and maybe we can work something out that suits your budget.  I’ve instituted a lay away plan for the quilts.



What a Fun Week!

Wow!  This has been a full week.  First of all, I heard my quilt Pendragon had won something at AQS Paducah.  It turned out it is Third Place in Small Wall Embellishment category.  Now, it started out Honorable Mention but the first place winner moved up to one of the top big-money prizes…and it is a beautiful quilt…sew Pendragon moved up to Third Place, which is totally delightful.

Photo at AQS Fall Paducah with ribbon by Mary Owens.

Then I heard that Drawing Nigh had won Honorable Mention in small wall quilts at Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza (PNQE).

Drawing Nigh at PNQE with Ribbon. Photo by Lisa Calle.

I have to say, I really liked the judging at PNQE this year.  Some of my favorite quilts by some of my quilty friends won top honors.  Including Deb Levy’s Atomic Synergy, which was Best of Show,

Deb Levy’s Atomic Synergy at PNQE with ribbon. I’m not quite sure who took this picture.


and Lisa Calle’s A Silver Lining, which won Best Wall Quilt.

Lisa Calle’s A Silver Lining. Picture by Lisa Calle

Upcoming:  Sew Pendragon will also be at AQS Des Moines, Oct 4-7, in case you are going and want to see it.  I also have Spiral Galaxy Number 3 that will be at MQX Midwest in Springfield, Illinois Sept 27-30.  Right now, I’m working on a new show quilt, a vest and matching tote bag for me, and my books.  I also feel I need to get going on a couple of new quilts because I have plans and they have deadlines.

But amid all this delightful news about my own work, my son David’s new book The Merrimack Event, is bouncing around the top 500 of Amazon Kindles overall books and is currently about 50th in the overall Science Fiction on Amazon.  It looks to be a winner!  If you haven’t gotten yours yet you can find it here by clicking on the picture:

The Merrimack Event

Or you can wait another week or two and get a print copy, which isn’t out yet, but I’ll let you know about it.

Now that things might be getting back to normal this coming week, I will try and talk next weekend about how to take a piece of art you like and turn it, or something that inspires you from it, into a wall art quilt…or something else more fun.

Sew happy everyone!  May you have some delightful times in your own life.  Blessings!

Fall and Winter Sewing Time

It’s time!  After nearly four years since I retired from a serious government job to become a full time fabric artist, and with even a couple of years before that since I bought or made any current kind of work-a-day clothing, I must do something.  My clothes are a little too big, are fraying around the bottoms of the sleeves and the fabric is thinning.  They are still comfortable, however, and I don’t have to brief any high level officials, travel to a foreign country, or appear in office garb, and that’s probably why I haven’t paid too much attention until now.  But I’m planning on going to the Pennsylvania National Quilt Festival in mid September and will be staying with a friend who retired to PA while I’m there.  I am also planning to provide some quilting lectures and demos in the area in the next several months, and I DO go to church or shopping or a show occasionally. 🙂   So the clothing situation needs addressing, or is that “a dressing”.

MCall's 7391...I like this one. It looks like it would make a great work shirt.

MCall’s 7391…I like this one. It looks like it would make a great work shirt.

I looked around for things to buy.  They are expensive and don’t fit well, since I’m built like an overweight ape with long arms and torso and short legs.  LOL.  The fabric does not appeal to the fabric snob in me.  Sew it’s time to sew.  I went through my fashion fabrics and patterns stash yesterday…spent the whole day at it.  I found enough fabrics for fall and winter to clothe me for the foreseeable future.  I also have the interfacing, linings, zippers, buttons, etc.

This one is also my kind of style...McCall's 7365...but I also need something less tailored and open to additions of applique or other embellishments.

This one is also my kind of style…McCall’s 7365…but I also need something less tailored and open to additions of applique or other embellishments.

And again, I like this shirt...can you see a pattern here? Butterick 6376

And again, I like this shirt…can you see a pattern here? Butterick 6376

Now I don’t want to stop forward progress on my current quilt and book projects either, so I am planning on slipping in the sewing of a new garment every so often across the rest of this year, and probably throughout next year.  Summer is just as bad, but I’m concentrating on fall and winter and four season tops for now.  Fortunately, I do have a nice supply of jeans in good shape, so for workaday I just have to concentrate on shirts and nice tops that will also work for quilt shows and demos.  I also want to make up at least one of my fabulous pieces of wool into a nicely tailored slacks suit (I don’t wear skirts anymore), and one of my four pieces of coating into a new overcoat.  Then I also want to make a couple of bags.  It’s going to be fun, but I’m beginning to think I need a clone or two.  Afterall, my studio would probably work for three sewing people.  LOL.

Well, I know I said I don't wear skirts anymore...but if they cover the legs....I might make an exception. :D

Well, I know I said I don’t wear skirts anymore…but if they cover the legs….I might make an exception. 😀  This jacket might look good with slacks.  Would that shock the early twentieth century folks?         Butterick 6337

Sew happy everyone!  Make yourself a garment every now and again, even if it is just a simple piece, before your wardrobe gets into urgent need like mine.  You know you need it.


Finishing Projects That Produce Happy Moments

Yesterday my son David A. Tatum released his third novel, which is really the second book in his ongoing “The Law of Swords” fantasy series In Forgery Divided.  I’m a proud mom and happy reader.  It is currently available at Amazon for Kindle ereaders and will show up over the next few days in other formats.  In about three or four weeks, his print version will be available from Amazon.  His books are beautifully written and well researched (yes, writing a fantasy novel requires research on history and other points…history of building, roads, clothes, food, and on and on).  They have been well edited.  So take some time out and read his books.

In Forgery Divided cover

I, too, am about to complete a long-term project–my Waiting…2 quilt (I’m considering what to name it now).

I love the actual quilting of a quilt.  It reminds me of reading an exciting book by a favorite author in which I really want to know what happens next, read as much as I can find time for, and feel just a little let down when I finish the book because there isn’t anymore of the story.  I’ve gotten the sky and sea quilted, except for adding the Angelina Fiber wave crashes and sprays.  I have completed quilting the woman and the little girl, and gotten the  cliffs done.  Sew I’m thinking I will finish in the next day or two.

It is a wonderful blessing that we are both able to do these things.  It is my hope and prayer that David’s books will sell well. This is his chosen career.  He has no other, and his books are wonderful. It is my hope and prayer that my quilts will be well received at shows, in the quilting and art communities, and elsewhere.  This is my chosen retirement career.  We both work to bring joy, refreshment of mind and spirit, and just plain fun to others.  David works to bring money to support himself, too.  So I would sew appreciate your prayers for our success, and your buying of his books.

Sew happy everyone.  May your projects be happily finished and bring happiness to you and others.

Waiting…2: Quilting Plans

I have made big progress on my Waiting…2 quilt (I really need to get a new name for this quilt).  The top is complete, I have sandwiched it and begun the quilting. A friend of mine asked me if I have a plan for quilting it.  Well, I didn’t then, but I do now.  Here is a drawing of them. I think I am better with the sewing needle than I am at drawing them out, but I think you can get the idea.

quilting designs for this landscape quilt are meant to highlight the natural look of the cliffs, the sky, and the ocean.

quilting designs for this landscape quilt are meant to highlight the natural look of the cliffs, the sky, and the ocean.

Sew happy everyone! I have to get back to quilting, because this quilt has a deadline, so this is a very short blog post.  Have a wonderful week!

“Waiting…” 2: Finally Moving Along

Have you ever had a quilt that struggled with you to the point you nearly abandoned it?  Well, that was the second in my “Waiting…” series, but I picked it up and did some substantial fixing, and now I am at the point of coming close to finishing the top and I love it at this point.

First of all, I pieced a storm at sea section to become part of the ocean.  The piecing was challenging, but enjoyable and I liked the way it came out. Here are the first two blocks of that section.first two blocks

When I put it together with the fabric piece had for the rest of the ocean, and added the sky, the whole background piece seemed disjointed and the colors simply didn’t play well. So I took the ocean off the sky and overdyed the ocean (both pieces joined together) with a more sea-like color and they blended beautifully together.  The only negative result is that, even though I hand dyed it, the pieced storm-at-sea blocks’ seams tended to fray together, so I no longer had the nice flat open pressed seams I started with.  But really, by the time I spent several hours re-flattening and spray starching the sea, it looks wonderful.

But the sky…oh the sky.  It was just too dull and gray and lifeless.  I wanted a sky with an obviously approaching storm at sunset, just as the clipper ship can be seen on the horizon.  This is to add the drama to the story…can the ship make it into port safely, and will the family be reunited and get into shelter before the storm hits?

I had tried painting that sky three times already, and I didn’t like any of them.  So I took the one I liked the best and added clouds, lightening, sunset colors, and yes, I think it now has the drama (and color) I was hoping to add.  So I put the sky and the ocean back together.

Here is a quick pic of the ocean after I dyed it and got it back together with the sky.

Here is a quick pic of the ocean after I dyed it and got it back together with the sky.

Then I added the cliffs to the left of the picture and it began to look right.  I just put in a lighthouse on the top of the farthest away visible cliff, added the rocky steps and the stone platform in the nearest  stony area for the woman and her daughter to stand on and surrounded it with stones as it would be.  It has made all the difference.  I now finally like the quilt top.

But I was not happy with the original clipper ship I had chosen to use.  I am using a Dover high-definition painted ship and I have the collection.  They are much more beautiful than I could have made from scratch, and I don’t mind using commercially printed fabrics, so why should I mind using a fabric I print myself from a collection of great nautical paintings.  Using this still requires considerable advanced techniques in applique, thread work, and quilting.

tall ship

The ship I decided not to use.

The ship I'm using.

The ship I’m using.

So I hunted through the collection and found another one, which I printed out about five different sizes, and finally got it about right.  I like this one. It has life, the sails are billowing and are a better color.  I’m slightly leaning it on the quilt to add to the look of speed.  I printed it out both on the EQ regular cotton fabric and the EQ lawn.  I am appliqueing the whole ship down from the cotton fabric, and have added wool batting to the back of the front sails and will applique those in place to give it a bit of 3D billowing sales.  I am also adding a layer of wool batting behind the ship and trapuntoing it all in place.  Then I will stitch the rigging.   That will probably take me a couple of days to applique and another stretch of time to do the quilting and stitch the rigging.  Here is my machine stitching around the stones and stone steps up to the platform where the woman and her daughter will stand.

top under construction

Then there will be the stirring up of the sea with some Angelina fibers and some thread work.  That will be fun.

Sew happy everyone!  Wishing you all a wonderful National Quilting weekend, and a happy Palm Sunday on the morrow.

An Extrordinary Present

This year for my birthday (Mar 3) my oldest son Ken and his wife Beth gave me a most extraordinarily delightful present…a set of fabrics, a box of fabulous Superior threads, a stack of reference books, and some digital design elements that all related to a quilt he designed for me to make in one of my main quilt series.

I am not going to share the design or the making of this quilt with you all until it is completed and has made its debut on the show scene, but trust me when I say it is a most wonderful design.

He knew I was casting around trying to find my next design in this series, and I have discovered in recent years that he is a really good artist.  This design is well throught out with Beth’s excellent consultation, extremely beautiful and challenging.  I hope I will be able to do it justice, but I will certainly do my best effort.  I am most decidedly touched that he thinks I can make such a quilt and that they made the effort to pull this whole package together for me.

I felt like a little girl when I saw the extent and nature of this present…I opened the box and listened to his explanations, and found a magical treasure.  It came with a digital to-scale design with some of the details pulled out and prepared in scale for me to use in digitizing small elements of the quilt in my Bernina v7 software.  Extraordinary!

Sew when I get this quilt finished and it has had a debut, sometime later this year, I will share the making of it with you on this blog.  I plan on taking lots of pictures, and keeping extensive notes as I construct it, so I can later put it together into a series of blogposts.

My tentative target date for this is sometime in August (his birth month), but that is likely to be too early, so we will have to see.

In the meantime, sew happy everyone.

While I was at the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival…


…I had a lot of fun at the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival (MAQF).  I had several items on my agenda.

  1.  One of the things I did was to go around and try out almost every machine on the floor designed for quilting.  Now there is no way I can put a long arm on a 10  or 12 foot frame in my townhome and I am not in the market for a new machine at the moment, but I still like to keep up with developments in the industry.  Besides, I might win the HGTV dreamhome one day or something.  😀 😀 😀

    I found some of the longarms heavy and difficult to move in smooth curves, and some moved smoothly and easily but had a feeling of flimsiness about them.  The floor did not have Innovas or Gammills.  My DIL has a Gammill and I have tried them during previous shows and found them quite wonderful  But of the machines on the floor I really liked the Bernina longarm on a frame the best.  It was smooth, the stitch is beautiful, and it seemed solid.

Bernina’s long arm (taken in G Street Fabrics). I really want one, but as you see it’s enormous.

  1. I also tried sit down longarms.  The most interesting thing about this that I discovered almost no advantage from any of them over my Bernina 830 in its custom made cabinet that I have in my studio.  I also like to use decorative stitches from time to time for my quilting as well as straight stitch.  So I’m hoping that Bernina will continue to make the 8 series sized machines.  I may need to invest in a longarm in a few years for one reason or another, but right now I am quite happy with quilting on my 830.
Quilting on my 830 in my studio

Quilting on my 830 in my studio

  1. I hunted for hand dyed fabrics for landscape quilts, but was unsuccessful.  I only found some intriguingly beautiful hand dyed wools.  I don’t have a wool project in my plans for this coming year, so I passed them by.
  2. I walked through the entire vendors sections and concluded that the things I might call “secondary items” to quilters and sewists are growing and make up nearly half of the vendors.  These would include such things as jewelry, glasses, shoes, vibrating pillows, and so on.  There really weren’t as many fabrics, threads, and notions that directly relate to our craft as I would have liked to see.  I did buy some threads at Superior Threads, and a few other notions.
    My loot from MAQF 2016

    My loot from MAQF 2016

  3. Of course I looked at every quilt in the show.  I was extremely impressed with how well MAQF had displayed the quilts.  Each quilt was well shown and you could get close to them (without touching, of course) and see them really well.  They weren’t roped off.  I like that.  I’ve been to shows (Quilt Odyssey comes to mind, especially) where you could hardly see any quilts in the cubicles other than the one directly ahead because the ones on the sides were roped off and you couldn’t get directly in front of them.  There were white glovers there to keep an eye on things for the most part.  I really don’t object to roping as long as it isn’t at the cost of really seeing the quilts well, but it’s especially nice to get close.
  4. I hung around my own quilts observing reactions and answering questions.  That was really fun one moment in particular when Stevii Graves showed up with Karen Sievert.  Stevii was the judge who awarded my Canterbury Knight her Judge’s Choice ribbon.
Stevii Graves and me in front of Canterbury Knight.  Stevii awarded the quilt her Judge's Choice Ribbon.. I was so honored by this.

Stevii Graves and me in front of Canterbury Knight. Stevii awarded the quilt her Judge’s Choice Ribbon.. I was so honored by this.

Sew happy everyone.  Have a wonderful week.

Note:  Once again my blog is being constantly attacked by hackers and bots.  I have removed the subscribe button which was attracting hundreds of hacker subscriber attempts.  I only can leave the comment section open about a week for this reason.  I did improve the overall security of this blog by subscribing to Wordfence, so they aren’t getting through.  I apologize to my readers and am looking for further measures I can take to prevent these attacks.