Adventures Near and Far

Since my epic 40th high school reunion, it’s been a memorable few days.

Do you ever think of quilt tops as examples of the birthing process? If so, I have delivered this big baby. And it was way overdue.



Adventure #1

Getting to the finish line for  True Blue has been an adventure in blue/cream/white fabric shopping and precision cutting and scant 1/4 inch sewing — and re-cutting and re-sewing if I’m being completely honest.

I’ve been hating on this baby for about a year and a half. Now that it’s together and the piano keys are on, I’ve fallen in love again. That dark border just seems to anchor the whole design, don’t you think? Now I’ve got to find the time to shop for backing/binding fabric. P.S. You may not zoom in to inspect my points!

Adventure #2

This weekend I checked an item off my local travel bucket list when Mom and our older sister (who is visiting from Florida) traveled to Palmyra, NY to witness the Hill Cumorah pageant. The Finger Lakes region of New York is the birthplace of Mormonism (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). This pageant has been staged for 81 years to commemorate the events leading up to that founding.

I brought along my Drop of Rainbow quilt so we could relax in the grass and witness the spectacle.

What a magnificent setting! The stage is built into the side of an historic hill. Over 700 actors participate in the play. Before the show begins, cast members, who are already dressed in their costumes, greet visitors who are waiting for the pageant to begin. It’s free to attend and visitors bring blankets and picnics and toys and games to entertain themselves before the show begins. What a wonderful family-focused event!

The families who form the acting corps travel from afar to appear in the pageant as an act of service to their church. They dedicate 3 weeks to rehearsals and then the show during the month of July for this special event. One lovely family from Texas, shared their experience with us. We chatted and got to know one another over my quilt.



Adventure #3

Speaking of adventures, I’m teaching my teenager to drive! There is one more task that he must master before taking the test: parallel parking.

I have to say that I pride myself on my parallel parking skills–seriously, if there were a parallel parking Olympics, I’d be a gold medal winner. I am vain about my skills, crazy, i know.

BUT do I have the teaching chops to pass on my magnificent skill??!! On Sunday night I took my son over to the farm for parallel parking lesson #1. No pressure, of course, despite the fact that he has to live up to my reputation LOL!

At my father’s suggestion, I set up some survey flags in the driveway to simulate a standard parking spot. Dad’s suggestion came after he rejected my son’s idea of using his car as a ‘practice dummy’ on the parking course. Clearly Dad didn’t have any faith in my Olympic-level parallel parking teaching skills! What????

Happily, I must report that I was impressed with both of us — my son grasped the concept quickly and successfully parked on the 2nd try — and good thing, because it was getting dark.

Yippee! The dreaded parking hurtle may have been conquered in time for our self-imposed deadline for scheduling the final driver’s license test for summer’s end.

Adventure #4

On the way from the farm to a nearby village to find some real parking spots (and unwitting dummies) for him to try his new skill, we saw this terrible site on the side of the road.


Andy Capps Hot Fries are sent from heaven. Littering is evil.

It was almost fully dark when we drove by and neither one of us fully understood what we had just seen. My son said “I think it was a cat wearing a scarf.” I had an impression of a chimera (too many episodes of Ancient Aliens in my recent past??) or one of those weird robotic dogs. It just didn’t computer for either of us.

So, my son did a quick 3-point turn (more excellent driving practice!) and we went back to discover what it really was: a starving coyote pup with a bag stuck on his/her head (I will henceforth refer to the pup as a he, since no wily woman would ever get her head stuck in a bag of chips with no escape plan).There was not much traffic, so we parked on the side of the road (and turned on the emergency flashers — yet more practice), and tried to get closer to see if we could help.

The pup was staggering down the road in clear distress, narrowly avoiding the sporadic 2-way traffic. I tried to call my quilt mentor to see if she and her family could help — she has a family full of wild-life enthusiasts armed with equipment and bravery–but there was no answer. My son wanted to snatch the bag off of its head, but I was terrified to let him do it. Since I have already been the recipient of the rabies shot series (other long story), I decided that I should take the risk. I talked to him and called to him and he finally allowed me to get beside him and take it off. He staggered away and headed toward a close-by stream.

As my son executed a perfect u-turn so we could continue with the driving/parking lesson, I assured him that we will meet up with that coyote pup in the distant future and the forever grateful animal will return the favor by appearing out of nowhere in the nick of time to rescue us from certain death. (I guess I read too many adventure stories.)


Eclipse Day 2017

Today was a fun day, wasn’t it? Although the eclipse was less than full here in western New York, the event created a festive atmosphere in the dog days of August. I snapped an over the shoulder shot just as the action was starting — don’t worry, I took the picture without looking, so my vision is safe.



The sun at about 1:15pm as the takeover begins.

The college campus where I work is about to explode with life and I can’t wait. Here’s a pic from this morning — the proverbial calm before the storm.


The first group of Freshmen arrive tomorrow. They don’t know it, but they are going to love it here.

The community garden is bursting with goodies. This weekend we enjoyed our first home-grown ear of corn. Delicious!


Butter+Salt+Pepper+Fresh Sweet Corn.

And, finally, the floor in my family room  has been overtaken by a rainbow. I’m so close to being finished, but alas, I’ve run out of white scraps. Off to the fabric store sometime this week to bring this scrappy Drops of Rainbow quilt top to completion.


Debut–Gifted Times Three

Sandy and I have been working on a new  quilt pattern for most of the year.  The pattern for this wall hanging is finally complete, ready for you to use–and we are celebrating!  You can download it for free gifted-times-three-gbd.


We wanted to find a new way to celebrate milestones and events in a completely new way. 

The quilt depicts a tower of presents and a shower of confetti to up the fun factor for your gift. Another unique feature of this quilt is the three dimensional bow at the top.  The bow is really a girl’s hair clip but we decided it would look great on this quilt! We’ve had so much fun hunting for just the perfect bow for each quilt.

Bonus: the bow adds some pizzazz to the quilt and it can be removed for washing.

gifted_withlogoIt took us a while to figure out the best way to add our messages. Finally, we settled on a template made with a Cricuit(r) machine. They we used embroidery paint to fill in the template. I think it would be totally cute to embroider or free-hand paint a message for your quilt.

After Sandy made her quilt, I had to be a copy cat!  I made one for my son and his fiance for their wedding shower.  It turned out fabulously (she said modestly) so we hung it above the gift table!  Their wedding colors were sea foam green and coral, a nice combination for a wedding wall hanging AND I was fortunate to find a hair clip in just the right color.  This quilt is now hanging on a wall in their apartment above the kitchen table, way to score big with the mother and mother in law!


Tim and Morgan’s shower quilt was so elegant. 

Instead of a solid white background for the wedding shower quilt, I used a white tone on tone polka dot fabric.  It added some nice visual texture with the other colors and patterns.


But wait, there’s more!  I also decided to use up some scraps and make a third wall hanging out of some girlie prints that were left-over from another project.

THEN I found the most amazing hair clip to add–makes it look even more sweet and girlie, don’t you think?  All the static in the air almost makes it look like an octopus or something,  but it’s really a feather boa type hair clip!  I just love the colors in this one!


We hope you have some occasions in your life you can commemorate with this quilt.  We’d love to see yours, send some photos on the Gray Barn Designs Facebook page or on Pinterest.


Machine Quilting Woes

I’ve really tried to like quilting on my sewing machine but am having a very troublesome time of it, woe is me!

In my post on August 11, 2016 , I mentioned I was making a sewing machine cover for my mom’s sewing machine.  Well, here is the final result.  I had a lot of fun planning and piecing this cover, figuring out the necessary dimensions and even sewing it together…but the machine quilting part, not so much!  It looks good from a distance.


We are honing in on a closer view and it still looks reasonable…but wait!  There’s more!


When I started the machine quilting, I made a valiant attempt to do meandering loops, but things quickly turned on me!


This is just one hot mess of quilting loops and jagged sewing lines.  My stitches are less than even because I was dragging the quilt sandwich around with my feed dogs down…talk about downward dog (oops thinking ahead to my yoga class tonight!).  I digress…


I even thought I would try the meandering stitch on my machine (note white in upper right and lower left pinwheel in photo below).  I quickly realized this wasn’t a good solution but I wasn’t willing to give up!  I kept making jagged loops and lines until I was done.  Finally, I resorted to a decorative zigzag stitch to hem this sewing machine cover and bring my woeful attempt at machine quilting to completion.


I know I’ll try again this again someday but wonder if I should just stick to straight lines?