Sewing Therapy

Childhood's End 1.jpg

Years ago, when four of my family members entering nursing homes, I decided I needed a travel sewing project for time spent in the car traveling and visiting with them. I prepared an intricate appliqué piece and had it basted and ready for any stitching time.  I stitched on that piece for months and as I neared the end of the appliqué three of those four family members died- in the same week. 

Childhood's End 2.jpg

I went on to finish the piece. I hand quilted it and entered it in a national quilt show. When I got the quilt back from the show, I folded it and put it in the closet in my sewing room. About ten years later, while cleaning that closet I pulled out the quilt. I unfolded it completely unprepared for my reaction when I saw the quilt again. I was instantly in tears. That quilt held a lot of memories and grief. Unknowingly, I had parked my feelings and emotions in the stitches of the quilt for a time when I would be better equipped to process them. It was quite a moving moment. 

Childhood's End 3.jpg

I am currently working on a series of quilts that is serving a similar purpose.  A member of my family is in an abusive relationship. After many years trying to help my family member and trying plan after plan that would never help, I finally came to the realization that people are allowed to make decisions that are not in their own best interest. I am now working on a Domestic Abuse Quilt Series to raise awareness of aspects of domestic abuse as well as a form of therapy for myself.

I’m guest blogging today on Helen Stubbings website, Hugs from Helen. Head on over and check out some of her other Stitching is My Therapy Guests. She will be hosting guest bloggers all year. Here’s a link to her Stitch Therapy site where you can get supplies for your stitch therapy.

Confusion - Domestic Abuse Quilt Series #12

Confusion - 16’’ by 16’’


One common abuse tactic, gaslighting,  is to create in the target a sense of unreality, confusion, and a mind-set of not trusting their own perception of the situation. When the victim believes things to be one way based on their own perceptions and also believes what the abuser tells them or manipulates them to believe, the target experiences a state of holding two or more contradictory thoughts or beliefs at one time resulting in a state of anxious confusion.

Confusion 2.jpg

The tactic of isolation can exacerbate the confusion because at some point there is no one to help sort out the confusion except the abused and the abuser... which all works against the abused.

Confusion 4.jpg

Family and friends are also in a state of confusion not knowing what has happened to their relationship with the victim. They could have a very stable long term relationship and watch it crumble before their eyes. Family and friends can be accused of doing things that they never did based on things the abuser has manipulated the victim into believing. The victim can start believing they had a completely different past than the one they actually lived. This can be particularly traumatic for family and friends since it can sometimes appear out of nowhere. 

Confusion 3.jpg

Ten million Americans experience domestic abuse every year.  Ten million.  Someone I love and care about is a victim of abuse and has been for over twenty years.  Odds are you or someone you know is a victim as well. I have learned a lot about domestic abuse over the last two decades and the number one fact I have learned is that most incidents are never reported.  Ten million people every year and that number doesn't reflect the full scope of abuse in the US, as many people aren't able to safely share and report their stories.  I am a doer.  I like to make and fix things.  Sadly, I cannot fix things for the person in my life who is being abused.  But, I can speak up.  And I can sew.  And hopefully I can make a difference. (Statistics from the CDC)

Confusion 1.jpg

If you have a friend or family member who is experiencing abuse here are some things you can do to help. The most important thing to remember is that the choice to leave or not is theirs. You can't make them leave a bad situation but you can be supportive and helpful in their choice. They will need someone they can count on when/if they do decide to end or leave the abusive relationship.

Domestic Violence knows knows no boundaries when it comes to race/gender/sexuality/age/socioeconomic status/geographic location/culture.  

Remember, domestic abuse affects ten million people in the US every year.  If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, please know that the folks at the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1 800 799 SAFE or are ready to listen and support you, as well as refer you to a local program or organization. If you observe someone being abused, you can also call the hotline.  


All of the quilts in the Domestic Abuse series so far can be viewed here.


I’ve been featured in a couple of magazines recently and I keep forgetting to share them with you.

published 1.jpg

I can’t tell you how exciting it is to be featured in a magazine that is written in German!

published 2.jpg

Too bad I I can’t read what it says.

published 3.jpg

I love that they included so many photos because everyone understands and enjoys the photos, right?

published 4.jpg

They also included my tutorial on how to twirl seams.

published 5.jpg

I’ve had this Quiltfolk magazine for a while as well and never written about it. The quilt on the cover was made by my grandmother and her neighbor.

Quiltfolk 1.jpg

The amazing Quiltfolk team came here last summer to take photos of my sewing club kids. They were here for the afternoon and treated the kids like quilty rock stars and ended the visit with an ice cream cone treat! The article here is all about my sewing club and camps.

Quiltfolk 2.jpg

They took photos at the house and barn here, then we went to the studio for phase two of the photo shoot.

Quiltfolk 3.jpg

If you haven’t seen this magazine before, let me tell you, it is chock full of amazing photographs of all the things you want to see. It gives you a feeling of place and an idea of where each featured artist’s inspiration comes from. Each issue features people from a different state - issue 08 is all about Michigan.

Hey, look at that! Some of my chickens photo-bombed the magazine!

Quiltfolk 4.jpg

Book Club Goes to New York


My book club is THE BEST. Last weekend we went to New York to support a local actor in a play on Broadway.

We did a bit of sight seeing too. Our first outing was to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

New York 05 looking up.jpg
New York 06 looking up again.jpg

I took the following photo in the Registry Room on Ellis Island. I was originally trying to get a photo of NYC through the window but love what I ended up with instead. The floor looks a bit like the water, reminiscent of the water the immigrants had to travel across to get here. And there is the city in the distance still almost in reach.

New York 09 Ellis Island Registry Room.jpg

We did a fair amount of walking around the city, tried some great food, and visited a few museums.

New York 24 Irene in the New York Library.jpg

I was pleasantly surprised to find the original Hundred Acre Wood stuffed animals house at the New York Public Library.

New York 26 Pooh and friends.jpg

Isn’t Piglet the cutest?

New York 27 Piglet.jpg

We finished our whirlwind two day visit at the theater. This play was excellent!

New York 29.jpg

Hand Sewing Magic

A couple of weeks back Lynn Krawczyk sent me a copy of her new book, Hand Sewing Magic. Lynn begins the book with a discussion of the basics - tools, threads, and tension etc. She moves on to show utilitarian, outline, and filler, decorative, and dimensional stitches. She shows clear how to photos of each embroidery stitch as well as stitch variations or ways add your own style to them. Also included are a variety of projects featuring hand stitching.

hand sewing magic.jpg

When it arrived in the mail, my daughter snatched it up to look through it. She found a lot of projects that looked interesting to her and started right in on a Boro Sketchbook Cover as described in the book.

My daughter says, “I like that while she provides clear instructions on accomplishing the techniques, she also leaves room for personal adventure within - and sometimes between - the projects.”

hand stitched.jpg

I’m inspired by the Embellished Coat project and now want to go thrift shopping for a wool coat to embroider!

Thanks, Lynn, I know this will be a well used reference book.

(book link is affiliate link)

Antique Quilt Inspiration

The quilts at the Shelburne museum have been on my radar for many years. Last June, when I was in Vermont teaching at the Vermont Quilt Festival, I stayed an extra day to visit the Shelburne Museum. Mandy Leins and her family joined me for a lovely day at the museum.

I do love viewing quilts with people like Mandy who really “get” them.

antique quilt.jpg

Congratulations Marla or Penny Lane Quilts, you are the winner of an “e” version of Mandy’s book, Inspired Free-Motion Quilting.

antique with berries.jpg

If you need me I’ll be looking through all my photos of antique quilts.

Inspired Free-Motion Quilting

inspired free motion quilting.jpg

I am excited to share Mandy Leins’ and Bill Volkening’s new book, Inspired Free-Motion Quilting, with you. I have to say I didn’t even wait for Mandy to ask if I would review it for you; I asked her first. It’s true, I like the book THAT much.

Inspired Free-Motion Quilting teaches you how to look at antique quilts with an eye for quilting design inspiration. There are beautiful photographs of quilts from Bill’s private collection. I especially love the white quilts and the beautiful applique pieces included. Bill did the photography himself to ensure that you could see the quilting and details that he wanted to highlight. Mandy then used those images for her inspiration.

I have always studied antique quilts for inspiration and guidance in my own work and I love seeing how others use antique quilts for ideas.

Mandy tweaked some of the antique quilting designs so that they can more easily be machine quilted with minimal stops and starts. She also created some of her own new designs based on applique designs or other design elements in the quilts. Some of these are symmetric, traditional designs and others are more freeform and organic.

Some of my favorite designs came from this 1825 Candlewick Counterpane.


I love the way Mandy stepped out the stitching order for some of the more complicated designs. This makes it much easier to know where to start.

lobster claw tree.jpg

Look at this brilliant thistle design, for example. The motif is created in two passes; each pass creating a chain of half-thistles. When both are completed, they create the thistles and stem. I can see using this idea with loads of different designs, and I know I’ll be using this concept in the future.


After reading this book you will see quilting designs everywhere you look, whether in magazines, on billboards, or even the tiles on the bathroom floor. Mandy’s ideas for connecting motifs and creating symmetrical designs will be a big help in fitting your doodles and drawings onto your quilt. I am looking forward to drafting traditional style, or even more modern looking motifs, and feeling more of a connection with the quilters of the past.

Thanks Mandy and Bill for an excellent resource book. You are making me want to get to work on new quilts.

For a chance to win an electronic copy of the book, leave a comment here telling me about a finished project you are most proud of. Be sure to let me know how to contact you or come back Saturday the 12th for the announcement of the winner.

Also, Mandy will be giving out a grand prize so be sure to check her site on Friday.

January 7:
C&T Publishing
Bill Volckening

January 8:
Amanda Murphy of Amanda Murphy Design
Kim Lapacek of Persimon Dreams
Stephanie Palmer of The Quilter's Planner  

January 9:
Teri Lucas
Lynn Harris
Debby Brown of Debby Brown Quilts

January 10:
Robin Koehler of NESTLINGS by Robin
Patty Murphy of Patty Murphy Handmade
Mary Abreu of Confessions of a Craft Addict

January 11:
Joanna Marsh of Kustom Kwilts
Amanda Leins of Mandalei Quilts

(book link is an affiliate link)

Unconventional King Size Quilt

Here’s my last quilt finish of 2018. It’s a king size quilt made in the style of one of the string quilts in Roderick Kiracofe’s book, Unconventional and Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000. If you don’t have this book, you should get it. It is chock-full of inspiration for the improvisational quilter.

Here’s another post about the making of the quilt. I originally had the blocks in a more “random” setting but didn’t like that because it looked cluttered. After studying the original quilt in the book some more I moved the blocks around and created a little bit of color grouping with the plain alternate blocks. That made all the difference.

unconventional 1.jpg

This quilt was fun to do because it was created a little differently than most of my other string quilts. The color palette is much more controlled and the string pieces are chunkier looking. The wider string pieces meant that the blocks went together very fast.

unconventional 2.jpg

I used a wool batting which makes it extra soft and warm without being too heavy.

unconventional 5.jpg
unconventional 3.jpg

The backing is a perfectly coordinated vintage large print floral. Isn’t this fabric fabulous?

unconventional 4.jpg

My daughter-in-law curated the fabrics for this quilt and I love her choices. I think she needs to come over and pull another bunch of fabrics for me to play with, don’t you?

unconventional 6.jpg

This quilt is on its way to a happy new home in Australia.

unconventional 7.jpg

Finished size: 98” by 106”

(book link is affiliate link)