Tuesday, December 29, 2015


 WELL - Christmas 2015 came and went quilting with my sister, Robin.  She came in from Arkansas and brought a few jelly rolls.  She said she wanted to "whip up" a quick 1600 inch quilt for a friend.  Great idea, but I couldn't let it go at just a 1600 inch quilt in straight lines - no - not me.  She thought she was going to sit down and sew a whole bunch of strips together and Ta Da! an instant quilt!
Right. Like I am going to let that happen? No - I just had to put my two cents in and I convinced her if she was going to make a 'strip' quilt, to at least put a little style into it.  I showed her some photos from Pinterest and she relented to a "V" strip quilt.  That's when the fun started.

FIRST - she explained she had no pattern. I told her to just sew strips together on the diagonal.  I forgot that although she is a fantastic garment sewer, she doesn't know that much about making quilts. I think that was a mistake. She had no concept of what a rectangle should look like made out of fabric strips.

EASY, I said. Just like this . . . and I printed out a diagram and taped it to the window above the sewing machine. Just sew them at a slant.  I soon found out beginners have issues just sewing strips together, let alone on the diagonal. Turned out this whole idea wasn't the best thought out idea I've had.

So, here's a picture of the diagram from which I figured she could get the idea after I sewed the first couple of strips into the beginning block.

I thought this shouldn't be too hard. Easy Peasy. Forgot - forgot -forgot!

First, this is a classy style for a jelly roll. Shouldn't take too long and we can visit and get other Christmas stuff done. I realized it was off-center (which I carefully explained added an artistic element to a quilt).  and I figured she could just start it and when she got about so far, I would whack it off on the sides creating a left and right edge. The whining started about that time, but continued for 3 days! The sounds coming from my sewing room were awful. She kept telling me she knew how to sew (and she really, really does!), all the time explaining she also knew what a rectangle looked like, but this was no rectangle.  "Don't worry" I promised her, "It'll be a rectangle soon."
Less whining and more sewing. Jeeze!

I soon realized beginner's PULL on their fabric something awful. If you add the 'diagonal' component to that - I can only describe it as a mess.  She kept whining it was never going to stop and it was going to go on forever. I gave her a left edge to make one side shorter, but that didn't help a lot with the fussiness. While I like scraps quilts and their originality, beginners tend towards matching and coordinating. So, she spent a lot of time selecting WHICH colors should go where out of a jelly roll! Oh Boy!

I wasn't standing over her since I had things to do, too. She kept pulling those strips and telling me she was going to be sewing forever. When I looked at what she was doing, she was pulling, pushing, and stretching the poor strips into an un-Godly shape! Ultimately, I could only listen to her sewing and whining for so long, and here is what she ended up with AFTER I whacked off the left and right side. Can you see where this went wrong?

Not bad. We can work with that. Of course, not as long as I would like to see it - but let's face it: there was no way I was going to get another whiney row out of her!

So. . .  a little trimming, a little quilting, and a whole lot of stroking (both sis and the quilt), she finally ended up with the  photo at top.

The PHOTO at the top of this post is the great Christmas Quilt on a bed with the binding. Not bad for 3 days of Quilting at Christmas! Now, do you think she is going to ask to do this again?
We'll see. She's back in Arkansas trying to forget (probably involves alcohol), I'm sure.

What's the moral to this story? Think twice before offering to quilt with your sister at Christmastime. Don't try 'thinking outside the box' with a beginner - they don't get it.

Higgly-Piggly scrap quilts work great for some, but a lot of beginners don't see quilts the same as an experienced quilter.
Sewing with my sister - would I do it again? YOU BET!
REMEMBER - it's not just the final quilt - IT'S THE JOURNEY WE ENDURED!

I had a great time and I think after a little time to heal, she will agree with me?
AND HERE IT IS FINISHED and given to her friend!! I still think she should have made it longer-don't you agree?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Can quilting be used as part of the STEM initiative in the Elementary School curriculum?

I am going to start a page about using quilts, quilting and literature to teach elementary kids about quilting. The most important objective I wish to accomplish is to introduce this rich, uniquely American craft to young children as just that, an American craft with all the "hidden riches" of the Core Curriculum and STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math).

Introducing children to quilting is not intended to create "seamstresses" out of any of the students, but to educate them relative to the diverse lessons quilting contains. If you think about what I have written, I am sure YOU can come up with even more theories contained in quilting:

  • Art - patterns, color theory, repetitions, and just plain enjoyment of an individual creation.
  • Literature - stories, books, and articles that link quilting to real-life and families.
  • Critical thinking - teaching analytical skills that cause one to 'think' about how to solve a particular problem or issue.
  • History and traditions - "The world sews - America Quilts!!" But, where did American quilting come from? Why have we treasured it so much? But, more importantly, can we continue the tradition?
  • Science - Where did dye colors come from (other than Michaels)? What were the first colors used in dye and how were they invented? Does that mean now that we are in the 21st century, all colors and dyes have been discovered? No. just ask Heather Purcell from Superior Threads, she creates new colors with the help of science all the time. Plus - we all had such a great time dyeing fabric last summer!! Whoo hoo!
  • Engineering - I honestly didn't think engineering played into the whole quilting curriculum until I thought about some of the patterns I have created and realized sometimes I had to "engineer" the method used to complete the project. Such as the mouse pincushion. One thing we did recently in Thrilling Threads. There was the matter of the wire mouse tail holding the spool of thread. Without engineering, the mouse would either be sitting on her face or rolled over from the weight of the thread....that was a good one!
  • Technology - You would think technology just doesn't have much of a role in an old American craft such as quilting. Anyone who even peruses the quilt magazines today realizes everything dealing with quilting has gone 21st century. The magazines themselves have all gone to digital editions and speak about adding technology to quilting through computer programs that not only design quilts, but the computers that now power our sewing machines, embroidery machines, and even our Longarm quilting machines! Someone has to know how to build bigger and better equipment and software programs, AND LASTLY,
  • LIFE SKILLS (a hidden benefit) - Just teaching children how to handle a needle, thread the needle, tie a simple knot, do a running stitch, and sew on a button is LIFE ALTERING for them. I cannot explain how all of a sudden boys and girls are going home and beginning to repair all their stuffed toys, their friends' toys, their parents' pants, pockets, and anything else they can use a needle and thread to 'create' something they can use. It is a life skill they will always remember and use. It also allows students to be creative with what they have at home or what they can obtain. Again, it is not designed to create seamstresses out of anyone - merely an appreciation and use of a skill. Remember not everyone can afford to take their pants to a tailor for a pocket or hem repair. Teach the children and they will always know how to do it, forever!

    I will try to post some lesson plans as I develop them in order to share the integration of quilting into any curriculum.  I sincerely hope other teachers may read this blog and would like to start such an educational thread in their elementary school.

    My thanks to my friends in quilting and the 3rd Grade teachers at Tuscany Hills Elementary School who have embraced this project for several years before I ever heard of it, and to those brave teachers who are allowing me to 'mess around' with it! It was their perseverance that got me thinking about this all over again.