Monthly Archives: November 2012

Book Review: The Magic of Crazy Quilting by J. Marsha Michler

Standard I was a child, we took turns sleeping under a crazy quilt made by my great-grandmother. It was primarily black in color and weighed a ton. (I’m guessing the batting was old wool blankets.) My mother kept the quilt in the hall closet and it was always a treat to find it available for a night. For some reason, the sheer weight of the quilt made it comforting.

I think this is why I appreciate crazy quilts. The randomness of the fabric and the variety of stitching makes them very compelling. I’ve only ever made one crazy quilt, and I did all the stitching using my Janome. It was fun to make, but I don’t see another one in my future.

“The Magic of Crazy Quilting” (second edition) calls itself “A Complete Resource for Embellished Quilting.” As I looked through this book, I found it to be true. It would be a great reference for an experienced crazy quilter, or a wonderful textbook for a beginner.

The first chapter covers the basics of crazy quilting. There is a lot packed in these 30 pages, including how to set up your workspace, how to select fabric and colors, and how to do foundation piecing. A beginner should have no problem constructing a quilt if they follow these directions.

The second chapter is 40 pages long. It is directions for the many embroidery stitches that go into a crazy quilt, including the traditional spider and web. The illustrations are very good and this chapter contains a lot of stitches.

Chapter 3, which is 50 pages long, covers embellishments. Pretty much everything but the kitchen sink can be added to crazy quilts. This chapter covers how to add antiques, beads, ribbons and felt, as well as painting and stenciling. Once again this chapter is very comprehensive.

Chapter 4 gives directions for several small crazy quilting projects, including a necklace, a pillow, and a vest. These projects didn’t really excite me, but they certainly work as a way to practice your skills.

Chapter 5, called “Finishing Touches,” crams a lot into 6 pages. This chapter describes how to make borders and how to finish the quilt. I did like that the directions included how to add a ruffle to a quilt, something that I haven’t seen elsewhere.

The book concludes with a gallery of crazy quilts, as well as directions on how to make them.

Overall I think this is a wonderful book for anybody interested in making crazy quilts. It is available from

Quilting Lessons from Dolly Parton


I was listening to Connecticut Public Radio yesterday, as I took my dog to the vet, and they had an interview with Dolly Parton. (Unfortunately this interview has not yet been posted online.) She is an amazing singer and songwriter, having written more than 3,000 songs in her career. What I didn’t know is that she is also a very good business woman and a generous philanthropist.

In this interview, she said that she quickly learned she was in the music business and she needed to be able to make a living. She realized that being successful was not about playing music all day, but about paying attention to making money. Pardon the pun, but this struck a chord with me. Her realization mirrored a discussion I’d just had with several of my quilting business colleagues. Most of us would rather quilt all day, but we realize that our businesses require considerable attention if we are to be successful.

Another great takeaway from the interview is that Dolly believed in herself. She told the story of her high school graduation, when her fellow students were all announcing their plans for the future. When she announced her intention to move to Nashville and be a singing star, everybody laughed. However she was undeterred because she knew she would be a star, and she continued to believe in her dreams.

Dolly also talked about how stylists wanted to change her look for the Grammy Awards, but she wanted to remain true to who she was. I have to admire her commitment to being true to herself.

My earliest memory of a Dolly Parton song is “Coat of Many Colors.” It is a true story about a patchwork coat that her mother made from fabric scraps. Although the song isn’t exactly about quilting, I’ve always been captivated about Dolly’s love for her mother’s sewing skills. It is hard to believe this song was released more than 30 years ago. I hope it brightens your day!

I’ve spent the last week watching Christmas movies


I can’t believe it’s been a week since I started getting sick. I still have a death-rattle cough and somewhat drippy nose, but otherwise have recovered well enough to resume my life. I have been doing some longarming since I have deadlines to meet, but that’s about it.

I’ve spent most of the last week watching Christmas movies. I’ve always loved Christmas movies, much to the dismay of my family who thinks they are sappy and boring. I’ve probably seen 20 of these movies in the last week and have worked out a formula: One member of the cast hates Christmas, because they are either (1) a workaholic or (2) had a family member or spouse die on Christmas eve (usually in a tragic accident, but cancer works too). At the end of every movie, the main character grows to love Christmas, recognizes their soul mate has been in front of them the whole time, they kiss, and it snows. It doesn’t matter if the movie is set in Los Angeles or the North Pole … it has to snow at the end.

Wouldn’t it be great if life were that simple? We survive conflict or tragedy, only to meet the love of our lives and live happily ever after. Or we open our hearts, only to have life reward us with a perfect family and a future in a winter wonderland? One can only dream of this. Or, in my case, see it on the Hallmark Channel for the next month until Christmas day!

Not exactly the Thanksgiving I’d planned …


It’s been a long time since we’ve had really bad colds in our household, but we made up with it this past week. It started with my husband about 10 days ago. By Wednesday, my daughter and I were getting sick. By Thursday, my daughter and I were referring to this Thanksgiving as “The Thanksgiving Dad Tried to Kill Us With His Germs.”  That was too much to say, so it became “The Thanksgiving Plague.”

This is how bad it was … I could not quilt. Seriously. Looking down at my sewing machine or my longarm hurt, because my sinuses were congested and it made me cough. So I’ve spent the last few days watching Christmas movies on the DVR and going through boxes and boxes of tissues.

A couple of people have been encouraging me to include more information about my non-quilting life in my blog posts. I was going to include a photo of the stacks of used tissues in our trashcans, but thought that might be a little too much information.

I will be back blogging in a couple of days, when my body is feeling a bit better. Apparently the “Thanksgiving Plague” is not the kind of thing you recover from in a day or two.

Happy Thanksgiving!


I am taking a break from blogging this week. I’d love to say I am taking an exotic quilter’s cruise, but the truth is I will be cooking and cleaning. I am still looking for a way to spend all my time quilting, but still have an immaculate house and regularly prepared nutritious meals. For now, I’ll use Thanksgiving as a good excuse to clean up the house and replace some of the frozen food that we lost during Hurricane Sandy.

I am excited that my son will be home from college for 3 days — although it sounds like most of his time will be spent either visiting with his friends or sleeping. Regardless, it will be nice to have our small family together again.

I wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving and will be back posting on November 26th!

Book Review — Blog Inc.: Blogging for Pawssion, Profit and to Create Community


If you’re reading this review, you’ve probably figured out that I’m a dedicated blogger. I blog 5 days a week, and it is the first thing I do when I start my day (even before breakfast and a cup of coffee). I blog because I am passionate about quilting, love to share information that  helps make people better quilters, and enjoy having a showcase for my own work. I read this book because, even after 350+ posts, I am committed to becoming a better blogger.

Blog Inc. is a great book for both the novice and experienced blogger. It contains a lot of nuts-and-bolts information, such as how to choose a name and how to choose a platform. The book also covers practical matters such as how to monetize your blog, increasing traffic, and how to make your blog into a business. This was all good information.

What I liked best about Blog Inc. is that it captures the spirit of blogging. You can tell that author Joy Deangdeelert Cho loves to blog. This same energy comes through in the book’s 17 interviews with a diverse range of successful bloggers. They are innovative, creative, and passionate about blogging. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the back story of these successful blogs. I also came up with a few ideas of how to better promote my blog.

Although the profiled blogs are incredibly successful, the author does not give the impression that blogs are a get-rich-quick endeavor. I wasn’t surprised to see that many of the bloggers spend more than 40 hours a week working on their blogs.

I would recommend this book to both novice and seasoned bloggers. It contains some great information and the profiles were very inspirational.

Blog Inc. is for sale on

Superstorm Sandy Floods My Local Quilt Shop


By now most of you know that I am from Long Island and that much of our region was devastated by the Superstorm Sandy. I spent some time yesterday in the doctor’s office waiting room and met people who’d been without power for 2 weeks, and others whose family members had lost everything. On Monday, my next-door neighbor finally had the tree removed from his roof, and the repair crews were there today.

One of the casualties of the storm is my local quilt shop — Pieceful Quilting — which was located in the town next to mine. The owner — Angie Veck — was attending Quilt Market in Houston when the storm hit. Unfortunately she had commitments throughout the convention and was unable to get back to Long Island early (something that I, thankfully, was able to arrange). From her hotel room, she saw images of her store under water. Worse yet, she has not been able to collect any insurance for the damages.

Losing a local quilt store is a tragedy, because it is also the center of a vibrant community of quilters. Many of her customers (including me) were extremely sad at the thought of losing this business, because it meant losing a chunk of our social life. I am extremely happy to report that Angie is relocating, that the carpets are going into the new space tomorrow, and that we will soon be able to visit her new store in a nearby town (Calverton, New York).

You can read more about Angela Veck and her decision to rebuild. I’m excited to see the new store and I wish Angie and her wonderful staff well as they prepare a new home for local quilters!

Pieceful Quilting Before the Storm

Pieceful Quilting after Hurricane Sandy

My First Quilt Market: Part 6 — Sample Spree


Are you the kind of person that lines up at 2:00 AM on Black Friday to be first in line for holiday specials? If so, you would probably love Sample Spree at Quilt Market.

Sample Spree is held at Quilt Market, on Friday night at 8:00 PM.  At the sample spree last month, 142 companies – a lot of which are fabric manufacturers – sell samples of their goods. The purpose is to allow businesses to purchase samples for their displays and sample quilts. In reality, it is a free-for-all in which people line up for five hours prior to opening, just to get first dibs on the merchandise.

Until I got to Quilt Market, I was not even aware of sample free. I was given advice that ranged from “it’s totally fun” to “I never go near that place” to “make sure you wear closed-toed shoes becomes people will step on your feet.” There was a lot of discussion about how busy the Moda booth would be (and it was). People also share Sample Spree stories in the same way you’d share tales about your family … as in: “Remember the year the guy at the Moda booth wouldn’t reach down and grab the fat quarters I wanted?”

The advice I decided to follow was not to wait in line, but to have a nice dinner and show up around 8:30. This I did and it worked well. The vendors were busy, but the tables were well-staffed and vendors were willing to chat.

One of the busiest booths was Kaufmann. Since I’m making a lot of modern quilts, I couldn’t resist the wholesale prices on solid jelly rolls and fat quarter bundles. However I was very aware that I didn’t have a lot of extra room in my suitcase and that fabric is heavy. These items cease to be a bargain if you’re paying $35 for another bag of luggage or UPS shipping charges.

Overall, Sample Spree was fun. Nobody stepped on my toes and I got a few bargains. This is an experience I will definitely repeat.

The Crowds at Sample Spree

My purchases … jelly rolls from the Kauffman booth

A tote bag for my daughter, the shoe-lover. It cost $5!

Color Theory for Quilters: The Meaning of Color


Most of us have some sense of the meaning behind certain colors. Wearing a navy suit, for example, denotes power. We know that purple is the color of royalty. And we intuitively know that a child’s bedroom should be not be painted red if we want them to calm down and go to sleep.

These same principles can be applied to our quilts. We can use color strategically to create a mood with our designs. Here’s a great article about the psychological affects of color. It is interesting that each color has both positive and negative psychological connotations.

Looking at article above, I can see how one could get overwhelmed in choosing a color. Remember that no one from the Quilt Police: Color Division is going to show up at your house and critique your choice. The purpose of this series of articles is to increase our knowledge of color theory and expand our color selections in quilts. Knowing about the meaning of color is just one way we can do that.

This video describes the surprising historical origins of some colors. If you’ve ever wondered why barns are painted red, take a look!

My First Quilt Market: Part 5 — How Do You Quilt Those Samples?


One of my great pleasures at Quilt Market — the everything-you-could-ever-need-for-quilting trade show held in October in Houston — was looking at the sample quilts. Every booth that sold patterns had gorgeous sample quilts, because vendors know that buyers — just like regular customers in quilt shops — buy what they can see (and probably touch). I was expecting to see some amazing quilting on these samples. And I was surprised to find just the opposite!

I have to admit that 99 percent of the samples were quilted very simply, usually with just a large stipple. I talked to Laurie Tigner — a longarmer and amazing pattern designer — about the simplicity of the quilting. She told me that her customers want to see simple quilting — such as an easy allover meander — otherwise they feel that the patterns are too complicated for them. She actually re-quilted her samples using with easy stippling, just so customers would not feel intimidated!

You can see more of Laurie Tigner’s quilts at Laurie Tigner Designs.

Laurie Tigner shows her “Pumpkin Patch” pattern sample