Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Those who can, do.


Those who can, do.
Those who can't, teach.
paraphrased from George Bernard Shaw

I have always found the best teachers are those who not only "can," but actually do, and are thoughtful and articulate enough to share their wisdom and experience. It is with that spirit that I endeavored to teach, alongside Shirley Frank, an advanced class in the use of the Innova Long Arm software system that they call Mach3, or Autopilot.
It was a 3-day class for people who are using this amazing software system associated with Innova's professional long arm machines. We gathered in my quilting studio and reviewed all the system is meant to do, and shared our tips on how to make it do weird creative things in addition. The group varied from 4 to 7 people by day, which seemed perfect; few enough to meet individual needs, but many enough to have creative ideas streaming.
In addition, there may have been a bit of shopping from the bolts of staples that I keep on hand, mostly for backing, but also for fun. One of the students managed to find one of my favorite bolts of Dear Stella fabric, which I call "Ginger Sailors," and so I bid good-bye to a few yards of this beauty, amongst others.

Meanwhile, I've been stretching my quilting muscles by experimenting a little with off-label uses of the software, (have you ever met me?) and come up with some tricks and twists. Here are a few glimpses of the fun I've been having.


 This was my interpretation of Joyce Lundrigan's (Methodist Hill Quilt Studio,) Double Wedding Log Cabin. It was a breeze to piece, and a delightful challenge to quilt. It came out better than I'd hoped and I learned a lot along the way.


This crazy wholecloth was an impulse quilt that Shirley and I pulled off the night before our class. What made me start such a project the night before 3 days of classes? Nothing other than poor judgement, but there it is. It finished at 1:30AM after a lot of "learning," and I'm still not sorry. One of these days I'll reload it, put some cornerstone quilting in, and then maybe hang it. Which side is up though? Which color? It is, if you didn't recognize it, a Karlee Porter design, which I highly recommend. Just not when you haven't the time to figure out the intricacies of it. Really.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Etsy Shop affiliation

Hey there! My partner in crime and hoarding, Peggy Anne, aka Margaret Klinker, has re-opened her etsy shop (peggyannes)

Alison Glass Meets Lucy Boston: Perfect.  SET OF 5 full size image 1
Click this picture to go to her shop!

from her new home. She is the Lucy Boston headquarters for fun and whimsical Lucy Boston Kits, as well as some other interesting and quirky finds. She'll also be retailing the Tula Pink lines, and has a bunch of Alison Glass. Is it any wonder we are friends?
Check out her stuff!!! Here's her extravaganza of Alison Glass/Lucy Boston:

Alison Glass Meets Lucy Boston: Perfect.  SET OF 5 full size image 0
And just a comment: we are all so lucky when we have good friends. Peggy Anne and I have been laughing and quilting together for more than a decade, and she's recently moved farther away. I'll miss her, but we'll still be doing a lot of visiting and collaborations. She is Top Secret Quilting's favorite recipient of the "I Quilted it Anyway" blue ribbons, (all of them.) How lucky am I to have such a dear friend who shares in both triumphs and setbacks? Who else would be able to appreciate how some fabric designers make sure that the prints on their fabrics are spaced perfectly so that fat quarters include a perfect combination of the images? THIS woman.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Monkey Wrench by Tula Pink




Monkey Wrench, Hourglass, Parrot Prattle, Don't Slip, Ribbit, and Spots on Spots in Guava


 























Monkey Wrench, Hourglass, Parrot Prattle, Don't Slip, Ribbit, and Spots on Spots in Dragonfruit





 Monkey Wrench, Hourglass, Parrot Prattle, Don't Slip, Ribbit, and Spots on Spots in Mango

I know, I've been quilting a lot more than I've been blogging. I am planning to offer the beautiful fabrics that Tula Pink and some other fabulous designers are creating, since there is a definite lack of brick and mortar stores in the area that offer them, but I do not have a storefront. Soon my fabrics will be available at etsy.com, through Peggy Anne's store. She will be offering the fabrics in bundles and kits. Mostly, though, I'll be selling the fabrics to my quilting customers for their backings and maybe for their next quilt projects.

So, here are some of the prints to look for in September. I'll also be stocking Tula Pink's solids that coordinate with this collection. Prints $12/yard, Solids $7/yard.

I'm also getting wide backs in the Mango and Guava color stories! They're the giant bananas on sateen:


Wide backs will be $21/yard. Remember, if you buy the backings from me, there is a substantial discount on your quilting service charge.

Three things I LOVE about Tula Pink:
1. Whimsy. This is what brought me back to quilting after decades away. It was her Flutterby line. Little slugs and snails, hidden catterpillars, etc...
2. Color! Not only is each colorway spectacular, each will coordinate with the prior few lines from her studio. More reason to hoard MORE.
3. Semi-solids: Everyone knows a modern quilter needs lots of solids and even more semi-solids. Check out how quiet the prints are if you want them to be, and how busy they are if you look closely. Hidden parrots, subtle frogs, and tiny tossed ladybugs are all part of her not-too-girly but always happy flavor. If you're looking for a little spooky darkness, you can always find some in there, too.

Let me know how excited you are about these prints!
ophelia@topsecretquilting.com




Tuesday, July 30, 2019



Here are some peas in a pod, by Michael Miller. There's some breaking news...Top Secret Quilting is going retail! Now you can buy really fantastic fabrics in my studio! In addition to staples like solids and semisolids, I will stock Essex Linens and some other fun stuff. Most exciting, is TULA PINK!!! I've opened an account with Free Spirit and I expect the whole line of "Monkey Wrench,", due in September. If you want to pre-order with me, give a shout. Prints will be $12 and solids, (coordinating Free Spirit Designer Solids,) will be $7. I expect the signature monkey prints to sell out fast, so if you pre-order I can double up on bolts that look to be the most popular. I also ordered the wide backs, (luscious sateen, just sayin',) of the big bananas, in the Mango and the Guava colorways.
I'll be posting images of the prints soon.


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Happy 2019!

Oh, my dear friends, what a year 2018 was, and what a year 2019 promises to be!

Some things will never change; I love to make quilts, and sewing is my best therapy. I needed a lot of therapy last year, and as you can tell, sewing isn't blogging, and blogging isn't sewing. I didn't blog because I was very busy making stuff. I hope to make a journal of the quilts of 2018, but that will have to wait because, wait for it...


I'm moving. If you've seen my stash and my sewing space, you probably felt a little bit of that weight when you read that sentence. The good news? I'm going to a place with even more space for my business, and Top Secret Quilting will probably no longer be much of a secret because it is going to earn its keep! Here's a sneak peek of the late autumn view from the sun porch, which will no doubt house a sewing machine:



The stash? Well, for someone who feels smug when putting food on a plate and sitting down to eat it, as opposed to hovering over the sink with a forkful, I don't really need a dining room. What DO I need? I need a stash/cutting room. This photo is what grown-ups do with their dining room. It is not what I plan to do, so take a good look. It'll never look this tidy and awesome again!
 

 Speaking of grown-ups, what do you think of this lovely living room for people who sit and chat? Well, when you come over for a play date, you know we only sit in task chairs and only when in front of a sewing machine. So the long arm quilting machine is going to find its home pretty much where that inviting loveseat is.

 Don't worry, though, there's a nice family room where I might be able to keep some relaxed seating. We don't want the Feds raiding the house because the neighbors suspect I've turned it into a sweat shop. That is, when they're back on the job. Don't get me started.

Let me add here that the blessings with which I've been bestowed are many and great. Every day is one of great privilege and astounding good fortune. I am making this change so that I can return to feeling grateful for this terrific life every day. I long for my loved ones to feel, deep in their beings, the incomprehensible beauty of the lives we lead, and to embrace uncertainties and losses as reminders of the amplitude of the curve of our joys and sorrows.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Wow. So I guess I've been doing a lot more sewing than blogging. That's the way it should be. I've quilted 74 quilts since my last posting. Not all were mine! I've become the charity quilter du jour. There's more there than anyone could quilt. I've also enjoyed play dates with sewing friends and shared the joy of my quilter with most. I'll scare up some pictures and post them soon!

Pardon me, you don't mind if I just park this list right here, do you? These are the quilts that have crossed my long arm quilting machine since the last blog post. I'm going to try to find photos of them to fill in.


QOV Red Friendship, Blue 8 pt stars
No Latitude
Air Show
QOV AS1776.2
QOV Christmas Smelly Quilt
QOV Stars on Little Stars
Gregory's Hockey Quilt
Annabelle's Hockey Quilt
QOV Summer Panel
QOV America Since 1776 Friendship
Guild of 2 Challenge
NHMQG Charity Owls
Dragonfly Dance
QOV Paper Pieced Stars
QOV AS1776 Starry Borders
QOV Carpenter Star Red Star Stripes
Suzanne's Purple Quilt
Ultimate Travel Bag Diving Board
Mystery French General
AZB Kitchen Aid cover
QOV AS1776 Pinwheels
QOV Janice Wetzell Panel Challenge
Dori Embroidery Quilt
Dori Carpenter Star
Bernina BOM
California Desert Star
NHMQG Charity Green Purple
QOV Patriotic Zinnias
QOV Gervais Tidbits
Jane's Ultimate Travel Bag
BOMC Manor House Neutral 2016
Mustard Wynkoop Court
Rene's Triangles
QOV Air Force Carpenter Star
QOV Mariner's Print
QOV Firework's Border
BOMC Reds
QOV Susan Robinson's Bordered Friendship Stars
QOV Corner Text Panels
QOV Jayne Athey Air Force Carpenter Star
Ellen's Origami Flowers
Sue Graf's Doubly Charmed
Peggy Anne's Dahlia
Peggy Anne's Lanterns
Lesley's Reed
Kaffe Fassett Right on Target

 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

A First for Me: A Book Review!

I'm not generally a fan of surprises; I've planned my life around avoiding the unexpected. These past few days, I've had a pleasant surprise, which has me pondering whether my tendency to a closed mindset is something to tackle in the upcoming year. I've been dreading a huge impending burden, knowing that it should not be my burden, but that it eventually will be, so I gathered my courage and started accepting the truth. My in-laws moved into assisted living over a year ago. They did so reluctantly, and have yet to embrace the permanence of this move. They are currently in their third residence since, due to a combination of restlessness and some behavioral issues that are long-standing and probably fixed. Not "fixed" in the repaired way, but "fixed" in the permanent way.

Left behind are two homes, both fully furnished, and one with a lifetime of memories, collections, and household items. The stacks of mail are still there, in their slit-opened envelopes. The magazines are still stacked, complete with the blown in subscription cards which seem to multiply in the dark. Who is going to deal with this? When? There are three grown sons, each with his own new family and full household. Each is a busy professional and none are happy with the seemingly sudden aging of their parents into a dependent state that is far more desperate than graceful.

I know without reservation that the emptying of the primary home would not be a task embraced by any of these three sons. I know also that the one son who has the temperament to handle the giant project has used all his patience and forbearance on the day-to-day management of the needs of his parents. If the burden of this house is ever going to be lifted from the family shoulders, and if its value is ever to be contributed to the care and feeding of its former occupants, the process of doing so would fall to me.

Fully aware of the irony inherent in purchasing three books on downsizing, I wasn't able to discern from the reviews and blurbs which was the one book to answer my need. I ordered all of them on amazon and did nothing other than post a photo of them to my instagram account inviting my acquaintances to enjoy the irony. I set the books aside, thinking I'd done enough for now.

I brought the least daunting of the three books with me to a medical conference, knowing that the subject matter would seem less daunting in an environment of intense learning. I read the introduction and was stricken by not only how practical this book is, but how thoughtful and kind. I expected practicality from a publication from the AARP, but never knew that the advice I'd find would be so respectfully and pleasantly presented. Liquidating a family's memories and treasures is never a happy task. I didn't think I'd get my husband and his brothers to consider reading on the subject, but I will enthusiastically offer to give them copies of this book. My hope is that we can tackle this project with love for one another and respect for the lives their parents have created. That this simple-appearing book offers solutions and advice to that end, is something that has surprised me in the best of ways!