The Vintage Linen Returns!

Four lots of vintage Irish linen are now available again in my Etsy shop.  Now the only thing I haven’t been able to find is that Pfaltzgraff pitcher…  (Which is fine, since people kept favoriting it and not buying it.)

My beloved husband is flying home today after his fifth job interview in three months.  Thanks to his TWO tenure-track offers, we have every reason to hope it will be his last interview for a few years, at least.  God is so good to us.

My quilt guild is having a sew day on Saturday, so I’m planning to take some time to work on a UFO or two, and do a test block for a new secret project!  (Really, really secret; it’s going to be submitted to the International Quilt Festival, so I’m keeping it totally under wraps.  Except for my artistic consultants.)

And now, as promised, my One Year of Stitches Hoop!


I saw a couple of people doing One Year of Stitches on Instagram last year, and thought it might be good for me as a spiritual exercise.  The idea is to do a little every day, and not give up on it, for a year.  I’m so prone to put things off and only work on them in long sessions, that it would probably be good for me to really learn that a little every day accumulates too.

I was fortunate enough to be staying with my sister-in-law and her family over New Year’s, and when I asked her on New Years Day whether she had any spare fabric lying around, she pulled out this lovely cotton tablecloth with silver threads running through it, that had unfortunately gotten stained in a few places, but not so much that she could bear to throw it away.  I cut out a section to use for this and, with her blessing, brought the rest home with me.

At first it was hard to only do a little, like one cloud, and then stop, rather than keep going and do a whole bank of clouds, or stars.  And then, some days have been so crazy that I’ve only done a single stitch, as I did for most of a week with these wisteria flowers.  (Which, purely out of my own whim, ended up having blue centers.)  Sometimes I’ve experimented with a stitch or motif I’ve never done before, like this woven rose.


Other times, twice recently, I’ve forgotten to do my stitching for a day, or even two days, and had to make it up later.  Today, to catch up for the last two days, I did the body of this pink anemone.  Tentacles coming soon!


Sometimes I’ve had no idea what to do, and that’s sort of what this geometric section has ended up being for.  The mandala is entirely made up of days when I had no ideas, and just added another layer.  (Not the ampersand, though; it was tricky to couch such tight curves in such a thick thread (Kreinik Size 8 braid), but I had a lot of fun doing it.  And the green Celtic knot (woven through the silver threads).)


If you’re interested in following along on my One Year of Stitches, you can follow me on Instagram at velvetpincushion.  I don’t post a picture every day anymore, but there should be updates at least once a week.

Tune in next time for (hopefully) a quilt finish, and perhaps some hints about my secret IQF quilt!


Updates 2/28/18

Two weeks ago I took over my in-laws’ living room, pulled out all my fabric bins, and sorted through and re-organized my entire stash.

It took three days.


I originally meant to do this before we moved last summer, but since we ended up not being short of space in the POD I put it off, until I finally felt like doing it.  I’ve re-ordered my quilting fabrics and my apparel fabrics, put away a huge pile of scraps, and re-organized all my project boxes.  I also pulled out two garbage bags full of things that I’ll never use that can be recycled, and three boxes full of things I’ll never use that can be given away at Quilt Guild meetings.  (I was given a LOT of free fabric last year.  Some of which I’m keeping…)

Now I actually have a few empty boxes in my craft room, and space on a shelf for another!

The upshot of this is that I’ve finally managed to take stock for the Etsy store (TheVelvetPincushion) and put some of my listings back in it.  I still haven’t dug out the vintage linen (although I have a pretty good idea where it is), but I know where all the other things are, and have dumped several items that were probably never going to sell.  I’m hoping to finish some projects soon and put a new quilt or two in the store, and possibly some zipper pouches!  We’ll see how things develop.

In other news, my husband the physicist has been deeply involved for the last six months in pursuing his next job, which would hopefully be tenure-track and pay more money and enable us to stop moving around so much.  I am thrilled to announce that he now has two offers!   One of them is extremely exciting, and we’re hopeful that in the next month or so we’ll be able to nail down where we’ll be moving next and when we’ll go.  (Which, naming no names, might be to another country!)

And now to go unpack the suitcase that’s been lying on my floor for two days…  Stay tuned for more announcements, and coming soon, pictures of my One Year of Stitches Hoop!

A Change of Focus

I’ve decided to make this blog less about my Etsy store (about which, as you can tell, the news has been kind of thin lately), and more about my crafting in general, which is always ongoing.  I might even sometimes talk about my novel!  (But I won’t tell you what’s in it.  (No really.  I won’t tell you what’s in it.))

I’ve added a page entitled “Projects & UFO’s,” which has a list of my current projects and UFO’s (“UnFinished Objects”), and I’m working on another with a list of all the quilts I’ve finished.  I’d like to make a page for each one with pictures and its story, which will take awhile, but I feel that I’ve already gotten something just out of writing the list.  I often feel guilty about the unfinished quilts that are lying around in boxes, unbegun or not yet quilted.  And my list of projects in progress is prodigiously long.  But I’d never tallied up all the quilts I’ve finished, all the ones I’ve seen all the way through the process from design to gifting.  If my count is right, since the summer I was nineteen I’ve finished twenty-eight complete quilts.  That’s an accomplishment for any quilter, and one that gives me a profound sense of satisfaction.

It’s so easy to list all the things we haven’t done.  Why not take a minute to count the things you’ve finished?


A Foray into Scrap Quilting

First, shop business: as I have returned home, my quilts are once again available for purchase in my Etsy shop!  Head on over to The Velvet Pincushion to see three quilts, two digital patterns, and a PDF manual for the Adler 187.  (I’ll be taking inventory soon to see which other items can be restored to the shop.  Meaning, which ones I can currently find.  (sheepish face)  If it’s still buried in the depths of the POD, it’s going to have to wait until after our next move…)

I am now embarking on a secret project that promises to plumb the very depths of my stash, as it requires a small mountain of scraps.  (Though I’m determined this is also going to be a year of finishing UFO’s.  Don’t judge my over-scheduling.)  Digging through them is like digging through the past.

Some of them I never bought, and have never used: scraps from a swap, or the free table at a guild meeting.  That’s what these are, mostly.


But most of the scraps in my stash conjure up very specific memories.


I used all four of these fabrics to make quilty presents.  The green stripe and the purple stardust went into baby quilts.  The dark green batik became the border for my brother-in-law’s quilt, “The Garden of Orderly Pathways,” and the modern floral became one stripe of many on the outside of a quilter’s portfolio for a friend at my old guild one Christmas.


I realized, looking through this three-tier box stuffed full of scraps, that I’ve been collecting these since I was nineteen years old, the summer that I made my first quilts.  And every single one that comes from a fabric I’ve used, I could tell you exactly which quilt it went into, who got it, and what I was thinking when I designed it for them.  (Although, yes, some of them were bags, but you know what I mean.)

Here’s to another journey in gift-quilting.  Next I’ll need to look through the stash boxes…

The Christmas Quilt, and What I’m Up To Now

So the big announcement is that my shop (The Velvet Pincushion) is open again on Etsy!  Only the digital items are currently available (since I’m still out of town), but on Friday I’ll be re-listing the quilts, and then taking stock of which other things I’m able to find in the wake of The Move, and which of those are really worth keeping up in the store.

And in case you’re wondering (because I’ve been a total flake about posting) the Christmas Quilt did get finished.  (Two months ago…)


I extend my thanks gratefully to my dear and patient husband, who acted as quilt holder for this impromptu photo shoot literally minutes before I packed up the quilt to mail.


I was really happy with how it turned out, and as it happens, one of my aunts won it in the raffle!

As for what I’m doing now, mostly I’ve been lying around my sister-in-law’s house in Seattle and spending time with the relations here that I haven’t gotten to visit for two years.  (How this happened I do not know, but thankfully I’ve fixed it.)  I’ve been trying to concentrate on living instead of thinking about achieving things all the time, with the result that I’ve spent a good amount of time soaking in my sister-in-law’s extra-deep bathtub, working on my novel, and walking in the rain (it’s Seattle; there’s always rain).

Oh, and eating really good food, because everything my sister-in-law makes is good, and hanging with my nephews, who are two, five, and eleven.  It’s still not exactly real to me that I’m an aunt; part of my brain remains convinced that it’s some sort of honorary courtesy, or possibly a mistake.  But the other night the eldest nephew helped me make no-bake cookies from my grandmother’s recipe, and that made me feel very much like a proper aunt, telling him how much butter to put in and that the point of the measuring cup is to fill it right up to the top, and letting him lick the spoon when we were done.

Tomorrow I’ll be heading back to where I live (with my sister-in-law in tow, because she wants to see a local Klimt exhibit), and things will get onto a more normal, crafty, exercisey, fiction-writing footing.  But, in the meantime, I’ve started a one-year-of-stitches hoop!

Here’s a picture of my first nine days’ progress!

FullSizeRender (1)

Follow me on Instagram @velvetpincushion to watch my progress.

See you soon!  (I hope…)

I’m back!

It’s been about five months since I posted last.  So, what did I do this summer?

What haven’t I done??

To cram as much activity as possible into a single sentence: We moved to California.

Take a moment to imagine the effort and time involved in packing up all of our everything (fifty boxes of books, thirteen boxes of crafty stuff, kitchen, clothes, shoes, Etsy stuff) and arranging for it to be moved three thousand miles to my in-laws’ driveway.  And then the unpacking (into a smaller space, two rooms in my in-laws’ house (one of which, out of great kindness, has been lent to me for use as a craft room)), and adjusting to a new place, and my husband adjusting to his new job, with all that that entails.

And that covers most of what I’ve been doing since May.  Although of course, not everything.

We got to see the solar eclipse…


There’s been a trip to Aspen…


And Japan…


I’ve joined a new quilt guild, and gone to the Pacific International Quilt Festival…


This was one of my favorites, because it embraces all the challenge of the Passicaglia quilt while also stepping outside it, and doing something original with a rigid and demanding design.

I’ve bought a bike (and named her Fiona), and I now have a functional craft room (for the very first time)…


…where I am working on a new quilt!

Christmas Quilt 2017 1

Design made in Electric Quilt 7, which I recently acquired (so, of course, now they’re releasing EQ8.)

…And I’m getting back to working on my novel.


Some of these stories I’ll tell in the coming days.  I never decided to stop blogging, you know; I just kept putting off writing the next post.  (I suspect that the real reason I’m starting up again today is that my husband is in Toronto and my in-laws are in Seattle, and it’s helpful, on a day when you’re having to get back to a routine mostly on your own, to remember that you have in fact been doing things all this time.)

Fall down seven times, get up eight!

How to Hang a Quilt with Picture-Hanging Strips

Welcome to my first web tutorial!

A couple years ago I was gifted an excellent modern quilt in my guild’s annual Secret Gift Exchange.  The best place to hang it (and almost the only bare space big enough in our apartment) was over the fireplace, on a brick wall.  I wondered: how am I going to hang a quilt on a brick wall?  Any adhesive strong enough would surely damage the quilt, now or when I took it off, and I quailed at the thought of trying to install hardware onto brick.

Then I realized I could hang the quilt the same way I had hung a framed poster and three bulletin boards on the same brick surface: with picture hanging strips!  Command makes these two-part strips that lock into each other like velcro, to hang framed things on the wall without damaging the paint.

command strips

One set of strips go onto the back of the frame, the other onto the wall, and they lock together to hold the frame in place.  This creates a stronger grip than the poster-hanging strips, and can take a lot more weight.  On an uneven surface like a brick wall, this will work even better with a quilt, because the quilt is flexible and can bend around any irregularities in the surface.  All it takes is one extra step and a little whip-stitching, and you can hang a quilt on an unfriendly (or lease-protected) surface with the greatest of ease.

How to Hang a Quilt with Picture-Hanging Strips: The Tutorial

This is a straightforward process that anyone with a minimum of sewing skill can perform.

You will need:

  1. A quilt
  2. Picture hanging strips.  You’ll need one pair for each end of the quilt, and one for every eighteen inches of width along the top edge.  (So, for this 30″-wide quilt, I’m using three pairs of hanging strips.)
  3. Scissors
  4. Needle
  5. Thread (basic sewing thread is fine)
  6. Thimble (recommended)
  7. Optional: someone to help hang the quilt and make sure it’s hanging straight


Here’s a summary of the instructions, for people who like to get right to the point, or for you to check later:

  1. Take half of the strips; remove the paper and adhesive backing.
  2. Whip-stitch the prepared strips to the top edge of the back of the quilt below the binding, one an inch from each corner and every eighteen inches, being careful to only pick up the backing in your stitches.
  3. Gently attach the remaining wall-strips to the quilt-strips.
  4. Position the quilt on the wall.
  5. Remove the paper backing from the wall-strips, and press into place gently.
  6. Peel off the quilt, apply pressure for 30 seconds to each wall-strip, and then wait for an hour.
  7. Hang the quilt!  Re-align the strips on the quilt to the strips on the wall, and press hard, locking the strips.  Enjoy!

And now for the details and pictures.

Preparing the strips

For the strips that will attach directly to the quilt, we’re going to sew them on, rather than using their adhesive.  They can easily be removed later if you want (much like a hanging sleeve), and the adhesive won’t actually hang on to the fabric anyway.  So the first step is to remove the sticky part of the strip.  Fortunately, they’re designed to make this easy: it’s the same thing you do to pull them off of the wall.

First, divide your strips into two equal groups.  Set one group aside to use later; this step is just for the ones we’re sewing onto the quilt.


Take your first strip, and peel the paper backing off.


Next, take the tab at the bottom of the strip between your thumb and forefinger.  Holding firmly onto the other end of the strip with your other hand, pull the tab sideways to peel the adhesive off the back of the strip.  It should stretch and peel off fairly easily.


Your prepared strip should now look like the bottom one below.


Repeat with the rest of the strips that will be sewn onto your quilt.


Applying the Strips to Your Quilt

First, decide which way is up on your quilt, or which way you want to be up.  We’ll be sewing all of the strips along the top edge, on the back, just below the binding.

Position one of your strips on the back of the quilt, on the top edge you’ve selected, near one corner.  I recommend leaving an inch or two between your strip and the corner.  You’ll see why later on.


Holding the strip in place with your thumb, use a whip-stitch to sew the strip down to the back of your quilt.  Pick up just a few threads of the backing fabric with each stitch, as if you were sewing on a hanging sleeve.  (For beginners, be careful to just pick up the back of the quilt with your stitches; don’t push the needle all the way through, or the stitches will show on the other side!)


Stitch down the whole outside edge of the strip, tying a knot once or twice as you go.  When you get back to where you started, tie a knot and cut.  I don’t think there’s any real need to bury the ends, but if you want to, then by all means!


Repeat to add a strip at the other top corner of your quilt, and another one about every eighteen inches along the top edge.


Hanging the Quilt

From here we’re going to be following the manufacturer’s instructions for applying Picture Hanging Strips, which you can also read on the back of the package.

Once all your strips are sewn on, take up the remaining strips.  Gently attach one to each strip that you’ve sewn onto the quilt, making sure they lock a little bit, but not completely.

You may need an extra person for this step, depending on how big your quilt is.  When you’ve decided where you want to hang it on the wall, position the quilt on the wall, making sure it’s hanging flat and level.  While holding one half of the top edge in place, fold the other half down at an angle, and peel the paper backing off the strips.  Gently fold that side of the quilt back into place, pressing firmly on the strips.

Repeat for the other half of the quilt.

Gently peel your quilt away from the wall.  The wall-strips should stick to the wall; if one comes off, disengage it from the quilt and put it back in the right place.

Hold pressure on each wall-strip for thirty seconds.

Wait for an hour.

Now you can hang your quilt!  Align your quilt-strips with the wall-strips, and press hard; you should hear the velcro locking into place.


If you suddenly decide that it should actually be an inch to the right, fear not!  You can peel off the quilt and move it about an inch either way, and press it back into place again.  (This is why we left an inch or two at each corner when we sewed the strips on; it leaves room to hide the end of a wall-strip that might otherwise poke out and be conspicuous.)