Monthly Archives: September 2011

Physical Therapy for a Quilter’s Hands


I haven’t been quilting that long, but I am very aware of hand problems developed by quilters. These include carpel tunnel, nerve problems, tendonitis, trigger fingers and more. I was burdened with problems in both hands — a trigger thumb in my left hand and a barely-able-to-bend index finger on my right hand. Eventually pain and difficulty sewing sent me to the doctor and to a hand surgeon. The surgeon prescribed physical therapy at a hand therapy clinic (yes, there are specialists in physical therapy too) and my adventure began.

Since early July, I have gone to the therapy clinic three times a week. Yes, it is painful and I think the therapists are fairly aggressive. However I’ve seen amazing results. My right index finger bends completely. I ended up having a cortisone shot in my left thumb (unbelievably painful) and it is about 75% better. All in all, worth it.

I’ve met so many people at therapy that didn’t consult a doctor until they were really bad (sorta like I did). Treatment takes many, many months and often requires surgery. Why do we do this? Our hands are vitally important, especially as quilters, and we owe it to ourselves to take care of them. I’ve promised myself that I will get help at the first sign of repeat problems — or of any new issues.

A Lesson in Scale from Mary Fons


This is a short video about scale in fabric. It shows how to determine large and small scale fabric, and why large scale fabrics (usually) don’t work in small, pieced blocks.

Baaaad Sheep Quilt


One of the purposes of this blog is to share my quilts — the great, the good and the ugly — so that others can learn from my mistakes. Well … here’s one in the not-so-good category.

My plan was to whip up a quick, lap-size quilt for my nieces. They spent the summer raising sheep for 4H and one of them, in particular,  is absolutely in love with this animal. I saw these Susybee panels and coordinating fabrics at and decided it would be a quick quilt. I added a 1 1/2″ (before seam allowance) to offset the panel, and then borders to the sides and bottom.

Before we continue, let me say that I HATE IT!

The bottom border was from coordinating fabric. It is rather weird, because the bottom foot or so of the fabric is grass and sheep, and the other 34″ of the fabric is sky. I had this assuming the fabric was a border stripe, so I’d only ordered 2 yards and didn’t have enough to go around the quilt. The other designs on the panel were kind of an odd size and I wasn’t sure how to incorporate them in my quick-and-easy design.

It’s currently on my design wall and I’m trying to figure out how to fix it. I think I’ll rip out everything down to the original panel (with grey sashing) and then maybe add some 4 patches. Stay tuned.

Baaaad Sheep Quilt, as is

Original Sheep Panel from Susybee

Critter Kingdom Baby Quilt


This kit — Critter Kingdom by Pat Ashton — was an absolute pleasure. Fabrics were labeled, which I appreciated since all fabrics were black and white.  Directions were easy to follow and there were lots of illustrations. I give Pat Ashton an A+ in design and pattern instructions.

My only complaint is that the animal templates for the monkey and giraffe need to be assembled. However there wasn’t a lot of alternatives, given that neither animal fit on the standard 8.5 x 11″ instruction page. I ended up photocopying these two animals onto another piece of paper, then cutting and pasting them together.

I really enjoyed this project. It is easy to do and would be great for a confident beginner.

The website given on the pattern is

Critter Kingdom by Pat Ashton

Trips and Tours for Quilters


After my last post, my girlfriend did some investigation of the Ireland trip. Apparently Sew Many Places offers all sorts of wonderful excursions for quilters. I do not know anybody whose taken these trips, but the instructors are awesome and the itineraries look great. Check them out!

Tour of Ireland with Luana Rubin, owner of eQuilter


I saw this tour advertised and had to share it. First of all, it’s worth $3,000 for 11 days with Luana. I am an avid follower of her blog and she offers great fabrics at eQuilter (probably my 2nd favorite online store). Luana is definitely one of the people in the quilt world I’d like to become my BFF! Here’s the info on the tour. If the Financial Fairy starts dropping money on my home, you can count on me to be there!

Gallery in Red Quilt Top is Finished


The final borders are on and this quilt top looks great. It’s large (72″ square) and hard to photograph in my studio because my longarm machine is a few feet out from the wall. Pardon the distortion, but you get the idea. It is truly beautiful and even my ever-critical 14 year old daughter likes it. The backing has arrived and I can’t wait to start quilting it!

Gallery in Red II -- Finished Top

5 Reasons I Love Online Shopping at


I love online fabric shopping and there are many, many great webstores that I will review over time. I know many quilters are hesitant to shop online … but I highly recommend it. The selection in the big stores is well beyond what can be found at your local quilt store with 3,000 or 5,000 bolts of fabric.

I order from more than any other online store. It is my favorite for several reasons:

1. Price — generally has the lowest prices of the big online shops. They also offer free shipping if you spend more than $35.00.

2. Great coupons and sales — Enclosed with your order is often a coupon to save 15% off already low prices. Around holidays, they tend to have a sale of $10 off purchases from $50 to $100, $15 off purchases from $101 to $149, and $20 off purchases over $150.

3. Fast service — I usually get my order 3 days after I place it. This is — hands down — the fastest shipping of the big companies.

4. Ruler markings on website — It is so hard to tell the scale of fabrics when shopping online. has a ruler shown with all their fabrics. Very few other companies do this and it is a GREAT feature.

5. Great selection — is awesome for printed, novelty quilt fabric. It is well categorized and the website is easy to use. They carry full lines and indicated the number of yards on hand.

Please note that I have no financial interest in — except for purchases placed on my Visa card.

Gallery in Red Quilt is Assembled with 2 Borders


The quilt is coming along. I got the individual blocks sewn to the sashing, and then sewn together. The next photo shows the quilt with the first of three borders attached.

I maintain that this quilt looks stunning but am still unimpressed with the written directions. Thankfully they have a good assembly diagram (in color and labelled with each fabric’s corresponding letter) that is a big help.

These photos show a “how not to” photograph quilts. Notice the clear colors in photo #1 compared with the yellow cast in photo #2. Natural light and a good flash make all the difference.

Assembled Blocks with Sashing

Assembled Quilt with First Border