My Dear Friend and Teacher – “Dear Jane” and being a PPF

I remember when I started quilting in 2002.  I knew that needle turn applique would be my first love in the quilt world.   My goal was to be able to applique like the Applique Queens on Simply Quilts.  In fact, that is where I really learned a lot about being a “wanna be” quilter.  Recuperating from 3 back surgeries in 3 years gave me a lot of time to learn and dabble in starting my quilting journey.

I remember seeing the small blocks, the feathered star, the beautiful patterns from Sue Garman, Mimi Dietrich, Lynette Jensen, Pat Campbell, Robyn Pandolph, Eleanor Burns, Curtis Boehringer, Elly Sienkiewicz,  and  so many many others who inspired me to become a very serious quilter.  As do most quilters, I constantly purchased books, patterns, and more books and patterns.  Then it was the realization that fabric from Walmart was nothing compared to  the beautiful fabric from a Quilt Store.  In 2004 my “piecing journey” began.  I knew absolutely NOTHING about making a quilt, but when I was a teenager I had made all of my school clothes and later all of my work clothes – until the age of 30.  Since then I have never made one outfit and know for sure I never will again.

In my quilting journey, I strove for perfection and always wanted to make a Dear Jane, Dear Hannah, Feathered Star, Baltimore Albums, and many more.  I wanted to learn more about color, movement of color in a quilt, become a Master Appliquer and Quilter, even learning how to  paper piece.  So much to learn and so many quilters that I met along the way that have helped me.

I always shied away for tiny blocks (Miniature Quilts) and of course those pesky 3, 4, and 5 inch blocks – WHAT – who would be nuts enough to take that on? How about those tiny tiny pieces to applique on a Baltimore Album quilt?  I learned that most quilters used paper piecing to obtain accuracy in their quilts.  I have tried and tried, but have finally decided that the paper piecing technique is just not my bag. and I am a total PPF (Paper Piecer Failure)!  So I have continued to push myself to attain perfection in studying a pattern, cutting and measuring accurately and when I made a block and it did not turn out correctly I ripped that baby apart to see exactly what I was doing wrong.  This has taken some years to achieve this.  I do not mean to “brag” I am just thrilled that I have taken the difficult road to achieve the results that I want when I make a quilt.  This applies to quilts that I enter into Quilt Shows for judging,  a Utility quilt for a gift, or a wall hanging or quilt for a donation for a raffle or auction.

When had the opportunity arose for me to join the Austin Quilt Guild Dear Jane Bee, I jumped at the offer.  The Bee Keeper designates 4 blocks a month from the Dear Jane book for us to work on.  The first 2 weeks I just keep looking at those 4 1/2″ blocks and the tiny tiny pieces and saying to myself, “am I nuts”?   I decided that since I had signed up for the project I needed to stick with it and would start on the easiest of the 4 blocks this month!  Then I  would progress to the most difficult.  I even tried to do G-4 Shutter Bug that starts with  a 1/2″ square in the middle using paper piecing, but since “I AM A FAILURE AT PAPER PIECING”.  So I bit the bullet and I sewed the puppy by machine.  (I was going to hand quilt this entire quilt, but my hands have different ideas for me – so I am saving them for appliqueing).  I was so excited Sunday when I actually finished the block and it came out perfect!!!  Whew!  Over that intimidating challenge!

I took pictures of each step in making the Shutter Bug block.   This is the fabric that I used for the background.  Neat because it provided the different shades of beiges for the block.

Fabric for G-4 Shutter Bug
Background Fabric for Shutter Bug


Here are the steps taken to make Shutter Bug by machine piecing.

Shutter Bug 1Shutter Bug 2Shutter Bug 4Shutter Bug 5Shutter Bug 6G-4 Shutter Bug

I studied Coyote Chase and decided that I wanted to “cheat” and make this one the easiest way possible.



I-11 Coyote Chase
Coyote Chase Block

Justin’s Comet took me awhile.  I decided at first to  hand piece the block but did not like where it was going.   So I tried 2 other times to machine piece it before I got it right!

G-8 Justin's Comet
Justin’s Comet Block

Now Springbrook Park was a “small” challenge.  I printed the pattern on pre-cut freezer paper, cut out the pieces, and prayed, closed my eyes and here is the result:

K-8 Springbrook Park
Springbrook Park Block


In December (I think) I started a quilt for my friend Wanda.  She wanted a lap quilt with the Ladies with the Umbrella’s.  I finally finished them and now need to decide on the setting for the quilt.  Not sure where I will go with it, but maybe it will come to me soon.

Belle of the Ball Ladies
Belle of the Ball Ladies

As a quilter, it is such a wonderful feeling to finish a “segment” of a project.  I seemed to be in a “funk” with my quilting with my back problems, so I am thrilled that I have accomplished the Dear Jane blocks and ready to work on the Ladies quilt setting.

Thursday I will have the RF treatment in my back and hoping and praying that when they carterize the nerves in my back that my pain will subside.  After all, how can I possibly work on all the wonderful projects I have ready to go.  I received my Stonefields pattern about a week ago but when one is not feeling up to par, it is not time to select fabric for a project!

From now on, one thing that Dear Jane has taught me is to not let a small little block like Shutter Bug intimidate me!  LOL

So until next time,  I hope that all stay healthy, quilt all the time, and enjoy winter time because we are fast approaching Spring.  I am hoping that we do have a cool Spring and maybe just 3 months of the 100+ with 100 % humidity………..Now if we have a lot of rain, that would not bother me either.




The Long Road Ahead

Greetings from South Texas where Mother Nature is again confused – Where is my nice wet and cold winter?  Unless the Ground Hog sees his shadow tomorrow, I am toast for the year.

On the quilting side.  I finally made a decision (after 3 months) and ordered the Stonefields quilt pattern by Susan Smith.  Susan is a very easy person to deal with and she answered all my questions before ordering the pattern.  I purchased the entire pattern and Susan emails pictures (.jpeg format) of her blocks.  Yesterday I downloaded them on my PC and my Apple computer and will back up my external Seagate Hard Drive.  I follow Jane’s Threads and Treasures and Happy Appliquer Blogs as they are also working on Stonefields and their work is very pretty .  If you like Reproduction fabrics and fussy cutting techniques this is the pattern for you.   Stonefields and  Dear Jane are great projects for me this year.  Great way to use my Reproduction fabrics stash that I purchased this year.   Happy Scrappy is patiently waiting on the table for me to get with the program and make the block borders for the sides.  I am going to try to get them cut out and move along with this project.

Now for the difficult news.  Due to health issues in my family, I may not be able to do a lot of Blogs in the next month or so.  My Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction has been giving me fits for the last 2 months.  Barely walking (and barely quilting) and being a daily 1.5 mile a day walker for the last 35 plus years, I have not been a happy camper since I am not a “sit around the house” person. There is a procedure where they can go in and carterize the sciatica nerves with Radio Frequency treatment and tomorrow morning they will do Phase 1 – which is considered a diagnostic procedure to make sure they are going to kill the right nerves –  I have had 4 back surgeries since 1985 and am praying that this stops my pain.  I am not going to have another back surgery!   Bombshell number 2 happened on Wednesday when we were advised that my husband will have to have neck surgery. Most of the discs in his neck have problems, but one disc is pressing on his spinal cord.  We are grateful to the Neurologist who immediately ordered the MRI and diagnosed his problem very quickly.   Clay is a retired from the SA Fire Department which was a highly physical and mental job for 26 years. On his off time for most of his life Clay built things – like remodeling our home and his other homes, and in the last 2 years he has added a porch on our Studio and our back porch – we were blessed that he did not hurt himself during those projects.  Clay’s son Darryl is in the last stages of terminal lung cancer, so as you can see we have our hands full and bucket over flowing.  I am constantly reminded that God never gives us more than we can handle.  I am praying that if more is coming that it comes next year and no more this year.  But who knows?  In my lifetime, positive and negative things come in 3’s and we have our 3 thank you very much.

I will have time to prepare hand projects and will post things as I finish things.  Hopefully 2016 will start of a little more positive.  Clay and I have been blessed for the 19 years we have been married.  It is just our turn in the barrel and that is OK.  Until next time, stay healthy and quilt, quilt, quilt!



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