Geysers and geezers…

Old Faithful.

I’ll get to that in a moment.  Did you have a good weekend?  I spent it with Bern Ina, a lovely older Swiss gentleman with impeccable manners.  He helped me finish my Go Four It quilt – picture coming soon – and the Snapshots Block No. 1.

For those who asked about the pattern for the black-and-orange four-patch quilt, the pattern is in the April 2015 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine, available now through the end of March at a quilt shop, book shop or grocery store near you.  There are three very different four-patch quilts from ModaLissa, April Rosenthal and Edyta Sitar.  Mine is a variation of April’s Buried Treasure quilt – it’s the same block in a different setting.


This will be a busy week with QuiltCon starting on Thursday.  Moda folks will start heading to Austin this afternoon and a few will be staying through Sunday afternoon.  I’m excited about going and seeing the sights, quilts, people and vendors.  (It’s a quilt show so there has to  be shopping, right?)  Did I tell you that I’d signed up for some classes last Summer?  I’ll let you know what I learn.

No.  I will not be getting a tattoo.

It isn’t that I think I’m too old for that sort of thing, it’s that I know it isn’t “me”.  But apparently I am old… “old faithful”.

Okay, so the comment was in the context of patterns and how “I” – Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co. – was like “old faithful” in that many of the older patterns were still sought-out by quilt shops and quilters.  (P.S. Thank you!)  Still.

With the advent of PDF. patterns, online shopping, and social media, there is no question that the quilt pattern business has changed since I started writing patterns in 2002.  The “shelf-life” is still relatively short – less than a year – and many come-and-go pretty quickly.  Timing can play a huge role in how well a pattern does, and the level of difficulty generally has very little to do with it.  Dear Jane and the Farmer’s Wife quilts continue to be popular, but in the fourteen years since Terry Atkinson published Yellow Brick Road, it hasn’t been out of the Top Ten Patterns sold by distributors.

It is THE Old Faithful of patterns – it’s the perfect beginner quilt, it’s the perfect baby-graduation-going off to college quilt and it works in every style of fabric.  (And yes, almost every pattern-person I know wishes she’d thought of it.  But that’s why Terry is so good, we didn’t “see it” until after she’d done it.)

But back to patterns.

I’m often asked if I look at, buy, read and use other people’s patterns.  Of course I do!  I’m a quilter and I buy patterns because I love the quilt and I cling to the notion that I’ll someday be able to make every one of them!  I’ve even made several… though I will own up to sometimes often usually changing one or two teeny, tiny things.

So what are the most popular patterns right now?  Bags.  Lots of bag patterns – the Weekender Travel Bag by Amy Butler and the Beatle Bags by Abbey Lane top the list, followed by a couple of bag patterns by Terry Atkinson.  Do you make bags?  I enjoy it but I’d rather make a quilt.  Like one of these “best selling” patterns – I have a couple of these patterns.


Row 1 – Atkinson Designs Yellow Brick Road / Basic Grey’s Mesmerize / Bunny Hill Designs’ Merry, Merry Snowmen.  Row 2 – Bunny Hill’s I Believe in Snowmen / the stack of everything I pulled in the warehouse / Bunny Hills’ Christmas Wheels.  Row 3 – Crab-Apple Hill’s Gingerbread Square / Jaybird Quilts’ Toes in the Sand / Thimbleblossoms’ Swoon.

Do you have any favorite patterns?  (Bonus points to anyone who mentions one by Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co.)  I probably have every pattern published by Sandy Klop of American Jane, and most of those from Jen Kingwell.  Steam Punk has been on my “to do” list for almost two years.

But when I’m asked if I have a pattern that I love, once that I would consider as an “old faithful”, you-can’t-go-wrong=with-this-pattern… Vanilla & Blooms by Fig Tree & Company – Joanna Figueroa.  I.  Love.  This.  Quilt / Pattern.  It’s out-of-print as a paper pattern but still available as a PDF download.  Both versions are terrific and I can’t think of any pattern that shows off gorgeous fabric better than this one.  It looks good in every style of fabric.  Especially Fig Tree fabric.

Fig Tree Vanilla and Blooms

The other one is Swoom by Thimbleblossoms – Miss Roskelley.  Even though I’ve seen what seems like a thousand versions of Camille’s quilt, I’ve yet to see a single one that wasn’t spectacular.  Not one.

Camille's Swoon Quilt

“Old Faithful”.  It’s much prettier than it sounds.

That Heinz thing…

Catsup. Or in this case, catch-up.

I was so happy to read that I’m not the only one who has a hard time keeping up with that “one block a month” deadline. I can make 120 blocks in a couple of days… but ask me to make only one a month? No can do. Are blocks like Lays Potato Chips? You can’t make just one – it’s all or nothing.

That’s food for thought… and no, I couldn’t resist that one.


This picture will seem random but I promise it isn’t.  I’ll get to that in a moment.

I promised to have an update on the status of my various sewing project…

  • Reproduction Sawtooth Star blocks. I have 20 done, but that’s only because I made 6 in one sitting.
  • Pink & Yellow X-Plus blocks. I’m stuck on three blocks, though I did get enough pieces for another 20 blocks cut out so I’ve made some progress.
  • Pink & Yellow Triangle blocks. See above – no sewing but I’ve cut more strips. Soon. Right?
  • Snapshots blocks. I’ve got Block 1 cut out and with Block 2 coming soon, I’d better get busy.

Still, there has been some sewing going on – my APQ quilt-along quilt in orange, black and cream is almost done.


I have to make a few more blocks – I obviously counted a couple of my blocks twice because I thought I had enough – and I’m trying to decide how to finish the sides so I’ll finish by Monday.  At least that’s the plan.

When I showed the pieces I’d been cutting for this quilt last week, I had a few questions asking if I used a Go-Cutter. I’m guessing you thought the squares and strips were just a tad obsessively stacked. That’s the result of two things – starch/sizing and the way I like to stack squares and strips. For the latter, it seems like I’ve always done that as it made it easy for me to count pieces quickly. (Perhaps I should do the same thing with blocks…)

The other reason they stack rather neatly is that I’m a “starcher” or “sizer”. Before I do any cutting, I spray my fabrics with starch or sizing until they’re damp and then I press it until dry with a hot iron. Just so you know, I use both starch and/or sizing depending on which one is handy and which one is on sale at the grocery store. Since I’ve never had any problems with flaking, shiny-surfaces or bugs, and since I go through cans and bottles pretty quickly, I tend to prioritize the cost.

Doing this serves two purposes – it shrinks my fabric and makes it very flat for cutting. First – shrinkage. I used to pre-wash my fabric but with pre-cuts and better quality fabric, the necessity to do that was less. And time was sometimes a factor. But I press with steam – a lot of it – and it was causing enough shrinkage that it affected the accuracy of the pieces before and after piecing.

The starch/sizing also helps me cut four layers of fabric at a time. I know, I know… other people can do this without requiring starch/sizing. But this is what works for me.

This does too.


It’s next on my “to do” list. The bundle is the coming-soon Collection for a Cause Mill Book 1892 – it rocks – and the lights are from several different collections, some of which are also coming soon.

So back to that first picture of Daysail – by Bonnie & Camille.  (Like you didn’t already know that.)  The bundle has been on the shelf in my office for a few weeks but I just found the little Aurifil thread kit.  Even though I have spools and cones of thread everywhere at work and at home, I always find myself wanting to get a few more spools.  Are you like that with thread?

And of course, that got me wondering about several thread-related topics…

What kind of thread do you use?

Do you use one kind for piecing and another kind of applique, quilting or machine-quilting?

Do you switch colors for piecing and/or binding?

Is there anything you’d like to know about thread?  Either a specific brand-question or something general.

I’ll tell you that I’m a little boring when it comes to thread.  I use 50 wt. Aurifil in 2324 for most of my piecing.  It’s only when I’ll be sewing lots of white pieces to white pieces that I will switch to white thread.   My favorite pale taupe-tan works perfectly for about 90% of what I do.

That’s it for today.  I’m grabbing that cone of Aurifil and then I’m off to buy sizing or starch.  I’ve got sewing to do this weekend!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

(I hope you make something beautiful!)

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If you’ve been sewing awhile (and most readers of The Cutting Table probably have), then it’s hard to remember the days when threading your machine or understanding the term “seam allowance” didn’t come naturally. But truth be told, even the most skilled amongst us was once a newbie stitcher, eager to learn the right way to wield a seam ripper or create a tidy double-fold hem.

Jill Abeloe Mead
Here to provide guidance for those basic tasks and much more is the web site, produced by the talented folks who bring you American Patchwork and Quilting, Quilt Sampler, and Quilts and More. “We’re reaching out to beginning sewers and our mission is to help them learn to sew and to have a fun, successful experience,” says Jill Abeloe Mead, the site’s editor.

The learning, and the fun, is enhanced by patterns and tutorials for sewing projects for gifts, accessories, and home décor items. In the process of creating pillows, potholders, and pouches, newbies learn skills that will last a lifetime. “Sewing isn’t in many school curriculums anymore and we see lots of people teaching themselves,” says Jill. “When they get into a jam, they go to the Internet, and we want to be their go-to source for both learning basic skills and improving upon them.”

Focus groups held around the country helped Jill determine the site’s content. She learned, for example, that phrase “the right side of the fabric” wasn’t clear to beginners. “We saw they were looking at the right-hand edge of the cloth,” says Jill, so she created an illustrated post that clears up the confusion. Other posts offer tips for cutting, pressing, and sewing straight, and explain how to use templates. “We also learned that people are interested in mending things—how to fix a snag in a sweater, for example—so we’ll continue to include that kind of information,” she says. 
Lindsay Fullington
In addition to the on-site content, a link leads to a series of Youtube videos with editor Lindsay Fullington, who demonstrates how to thread a sewing machine, how to replace a sewing machine needle, and even how to sew on a button. “Lindsay’s already developed a number of faithful followers and we’re getting email from fans,” says Jill.

New content is being added to the site regularly. On tap for this summer are a series of tee-shirt projects, including ways to personalize and modify them. Along the way site visitors will learn about fusibles, how to cut a tee-shirt for re-fashioning, and what kinds of needles to use when stitching knits. Another series of projects will focus on baby accessories: a simple coverlet, blocks, and an embellished onesie. “People like to make things to give and we plan to have lots of gift ideas in the months leading up to the holidays,” says Jill.

 Used with permission from ©2013 
Meredith Corporation. All Rights Reserved. For more projects, visit 

While is aimed at beginners, there’s no doubt that some of us who have been sewing awhile will enjoy it, too. I plan to whip up some Fabric Corner Bookmarks to tuck into the holiday cards I give to my book group buddies. And the Fabric and Color section demonstrates how to use photos of everyday objects—flowers, gourds, even cookies—as inspiration for pulling together a variety of textures and hues when choosing fabrics. It’s a reminder that one of the great things about sewing is that no matter how long you’ve been stitching, there’s always something new to try.