Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Into The Wild

I was searching for a book to listen to whilst quilting and nothing in my Audible account was speaking to me.  I randomly downloaded We Die Alone and it blew my mind.

This is one of WWII's "little" stories, except there's nothing little about it at all.

In one way, nothing happened. Jan Baalsrud was the sole survivor of a commando mission that had to be abandoned. The Germans knew that there was an enemy combatant in occupied Norway and were searching for him, but they never found him. That's the war part of the story.

The human story is much larger. Jan Baalsrud survived an incredible ordeal escaping Norway but he was only one of the heroes of this story. Many ordinary Norwegians did extraordinary tasks to ensure his survival and eventual escape.

When Into the Wild was the book of the moment and everyone raved about it, I never understood why. It felt like a needless waste of a life to me, and people were hailing Christopher McCandless as a hero.  If they want to read an account of man versus nature and man versus man and a life spent for others, this is the story they needed to read instead.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Fat Quarter Experiment (FQE) part 2

I'm experimenting with various quilting techniques and threads starting with the world's most perfect Fat Quarter.  (See part 1)

After the applique comes the big stitches:

I pulled out a spool of Glamore thread (available at Quilt Basket) and stitched along some straight-ish lines drawn parallel to my bias tape applique.

I have ideas on where to go next.  This is either going to be amazing or awful, but I'm having fun getting there.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Adventures with Quilts and Photos

Last week I posted photos of my death defying attempts to get a photo of a my Squared Away Cutie quilt.  This week I finished its fraternal twin and had to (gulp) take another photo.

Meet Stepping Stones:

It was raining when I had time to take this photo, so this is on my front porch.  Did you know that rainy days have wonderful light for photos?  Sunny days are too bright but overcast, rainy days make excellent photo days.

The fabric in these two quilts is The Blue Skies Collection by Sharon Holland Designs for Paintbrush Studios (thank you, selvedge).  It's gotta be from 2010 or so.  I pulled out a bolt of Wilmington Prints Sonoma Solids blue spruce and it POPPED!  I use this in my Forever in Peace Cutie Quilt kit, but don't have extra yardage for sale.  Sorry!

Now I have to tell you that I live in the honest-to-goodness woods.  I can walk to the Appalachian Trail and we keep our property as it grows.  The animals win.  We could fight them, but we'd lose so...

I rarely use my front door.  We use the garage as our entrance.  Our guests usually enter via the garage.  Even the package delivery services know that if they honk, I'll open the garage door from my studio (remote control -- BRILLIANT!) and they can chuck the packages inside without bothering to walk around to my front door.

So I went outside to take a rainy day photo on the front porch.  And was promptly attacked by nesting birds.

I don't know what kind of bird it was, but it was little and makes a next from mud and moss.  Evidence to follow.

Debris below the nest:

Mud flung on my front doors*.  Somehow.

Seriously, these mud spots are nearly as large as the bird.

So the birds get custody of my front porch until their babies are fledged.  Then I will sweep the porch and scrub my doors.   Until then, please honk and I'll let you in through the garage.

Shhhh.... baby birds are sleeping.

*I hate my front doors.  Seventeen years ago when we bought this house I said "The very first thing I'm doing is replacing those front doors."  That was as accurate as when I said, "Mom, it's just a prom date; it's not like I'm gonna marry the guy."  Famous.  Last.  Words.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Stitching in Circles

I've mentioned before that I'm absolutely in love with walking foot quilting.  I've filmed another episode of Annie's Creative Studio showing patterns you can stitch with the walking foot on your home sewing machine.

               "Did you know that you can make smooth spirals on your quilts using a walking foot? Expert Debby Brown shows you how in this series on finishing your quilts on your home sewing machine. In part three of this Quilter's Skill Builders series, you will practice quilting several different spirals. Debby's proven tips will help you plan the spiral placement while easing the physical work of quilting curves.

In this episode, you’ll learn how to:
•             Center or offset your spiral.
•             Choose spiral size and spacing.
•             Set appropriate stitch length.
•             Fill in the edge areas."

Annie's Creative Studio is a subscription-based platform where you can learn from experts (like me!) how to quilt, knit, crochet, and more!  If you aren't a member yet, sign up for a free trial to watch the entire episode.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

In Search Of: The Perfect Stitch

Are you always in search of the perfect stitch?  In other words, is machine tension causing you physical tension?

My latest article in Quilter's World Magazine is all about how to achieve the perfect stitch when machine quilting.

I'm blushing, because I'm a cover girl.  Did you notice?

Look for this magazine at your local quilt shop, a newstand, or subscribe HERE.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Garden of Beasts

I borrowed the audiobook Garden of Beasts by Jeffery Deaver from the library simply because it had a similar name to the biography of Ambassador Dodd which I recently read and wrote about. That book was wonderful and this was amazing, both in different ways.

This novel started as a 30s gangster crime novel, threw in some Forest Gump "Hey I met someone famous" events, was a detective thriller, was set in Hitler's Germany of the 30s, and was a bad-man-with-a-good-heart story. Plus a love interest.

So, that long list sounds like Mr. Deaver might have over-reached, but he really didn't. This book kept me awake and quilting til the wee hours just to finish it. 

For some reason I can't remember, I decided that I didn't like Jeffery Deaver novels years ago, but now I'll have to give them another try.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Fat Quarter Experiment

Quilting is:

my job
my therapy
my hobby

Last weekend I felt the need to let quilting be my creative outlet.  

I've been collecting Fossil Fern Fabrics and have had a desire to play with bias tape for months.  So I did.

I took one of my longarm curved rulers and drew opposing curves on a Pastel Almond Fossil Fern fat quarter.  I didn't center the curve; I just plopped it on.  When I drew the opposing curve, I only measured so that the tops and bottoms of the curves matched the first curve.

I cut bias strips from Fossil Fern Wisteria, pieced them together, and made 1/2" bias tape.  Then I appliqued it to the curve using InvisiFil thread,  applique pins, and a straw needle.

I really enjoyed this small bit of hand stitching while I sat and visited with family this weekend.

I pulled out a bunch of other threads because I have ideas of where this is going next:

This is either going to be the best quilt ever or a total mess.  I'm ok either way and look forward to more small moments of play in the near future.

Friday, April 19, 2019

It ended with a BANG!

I fell in love with Big Bang fabric from Northcott and have only loved it more by making and quilting this quilt:

and filming this class

I had a plan for the quilting, and the plan worked out even better than I hoped!

Check out this class and learn how to not be overwhelmed by a large quilt and how to have fun randomizing a design.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this quilt and this class, and don't be surprised if I soon own a dress featuring the periodic table of the elements from this fabric line!  (Did I mention I was OBSESSED with this fabric?)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Great Idea!

I recently finished this Squared Away Cutie Quilt:

It's ribbon candy perfection and I just had to take a photo of it while it was on my lap.

My niece described it as "woodsy/earthy" so I got a great idea.

"Why don't I go outside in the back of the property on a really windy day while there is wet mud under the leaves and try to take photo?"

Great idea, Deb.  Really.

So I nearly killed myself climbing up to this rock.

It's not far but it's steep, well over a 45* climb.  The rock is about as tall as I am and I thought I'd drape the quilt over it for a photo.

Well...… the top of the rock is at an angle and the quilt kept slipping down.  I had to keep dropping my camera to catch the quilt before it hit the mud under the rock.  Approximately 134 times.

So I decided to drape the quilt in the tree next to the rock.

After 97 tries on 72 branches with the wind blowing the quilt down 100% of the time, this is the photo you get:

Yes, there's a shadow on the bottom because of the WIND WARNINGS.

Next time I'm bringing duck tape, a stapler, and weights to help hold the quilt for the photo.  Without those...

This is as good as it gets, folks.

And now you know how far I'll go for a quilt photo.  All the way to the back yard.  To twist my ankles, get muddy, say some colorful words, and entertain the neighbors.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019


I'm over-the-moon thrilled to be a part of Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill's Typecast of Characters Blog Tour!

Check out all of the details HERE.

I'm learning how to best adapt English Paper Piecing to the special limits my hands have.  Stay tuned for more information about that.

Follow along with all of the bloggers:

TYPECAST OF CHARACTERS BLOG TOUR hosted by Whole Circle Studio:

• Wednesday, March 27: Tour Introduction by Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, April 1 — A: Kate Brennan of Aurifil
• Tuesday, April 2 — B: Mathew Bourdreaux of Mister Domestic
• Wednesday, April 3 — C: Tara Curtis of Wefty Needle
• Thursday, April 4— D: Leah Day of Free Motion Quilting Project
• Friday, April 5 — Week 1 Wrap Up featuring A-D and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, April 8 — E: Erin Bay of Paper Pieces
• Tuesday, April 9 — F: Sylvia Schaefer of Flying Parrot Quilts
• Wednesday, April 10 — G: Giuseppe Ribaudo of Giucy Giuce
• Thursday, April 11— H: Hilary Jordan of By Hilary Jordan
• Friday, April 12 — Week 2 Wrap Up featuring E-H and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, April 15 — I: Kim Soper of Leland Ave Studios
• Tuesday, April 16 — J: Yvonne Fuchs of Quilting Jetgirl
• Wednesday, April 17 — K: Karen O’Connor of Lady K Quilts
• Thursday, April 18 — L: Kristy Daum of St. Louis Folk Victorian
• Friday, April 19 — Week 3 Wrap Up featuring I-L and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, April 22 — M: Molli Sparkles of Molli Sparkles
• Tuesday, April 23 — N: Nicole Daksiewicz of Modern Handcraft
• Wednesday, April 24 — O: Scott Hansen of Blue Nickel Studios
• Thursday, April 25 — P: Pat Sloan of Pat Sloan
• Friday, April 26 — Week 4 Wrap Up featuring M-P and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, April 29 — Q: Joanna Marsh of Kustom Kwilts
• Monday, April 29 — Q: Lindsay Széchényi of Lindsay Széchényi (and Patchwork Threads)
• Tuesday, April 30 — R: Andrea Tsang Jackson of 3rd Story Workshop
• Wednesday, May 1 — S: Sarah Thomas of Sariditty
• Thursday, May 2 — T: Rachel Rossi of Rachel Rossi
• Friday, May 3— Week 4 Wrap Up featuring Q-T and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, May 6 — U: Kitty Wilkin of Night Quilter
• Tuesday, May 7 — V: Jenn McMillan of Fabric, Ink
• Wednesday, May 8 — W: Jenny Meeker of Bobbin Roulette Studio
• Thursday, May 9 — X: Stephanie Kendron of Modern Sewciety
• Friday, May 10 — Week 5 Wrap Up featuring U-X and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, May 13 — Y: Debby Brown of Debby Brown Quilts
• Tuesday, May 14 — Z: Nisha Bouri and Kim Martucci of Brimfield Awakening
• Wednesday, May 15 — Week 6 Wrap Up featuring Y-Z, Tour closeout and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The "Other" Side of History

As I've mentioned many times, I'm a self-led student of WWII history.

My most recent read was Panzer Commander by Hans von Luck.  I've watched Das Boot and other movies from the opposing side of the war, but this was a completely different view of history for me.  Hans von Luck was a decorated tank commander, Russian prisoner of war, and after his release a good friend of many of his Allied opposing commanders.

Much of my WWII learning is done whilst quilting and driving because of audiobooks.  I make good use of my library's books on CD and my Audible account.

Bronson Pinchot read this book with a fab-u-lous German accent.  Do you remember Bronson Pinchot as the wacky Balki from Perfect Strangers?

Bronson Pinchot has 328 entries on Audible, so apparently he has quite a career in audiobooks.

A good narrator/reader can make a book come alive, and Mr. Pinchot has this talent.  He's joined Dylan Baker, Jim Dale, Davina Porter, and Patrick Lawlor on my list of favorite readers/narrators.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Stonehenge 10th Anniversary Block Party!

Northcott's Stonehenge Fabric is 10 years old and they are throwing a party.  A block party, of course!

My local quilt shop, the Quilt Basket in Wappingers Falls, NY is participating in the party and they designed a beautiful block

I filmed a machine quilting tutorial showing how I quilted this block.

Happy Anniversary, Stonehenge!

Be sure to check out all of the other Stonehenge 10th Anniversary Block Party quilt blocks!

Friday, April 12, 2019

I Love Science!

As soon as Big Bang fabric was announced, I knew I need to own it.  And make a quilt with it.  So I did.

This is my Fenced In Cutie Pattern featuring Big Bang Fabrics by Northcott.

The fabrics are SO ADORABLE!  These are some of my favorites

I have kits for my Fenced In quilt on my website.

Some people commented loving the photo and my yard.  From a desire to keep it real, here's my outdoor photo setting.

I carefully aim my camera to avoid showing everyone the less pretty part of my life, but everyone has garbage cans, right?  And many of us also have LP gas tanks at our houses.

I took a boring photo of the quilt for planning purposes, because when I get home from MQX, I plan to film my next "How Do I Quilt This?" machine quilting class using this quilt!

I have some wildly fun and crazily easy free-motion quilting plans for this quilt.  I can't wait to show them to you!

Stay tuned for more upcoming quilting fun.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

It's a Grand Old Quilt

I just finished quilting my latest Forever In Peace Cutie Quilt:

Quilting this quilt while filming the "How Do I Quilt This?" class at the same time was a wild ride.  I had a plan for how I was going to quilt it, and the quilt had other ideas.  I'm glad I listened to the quilt because I love the finished product.  I even took it for a test ride when it was done, and it was perfect for a quick nap!

If you want to make this quilt for yourself, buy the kit HERE.

If you want approximately 45 minutes of video instruction about how to machine quilt this on your home sewing machine (including design ideas), buy the class HERE.

I am now filming all of my quilts as I quilt them and offer the "as it happens" class to you at a low price ($5) so that you, too, can have the extreme satisfaction of finishing your quilts yourself on your home sewing machine.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Don't Know Much About History

Sparked by my recent trip to New Orleans and a day spent at the WWII Museum, I'm reading everything I can find about WWII and the years leading into it.

I just finished reading In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson.  It is an account of the years that William Dodd was the US ambassador to Germany in Berlin (1933-1937).  It dealt heavily with the life of his 20-something daughter Martha.

I was aware of the lives of most of the main players and the "Night of the Long Knives" purge*, but this book held many written accounts of the attitudes of US politicians toward Germany as well as the attitude of Americans and Europeans toward their Jewish neighbors.  News reports of "The Nazis are bad" versus the diplomatic reports of "It's not like that, really" were shocking to contemplate as well as many other prejudices of the times.  Being born in the 60s, the life of an adventurous communist woman of the 30s was interesting/shocking as well.

Note:  don't mistake this for Jeffery Deever's novel of a similar name (which is on my to-read shelf currently).
*For an overview of the Night of the Long Knives, watch "Hitler's Circle of Evil" on Netflix, episode 3, Fall of Rohm.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Skipping along with my Walking Foot

Did you know that I am absolutely in love with quilting with my walking foot on my home sewing machine?

I filmed an episode for Annie's Creative Studio showing curvy lines with the walking foot

Annie's Creative Studio describes this episode as:

Learn to finish your quilts on your home sewing machine with machine-quilting expert Debby Brown! In part two of this Quilter's Skill Builders series, you will practice quilting many different types of curved lines. Join Debby to practice echoing, parallel, curved cross-hatching, curved corners and triple wiggly lines.

In this episode, you’ll learn how to:
•             Quilt curved lines on your home sewing machine.
•             Secure starting and ending stitches.
•             Stitch echoed or parallel curved lines.
•             Make a machine-quilted sampler wall hanging

Check out the intro video!

Annie's Creative Studio is a subscription-based platform where you can learn from experts (like me!) how to quilt, knit, crochet, and more!  If you aren't a member yet, sign up for a free trial to watch the entire episode.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

More than just a quilter

I am 99 and 44/100% a quilter.  There are other interests that consume me, however.  I read voraciously and most of what I read is about WWII.

When my husband and I recently went to New Orleans, LA we visited the WWII museum.  I can't say enough about how amazing that place is!

My trip to the museum sparked anew my desire to read every book and watch every movie about WWII.

I just read Munich by Robert Harris.  I read his novels about Cicero and LOVED them, so when I learned about this book I knew I had to read it immediately.

You may disagree with my idea that I can learn about history from novels, but I believe that I can.  They make the subject interesting enough for me to research it for myself.

Munich is about the Munich agreement reached on September 30, 1938.

Wikipedia explains the Munich agreement this way:

The Munich Agreement is signed by Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy. The agreement allows Germany to annex the Czechoslovak Sudetenland area in exchange for peace in an attempt to appease Hitler.

I knew the broad strokes of this agreement, but the novel encouraged me to dig deeper and made me see Neville Chamberlain in a more sympathetic light.  I've never been a big Chamberlain fan.

Am I the only one obsessed with a specific time in history?