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!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Top Secret Quilting is Officially Launched!

Top Secret Quilting, LLC, is my company, and I've officially launched it. What did the launch look like? Well, true to the secrecy part of the mission, the launch was also rather understated. I took in a few customer quilts, and yes, I quilted them! I also made a handful of fun baby quilts for beloved grandchildren of my friends...images to come. I've established my purchasing accounts with a few wholesalers, mostly to satisfy my batting addiction, and I've started to hoard professional tools.

My business cards have my new logo, and I have an official web domain with a fancy email address to go with it. You can reach me at: ophelia@topsecretquilting.com for any professional quilting services.


 


In preparation for the launch of the business, and to get some of my quilts finished, I've been busy with the production of quilting samples. Here are some images of the process and products:


Crystalline Forest, from Connected Threads



Tamarack Shack's free pattern for Charm Squares. I love this pattern more every day, and enjoyed mixing the hand-guided quilting and computer driven quilting techniques. 



This was a quilt I made in a class called "Improvised Pineapple Blocks," with Heather Jones.


 This is my cousin Barbara's Kaffe Fassett quilt, which got a great "Circles and Swirls" all-over quilting design.

I combined computer blocks to make this Block of the Month quilt more of a custom job. It required re-sizing and shaping of triangle blocks to make equilateral triangles. Yea, geometry!





There have also been a dozen or more Quilts of Valor through my quilting room in the last few months. I love contributing to this fantastic charity. Carol Cricenti, a local organizer, has a Facebook group called Quilt of Valor Stars that allows people to contribute as much or as little to the quilts as they can, and I have never known her to run out of quilt tops to be quilted! I could probably tell her I'd quilt 50, and she'd drive over and drop them off! Of course, I never bite off that much. I also get one a month from the national bank of people looking for someone to quilt their tops.

One of those quilts was just awarded last week. It was awarded to William Billy McGee, 91 years old, a Pacific Theater World War II U.S. Navy veteran. Our nation has so much to celebrate, and so many brave veterans who must remain in our thoughts. 


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

On the Frame This Week


This is my Simply Eden Quilt, fabrics and pattern by Tula Pink. The construction of this quilt involved a lot of fussy cutting, so please take note of the butterflies and tigers, which are right side up. I quilted this with a sine wave, and even though that's a very simple and elegant curve, it taxed my knowledge of the software to pull it off. In the end, I was victorious.

Lisa Teichman of Garden Gate Quilting is an inspiration to me. She has been posting on her social media sites a regular feature, "On The Frame Today." As a professional quilter, there's something new on her machine almost every day, and I wouldn't be surprised if there's more than one quilt on some days. I am no professional, but I will try to post a photo of what's "On the Frame This Week."

This Scrappy Stars Quilt has been in my "to quilt" pile since 2012. I thought it was an inconsequential quilt, but as it was being stitched on my machine, the various fabrics woven into it reminded me of happy quilting adventures in the past. The fabrics are from my first five quilting years.  It just goes to show you that the memories we create while doing what we love are always waiting there in the cobwebs to infuse a little thread of unexpected joy. So, keep doing what you love!





I quilted a lovely charity quilt for a woman in the Bronx. This one is going to go to a WWII veteran. I fear there are very few WWII vets left among us, and I was glad to be reminded of the sacrifices made and (hopefully) lessons learned during that heartbreaking and tragic war. Heroes were quietly working in the background to save those in peril, and villains were found among the meek. May the man or woman who deserves this token of our gratitude be blessed with peace and joy.

I have ventured into the world of purchased quilting designs! I know, it's not that big a deal to buy stuff that other people created, but downloading and importing were new to me, and getting this design quilted out on scrap felt like an accomplishment.

The "morph" feature of the software on my Innova quilting machine enabled me to turn corner triangles into equilateral triangles. The geometrist in me is rejoicing!!! Check out the early stage quilting of this, the 2015 Quilted Threads Block of the Month, Toes in the Sand.