A 1980’s legacy! – Quilt Week- Part 1

If you are a quilter,  you have likely heard of the AQS Quilt Week in Paducah, KY.  Some of my quilting friends have asked me to tell them about my trip so that they can scout out what to do when they visit Paducah for Quilt Week.  If you are not a quilter, then you probably wonder what drove me to take a vacation to Paducah, KY…

What is the history of quilt week?   How did it begin?

A bit of research might lead you to the American Quilter’s Society website.  This is what I learned.  AQS was established by Meredith and Bill Schroeder in 1983.  The first Paducah, KY quilt show was held in 1985!  It boasted 5000 visitors.  Since then it has grown to around 37,000 visitors.   This quilt show has been running for 32 years!
Now, do the math.  If each visitor is there for 2 days minimum, spending $100 or more a day, then the economic impact is 7.4 million dollars.   Other sites have indicated that is is more like an economic impact of about 25 million for quilt week.  WOW!

During that time, AQS has expanded to other states as well.  Every show boasts a plethora of gorgeous fiber workmanship from all over the world!

My friend Kayla Walker and I decided to meet in Paducah this year for a week of bucket filling exploration of the legacy quilting show.   We were “all in” for the week and stayed at the lovely Paducah Inn bed & Breakfast.   It was only about 1 mile from the historic downtown area.   Since we booked less than a year out,  ALL of the hotels were already 100% booked.  The B&B had a couple of openings, but only if you were willing to book for the entire week!  We figure a week might be a stretch, but we would give it our best!

This is the home that we stayed in.  Our room was upstairs in the “Presidential” suite.


Paducah Inn Bed & Breakfast



My Childhood Home

It tickled me how the home was set up, for I grew up in a house that must have been from the same time period.    Take a look at my childhood home (courtesy Google Earth).
The biggest difference?


The ceilings are a lot lower in Kansas!
It was more than just shopping and quilt eye candy for us.  We took the week one step further, and set up our machines at the B&B!  This allowed us to spend some great sewing time together in the evenings and to spend some time planning our retreat we are hosting later this year.

Next up?  The Awards Ceremony.  The Best of the Best…


180 Baby



This is known.  A new baby, especially the first is a life changing, schedule changing, priority changing event.  The smaller the package, the bigger the change! You might say life takes a 180-degree turn.

When I saw geometrics with these colors on a colleagues registry for their first child, I just couldn’t help it.  Instead of well wishes of diapers, I couldn’t resist “just” making a quilt!  The idea for “180 Baby” was born.

I was heading to a quilt retreat with the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild at the “Disneyland of Quilting”, Missouri Star Quilt Company.  This quilt presented itself as a perfect excuse to shop and sew a project that I could finish fairly quickly.  Another friend and colleague, Randy,  thought it sounded fun and offered to go in on it with me, so we made it a dual gift.

I laid out the colors, and size ahead of time in EQ7 and was able to get an easy estimate of yardage required for each color.   After applying colors in the expecting couple’s registry, I decided that it needed something extra.  A “pop” of non-symmetrical color is used often in modern quilts, so I wasn’t surprised when I landed on the peachy-orange triangle and binding.

I had fun at MSQC Modern, and selected fabrics from Cotton+Steel, Timeless Treasures, Moda, Red Rooster Fabrics, Robert Kauffman, and Michael Miller.   I don’t think that any two of the fabrics were from the same line.   This was a very fun combination to select.

Triangles for this design were cut from 8 1/2″ strips using Jaybird Quilts Super Sidekick Ruler.  I’m looking forward to making their pattern called “Gravity” later this year!

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The only trick to tumbling these triangles is to make sure that you get the 1/4″ seam allowance accurate and line each up over the other before sewing.  If you do this, then you will not cut off the points of the triangles when you sew your rows together.

The new design wall at the Missouri Star Quilt Company Retreat Center was a perfect canvas for laying everything out.  I really enjoyed the weekend I spent with my wonderful Mom!  Here are some pics soon after we arrived.  Ignore my mug, and take a look at the new design wall.  Also, if you look above, you can see details of the restored original ceiling tiles of the building.  I love how MSQC uses some of the existing architecture when possible to add historic interest to the main street buildings!


I was able to finish the top late the first evening, and then worked on the back early the next morning.   My friends at the retreat snapped some images of my reveal.  I laughed when one friend said “What happens if we like the backside better than the front?”.  The back was put together with yardage and leftover triangles.


After bringing it home, I quilted it on my longarm.  The batting is 100% cotton Dream Angel.  I used a larger spaced quilt design to keep it soft and cuddly.  The finished quilt is a little larger than a typical crib quilt, but would be perfect for a day at the park, or snuggles with dad…   Congratulations Daren on your new baby girl!IMG_0678.jpgIMG_0678 (1).jpg



A Feathered Friend

She weathered the years and the miles.
She has a new look.
With some adjustment and a few new parts, she’s ready for the big reveal!


Before                                 and                                            After

Now,  before you start singing the Stevie Wonder single “Isn’t She Lovely”, let me tell you about some of the special needs she had as well of some modern features I added!

  1.  The machine that I purchased had finish issues and was missing all of the decals on the front and middle of the machine.  Water damage perhaps?
    My Fix;

    • I purchased new reproduction waterslide decals in silver from Keeler Sales in Lakeland, Florida.  They have lots of decals for sewing machine restorations.
    • My friend Teresa knows a machine angel.  He works on and helps restore vintage machines.   I requested that it be stripped and refinished in the color of my first truck.  You can look up automotive acrylic enamel paint colors online.  I think that I used something like Auto Color Library.  You can search colors by year, make and model.

      He did a beautiful job, complete with a clear coat over the decals.

  2.  When the machine arrived, it had a bent spool pin. This might have occurred during shipping.  These pins are press fit, and with some minor adjustment using a rubber mallet, protective batting, and a vice, the spool pin is now straight, and I have added a spool pin spring to help.
  3. Old machines have old rubber feet.  Some of hers were missing, or so smashed down or brittle, that they were worthless.  I was able to easily locate replacements for both my machine bed and foot controller at The Singer Featherweight Shop.

    While I was there I also picked up some reproduction screws, new felt for the oil drip pan, and pin, and some awesome new accessories!

  4. The oil drip pan was this machine’s main source of musty “old” smell.  It is an easy replacement and I recommend doing it first thing to make it more pleasant to work with your machine.  Mine needed some motor grease, oil and general cleaning.  There are great videos on how to do that at The Singer Featherweight Schoolhouse.
  5. The chrome plating is peeling off of the needle plate at one corner and around the needle hole.- I found a graduated needle plate marked 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, 5/8″, and 3/4″
    Note:  I missed the little gem of advice when I replaced mine.  Be SURE to do this! 
    To get the new throat plate to work, I had to adjust the springs that create the notch.  I’m guessing that the new plate sits jsut a hair higher than the original, or that the springs are slightly narrower.  When I first tried to use it, the bobbin position finger (A2) slipped out of the notch.  

    IMPORTANT — When the throat plate is removed for cleaning the stitch-forming mechanism, etc., make certain, when replacing the throat plate, that the position finger (A2 in figure image above) of the bobbin case base enters the notch (B2) of the position plate attached to the underside of the throat plate.

Now,  for the fun pieces.
– a new thread stand (to handle cones of thread)
– a snap on adapter (to let me use many of my snap on feet from my Brother & Babylock)

– an LED lightbulb!  (Now the light won’t get HOT!)


Add a little bit of cleaning and polishing, and she is like new and stitching along a perfect straight stitch for piecing and retreating from computers!

Now, she is all ready for fun!  Maybe she will travel with me to Paducah for a warm up.


Special thanks to my friend, Teresa, for all her help!  Teresa, if you are reading, please share these photographs with your machine angel for me!  He does beautiful work.


Scraps for a Friend

What’s the story…

I am typing this post from the KCMQG retreat at Missouri Star Quilt Company.  Yeah!  Look at the wonderful design board that have been installed for retreaters.   By tomorrow they will be full of beautiful fiber artwork!

Every time I retreat, I meet so many wonderful people.  Everyone has a story and their projects are extensions of that story.  I just had to share the smiles of some of my new friends.

I met one such friend at another MSQC retreat a couple of years ago.  Last year we met there and she stayed with me at my home.  Before she came,  my friend said;  “You like, batiks, right?”.  I think this followed making my first quilt from batiks.  I said;  “Yes, I do!  They are easy to work with, and I love the “waxy” smell when I iron them”.   (Are you with me, or am I just nuts!?)

That was just the opening she needed.  Friend told me that she was going to bring me some scraps she had leftover from a quilt, that she just wasn’t really “IN” to batiks.   I said;  great!  I’m sure I could use them.  🙂

What was delivered was a disposable grocery bag full of batiks.  Later when I sorted through them, I discovered that the scraps consisted of half paper pieced blocks from a Judy Neimeyer quilt and small accompanying yardage.  SCRAPS?  What’s the story?

Well,  I’m sure we have all had projects that, part way through, just stopped being fun.  Either something goes terribly wrong, or it just doesn’t encourage us to continue with it.   If that ever happens,  by all means,  give it to a friend!

This quilt is the result of those scraps.  I just couldn’t bear to see all of the beautiful paper piecing go to waste.  Curved piecing is cool with me, so I salvaged all that I could and came out with an alternative layout for the pattern and added a border.

THEN, from all of those scraps, I pieced a backing too…


and binding…
and five mug rugs…


and I still have fabric left!

Those are my kind of scraps.

So my friend,  I will be sending your scraps back to you, with the watery depths of fabric quilted with golden fish.  It is appropriate I think, for the Goldfish in Chinese legend is a symbol of surplus and wealth, and a GIFT of goldfish is a blessing in the hope of good fortune.   Send me your scraps anytime!  I feel rich having a friend like you.




Whisp of a mundane life?

Today’s entry is not quilting.  No pattern, no stitches, no machines.  I’m taking a quick breath while I finish my morning coffee and our home sits under the clouds of a morning rain.

Sometimes we get caught up in the day to day activity of surviving.   Occasionally there is an opportunity to       pause     , and rest, like you would at the top of a long hard climb.

When I get winded, journaling is one way that I do that.  I happened across a journal entry that I spontaneously decided to write last year when I was sitting on an airplane that was boarded but held waiting for takeoff.  Grammar or any comments of “why” put aside,  it represented my mundane life at that moment.  I was leaving Kansas City on a business trip.   The best description I have for how I felt was “Calm” like I had just let out a deep breath after a scurried race through madness.

Here is what I wrote:

“We sit on the runway, the lights blinking yellow out the second-row window.  I sit middle sit in a capacity plane.  We roll on the tarmac, with the roar of the engines, toward San Diego.  A destination of respite after a half a week of antiquated equipment issues and developmental product delivery schedule issues.  A haze hangs over the city, still green, despite a summer in the Midwest.  The landscape is a puzzle of suburban sprawl and rural charm, fields breaking the horizon until we lift unto the clouds, pure wisps of moisture.

I sit writing, on a whim of fancy, while attempting to muffle the buzzing drone of the engines.  
My neighbors are quiet, one from a weeks work on recycling equipment, headed home to Tiauna, the other immersed in a novel.”
The entry had no purpose, no moral, no decision to make.  Months later, the words take me back.    Do you ever re-read old journal entries?  How do they make you feel?
Well,  the pause is over.  Back to living!

Of Peas (and Carrots)

Did you know that if you google (yes, I’m using it as a verb…) “Peas and Carrots Poem”, you get about 352,000 results?   I’m not even sure how many page loads one would have to endure to get to the one that was at the bottom of the list.

The first page of the search results in a plethora of poetry and I was surprised to see that most of them were about love!  I guess I never paid much attention to the pairing in the past, and certainly didn’t think that the next block I chose to make from Farmgirl vintage was a thing you could find in the “Urban Dictionary”!  However,  if it means “goes well together”, then it is aptly named!   I really love this block and had fun pulling the perfect shades from my stash.



Farmgirl Vintage: Peas and Carrots


I think I should design a quilt block called “Pickles and Ice Cream”?   As long as you eat the pickle first, the ice cream might still work out!


Make Them Mini

I mentioned in a previous post, Winter Stargazing, that I will be working on Tiny Dresden Seasonal Series by Susan Marth of Suzn Quilts.   January’s pattern is a Dresden Snowflake. The pattern calls for hand applique and hand embroidery.

My mom and I are both making these.  She is doing them (mostly) by hand, so I decided to mix it up a bit and try to do some “special” machine applique using my embroidery machine.

(This won’t be image heavy.)

First, I used some fusible web to attach the mini dresden, center circle, and 1/2″ circles to my background.    Then I went a little crazy.  Instead of stitching them down with a blanket or decorative stitch (because those 1/2″ circles scared me), I decided to try to machine embroidery them down.


Using a VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand Portable Scanner, I scanned in my block.  This was very dicey.  I tried several times before I got something I thought was usable.

– The first time, I tried to do it like you would a piece of paper.  However, when the scanner hit the applique, the “bump” caused distortion in the captured image.
– My solution was to raise the scanner above the fabric using plastic templates or rulers on each side.  This helped me capture the image of the fabric assembly well.
(I wish I would have kept all of those terrible images, so you would see what I mean!)

The ruler on the edge of my photograph served a second purpose! It gave the image scale.

The next step was to import the image to my digitizing software as background.  For this round, I used Art & Stitch, software that I typically use for digitizing quilt designs.    Using the image of the block in the background, I scaled it up so that the ruler matched my design grid that was set to a specific dimension.   I created the stitching outline, converted it to stitches and saved it as an embroidery file.

Now to my embroidery machine.  After hooping the block, I was able to scan the block in the hoop with my sewing machine.  I opened my embroidery file and attempted to position the embroidery pattern to match the appliqued block.  This did not go well.  They didn’t quite match. I could never get my edges to match all the way around.  With a few adjustments, I was able to imperfectly stitch the snowflake down.

What is the saying, “Finished is better than perfect”.   I could probably apply that here!

I can think of so many things I would do differently the next time, one being, consider stitching it down by hand!

What did I learn?

I might work with the vupoint some more and either figure out a way to export a full-scale image or add in a ruler scale for both the x & y axis.

What was my goal?

I am really hoping to figure out a way to scan in applique on quilts I have loaded on my longarm to allow me to easily crop those areas out when doing computerized quilt layout.  It might work if I am not stitching all the way up to the edge of the design!

Do I get any extra credit for effort?  

I finished the block off with some machine embroidery text similar to the pattern style and then quilted it with some snowflakes (a challenge I might discuss later).  The buttons in the pattern add a little extra detail.  I love them (and sewed them by hand – but only because they were too small for my machine!).

Have any of you had luck with scanning quilt blocks?  How do you do it?

Make them mini! It’s fun!



Sight Unseen

It is nice when the results of a sight unseen risk come out as you expected.  There were some who thought from my earlier photos of my new featherweight project, that the machine looked great the way it is.  However, upon arrival in West Virginia, my suspicions from the poor eBay photographs were corroborated, and then some.   The finish of this 1937 beauty does indeed need some work, and the original decals are at least 1/3 missing.  She is a perfect candidate for a makeover!

True to many auction listings, the possible water damage and extent of decals missing were under described.  It’s not a hot mess, but not very collectible as-is.

This is what the listing said:
“1937 Singer 221 Featherweight Sewing Machine with case and pedal. Very nice condition with wear consistent with age and normal use. Tested and operates perfectly. Bobbin case intact (sometimes they are missing). No other attachments present. Case has wear consistent with being used and moved around. Handle has been taped with electrical tape but is still attached to top strongly. Work light works. Some of the gold trim printing is worn off from use. Belt has minor use wear but still in very good condition. Motor runs freely and strong. I will ship as cheaply as possible.”


If she really operates perfectly, then all will be well.  If she doesn’t, then I will fix it.  When I am 80 years old, I can only hope I fare so well!

I think she will be out for delivery for stripping, maintenance, and refinishing this week.  My new waterslide metallic decals arrived from and I have decided on a color.  It isn’t exactly a hot rod, but as close as I have ever come!  This 2000 Ford Ranger was my very first “new car”.  Since then I have driven a station wagon and a minivan.  Sigh.  I think that I need to remedy this.   An old curvy Jaguar with silver racing stripes would look great in this metallic green color too! (Hey, a girl can dream…)


My brand new truck – Spring 2000 before I graduated from college

I have a picture in my head about what the 1937 will look like all decked out in green metallic with silver Celtic knot decals and all of her original shiny chrome.

But, what shall I name her?

If I’m lucky I will ger her back before June when I attend the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival.  (If not, I’ll borrow Mom’s machine and treat it to a spa day.)  I signed up for a Nova Montgomery Singer Featherweight Maintenance Class.  I thought this would be great to guide me through maintenance of the machines, help me maintain my machines health and be a great resource for my mother, friends, and family who own these machines.

The tulips in this photo give promise of spring, though winter won’t be over until March 20th here!  Our biggest snow might be yet to come! My ankle is doing really well, so…



A Feathered Journey Begins

My new toy is traveling today!

Funny story anyone?

My fun friend Teresa, who I met at Quilting Elevated last year, was going to bid on a featherweight at an auction in West Virginia last Sunday.  She is an auctioneer and knows how auctions work.  I felt good about letting her spend my money.   Saturday night I get a call… ” I bought you a machine! (I hope you’re not mad…)”.  Now, I was momentarily confused since the auction wasn’t until Sunday.   However, never underestimate a friend.  I had mentioned the type of the machine I was most interested in and given her bidding limit guidelines.  She ran with it and probably saved me some dough ( and a very long drive for her) by finding said model on an Ebay auction without a 10% buyers fee.   So far so good.  We have a tracking number!

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This 1937 beauty is making a grand tour from Daly City in Sunny California (home of the Cow Palace just south of San Fransico) to Buckhannon, West Virginia and then finally to my home in Overland Park, Kansas.Screen Shot 2017-01-24 at 6.10.20 PM.jpgScreen Shot 2017-01-24 at 6.38.00 PM.png

WARNING:  IF YOU ARE A PURIST… Read no more today.

This little machine is going to travel about 3,550 miles before I ever get to touch it, and I can hardly wait.   The machine appears to have some wear to the decals, and some finish scuffing on the neck, and may need some foot pedal cable work.   It’s hard to see defects from the Ebay photographs.  My friend knows someone that is great at helping to give some TLC and hot rod old machines, and I hope to hire him!  Cleanup, Tune Up, Strip Down, and Refinish & Decal.  It reminds me of the scene in the Wizard of Oz before they have an audience!  I also plan to figure out how to restore the case, which is in less than stellar condition… Stay tuned.


Can you imagine the fun we would all have if they made a reality show restoring and “hot rodding” vintage sewing machines!  I bet mechanics, machine artists and wild quilty ladies involved with all of the curvy, chromed machines of the past could be a hoot.  The machines would become showpieces of the future.  Computerized, plastic machine cases may never be collectible like the older machines.  They aren’t pretty, just very functional.  Once the circuit boards are aged, they may just take up space.  They don’t make sewing machines like they used to, and electronics are sometimes harder to repair.   Don’t get me wrong.  I love computerization.  But I am very psyched about my new, old toy!

I wish I could go to WV and help with the process of stripping it down and refinishing it.

Do you have a hot rod in your collection?
Comment and tell me about it.

Safe Travels!



Winter Stargazing

Stargazing in winter might seem ideal as you have more uninterrupted viewing hours.  However, shivering in a Kansas field doesn’t sound like best way to take in the stars.  I prefer to quilt! At least that hobby keeps us warm in the 60 degree winters…

Was anyone else part of the warm spell last week?  My kids were running around outside in sweatshirts complaining that they were hot.  Sigh.  It didn’t stay warm, so they are back inside, bouncing off the walls and each other.  We had to declare a moment of silence this evening for our sanity.

Last weekend was so productive!  Since the kids were enjoying an unseasonably warm day and my husband was working on a project, I was able to quilt.
(Pepper helped.)


Making up for lost time I managed to longarm a Minecraft quilt for the school auction, create a log cabin paper piece pattern for my friend, and finish a few small blocks and projects.  I’m saving some of the other projects for later posts, so no pics, but you can see the Winter Star block from the Farmgirl Vintage book.


One thing great about the Farmgirl patterns is that you rarely work with bias.  Take the star point for instance.  Instead of cutting parallelogram pieces on the bias, you start with a rectangle and sew two squares on, similar to creating quick half square triangles.    The bias is never exposed, so your block stays nice and squared up.   I love this!

If you only sew the desired line, you end up with triangle waste on each end.  However, if you are tricky you could create smaller half square triangle blocks for your next scrappy quilt by making a second seam line 1/2″ away from the first, and trim between the two stitch lines.  I really should do this more often!  They might be handy in scrappy or mini quilts.

I said no pictures, but I’d better share this mini that I finished from a BOM club my Mom has gifted me.  🙂  Prairie Point Quilt and Fabric Shop has a fun Tiny Dresden BOM program that started this month.  The pattern is for hand applique dresden with embroidered sayings.  Of course, I love my machines, so tried to figure out how to beautifully finish this mini using a scanner, custom digitizing and embroidery, and longarm quilting. Alas, the buttons were too small, so I had to hand stitch those on!   In February, I will give a run down on how my experiment worked and what I would do differently next time.