Denim has intrigued me for a long time.  I’ve collected jeans for many years with the thought that “someday I will make something with these”.  On a trip to the big Houston Quilt Festival several years ago, I took a “denimology” class taught by Flavin Glover.  The class was superb and Ms. Glover was creative, informative, and a delightful instructor.

By the way, if the opportunity arises to go the Quilt Festival in Houston, take it.  My sister and I had a blast!  So much inspiration.  Awesome teachers, and classes, and the VENDORS!!!!   I yi yi!  But alas, I do digress.

As retreat coordinator this year I chose a subject dear to my heart.  Retreat was about the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse, and recycle) and 5 Hands (hand made, second hand, hand me down, hand in hand & helping hand ) .  All of the samples and projects offered were made using materials that had a previous purpose.

Denim played a big part in the retreat.  One of the pieces was a quilt I made using denim, and upholstery samples and a free quilt pattern from Benartex called Denovo.  PDF can be found here:  The pattern was not followed to the letter, it was more inspirational.  The orientation of the blocks was a little tricky because most of the upholstery samples were directional – hence “not followed to the letter”.img_3946

A few words of advice when using denim.  First of all, change your needle.  Use a denim needle or size 16.  Using 100% cotton denim is easier than using denim that has spandex.  I found I needed to stabilize my black because of that.  It was worth it though because I really wanted the color.  Use similar weight fabrics if you are going to mix denim.  A wonderful match is upholstery fabrics.  I scored a sample book at a flea market and love the results.  Sometimes you can find sample books at thrift stores, or even E-Bay.  One of the things that was brought to my attention at class was if you have a really nice machine, you may NOT want to use it if you are going to do much denim work.  Some of these designer machines come with a big price tag, as do the repairs, and they were not designed to work on these dense thick fabrics for long periods of time.  Because it is my intent to do a fair amount of denim work, I purchased an inexpensive Singer that specifically indicated that it could handle denim.  It worked like a dream.  Often you can find these machines second-hand and in running condition.

Before sending your denim piece out for quilting, make certain that your quilter realizes that you are sending a denim quilt.  They too will have to use a bigger needle, and may suggest a thicker thread.  Terry Burris Quilting made this beauty shine with a lovely allover pattern.


Isn’t this just perfect to have in the back of the car “just in case”, or as a picnic quilt.  This quilt will take a beating, so it’s good to throw on the floor for babies, or to make cozy on the couch.  Because there is not a lot invested, they would also make wonderful charity quilts.

There is no doubt that this quilt will last a long time.  My denim adventure has just begun and I can’t wait to share with you where it takes me.

Happy piecing!


Posted in Denim, Quilting, recycling, Retreat, simple, Terry Burris Quilting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Necessity is the mother of invention


I’ve been unpacking.  And unpacking, and unpacking some more.  Everything old is new again.  Being so open, my new sewing studio was an easy spot to just drop and stack boxes…and that we did.

That being said, my sewing room isn’t totally set up so I’ve been working on my handwork (read bindings).  There were some pieces that had been quilted for years that only needed a little attention.  So, I focused on what I wanted to use for the guest room.  I found this lovely little piece that I had made as a class sample about 15 years ago.  Making an Eye Spy quilt was fun, but working with larger hexis was equally fun and fussy cutting my florals for the setting triangles was easy.

This sweet quilt was so much fun that I wanted it to be bigger than originally planned.  Well, I mean to tell you that lovely pale teal-blue was a big hit and there was none to be found.  The darker blue is  a lovely complement and makes it look as if that was the plan all along.  Terry Burris Quilting always makes my work shine and this is no exception.  She quilted a little posie in each and every hexi.  Sweet right!

I love the way it works in so nicely with the colorwash wall hanging and the floral Brave New World quilt from a few years back.

Happy piecing!


Posted in Accomplishments, Hexis, Impressionist, Moving, Scraps, Terry Burris Quilting, UFO's, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tinsel Tuesdays: DIY a Recycled Tie Wreath for Christmas (or year-round)

These are fabulous! Beautiful presentation and an easy to follow tutorial.  Please visit Sharons blog, CraftsnCoffee and check out her wonderful projects.  Many use recycled materials.


Crafts 'n Coffee

I have lots of photos today because I am showing off two dazzling and elegant Recycled Tie Wreaths made by Kathleen George. Kathleen’s first wreath is in rich shades of reds, perfect for Christmas. She shares a second Recycled Tie Wreath in more subdued, year-round hues of blue. Kathleen scouted second-hand stores for her stash of silk ties, which is a beautiful way to build a collection of precious silk fabric. If you’re looking for a special, handmade gift idea, a Recycled Tie Wreath is the answer!

Gorgeous! Tutorial on

Beautiful Recycled Tie Wreath for Christmas or year-round. These Recycled Tie Wreaths are easy enough that you can make them for a special, handmade gift.

Recycle men's ties to make this dazzling wreath. Choose your color palette for the season.

To make a Recycled Tie Wreath with Fabric Roses, you’ll need:

  • STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam: 12” wreath (Kathleen used a wreath with a curved front and flat back)
  • Neckties, 6 – 8 in coordinating colors and patterns
  • Fusible…

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Haberdashery – Part Two

Although the Haberdashery wall hanging did not have the contrast I had hoped for, it was still an attractive piece.  And I had lots and lots of tie scrap to use up.

One of the points of this body of work is to use as much of the material as possible in the projects.  So with so much left over I continued with a “series”.

The log cabin table topper is truly a masculine piece.  Simple and handsome, this would look lovely on a dresser or table.  Log cabin blocks are pieced on a 3 1/2″finished foundation.

No room installation is complete without complimentary  pillows.  And aren’t these lovely?!


The circles are done exactly like the wall hanging except smaller.  I did decide though to use yo-yo’s in the centers for a more interesting visual texture.  Cute yes!

The second pillow is made with tiny little log cabin blocks, about half the size of the blocks used for the table topper.  They are delightful, but don’t sneeze when you’re sewing or you are bound to loose one




Like most of my quilting creations, they just don’t shine as bright until they are quilted.  Terry Burris Quilting did a fabulous job to make these shine beyond my expectations.

Posted in Pillows, Quilting, recycling, Retreat, Terry Burris Quilting, Ties, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 4 Comments


Some of my most creative thinking is done while on long rides with my husband.  If I know we are going to be in the car for more than two hours I usually bring a notepad, and maybe some handwork.  The handwork is for when I run out of stuff to write on the notepad.

While I’m working on one project my brain is thinking of ways to expand on the work I’m doing or how to make it different.  This is especially true if I’m working with something I enjoy or something simple.

Much of my work of late has been using neckties.  The reason for this has to do with retreat, but that is for a later post.  These neckties are fabulous!  Lots of color and pattern, and the textures are wonderful to work with and the ties provide just that.

During one ride with my beloved, I was pondering the fact that much of my tie creations were a little dark.  I had been holding onto a lovely piece of creamy yellow drapery moire for a very special project and it was time to develop that piece.  It doesn’t need to be complex as I wanted the fabrics and ties to speak with their own voice.  I found a perfect match for the back, a butter yellow satin that is soft to the touch.

This is what I came up with on that ride.


When I got home from that little trip I started on my task.  It took a couple of months to complete, not due to the complexity (it isn’t), but because I’m never doing just one thing at a time.

Well, I finished the piece and although I wasn’t thrilled with it, I was thrilled that I finished it.  I took it to the quilter.  I must admit this was a heavy quilt.  My expectations were not really very high as when we laid it out on the table to get a real look at it, I saw a few flaws that I had made.  Still I was aware of the quality of work these gals did and knew it was in good hands. I nearly cried when I picked it up.  In the quilters hands she made it shine.  This was my first experience using M & M Quilting and they did a great job.

The humble quilt that I brought in to be worked on was made regal.  The butter yellow back shimmers like gold with the quilting.  And the front is truly lovely also.

I’m truly satisfied with this quilt, and will make it again, but make some changes in the dimensions of the “stripes”.  I’ll also make sure that I lay it all out to pin the big pieces together so they match up nicer.    All in all this was a win win, and a great learning experience.


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Haberdashery Pieces – Part One

It is always exciting to get a box from my sister Terry of Terry Burris Quilting Services.  This specific box was no exception.  Prior to the holiday I sent her some of my retreat samples to enhance.  Although, my work is lovely enough, it lacks a certain depth and life until Sissy gets it.

My concerns with these pieces were my color choices.  They laid a little flat.  The color only, as the pieces themselves…not so much.  Again, I am working with neckties.  Neckties are a joy to work with on several levels:  they are thrifty, they come in pretty colors, most are silk.  It is also an emotional “tie” to my early creative process.  However, on another level they are mischievous!  They are all bias, stretchy and misbehaving.  It was my intent to see if I could cultivate a masculine following for my quilting with this piece.

Because of the bias, it was my decision to use a fabric foundation to reel in some of the stretch.  For the most part it does work.  If you are not going to cut with the bias, then this is the route to go.  These foundations are from “Foundation by the Yard” by Sharon Hultgren for Benartex.

The fans appealed to me, but I found them a bit feminine for this piece.

A circle however…now that would work.  It takes four of the fan foundations to make the circle.

There is also something a little emotional about the circle:  life cycles and karma immediately come to mind.  The circles looked like they needed to be contained hence the cobbled together mitered border.


If I were to do the large piece again, I would applique over the circle as opposed to piecing that center spot.  Terry did a fabulous job of making everything look like it blends.


I am totally thrilled with the finished piece.  And hope this inspires you as much as it does me.


Til next time…

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Sometimes it’s the love of the process

Several years back I had a friend that appeared to rely on two patterns; Turning Twenty and Yellow Brick Road.  Knowing her capabilities I was puzzled at why these became her “go to” patterns.  We must have seen a dozen of them at “Show & Tell”.

This year it dawned on me when I looked at my works in progress.  Sometimes we just enjoy the process that a particular pattern provides.  My most enduring pattern crush has been the Stack & Whack.  The first one I did was about 15 years ago.  This lovely Asian fabric was my inspiration.  img_6861

The end result was:  img_6855The blocks were addictive.

Apparently my enthusiasm was contagious as I was asked to coach a group of women from my guild and because learning is visual and kinetic, did a second. img_6863

The moment I had seen the fabric I couldn’t wait to cut it up.  Alexander Henry can be so much fun.


and the blocks were incredibly entertaining!

The lesson learned with this piece was when using solid black, there is CONSTANT grooming.  Black fabric is like a lint, dust, thread magnet.  Another lesson learned is that when the background of your focus fabric matches the fabric of your background , it will appear that some of your points are not sharp.

This beautiful Kaffe Fassett fabric sang to me as I walked in a quilt shop looking for something else.  img_6872

It took a while for me to find the exact piece I wanted to pair with it, and after buying several pieces of yardage, found exactly what I needed in my stash.  The results were wonderful.


Unfortunately, I didn’t have as much yardage of that background as I would have liked to make it bigger, but coming from the stash, there is no telling how old it is.  I backed it with the my second and third choices.  img_6873

And again, each block was as much fun as the first!  I was constantly surprised and amused by what this fabric could do.

I was invited to another guild and helped their ladies learn the technique and on my way picked up fabric for more.

Even now, after working the pattern over and over again, every time I walk into a fabric or quilting store, no matter what the reason I may be there for,  I am tempted by fabrics that say, “let’s see what I can do for you”.

So, why?  Maybe it’s the opportunity of creative surprise.  As you cut the fabric, and audition it, the fabric just does wonderful things.  Although I still have a mad crush on this pattern, I see a new infatuation around the corner called “One Block Wonder”…. swoon.

Do you have a pattern crush?

Posted in Accomplishments, Inspiration, Quilting, Stack & Whack, Terry Burris Quilting, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments