Finally! Penny Sampler is a WIP!

After so many weeks of planning, plotting, and studying (it is an e-course after all!), my Penny Sampler is finally and truly a work in progress.


My appliqué blocks are almost done! Only three more to go, I think, and then it’s on to the very scary precision piecing part of the class/ebook.

You might remember I started this 12 x 12 block with some left over Kate Spain fabric I had from another project. But, once the Reminisce arrived, I wanted to cut right into my new stack.



The above blocks are all 6 x 6. All of them except the mitten were sewn to muslin, then turned inside out, and then stitched to the background. My stitching is a little messier than Rachel’s, but I’m sure everything I do is messier than Rachel’s (most people for that matter), but that’s my style and I’m ok with it. If I wanted it to look perfect, I probably would have used matching thread, and done tiny little needle turn stitches. But, it’s the imperfections that make it mine.



So, for the most part, I’m happy with my color choices. I may have done the hearts in something with more pop, but they’re ok. The other little appliqué blocks are actually vintage feed sack charms. Love them! Love them so much that when I botched up the mitten (the mitten was a freezer paper, starch and fold the edges around a template thing) – I used too much starch and there’s a little starch stain on the bottom contrast strip, and I didn’t cut a big enough seam allowance and a bit of my edge came unturned – I didn’t have the heart to toss it because I love the little village pattern on the feed sack – and it’s a one of a kind. So, in it stays, and when it’s all put together no one will notice.

And the last of my Black Friday fabric purchases arrived – woo hoo! This is Botanics from Carolyn Friedlander. Even though the original stack of fabric is so vintage, and this is so modern, I think it’s still going to work.

I hope.

What could not work about this fabric?



And, tonight I got really ambitious and pieced much of the Village block. The upper row of little house is pieced, so I have the second row to piece together with the background, and then I have to do the stitch and turn appliqué roofs. This block really scared me – I had never really pieced such small blocks – teeny tiny windows and doors. But, I went slowly. I actually measured and adjusted my needle position for a scant 1/4 inch seam, and as each rectangle came together they got less wonky, straighter and required less squaring up. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to finish it up tomorrow.


If anyone is interested, Rachel has the Penny Sampler ebook for sale, along with two of her other past classes, Curves and Handstitched, for the next week. And then, poof, they’re gone. I’m going to get Handstitched once I get paid on Friday. The Penny Sampler book is awesome – it’s over 400 pages, has links to the original videos and downloads, and is chock full of insight and inspiration. Not only do you get the pattern for the Penny Sampler. But there are a bunch of side projects as well – a dogwood blossom appliqué quilt, a churn and dash quilt and zipper bag, a pillow, a paper pieced table runner, and a paper pieced wall hanging. Probably more that Im forgetting too. My point is, it’s really worth every penny, and it may not be for sale again. Penny, get it – har har!

Linking up with Freshly Pieced!


So Very Grateful


It’s Anthology time over at One Story Down! I love the papery/scrappy elements in this month’s goodies – and so did Mirjam, because she gave me a GSO! Yeah!

It’s only a few days until Thanksgiving, and I know many people have been blogging/scrapping/Facebooking 30 Days of Gratitude. Sometimes, it only takes one day, though, to put it all in perspective. I was at the women’s prison on Thursday, Riverside Correctional Facility. Going to RCF is always unpleasant. The guards are always late to work. The women are slow to come down from their cells. And, the attorney visiting rooms are little, windowed booths that face out into the regular visiting area. Waiting for a client to come down, and having nothing to look at but family visits is uncomfortable to say the least. Its a baseline truth, I guess, that there is no such thing as privacy in prison – it’s a right that’s been forfeited. But just because an inmate can’t expect privacy with their families, doesn’t make me any happier about this forced voyeuristic experience.

So on Thursday, there was this little blond girl sitting in front of our booth. Probably a junkie. Probably locked up for a probation violation – I’m generalizing, but that’s what most of the women are doing there. She was twirling her hair, looking around like a tough girl, and then her parents came in – and the waterworks started. Now, you would think this would be normal – having a good cry with your family. But, prison is a place that is so sad and bleak that its beyond tears. A meltdown in the family room is rare. But there it was, right in front of me. 30 days worth of tears, at least. Her parents weren’t crying though, which makes me suspect they’ve been here before, and their tears would be shed in private, probably during their long car ride home – long, even if they were only going around the block.

And when I went home that night, after spending 2 hours with my client who is in considerably more trouble than the blond girl, and I watched the evening news with my husband, I can tell you, I felt more than 30 days worth of gratitude – I felt a lifetime’s worth.

Penny Sampler Color Story

You’ll be happy to know that I’ve survived life’s little disaster, and one Sears’ sale later, I’m back in business with a new machine!newmachine

I’ll be blogging about the new machine after I’ve had some time to play with it, but so far so good. It’s sort of an upgrade, sort of not, but what it really was was an economically feasible answer to my broken machine disaster. When I yanked the foot pedal jack out, I unfortunately damaged the computer board since the jack doesn’t stand alone, and the only option was to replace the machine. Uch. So, while I would love a dedicated quilting machine, like a Babylock, or a Bernina, a Janome, or a Juki, I ended up with a Singer Superb that was on sale for $259  at Sears (regular price $499). With Hanukkah and Christmas coming up, I just couldn’t rationalize spending any more money on myself. And, since quilting isn’t my business, and I’m not quite sure if it’s a passion yet, I just can’t imagine spending $1000+ on a machine.  But more on the Superb later – it is superb about many things, I just wish it had more room at the base to put a quilt through.

In the meantime, I continue to plan and obsess about my future Penny Sampler. The machine breakage really put the brakes on my eagerness to start the quilt. It didn’t dampen my ardor for the project, but it was a momentum killer. So now that an outside force slowed me down, I’m of the attitude that the project isn’t going anywhere, there’s no deadline, and rather than willy nilly use the stuff that is in my meager stash, I’m going to really commit to a color scheme that I love.

So, I started poking through the Design Seeds site – found some color schemes that I not only like, but kind of work with the colors I already have in my home, and I took those palettes, and ran them through this neat little application, that turns palettes into Kona Solid Colors.




I really love that bottom one.  So, without throwing out the above ideas, I thought, hey, why don’t I upload some fabric bundles I like, and see what Kona colors are spit out:

This is the new Anna Maria Horner line, Dowry:


And this is Wren and Friends, I think from Moda:


And then I thought, huh, if I want to go with colors in my home, maybe I should upload something in my home.  This is a chunk of my living room carpet.


And, after all of this color creation inspiration what did I decide to go with?


I go to bed thinking I want to go one way, and then I wake up with an entirely different idea in mind.

You’d think I was coming up with my PhD dissertation, not picking fabrics for a quilt.  This really isn’t a life altering decision, yet without any deadlines, time constraints, nothing, I’m having a hard time committing.  Right now, I’m leaning towards the Wren and Friends, with a tad lighter version of what the app spit out – which seems to be the Design Seed palette I love – the vintagey girl with the flowers.  And the olive and gold linen that I already have in my stash would probably work in well.

In the meantime, while the Penny Sampler remains a work in progress in my head at the moment, Altered Squares is in the final stages – my quilt sandwich is ready to go!


Yep, that is definitely zebra backing you see there:


What can I say, she’s ten and she loves zebras.

And, I have enough left over she may get a zebra zipper pouch as well!

So, along with my City Sampler, that’s what I’ve got going on this week.  Well, as far as quilting goes – have I mentioned I’ve been knitting?  Well, that’s a post for a different day!

Linking up with Freshly Pieced!
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

WIP Wednesday – A Big Catch Up Post if it Will Even Post

If you are actually reading this post – THANK YOU! I know how long it took the page to load up, and I really appreciate your patience. Dreamhost, my web host provider, continues to have server issues, and its unclear when this time out problem will be solved. How has the customer service been? you ask.

Even though I’ve kind of gotten started, don’t get me started.  I’m just going to try continue on despite the time outs, the lost saves, the gobbled and destroyed photos, and try to remember that blogging is fun.

It’s fun.

Anyway, this was fun –


My first every piece of embroidery.  I stumbled upon Red Brolly through the Craftsy Blogger Awards, where she tied for runner-up for best sewing tutorials.  So, I gave the blog a visit, and was, for lack of a better word, and it’s really the only word that describes when you go “awwwww . . . how cute!” – enchanted with her Girls Own Stitching Club, and her current Le Jardin quilt, with seed packet inspired embroidery blocks.  Each block lets you practice a few new stitches, and of course, as the runner up for the best tutorials – she gives a pictoral tutorial for each stitch and she links here for video examples.  And, in a convergence of all things good, I found this blog, Shiny Happy World, who happened to be having a sale on embroidery thread, and has this video demonstrating this product which alleviates the need for hand tracing a pattern onto the canvas.  My last hang up about embroidery gone – all of that tracing, holding it up to a window, meh – I decided to try it.  It did feel a bit Sense and Sensibility, with my hoop, my tiny needle, and my tiny thread, but it is a nice bit of portable sewing, and it’s something I can do while watching t.v.  And, it’s pretty easy peasy.  All I knew when I picked up my hoop was backstitch, and that was from high school Home Ec.  But, each time I hit a new stitch, I watched the video a few times – and voila!  I can make a colonial knot!  And, I can do satin stitch!  And, the Fabri-Solv worked – yippy skip!  It’s a little wrinkly, but an iron will fix that right up.  So, now it’s on to block two, and the lazy daisy stitch.

Next up, my new obsession, and frankly, it’s only a work in progress in my head, because I can’t afford to buy the fabric right now.

9312077466_1f0fab4271Like the seed packets, I fell in love with the paper pieced teacups and Dala horses.  The class, taught by Rachel from Stitched in Color has been going since August, and ends on Friday, but if you sign up for the premium edition, you get an ebook of the whole class, including the videos.  So, if you’re interested, get it quick because she’s taking it out of the store on Thursday night.  Thankfully, I had emailed her about when she was going to stop selling the class, because Friday is pay day, and I thought that would be pretty good timing. Instead, if I hadn’t asked, it would have been SOL timing.  The problem, though, is I spent my craft budget on the class, and now I have to wait to invest in fabric.  Now, others who have taken the class really didn’t have to invest too much – since you could easily make this from your stash.  But, I have no stash.  I buy fabric, I make a quilt, I pick a new project.

But, I do “get” stash – anyone who has seen my yarn room knows that I appreciate stash. And, I certainly have fabric stash envy.  But, I think my husband’s nonstash mentality has rubbed off on me.  I just don’t see myself buying fabric for fabric’s sack – like I do with yarn.  I see pretty yarn, I want pretty yarn.  Maybe its because I don’t have a local fabric store anymore since Spool closed, and I don’t have that tactile experience – if I touch it, I want it. Online shopping, for me at least, has to be purposeful.

So, I’ve been doing some very purposeful, online browsing.  To say that I’m obsessed is slightly an understatement.  What City Sampler blocks?  I NEED to start this NOW.  I want to make a teacup.  I want to make the horsey.  I almost ditched the City Sampler, and used that designated fabric for this project.  But, I didn’t.  Patience patience.  The project isn’t going anywhere.

And, I must wait.

And, in the meantime, inspired by one of Rachel’s applique flower blocks, I made these postcards for the iHanna’s 2013 postcard swap –

diy-postcard-button-2013I may not have fabric to start the quilt, but I do have paper!


These were a total pain in the butt to sew.  Not because the design was difficult – obviously, these are simple shapes, and simple sewing.  No, because I used crappy thread.  The only black thread I had in the house came in a Singer sewing kit I got at Target.  Uch – mistake. The needle kept coming unthreaded – which meant I was just punching holes in the paper, creating, in some cases, tear lines.  On Monday, we went to Joann’s, and I was able to buy real thread.  Of course, at that point, I only had 2 more postcards to do.  Oh well.  They’re sitting on my desk waiting to be mailed.  I addressed most of them today, and the backs of the cards now look pathetic – my sloppy handwriting, sheesh.

And, for my last trick of the week – my niece’s Altered Square’s quilt top is done!  And, with my 60% off Veteran’s Day coupon, I bought the backing and binding fabric.



What would you back and find with?  I’m using zebra print and hot pink.

But that’s not the first thing that popped into your mind when I threw out that question.

But, she’s a 10 year old girl, and she loves zebra print.

And, I almost forgot – something finished!


My patchwork pillow project!  I think this was the end of my paper pieced hexagon obsession – and all I can show for all of my poked fingers is a 10 x 10 pillow.

That’s it for this week!

Linking up with –

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Technical Difficulties

I guess you get what you pay for.

Dreamhost’s servers are having some major problems at the moment. Maybe I should have just sucked up the extra $10 a month at Squarespace, sigh.

Actually, I have no idea about outages at Squarespace since I easily ignored that blog for weeks at a time. The site could have been down/slow for days and I would have never known. This is just such incredibly bad timing because I had gotten myself on a pretty good blogging schedule, and at least a handful of people had started popping in. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to get this post to upload. And I don’t know why my photos have been sucked out of my last two posts and into oblivion – but I known I’m not going to bother to fix it until all is well over at Dreamhost.

So if you have stopped by THANK YOU! I will hopefully be back in blogging business soon!

City Sampler Underway

After much thought, and a reality check – including time, money and interest, I’ve decided to go full speed ahead with Tula Pink’s City Block Sampler, and abandon, at least for now, the Farmer’s Wife.

I’m jumping in on the Quilt A Long late, to say the least. But, it’s all good – better than good actually, because I’m picking up at a very good section for a beginner – blocks. How much can you screw up a block, right?

So, here’s one last look at my Denyse Schmidt Florence, all bundled up, neat and pretty. I read on someone’s blog that fabric bundles never look the same again once you’ve undone that sweet little bow – and now, with that thought in mind, undoing the bow is like ripping off a bandaid.


But, off the band aid without an accompanying ouch, because it’s pretty fab after it’s been exploded.


The solids aren’t part of the bundle, but rather perfect selections from Pink Chalk Fabrics that I bought to compliment the fat quarter bundle. I have no idea how far this stash is going to get me – 10 blocks? 20 blocks? Half way done? No clue. Part of me says I’ll worry about that when I get there. The other, sensible part (and mighty optimistic), is formulating a plan – I’ll either buy another bundle of the same, or maybe I’ll go with one of the other Denyse Schmidt lines – during one of my click through a linky internet adventure, I saw someone who had combined several Denyse lines, and it all worked out pretty well. (Edit – I just tried to link to the Pink Chalk solid bundle I bought, and it’s no longer available – so it’ll definitely be back to the drawing board).

But, clearly I’m getting ahead of myself – I’ve got all of four blocks done, that’s 96 more to go – NINETY SIX. As they say on Game of Thrones, Winter is Coming – I’ll have plenty of quality time with my machine and my fabric and my book. You’ll see!

And 71 –


Block 72


And, fussy cut Block 73 –


Tula’s fussy cut features a sweet little frog from her Prince Charming line. I don’t have anything like that – in fact, I have very little that’s fussy cutable. I have fabric left over from my Amy Butler birdie swing tote that has birds on it – but it’s not such a great fit with this fabric. So, I pulled this out from my stash of vintage fabrics that I got when I was putting together a Maryann Moss journal –


I said, a ha! Perfect! And I cut away.

And then, I immediately regretted it.

How cute would that panel have been in a tote bag? Argh. Oh well, it’s cut now.

And, I’ve mentally dealt with slashing this one of kind piece of fabric. I’m going to use the little calendars in other fussy cut pieces, marking special dates, and there are other bits that can be used too. All is good. It’s just quilting.

Anyway, here are all of the blocks together –


This weekend really was pretty productive – I’ll be back for WIP Wednesday to show you my other projects – but I did want to show you this – I finally pieced around my owl, sewed on his eyes, and put him in his hoop.

Love him!

Hope everyone’s week is off to a great start!



Killing Time – Podcasts!

One of my favorite bloggers is blogging about podcasts today.  And, since I saw her blog post while I was on the train, and therefore, listening to podcasts, I thought I’d share my go to podcasts.

Nothing like a little copycatting to get the day going.

First, I listen to my podcasts through Instacast, a podcast aggregator.  I just looked in the app store to link to it, and while I use this, and I’m happy with it, I wouldn’t recommend it based on the reviews that are currently in the app store.  I have an older version – the updated version ($4.99) apparently has a lot of bugs.  The updated version, if it works for you, has a lot of bells and whistles – all of which I don’t really need.  All I want to do is subscribe to my podcast, and have it automatically update.


And this app does the trick – but again, I’d beware of the new app – and it’s price.  I think I only paid $1.99 for this a few years ago.  So, here’s a list of podcast apps that will just make your podcast listening life a little more streamlined than subscribing through the massive itunes interface.

The podcasts I listen to reflect my interests and my hobbies, obviously, and I like the ones that are like radio shows – with a host and a guest, or maybe two hosts that chat (hey, that sounds familiar . . .I would link to my own old podcast, but I stopped paying the Libsyn bill years ago, and the webiste is now defunct – but for anyone who remembers  – get your knit on with Knitty D and the City!). 

So, here’s what I’m listening to on my morning commute . . . and my afternoon commute . . . and my walk to and from the train . . . and while I’m cleaning . . . or perhaps sewing – ok, you get the point:

1. and 2. and 3.  The DigiShow and the Paperclipping Roundtable.   The Paperclipping Roundtable is not surprisingly about scrapbooking.  It’s hosted by Noell and Izzy Hyman, and usually features – what else – a roundtable of guests talking about memory keeping.  The Digishow started out as a Paperclipping property, when the Paperclipping Roundtable originally envisioned itself  hosting a network of podcasts.  That didn’t happen, and the Digishow went out on it’s on.  Again, it’s about scrapbooking – but digiscrapping.  The Digishow tends to veer off talking about actually scrapbooking and memory keeping, and instead, tends to focus on the mechanisms for scrapbooking  – photoshop, photoshop elements, photography, phone apps, software requirements, home computer setups, including storage space and backups.  I enjoy both of them, even though I’m not a paper scrapper.  There’s now a third scrapping podcast that I listen to – The Daily Digi Digest – which sounds an awful lot like the Digishow, since two of the hosts are the same as the Digishow, but it’s a supplement to the Daily Digi site, a membership site that gives you access to over $50 worth of digiscrapping supplies a month for $7.50.  Good deal, definitely.  And, the Digi Digest interviews the Daily Digi’s designers who are contributing to that month’s Daily Digi goodies.  That’s a lot of digi’s and dailies and d words – but Instacast sorts it all out.

4. and 5. and 6.  American Patchwork and Quilting, Amy’s Creative Side, and Quilty.  American Patchwork is hosted by Pat Sloan, and is part of a podcast radio network.  So, it’s an actual radio show every Monday at 4:00, and the podcast is a downloadable replay.  It is a professionally produced podcast, with corporate sponsorship, so the sound quality is always good, the editing is great, and its filled with helpful tips and hints from Moda Fabric, one of the sponsors, and the interviews are always great.  Amy’s Creative Side, on the other hand, is a “mom and pop” like show – with Amy Ellis, author of Modern Basics I and II, and Modern Neutrals.  She’s currently hosting the Blogger’s Quilt Festival – an awesome online quilting event.  She and her cohost, Amy Rosenthal, chat about their favorite tools, fabrics, online shopping, what they’re working on, etc.  The sound isn’t always great, but they’re only on their 9th episode, and it the quality of the show gets better every week.  They’re chatty, and down to earth, and I like them.  And, my last quilty thing is Quilty, another professionally produced video podcast.  The tutorials are short, but clear, but the host sometimes seems like she’s on speed – but I guess you have to be to cut a gazillion triangles or whatever in under 10 minutes.

7. and 8.  Oscar Podcast and Talking TV with Ryan and Ryan.  Oscar Podcast is produced by Sasha Stone and her cohorts at Awards Daily.  No one loves movies more than these guys; no one is more obsessed with movies than these guys.  Sometimes, their love and obsession do get in the way of their ability to see reality – and who’s really going to win on Oscar night.  After a year of listening to them, last year, I won our office Oscar pool, picking every major award, and only falling down on a few minor ones – not because they necessarily picked them all right, but their anaylsis is spot on -they just tend to go with their hearts in the end.  Right now, they’re convinced 12 Years a Slave is a lock, but I’m not so sure. I’ve seen the movie – I don’t disagree with their love or respect for the film – I just think they’re wrong it’s a lock.  It’s long, it’s at times slow, it’s extremely violent – and when I saw it, not only did people walk out, the theater was practically empty and it was opening night.  We shall see.  I think it’s too early to tell, especially when so many films – The Dallas Buyers Club, Wolf of Wall Street, Saving Mr. Banks, Mandela and American Hustle aren’t even out yet, and there are safer wins that already have great momentum at the box office – The Butler and Gravity. 

And, for the t.v. lovers, Talking TV with Ryan and Ryan is just that – tv talk with two tv critics from the Huffington Post. Often, an entire episode might be devoted to talking about one show, and if I don’t listen to that one show, I probably won’t listen – but the great thing about this podcast is that in the show notes, which do appear in Instacast, they have the whole show broken down by the time counter – so you can skip right over content you have no interest in.  Nice.

9. and 10.  NPR Books Podcast and the Book Review.  NPR Books Podcast is an amalgamation of all the NPR shows book segments – so Fresh Air, Morning Edition, and All Things Considered all rolled into one on the topic of books.  The Book Review is from the New York Times book review, and features author interviews, as well as news from the publishing industry and the best seller list. 

11.  This Week in Photo.  This is another roundtable format podcast hosted by Frederick Van Johnson, a former military photographer.  This is generally not a how to show (all this week’s episode is – with helpful tips on travel photography); they talk about gear, the latest news from the industry, social media, and the business of photography.  If you go to the website, you can see a video version of the podcast, which I never do.  Although sometimes, when they hold up their gear and go look, I think about looking, and then never do.

And that about keeps me covered for the week.  Although – I’m always open to new time killer suggestions – what are you listening to?

What Nerds Do On Saturday

I’m a nerd. It’s ok.

It’s a good thing.

Nerds can freely admit they did things on Saturday like go to a Renaissance Faire.




Where grown ups dress up in medieval costumes:





And there is penny stinker-ish entertainment –




Purchasable weapons:



(We did not purchase any weapons – just for the record. No swords in the Camaro).

Strange treats –


Yes, that’s a pickle on a stick.

And, what would a fair be without jousting!






And of course, Halloween decorations –



And, what’s a Faire without a Whoopie Pie?



And these were oh so good!

Hope everyone is having a better Saturday than the Iggles, because they are losing to the stinky Giants.

Country Mouse v. City Mouse

So, in my last post, I pointed out the obvious – I had once again failed to complete a 30 day project. I failed at 30 days of Faces, 30 days of index cards, 30 days of lists, 30 days of whatever. I did succeed at 30 days of not blogging. Frankly, 2 weeks into the listing thing, and I just thought it was stupid. The truth is, I’d rather be doing the things on my list rather than making the list. And so, for the past month of failing at blogging, I’ve been crafting up a storm – sewing, quilting, knitting, keeping up with Project Life – all of these things are a success – so I’m not too upset I failed at listing the projects before I started the projects.

Most of my projects start with a google search – I’m interested in x, I follow a link, then follow another link, and then all of a sudden, I end up interested in Y – a place I never expected to be in the first place. For instance, I was interested in making an Amy Butler Weekender Bag. I read many a blog that convinced me that the Weekender is not only above my pay grade skill wise, but above my pay grade pay wise – that darn thing is super expensive to make. So, I started looking for simpler, cheaper alternatives. That lead me to Sew Sweetness, and her Purse Palooza. But not only does Sew Sweetness host the Purse Palooza, she hosts the City Sampler Sew-Along. What is this? I thought, and started clicking through those links. I ended up buying the Tula Pink City Sampler  book, and I’ve got it in my queue of things to start. And, while I was looking at blogs who were doing the City Sampler QAL, low and behold, these same blogs had quilted along to the Farmer’s Wife Quilt-a-long.

I then started looking at Farmer’s Wife Quilts, the Flickr group, and eventually the Yahoo group. I bought the Farmer’s Wife Quilt Book a few years ago when I was taking my quilting class at the now defunct Spool, and I was thinking about jumping on the Farmer’s Wife QAL bandwagon.  I was fascinated by all of the little blocks, and how they came together like a puzzle. But, then I read the book – and I was just appalled. In 1922, Farmer’s Wife Magazine asked their readers if they had a daughter, would they want their daughter to marry a farmer. The answers inspired blocks, the blocks make up the quilt. Ok, I know it’s 1922, but the answers were so myopic, and the limited nature of the dreams they had for their daughters was disheartening. By 1920, I had hoped that the famer’s wife wouldn’t still want to keep her down on the farm, not after she’d seen Paris – but the truth is, that’s just a song, and they hadn’t seen Paris, and the only world was the farm, and the people they knew – which to me was so exclusionary – certainly not welcoming or openminded to people of color or, like me, who was reading the book, of a different religion. So, the text of the book turned me off, and also, this is probably just me, but some of the blocks look like swatikas. Now, I know that the symbol itself has ancient origins, and was traditionally viewed as a symbol of good luck. I’m not faulting anyone, or judging anyone for it being in a quilt, or a fair isle design, or anything – it’s been a crafting motif forever.  But to me, I just don’t want to look at it. And, if a block resembles one, I don’t want it in my quilt. And the blocks in this book, they’re not swastikas, they just resemble them, and that’s the first thing I see when I look at them.  That’s just me – not anyone else who’s made this quilt – just the way this symbol imprints on my brain, and that’s it.  No judgments – just not for me.

So, why am I back to the Farmer’s Wife? Again, it’s the blocks . . . and, as I followed links, and looked at blocks – it’s the paper piecing, or foundation piecing – when you sew your fabric onto the back of a pattern (the paper, the foundation), and eventually remove the paper to reveal a perfectly pieced block, with perfect points and seams. Voila!  It’s awesome.  It may just be my most favorite quilting technique I’ve learned in my internetting journey.  And the best thing – no cutting!  You can just use your scraps – as long as the scrap is big enough to cover the block in the template, plus a quarter inch seam.

So, do I want to make an entire Farmer’s Wife Quilt? Maybe, I don’t know. I love the blocks, but I still have a hard time reconciling the theme. On the other hand, I do feel kinder towards the Farmer’s Wife than when I bought the book several years ago. It was 1922 after all, and it is a slice of Americana history. And, I feel there’s balance – because I definitely want to make a City Sampler, and it’s nice to work from both ends – traditional v. modern, farm v. city. I like that dichotomy.

Boy, I really am over thinking all of this, aren’t I?

Again, maybe – if quilts are about storytelling, my story is not down on the farm. But, recognizing that, I guess, is part of the story. And, I am grateful for the food that’s on my table every night, and certainly, in this economy, the farmer’s plight couldn’t be more relevant.

Enough babbling – let’s look at what I’ve done – because if nothing else, the Farmer’s Wife Quilt is excellent practice – and I don’t have enough fabric, even scraps, to make it at this point.


What’s that owl doing in there! I’ll get to that in a sec.

The three traditional blocks are from the Farmer’s Wife – the Attic Window (Block 1), Autumn Tints (Block 2), and the Bat’s Wing (Block 5). You may ask what happened to Blocks 3 and 4. 3 is Joannie’s basket, and requires some applique – one technique at a time – I’ll pick that up later if I end up doing a whole quilt.  Block 4 was one of the windmilly ones that looks like a swastika, so I skipped it. And block 4 is totally NOT a swastika – again, it just reminds me of one – it’s just a basketweave. Block 4 is probably one of the ones I could get over, and throw it in – but since I was just practicing I moved on to 5, I liked it better anyway.

Now, what about that owl.  Well, of course I went looking for paper piecing tutorials.  And, the best one I found was on Bubblestitch Quilting’s blog , although the tutorial is by Connecting Threads.  Anyway, while on her site, I found my way to her craftsy patterns, fell in love with the Owl, and with three Farmer’s Wife blocks under my belt, I felt confident enough to go for it (even though my Autumn Tints block is a wreck – that’s certainly nothing more than a practice piece):



How cute is this owl! Now, you can see from my photo, I screwed up a little – I didn’t realize the pattern already had a quarter inch seam allowance built into it, and when I cut my head out, I added one – oopsy – but I don’t realy care – I’ll make another one. I don’t think I’m going to do a whole quilt or wall hanging with them – I think I’m just going to add a 2.5 inch strips around the block, and stick it in an embroidery hoop to hang on the wall.

And what about my City Sampler? I have the fabric – Denysce Schmidt’s Florence, with a stack of solids, put together by Pink Chalk Fabrics.


But, as much as I’d like to start working on it – I started a quilt for my niece for Hanukkah – and since Hanukkah is just about a month away, it’s the priority sew at the moment.  I had a really hard time picking fabric because I wanted something easy peasy, so I wanted a precut – because cutting is the biggest struggle for me.  She requested hot pink, lavender, and zebra print.  Sheesh.  So, I found Summersville Spring (I linked to Red Pepper Quilts instead of a store because she has the fabrics all laid out) which has a print that sort of resembles an animal print at least and has the requisite colors.  I’m making Jenny Doan’s Alternate Square layer cake quilt (from her Craftsy class, Quilting Quickly 1) – one layer cake is cut into four patches, the other, half square triangles, and then the blocks alternate – the diagrams are on the back of the Moda fabric label when you get your layer cake.



But, once that’s done, and I can’t imagine its going to take too long – I’ll be off to the City. Or maybe the Farm. Or maybe a different farm, Jane’s Farm – I found the Dear Jane quilt on my linky travels, too.

But that would just be too crazy.


Anyway, I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced, which I also found in my linky travels. 

 WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced


And if you’ve stopped by from WIP Wednesday, thanks so much for popping in!

The Brooklyn Flea in Philly

One of the things I miss about living in the city is just walking out my front door and immediately having “things to do” options, even if there’s nothing particular going on in town. Should I go read in Rittenhouse? Check out the new magazines at Barnes & Noble? Check out the thrift shop on South Street, seeif they got any new vintage fabrics in?

Yeah. none of those options in the ‘burbs.

And certainly no flea markets, at least not in my hood.

So, I’ve been pining to go to the Brooklyn Flea, a New York migration, which has been open every Sunday at the Piazza in Northern Liberties since, I think, May. I follow them on Facebook, subscribe to their blog, and wish fervently that my husband would actually have a Sunday off again instead of this crap night work schedule that he has.

And voila – this weekend, a Sunday off! Now, my experience of flea markets is this – you snooze, you loose. As a kid, we used to go to flea markets in Lambertville, NJ and New Hope, PA – and the plan always was to leave at the crack of dawn, and get there before all of the bargains were snatched up.

So, in planning our morning, we did set ou as soon as Joe got home from work at 8:00 a.m. The flea supposedly opened at 10:00, so we figured we’d have breakfast and then head on over to the market. When choosing our breakfast diner, we decided not to go to the diner at the Piazza – oh, that’ll be packed! so we went to Mugshots, a few streets down.


Hmm, we started to get a bit clued in. No one else eating breakfast, two blocks from a flea market with good buzz? In this hipster neighborhood, where the cool kids get home at 6:00 a.m. or so, I guess no one is having breakfast at 9:00.


Breakfast was awesome. I miss diner breakfast!!! Another failure of the suburbs. After breakfast, we strolled around – now stalling to get to the flea.


So, we wondered over to the market at about 10:05 – and just as the diner signs had predicted – the market was hardly even getting started. Local crafters were just putting up their booths – there was a lot of yawning going on. Eh, at least we beat the crowd right? We also beat the merchandise too, sigh. And, it was really windy – one stand actually got knocked over – a stand of freshly painted white vintage reclaimed wood – very popular – and so overpriced.

I did admire the handmade/handcrafted booths – tote bags, patchwork pillows, zipper pouches. Of course, I kept thinking, I could do that, I could do that too – I could have a booth – ideas ideas. But since I can’t even manage to complete a 30 day blog project (oh yes, I’m sure you didn’t miss the fact that I didn’t even manage to complete 2 weeks of listing), I doubt that’s going to happen.

We did buy some things at this awesome “junk” store, Jinxed.  There were a lot of vendors selling vintage items – library card drawers, wooden crates with vintage ads, reclaimed wood tables and chairs, old photographs, etc.  and until we popped into Jinxed, I guess I didn’t even realize how overpriced everything was.  For instance, at Jinxed, he was selling a small wooden chair for $20.  The wood was beautiful – handcarved, really detailed.  The upholstery and the springs were shot – it was definitely going to be a project.  But, comparing it to what was being sold inside the market (Jinxed has a storefront in the market), another vendor easily would have jacked the price up to $75 or so.  I asked the owner about it, and he was like look, I’m really just selling the wood – and that’s about it.  In any event, Joe poo poo’d the chair – it certainly wasn’t a chair that a 6’4″ person was ever going to sit in.

We did walk way with this fab cedar chest:


It’s in really great condition, and it doesn’t have any funky musty smell.



And my little treat – this super cool vintage hat box, which is perfect for my sewing supplies, and modest fabric stash.


Joe did agree that the flea was someplace we’d revisit – just after lunch, not breakfast.

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