Saturday, January 31, 2015

Travel and Diversions

I recently flew from New York to California and back.  I was teaching at Road to California.  The show was great, as I described earlier this week.  The travel was... well... I got there and back and sometimes that's enough.

My trip from my house to the show involved a 6am Saturday morning on the Van Wyck Expressway.  UGH!  It also involved a lot of nasty New York travelers freaked out about being late to the airport.  I left 5 hours from my house until my flight, and I just made my flight.  Ugh.  After I departed, an ice storm hit New York.  I'm so glad I left on Saturday instead of Sunday!

The first flight was New York to Seattle and it had movies -- Whee!!!!  I watched "The Equalizer" and "The Maze Runner."  I remember "The Equalizer" tv show and it didn't have a lot in common with the movie, but the movie was pretty ok.  I read The Maze Runner and liked but didn't love the book, and I have the same opinion of the movie.

After a short layover in Seattle, I flew to Ontario, CA.  That was a little flight with no movies.  I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up to entertain myself.  The main point of the book is basically to throw away everything except what you absolutely love.  The book didn't change my life, but it challenged me to think about keeping less.

During the nine days I was in California, I read no books and watched no television.  Quilt shows take a lot of time and energy.

When it was time to fly home, though, I had some time to read and watch the screen.  I tried to read on my flight from California to Salt Lake City, but I brought the wrong book.  Someone recommended Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talent and Passions and Transform Your Life.  This might be a good book, but in about 15 minutes, I discovered that I already was living the dream so I slept for the rest of the flight.

I had a long, Long, LONG layover in Salt Lake City.

Since I prefer to fly in planes that have working engines, I was happy to be on the ground while they got this sorted out.

Once I was on the plane back to New York, I discovered a nasty seat-mate and movies.  I plugged in my headphones and ignored the death-glares coming from my right.  I watched "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and half of "Transformers."  My children LOVED Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when they were young.  This movie was a departure from the cartoons that I remember so well, but it worked.  I've heard nothing but bad reviews about the latest "Transformers" movie.  I didn't finish the movie, but I think I agree with the critics from the parts I saw.

I made it back home before a blizzard hit, so the trip home was a roaring success!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Favorites

I am fifty-minus years old and am well into the "why did I walk into the kitchen?" stage of life.  I have to write everything down, else I will forget it.  Sometimes even that isn't enough.  I now highlight the most important parts of the do-not-forget lists, which brings me to my favorite:

I use regular Frixion pens to mark my piecing lines in quilting, but I'm too chicken to use them to mark quilting lines on the front of my quilt.  I was recently shocked/delighted to discover they have highlighter markers, too.  I have never tried to erase the highlight, but this is truly a great marker.  I will shed a tear or two when this runs out.  Oh, and it's pink!  Wouldn't this be even cooler in lime green?  I'll have to do a little research.

I am already a few trips into my 2015 travel season.  I have a secret weapon when I travel:

Mary Koval bought me this adorable (and useful!) Hello Kitty zipper pouch and it is perfect for keeping all of my folders contained in my backpack when I travel.  Thanks, Mary!  I think of you every time I touch it.

Speaking of touching, I touch fabric and thread all day long.  I used to work as a secretary and thought that handling paper all day was the worst thing that I could do for my hands.  I think that fabric is just as bad!  I have been hoarding this chocolate hand cream for a few years and am on one of my last jars:

This smells divine and helps keep the skin on my hands... well... on my hands!  This jar lives on my desk and I dip into it regularly.

Does anyone know of any chocolate hand creams or perfumes/body sprays on the market now?  If so, please post a link in the comments.  I don't know what I will do when my current supply runs dry!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Grand Illusion: Clue 2

I was teaching at Road to California all last week and have had very little time to work on my Bonnie Hunter quilt.  I'm on clue 2: the dreaded diamonds.

I stole a few minutes, grabbed that huge stack of pre-cut rectangles in my stash, and started sewing.  This was the result:

Maybe I should take the time to make sure the rectangles are actually 4 1/2" before I start stitching?  Just a thought.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Road to California!

Last week, I had the thrill and honor to teach at Road to California.

I live in New York and skipping a week of January weather ROCKED!

Can you remind me why I don't live in southern California?  I forgot.

I taught three full days on Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteens:

and three full days on Handi Quilter Avantes:

I had some amazing support in the classroom from Lynn and Kelly:

These ladies are ah-ma-zing!

I had a quilt hanging in the faculty exhibit:

I made "Radio Edit" to feature my Word of the Year from 2013.  It was a great word and never a day passed when it didn't apply to one situation or another.

Sadly, I had to come home.  Even worse, I came home to this:

It wasn't the blizzard they predicted it to be, but it wasn't palm trees, either!

I hope to be able to teach again at Road to California.  If you haven't been to that show yet, mark your calendars for next January!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Month Three -- Pat Sloan's Globetrotting Block of the Month quilting videos

I have vowed to finish Pat Sloan's Globetrotting block of the month.  I'm only a year late, but hey, no one is perfect.

Here's a recap of month three:

I made the Chicago block:

I came up with a quilting plan (click here for full tutorial):

I quilted the light green fabric (click herehere for full tutorial):

I quilted the periwinkle fabric (click here for full tutorial):

I quilted the cream background fabric (click here for full tutorial):

I quilted some ribbon candy, just for fun (click here for full tutorial):

I can't wait to start quilting my San Juan block:

Stay tuned!

All of these amateur YouTube videos are free.  If you would like to see my professionally produced quilt DVDs, they are available for purchase:

Sit-down Longarm Quilting: Getting Started
Sit-down Longarm Quilting: Quilting Blocks and Borders
Sit-down Longarm Quilting: Using Rulers and Templates
Sit-down Longarm Quilting: Thread Work

If you would like to take a machine quilting class with me, check out my teaching calendar.

Globetrotting Block 1 Washington DC (in review)
Globetrotting Block 2 Venice (in review)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Quilt of the Week

One of my resolutions for 2015 was to quilt more.  You might ask, "Debby, but don't you work in the quilt industry?  Don't you basically quilt every day?"  Well, yes, I do, but it's not very often that I get to sit and play with a quilt just because I want to.

Well, no more!

I made a teeny scrappy block from the leftovers of my first Vacation Time block:

I decided to add a little more fabric to the block and find some fun threads:

Then I sat down and quilted my heart out.  This was the result:

The quilt is only 11-inches x 11-inches.  It's teeny, it didn't take very long to quilt, it isn't perfect, and I HAD SO MUCH FUN!

I gave this quilt to a colleague.  Now I'm looking through my orphaned quilt blocks to see if I can make another little play quilt, just for fun!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Overcoming Inertia

I know this has never happened to you, but sometimes I have so much to do that I just want to sit and do none of it.  Usually this happens to me the day before or the day after a teaching trip.  There are a lot of details to handle on both end of the trip:  class supply packing/unpacking, clothing packing/unpacking/laundry, paperwork (personal and professional), and nearly a million other things.  Like I said, I'm sure that everyone else jumps right in and gets to doing what is necessary, but I have trouble with this.

Over the years, though, I found a few ways to help myself overcome inertia.  I have developed a series of routines that usually get me over the "I don't want to do anything" hump and into the "Wow! Look at how much I'm getting done!  I rock!" territory.

Every morning when I sit at my desk, I have a particular routine.  It can be done in any order, but I empty my physical inbox, track receipts, file papers, manage my email, and check the calendar for upcoming events to stay on top of things.  This takes between 10 and 30 minutes.  I have a clear desktop when I'm done and I also don't feel so lost and confused in the "too much to do" pile.

I ask you, Is there anything prettier than an empty inbox?

I'm working to devleop a "before I leave for a trip" routine and an "as soon as I return from a trip" routine, but I'm not quite there yet.  Usually I just jump in with my normal daily routine and find that any motion at all gets me started and keeps me moving.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


I recently watched the movie "Noah" starring Russell Crowe.  I can sum up my review in one word:


Can someone explain this movie to me?  Please?  The Nephilim were stone monsters?  Methuselah had magical powers?  Tubal-Cain was on the ark?  Ham was the middle child?  Jennifer Connelly has a British accent?

My time wasn't totally wasted, though: I bound two sides of a quilt while thinking "This isn't the way I learned the story in Sunday School."

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Favorites

This week I am teaching at Road to California in Ontario, CA.  Did you know there is sun here?  Living in New York in January, I forgot what the sun looked like!

I have several favorite things this week.

First, the shoes.  This is my first show of 2015 and I'm rockin' a new pair of Dansko clogs:

My feet are happy!

Another favorite thing -- seeing one of my quilts hang at a show.

By the way, that says "darn".

Another favorite thing about this quilt show is that some of my favorite people are here.

My dear friend and longarm quilting teacher extraordinaire, Mary Beth Krapil:

Also, the amazing Teri Lucas explaining how she made her outstanding quilt:

I am having a wonderful time at this show and hate to think about going home on Sunday.  Alas, all good things must come to an end.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Grand Illusion

I was so excited when I finished Clue #1 of Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion mystery quilt.

I never buy fabric for Bonnie's mystery quilts.  I always use fabric from my stash.  Sometimes, this is a difficult resolve to keep, especially when I run out of a particular color.

For clue #2 two, I was tickled to find a pile of already cut 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" neutral rectangles:

I had to search through my 5" square box to come up with pinks and blacks:

I can cut each one of these into quarters to get the 40 gazillion squares I need for the diamonds of death.

It might be a while before I post a "Yay!  I've finished clue #2!" post.  I think I'm going to struggle making all of those diamonds.  Sigh.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Say Hello to My Little Friend

I would love to introduce you to a friend of mine:

I had the joy of hugging a koala bear when I was teaching in Australia in 2013.  It was on my "must-do" list, and I gleefully checked it off.

Well, I am going to be teaching in Australia again in April at the Australasian Quilt Convention in Melbourne.  This show should be on every quilter's "must-do" list!

I just received word that all of my classes on the Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen are sold out at the show.  I can't wait to greet all of my students there in April.  We're going to have a great time!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Month Two -- Pat Sloan's Globetrotting Block of the Month

I have vowed to finish Pat Sloan's Globetrotting block of the month.  I'm only a year late, but hey, no one is perfect.

Here's a recap of month two

My Venice block:

My quilting plan:

The center square tutorial and video:

The corner squares tutorial and video:

The tan ribbon candy tutorial and video:

The orange lines/swirls tutorial and video:

The finished block:

I plan to join these blocks once they are all quilted.  There are a few methods that work for quilt-as-you-go:  one involves adding fabric strips and another involves simply stitching the blocks together using existing borders/sashings.  I will give some hints on joining the blocks at the end of the year.

I'm ready to quilt Chicago next:

Are you?

All of these amateur YouTube videos are free.  If you would like to see my professionally produced quilt DVDs, they are available for purchase:

Sit-down Longarm Quilting: Getting Started
Sit-down Longarm Quilting: Quilting Blocks and Borders
Sit-down Longarm Quilting: Using Rulers and Templates
Sit-down Longarm Quilting: Thread Work

If you would like to take a machine quilting class with me, check out my teaching calendar.

Globetrotting Block 1 Washington DC (in review)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Quilt of the Week -- one proud Momma!

This week's Quilt of the Week is not a quilt of mine.  This quilt was made by my young quilter friend.  A while back, I put together a quilt kit out of my fabric stash.  You may have read about it here.

Well, my young quilter friend got to work and finished her quilt:

I am so stinkin' proud of her!  And I love this quilt.  I machine quilted it for her, but I made her bind it herself -- Bwahahahahaha!

She, like most quilters I know, gave this quilt away to someone she loves.

I have given her fabric for two more quilts.  That should keep her busy for a little while.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Getting it Together -- Getting Rid of It

Last week, I talked about how I use my timer to help me get it together.  I showed a picture of an organized shelf.  After a week, I LOVE MY CLEAN SHELF!  It makes me smile every time I see it.
I like to smile and want to smile as often as I can, so I decided that I should try to make more clean shelves.

One day last week, in between periods of work, I started culling books from my shelves.  This was the result of one day's work:

I have seven bags full of books to donate to the library.  SEVEN!  In one day.   My shelves aren't empty and I still have a lot more work to do.  The odd thing is that none of these are quilting books.  I haven't even touched that shelf yet.  I'm afraid that it will hurt and I need to make sure there is enough medicinal chocolate in the house before I start.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Forever Young

I have a confession to make:  I read Young Adult literature.  Some may feel that "literature" is too strong a word, but I'll leave debate to others.

I read the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer.  Actually, I listened to them while driving and quilting.  They were easy to follow and entertained me while I did other things.  If you really need to know, I was on "Team Edward."  In my mind, though, Edward looked like Adam Lambert so the choice to cast Robert Pattinson in the movies was a shock.  I refuse to discuss my opinion of Kristen Stewart; you can't make me.

I read a lot.  A Lot.  I'm rarely surprised by a major plot point.  This series, however, shocked my socks off.  If you don't know the general story of the series by now, look away.  A spoiler is coming.




SHE GOT PREGNANT???  WHAT???  Never did I ever see that one coming.

If you don't think less of me for reading this series, thank you.  If I admit that I've read the series three times, that wouldn't change your mind, would it?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  I'm tickled to share some of my favorite things with you again this week!

I have a confession to make:  I play favorites when it comes to people.  I have a few incredibly dear friends and am a blessed woman, indeed.  One of my favorite people is my quilting buddy.  She moved far away from me a few years ago.  I am angry at her for leaving me, but I still kind of like heranyway.  When she moved, she passed along a set of silverware that she didn't need in her new house. This silverware was a blessing because we were down to 4 spoons and 6 forks by the time my children moved out.  How do teenagers manage to lose so much silverware?

Every time I eat a meal, I make sure I use one of Kim's forks or spoons:

It's like having lunch with my friend every day!

I am known to have a slight fondness for Hello Kitty.  My dear friend, Mary Beth, gave me a Hello Kitty clipboard:

I use this little board every single day in my office.  While I am quilting, I'll have stray thoughts and hurry to write them down before they get away.  I can act on all of those randon "buy cat food" thoughts once I'm done quilting!

My last favorite for the week is an oldie -- my favorite rotary cutting ruler:

I've never been able to use a longer ruler, and the rulers that are 6 1/2" wide x 12 1/2" long confuse me endlessly!  I know that not many people use OmniGrip yellow cutting rulers any more, but I pray they never stop making these!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Grand Illusion

I'm slowly making progress and vow that I won't stop working on Grand Illusion until I finish it.  It's early in the New Year, so this resolution still has time to fizzle.

I threw myself a party when I finished Clue #1:

I celebrated with chocolate, naturally.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Spreading the Love

My friends are new grandparents and want to share their joy with you.  "How can they do that?" you ask?  Well, they own an online quilt shop and are giving a "new grandbaby" discount!

The code is here.

Their shop is the Quilt Basket.  I think you might like their Squared Away pattern.  I like it, but that's probably because I designed it.

It looked great in American Made Brand solids:

It looked great in Halloween fabrics:

Happy Halloweenie Birthday, Kate!

It looked great in these bright solids:

Made by my favorite lawyer.

This online shop has great fabric packs (for $20 -- WOW!) that work with my pattern and all of the other Cutie Patterns.

You should check them out.  Don't let this 20% off sale pass you by!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Catching up -- Pat Sloan's Globetrotting Block of the Month

While I'm waiting for the February block for Pat Sloan's Vacation Time quilt, I decided to pull out last year's Globetrotting Block of the Month from Pat Sloan, and try to restart it.

I started two versions of the quilt, one mostly green and one mostly pink.  I also filmed videos showing how to quilt each block.  My intense travel schedule for work caught up with me.  I was unable to finish the blocks and unable to finish the videos.  I would love to finish my quilts, but also finish filming the how-to videos.  Would you be interested in that?

While I'm getting caught up, I wanted to show the how-to-quilt tutorials again.

The first month's block, Washington DC, looks like this:

I sketched out some quilting ideas:

I quilted them:

Read the first tutorial here.

Read the second tutorial here

Read the third tutorial here.

Read the fourth tutorial here.

Read the fifth tutorial here.

Read the sixth tutorial here.

Check out the finished block!

Happy Quilting!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Quilt of the Week -- Mom's Christmas quilt

Have you ever made a quilt that you love so much it hurts to give away?  I just made one like that, and I knew it was the perfect quilt for my mom.

I finished the binding in a hotel room, so here is the oh-so-dark photo of it on a hotel bed:

And the backing:

I pieced this entirely from my scraps.  I used:

(448) 5-inch squares for the top
(64) 10 1/2" squares for the backing
300 inches of leftover red and green binding strips
I found a volunteer to hold it up in the parking lot for a better chance of showing the true colors:

I tried for a close-up of the quilting, too:

When will it be spring so I can take decent photos of quilts again???

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Getting it Together... slowly

In my lifelong quest to get organized, I found a tool that helps me get started and also helps me stay on track.  It's a timer:

I'm such a procrastinator and regularly scream "I don't wanna!" when I know I need to start a big project.  I'm easily overwhelmed and sometimes find it difficult to start when I can't see the end.

How does my timer help me?  It's a mind game, really.  When I have a large project, I set my timer for 10 or 15 minutes, get started, and then let myself quit after the timer sounds.  If it was a particularly difficult project to start, there might be a promise of chocolate after the buzzer.   Ten or 15 minutes might not seem like a long time, but I get more done this way than I would get done if I never started!

Some days I don't need my timer, but when I'm having a sit-around-and-stare-at-Facebook-all-day type day, I set my timer and start working.  It's silly, but it works for me.

I'm trying to clean out my sewing room and it is an overwhelming job.  It truly seems imposible.  My timer is giving me hope, though.  A few times a day, between my regular work, I set the timer for 10 minutes and put some effort into my sewing room.

I decided to start with one set of shelves.  Before:

What a mess!  I've been throwing stuff on these shelves for about a decade.  I had no idea what was on these shelves.

After a few sessions with my timer:

How lovely!  My purse and errand basket now have a home on the top shelf.  The next shelf holds tote bags containing resources for various meetings, clubs, and organizations.  The bottom shelves are meant to hold projects in process.

Where did all of the stuff go?  Some of it went in the trash, some went to other places in my sewing room, and some was given away.

Eventually, I hope to make the rest of my sewing room this neat and tidy.  I think it will get there, 10 minutes at a time.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Still Debby

I recently finished "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova.  I haven't struggled with a book this much since "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas."  To try to escape from the pain from that short book,  I attempted to convince my daughter to read the end of the book and give me a two-sentence report to save me the emotional turmoil of reading it myself.  She declined and I haven't forgiven her yet.

"Still Alice" was nearly as painful for me.  I normally listen to audiobooks while quilting and consider that one of my favorite activities.  Not with this book!  I cried so much that my eyes were too bleary to quilt.  I took frequent breaks from the book to break my emotional attachment.  That trick didn't work when I watched "Schindler's List" and it didn't work here.

Eventually, I finished the book.  My eyes are clearing and my tissue-roughened nose is healing.  My heart is still broken, though.  For those who haven't heard of the book, it's about a 50 year old woman diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.  I have no family history (I'm adopted) so I have no known family history of Alzheimer's disease.  Even so, every time I can't remember an actor's name or the reason I went into the kitchen, I stop and try to make myself remember.  I realize that I am a very busy middle-aged woman and we, as a species, are famous for forgetting things but I am still driving myself a bit crazy.

I have lost dear ones to Alzheimer's disease.  Most people that I know have lost loved ones as well.  I hate this disease and pray there is a medical breakthrough soon.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Friday Favorites -- updated

It's Friday again!  Yay!  It's time for more of my favorite things.

I spend most of my working days on my feet, usually on the hard floors of a convention center.  I rely on my Dansko clogs to keep me standing until the quilt show closes each day.  I love Dansko clogs; my only complaint is that they don't make athletic shoes.  I own several pairs of running shoes but each and every pair gives me blisters.  I think that Dansko athletic shoes wouldn't do that.

Well, look at these:

I tested these out by walking miles and miles and miles on the boardwalk in South Beach in December.  We walked up to 10 miles a day and not a single blister!  These are now my favorite walking shoes.

My most wonderful friend, Teri, gave me a paif of thread snips.  Not just any thread snips, though; they were Hello Kitty thread snips!

I attached them to my sewing machine (Janome 6600, since you'll ask) so that I will always have them nearby.  Sewing time is happy; sewing time with Hello Kitty thread snips is even happier!

I work as a machine quilting teacher and most people are surprised by how much hand sewing I do.  I love needle-turn applique and I hand bind most of my quilts.  In order to keep skin on my fingers with all of this hand sewing, I am a devoted thimble user.  I've used several different types of thimbles over the last few decades, but I've settled on this one:

I own four of these thimbles right now.  They are leather and they do wear out.  I usually buy my replacements at quilt shows, but I have purchased online from the manufacturer here.

Happy Friday!  May it be filled with all of your favorite things!


The shoes are Dansko.  Yay!  They finally make athletic-type shoes!  And I truly love them.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Grand Illusion

I love Bonnie Hunter!  I've started many of her quilts and I've managed to finish a few of them.

My most recent start was Grand Illusion.  This last December was my busiest ever and I didn't get much done on the quilt.  I pulled out what I have done:

I am committed to working on this quilt until it is finished!

Have you started Grand Illusion?  Did you finish it?