Let the Happy Dance Begin

I did it! I did it! I quilted my sugar skull mini quilt! We’re not talking perfect here, but we are discussing progress. I do believe that I have released many of my fears about the risky learning process of machine quilting.



I learned a lot about my machine and a little about thread choices through this process too. I also learned that I definitely need/want a sewing table that allows my machine to sit in a well. I also learned that I’m going to have to be a thread collector — I need more options for quilting!

I’ll get this binding on by the weekend and hopefully on my wall before Halloween officially arrives.

P.S. Here is an actual photo of me while in the throes of fmq

Thanks to Dr. Seuss for documenting my experience!

Machine Quilting Makes Me Talk Like a Pirate (Maybe even a sailor)

Arrrgh, me hearties — I’ve been at it once again — I’m talking about machine quilting !!?#*&&!!!

My new (to me) Bernina Virtuoso 153 Quilter’s Edition, wonderful and steady as she blows, cannot (apparently) save me from my own mistakes.

I’m determined to machine quilt my pix-elated sugar skull wall hanging. So I decided to use my walking foot and quilt it on the diagonal — easy as begging for candy from neighbors, right?


Just before the real “fun” began.

As I began quilting, I was struggling with the pins and I was having trouble keeping the stitches even. Despite the walking foot, the weight of the quilt kept slowing the stitches down and making them very uneven. It was bothering me, but I was trying to learn to live with it. Then I turned the quilt over to take a peek at the back side….

ARRRgh (more pirate talk) (even more sailor talk *&$#@@!!!).


This bulge is so large it was mistaken for a space/time ripple from observers on the International Space Station.

For this failed attempt at machine quilting, I was using a new “jeans” needle, my walking foot, safety pins to secure the sandwich and my usual piecing thread in both the top and in the bobbin. The stitch length was set to 3.

After I stopped with my pirate soliloquy, I picked out every one of those stitches and then threw the backing and the top into the wash in an effort to remove all of the tiny bits of thread clinging to my quilt like barnacles on a sea cow.

Here are the steps I’ve taken before beginning my second attempt:

I went to Joann to buy some machine quilting thread (all my quilting shops are closed on Sunday). I purchased a Sulky 12 weight thread, hoping to make the stitches more distinct.  Next, I found a great blog post on QuiltSocial.com from Jennifer Houldon on using this thread to machine quilt. I also purchased a can of quilt basting spray. I switched out my walking foot for a free-motion foot, guessing/hoping that I can begin in the center and make a tight stipple pattern that will reduce fabric bunching.

Finally, I am trying to figure out where and how I can protect my floors from the basting spray. I thought I had a large sheet of new drywall in my storage shed to use as a base, but I do not. This isn’t supposed to be this hard, is it?

Any and all advice welcome on any and all of the above! I don’t want to have to keep the eye patch I have on order.


The dude in red and I speak the same language!

Pix-elated Skull

I spent a fun weekend in Erie, Pa watching my roommate’s son-in-law run a marathon. SIL is a fast runner and the Erie race is a good one for qualifying for the Boston Marathon. The site of the race, Presque Isle state park, is lovely — I will definitely return to Erie for the beachfront, the shopping, the wine and the food.



Calm Lake Erie on the morning of the race. The weather was perfect for runners.

SIL qualified — in personal best fashion. As a former (much slower) marathoner, it was a thrill to see him cruise across the finish line in under 3 hours. (More from Boston in April!)

It was also a great family trip because one of the three cutest grandchildren on the planet was also in Erie to watch his dad race. Said grandchild may have been in grandparent overload, as all 5 of his living grands were in attendance. How many grandparents does it take to change a diaper at a marathon? Apparently three. I’ll spare you the photographic evidence. You’ll just have to trust me on this.

Between pre- and post-marathon wine samples , we picked apples so us non-runners could say the weekend wasn’t only about the wine.


We arrived after closing time at the u-pick farm, but the Rahal farm team was gracious and stayed late so these first-time apple pickers could celebrate marathon success in the orchard.

In the past, I’ve only spent limited time in Erie as we were racing out to Columbus to visit Cindy. Now it’s on my list of fun weekend trips. I’m looking forward to going again and finding more hidden gems.

On the sewing front, my pix-elated skull has finally emerged as an antidote to my pix-elated e-heart from Valentine’s day. Machine quilting to commence shortly.


It’s hard to tell from this photo, but Abe Lincoln has left the building. My sweet little boy has re-emerged from his Amish phase and is back there somewhere.

Life in a Twizzle

Since my brand new sophomore returned to school, it seems that time has sped up. There is so much happening, it’s a good thing that I have my planner, because I’d never keep all of this straight!


He wasn’t completely thrilled to return to routine, but I do believe that he was ready for a change.

As my son is tackling trig, the bathroom renovation that I’ve been dreaming about has finally begun. Seriously, this project has been 1+ years in the making, but I still haven’t finalized all of the details. I think I am one of “those” customers


Demolition nearly complete

And then there is soccer or soccer practice every night. Meanwhile the lawns needed to be mowed, I’m starting to think about winterizing the house and for goodness sake, who’s making dinner? Don’t get me started on the holiday planning….

Just when you think you might have a lazy afternoon at the farm, a first cousin arrives for a visit for the first time in 5 years.


Since my grandmother died long before I was born, it was nice to hear my father’s cousin speak about her “Aunt Jessie”.

I’m not complaining about any of this activity — I love the early fall and the promise of things to come and time with family. But it certainly has curtailed time in the studio. It’s a good thing that I worked a little ahead.

Several months ago I developed a little Frank N. Stein mug rug to match Count Dracula. Cindy sewed and quilted Frank. Isn’t he the original patchwork man?frank_watermark