Testing, testing

Is this thing on?




Edited to add: quilt pattern is called Bleachers, an Angela Walters design for Empty Bobbin Sewing Studio.

I also recently finished Empty Bobbin’s Zigzagged. Fun stuff!



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This time last year

This time last year, we were just about to the top of the highest roller coaster hill. The many months preceding had been the long drag to the top. Crazy outpatient surgery, major surgery, brief grace period, followed by monthly trips to Philadelphia for treatments, weekly blood tests, bad news, bad news, bad news. Click, click, click, click. Endured, adjusted to because to do otherwise would have seemed pessimistic.

Something of a last-ditch new treatment would start just after July 4. That was the very tippy-top of the hill. Who knew?

Who knew how fast the trip to the bottom would be? This time last year is vivid and a blur. Everything stands out. I don’t like to wear the clothes I wore last summer because they remind me of the hospital days.

We nursed optimism then to keep disbelief and panic at bay.  We were surrounded by love and support.

At some point realism surfaced and I had to imagine some part of the future just to somehow prepare myself. I am somewhere in the middle of how I thought this would be. It’s kind of a badness scale. I made a good run at all of it early on. I had some momentum.

The kiddo had a good and calm school year, active and engaged. We did it.

Only in the last few months have I kind of lost my creative energy and sense of direction, feeling that important part of me grinding to a halt.

I think that going through some creative motions will help.

It can’t hurt.

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Thank you

We missed the postie yesterday. All we got was a slip of paper telling us we had to wait. It was a very long wait until this morning. Before the dentist, we zipped to the PO and picked up a box that had traveled many, many, many miles in so many ways.

We opened the box in the car, of course, and read all of the names and admired the fabrics and shed some tears (OK, still reading, admiring and shedding…).

Reading the names is like reading a list of old friends and feeling supported in this. She reads off the names and I tell her what I know about each person. I haven’t gotten stumped yet. It’s like a quiz for my brain. And I am grateful to “know” you all. We both thank you from the bottoms of our mending hearts.

As you can see, Herself has found a happy spot on top of the quilt.

We both have oooh-ed and aaaaaah-ed over the fabrics and the quilting. She has found her favorite fabric in Pratima’s block.

Oh, and look, here are some more riches from the box. These are to celebrate my advanced age. :-) I will thank Miss Sarah in advance and feast on these shortly.

Do you ever find that you just don’t know what to do when faced with such kindness? “Thank you” continues to feel inadequate but thank you.

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Nearly lost in translation

Despite the quiet around this blog, I have been sewing. And sewing. And sewing. But I feel like I’ve been working on the same three quilts for a very long time. Which I have.

This is the last of three big buggers. Finally finished the top today. This is a wedding gift. I collected a very large pile of fabric first, including 13 yards of the Alexander Henry mustache fabric (most for the backing). I thought I would wing it, patternwise. When it came time to start, I thought better of the winging it approach and went hunting for a pattern. I settled on Emily Cier’s Discontinuity.

And then I decided to make it differently. Emily’s design uses her clever pixel piecing. I decided to translate it to be able to sew with bigger chunks.


First, print the schematic and don’t panic. Next, sew up a couple of sections. Third, ask what the heck am I doing? Fourth, head down, eyes on your own paper, cut, sew, cut, sew, do a little math, get out the seam ripper, work out some partial seams thanks to your “clever” translation, cut, sew, press. Until some time days later, the queen sized top is done, there are threads hatching from every seam that will need to be trimmed. It could really use a good re-pressing.


And now to do the quilting. Straight line. Straight-ish line. Wobbly line. I have a cone of thread ready for the task.

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Blogger’s Block of the Month :: Block 8, April

Welcome to the Mrs. Schmenkmanquilts’ stop on the Blogger’s Block of the Month tour! Thanks to Jackie for including me — much appreciated to have a goal and to be able to play along!

My block is called Triangle Squares. Hmm, creative. Well, that’s what Grandma Dexter called it, and it is block no. 2041 in Barbara Brackman‘s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns (ooh, ouch, when did that go out of print?).  Whatever you call it, I like it. It’s easy to make and you’ve got a lot of areas for the variations of your choice. For example, use more than one background fabric. Mine is gold. Use one on the inside of the block and one on the outside. Or make your corners match your center. Use two more contrasting fabrics in the half square triangle blocks — those could definitely add some pop.

Let’s get started!


The finished block size for Triangle Squares is 8″.

For the block background, I used the gold Guinea flower print.
Cut 6 – 2 7/8″ squares.

Cut the squares in half once diagnally.

For the corners, cut four 2 1/2″ squares of purple spot:

For the half-square triangle blocks, cut two 2 7/8″ squares from each of two fabrics.

Cut these squares in half once diagnally:

For the center, cut one 3 1/4″ square.


Be sure you are sewing scant 1/4″ seams. You can either press seams open or to one side. I have used a combination — pressing the half-square triangle units to one side and pressing the final seams open to better distribute bulk.

To piece the block center, surround the 3 1/4″ center square with four half-square triangles of the gold guinea flower:

First sew in one side triangle:

Follow that with the opposite side’s triangle:

Press these triangles out and trim the triangle corners even with the center square if you desire.

Now add the other two side triangles:

Press and trim any little triangle ears. The piece should measure 4 1/2″. It’s important that there be 1/4″ seam allowance beyond the corners of the blue and green center square — you don’t want to lose your corners into the next seam.

Now piece the half-square triangle blocks. First match up triangles with background triangles and sew four of each.

Trim the corners and make sure your half-square triangle blocks measure 2 1/2″.

Now it’s time to assemble your Triangle Squares blocks.

Arrange the block units like so:

Begin assembly by piecing together the half-square triangle blocks on each side.

On the top and bottom, piece the outer corner (purple spot) together with its neighboring half-square triangle block.

Next sew the units in the top, middle and bottom rows together:

Finally, sew the top and bottom rows to the center row. Press well and you are done!

I hope you enjoy the block!

You can see what other quilters are up to in the Bloggers BOM Flickr group.

Here are links to other blocks in this series, completed and ones to come. Don’t miss ‘em.
September – Sherri McConnell – A Quilting Life
October – Vicki Welsh – Field Trips in Fiber
November - Stephanie Dunphy – Loft Creations
December – Pat Sloan – The Voice Of Quilting
January – John Adams – Quilt Dad
February - Amy Smart – Diary of a Quilter
March – Allison Harris – Cluck, Cluck, Sew
April - Amy Lobsiger – Mrs. Schmenkmen Quilts YOU ARE HERE
May - Cathy Underhill – Cabbage Quilts
June – Pam Vieira-McGinnis – Pam Kitty Morning
July – Victoria Findlay Wolfe – Bumble Beans Inc.
August – Amy Ellis – Amy’s Creative Side
September – Sarah Fielke – The Last Piece
October – Jackie Kunkel – Canton Village Quilt Works 

Happy stitching!

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Adventures in vintage

There’s been a slow slog of basement clean-up happening. Most of it has been boring. Today it got a little more exciting when a couple of boxes of vintage fabric were looked into.


I also believe I’ve done away with the much less vintage and much less interesting fabric stash from the early to mid 1990s. Most of it had to go.

The vintage fabrics though got me motivated to dig out (and I do mean dig out) an old friend.

She was on a bookshelf behind the cutting table and, uh, some stuff. This exercise was made more difficult because her box doesn’t have a handle. I nearly didn’t get up.

I’m not sure how I’m going to get her back to her shelf. Not to mention she has a (much) younger sister sitting further over on the same shelf. I’ll just let her be for now. Until my back feels better.

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Long time no see. Thought I would check in before you all thought I’d disappeared altogether. Nope. Still hanging around. Still hanging in.

Sorry it’s been so long. I’ve begun posts in my head many times but found my thoughts kind of trailing off as I haven’t felt much of anything creative and insightful. I’m sure you understand.

There have been good days and bad days. Good weeks and bad. There is much activity. I credit a busy 11 year old with that.

There are still so many things to be grateful for. I feel like I say that to myself pretty regularly. At least I hope I do because we have much to be grateful for under the circumstances of this life change.

But I find myself holding my breath a lot. Waiting for the first big thing to go wrong. Waiting for the car to break down. Waiting for all of the odd sounds in the house to turn into a plumbing disaster. And so on. Knock wood.

We’re just weathering our first sick kid bout. I’m telling you, that kid is a trooper though.

Along the way, I’ve done more sewing recently.

Oh, did I mention this:

We are still getting to know each other. There are some threads and needles (mainstays in the past) that the 820 doesn’t seem to like. Like any relationship, it’s a work in progress and I’m sure we’ll be best buds. Hopefully soon.

But we did work on some zebras together (using a block pattern from Camille Roskelley):

And quilted the Habitat quilt (using one of Scott Hansen’s patterns) that has been basted and waiting probably since July:

So that’s where we are. I feel very out of the loop but am hoping to feel more like jumping back in the creative loop.

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