The Challenge and the Commission

One of the people who make me an adventurous quilter is my sister Terry.  She will take on anything and everything.  Seldom does she think “I can’t do that”.

Terry had a box from a woman who wanted a quilt.  Another quilter had begun the process, but due to arthritis in her hands was unable to complete it.  Terry also had a few pieces that were in her work que for quilting.  There was a timeline for this quilt and as the scraps sat on her table weighing on her conscience she “had nothing”.  We’ve all been there with a challenge.  You get a piece of fabric or a block to work with, and you just “have nothing” to make it shine, or sometimes even to make it work.  Terry asked if I would give it a go and I did.  I knew there was a deadline and it was creeping up, but more often than not I work best under pressure.

The box arrived.  I let it sit unopened for a day.  When I opened it I let out a long, heavy sigh.

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These were not fabrics that I was accustomed to working with.  Some were thin, others bulky.  Many of the pieces of clothing had been cut apart.  The original quilter had begun appliqueing by hand components of the clothes to background, and the blocks were small.  I began to worry.  I allowed myself to worry for a day or two.  Then I adopted a different viewpoint.

Sometimes when we take on a daunting task, we envision an end product.  I call that having a helicopter view.  The ability to see far ahead and the entire situation.  On occasion that view is far too much to absorb.  So I took a dashboard view.  I just started working one block at a time, not even considering the finished piece.  With each block the task became easier.

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Eventually, I had enough together that I could begin a layout.


Plugging along, I finished the top in the amount of time given, and my sister brought it to life with her quilting.


When I was getting ready to deliver it for quilting my daughter was quite taken with the quilt and posted a photo of it to social media.

To my surprise and delight, there was someone interested in a commission for the same type of quilt.

It was a great feeling to have my talent recognized.  I actually named this one while I was working on it.


I called this Daisy on the Move.  I can tell this little girl is always on the move and testing her boundaries.


Terry Burris Quilting did a fabulous job of breathing life and energy into this sweet quilt.

I’m always interested in ways of making my quilting habit pay for itself.  And this did, in education, practice and creativity.


Posted in Accomplishments, planning, Quilting, recycling, Terry Burris Quilting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Yo-yos a Go Go!

Several years ago (more than 10), while my mom was working, she indicated that she was bored when she came home and needed something to do with her hands so she would not snack.  Mama Lou is a petite woman, just about 5 feet tall, and loves to snack but does not like the way those snacks affect her figure.  She has never been “crafty”, and was not interested in sewing in her youth and truly had no desire to learn anything very complicated.  One thing she was curious about were the yo yos my sister and I were working on.  She remembered her mother having made a yo yo quilt many years ago, and was willing to give a go to the yo yos.

Encouraged and excited by this, my sister Terry and I went through our stashes and cut hundreds, maybe even thousands of circles from our scraps using a compact disc as a template.  We figured this would certainly keep her little hands busy for at least six months.

Well, my mother, once she gets an interested in something becomes a woman possessed.  Although she wasn’t interested in making the quilt, she sure was determined to help Terry and I by making our yo yos for us.  For her this was a labor of love.  And a labor it was.  It was less than a month when I received a box filled with yo yos.  And then a bag.


I moved, not once, not twice, but three times, and those yo yos moved with me.  Finally, I am paying them a little homage and honoring the lady that sewed this together.  This was not the original intended use for these dimensional discs, but it is a start.

Mama Lou loves purple, and last year I sent her a quilt with lots of purple in it.  There was a little left of the fabric so I used it as a base for her pillows.  I decided on a simple project one being a wreath of sorts, and the other a primitive bouquet.  First I created texture on the base.


Then I laid out my simple plan.


It took me a while, but I attached all the yo  yos by hand using a buttonhole stitch.  This probably could have been done on the machine, but I love the look of the thicker threads.


Once I finished attaching the “flowers”, I put a bow on them, and backed them as pillows.


The project was not difficult and will be a lovely reminder to Mama Lou of her two girls, as well as pride in herself knowing that she helped make this beautiful pieces.


Now that is teamwork!


Posted in Accomplishments, Family, Pillows, Quilting, simple, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Richmond Quilters Guild Show Post Script

When I entered my quilt into the show, I also entered a couple of garments.  One of the garments was a pieced vest I did several years ago.  Initially it was going to be a long tunic.  Then I changed my mind.


Well, when the show was over and the votes for “Viewers Choice were tallied, there was a three way tie for First Place in the garments category.

My vest was one of those in the tie.  Every vote counts.  Thank you!

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Richmond Quilters Guild Quilt Show

This is the first time I’ve entered a quilt in a show to be judged.  Over the years I have had the chance to view dozens of shows, from an International show in Houston, to local shows in Northern Virginia and Pennsylvania.  There is no doubt in my mind that there are millions of incredibly talented women out there that know their way around a needle.  I’m no longer going to allow that to deter me.

The quilt I entered for judgment is a simple quilt made from humble materials; second-hand drapes and neckties.  The pieced blocks are “string” blocks, a very thrifty and simple way to construct the blocks.  This worked well as with most string blocks a foundation is used and the ties that I worked with behaved better with a foundation.  I am somewhat proud of this quilt as even in its simplicity, it has an impact.  I call this impact a voice and the voice was given to it by the quilting.  Terry Burris Quilting made this quilt sing.


Did it win a ribbon?  No, however, the scores were high with the exception of one, which I will work on to improve.  And I was very proud of the work of my quilter, and the comment the judge left for her, my sister can be proud of all the hard work and practice through the years that have made her the quilter she is today.


I am thrilled.  And not every quilt is a ribbon quilt.  Those that did get ribbons certainly deserved them, as the work was extraordinary.

It was enlightening to hear someone remark while viewing the show, that we need to get over the fact that there are going to be other quilts and quilters that are “better” than ours.  We are all on our own journey and progress at our own pace.  Not everyone wants to or needs to be a “Master Quilter”.  Many quilt viewers are equally inspired by projects that they feel they can accomplish. And there too is a very important thought.  Here are a few of my favorites:

It made me so happy that a dear friend of mine drove down for a visit and to see the show.  She has not quilted in the past.  I noticed that she was enjoying the visuals of all of the quilts, but was thinking many of the pieces were complicated in their construction.  It was such a pleasure to be able to share some of the tips about how the quilts went together and how important a character color is.  I’m hoping that I was able to pique her interest a bit more and instill in her the fact that I KNOW she can make a beautiful quilt.  It would be another thing we could share as friends.

Something else I noticed:  Labels!  People put a lot of time and talent into their labels.  I really need to up my game.


Even my sweet husband mentioned that they could use some work.  I’ve made dozens of quilts, and I’m sad to say these are my first labels.  It just goes to show that there is always a chance to learn and improve.

Posted in Accomplishments, Quilt Show, Quilting, recycling, Terry Burris Quilting, Ties, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In the beginning…


Oh those first efforts. The very first effort was a biscuit quilt.  You know, the kind where you stuff each little pillow like biscuit and sew them together.  Well, the first one must have weighed 80 lbs.  The recipient in fear of being crushed under it, gave it to her dog as a bed.  Alas, although disappointed in her actions, I stitched on.

Then I was going to have a baby and wanted a special quilt.  I purchased a kit and embroidered the center.  Even I must say the embroidery was and still is beautiful.  Then time was getting short and I NEEDED to finish the project.  Well, those pieces did not fit together like they did in the picture so I just stitched them down.  Better done than perfect.  YIKES!  But wait there is more.  I put a 100% cotton batting in the piece and instead of actually quilting it, I tied it.  Need I explain what happened when I initially washed the quilt.  Heavy sigh.

As my son got to be a big boy of 5 I gave him quilt blocks as a gift for Christmas one year. Yeah, I was “that mom”.   And then a top the next year.  Well, that was over 30 years ago.  I used the best fabric I could afford at the time and chose those fabrics for their color.  My son, who is in the navy now, and in his mid-30’s will be getting his quilt this week.  It is finally finished.  One of my oldest UFO’s is finally done.


My sister Terry of Terry Burris Quilting, quilted this quilt with the same attention to detail as she would have quilted a showstopper quilt.  She chose the quilting patterns to reflect the subject matter, and did a beautiful job, elevating this humble effort to something special.  In doing so she elevated my confidence to continue trying and making my best efforts with every block I construct.

At the same time I created a quilt for my daughter.  I would watch Georgia Bonesteel and Eleanor Burns on PBS and was so inspired by how simple they make it look.  My daughters quilt is a sampler.  Again, this is not constructed using high-end quilt fabrics, but there are a couple of local quilt shop fabrics in there mixed with some broadcloth and sheeting, as it was what I could afford as a stay at home mom at the time.  Terry Burris quilted this piece also.  I didn’t even notice my errors, as I was just so enamored by the finished product.  Each block was treated as a treasure.



So, stick with your journey.  We all start as beginners.  No one is perfect at the start. It takes practice.  Enjoy each and every accomplishment, and even learn something from the failures.  But above all…stitch on.


Posted in First Quilts, Quilting, simple, Terry Burris Quilting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Spring in the Air

We all get them, you know the incentive patterns that come with the invitations to subscribe to the quilting magazines.  Some are pretty basic, others enticing, but this one I saved.  I saved it for a couple of years.  And oh yes, I did subscribe to the magazine.


The name of the free gift pattern is Now and Later.  It is beginner friendly and is a great opportunity to showcase whatever fabrics you collect.  Some of us collect a couple of things.  But it’s a good idea to start with ONE.

Most of the winter I had worked with ties, and dark and masculine colors (read brown and blue).  My collection of thirties fabrics was calling to me and of course it made this a no-brainer.  It was a joyful labor of love cutting out the fabrics.  Then with the smaller pieces I cut for a baby or dolly blanket to match.  This was probably my very favorite part of the process, handling and cutting the rectangles, and revisiting the fabrics that took me decades to collect.


I even enjoyed attaching the little white squares to the rectangles.  Truly therapeutic, mindless piecework, that after a few hours results in a nice little stack of units.


Next came putting them together as a cohesive unit.  It was fun to play with the units on the design wall.  I put them up I took them down, and repeat.  Finally, I settled on a layout.


Then it happened, I started sewing the units together, into bigger units, then rows, and more units and rows, and rows to rows.  My enthusiasm for the project began to wane, but I really wanted to get it all together before pulling it off the wall.  I persevered, and got it together.

Because there is so much handling there were threads.  Lots and lots of threads.  Grooming was a must before sending it to the quilter.


I can’t imagine any long arm quilter wanting to deal with this, or any piecer wanting to get their quilt back with this stuff quilted in.  So remember, groom your flimsy.

Initially, I was going to use my feed sacks for the backing but reconsidered and went with the same Kona white that I used in the front.


It’s all groomed and ready to be shipped to the quilter!

Oh that baby quilt, and dolly quilt, they will wait a little while as I need to shift gears.  That being said, I do see this done with florals on a lovely garden green background.  Maybe with bigger pieces.


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It had been a long long time since I had been asked how much I charged for a quilt.  Honestly, I didn’t have a very good answer…in fact I had no answer other than “I’m not sure”.  The man wanted a quilt for his six year old granddaughter.  Something girly and a more grown up than a baby quilt but he didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  I mean she is a six year old right.  His only request was that “Sweet Pea” be on the quilt and if I could fit it on, the little girls name; Garbyella.

Truth be told, I had been working on some tedious stuff and was looking for a project that provided me with a sense of accomplishment.  And a chance to work with some FUN fabrics.   Gramps had been doing some work on the house and I wanted to keep the cost down.  I went through my juvenile and novelties stash and came up with a fair amount, but not quite enough.  So there was an opportunity to shop, and I did.  It was fun as I had discovered a couple of new to me quilt shops in my area as I’ve only been here about a year.

It wasn’t long before I had fabrics up on the design wall and the lettering done for her name and nickname.  That was a new thing for me to do!


The quilt went together fairly quickly as I needed to keep it simple.  I’m calling it an “entry level” quilt.  My quilter, Terry Burris Quilting was able to turn it around for me quickly.  And with some of the scraps I was able to make a pillow case.IMG_7388


There was still one more thing I wanted to do.  Part of the reason Gabryella was getting a new quilt was to stop dragging around her old one.  So I went the next step and made one for her dolly so she would still have something to take with her.


Her baby dolls name is Mya.  The backing of the baby doll quilt is the same that I used on the twin quilt and the pillowcase.


This was just the distraction I needed to feel a sense of accomplishment!  So what do you tell people when they ask, “How much do you charge for a quilt?”

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