Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue.

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Life is more than just Quilting…gasp

The weather has been nice, so I’ve spent time outdoors working in my flowerbeds.  I cleaned up the dried stems & leaves from last year’s perennials and raked out the leftover leaves.  I split up some hostas that have overgrown and transplanted iris rhizomes that were being crowded by black-eyed susans in the same bed.  The heavy rains over the last three days should set the plants well.  My tulips have bloomed and the peony plants are growing.  What started as two lily of the valley plants some 15 years ago has spread through the back bed.  May’s birth month flower will soon bloom.  I transplanted a trumpet vine last fall and hope it takes root and sprouts leaves this spring. The rose bushes are sending out vines and needed trellises to control them.

Flower gardens give much inspiration for quilters.  The simple shapes & lovely colors offer a myriad of designs for applique.  I continue to work on my Craftsy class project. I finished stitching the petals on an applique flower block and the butterfly block.  Though my progress is slow, it continues weekly.

Flower & Butterfly blocks

Friday, my sister & I set out on a quilt Shop Hop.  We travelled over 300 miles to visit four shops in mid-Michigan.  We also checked out a new quilt shop that wasn’t on the hop.  It turned out to be my favorite – Park Bench quilt shop in Midland, Michigan.  I think the shop was well aware of the 3-day shop hop at their competitor down the street.  They offered the same 20% discount on purchases.  The fabrics are beautiful and the selection more the style that interests me.  I picked up Joan Ford’s latest Scraptherapy book, The Versatile Nine Patch, along with several fat quarters to use in my elephant baby quilt I have yet to begin.

Shop Hop Fabrics Closeup

Shop Hop Fabrics

Shop Hop fabric purchases

I always take along a list of notions I would like to try.  One in particular I looked for and found is the Kwik Klip. I have heard many rave about how well it helps with closing safety pins when pin basting.   Got one and hope it lives up to the hype.

Kwik Klip

The dreary weather kept me inside most of yesterday, so I also completed a bit of FMQ. I’ll have to share photos next time.  Tomorrow, I am going on a field trip with my granddaughter to Woldumar Nature Center.  All the rain has likely made the trails muddy and I’m praying the rain will hold off until the trip is over.

That recaps some of the activities over the last two weeks.  I’ve been busy with a lot more that keeps me away from needle & thread.  But life is more than just quilting.

Hoping to share more progress next week.  Until then…happy stitching!



Let’s Talk Singer

I wonder sometimes, how our grandmothers found the time to make such fantastical hand stitched quilts, when I often find myself, with all the modern conveniences, unable to accomplish much of anything.  Busy with a full time job, grandchildren, and church activities, I just wanted to sit this week out.  I picked up a book to read and surfed through my social media sites.  I do have a head cold, which may be impacting my choices.   But, this week held little chance of accomplishing much stitching.  I only prepared a few pieces for basting and took them on a weekend trip to keep occupied in the car.  That’s the extent of my stitching.

So, in order to entertain my readers, I am highlighting another favorite quilter topic: sewing machines.  Who among us quilters doesn’t love to check out the latest machines or find antiques worth collecting.  Although few in number, my collection is unique.  All of my older machines are Singer brand.

I grew up sewing on a Singer.  When I got married, my husband purchased me a sewing machine for our first Christmas.  It was a portable Singer that now sits inside a sewing machine cabinet; and my eldest granddaughter is learning to sew on it.


sewing the pillow together

My husband also purchased me a Singer Featherweight as a 25th anniversary gift.  It’s a 1951 centennial edition.  It stitches nice, but I haven’t used is so much.


I learned to love sewing from my Grandma Smith.  She sewed clothes and other things; some quilts. My Mom didn’t really have an interest, but my Grandma was very creative.  She taught my older sister to knit and me to crochet.  We both started 4H together and began sewing clothing. I still remember walking through the fabric section of Newberry’s, a local variety store, touching the fabric and dreaming what I would stitch.  The Singer we used at home was an older machine that Grandma gave us to use, while she purchased herself a new one.  Later, she purchased a Singer Athena 2000, the first electronic sewing machine on the market back in 1975.  I acquired the Athena from my Grandma’s estate, along with the beautiful cabinet she purchased with the machine.  Although I’ve only done a little bit of sewing on it, it has a lot of sentimental value.

Athena2000 & case

Several years ago, I came across a Singer treadle at a yard sale.  I had to purchase it to round out my collection.  It sits in a corner of the front room as an ornamental, conversation piece.

Treadle & Cabinet

I know a quilter that likes to refurbish antique machines and sew on them.  I really have no interest in using the treadle.  I may use the other sewing machines from time to time, but I would rather do my sewing on my Bernina virtuosa 155.  I do everything on this machine, including free motion quilting.  Could I afford it, I would upgrade to the latest version.  But, my wish list is to purchase a Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen.

Happy Stitching…on whatever sewing machine you own.


Quilting with my Sisters

My two sisters, one older and one younger, get together on a Saturday and sew every couple of months. In the past, it involved travelling to one of our homes and setting up space for sewing, cutting and ironing. We live close, within a few blocks of each other. Whoever is hostess plans lunch and the other sisters bring a salad or dessert.

Last November, we decided to find a larger space to sew and invite our friends and family to enjoy the time with us. I reserved the fellowship area of my church and asked everyone to bring something for a potluck lunch. The extra space allows us to spread out our quilts, making it easier to plan a layout, machine quilt or bind a finished quilt. Our second event was in January with even more ladies getting involved. My younger sister created a Facebook Group – Sisters in Quilting – and the word continues to spread to local crafters. In March, we planned an event on National Quilting Day. All types of crafters are invited and we had eleven ladies attend, including quilters, knitters, a crocheter, a beader, and a sewist.

At the event, I finished adding the binding for a block exchange quilt I finally had quilted in January. The blocks were made with dotty fabrics and we exchanged six blocks: a dog, cat, tree, house, star, and chicken. I used the thirty blocks to make two twin-size quilts. This is the second of the two quilts, finished with brown & pink fabrics for sashing and a piano key border.

Brown & Pink Dotty Quilt

Brown & Pink Dotty Quilt

I really enjoy stitching with my sisters. Our next Saturday sewing day is at the end of May. I’m already planning what I will bring to sew.

Happy stitching!

New Year, New Priorities

I have been on a hiatus without a post since mid-October. I decided that the part of my life that I commit to quilting was using too much time for blogging – reading and writing. I haven’t been to my feedly account either. Although, I follow a few blogs via email, so I haven’t been totally out of the blogosphere. What I have been doing is using my time to quilt.

I'm currently working on putting these blocks together.

I’m currently stitching these blocks together.

Blogging became a way for me to document my quilting, but I want to be sure that it includes the important stuff, not just anything I do. I follow blogs to connect with other quilters, but decided I needed to downsize and only follow what would provide the most benefit for me as a quilter, as well as, staying up with the latest going on in the quilt world.

My sister & I began an online BOM together called Sew Sweet Simplicity - this is block #1.

My sister & I began an online BOM together called Sew Sweet Simplicity – this is block #1.

I have been more selective in what to attend, listen to and read. Some of my must-dos are listening to Pat Sloan’s weekly online radio show. TimQuilts is a regular read. My two sisters and I decided to start up a regular sewing day and invite family and friends to join us. We have had two events already, with a third planned for National Quilting Day. I even downsized my organization memberships, dropping two and planning to eliminate another when the membership comes up for renewal this year. And, I organized my quilting room over the holidays, so I find I can step into my space and work on a project without sorting through stacks of stuff or clearing an area to work.

I finished all my felt ornaments for the Advent Calendars.

I finished all 25 wool ornaments for both Advent Calendars.

More Wool Ornaments

Obviously my new priorities began before the new year, and I continue to streamline the quilting part of my life. My future objective is to keep the clutter out of the way and focus on those aspects of quilting that are most meaningful. Part of that is regaining time for blogging, so that I can continue to document, interact, and enjoy this craft that I have been doing for the last 35 years. I hope that you will follow along with me as I redirect my quilting journey.

Happy Stitching…

My Sister’s Baby Quilt Project

I continue to work on my Rose of Sharon study quilt. I have three of the four blocks finished. Two are re-sized and stitched together, so that the final size is determined. I then, cut the border strips. The finished size of the quilt will be 48″ X 48″. I have been diligently stitching the fourth block and expect to have it complete tonight. I have also given a great deal of thought into how I will prepare the swags for the border, which will be the next step in my study quilt.

Since I have no project photos to share, I thought that I would share my sister’s latest quilt. I have two sisters, one older and one younger, and we frequently get together to quilt. My youngest sister called me this afternoon to say she had finished her granddaughter’s baby quilt. If I wanted to see it before it was taken home with the recipient, I better come by this afternoon. When I arrived, my older sister had already arrived. Probably because she got the call first and secondly because she only lives a block away. I live three blocks.

Evelyn's Quilt

Evelyn’s Quilt

My sister changed the blue colors in the quilt pattern to purple, giving it a little girl feel.

Bunny Embroidery

Bunny Embroidery

This pattern is one in a set of five designs, and my sister has completed two of them for her grandchildren. Besides doing a beautiful job on the embroidery and piecing, she also did a phenomenal job with the FMQ. The quilt that I made for my great-niece was a simple Charms Squares Baby Quilt (quilt on the left). My sister’s quilt is much more to be treasured, as it should be.

Evelyn with Mom,  Grandma & her quilt

Evelyn with Mom, Grandma & her quilt

Such a sweet little girl and a sweet baby quilt. Now my sister can get to work on the FMQ of our collaborative quilt, Dresdan Zoo, for another great-niece.

Happy Stitching!


My Bernina has Come Home

My Bernina finally came home after a three week stint for a cleaning and repair. In the past, three weeks without my machine would have been devastating, but I managed this time without any problems. It seems that I have been doing a lot of hand sewing. See my posts about my Rose of Sharon study quilt HERE and HERE.

The quilt shop had five other machines ahead of mine to clean and repair, so I had to leave mine knowing that they wouldn’t get to it for a few days. I also knew that they would need to repair the throat plate area, so a wait for the part delayed the work further. I picked up my baby on Saturday and brought her home. She looks so much better and I expect she sews fine. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to take her for a spin. Our granddaughter had a sleepover at Grandma & Grandpas house and today was a BBQ with family for Father’s Day. The weather is lovely outside and I am enjoying the warm, breezy afternoon as I write this blog post on my deck.

I always find it interesting to note the amount of time I spent sewing on my Bernina since the last cleaning. However, I was surprised to find that I hadn’t done as much machine stitching as in previous years. I purchased my Bernina virtuosa 155  March 27, 2004 at the International Quilt Festival in Chicago. My first cleaning was completed 11/24/06 and I had put 55 hours of sewtime on the machine. The next cleaning was 7/23/08 and I had 83 hours of sewtime. This was followed by a cleaning 9/9/09 with 27 hours of sewtime. I was averaging 33 hours of sewing annually. This time, I hadn’t had my machine in for a cleaning in five years. I really thought it had been less time. I was surprised that there was only 48 hours of sewtime on the machine, which averages less than 10 hours sewtime annually. What’s up with that!

I know that I have been doing a lot of sewing, so I wonder what it is that has shortened my sewtime. Some of this is the type of sewing I am doing. As I said earlier, I am doing a lot more hand sewing. As you can see in several of my recent posts, I am doing a lot of hand applique. I started an Applique Club with my local guild three years ago and made two of these projects by hand applique. I also have several other hand projects in the works – applique, redwork, and hand quilting. But, I still thought that I had done more sewing on my machine than 10 hours.

I began thinking it over and realized that there has been a lot going on in the last five years that has kept me from my Bernina. In these five years, three grandchildren have been born and they take precedence in my life. I haven’t been attending retreats, preferring to stay at home and do stitching with my sisters. We’ve been getting together every month or so for a sewing day. We travel to each other’s house and I usually take a cutting project or hand sewing when I travel, so I don’t have to pack up my machine. You can read about many of these sister sewing days at Modern Sue’s Previous Musings under the Sisters tag. I also started blogging four years ago and that certainly takes away from sewtime. My husband also reminded me that I have had many physical limitations over the last couple of years that has interfered with my ability to sew. I put my Bernina aside last March to undergo a shoulder repair and only began doing my machine sewing  again at Christmas time. I’ve also had surgery on my thyroid gland in 2012 and my right great toe in 2009. Maybe not as limiting as the shoulder repair, but certainly cutting into sewtime.

So, what does all this mean. Well, probably that I need to find more time to sew. Or, maybe I’ve discovered that sewing and quilting aren’t the most important aspects of my life. Relationships are more important than a piece of cloth, thread and a needle. Sewing and quilting are what I do to create things for my family and friends. It is an extension of me, but not all that I am. I may not be the fastest stitcher at a retreat, or the guild member that makes the most quilts to show & tell, or the family member that always has a homemade gift-wait, that one is me! I want to be remembered for being a loving and caring wife, mom, grandma, sister, aunt, friend, or you fill in the blank. My quilts are just an extension of that love and care.

Hopefully everyone had a wonderful Father’s Day. I enjoyed a BBQ dinner with my family. But, tonight is sewtime!


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