Quilting Tips

Last week we had an ice storm in East TN.  It gave me an opportunity to sit and finish quilting my new Star Garden.  (See the home page for a full picture.)  Here is the view from my back window onto the deck.

View from my back window.

View from my back window.


I put on a pot of tea and baked some scones to eat while quilting.  When I got to the border, I thought you all might like to see how I keep my borders flat when quilting…

I start quilting from the center of my quilt, as taught in the “Tiny Stitches 2” book.  When I get to the borders, I take my quilt out of the hoop and attach a muslin “sleeve”.  (The sleeve I use over and over again.  I cut 2 yards of muslin in half lengthwise, sewed it up into a sleeve and then turn it right side out.  You can also use an old beach towel.)

Start by laying your quilt flat, extending the extra batting and backing.


Lay the quilt flat with the border extended.

Lay the quilt flat with the border extended.


Now baste your “sleeve” right sides together along the edge of the border through all 3 layers.  (I usually have to move the sleeve onto another side after I’ve finished quilting part of the border.)

Baste the sleeve onto the edge of the quilt.

Baste the sleeve onto the edge of the quilt.


When you put the quilt back into your hoop, you have an “extension” with the sleeve.  It helps the border to stay put when quilting and give you a nice FLAT border every time.

Ready to quilt the border.

Ready to quilt the border.

I finished the quilting in the late afternoon in time to have another scone!   Pass the clotted cream!



Cutting Up & Perle Cotton Tricks!

Hi, everyone.  While I working on my new Star Garden quilt, I took a picture of the cutting process.  Susan, a quilting friend, shared this trick with me several years ago and I love it and use it EVERY time I cut out a project.

Just put a towel on your lap as you cut and it catches all the bits and pieces.  When you are done, just pick up the towel and your pieces are ready for disposal.  You can also do this if you machine piece and need to cut off “dog ears.”  Too simple, yet  clever!  No more mess after cutting!

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Catch all your bits onto a towel.


Here is another tip I use when I’m embroidering.  I LOVE valdani perle cotton.  Start all the balls and pull the ends of the thread through the top opening.  When you need a color, just select and pull out as much as you need!  The ball doesn’t roll away!  PERFECT!

If you purchase a set of my “Handwork in the Smokies” valdani collection, you get the zip pouch FREE!  (See the website under notions.)  The pouch will also hold a needle keeper and small 5″ hoop, so I organize all my embroidery supplies in one place.

Start all the balls and pull the ends through the end of the zipper.

Start all the balls and pull the ends through the end of the zipper.



Some Inspiration

Hello, everyone!  I’ve been busy working on my new quilt, Star Garden this holiday season.  It was so much fun to make.  Bigger pieces than I usually use.  I can’t wait to quilt it!

Over the holidays, I got a couple really neat pictures from my students and friends, I thought I’d share.  The first picture is from my friend, Sandi.  Sandi and I have been friends since she took my very first quilting class I taught in 1978!  We have raised our boys together, shared our sorrows and joys.  Sandi is so much fun to be around, her daughter in law once remarked, “When I grow up, I want to be YOU!”  She took my feathered star workshop at Handwork in the Smokies and made one block.  She framed the block and look at the outcome!  See, even ONE block can be a STAR!

Sandi’s feathered star hangs proudly over her fire place.

One of my wonderful students, Jan, finished her Mariner’s Compass quilt in time to give to her husband for Christmas!  What a gift!  And it is beautiful!


By adding blocks, Jan made a bed quilt.

I hope these pictures keep you inspired to hand piece this year.  Whether it is one block or many, the outcome is still fabulous!




Homemade New Year

It was very busy here at the new studio for a few days.  My 9 year old grand daughter  wanted to finish her tumbler quilt that she had started last June when I visited.  She read my “Tiny Stitches” book from cover to cover and even quoted me word for word.  Wow!  The mind of the young!  Anyway, I got her started working on my sewing machine to finish up the last row.

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She was so excited to be working on it.  BTW, the tumbler is PERFECT for a child, either by hand or machine.  This was her first attempt at machine work and the stamped lines REALLY helped.

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After layering and basting, she chose one of my favorite valdani perle cotton colors called “Lollipop” to big stitch the piece together.  Look at that “thimble action”.  A grammy has to be proud!

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She did get the binding sewn on as well, so it went home a FINISHED piece!




Merry “Quilty” Christmas

Just wanted to make sure you all get a special greeting and Merry Christmas from my new studio!  I got to sew this week with my friend, Priscilla.  She became my first “official” studio guest!

Hand piecing in the new studio!

I worked on some embroidery and my new quilt design with a new stamp I hope to have out soon.

Our house is just about ready for guests and I took a picture for your enjoyment of the cozy living room ready for the grand kids to tear into the presents.  (Should I take an “after” picture?)

Ready for Christmas.

Hope you have time this year to spend time with friends and reflect on the many blessings that the Lord has given us.  You are all very special to me and I wish you health and happiness in 2013.

A toast to all my quilting friends!


Studio Wall

Hi, Everyone!  I had a chance this week to get some quilts pinned up on my studio wall.  Such a great place to pin up some of my favs that were just folded up.

Favorite Quilts pinned up on empty wall.

Note the sign, so if you don’t know what they are…  🙂

I also moved over some of my business this week.  I have a great storage for my inventory stamps in my pine jelly cupboard.

Jelly Cupboard

Let’s open it and see what is in it!

Open Jelly Cupboard

Just waiting on your order!  I should be completely operational this weekend.  My computer center is being moved tomorrow along with my huge printer.  I have a treat coming up next week, so stayed tuned!


Ironing Center

Hi, everyone!  We had a few bumps in getting into our new house with the plumbing, but now we seem to be on track.  I even got to hang some quilts in my studio yesterday.  (More pics to come next week.)  Anyway, thought you would like to see my ironing and cutting setup.

I bought a “big board” from a quilt show and then my hubby proceeded to purchase some stand alone cupboards from Lowe’s.  He nailed a piece of particle board to the tops of the cabinets and then put the big board on top.  PERFECT!  Ironing boards can take up so much room in your sewing area, but this provides a needed space AND storage!  The cabinets are about 4″ from the wall, so I can drape my large fabrics over the back as I iron.  And yes, that is a “steam generator” iron.  I LOVE mine.  It eliminates the need to press back and forth a million times, just twice thru and you are done.  The space also doubles as a cutting center.

“Big Board” ironing & cutting center.

More Organizing Tips

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!  I’m very thankful for my family, friends and followers!  I’m still moving into my new space and thought I’d spend a few minutes showing you how it is going.

Many of you know that I like to scrapbook with my sisters once a year.  Anyway, organizing my scrapbooking stuff is hard to do, so I can have it handy, but organized.   I was searching for a great alternative to basic scrapbooking carts and found this really great chest at Hobby Lobby the other day.  I got it for 40% off, too.  It holds everything vertically and looks great in my new space, especially since I love my baskets to hold little supplies.

This chest holds all my scrapbooking articles

I opened the chest to show you how much stuff it holds.  The great thing is that the lid stays up so I can reach for my things and easily find them.

Open Scrapbooking Chest

The quilts got moved recently, too.  I’ve been “hanging” my quilts for a long time.  I use a spare closet.  It helps to find them when I want a particular quilt to decorate in the house or get a quilt for a class I’m teaching.

Hanging quilts in a spare closet.

I do hang them with the lengthwise grain going from top to bottom.  (More about grainline in an upcoming blog.)  Have a happy day organizing your space!



Organizing Your Space

My new space! It has a view of the wooded backyard.

Many of you know that I’m moving to a new home in the mountains.  It has been our dream to live closer to the Smokies, so my hubby and I took the plunge!  Now I’ll have a dream studio to organize my business and my hobbies.  I’ll be posting as I move in and show you how I organize as I go.  Stay tuned!

Pictured above is the space.  It needed a lot of TLC, it was dirty with awful 80’s vinyl and badly in need of paint.  (It was an artist’s studio.)  The first thing I did was paint and get new vinyl laid.  AHHH!  Much better now!

Here is a great tip for storing your fabric.  My students are amazed at how I organize it.  I wash, press and fold my fabric and store it up on end, like a book!  It is much easier to choose one or two fabrics than in a stack.  People ask me all the time if I use those “bolt thingys” that are available to wrap the fabric on.  No, I don’t.  It would just take up valuable space.  Try this the next time you organize your stash!

Fabric is folded and stored on end rather than in a stack.



Houston Show

Hi, everyone!  I’m back from the Houston show.  It was fabulous as usual.  Lot of great classes and great students!

Eager students all the way from the UK!


My sister, Gayle, came with me to help with sales and made block keepers as fast as she could for my eager students.

Gayle making block keepers as fast as she can!

Of course the quilts were fabulous!  And the shopping was out of this world, everything you could ever need for quilting was in one place.  Unfortunately, my sister and I only had a limited amount of time for shopping.  🙁  I did see Sandra Dallas promoting her new book, “The Quilt Walk”.  It is a story for tweenagers about traveling west in a wagon train.   (Great as a Christmas gift for the child in your life!)