Inspire Me!

Quilts and projects that inspire us!

I’m a “Prepper”–Are You?

I’m a “prepper” but with no bunker or ammo or supply stock (other than fabric).  I’m not prepping for the end of the world but I am prepping for the first winter blizzard. Here in Colorado it is very hard to believe that it is even fall let alone winter. But a dear friend (I think she is still a friend even though she totally destroyed the order I had just put into the sewing studio. :/) has given me BAGS of fabric and “stuff” to go through.  I don’t mean little grocery bags, I mean trash bags! Six of them!


Bags of friendship!

There were yardages, starts and stops of projects, kits, scraps, books and one whole bag of Christmas fabric.  It is enough to keep me busy all winter.  I’m ready for a little snow on the ground to keep me in the house. If you know me at all, you know I have never met a shade of green that I didn’t like but would you believe that in all those piles there was only ONE piece of green.  Guess I’ll be OK working with the bag of fall colors. 🙂


Lonely Green

All of us have projects that we start and then put away for a while (Tell me I’m not alone in this).  A couple of these were put away for good reason (not working out as planned), but some I’m sure were just not on a deadline.  So I’m thinking about imposing a deadline on myself to finish these up.  I can’t let my sister in on the decision because she knows my procrastination skills are excellent. The first special treat to work on are the squares of embroidery that are completely finished. They await a special setting that will of course use some of the bag fabrics.


Embroidery blocks

I know a little girl that is REALLY in need of a new quilt for her big-girl bed.  She might like the mouse, or the bear, or the A-B-Cs.  I know that she would like some fabric out of the purple bag.


Girl without a quilt.

Other pieces are not my favorites. As my mom would tell me, “Don’t say “Ugh!”  until you’ve tried it.” But I’m prepping for winter not for a character building session, so I’ll pass them on to be used as backs for a charity quilt or book bags for the kids.


Ugly fabric. Ummm, backing pieces.

There was even a challenge inside the bags and Sister knows I can’t resist a challenge.  I’ve seen the block in magazines but never attempted it before.  Someone made an excellent start on the 3″ nine-patch blocks set into hexagons and even sent along the extra pieces.  I can just see this finished with maybe some very large wool applique on it.  Back to the design board after I finish this little start up.


Fun in a bag.

I do have one last confession to make.  I’m keeping something just because.  I have no plan for these blocks.  I have no purpose for them.  They don’t match anything in my house.  But who wouldn’t want to look at butterflies in the middle of the winter and that’s what I’m preparing for.


Wouldn’t they look great with black sashing?!

I’ve got extra needles, now if I can just find a sale on thread before the snow flies I’ll be prepped and ready to be house-bound for a few days.  How are you prepping for winter?

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End of an Era…New Beginnings

CO Sister id tag

The end of an era is approaching.  I’m not talking about the political scene.  (Ugh!) I’m talking the quilt show scene.  For most of my life I’ve done trade shows of one kind or another.  I started packing boxes with my husband the first year we were married and it has continued with my sister since the beginning of our business.  Sometimes we did both kinds shows at the same time.


Antiques in the front, patterns in the back

When we started Sisters At Heart, Miles Apart it was a necessity to do shows to get our name and product out there, so we did shows.  We met vendors, distributors, and wonderful customers.  The technology of today has made that less vital. So we are behind a keyboard more often than in a show booth.

Epic cruise business meeting sm

Sisters at work a LONG distance from either home.

Back then I only had one grandchild, now I have 10 and another one due in February. I want to spend more time with the kids than I do at the shows. I want to take the laptop with me when I go to visit and not take a box of samples or product to hang.


We have added two since this but can’t get them all together.


So I’m ready to close the curtain on shows. But not on sewing with my sister!

I’m ready for new beginnings….The Linens and Old Lace patterns have set our brains a buzzin’.


Needs a couple more rows ASAP


This pattern is ready for sale on the Etsy store.

We are deep in designs for bags, pillows, quilts, and projects to use vintage lace and woven linen.


Can never have too many cuffs.


Lace & Bag Idea


The Lullaby Line needs to expand with special items for the new baby in February.


Quilt & bag & changing pad & & &

The Really Big Hat People like our Cowboy & Cowgirl have over populated our brains and need to get onto the fabric with a farmer, quilter, fisherman, sportsman, etc.

New beginnings are just a project away.  So good-by to the show era (still doing classes) and ibuprofen from unpacking boxes. On to the new sewing projects and patterns.  What do you say, Sister?

FL Sister id tag

When we were kids at the end of the school year we used to chant: No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks. There was no regret in that chant – only anticipation. Now we will chant: No more boxes, no more stacking, no more toting, no more packing!

Well, who could argue with that?!?!

All through life we have learned to rearrange depending on what needed to be done or if a change of seasons had come. Add a leaf in the table when our families were together, take a different vacation route if there were flooded roads, change the living room furniture to make room for the Christmas tree, replace the hot chocolate bar with an ice cream bar, move the wooden snowman to make room for the Easter egg basket…

I see that we are doing that once again.

Rearranging to make room for what needs to be done. Exchanging one thing for something better. It’s time for a new era – a new season. And we have enough shared history to have learned that different seasons of life bring different opportunities and different things need to be given attention.


Thanks for letting me wear the bonnet for the picture.

My feet thank you, my raspy voice thanks you, and my aching back thanks you for having the wisdom to ask: Isn’t it time to acknowledge the change in eras?

It’s a win-win that we can keep doing what we love – stitching together – and get rid of what isn’t fitting well with this new chapter of life – shows. Especially since this change makes room in our days for things most important – like grandchildren.


A good reminder every day.

I can imagine that we will still hatch new projects during Jacuzzi brainstorming sessions and still find reasons to celebrate at Texas Roadhouse and still find inspiration and stitching treasures in unlikely places.

And our patterns will still be available. They will be available on our Etsy store, at Sisters’ classes and in select quilt shops. And that is a good thing that we have those outlets because the idea board is full to overflowing.

Doodle birds and


There are so many just waiting to fly onto a pattern page!

one more seasonal tea cozy and


The summer mat has been patiently waiting for its companion tea cozy!

ooooh, my the vintage lace and linens!


Piles of potentiality!

And I’m sure there will be more …


Enduring sister wisdom.





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Extended Contracts & Cigar Box Treasures

FL Sister id tag

I’ve decided to extend his contract indefinitely. The list of reasons for the contract extension is very long. And this summer the list has just grown longer and longer.

You may already know about Dietz and his amazing feats making and setting up quilt racks

quilt rack Jim

He can make it happen – and he smiles while he does it!

and the old sewing machine he turned into a vanity

vanity m

He does amazing things to bring concepts into reality!

and the blue bird bath he found at an estate sale.

bird bath sm

He offered to paint it any color I wanted but somehow the blue was just right!

And now this summer he raised the bar way high with a road trip through the Smokey Mountains

which took us through Pidgeon Forge,

pidgeon forge

Look closely in the lower left corner. Yes, outside our restaurant that is a pigeon at Pidgeon Forge.

the Biltmore,

biltmore library sm

They didn’t have a sewing room so the library was my favorite room.

zip line adventures …

zip line sm

Yes, I did close my eyes the first time and after that I did scream.

and a lake boat ride.

boat ride sm

And the day ended with ice cold watermelon!

And I brought home a hummingbird for my back door.

humming bird bell sm

The perfect souvenir!

I need to mention the quilt shop stops along the way, too.

quilt shop sm

They had wool on sale!


quilt shop1 sm

This one was right next door to a quilt retreat venue!

And now in the middle of summer’s heat, he caps it all off with a cigar box.

box sm

I couldn’t wait to open it!

I know nothing about cigar boxes, Cuban or otherwise. But this box is valued because Dietz found it for me (of course!) – and because of what is inside.

box full sm

These are a few of my favorite things!

This treasure box is filled with hankies of all kinds! He knows what warms my heart!

hankie sm

Bouquets of flowers!

puppy sm

A cuddly puppy!

mono sm

Delicate simplicity!

What will I do with more hankies? Oh, the possibilities are endless. And the Colorado sister is giving me inspiration as she works on a quilt for her smallest granddaughter. It looks like a dress-up fashion show to me!


Photo cannot be viewed at this time by order of the Colorado sister. Check back in a couple of weeks.

I plan to sign myself up for a hankie project as soon as I finish the Sisters round robin and the August class I’m signed up for and the To Do list for the fall show …

But most important, I’m signing up for 41 more years with this guy!

jim small

I think he’s saying, “What is she going to get me mixed up in next?”

You can see more inspiring ideas on our Pinterest Old Linens board.

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The Language of Quilts

Tutorial Tuesdays header

Cecilia is continuing the business her mother started, Pat’s Sacks.  Her booth is filled with vintage fabric, sugar sacks, and all things 30’s – including great music playing.   I enjoyed time in her booth very much and loved this handwritten memo she had hanging.

cajun quilt language

Cajun Quilt Language


Cecilia’s memo reads:

Before telephones, Cajuns spread news by hanging quilts over the balustrades of their houses.

Each quilt had a special meaning.


A red quilt – political victory

A yellow quilt – quarantine

A blue quilt with a big white star – wedding in the making

A patchwork quilt – a big celebration – Mardi Gras, New Years, July 4th

One quilt hung out with the wash – a child has eaten too much watermelon.


It reminded me of the book I enjoyed reading a few years ago —  Hidden in Plain View, written in 1999 by Raymond Dobard, Jr., an art historian, and Jacqueline Tobin, a college instructor in Colorado. I found their assertion fascinating that quilts may have been used to send coded messages to run away slaves.

Reading that book, and again when I saw Cecilia’s memo, I stopped to ponder – if I used quilts to send messages, which quilts would I use on different occasions?

During the NCAA basketball tournament –


Kansas Troubles

When I just happen to look at the calendar and remember a commitment at the last minute –


My Lucky Stars

When I back the van out of the garage and forget the Jeep is parked in the driveway. (#fenderbendermyself)



When I get to the end of back to back traveling commitments –


No Place Like Home

When I proudly make a grocery list – and stick to it –


Frugal Patch


When The Sister and I pass our 5th year in business Anniversary mark-



When something gets checked off the UFO list.


Shining Hour

What quilt message would you use most often?

Thanks to the Quilter’s Cache for their line drawings.

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Sweet Memories

FL Sister id tag

Memory is priceless. Never is that more clear than when a loved one begins to loose hold of the memories that weave your lives together. This last month when we got to be together to celebrate my sister’s landmark birthday we made some new memories and we “rememberated” together about other landmark days. I know that isn’t a real word but I like to think I invent things.

So when I got back home and started to work on a workshop I’m hosting on embellishing quilts, I pulled out the Memories quilt top that we did together long before we were officially Sisters at Heart, Miles Apart.

When we started this shared project, we reviewed life by decades, recaptured milestone moments and divided them between us. We used the high-tech method to accomplish this: writing on little squares of paper and taking turns drawing them out of a bag.

planning sm

For unknown reasons the mailing paperwork is still in the folders with all the graph paper plans and fabric swatches. I may be a bit over sentimental.

After graphing the layout to plan the size of each block and setting the design parameters (I’ll put those down later in the post in case you want to try this project with someone else.) we specified which blocks would be pieced and which would be appliqued. And we planned to put a row of Friendship Stars across the pillow fold – for obvious reasons.

Both of us began life in Colorado so we put the Colorado block in the upper left hand corner.

colrado sm

We added some mountains to the right and some farmland at the bottom of the Colorado block.


Cindy chose baby buggies and baby blocks for the early childhood blocks.

baby buggy sm

She embellished with buttons on the baby buggies.

Childhood fun for us included tobogganing and snowmen, Fourth of July picnics, reading, cooking and Christmas celebrations including church Nativity programs and a dilapidated wind-up Santa that rang a little bell even though he only had one surviving arm.

little memories sm

Favorite book titles are included: Five Little Peppers, Green Leaf in Drought Time, Pilgrims Progress, Nancy Drew, Dr Suess …

As older kids our lives were impacted by time at church camp in the mountains of southern Colorado near Monument Lake.


Pine cone fights, the pillow pole and Bible sword drills will forever bring smiles to our faces. And the homemade noodles and bread. Oh, my, the home cooking!

Later there were weddings for both of us. Cindy in her hooded cape with a blown glass bouquet and I in our mother’s wedding dress.


We stitched this long before we introduced our Wedding Wishes line of patterns.


wedding ring sm

And the pieced block to commemorate that significant life event was, of course, a double wedding ring.

In the middle part of life we both invested much to teach our children at home. We shared ideas and curriculum and encouragement and accumulated many sweet memories along the way. Hence the schoolhouse block. The other building with “Fire Sale” in the window reminds us of an unforgettable time when we found treasures because the store next door to a fabric shop had experienced a fire. All the fabric needed was a thorough washing to bring it back to life.

school and fire sale sm

Did we go back 3 or 4 times to get fabric? My memory is not good on that point.

Some things span more than one decade of life – coffee and tea …

sister love

Constant Comment has been a life-long favorite. Maybe there is a deep significance in that even!

… and Our Favorite Things …

favorite things sm

One sister collected Noah’s Ark and one collected chickens. We both loved baskets and fat quarters – and the telephone!

Down in the lower right hand corner the memories conclude with a Tree of Life complete with significant charm ornaments.

tree of life sm

You might be familiar with other blocks called Tree of Life. This was our version.


tol close up2 sm

a diaper pen, music notes, tea-pot and cup, an old car ….


tol close up sm

sewing shears, a pencil & an apple for the teacher, a diploma, wedding rings …

WELCOME HOME at the top of the tree reminds us of what is important here and, also, that at the end of life we will get to go HOME in the best sense of the word.

welcome home

p.s. HOME is my favorite word of all

Now, I really, really need to make a quilting plan! Any ideas?

memory quilt sm

can you find: church window, hopscotch, checker board, sisters choice, windmill …

The fabric of shared history is irreplaceable.


Here is our design plan which kept us on the same page. (Our choices are in parentheses.) Maybe you will want to make your own memory quilt to preserve seasons and moments that have made life good.

  • color parameters (no primary colors, pastels or white-white)
  • range of tone for backgrounds (light to medium)
  • setting plan (no sashing between blocks, set block to block)
  • main color (use green in all blocks)
  • trading plan (send a 6 1/2″ block of fabric with each completed block for use in future blocks)
  • journaling option (journal throughout the project)
  • solo work (each do our own letter blocks)
  • scheduling (finish 2 blocks per month, 1 month for bottom row, 1 month for letter blocks)
  • embellishing parameters (dimensional is good and embellish at will)
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Sisters’ Challenge

Let’s be very clear about the title of this post.  I’m saying that my sister and I are doingCO Sister id tag

a challenge together.  I’m NOT saying that my sister is “challenging”.

I want to state that before I being to talk about the problems involved. So hear me,  my sister is offering to do this quilt challenge with me. I’m not forcing myself upon her.  We have established a few ground rules to guide us.  But before we got through the first round we had a misunderstanding.  (about the wording of the guidelines, not with words).

The design focus this year has been old linens and lace and we are only at the beginning stages but you can get a glimpse of a runner from old blocks here or a display scarf from vintage linens here.  We took it a step further and started a round robin exchange between the two of us using old linens and lace in our quilts.


Center with pieced blocks

The rules: (that was the beginning of the “issues”-one of us likes rules and one doesn’t)

I’m not telling which sister made which “challenge” but here are the facts as they stand.

  1. Make a center 15 1/2″ unfinished — one ended up 20 1/2″
  2. Deadline was April 15th — one of us wanted to wait until May 2nd so we could open them together
  3. First round of borders would be 5 1/2″ unfinished — one ended up 5 1/2 inches “divided between two sides”
  4. One was designed with a verbal description– one changed her mind
  5. The borders would include the following in any order:

    Old linen

    Pieced block

    Old lace




    — one now says that one of those is included in her center

  6. Each sister would design and complete a border and then exchange — one designed the entire quilt!

    Center with old linen

    None of that is the challenge! 


The real challenge is that now I want HER quilt instead of mine!  How do I break the news to her that I might not give hers back?  She really stepped out of her box and designed her own center with MY favorite color scheme.

red floral

Red and brown floral

Don’t you LOVE this combination?!  It will really shows off the old lace doilies and trims.  I’m more excited about working on hers than on mine.  Well, I need to go tell her that I’m facing a moral challenge of trying not to covet but have excused myself with just whining a little to you all.

A word to the wise…be careful when you accept a challenge it may be more challenging that you think!


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Quilt Show: a Mixed Bag

FL Sister id tag

“Quilt Show”

I’m confessing that hearing those wonderful, exhausting words brings a smile and a grimace at the same time. No way around it – it’s a mixed bag.


We do have to face boxes and check lists and printing deadlines [insert loud groaning] and this


“staging” props and quilted projects


in order to get to friendly faces, inspiring projects and [insert deep sigh of satisfaction] this.


Just Ducky and Mother’s Medallion



Seasons and Wedding Wishes

There is indeed the painful mix of tired feet and concrete floors. BUT there is also …..


Heroic help from Dietz – There is something about a guy who will get on his knees to help me!!!

In every mixed bag there are hidden happy benefits if we are watching for them.  The Pensacola Quilters Guild Show this past weekend has one benefit that other shows do not offer: the Florida Sister gets to soak in her own tub and sleep in her own bed every night. And an additional benefit is that as I see the beautiful creations I know the quilters behind them.

For instance – every month at guild meetings I get to enjoy the friendship of spunky, bubbly little Lenny Cable who exhibited 5 quilts at the show and took home 5 ribbons.


Happy hospitable Lenni with her Log Cabin


And there is wonderfully creative Cena who has literally quilted her way from Alaska to Florida. She creates original designs like this circular piece.

cena quilt

Do you see the cats in this circle of friends?


mice quilting

It only makes sense that where there are cats there will be mice!


And because this is the show where Sisters introduced our new Linens and Old Lace collection my eyes spotted the hankies, dresser scarves and lace that adorned the quilters that walked by.

mom and daughter

Mother and daughter in their Old Linen vests.


mom and daughter back

Beautiful stitching is found on the back too.

tatting and yoyos

See the folded yo-yos, tatting and embroidery?


Old buttons add just the right touch


The French knots are beautifully done!

vest back

Combining denim and lace produced this amazing piece.

Our little treasure trove of hankies even prompted a tutorial on making a special little gift when a new friend stopped by to sort through them. But, I think we will wait to post that next week.


In the meantime, I’m suggesting that most of life is a mixed bag and we will find treasures and joy if we learn to sort through it to hang on to the parts that bring us joy.

bloomin wool pot

The Bloomin Wool Runner and the Display Scarf patterns will be in our store very soon.



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Burn the Candles & Stitch those Linens!

FL Sister id tag


My oldest daughter, Amanda, lives out a wise old adage very well: Burn the candles!

(Don’t save them – enjoy them!)



And both sisters agree that having precious things that are just stored away in closets and chests and tubs doesn’t make much sense – especially as it relates to old linens. It’s sad to think about how much time was spent to make those treasures only to have them folded away unused. Think of the scope of needlework done by stitching sisters of the past …








collars and cuffs








Maybe we are pursuing this philosophy so intentionally because both of us have gone through major redecorating (i.e. upheaval) in our homes this past year (Curiously enough they were both due to water breaks!) and in the process of moving and replacing belongings we’ve encountered those linen treasure stashes. Whatever the reasons, as we get ready to stitch we are having so much fun plotting and planning and sorting and envisioning and – drum roll – even cutting in order to use old linens and lace.


Make a New Year’s bucket list for your old linens!

If this adventure sounds like something that would help you bring some treasures out of hiding, you can get started right now:

Step 1 – Find your old linens and lace and put them in one spot.

Step 2 – Wash them – gently, please – and give attention to spot removal

Step 3 – sort them by size and type: crochet, vintage quilt blocks, or …


cross stich

embroidery and cross stitch


cut work

cut work


tatted embroidery


Step 4 – Set aside some coordinating fabrics

Step 5 – Order a Sisters at Heart, Miles Apart pattern from our new collection, Linens and Old Lace, and make something you will use that puts spotlight on those precious old linens.


Wait a minute, sister, we don’t have any patterns on our site yet.


As I was saying, don’t fret because there are not yet any patterns on our etsy store for Step 5. By the time you check off the first four steps, we will have something there for you. I promise!

We are ready to roll with this! Here’s a sneak peak at our first Linens and Old Lace Sister Challenge:


Take a vintage dresser scarf, cut it in half …

But, that’s all I’ll say until the other sister posts more details in a few days.

Get ready to burn those candles! (or stitch those linens!)

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Snip, Rip and Share

We love sharing – that’s what sisters do, you know. Over the years, we have borrowed ideas as much as we have borrowed fabric, notions – or clothes. Many an idea has started in the west and produced fun in a variety of locations and vice versa. This time it’s a challenge idea that is stretching across the miles between us.

Snip, Rip and Share Challenge

Do this slowly. Trust me, the snip and rip pace will vary and someone will get behind or someone will be confused about what “pass to the right” means.

Everyone stands in a circle with the yard of fabric they brought and an empty gallon plastic bag.

Snip the yard of fabric and rip it into 2 equal pieces. (Not necessary to be exact on this, girls.) Place one half in your bag and pass the other half to the right.

Now you have a 1/2 yard piece of fabric in your hand. Snip it and rip it in half. Place one half in your bag and pass the other half to the right.

Now you have 1/4 yard piece of fabric in your hand.Snip it and rip it in half. Place one half in your bag and pass the other half to the right. Some people will snip and rip it to make rectangular pieces and some with do it so that you have square-ish pieces. Either is fine.

Now you have 1/8 yard piece of fabric in your hand. Snip it and rip it in half. Place one half in your bag and pass the other half to the right.

Now you have 5 different pieces of fabric in your bag – sizes from 1/16 yd to 1/2 yard.

fabric pile

Don’t be too nervous – this is what my bag had in it.

And here are the challenge rules: Make something.

Anything. Any size. Any technique. Use all of the fabric you possibly can. Add other fabrics if you wish. Bring your finished project in a pillowcase or bag on the appointed day. A viewers choice vote will be taken and a prize given. Bring your left over scraps because the entry with the littlest amount of leftover scraps will receive a special prize.

The Florida stitchers exhibited their results recently …

yo-yo tree

A yo-yo tree on a snowy background


wavey quilt

a curved version of stack, cut and shuffle the pieces


sunbonnet sue and butterflies

Sunbonnet Sue with butterflies


story quilt

Fireworks on a small quilt this time.


pillow wrap

An Anthropology-esque (ie: early hippy) pillow wrap. The fabric that didn’t really fit made a great lining!


flying geese bag

Flying geese cover this bag. There were little mini bags inside from other fabrics


checkerboard quilt

Cats stitched with variegated threads play among checker boards.


bird's eye view umbrellas quilt

Umbrellas – from a bird’s eye view.


bag with pockets

A bag – the least favorite fabrics were used for the inside pockets.



Cut into strips, all the fabrics blend together. And it won a prize at the county fair!


helens apron etc

When she couldn’t make the fabrics work together, she made placemats, a pin cushion, a glasses case and an apron. Is that even legal!?!?! The rules might need to address this ahead of time.





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Fiber Arts Exhibit: Something for every taste

FL Sister id tagHigh on the list of “Most Ridiculous Remarks Ever Uttered” was the one from a woman of questionable taste (I realize that I’m not very objective here) who told me, “I can’t imagine ever owning a quilt myself. My home is not really the style for quilts.”

I am seldom speechless but I truly didn’t know where to begin at that point.

Quilts cover a wider range of styles and tastes than ever before. The “something for every style” point was elegantly made in the artwork displayed at the Community Quilt and Fiber Arts Exhibit in Blue Ridge, Georgia where we traveled recently.

sign sm


The exhibit included small modern pieces …

comtemp series

and a collection of embellished portrait pieces …

diana sm


across the spectrum to large traditional pieces like this Baltimore album styled applique …


and this beautiful cathedral window …

cathedral window sm

The art museum is housed in the old court-house where the high ceilings and old wood provide a beautiful backdrop for quilts like this amazing appliqued quilt …

courtroom center


and this meticulously pieced hexagon quilt.

hexagon sm


I also saw some wonderful examples of what machine embroidery can produce in this Christmas piece …

Christmas whole


Christmas parts


christmas house

Is 9,6

There was no voting for the Viewers Choice Award but, not surprisingly I did have an opinion on that category …

red and white wholel

r&W close up 2

r&W close up 1


r&W close up 3


Now, tell me, what kind of house would be a house where a quilt doesn’t fit?

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