Friday Favorites: Gadgets/Calculators

IMG_7639_ffWelcome to another edition of my Friday Favorites!


I’m definitely a gadget kinda gal.  Whether it’s spreadsheets, rulers, clips, etc. I’m all for it.  My latest and greatest find is the website Quilter’s Paradise.  I stumbled across the site when I searched the internet for assistance in calculating yardage needed to construct Bias Binding.  What came up was this amazing on-line calculator.  It allows you to make the following calculations:

Yardage Needed For

  • Backing and batting
  • Binding
  • Borders

Other Calculations

  • Die Cut Letter Count
  • Fabric Measurement Conversion
  • Piece Count
  • Pieces to Yardage Area
  • Set in and Corner Triangle
  • Square in a Square

I was truly amazed at the variety of calculators, the usefulness of each one and the idea that such a thing even existed.  You simply must pay a visit to the website and try it out.  I’m certain you will find more than one use that suits your needs.  Let me know what you think.

Thanks for taking the time to visit.  I look forward to our next encounter.


I’ve become fairly accustomed to the sound of my Tin Lizzie long-arm quilt machine. After working with it for hundreds of hours I’ve learned to recognize the sounds it makes when the needle needs replacing, the stitch tension is slightly off and when the bobbin is running low.


However, there is one sound I had never experienced until the other day. I was busily working at finishing up a quilt. Every once of my attention was focused on the detail of the stitching. The intense concentration drowned out all other thoughts as well as noises from my environment. I was “in the zone.” No other distractions were going to zap my attention. At least until the heart-startling moment when I heard what I will describe as a very loud boom.

The loud boom instantly severed my train of concentration and sent chills down my spine. Immediately following the loud boom the lights that illuminated my quilting field went dark. Both of them. You see there are two light bulbs tucked up inside the handles of my machine. Without them quilting would be very difficult. Fortunately I had only a few stitches left to complete. Finishing up without the lights was not too difficult. Their absence, however, would bring to a halt all future projects until they were replaced.

Fortunately we found a local supplier. Their prices were 7x that of the internet but they solved my immediate dilemma. After swallowing hard and paying the clerk for the purchase I was once a again back in business. We placed an order for additional bulbs online. Those bulbs will provide insurance for the future. Broken light bulbs will not be a problem anymore.

After having had this experience I do hope it’s not necessary to have it again. It would be fine with my if next time they just quietly quit working.


Online Quilt Group

Finding Time

If you are like me, it’s very hard to find time to regularly attend monthly quilt guild meetings. Six months out of the year I spend the majority of my days at my Little Cabin In The Woods or visiting friends and relatives. Being away so often makes it darn near impossible to experience a monthly meeting.

Sweet Tooth Mini Quilt
Sweet Tooth Mini Quilt

On-Line Quilt Group

While reading a post from one of my favorite blogs, Canoe Ridge Creations, I found a link to an online quilt group. The group is organized and presented by Patchwork Posse. The structure is similar to that of a typical quilt group with one exception, it meets online.

Membership Includes

With your membership you get:


24/7 Access To:

  • group activities
  • patterns
  • topics
  • block of the month
  • sew-alongs
  • swaps, etc.
  • private Facebook group
  • community and forum

Great Way To

  • polish up your skills
  • meet new designers
  • share your accomplishments
  • find inspiration
To join or find more information follow this Patchwork Posse Quilt Group. The fee for membership is $35 per twelve month period.

Friday Favorites: Sewing Table

IMG_7639_ffWelcome to Friday Favorites!

Once again I have the privilege of sharing with you another one of my favorite things.  Today’s favorite sewing gadget is the Sew Steady Portable Table.  I purchased my table several months ago from Nancy’s Notions.  When searching the internet you will find this table available from many other vendors.  I just happen to like dealing with Nancy’s Notions so I chose to purchase my table from them.

What’s a Sew Steady Portable Table?

Not all of us are lucky enough own a cabinet custom fit to our free-arm sewing machines.  Since we too would like to have the extended work space provided by a custom cabinet there is an option available.  That option is the Sew Steady Portable Table.

  • Sew Steady Portable Tables are constructed from 1/4″ Plexiglas (TM) with smooth beveled edges.
  • Each table is custom-made to fit your machine.
  • The table comes with removable adjustable legs.
  • Each leg can be independently raised or lowered to accommodate your table surface.
  • Just like the name says the Sew Steady Portable Table can be transported to where ever you are sewing.  This makes it especially wonderful for traveling.
  • The tables come in three sizes:  11.5″ x 15″, 18″ x 24″ and 24″ x 24″
  • Also available is a Sew Steady Portable Table Travel Bag
  • The travel bag comes in either 20″ x 26″ or 26″ x 26″
  • Each bag has an outside pocket for storing your table legs.
  • The bag is made from heavy nylon fabric and is padded with foam to protect your table.

I highly recommend the table as well as the travel bag.  I can’t imagine sewing without the table and I’ve used my travel bag on many an occasion.  In fact I took both of them with me when we traveled to my Little Cabin in the Woods..  Do a little research and see for yourself just how handy these two items can be.

* * * * * *

Disclaimer:  I do not in any way receive compensation from the manufacturer of the Sew Steady Portable Table, the Sew Steady Portable Travel Bag or Nancy’s Notions.  The recommendations I make are a result of my own personal exposure to these products.  Your experience or satisfaction may or may not be the same as mine.

A Potted Flower

Since the inception of my business I have worked on everything from teeny tiny to king size, expertly stitched to first timers, traditional to modern projects. I have been hired to quilt table runners, wall hangings, lap quilts, baby blankets and bed quilts of all sizes. With all this exposure I thought I had pretty much experienced every possible scenario, that is until I received this one.

I met with the owner early this Spring. She briefly shared the history behind the quilt and its intended recipient. We discussed possible stitch patterns and thread colors but no specified directions were noted. I always appreciate hearing the story behind each project because it helps me to get a feel for the quilt.

At first glance I was instantly drawn to the center of the quilt. The focal point was a large yellow sunflower bursting from a three-dimensional denim pot. I couldn’t take my eyes off the flower and its whimsical nature. The coordinating yellow border added a cheerful frame. I fell head-over-heels in love with the quilt and totally overlooked the challenges I would face when quilting it.

Most long-arm quilters will insist that all quilt tops must be free of embellishment. This means no buttons, snaps, zippers, fancy stitching, to name a few. Quilt machines controlled by a computer can not be programmed to avoid these obstacles. My machine is not computerized. I control when and where my machine moves. This allows me the opportunity to tackle items that would be impossible for computerized machines to handle. Three dimensional flowers and flower pots would definitely fall into that category, both of which were included on this quilt.

When I agreed to work with the project I never once thought about the challenges I would encounter. I was so mesmerized by the flower that I completely overlooked them. The reality of the situation didn’t set in until it came time to load the quilt on the rollers. All of a sudden it hit me. How in the world was I going to load a quilt top with varying thicknesses. There was no way it would load evenly. Obviously the sections containing the three-dimensional areas would absorb the impact of the tension, which normally would be spread throughout and across the entire quilt top surface. The remaining fabric would hang loose.

The best I could do was secure the quilt as evenly as possible by pushing the loose fabric beneath the roller. Then as I moved the machine back and forth, stitching the sandwich together, I made certain I paid close attention to how and if the fabric moved. Preventing the development of puckers in either the top or bottom fabrics was absolutely important. By paying close attention to every stitch and every inch my machine covered I was able to successfully complete my task.

Although I would never have thought it possible I was more in love with the quilt when I finished than I was when I received it. The only regrets I had were the inability to embellish the flower, its leaves and the stem. For one thing the customer had asked me not to touch the area and secondly the thickness would have made it impossible to stitch through. Although, the temptation was there every time I got close to them. I kept thinking if only…….

Not being able to venture into those areas was like being teased by a piece of chocolate; something of which I would always fall victim to. My mind kept racing with all the possibilities. Yet it was forbidden fruit. Perhaps next time I could suggest the artist leave out the stuffing and let me run wild with stitching.

This quilt needs very little introduction so without further delay let me present to you the Yellow Potted Flower!

IMG_8277 IMG_8302 IMG_8298 IMG_8292 IMG_8282 IMG_8281 IMG_8279

Now that you have had a chance to experience the joy I have had while working on this quilt do you have any comments?

Vital Statistics:

  • Quilt Size – 65 1/4 ” x 82 3/4″
  • Hours Spent Quilting – 7 hours 54 minutes
  • # of Quilting Stitches Applied – 240,889
  • Color of Thread Used – Perma Core White
  • Quilting Stitches Used – A Variety

In The Blink Of An Eye

IMG_8900Have you ever found yourself gasping for air, struggling to regain control of your breathing. As a child, I remember going with a friend to watch her father’s fast-pitch softball game. While at the game I was struck in the middle of my chest by a stray ball. The impact of the ball knocked all of the air out of my lungs.

My friend’s father ran over to offer his assistance. He swooped me up into his arms and folded me in half at the waist. After what seemed like an eternity my lungs were once again filled with the air they so desperately craved. Other than being traumatized by the experience the only other side effect was the intense pain left from the impact.

Recently I found myself in somewhat the same situation. Similar in that I once again found myself gasping for air, holding on to anything that might help provide a sense of stability. What, you might ask, caused this overwhelming sense of despair or panic? Well let me enlighten you.

On August 26, 2015 we were called to the bedside of my mother-in-law. She had been suffering with Alzheimer’s  for many, many years. The last three of which she had spent in a care center. Her health had taken a downturn on the previous Saturday.

We spent an extended number of hours watching as she took each breath, wondering if it would be her last. Feeling the fatigue of our visit we each took turns saying goodbye then turned and exited her room.

In the wee hours of the morning we received the phone call we knew was coming. On August 27, 2015 my husband’s mother died. The day that we all knew would come, but had secretly hoped we could avoid, was here.

Arrangements were made to plan and execute her funeral. Part of those plans was the traveling of family members back home for the service. While it’s always wonderful to have everyone together, unfortunately it seems as if funerals are the main reason for the gatherings. With family and friends at our side we laid to rest our loved one.

One of the family members that traveled home for the funeral was our Colorado daughter. We were thankful that she was able to be home for the funeral. While she was home we planned a trip to a local apple orchard. During our drive to the orchard she shared with us that on August 27, 2015, the day her grandmother had died, her husband asked her for a divorce. The news for us, as I know with certainty was for her, absolutely devastating.

As she unfolded the story she explained that before boarding her plane for Wisconsin she and her husband took time to jointly file papers for the divorce. The revelation that she had endured this before coming home was heartbreaking.

At the end of her rendition we scolded her for not telling us sooner. She explained that she had not wanted to add extra sorrow to the funeral and everything associated with it. Of course we thought that was absolutely nonsense. Nobody should have to bear that burden alone. How she maintained her composure as eloquently as she did I do not know.

News about the impending divorce was quickly shared with close family members. We all rallied around her to help her through her remaining days in Wisconsin.

The day of her departure arrived quickly. My husband and I accompanied her to the airport. Before departing we expressed our well wishes as well as our concerns for her well-being. With hugs and tears we sent her on her way.

After returning home we began packing for a trip to our Little Cabin In The Woods. The trip, having been planned at the beginning of summer, had been postponed because of the death in our family. With little effort we had everything packed and ready for our departure early the next day.

As is always the case, we ask our Colorado daughter to stay in touch. We especially want to hear that she has made it home safely. The news this time was not what we wanted to hear. While our daughter was visiting in Wisconsin her husband and mother-in-law had scoured the home seeking out items they knew belonged to her. As they gathered her possessions they deposited them, in an unorganized fashion, into her office and an adjoining bedroom, with little regard for the impact it would have on our daughter.

Upon returning home from the airport our daughter was devastated when she discovered what they had done. The phone call, that we thought would simply report she was safe and sound in her own home, turned out to be a heart wrenching conversation. As we ended the discussion my husband and I made plans for a drastic change in our travels. Rather than leaving for a vacation in northern Wisconsin we recalibrated our suitcases and made arrangements to instead travel to Colorado to help our daughter unravel the mess she was in.

Very, very early the next day, September 6, 2015 we loaded our suitcases into our truck and set out for the 16 1/2 hour trip to Colorado. 16 1/2 hours in any vehicle can be a stressful, exhausting ride. Add to that the sadness of what lay ahead in Colorado and you have the recipe for an unhealthy dose of anxiety.

With approximately three hours left in our journey I was the one behind the wheel. My cellphone was paired with the vehicle so any calls that might come in were broadcast over the radio speakers. We were listening to music on the radio when the sound of an incoming call silenced the tunes. The news that would be shared through that conversation is one I will never forget.

I pushed the button to connect the call, said hello, and waited for a response. On the other end of the call was my youngest daughter. In a very excited tone she screamed that her father-in-law was presumed to have just been killed in an ATV accident.

The words that came from her mouth left my heart racing and my lungs gasping for air.

This was one of those conversations you never wanted to experience, let alone under the circumstances we were currently enduring. The all-to-familiar overwhelming feeling of despair washed over me again, and again, and again. How could this be happening!

The news was so shocking it was almost impossible to believe. We had just seen our daughter’s father-in-law at the funeral on Tuesday. He was a wonderful husband, father, father-in-law, grandpa and friend. All those that knew him were familiar with his smile and his laugh. He could brighten any room just by walking in. Although our joint visits had been few in number he was a very dear friend. He would be dearly missed.

Being nearly a thousand miles away from home and only hours from our Colorado destination we decided to continue on. We eventually made it to the home of our Colorado daughter.

I’d like to say it was smooth sailing from there on but it was not. We along with our Colorado daughter endured a gauntlet of emotions as well as encounters with our daughter’s husband and mother-in-law.

As the days passed we made ourselves busy sorting and packing our daughter’s belongings. One by one the boxes were stacked waiting for their eventual departure.

We went with and paid for a visit with an attorney so our daughter would know what to expect and what she could legally do. The attorney advised us to make immediate plans to pack up her belongings and leave the home. Plans were made to rent a truck shortly after the appointment.

All during this time we were in close contact with family at home to stay up-to-date on the unfolding tragedy there. It took everything we had to not pull up stakes and head home. Family members reassured us that they would stand in for us and make up for our absence. Buckets of tears flowed from our hearts as we navigated through these obstacles. To say that our hearts were broken would be putting it mildly.

Eight days after arriving in Colorado, sitting behind the steering wheel of a moving van, with a German Shepherd at his side, my husband set out for what would be a 17 1/2 hour ride back to Wisconsin. I chose to stay behind as moral support for our daughter.

It’s now been 23 days since I arrived on that gut-wrenching day early in September. I have 11 more days to go until I and my daughter, each in our own vehicles, head home to Wisconsin. Until then we will continue to scratch off the days tieing up loose ends and saying goodbye to the place our daughter has called home for 11 years.

The trip home will be filled with a mix of emotions and the fatigue associated with a long trek across country. My hope is that our travel will proceed uneventfully with stops needed only for fueling, nourishment and a short break. If we are blessed with only that we will be incredibly grateful. Until then we are making the best of a sad situation waiting for the much-anticipated day to arrive.

Well, that’s my account of the heart-breaking days we have endured and my reason to recall the long ago memory of gasping for air. No matter how strong you may think you are, nothing can prepare us for what lies ahead.

I’m sure you’ve heard this on many occasions but I feel the need to say it…never ever take for granted the time spent with loved ones. Hug them, spend time with them, at the very least talk with them. None of us are guaranteed even one more second on this earth. In the blink of an eye, as we are so often reminded, the life of our loved ones as well as our own can come to an end.

Cindy Anderson of In A Stitch Quilting