Saturday, June 30, 2007

Thanks for the Encouragement

I appreciate the comments and emails commenting on my quilting of Ann's table quilt. I'm sure you can tell that this type of quilting moves me out of my comfort zone which is overall freehand quilting and pantographs and I appreciate the reassurance you all have given me.

Mom saw the quilt tonight - she really likes it so I'm happy and she'll bind it and give it to Ann.

Just a comment on the trip from HELL! Those of you that read my blog regularly know I travel a lot. So it takes quite a bit of inconvenience to make me comment on travel woes. Rather than give the long version (24 hours long!) I'll just summarize below
  1. 3 hours sitting at the gate ON THE PLANE in Minneapolis due to a mechanical problem.
  2. Knowing after the 1st hour I'd miss my connection.
  3. Having to make an unscheduled stop in Cincinnati to fix the mechanical problem because they didn't have the part in Minneapolis.
  4. Being allowed off the plane in Cincinnati at 9:30PM to get some dinner only to find ALL the restaurants and food court had already closed.
  5. Having the worst seatmate EVER who was loud and obnoxious the entire time and during the incessant talking on her cell phone called me a bitch and unfriendly because I wouldn't listen to her rant about how pissed she was. (Thank goodness for iPods and headphones!)
  6. Getting to Atlanta at 11:30PM AFTER all flights to Newport News had left for the day.
  7. Having to stand in a line from 11:30 PM to 6:15 AM to reschedule a flight (Keith got on the phone after a couple hours but the best he could do was a Sunday morning flight).
  8. Trying to get on the 7:20 AM flight (Standby) but being unsuccessful.
  9. Having a Delta Crown Room agent finally get me a confirmed seat at 10AM after being told the earliest I'd get out was 9:30PM on Saturday.
  10. Two hotel reservations made and not used (one because I was in line all night, the second because I got on the 10AM flight).
  11. Getting to Newport News but my luggage NOT arriving.
  12. Having them come out to deliver my luggage but ONLY the suitcase with the quilts arriving.

Hopefully # 12 will be them bringing my clothes and toiletries tomorrow!!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

There's a reason I like quilting pantographs ....

and overall freehand designs. I struggle to get a smooth flow between designs in different areas of a quilt. This is a table quilt pieced by Mom that I've been quilting. (It's for my sister Ann)

I had intended to leave the blue squares without quilting but realized they needed something. The little feather flowers in them aren't too bad. The quilting in the beige squares looks better in person than it does in the photo. I like the swirls in the flower backgrounds but it's not great in the border.

Debbie gave me some ideas for quilting the flowers - my starts and stops need improvement. It's done and I'm not too distressed about it so I guess it will do.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A visit to the Dog Park

They just opened a new dog park at Loring Park and we took Chesty over to play.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Chinese Coins #4

I probably won't get a chance to make this top before I leave for Virginia on Friday but I've worked up the EQ file and posted instructions on It's titled Uneven Chinese Coins - as usual - my quilt names are pretty uninspiring. I have the perfect purple border/sashing fabric for it.

Keith is going to be home the next couple days so we'll have some time together before I head off. I hope to reload the table quilt for Ann and finish it up before going to Mom's but we'll see how it goes.

Playing with the longarm

Sandra from Stashbuster was here today and we played around on the longarm. She brought a quilt top but we decided that playing around on mulsin would be better for her first time. She was so nice that she left the top for me to finish and donate even though we didn't get to work on it.

I took photos of some of her hearts and leaves to share. These are two of my favorite allover freehand patterns so I always have people try them out. I can tell she'd be pretty good at this with just a little practice.

Here's Sandra holding the quilt top she left - pretty isn't it? It will make a great donation quilt. She hasn't even see these photos yet because she went straight to work from here and now I'm going to finish picking out the border stitches and reload the table quilt for Ann.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Frogging again

I was making good progress on a table quilt made by Mom for my sister Ann today until I had to unpick the border. What a pain as I'm trying to get it done before going to Virginia on Friday. Sandra from Stashbuster is coming over tomorrow to play a bit on the longarm so I'll try to have it all picked out so I can reload it after she leaves.
I stopped in at the Circle Lord booth at MQS to check out the new swirls template (which I ordered once I got home!) and Kay took this photo of my sister and I and mailed it to me. Thanks Kay!

Sunday, June 24, 2007


We're home from Ft. Lauderdale and had a great time visiting family. Samantha's High School graduation party was lots of fun and she'll be off to the University of Florida in a week for the summer session.

Chris drove down from Marietta so we enjoyed seeing him too ...if only Adam and Becky had been able to make it I would have been completely happy.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Do you want to write a book?

I'm getting ready to head to the pool to read a bit and was checking email first and wanted to share this.

I was up late Wednesday night checking out this site - Blurb, downloading the software, and slurping my blog into a book.

You've seen the little books that you can create at the photo sites right? I've been tempted to order one but they're very limited and I didn't like that I had to work online to make them.

Blurb has software you download and tons of options and formats. I've already slurped my blog and am in the process of editing it. It takes a ton of editing so it would probably be easier to start a book from scratch but since I use my blog as a journal I like the idea of having it in a book format. I'm having to replace some photos because the resolution is too low and edit out some content but it's great.

I can see lots of ways I could use this program personally and if you've ever wanted to write a book or publish a book of your photos you've got to take a look!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

We're off to the airport

No sewing for the next few days but I packed some yarn for a prayer shawl.

I posted an instruction sheet on last night for the Patriotic String Star quilt that I made for Quilts of Valor - it has the binding machine stitched on and I'll hand stitch it down when I get home.

My Sidebar reading list was getting too long so I also added a ~Reading List~ page over there with the full list.

See you on Sunday!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Ft. Lauderdale

I just got back from taking Chesty to Downtown Dogs for boarding while we're gone this weekend. We're heading south to Ft. Lauderdale tomorrow morning for my niece's graduation party and we'll be home Sunday. He's adjusting well to boarding so I don't feel so bad about leaving him. Today there was another little white dog that you can also see in the webcam photo but Chesty is the one in front facing away from the camera.

I spoke to Michael from Circle Lord today and my swirls template should be shipped Friday. I'm anxious to get it and try it out as the quilts I've seen look wonderful. Mine will be the smaller version since I have a Gammill Premier. Now I just have to wait a decent amount of time before ordering the zig zag template used to quilt this one. Maybe I can convince Keith I need this one too in another 3-6 months (keep in mind I only do quilting for family and charity).

Speaking of quilting I have a small table quilt to load and start and a binding to put on before I leave so I better get to work.

Just to give Debbie a hard time - can you believe that she's not planning to drive over from the SW side of the state to see me while I'm in Ft. Lauderdale. Don't ask how many times I drove to see her when I was living in Florida and Georgia and they were cruising on their boat!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Playing Hooky

I had every intention of working today after walking Chesty in the park but it was such a beautiful day I decided to walk downtown rather than work.

I first went to Barnes and Nobles and bought Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich and the latest issue of Mark Lipinski's Quilters Home Magazine. When this magazine first came out I thought he was way over the top and trying too hard to be different and out there but I have to admit I have grown to like his outrageous comments and commentary. I've only seen 1 quilt pattern that interests me but I've been consistently buying the magazine.

Then I went and sat outside and read by the Orchestra Hall - I can't tell you what a beautiful day it was - in fact Keith got home from Denmark and was calling my cell trying to find me because I wasn't waiting at home for him (not that it's a bad thing that he realizes I'm not ALWAYS waiting for him to come home).

When I got home Keith and I took Chesty for another walk in the park and then we got takeout and ate dinner on the balcony overlooking the park.

I didn't work at all except for posting an instruction sheet for the Rectangle String quilt on

By the way, Debbie blogged today about the side clamps we bought at MQS - she had to convince me to try them but they are WONDERFUL - the best $20 I've ever spent on my longarm. She posted photos so go take a look.

It's a wonderful day in Minneapolis

It's sunny, breezy and cool, Chesty and I just got back from a walk in the park, AND Keith gets home late this afternoon from Denmark!

I finished the binding on my HeartStrings Rectangle Strings quilt last night - you've seen photos before but this is the final one. It's in the dryer now and will be ready to donate when needed.

I also pieced the Lizard Strippie top last night - it might not look like it but these are very cute when quilted and make great donation quilts. I like to practice my border quilting in them and I'm going to look through the Frameworks book by Diana Philips that I bought at MQS to see if there's one in there for this top. There's an instruction sheet on called Quick Strippie.

Monday, June 18, 2007

I finished it all

I got all the way through my to do list today. I've been really productive with Keith traveling so much the last couple months and it just feeds on itself. The more I get done the harder I work. Things will slow down in the next few weeks as I have a couple trips coming up.

I had one of those light bulb moments yesterday when I was finishing the quilting on Mom's top. I never take the time to practice stitching new quilting designs because I always have another quilt to load and finish. Drawing on paper helps a lot but I like to stitch them some before using them on a quilt for the first time. I realized yesterday that if I use the extra backing at the bottom of my quilts - I can practice something every time I finish a quilt.

Here's the Ebb and Flow pantograph on the Patriotic String Star - I like the wavy look it gives. I also finished piecing the Lizard Strippie but it was too late to get a good picture so I'll share that one tomorrow.

My plan for day

More quilting......Keith's in Denmark until Tuesday night and it's raining outside (a good reason to avoid the long walk I should be taking) so here's my plan - it's a little ambitious so it might carry me further than today.

In no particular order
  1. Load and quilt the Patriotic String Star with the Ebb and Flow pantograph (won't that kind of give it that wavy, flag blowing in the breeze look?)

  2. Cut and stitch the Lizard Strippie that I didn't get to the other day

  3. Finish the binding on the Rectangle strings - just a little more than one side left to do

  4. Make some more Half Square Strings blocks

These triangles were cut for me by Mom (she helps me out in exchange for quilting services) about 4 years ago and were intended for a king size string quilt for my MIL. For many reason that I won't go into here - that quilt was never made.

I finished one HeartStrings quilt earlier this year but the basket has been sitting by my sewing table since then waiting for me to use them up. I made a couple blocks to photograph last night as I was writing the Half Square Strings instructions to post on the site so I'll work on these blocks and take a break from Chinese Coins for a bit.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

Since Keith is in Denmark and the boys are in the Atlanta area - I'm spending the day by myself so I quilted this top for Mom. It's a Pineapple Blossom from Bonnie's Quiltville site. I used an old pantograph that's still one of my favorites - Rose Vine from Norma Sharp.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Time for a break - I'm going for a walk!

I'm finished the 3rd HeartStrings Chinese Coins top. Are you tired of seeing these quilts yet? I've got several more to make so I'm still playing around with different variations. I'll be adding the cutting directions to the site in a day or two and I think this one would look great in brights like my EQ drawing.

Since you can't see my purple inner border fabric very well in the above photo - I'm adding a close-up here. Those of you playing along with Judy's Use the Stash Challenge may remember my plan for June was to work on these tops. The coins were donated by HeartStrings members and I've been pulling borders and sashing from stash. This purple however was a 1/2 price purchase yesterday.

The borders and sashing for the first two coins quilts (here) and (here) were from fabric in my stash and HeartStrings members are making and sending backings. Between piecing the tops and quilting them I don't have time to piece multi-fabric backs for them so I appreciate the help!

HeartStrings Chinese Coins #3

Keith is out for a run and then will be leaving for the airport when he gets back and showered - this time a quick trip to Denmark coming back on Tuesday - so I'm checking email and planning my quilting for the day.

I've got another set of Chinese Coins up on the design wall and here's the EQ6 drawing of the quilt. The coins I'm using are not all the same width like the ones in this drawing and they're not as bright either but you get the picture and just like the 2nd Coins quilt, this one would look great in brights.
I also want to get the quick strippie quilt cut out from these fabrics today.

Friday, June 15, 2007

A new strippie

Keith and I ran by the quilt shop just before heading out to lunch and I saw this really cute lizard print. It's been a while since I made one of these quick donation quilts and its been on my mind since posting an instruction sheet on I bought one yard of the print and the gold and blue are from stash - I'll back it in stash fabric too.

For those interested in the cutting directions for the Dragonflies quilt - I posted that instruction sheet on too.


Someone mentioned that Debbie and I look alike. There's always been a strong McLaughlin family resemblance between the 6 of us but I think that she looks more like my Dad's side of the family and I look more like Mom.

This picture was taken in October at Chris' wedding and the youngest and oldest are standing on either end. I won't tell you who's the oldest in the family but I think it's pretty obvious from this picture since Maureen looks like she's 12!

If Pat and Kevin switched places in the back - we'd be standing in age order which puts me smack in the middle of the pack or what I like to refer to as the oldest of the youngest girls!

You may have also noticed that I call her Debbie and she calls herself Deb - old habits are hard to break - luckily she doesn't seem to mind.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A slow day

I didn't work much today - spent a bit of time on the computer and just before Keith got home this evening I pulled out the HeartStrings quilt to bind. I save all my leftover binding bits just for quilts like this one. Unfortunately, I add more to the bin than I take out.

Keith leaves again on Saturday so I'll take the day off tomorrow to spend with him and be back at work in the studio Saturday morning. We're going to Ft. Lauderdale Thursday - Sunday of next week to visit family. My niece is heading off to college and my sister-in-law is having a big party for her. Chris is going to drive down too so we'll get to see him but unfortunately Adam has to work.

Thanks to everyone who went to Debbie's site to welcome her to blogland.

My sister has a blog!

I've been trying to convince my sister Debbie to start a blog. She's a longarm quilter and we just recently went to MQS together where she won an Honorable Mention ribbon for the quilt she entered.

While we were there we met Judy - who also told Debbie she should start a blog and she must have been more convincing than I was because Debbie just created her blog Rags N Quilts.

I've also added a link to my sidebar so please visit her and welcome her to blogland!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

HeartStrings Chinese Coins

Here's the 2nd HeartString top from donated Chinese Coins sent in by group members. From computer to finished top in less than 2 days (while working on other projects too) is pretty quick but it helps when the coins are already sewn. The first top can be seen on the HeartStrings blog.

These coins were made by Teresa and given to me at our April HeartStrings Sew-in. Although I got lots of sections from other group members, Teresa's were perfect for this quilt because she used the same width strips and all her sections were 12 inches. I trimmed them down to 3.5 inches and the leftover 2 inch sections were used for the border. I have plenty of her coins leftover so I'm going to make a version of the red coins quilt too.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Found it

I went looking for the coins quilt with red sashing and found it in a folder of old computer files. The file is dated 2003 and if I remember correctly it was an antique quilt for sale on eBay.

I have the center of mine together and as I was sewing the sashing on I remembered why I usually avoid sashed quilts - especially sashed quilts without cornerstones but I chalked my lines and I think everything is lined up really well - I must be getting better at it because this is the 3rd one I've done in the last year without problems. As you can see from one of my inspiration quilts - the maker was *sashing challenged*. I also found the webshots link to the other quilt - this is the photo I'd saved on my computer at some point and used to design my quilt in EQ6.

I really wish I'd bought this quilt back then. It really appealed to me flaws and all and the memory of it has been in my head for 4 years.

New Pantographs

Usually I finish a quilt and bind it immediately but I was in the mood to quilt so yesterday I loaded and started a second HeartStrings top which I just finished. Both quilts were quilted with new pantographs and since neither one is bound - I'm just showing these photos of the quilting.

The Rectangle Strings was quilted with a pantograph called Feather Me by Mereth. I picked it up at the Golden Threads booth at MQS. The longer circular sections gave me a bit of a challenge as my new machine just does not move all that smoothly but I love the looks of the quilting on this quilt and the wobbles aren't too noticeable on this busy top.

I had a chance to talk with Gammill at MQS and it was suggested I check my track and try to run the machine in manual mode to see if it made a difference. Well it does run much smoother but there's a reason I bought a stitch regulated machine! I'm going to give them a call and see if there's anything I can do to improve how it moves.

The Blue HeartStrings quilt was pieced at the MN area sew-in the end of April and was quilted with a pantograph by Lorien Quilting from Willow Leaf Studios called Happy Times. What a quick easy pantograph and it looks great - I'll be using this one again too.

More Coins

I finished up my list from Sunday and I'm partially through quilting the Rectangle String quilt.

I decided to load another HeartStrings quilt first and I finished quilting that one this afternoon but I haven't taken a photo yet. I was in too much of a hurry to make a backing and load the 2nd quilt of the day. I usually procrastinate loading quilts and it's unheard of for me to load 2 in one day - I'm very proud of myself!

I also started playing with the layout of the 2nd Chinese Coins quilt from the sections donated by HeartStrings quilters. I thought I had enough of my favorite black fabric to do this but am having to settle for a grayish black in the interest of using my stash whenever possible. The sections sent in were 5.5 inches so I'm cutting these in two - one section is 3.5 inches and the leftover section which is 2 inches will be used for the pieced border. The coins in the drawing are brighter than the ones I'm using too - I might just have to make this quilt again in the future with black and brights.

I saw a photo of a similar quilt somewhere on the web but don't know where. I first saw this type of layout in an antique quilt - maybe in Gwen Marston's book Liberated Strings - that quilt used a red sashing.

I really like the look of the shorter coin sections and with enough coins for 6 or more quilts I want to use different patterns. Feel free to send me links to your favorite Chinese Coins quilts.

I also uploaded two instruction sheets today to the webite - the Off Center 4 Patch backing as requested and the instructions for the easy Chinese Coins version used for this quilt and this one.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Progress report

I had 5 bullet points on my list for today and I've checked off 3 of them and am getting ready to sit down with the 4th and work on a binding while I watch a little TV.

The first item was finishing this top Mom and I had started at her house in May - the borders are on and the binding is already cut and sewn.

Second, I pieced this top from donated Chinese Coins sections for the HeartStrings Quilt Project.

Third, I trimmed my aunt's quilt, made her binding, and machine stitched it on for her - it's ready to ship back to NC now.

I doubt whether I'll feel like loading a quilt tonight but I'm please with my progress.

Amish Stripes and Strings

I posted an instruction sheet for the recently completed Amish Stripes and Strings top on the site if anyone is interested.

Back to work

After being gone this past week I'm eager to get back to work. Keith left early this morning for Salt Lake City and LA and won't be home until Thursday so I've got some uninterrupted time for quilting.

Here's my to do list and I'm going to see how far I get today. Most of the day will focus on working on HeartStrings quilts.

  1. Cut and sew borders for 16 patch and pinwheels
  2. Trim Aunt Dot's quilt; make and machine stitch binding
  3. Layout 1st Chinese Coins quilt from HeartStrings project; pick and cut border; assemble top
  4. Make backing; load HeartStrings Rectangle Strings quilt on longarm
  5. Stitch binding down on a donated HeartStrings top that I quilted last month.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

An interesting post

Nancy had a very interesting post on her blog about letting go of all the *rules* and just having fun with her quilting. I posted a comment over there about my perspective but thought I'd post here too because I think it's something that many of us deal with.

This might not surprise those of you who read my blog but what motivates me and makes me happy in my quilting is being productive and making and donating quilts. (That's not to say that being a quilt factory and blindly mass producing quilts is what my quilting is about.)

I don't have *rules* for myself but I do have* goals* and it sounds like I just use a different word for the same things Nancy talks about - curbing my fabric buying, using the stash I've already accumulated, finishing UFO's, and making a number of donation quilts.

I set goals for myself and then work toward them - if I don't accomplish everything I set out to do then I focus on how far I did get toward my *goal* rather than beating myself up over breaking a *rule*.

So Nancy's *rules* make her unhappy but my *goals* make me feel productive and happy. Since as Nancy said so well quilting is something we do for fun, I think she made the right decision for her quilting.

As for me - I'll continue to set my goals and work toward them.

Friday, June 08, 2007


I'm back from the quilt show and wanted to post a quick note. I met my sister Debbie in Kansas on Tuesday and we spent the next 3 days catching up with each other, viewing quilts, and shopping the vendor mall at the show.

This was the first visit to the show for both of us and the first time Debbie had entered a quilt at MQS. She won a Honorable Mention ribbon for her wall quilt Some Like it Hot - Frog Legs Cajun Style. Unfortunately you can't see Debbie's amazing quilting in this photo but you can go to her webshots album and see some close-ups.

I also had a chance to meet Judy in person for the first time - we chatted a while and took her over to see Debbie's quilt.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Is blogger having problems this evening?

I tried to post on the HeartStrings blog earlier and although it shows up in my list of published posts it won't show up on the blog. Hopefully this post will. I'm leaving for MQS in the morning so I won't be blogging for a few days. See you when I get back.

I finished quilting my Aunt's quilt just in time - a rather plain strippie. I used the Fay Feathers pantograph thinking that it would add a little more interest to the quilt.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Quilt Instructions

From time to time when I post pictures of my quilts I get requests for the pattern. Since I work up most of my quilts in EQ its usually not a problem to provide VERY BASIC instructions. I decided it would be easier to upload the patterns in PDF format to their own site since blogger doesn't allow file uploads.

For now you can find the instructions for the spiderweb quilt, my double 4 patch, and my favorite quick donation quilt (a quick strippie pattern).

The link to the instructions will be added to my sidebar.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Birthday Fun!

Keith surprised me with a new digital camera that I wanted (in addition to the livestock!) so we took a walk across the river and had a leisurely lunch at the Bulldog pub. The sky was threatening as we walked home but the rain held off for us.

Click the album below if you'd like to see more photos from today.

Minneapolis June 2 2007

Friday, June 01, 2007


Thanks for all the comments and compliments - I do like the new haircut although next time I'll have her do the back just a little differently. I'd forgotten how *easy* short hair is so that's a bonus.

Nice to hear it makes me look younger too - just in time for my birthday tomorrow. I'd recently read about Heifer International and asked Keith and the boys for livestock for my birthday. In addition to getting a sheep from Chris, Adam, & Becky and a cow from Keith, my sister sent me a Jelly Roll and Mom gave me a Rosary bracelet made of Connemara marble.

Yesterday I worked on my Amish Stripes and finished assembling the top. I also finally stopped procrastinating and loaded my Aunt's top on the longarm so I should have if finished and hopefully mailed off before I head to MQS on Tuesday.