Category Archives: Mojo Pump

2013-21: Printed Panel Quilt

Printed Panel Quilt

After working so intently on my Log Cabin Quilt, I wanted to do something easy!  I pulled this printed panel top out of my stash and custom quilted it with a point to point sash pattern and an ornate block pattern.   The binding is attached to the front and I will  hand stitch it to the back during a lakeside vacation later in August.

Quick and easy!   It is nice to have a quick, uncomplicated quilt to balance out the intensity of a densely quilted one with tiny pieces.

Antique Quilts at Kentucky Museum

Kentucky Museum Antique Quilt Display

Kentucky Museum Antique Quilt Display

On my way to Paducah this year, I planned a visit to Bowling Green Kentucky and the Kentucky Museum at Western Kentucky University.  The display of antique quilts is quite wonderful and well worth the stop.  These are photos I took during my visit  and are posted here with permission.

Blazing Sun circa 1855, by Temperence Ely Snodgrass.

Trapunto Detail

Trapunto Detail

This next quilt, an 1860  Pine Tree variation, is one that captured my attention.  I love small pieces and scrappy quilts.  Pine Tree Quilt, circa 1860

Detail of Pine Tree block

Broderie Perse quilt made from English Chintz by a bride who arrived here in 1800, but never quilted this top.  It was eventually tied and a border added by machine in 1875.

Broderie Perse quilt made from English Chintz by a bride who arrived here in 1800, but never quilted this top. It was eventually tied and a border added in 1875.

Mariners Compass, circa 1850

Mariners Compass, circa 1850


Trapunto Detail of Mariners Compass Quilt

Quilting Classes at MQX


Last week, I went to MQX East in Manchester New Hampshire where I participated in classes, oohed and awwed at the fabulous quilts hung in the show, shopped diligently in the vendor area and thoroughly enjoyed the company of other longarm quilters.  All in all, a wonderful experience that left me pumped with ideas for future quilts.   I took classes with Angela Walters, Valerie Schlake, Judy Woodworth and Sally Terry.

As the teacher angel at Sally Terry’s hands-on class, I also made a sampler of patterns.  The photo above is a freehand filler she taught.   We worked on  stitch regulated Innova machines with Superior’s OMNI thread. Leaf Filler

This is one of Sally’s designs  – a nesting leaf filler.


This design I have been calling a lolly pop filler.


At the end of the class Sally had us tackle two projects – a fanciful fish and a fancy initial.  The class was fun and Sally is a good teacher.  I’m already planning on going to the show again next year!


Paducah: Quilt Show Inspiration

One of the great advantages of going to a quilt show is the infusion of creativity and motivation one feels being immersed in a sea of quilts.

In addition to the many quilts we examined during our appraisal classes, I enjoyed the gorgeous quilts in the Museum of the American Quilters Society.  The top five quilts of the show are awarded a purchase award.  The quilter may choose to sell the winning quilt to the Museum for a prize of $20,000.  Needless to say, the collection of quilts in the museum is stunning.  Photos are not allowed, so I have no visuals to share with you from the museum.  My mind however, is full of wonderful ideas for my own future quilts.

The quilt display in the convention center showcased many outstanding quilts.  I took quite a few photos – at least until my battery ran out.  Here are photos of some of the quilts on display.

Linking Goals and Rewards

One of the key elements of both teaching and parenting is to reward what you value, the behavior you want to see repeated.   In our house, we have consistently rewarded academic achievement and not surprisingly, we have two educated children. Sometimes adults tend to downplay the celebration and rewards for goal achievement.  I now ignore the little voice in my head that says enthusiastic celebration is a tad childish and instead make a conscious choice to celebrate my achievement of goals.

So how does this apply to quilting?

In 2011, I set myself a goal of completing one project per week throughout the year, for a total of 52 completed projects.    It was an ambitious project and I worked hard to complete the 52.   To sweeten the pot and keep me motivated, I set a reward of a trip to the 2012 AQS Paducah Quilt Festival if I completed my goal.  I was proud of myself for accomplishing the goal by Dec 31, 2011.  This s week, I am feeling thrilled about that achievement because this is quilt week in Paducah, Kentucky.

While this is indeed a big reward for a big accomplishment, there is equal value in setting small rewards for small accomplishments.   For 2012, I’m going to figure out some smaller rewards to keep me motivated throughout the year.  Awesome!  Hooray! You did it!  Wouldn’t it be great if we all heard that more often?   Perhaps consistent self acknowledgement and self-reward would be an effective quilting motivation technique.  I plan to experiment!


Creating a Personal Quilt Retreat

One of the benefits of a quilt retreat is the necessity of focus.  Changing my location means changing my sewing environment,  I have to limit what I bring with me to my quilting retreat.  It is not possible to bring every UFO, every scrap bin, every project in progress.  I have to be selective, taking only the projects I want to complete. The benefit of limiting what I take with me is that I also limit my distractions.  If I only take three projects, then those three are my only options.  I cannot get sidetracked by the projects on my design wall, by the quilt on the long arm, by the pile of scraps waiting to be cut  to size, by the bin of UFOs, but the several designs I have pinned to my bulletin board.  With all of those distractions, it is a wonder I get projects finished.

Sometimes I need a mental break from all of those distractions call to me.  That is when I escape to the solitude of our small lakeside cabin in Northern Ontario where we have no television and no internet.

My 82 year old neighbor took this photo as she came to visit me on the dock where I was stitching the binding on a quilt.

A weekend away typically gives me three days to quilt without the interruptions of daily life.   No phone calls, no drop-in visitors, no electronic entertainment.  A piece of heaven.  This past weekend, I went to the cottage alone and spent my time rotating between piecing quilt tops, raking leaves and cleaning gardens and sitting on the dock to hand stitch the binding on a quilt.

My sewing resources are also limited.  I have an old sewing machine that I leave at the cottage, one cutting mat that I put on the kitchen table, a rotary cutter, ruler, pins, and a few cones of thread.  My sewing area in a corner of the living room holds my machine on a small printer table and has just enough elbow room to set up an ironing board at my right hand.

My cozy sewing space in a corner of the living room where ironically, I assemble more quilt tops than I do at home in my large sewing studio.

Because I have so little room, I have to be economical with my use of space.  With the machine and iron close to each other, it is a great arrangement for piecing.  To make the best of what I can do in the space, I prepare for my retreat by cutting pieces in advance, and then kitting the project so it is ready to take with me for a retreat weekend.   Recently I spent a day cutting the pieces for several prairie braid quilts because they are such great “take and make” projects.

Having my sewing space in this corner adjacent to the kitchen means I can continue sewing as I keep an eye on supper cooking.  I can fit in many small seams in this way.

After years of wasting travel time and impatient swinging on a porch swing, I discovered how much I enjoy hand sewing.  At home, I am far too busy to sit and stitch, but at the lake,  it is a wonderful calm activity.  Now a bag of hand stitching is always ready to go with me on my retreats too.  There are times when I do not want to be inside, so having hand work to take to the dock gives me rest time that is both soothing and productive.   When my neighbors see me sitting on the dock, they will canoe over for a pleasant chat, knowing they will not disturb me.

Creating my own retreats for intensive sewing has helped me get many more quilt tops done.  Limiting my available projects, keeping them simple, using the best of my space and preparing kitted projects ahead of time all influence the amount I accomplish.  I’m sure that having no computer, no internet and no television to suck the time out of my day all influence the amount of quilting time available.  This media-free environment really is a retreat from the distractions of the world.

Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention.  Jim Rohn

Audio books make quilting fun!

By nature, sewing and quilting tend to be solitary arts.   Humans are social animals and we need human contact and brain stimulation.  Our social needs are major factor in the great pleasure we get from guild meetings, shop hops, retreats, conferences, classes and online chat groups.    And as fun as all those things are, we cannot do them constantly or we would never get any quilting done.

That is why I listen to stories.  Audio books have become wonderful companions for me in my sewing room.

I regularly borrow a stack of audio books from the library and listen to them in my sewing room.  Not only do they keep me company, I get so engrossed in the story, I stay at my quilting much longer because I want to hear what happens next!  I can feel a huge difference in my energy level when I get the odd book that does not hold my interest.  I never pressure myself to listen to something that does not engage me.  I listen for a while but if I still don’t like it, I simply stop listening and pop it into my library bag to return.   Then I start another audio book.   My goal is to make my quilting as pleasurable as possible.  When things are fun, we get them done.  Audio books have become a very pleasurable part of quilting for me.   Sometimes when I look at a finished quilt, I can relate it to the book I was listening to as I worked on it!

Our local librarians are absolutely wonderful at recommending audio books for me.  I have spent most of my adult life reading non-fiction and classics, so don’t know many contemporary authors.  I ask for help, telling them what I have enjoyed and they pull more for me.  Now they will see me come into the library and without being asked, tell me of some good audio books that would fit my interests.  They are amazingly good at their recommendations!  They regularly get me audio books  through inter-library loans.  (Joyce, Cindy and Bonnie – You are outstanding!)

Most evenings after dinner, I can hardly wait to get started on my quilting projects so I can continue the story.  My family has learned that if they want my attention, they have to push the pause button.  Otherwise, I will stay deep in the world of mystery, drama, comedy or romance – whatever the story of the day!

Audio books rank quite highly on my list of motivational tools.  Their stories make me want to spend more time in my sewing room and more time quilting. Life is good!

“Fun is good.”   – Dr Seuss

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.”   – Dale Carnegie