Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Heart for Japan ---

This morning I woke to 4 email messages in my inbox, one after the other asking me to help spread the word about things we can do to help those in Japan who are still reeling from the earthquake, the tsunami, and the fear of nuclear disaster.

I spent time in Japan in 1989 and I keep thinking of all of those memories…all of those people…and my mind just can’t fathom what they are going through. My heart is so heavy and I search for updates and watch with hope as they try to rebuild and put life back together.

I recently read this quote which says SO much about the nobleness of the Japanese people:

"When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something has suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful."

There will be a lot of cracks to fill. But I know there are things that we, as a community of quilters, can do to help.

Hi Bonnie,
Love your quilts and books. But today I join the many people that come to you with requests.

I am sorry. I wish I did not have the urge to do it; but you are such an inspiration that I thought of you when I came across this information.

It is a request for quilts for Japan. I copied the letter to you below:

"This is a copy of an email from the editor of Quilt Tsushin Magazine, Naomi Ichikawa, Naomi lives in Tokyo and her mother and brother survived the tsunami in Sendai.
Here is Naomi’s request translated into english.

It is still bad situation now in Japan. We are still nervous about shaking and radiation,but no way to escape. I start to announce to the quilters to send us comfort quilts for the people who are suffered.I would like to do it to the world quilters. We will deliver the comfort quilts to the people who are very difficult situation. Could you please help to announce it to the quilters? We accept any size of quilts(baby to adult).new or unused.
The deadline would be the end of May or later.

After May 1st:
Naomi Ichikawa
Patchwork Tsushin Co.,Ltd
2-21-2,Yushima,Bunkyo-ku,Tokyo,Japan zip:113-0034

I will appreciate if you help me.

My hope is that in the near future we will be collecting supplies for quilt groups in the Sendai region so they can use quilting to confort, heal, and express themselves.
Nomaiaci (Cissa) Kamakura

Another email came from Sandra Shigeno, and may be a better way for those of us in the USA to send quilts as Quilters Newsletter is heading up an effort for quilts to be sent to Japan as well:

Quilters Newsletter has long enjoyed a friendship with Patchwork Tsushin, a leading Japanese quilt magazine.

So when Editor in Chief Naomi Ichikawa emailed to say her magazine is collecting comfort quilts for those impacted by the recent earthquake in Japan, we wanted to join the effort.

QN will gather quilts from U.S. quiltmakers then forward them to Naomi and her staff, who will deliver them to those in need. (If you live outside the United States, email me as indicated below, and I will provide information on how you can send quilts directly to Naomi.)

Here’s how you can be part of this important worldwide response:

Send new quilts of any size from baby to adult to:

Dana Jones
Quilters Newsletter
741 Corporate Circle, Suite A
Golden, CO 80401

• Mark your box: “Quilts for Japan.”
• Send quilts as soon as possible and no later than April 30, 2011.
• Enclose your name, address, phone number, and email address with the quilts.

We did it for Katrina…we did it for the flooding in the midwest. We did it to help the Australians recently. I know we have it in us to help those in Japan as well!

***UPDATE*** This just in:
Dana Jones { 03.19.11 at 1:03 pm }

I emailed with Naomi Ichikawa today. She has asked that if you are sending quilts directly to Japan, that you do not send them until May 1 at the earliest. Please watch this blog for regular updates on this time frame as things are changing daily in Japan.

If you are sending quilts to Quilters Newsletter [in Colorado] and do not want to write “Quilts for Japan” on the box, please enclose a note that says this. We receive many quilts in our offices and will only send quilts to Japan that we know are intended for Japan.

Please send only new quilts.

I am amazed but not surprised at the compassionate response to this call for quilts. In just 24 hours, we at QN have heard from quilters in the United States, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, and Italy. We are truly an international community!

Dana Jones, QN managing editor

Friday, March 18, 2011

The most beautiful thing!

Living LARGE! ((Is a lesson we all could use!))

Have you heard this story?

There was an article in People Magazine and in the Toronto Star. Violet and Allen Large, both in their late 70s, met each other in 1964 and fell in love.

The Canadian couple has purchased two lottery tickets every week since 1984. ((That’s a LOT of years and a LOT of lottery tickets!))

Last year, Violet called the lottery hotline to check out the winning numbers to find that they HAD WON $11.2 million dollars.

What did they do with it? What would YOU do with it?

They donated it all to doctors, their own country & family. They kept none for themselves. Not. A. Penny!


They say they are content with their ‘87 Dodge Diplomat Suburban & their 148 year old Victorian home,

Violet is quoted as saying:

“Money can’t buy happiness. We have everything we need-- I have Allen and he has me.”

You can read the rest of the story HERE.

Doesn’t this just warm your heart and bring hope to humanity!? I also love this statement:

“That money that we won was nothing. We have each other.”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Questions for Quiltville!

You know, the internet is a funny thing. Every day there are emails from out of the blue…..asking me if I know the value of someone’s vintage machine, or if I sell parts for them ((No, I’m just a machine lover who has too many!)) Or if I know someone who will do a certain kind of quilt for someone else, or asking one of 100 other questions…

Sometimes I feel like the Quilter version of “Dear Abby!” And I’m flattered…but sometimes dumbfounded on how I am supposed to supply level headed advice! And is someone going to say “Well, Bonnie said so…so it’s all her fault?!”

Today I received the following email:

((Names have been changed to protect the Quilty!))

I have been in quilting for the past six years and have a huge stash of fabrics and other necessities. I have made around 100 quilts but I have more money tied up in fabric and the rest to sink a ship. I have a huge amount of books, 10 tops in progress, and 15 quilt tops not yet quilted. I am always starting a new top............constantly looking for new free patterns online and otherwise. The problem is I am never going to use up my stash and keep making it bigger every day.

Do you have any suggestions about the stash problem? I would like to sell my stash and just finish the projects in progress. I have a habit of not finishing for a long time and nothing ever gets done.

Please help.

Is there any way a person can get rid of a stash at a decent price????????? If you have any suggestions or online sites that can help me regarding this, I would appreciate it. I just want to finish and get out of quilting, at least the easy quilts. I would like to work on a Dear Jane or something more complicated than the Moda Bake Shop type of quilts I have been doing.


I wasn’t sure how I was going to answer this! I thought and thought about what I could say to help her feel better….but sometimes, what needs to be said, what needs to be done, has to come from INSIDE the person doing the asking!

How does an alcoholic stop the insanity? It seems to me that M’s problem is not in the wanting to sell her stash ((For a decent price?!?)) but in the admission that she feels she will never be able to “use up” her stash, and it keeps growing EVERY DAY.

Does that stop because she sells it off? No…the problem will still be there.

Does buying new fabric to replace the other fabric solve the problem? No, and if she is buying fabric all the time, her problem isn’t that she has only OLD fabric and is tired of it…..There is something that hooks her in with just the thrill of the purchase.

In the last paragraph she is talking about finishing and getting out of quilting…and in the next sentence she wants to start a Dear Jane or something more complicated? Surprised smile

I really feel for M and wish there was something I could do to help…this was my reply:


You need an intervention!

Stop shopping and start spending your time sewing and creating....it is up to you to fix the problem! Creativity is better fed by DOING...not planning and spending!

Stop starting new projects...pick one that is "almost done" and finish it, and do a happy dance of joy! Donate things you are tired of, look for projects that will use what you have....fulfill your love of beautiful fabrics by putting them to good use...

I don't plan on selling my stash. I loved it when I bought it, it's going to make beautiful quilts. What you have at home is no different than what is in the store.....SEW IT!


For an alcoholic to take control of his/her life, they have to recognize they have a problem. Just as an alcoholic person needs to not even GO IN TO A BAR…..I think she needs to stop and take stock in what she has. Finish some projects, start looking at things with a more critical eye. I’m not a psychologist…..but I have a tendency to think that there are many ways of self-medicating…and for some of us, the purchasing of fabric way beyond our means and control is a way of filling a need of some sort.

A support group of a quilting bee that spends more time SEWING might be beneficial! Spend more time sewing than you do shopping…buy when you need to to finish a project if you don’t have something, but chances are, you might have just what you need in your stash already.

I know from personal experience, when I was going through a deep dark time during my boys’ teenage years ---that some days all I could manage was to pet the fabric, and to buy the fabric and to bring it home because it was the one thing I had control of in my life….but the truth is, it had control of ME. I had to step back from it and see what I was doing. I had to face the facts that no matter how much I loved that fabric….IT was NEVER going to LOVE ME BACK. I was using it to fill an emptiness.

This may or may not be the case….but I just feel M’s desire to make a change, but at the same time…SHE is the one who has to make the steps to do it.

Good luck, M!

And on to my recent mile stone!

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The floral border is finished!! I finished attaching the last two sections at the evening guild meeting on Monday eve!

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I haven’t decided if I want to orientate it on point or straight set…..I’ve been puttering around with the graph paper trying to doodle how it might square up:

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It’s such a weird shape to fill……I don’t want a hexagon shaped quilt..so I need to build it out square/rectangle…and that is a bit odd sized. Here I have echoed the shape of the outer edge with more rows of flowers and green borders…I dunno if I like it or not. Maybe I’ll keep doodling!

I’m here in Alabaster, AL for my two workshops with the Evening Star Quilt Guild. We’ve got Pineapple Blossom tomorrow, and Virginia Bound on Saturday! It will be fun to see familiar faces…I was last here 2 years ago. My how time flies!

As for tonight? I’m tucked into my hotel and I’m going to SEW!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Antiques Thrill Me!

We had a great day for the Cathedral Stars workshop in Franklin today .the gals were so great. After almost 2 weeks on the road, I have to admit the classes are starting to run together a bit for me…..but in some ways I think I am also learning to explain things better….I’m more patient if someone doesn’t understand, and I don’t take it so personally when I am asked things like “well, can’t I do it THIS way instead?” Sure you can! There is always more than one way to skin a cat! ((But why anyone would want to is beyond me!)) Sometimes I think I am learning more than the students do, only in a different way.

You gotta look at this view…..this is what I woke up to this morning! Look at that fog just floating around the mountains. There is a valley beneath that fog, only you can’t see it FOR the fog! The fog was quick moving….lifting, swirling, separating and resettling, it really looked like it was alive. I just love this pic --- I saved it as my desktop wall paper!

One of the students today brought in an antique quilt done in English paper piecing! We KNOW this…because some of the papers are STILL in it! It’s made of silks…layered with wool and tied.

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Doesn’t this just glow??

All of the octagonal blocks were pieced over papers, and then they were set together with the large plaid silk cornerstones. All of the construction was done using a small whipstitch in black thread.

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Closer up!

Don’t those solid fabrics just glow with intensity?

And the plaid cornerstone is such an interesting fabric choice with that solid black fabric in the blocks!

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The quilt was squared up by adding these half elongated hexagon pieces you see filling in the outer edges of the quilt and corner—and then the outer border of herringbone diamonds was added. This last border is really stiff with the paper they didn’t remove! I just wish I knew the story behind this silk quilt…it sure is a fun one!

After the workshop was packed up and and put away and vacuumed, Sarah and I headed out for a couple errands….and on the way to the grocery store we stopped at yet ANOTHER antique mall to wander around!

There were just a few quilts to snap pics of:

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A 1940s & 50s diamond hexagon quilt…this is really similar to one that Nancy had at her house for dinner last night! I love the bold colors, not many pastels in this one….those solid fabrics mixed with prints are so great.

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An antique basket top that must have been used as a “summer spread”. The outside edges are rolled and top stitched…it’s been washed and the seam alowances were almost non-existent! Love the solid black and red though, very bold! Reminds me of Georgia Bulldogs colors! Rolling on the floor laughing

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Here is a close up of one block. I love that the handles are slightly wonky, but yet the piecing is pretty dang good in the points department. Sometimes I think we make things SO purposely overly wonky that it becomes “fake wonkiness” almost the same way I feel about a chinese import made so primitive to make it LOOK like it was original, but it’s not….how else do I describe that? I’d rather have a geniune effort, or wonky antique….than a Chinese or fake American repro of one. But that’s another topic for another time, just random thoughts after wandering through an antique mall and seeing lots of repros made to look old that aren’t. Save that for another day!

((You know what I mean….shops that sell PRIMITIVES…but they are all made in China???))

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Now THIS! This is MY favorite kind of primitive! They did the best they could with what they had. They dyed the flour sacks green because they needed to…the effort on the pieced blocks is wonderful, though not perfect..a little bit of wonkiness brings comfort, it wasn’t made purposely “off”…you know?

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I almost ALMOST A L M O S T bought this one…but there were some really bad shredded spots in it. I love the double diagonal quilting…and how the plaids and stripes turn every which way. It’s primitive in nature, but not purposely made to be so…

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I definitely love this one…it took 100 years for the green to migrate and change this way. Not something we can do on purpose…aging like this takes time!

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I’m going to miss these mountains when I drive out of here in the morning! It’s been wonderful to feel tucked into the Smokies for the past little while. This is the view from the Fire House where we met for our classes--

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I would love to come back some day---I’m honored to call these quilters FRIENDS!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Hours In Between!

Hello from a rainy chilly cloudy Franklin NC! You know, the mountains in this side of the state are as beautiful when the weather is bad, as they are gorgeous when the weather is good!

I guess they don’t call them “The Smokies” for nothing…but this morning I woke up to look outside to see the clouds definitely hanging low in the rain like smoke rings around the mountain tops. Incredible!

Yesterday afternoon, though…..that’s what I want to post about! I had a few “hours to kill” in between lunch and the evening guild meeting and since the other ladies had things like a board meeting to attend---I was free to wander!

The first thing I did was walk around the corner from the church where my lectures were being held….to another church ((On Church Street no less!)) to catch some pictures of these unbelievably pink blooming cherries! OHHHH! Does this do my heart good!

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((At the same time I’m thinking of all the blooming I’ve missed in my own neighborhood…but this will have to make up for it!))

I just couldn’t get over these trees….Come on Spring!

From there I walked down the main streets of town and window shopped! It was a lovely day for just exploring….here is a view from the end of the street toward the mountains:

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The mountains surround the town, there are more closer than this, but I am at a top of a hill looking down from the front of where the meeting was..

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This is from the top of another hill looking toward more mountains. It’s such a quaint little place!

My jaunt also bee-lined me to an antique mall, and I had a great time exploring in there. How about some more antique eye candy?

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Don’t you love this 1950s “Sew Tric”?? I can imagine the fashions that were sewn on it in its day!

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This hand crank says CESTRIAN on it…I’ve never heard of that brand before, but look at all that gorgeous decal work! Good thing the car is already overloaded..I had to leave this one behind! In love

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I love different sewing notion caddies too…what a fun bird! I’ve seen other sewing birds, but nothing so stork-like! And the heart shaped base is cute with old spools….

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My mom can remember HER mom doing the family’s wash with an old wringer washer---but I’m sure glad that THIS is not the way my clothes get clean! I suppose it sure beats scrub boards and rock beating, but with some things, the old way is not necessarily the best way, and I’m happy to be a modern washing machine girl!

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I love this display of pottery jugs! I have quite a collection at home and I wonder about the stories they could tell too! The one that caught my eye? The 3rd shelf down all the way on the left…with the roundish appearance. Short and squatty and oh so cute! But was a bit more than I could afford ((Or really had room for at home in all honesty!))

Did I find quilts? You want to see the quilts already? Yes! I found quilts!

You can tell the ones I liked the best because there are more detail shots…the Sunburst one rocked my socks! I love how the value placement changed in each block so it looked like it wasn’t the same exact block, but it was.

I also love the one with all the half square triangles, especially the renegade block with the triangle turned whoopsie. I’d have kept it that way too --- Just cuz! I hope you enjoy these:

I still had some time to kill before heading back to my guild meeting, so off I went to walk the greenway for a couple of miles! It was beautiful along the river:

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And I was sure that I would NOT speed past 11 MPH!!

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Isn’t it pretty along here? Even without the green of spring yet? The sun felt warm, and I actually got a bit of pink on my neck…..time to start remembering that sun screen!

2 miles, tired legs and feet…back to the car to relax. Guess what I did?

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Yep, I’m in the driver’s seat, finishing the binding on my Sis in Law’s baby quilt (Due any day now!) and enjoying some music on my ipod with the windows down. THIS is how I relax!

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I threw it over the fence by the greenway to take a quick pic! When I get home it will be on its way to Idaho……

It’s after 10pm…time for this quilt bunny to head to bed…morning comes early and we’ve got another Cathedral Stars workshop in the morning!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bed Turning!

After 6 days of teaching in Pigeon Forge, I finally got a chance to head to the other building for the show, visit the vendors mall, see the quilts, and catch the LAST bed turning on Saturday before heading out of town!

I love antique quilts. They are my greatest source of inspiration, and I had a front row seat to view these beauties!

I love the stories, and the more well worn and loved the quilt is, the better I like it. Unused quilts may be prettier, may be worth more…but to me, the life of a quilt is in the using. The people it covered, the dreams it captured, the lives it witnessed from OUTSIDE the trunk or the linen closet.

The bed turning of quilts was great….there were quilts from 1890 or so on forward to about 1950. The fabric diversity was great, as was the workmanship, from simple, utilitarian, to amazing applique!

My only regret is that the bed turning was set against a back drop of windows, which made good photography impossible. EVERYTHING looks washed out. I don’t have the desire to keep playing with photoshop to try to make things look better, but less realistic than what the camera actually captured!

So here we go:

The pic you see above is of a wonderful utilitarian style signature quilt…the names recorded in embroidery, made in the 40’s or 50s. FUN and graphic with great fabrics!

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I only took pics of the quilts that caught my heart….as you can imagine this Ocean Waves did! I love how the cheddar triangles alternate with the purple-or-green ones now turned gray. The quilting design really showed on the musilin ground. I LOVE this quilt..but I know I would go nuts trying to piece it out of only 3 fabrics. I know my limitations! I’d make one block and call it done..LOL

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You can see the light behind the windows….it really washed out this pic, but this is one of my fave pieced ones in the collection! It’s a New York Beauty variation, and those spikey wedges are such tiny slivers! I loved the purple alternate block fabric too….Completely scrappy, you can guess why I like this one!

Here is a close up:

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Isn’t it great? I love how the quilt has light spikes on a darker arc..I usually think of things the other way around, and I love quilts that change value placement.

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This one was fun! It’s a big and chunky hexagon mosaic made out of feed sacks! She really worked with her fabrics to have enough to go in each round, in some rounds alternating between two fabrics within that color round. It took soe planning!

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THIS BEAUTY!! I wish I could see this up close and personal…the applique was phenominal….I love the whimsy of these flowers, and of course the row of half blocks at the right made me Giddy with a capital G! I remember this one having something quilted in between the blocks, and then the blocks themselves were echo quilted…

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Again, pardon the wash out from the windows….these fabrics were BRILLIANT! I love the little green diamonds that march between the flowers and the gold paths. The diamonds were so TINY!! The workmanship was exquisite…

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What would the 30’s era be without a large and chunky scrappy Double Wedding Ring! I love the chunky square-ish rings….I’m not crazy about the perfectly round rings of “normal” wedding ring quilts. But this one, that included everything from the scrap bag was fun. None of the rings are the same size or shape…I guess it quilted out!

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This was one of the oldest quilts in the collection. It’s all wools and flannel and form what they said it weighed a ton! the fabrics go from black to navy to brownish red, and I love that the reddish tones are kind of settled in one area. It’s a thing that I find in antique quilts, that we fight to avoid today….we are so concerned with everything being spread around evenly…heaven forbid we stick all the red ones in one corner for effect! I believe this one also had flannel as the batting, and it must have kept many family members warm on cold winter nights!

The 2 lectures for the Smoky Mountain Quilters of Franklin NC went really well today! And I had the middle of the day to be on my own and wander around town. After lunch I filled in the time with such activities as finding a birthday card for DH and mailing it off, visiting the quilt shop, the antique mall…..heading over to the Greenway for a 2 miles walk along the river, and sitting in my car to finish the binding on the Little Monkey baby quilt ((Gotta send that off soon!)) and sewing some hexagons! It was very relaxing..and energized me for the lecture tonight.

Tomorrow? It’s Pineapple Blossom Day!