Tag Archives: books

Quilts From the American Homefront – A Review

Last month I added another fabric swatch to my “quilt of life.” I’ve joined the Quilts of Valor quilters. For those of you who don’t know about this organization, they provide quilts to veterans, and those currently serving who have been in combat situations. It is a perfect way to show our gratitude to those who served for us.

When I met up with Barbara Nessle, the Oklahoma state coordinator she loaned me the book, QUILTS FROM THE AMERICAN HOMEFRONT, by Rosemary Youngs.

The book is a compilation of letters from or too those serving in World War II. Some of the letters are from loved ones here at home, while others were from, or to, girls they’d met before leaving the US.

Each set of stories and quilt blocks has a short introduction to the letter writers. There are 121 letters, with accompanying original quilt blocks designed by Rosemary.

It is easy to become absorbed in the letters and forget about the quilt blocks. Each letter gives us a glimpse into what life was like during those days. Once all the letters have been read, it’s time to look at the blocks.

The book doesn’t contain any patterns or templates, however the author does give good instructions for making templates. However, using the templates limits the size of the blocks. If you want larger or smaller (why?) blocks you’re on your own.

Except, can be made using traditional patterns. such as the one titled, Simply Beautiful.  This block was designed for a letter that jumps from subject to subject. The block appears to be a variation of the Drunkard’s Path block. Except, instead of using just two fabrics, it’s designed to use four. Of course, the placement of the blocks is also different, giving it a completely new look.

There are a few other blocks that look like they could be constructed using patterns from traditional blocks.

In addition there are over 25 blocks that are simply squares, rectangles, and half-square triangles.

I’m looking forward to making a few of these blocks once I get a few of my back-logged projects finished. And, of course, finish the Christmas sewing. Which means these blocks probably won’t be being made until after the new year. But, it does give me something to look forward to.

How about you? Have you read any quilt related books recently?

Do you prefer books have templates you can use, or do you prefer to make your own?

Reading Break for Quilters

Song of the Storm book cover Calling all quilters. The sun is shinning, the birds are singing, it’s too hot for sewing. If you’re ready to take a sewing break and read I have the perfect book for you. SONG OF THE STORM is book three in the Stone Trilogy by Mariam Kobras.

With another captivating episode in the Jon and Naomi Stone saga, author Mariam Kobras has quilted her magic. SONG OF THE STORM,  the last (maybe) book in the Stone Trilogy continues with the real-life characters, conflict,  love and tragedy.

Life with a rock star isn’t easy, but hotel empire heiress, Naomi is determined to build a life together with her soul mate, rock star Jon Stone. Jon is just as determined. However, just as in our lives, their road to happiness is often rocky and the baggage both carry from the past, too many times,  gets in their way. Good news, that another child is on the way leads to more insecurities for both of them.

The book isn’t just about Naomi and Jon though. Their lives are intertwined with family and friends who also have issues. A subplot of the book revolves around one of those close friends, Jon’s manager Stan.

Stan has long-held a one-sided love for Naomi. When he meets Maya, he believes he’s found Naomi’s replacement. Except, happiness isn’t always easily achieved. Maya has a maturity well beyond her young age. She realizes long before Sal does that their love is not made to last. Will Stan find a lasting love? Only readers of SONG OF THE STORM, and the author of course, will know.

The reappearance of Naomi’s parents adds more tension to the story. They have little belief in their son-in-law, and often display concern for their only daughter’s safety, both physical and emotional. Given their background, and knowledge of the past, it’s easy to understand. Yet, this reader, wanted them to just love their daughter and accept her marriage. However, since that rarely happens in real life, it felt right that they continue to suspect their son-in-law and the marriage.

In the middle of all of the tension, and emotional confusion we are reminded that family, friends, and love are what is truly important when the characters are forced to deal with the real-life tragedy and drama of the September 11 attack.

Wherever you were, the emotions you felt that day will return as you are taken back to that unforgettable experience. However, Jon, Naomi, their family and friends remind us that hope and love are eternal.

SONG OF THE STORM  is a perfect read while you take a break from sewing and quilting. You can curl up on the couch under the air conditioning and continue the journey with Naomi and Jon. If you haven’t read book 1, THE DISTANT SHORE, and  book 2,  UNDER THE SAME SUN, no worries, this book stands alone. Although you WILL want to get book one and two, because you won’t be ready to let them go and you’ll want more time with them.

WARNING!! Do not read this by the pool if you are also watching young children. You will be pulled into the story and forget where you are. Leaving children unsupervised around water is not recommended. However, if  there are no children present, read and allow yourself to be whisked away.

For more reviews, or to meet Mariam herself, check out her blog at  where all the links for the blog hop can be found.

Mariam

Introduction to Quilting 001

Yes, I know, classes usually have a one in front of them, as in Quilting 101, not Quilting 001. But, we’re talking basic basics here. The simplest of simple.

Quilting 001 will walk the fearful quilter into the quilt world maize one step at a time. Before long you’ll be walking around, not getting lost, but trying new things. So come along. Let’s make a quilt.

First, the rules.  Rules? What rules? We don’t need rules tangling us up. Right, we’re going to ignore most of the quilt rules. Shhh, don’t let the quilt police hear about this. However there are a few pointers that will make your foray into the quilt world more enjoyable.

Ready? Here we go:

1. Relax, this is your first quilt. Most likely it isn’t destined to become a heirloom quilt for your grandchild. No, this will be a simple wall hanging, lap quilt, or warm cover on your bed.

Basically you’re making a blanket, relax and enjoy the process.

2. Remember that acronym KISS, keep it super simple? That’s a good plan for a first quilt. Keep the pattern and quilt simple.

If you have to fight to get the curves right on a Drunkard’s Path, struggle to keep the points sharp on a star block, or spend more time unsewing than sewing, you’ll be tempted to throw the whole thing down in disgust and walk away from the joy of quilting. It’s your quilt, if you want to go with an intricate pattern, I’m certainly not going to stop you. For the rest of you, a quilt made with simple squares will work just fine.

3. No fancy equipment needed.

  • Scissors to cut the fabric, or a rotary cutter and mat if you have one. Either works well.
  • Pattern or instructions. You wouldn’t try driving in a strange town without a gps or map would  you? Ok, I would and you might too. But, really, the gps, or quilt instructions make life much easier.
  • Fabric, you’ll need something for the backing, batting for the middle, and of course, fabric to make your top. We’ll discuss fabric choices and where to find your fabric in a later “class.”
  • Iron, and ironing board (or a folded towel on a cabinet works well too.) Nothing special, the iron you already own is perfect.
  • Needle and thread or sewing machine and thread, your choice. Whichever works for you, again, it’s your quilt.
  • Pins. Straight pins to hold your fabric together before you sew it and safety pins to hold all three layers together when you’re ready to quilt it.

4. Decide on your level of perfection. Some people (most) strive to have their quilt seams match up perfectly. They may have one “fault” in the quilt, one they purposely put in, but other than that their quilts look like works of perfection. I, on the other hand, am the Imperfect Improv quilter, I don’t care if my seams don’t match. Sometimes I go out of my way to make sure they don’t match by making a quilt with off-set seams. You may fall at either end of the spectrum, or somewhere in the middle. Decide what you can live with, and don’t worry about little mistakes that fall within your acceptability level.

5. Use  fabric of similar weight and quality. This will help your quilt wears more evenly.

Mother’s Day Reading Gift Ideas

Writer? Quilter? What am I? Both, and a few other descriptions also fit. As most of you know, this blog struggles to find its identity. Is it about writing? Is it about quilting? Is it about my faith?

In truth, it’s a little of all three, I just haven’t found the right formula for it yet. Today I’m sharing some great reads for you. Mother’s Day is coming, and what better gift than a book, something that will allow her to transport herself to another time, and/or place, relax and be entertained all while staying and taking care of her family. It’s the perfect gift.

Of course, shopping in the quilt store is a fantastic option. However, books are a close second. If the mother in your life doesn’t quilt, the book moves up to first place.  Here are some book ideas for  you to consider:

Devoted to Quilting (mine, imagine how it got on the list) = a collection of quilt stories. Each story includes a Bible verse and prayer, making it a perfect devotional. It is also just a fun read, and educational since each story also includes a quilting/sewing tip. You can see the picture of it on my side bar.

Devoted to Quilting 2 (mine again, surprise, surprise) – More quilt stories. This one has more quilts from friends and fewer family quilts. Otherwise it’s much like the first Devoted to Quilting.

Romance, The Spice of Life. Not mine, but I do have a story in it. This is an anthology, a collection of short stories. Like a good meal, life needs a little spice to make it amazing, and romance is the perfect spice. There are six genres included, romantic suspense, nostalgic romance, inspiration romance, paranormal romance, historical romance (ahem), and a contemporary romance. The mother in your life is sure to have a favorite genre represented, and she’ll love all the stories.

Grave Secrets, by Linda Trout. A baby disappears. A husband murdered. Sara Adams searches frantically for her infant daughter and must turn to insurance investigator Morgan Daniels. Except, Daniels is sure Sara murdered her husband. Will helping Sara find her daughter also help him prove she murdered her husband? Will helping her prove her innocence and uncover the real killer? On top of all that the man is devastatingly handsome. Sarah must be careful.


Preserving Family Legends, M. Carolyn Steele.  There was a time when family lore was passed down from one generation to the next. It was a form of entertainment as well as education for the younger family members. However, life has changed, and many of those family legends are left gathering dust in the attic of life. Carolyn’s books helps us not only find those stories, but write them in an entertaining fashion for our children and grandchildren. It must be entertaining, both for the reader and the writer, after all who wants to write, much less read, a laundry list of marriages, births, divorces, and death?

Saturday Night Cocoa Fudge, Gloria Teague. A nostalgic look of growing up in the fifties in Tennessee. Although, the setting could of been anywhere in the United States, the stories revolve more around the people and the experiences of one little girl between four and five years old. If you grew up in the fifties you’ll love this book for the memories it invokes. Because, really, who hasn’t done the “switch dance?” If you weren’t lucky enough to grow up in the fifties you’ll love this look back at a different time and way of life. Each story stands alone, and the book can be read in snatches of time if necessary. However, Gloria weaves such entertaining, and exciting tales that you’ll find yourself flipping to the next story rather than putting the book down.

Navajo Rose, Kat O’Reilly, the pen name of  Jen Nipps.  From the back of the book :

“Antiquities poachers send Native American arts’ enthusiast Paige Douglas the Navajo Rose, a stolen tribal artifact. Can she trust Ricky, her high school crush, to help her return it? For that matter, can she trust herself around him?

Detective Richard Travis is determined to help Paige return the Navajo Rose in spite of — or perhaps because of — his growing attraction to her. But can he do it while maintaining his professional integrity and reining in his libido? And what if he can’t let her go when they’re done?”

 

 

Wilda’sOutlaw, Velda Brotherton. From the back of the book:”Calder Raines and his outlaw gang may be more than Wilda Duncan bargained for. All she wants is to escape an unwanted marriage, but she finds herself in the arms of a tantalizing man whose warm kisses arouse a storm of forbidden desires. Calder never wanted to rob banks, but it’s a family tradition. When he embraces the alluring redhead, passion conquers good sense and he imagines a life he cannot have. Will Calder return her to the man she is to marry before she gets hurt? Can Wilda set things right and prevent Calder’s arrest?”


 

 


X Quisite and X Quarter Quilt Blocks

Finding words, quilts, ideas for each letter of the alphabet that have quilting in common has been much easier than I’d thought it would be. I mean, even Q was easy. Hello? Q? Quilt?

Others with different themes may have struggled with the letter Q, but not me.

However, X was a different story.

According the the Maggie Malone Book of 5500 QUILT BLOCK DESIGNS, there are two X quilt blocks. The X Quartet and the X-Quisite.

An X Quartet Quilt Block from planet patchwork.com

I could only find one example of the X Quartet quilt block, maybe others call it by another name. After all, it looks fairly simple and easy. Half square triangles set in the pinwheel pattern. Half-square triangle blocks together with solid blocks around the four sides of the pinwheel,  and solid blocks in the corner.

 

For the X Quiste block, I found this  baby quilt  by Mary, of the Tulip Patch done in that pattern. Isn’t it cute? I’m sure the parents of the little boy who now owns it were thrilled to receive such a cute quilt for their little one.

X Quisite quilt by Mary at the Tulip-patch

Lucky you. Since I found a couple of X quilt blocks you were spared the Xylophone quilt idea. I’m sure there are other X quilt blocks out there and now I’m on a quest to find them. Do you have an X quilt block?

Still playing with the A to Z bloggers. Up Monday, is Y, and yes, I have a quilt story for Y.

 

 

Needles and Original Designers

Today, two short posts in one. Since I’m playing with the A to Z Challenge, we are up to N and O.  Yes, I know we are really up to P, but that’s for tomorrow. I’m a tad behind, anyone who knows me in real life, or has read this blog much knows that being behind is almost a way of life for me. 🙂 So, here we go.

Needles and pins (to bad it’s not also p day) are a necessary part of sewing and quilting. After all you can’t sew without a needle. If you can, tell us about it.

Needles come in a variety of sizes and styles. However, there are two important types, hand sewing needles and machine needles.  Many who sew have a specific needle brand or type they prefer sewing with.

For hand sewing for me, it’s usually what ever needle I have handy. I have learned that it’s important the needle have a large enough eye for the thread to pass through. Not only to make it easier to thread the silly thing. A bigger eye will make a bigger hole in the fabric, one large enough to allow the thread to pass through without fraying and breaking. Because, really, who wants to keep threading the needle.

The one exception is for quilt tying. I prefer to use a curved needle when I’m tying a quilt. It just seems to make the process easier.  Do you have a favorite needle you prefer when hand stitching?

For the sewing machine, there are also different sizes and types. Ballpoint needles work best with knits and heavy-duty needles break less often when sewing on denim, or heavy weight fabrics.

We can all think Mr. Schmetz who talked the sewing machine manufacturers into creating a uniform needle holder on our machines. Now, we can buy universal needles and be confident they will work in any and all of our sewing machines. Thanks Mr. Schmetz.

Quilters and those who sew often design their own projects. Many of these talented designers then sell their patterns for the rest of us to sew and enjoy.

There are embroidery designers and applique designers. Sometimes a pattern can be used as either applique or embroidery. The choice is ours, the designer just gives us the picture, how we apply it is up to us. Thank goodness for embroidery and applique designers, where would those of us who can barely draw stick figures be?

There are project designers. Those people who craft everyday items, and creates a pattern for the rest of us. Designs for tote bags, place mats, mini place mats (mug rugs), purses and wallets, the list goes on for available patterns.

Clothing designers abound too.I’m not talking about those high dollar pattern designers you’ll find at the big store. The ones whose patterns are stored in huge file cabinets and showcased in pattern catalogs. While those people are vastly talented, I prefer those small clothing designers who live in my area. Women (usually) who design clothes for local residents. Sometimes they sell online making their designs available world-wide. Most of these patterns are for children’s clothing, because their clothes don’t demand an exact fit, and their little bodies are more forgiving. Designers allow us to dress our children (and ourselves) in cute, unique clothing at an affordable price.

Finally, there are the quilt designers. Those who design an orignial quilt pattern, and make the quilt up in their colors showing us how it will look.  We can go with their colors or choose our own while following their pattern. Just as many of us collect and admire the patterns of our ancestors, these talented people will allow our descendents to have patterns from our era.

Because I’m behind, and in a hurry there are no designers of original patterns listed here as I’d hoped and planned. Maybe in a future post. In the meantime, check out the individual designers spotlighted in your favorite magazine, or promoted online by your friends. Don’t forget to check in with your local quilt store, ask if they carry any locally designed patterns. It’s not hard to make your project an original design.

Hope  you are enjoying this quiltey trip through the alphabet.

Challenges

A blog challenge has been delivered and I have accepted it. Two, in fact.

First, is the blogging A to Z. Bloggers are challenged to post on their blogs every day in April and those post must follow the alphabet. Every post will be about something that starts with that day’s letter.

Which means Monday, April 1, this blog will be about applique. A is for applique. So it will go, every day, for the entire month. Well, every day except Sundays. With Sundays out of the lineup there are 26 days in April. Coincidentally, there are 26 letters in the American alphabet. Pretty handy.

That’s challenge one, to blog every Monday through Saturday following the alphabet.

Challenge two is from The Ultimate Blog Challenge.

That goal is to simply post every day. This time every day includes Sundays. The goal for April is to post every day. Every. Single. Day.

Stay tuned for Monday, the day of Applique, and the first day of a month of daily posts.

Have you taken any blog or life challenges lately? Did you succeed? Did they help you reach your goal?