Friday, December 20, 2013

Is it Organized or is it Camouflaged?

If you blink, you missed it...the sewing room was organized for about an hour or so last week...but the new found sense of freedom has unleashed a creative frenzy. And in that frenzy, I have been pondering some of the newfound insights this version of the re-do has brought forth.

I've been quite surprised to read as many quilters on Facebook mentioning a sewing room redesign/cleanup in December as I have.  Earlier in the process, I thought I was the only one who was crazed enough to tackle a project of this size this month...apparently, I'm in very good company.  I'm of the opinion that we all need to take January off. I know the first picture below is blurry...your photographer had had too much caffeine. 

Before I started this makeover/rescue project (like that name?), I would take a project, or a potential project, pull fabric from the stash, the project instructions,  whatever other embellishments struck my fancy, put them into one of my bins, label it (at least I did that!) and then put the bin into the closet.  That might sound efficient - but the system fails when the potential projects begin to celebrate birthdays.  And (unless you look into the bins on a regular basis), you forget what is in there. 

Lather, rinse repeat that failed system...and I had a totally dysfunctional stash.  I couldn't find anything I had, and I was blocked creatively. I knew I had fabric, or a given project  - I just couldn't find it, and it was a pain to look for it.
So here's where I did a complete overhaul - I took a completely honest look at the Project pile and made a decision to finish it - or repurpose it somehow.  I am fortunate to belong to 3 different guilds, and each of their charity projects received donations; I also have a sister in law who's a newbie quilter, so in that case, I texted her to ask what colors she was collecting in her stash, and shared the wealth with her.  It seemed so much easier to look at the rest of the room without the guilt that I was carrying around.  The projects to be finished are now easily accessible...and they're going into the calendar.  I did not say into 2014 or 2015...but they are going into the calendar.

I took apart two projects, reclaimed the fabric and moved on to the fabric part of the collection.

The first thing I learned is that I am NOT a fat quarter kind of looking at the picture of the new shelves that were installed, it's pretty obvious that I'm into yardage.  I do have a secondary storage unit here in the office, which has three drawers.  I split that space between my fat quarter collection for cottons, and my batik yardage.  The good news is that if I had spent my dollars in fat quarters, the stash would be four times the size...and beyond what the space  can handle.  I love yardage...I refuse to think there's a downside.
I folded ALL the yardage in the space using my 6 x 24 inch ruler as a guide.

 It gave me the opportunity to stack and sort the various hues in the stash in a uniform manner.  For both the batiks and the cottons, I did sort the yardage into one yard cuts and two yard cuts...for some reason, there is very little middle ground.  Once I put the fabric into the new shelves, I could see the 'holes' in the color wheel.  That was the biggest indication of the changes I saw in how I use the stash...I also saw the fabric I have in a whole new light.  I saw tons of teal, but little navy; lots of green, but no purple.  It turns out, I do have a lot of purple in the fats, but not in the yardage - before this, I wouldn't have known that. 

Come back next week for the rest of the story...I have a quilt (that I started when I redid the room) to bind today. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's amazing how much happiness you can buy for $23.16

I don't know how, but one of the most memorable events of 2013 is going to be the Great Sewing Space Redo (version 4.5).  I am fortunate to have the second bedroom in the house serve as the combined office/studio space, and it has wonderful light. That's where I sew now - it hasn't always been this large or this sunny. And even though the space is generous, it had layout issues (well, up until Thanksgiving weekend it did).  Kids, I don't recommend doing this on top of every thing else the weekend after Thanksgiving - but I often find the long way around the barn.

I've recently come into possession of about 30 odd years of photo albums and memorabilia - my mom has downsized and I brought them home until we could figure out what to do with them. The plan is to scan them into the computer, and then make a memory book with them.

Problem #1 (solved) was that the ironing board was a permanent fixture in front of the scanner...not much of an issue when you scan once or twice a week, but when you're looking at the volume I am, it is a problem. Mike solved that by retrofitting my cutting area with a discarded island that now serves as both cutting and ironing...and since we had everything in storage, it was a $0 that.

With the path to the scanner cleared, I'm not exactly sure what led to the next step. The fabric storage issue. I had a plan in place about 3 years ago, but 3 years worth of fabric accumulation had outgrown the amount of storage I had. I'm almost embarrassed to share the before picture...
This storage unit started life as a part of our family room - my sons will remember when it was painted Barn red, and the bins held puzzles and matchbox cars. The space underneath was designed by my husband so that they could 'park' their riding toys at the end of the day. I LOVE this unit in the sewing room because it now provides easy access to my rolling cases for machines to take to classes.  And with the new paint, peg board on the side(s) and a new shelf on was perfect. I even added a curtain rod to go in front of the open protect the fabric from sunlight. Or to protect the innocent (?) from dealing with the effects of too much fabric.

When I removed the curtain, this was laid bare in all it's ugliness...with no blue and no batiks visible (there's a large pile on the floor, out of camera range), I knew this had long ago become a mess. My husband is quite handy, and I casually mentioned over coffee in the morning that I needed to hire a handyman, because I needed some shelves built.

One trip to Home Depot, and $23.16 later, we had a solution in the same storage unit. This might be the old gal's best facelift yet.  We now have a large pile of blues on the second shelf, and the batiks have an entire dresser to themselves. Even I was amazed to learn how much yardage I had.  I'll talk about what I did with the other cuts later, but now I want to bask in the neatness. It won't be this neat for long...

For now, I leave you with this Christmas-y corner of the sewing room.  The next blog installment will be..."Hello, my name is Linda and I'm a Bin-o-holic".

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving wishes for you all!

I always love participating in blog hops, and this one was no exception. I received a lot of wonderful responses to the question about Downton, and I loved reading them. I have many things to be grateful for this holiday season, and my wonderful customers and readers are tops on the list.  I wish for you the chance to take a few minutes tomorrow to spend time on you - whether your creative endeavors are quilting, cooking (amazing how related those two can be), decorating, or relaxing and visiting.  I confess - this is a downgrade year for me (while I am hosting it, my kids and their spouses are doing the majority of the I'm a little at loose ends.

I am very happy to the response that Hello, Gorgeous! has received. If you would like a copy of the pattern, you may purchase it directly from me by emailing  I am having it placed on my website (but that's a work in progress).  The cost of the pattern is $9.00.

I know that Friday (or late Thursday night in some places) is the start of the holiday shopping season, and I wanted to let you know that The Patchwork Pearl also offers Gift Certificates for those of you who want to give hints to your loved ones.  The Gift Certificates do not expire, and allow them to contributions towards an event that you'd like to attend. Gift Certificates are available in any denomination by emailing

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Downton Fabric - Something new for you!

Good morning from chilly New Hampshire - and welcome to those of you who are here as part of the Giving Thanks - Quilting Blog Hop Party.  I have so much to be grateful for this year, and participating helps me share that as well as give you a look to what's coming ahead in 2014.

This fall,  Andover Fabrics  introduced a new line of fabrics for quilters which is inspired by the PBS series Downton Abbey. I became a fan of the show during the first season, and noticed that whenever I was with a group of women of any size, Downton became part of the conversation.  Followers of The Patchwork Pearl will remember that in 2011, I sponsored a quilt challenge - proceeds to benefit the local PBS station - based on the Downton show.  My first Downton piece was based on the Titanic...

I've been working from my stash for most of the year in anticipation of the release of the new fabric...and it's almost here! I'm working with one of my local quilt shops to get my hands on the fabric, and to take a big risk for 2014.  I'm pleased to announce that I'll be introducing a Block of the Month program - based on the show - on Jan 6,2014.  For die-hard fans, you'll recognise this as the date that the new season starts on PBS...a sure cure for post holiday blues.

Can I say how much I love the fact that Andover brought in the costume designer from the show as a consultant to the line? That lends a sense of authenticity to the lines - the colors I've seen are actually a lot more muted than I first thought they'd be - and lets your imagination run wild with the possibilities.

I'll be publishing the overall design on the 6th, and introducing the first block at the same time - this is designed as a lap sized quilt for all skill levels.  In order to work out the kinks to the project, I am looking for Pattern Testers - people who are willing to take a look at my first drafts, make the block and give me honest feedback to it. If you are intrigued, or have ever wanted to explore what being a tester is like, please email me at for more information, or post a comment at my Facebook page at

To sign up for my mailing list for more information as it becomes available (and new release information), please click here and add your name to my mailing list.

The Giveaway for the blog hop party is a copy of my newest pattern (designed to be used with the Leaves Galore Templates from Sue Pelland Designs) Hello, Gorgeous! and a yard cut of batik fabric which can be used to start your own wreath.
Hello, Gorgeous! wreath

Pattern and Fabric for the Giveaway. 

To enter the Giveaway, please leave a comment indicating which of the characters in Downton is your favorite and why.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Introducing Hello, Gorgeous!

I've definitely got a love affair going on with the traditional melon shapes. I don't know if it's the rebel quilter in me, or my need to expand outside of the current trend of 2 and a half inch strips, but it seems that most of the quilts I'm playing with use this motif in one way or another.

Case in point - meet TPP002 - named Hello, Gorgeous!

I posed a picture on a quilting group I
belong to, and asked for naming suggestions so that I could complete the pattern instructions.  I was lucky enough to receive some really interesting choices - and Hello, Gorgeous! just seemed to fit the piece. Or my mood when it came to picking one -

While both Lake Shore Magic and HG! use the melon shape in their construction, and both are made with fusible applique, there are some distinct differences, between the two.   One is made using 'old school' techniques, and the other used  brand new technology.

Lake Shore Magic was originally made and drafted using template plastic and a marking pencil to cut the melons out.  Hello, Gorgeous uses a similar shape, but in this case I used one of Sue Pelland's Leaves Galore templates, the petite size.

 By drawing a circle in the center of the square, you 'artistically' place your leaves in a circle to form the base, then add free standing flowers on top of the wreath.

I love working with Leaves Galore templates, and this shape spoke organically to me. My batik collection just wanted to play with the templates.

Hello, Gorgeous is available for sale at local quilt shops in New Hampshire, and this will also be available for sale on my website shortly.

I'd love feedback - I think this would work well as a seasonal (Christmas, Hanukkah) wall hanging.  What do you think?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Losing my Vendor's Virginity

Those of you who have known me for a while know that I am no stranger to quilt shows...I attend most of the big ones held in my area, and I've even been to the big show, the AQS show in Paducah.  However, this weekend I'm taking a huge leap for me and vending in my own name at my local guild show - Squanicook Colonial Quilt Guild, Townsend MA 09/14 and 09/15 from 10-4.  I don't usually carry a lot of 'product' per se - usually I'm more about services and events....but not this weekend.  I have several product lines (and events) which I will be talking about - and not a few tricks up my sleeve.

However, since this is my first time, I'm working on putting together a booth - which I can be proud of - on a shoestring's shoestring. Hence this morning's adventure which I want to share with you.  I lost the camera and have spent the last hour looking for it, so here goes. Display items...

One of the products which I use quite often, and which will be featured in the booth - are the Sue Pelland Designs' Leaves Galore Templates.  However, they do present a challenge to display - long, skinny - and technically, tippy.  I've spent the better part of a week worryinig about this - at 2AM a lot of the time, and finally found a frugal option.  On my facebook page last week, I posted a picture of half the studio looking a mess - with 2 red wine boxes that I got from the local liquor store.  No, I'm not reposting those pics here.

But this morning, I headed to the screen porch...

I like to work in ventilated areas when I'm working with spray baste.  Please note that I grabbed the craft scissors instead of the fabric scissors, so this was bound to be an adventure!

The quilt show has an autumn theme, so I grabbed this fabric from the stash...ok, so it fell out of the stash into my hands when I opened the worked with my theme, and I decided to go with it.

I should mention here that I was told by a friend yesterday that this would be as easy as wrapping a package.  I have never worked as a wrapper at the holidays, and there's a reason for this...but so far, not too bad.

I just kept spraying and muttering under my breath...eventually, I got to the point where the spray baste had done as much as it was going I was weak.  I went for reinforcements...

I'm sure we all recognize that silver roll there...duct tape.  I used it to smooth the inner portion of the fabric.  If I didn't tell you, you would never have known.

The completed display box!  Total cost - materials on hand and free liquor store box. 
I had scouted around, and found something that would have worked at Christmas Tree Shop - I tried 2 different dollar stores, and nothing there was going to work.  So I returned that item to the Christmas Tree store this morning, and we're moving on. 

I have never appreciated the work that vendors go through to set up for  a show before.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

To Prewash or Not to Prewash...I learned the hard way!

I've been a quilter for quite a long time now, and when I started out, prewashing your fabrics was the rule.  It was generally accepted practice that prewashing (and ironing) the fabric before you started removed any sizing, allowed for shrinkage and also removed any excess dye to come out of the fabrics.

Somewhere along the line, I was seduced into the belief that this was no longer necessary, as the manufacturing processes have evolved since I began quilting.  I learned the very hard way this week that this isn't necessarily so.  And I will be writing "I will prewash all my fabric" 100 times when this blog post is done.

LSM before - note the bleeding at the binding

Lake Shore Magic was hanging in a local quilt shop here in town to promote the fact that I would be teaching it later this fall.

That quilt shop had a pipe leak over the weekend, right over where they hung my quilt; the shop owner called me immediately upon finding the quilt.  I think, truthfully, she was almost as upset about the quilt as she was about the computer that was also a casualty of the pipe.

When she called me, I couldn't tell how bad it is noticeable, but it's not catastrophic. But I wanted to see what I could do to repair it.  The first thing I did was spread it out to dry on my sunporch, and the second thing I did was to make a couple of inquiries.

Synthrapol - the solution of choice 
The general consensus that I got was that the correct thing to do was to submerge the entire quilt in a bath of hot water and Synthrapol.  Synthrapol is a special detergent used to remove unattached excess dye after dyeing, and I picked up a bottle in I know why.  The instructions on the bottle call for the hottest water that the fabric can bear - and all I could see was Lake Shore Magic becoming a pink quilt.  So I did nothing (actually, my grandpuppy came by for a visit, and provided a diversion.  I just realized that I need a picture of Bentley...he's a cute diversion. )

After much thought, and  a sleepless night...I gritted my teeth, headed to the screen porch armed with the diluted solution and Q tips.  I decided to try to spot clean the areas most affected, rather than dip the whole quilt...who knew what that was going to do.

The process is ongoing, and I will post more pics in the next's currently a work in process.  I will probably always know its there, but you might not.   When I constructed the quilt, I brought a generic pile of fabric with me to work on...I probably should have realized that I was courting disaster by not prewashing the reds, but being me, I leapt before I looked or thought about it.

I am going back to being a prewash girl...always. My next big project will be a Judy Niemeyer class with loads of beautiful batik fabrics. It's time to stock up on laundry detergent.

I will prewash all my fabric...
I will prewash all my fabric...
I will prewash all my fabric...

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July has come and almost gone - but there's a whole lot of summertime left

This month has just flown by, and today (!) is the first chance that I've had to enjoy one of the biggest perks of working out of the house...the summer office set up.  Today, I have to do lists to be to-done, and newsletters to be written.

  There's nothing like sitting on the screen porch, listening to the sound of random lawn mowers and wildlife to get those creative juices flowing.  We have a  family of hawks living in the tree next door, serenading me with the sounds of their screams. For now, the screen porch is the closest than Dunkin (see pic) is going to get to the great outdoors.

The month started off with a bang over the fourth of July weekend when my copy of Quilty arrived, and with it, Lake Shore Magic's debut. That's very exciting, and I've been waiting to  get to work on the next pattern I want to bring out.  Now that the exciting part of the summer is over (and I no longer wait with baited breath for the sound of the school bus), I am looking forward to getting to work on what's coming next...hopefully, soon.

Now that I've gotten the two big 'push' projects out of the way,  I had originally intended to spend some time just playing in the studio, and continuing to work on my PhDs.  I know that by the size of this pile, I won't be graduating any time soon.

There's a whole lot of mish-mash in that pile...I know there's some free motion quilting practice pieces that I want to play with, an unfinished challenge that I got 'stuck on' - and I'm running out of time, a baby quilt that needs quilting before the child gets to kindergarten.

Why is it that summer seems like it's going to last forever before it begins, but it seems that by the midpoint of summer vacation - which is not, by the way, the midpoint of the summer?  I've barely had time to enjoy lazy evenings on the porch, and already I'm seeing ads for fall clothes...

Like many other summers, I'll get a late start and then work on my fall raking chores in my flip flops and capris...

Are you enjoying your summer break?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

When you're a quilter, how do you celebrate a milestone anniversary?

Well, last week I was able to tell you all about the biggest quilt I had worked on last year, which was Lake Shore Magic.  A lot of energy behind the scenes went into getting that quilt into Quilty, but it certainly wasn't the only biggie quilt I worked on last year.  The second quilt was a labor of love for my husband - somehow last winter I realized I had never made him a quilt of his own.

We celebrated our 35th anniversary last month - and yes, I was very young when we were married.  Truthfully, that realization hit me when I was sitting at a guild meeting talking with some friends, many of whom had made at least one quilt for their partner.  I was chagrined to say the least, and I got to work on it right after the holidays.

Patience and Kindness, 2013
Picking out the quilt design was actually a very easy- many of you will recognize the finished quilt (above) as a Carpenter's Star pattern. Mike has always enjoyed woodworking, and has in fact made every one of the quilt racks which hang in our home. This was a natural fit, and several of the batik fabrics in it are special to him.  His birthday is in October, and I actually found batik pumpkins at one of the last trips I took to Keepake Quilting.

For those of you who doubt the old 'wives' tale that you should buy it when you see it - I SOO wish I had more of this left to play with.

This quilt was made as a secret to Mike - beginning in January, with our actual anniversary at the beginning of June.  Mike's semi-retired, and he's pretty tuned into the pieces I'm working the secret part of this became more of a challenge than I originally thought. It's good that we had a major home renovation going on at the same time to distract him; the bad news is that drywall dust is never an embellishment option.   Fortunately, I had a couple of retreats this past winter - this 'surprise' was well traveled before I gave it to him.

This was the layout of the quilt on the floor before I sewed anything together; in this pattern, there is one right location for each piece of the 64 piece puzzle.  The tags were removed once I had actually sewn the entire star together.  I've never done a pattern like this, but I'm sure happy that I had a chance to work on this in peace and quiet over two weekends.

This quilt is special to me because although this is a queen sized quilt (with borders added), I rented time with a local shop on their longarm machine, and I actually did the quilting myself.  I learned a lot about the longarm process (which was a by-product of the experience), and I could happily give him something that was truly made by me.  It's nice (after all these years) to actually sleep under a quilt I made.

The name Patience and Kindness comes from two of the qualities that I first fell in love with him for.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Lake Shore Magic is finally here!

Good morning! 

Every summer, I make it a point to  attend the Lowell Quilt Festival; at last year's event,  I had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion on the direction of our industry, which included  both Mary Fons and Marianne Fons, representatives of SAQA and of the Modern Quilt Guild.  After the discussion, I had the chance to speak with both Mary and  Marianne - and to get an autograph on the Fons and Porter book that's been a bible for me for many quilts. One of those very  brief conversations- and a picture of the quilt top for Lake Shore Magic led to an offer by Mary to publish the pattern in Quilty.  

Meeting Mary Fons at the Lowell Quilt Festival last year. 

I'm usually terrible at keeping secrets, and I'm so glad that it's finally here! 

I had the privilege of attending the exhibit of Joanna Rose's quilts, Infinite Variety, in New York City in March 2011...the bus trip that I brought down there to attend the exhibit marked the debut of bus trips by The Patchwork Pearl.  Like many of us who had the opportunity to see the collection, I was inspired by the variety of styles included in the show, and I was inspired to make my own red and white quilt.  I was also intrigued by the variety and depth of styles shown in the exhibition.  

Lake Shore Magic was created on a weekend retreat in October 2011 - it really is an easy pattern to play with.  I had the pattern in my head, and a bin of every red and white fabric I had in my stash.  I tend to be a bit 'infamous' for bringing my bins o'fabric with me on retreats...but this quilt top just came (more or less) together. This was one of the early layout attempts....which I was not happy with. 

LSM...early layout...yawn!

The final quilt which appears in Quilty was quilted by the wonderful Pat Harrison of Ocean Waves Quilting Company in Rhode Island.  I was fortunate that when I brought the quilt to Pat,  we knew where it was going, so she was able to enhance the top with a fresh, contemporary outlook to the piece. 

I can say that LSM is the first pattern I've commercially produced, and I'd love to hear from you whether you like it, or modify it to meet your own needs.  I can also tell you that I have 3 more in my head... one of my summer projects is to get the next one out of that and into fabric.  Stay tuned!

Finally, just a shout out to the folks on the Quilty staff...they are great to work with, and always available to answer questions (there were many) along the way. 

Today, LSM is hanging in my home, and I love being able to look at it every day!  

Till next week...


Monday, May 20, 2013

This is the best news since Matthew and Mary hooked up!

I noticed on Friday that the wall for The Patchwork Pearl on Facebook got active - really active, especially for a Friday. Well, apparently there was a tiny little announcement at Spring Quilt Market that got a lot of people's attention. No, I didn't know anything about the news until I saw it and started digging, but the industry has formally matched up Downton Abbey and quilters.

Major kudos to Andover Fabrics for their winter 2013 introduction of the Downton Abbey line.

Oh, I can hear Mrs. Patimore's giggles from here - although, from what I read - it'll be the upstairs ladies who are the inspiration for this first set of colorways.  

 Now, remember that this is coming from the quilter who has been working on the Downton Abbey Challenge I and II.  I have noticed for a while the crossover between the demographics of quilters and the series - and now, we can have both.  

The first of the series of fabrics (oh, does it get better) comes to us in the fall, and I know that EQuilter has already gone online to say they'll have it.  

So my question to you tonight is...are you a Dowager (violet, what else?), Mary (maroon), Sybill (peach) or Edith (peach)... to bed thinking of the possibilities. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Everything old is new again....

It's Quilt Guild Challenge season here, and I am 1 for 2.  At least the Pending Projects pile is no larger this year.  At one point in time, I had a plan to enter one quilt into two challenges - which is still a bucket list item for me. Although I was pleased that I had been able to figure out how to do that, I was never inspired.

If you don't have the inspiration to make a 'challenge' quilt, then the exercise becomes pointless.  I was a little sad when I saw where my entry might have been at challenge reveal #1, but there's always next year.

So, I moved onto Challenge #2, taking a look at the challenge prompt with fresh eyes, and threw the first idea out the window.  Ditto with idea #3, 4 and 5 - #2 kept calling me back with a siren's call. The prompt was to make a piece based on your birthday month, and May has a lot to work with.  I kept turning it over and over in my head, and the phrase "April Showers bring May flowers"  kept coming back to me.

Everything Old is New Again
Linda Pearl, 2013
Well, when inspiration finally arrives, it's not nice to ignore it- and I will say that this piece came together in less than a week.   What's really funny to me about this piece is that I didn't set out to use blues and yellows in this quilt - but I have been working on a kitchen remodel using those exact colors.  That combo must have been marinating in my brain while I was working on the project.  The yellow background was originally supposed to be the backing fabric, but when I put the basket against it, I knew I had my quilt.  And I know that it makes me smile when I look at it.

What is it about challenge deadlines that gives one (me) the idea that you have oodles and oodles of time?  My only consolation is that a post on the guild's Facebook page revealed that there were several of us still working at the 11th hour...and I love the company I found myself in.

This photo shows the project in the "I'd better get my butt in gear phase'... The Basket Garden pattern is one that my husband bought me for Christmas sometime in the '90's, but it had just the basket pattern I wanted - add some batiks, some mistyfuse - and you have the updated basket. And the name.

The flowers were made using the Leaves Galore Template from Sue Pelland Designs - a much improved technique for making realistic petals. I originally cut the leaves much too larger in scale for the piece, but using the smallest petal template on her ruler,  I was able to bring the scale much more into balance.

Here's the quilt that I made from that's hanging in my living room.  The flowers in this  piece were part of the pattern.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The second anniversary is for cotton...

Quilts have long been used to mark life's celebrations - whether they be births, weddings, anniversaries or birthdays.  The form those quilts take can run the complete design spectrum, from traditional to modern, with everything in between.  Sometimes, as a quilter you have the freedom to select the quilt that you want to make  -  and sometimes you are working with someone who has some very definite ideas as to what he wants.  Many of us have been approached at one time or another to do something with  a wedding gown.  That's how I met a customer recently, who I have always referred to as   "Wedding Gown Guy".

This is the final product - I incorporated not only the actual gown, but also photos of the couple, their adorable son, and I personalized it further by incorporating their initials and names into the quilt - with their anniversary date matching up with Family. 

Rick contacted me through my website to ask me to help create an anniversary gift for his wife - they were coming up on their 2 year milestone, and since the two year traditional gift involved cotton, he wanted me to surprise her by using her wedding gown to make her a quilt.  He was quite definite about the surprise part - and I was equally as definite about it was going to take more than 10 days to make this I had until the actual anniversary.   We had a few phone consultations, and I finally agreed to take the project on when he promised to make it right with his bride.   I gave him a nice certificate and a sample board to present to her on the actual date, and I set out to take a look at the gown to determine what would meet the requirements.  That's the picture of the skirt above, high lighting the applique I actually used. 

I'll stop here and tell you that every single one of my girlfriends who heard about this thought I was crazy - and probably would kill their husbands if they tried this.  No problem - I assured them. He had a very specific clause in the contract which covered me - and I timed it so that no actual cutting took place until I knew she had the certificate and knew what I was going to do.  I worked on it, but I worked around the actual scissors part. 

In the end, I used the lace appliques from the skirt to frame a traditional medallion portrait of the bride, and backed those appliques with traditional quilter's cotton.  The picture above shows me positioning the squares under the applique to make sure that the pieces were centered. 

The gown itself remained in tact - and although this couple had no interest in recycling it for another wedding, it actually can be salvaged - all that would need to happen is to have another piece of lace reattached to the skirt of the gown.  I didn't deconstruct any of the actual dress. 

Hmmm...I wonder where my wedding gown is? I can go and play with that (70's) design). 

Customizing Celebration quilts is an expanding part of my business; for more information about how to incorporate your design ideas into a special piece, please email me at 

Friday, March 15, 2013

I celebrated National Quilting Day - by buying new underwear!

I had a chance to do a road trip this week with my friend Kate - it was our chance to explore unexplored quilt shops before the bus returned at 3. At the first shop, I was 'fondling' a basket of white on whites (who hasn't), and she gave me a look...I mumbled "underwear" and walked away.
She caught up with me outside and asked me what was up with the underwear comment.  I laughed and explained what I meant.  Back in the day, when I was a little girl, underwear was white, white or white. The sixties, you know.  My 'underwear drawer' was the top drawer of the dresser, and it looked something like this.
Fast forward a couple of decades, and I originally kept my fabric (when I outgrew the bins under the bed) in an old dresser, sorted by color. Without realizing it, the whites/creams/neutrals wound up in the top drawer, and at some point, I realized it was because of the underwear drawer syndrome. It's still there, but in a different dresser.
Kate just looked at me, and understanding dawned. So then she asked me if I had bought any 'underwear'.  I said yes, but not everyday underwear - I bought the fancy stuff. I got another look.  Stay with me...
The store was having a sale on all cotton if you wore green to shop, including the batiks.  So I looked at this as a chance to stock up (since I know I'm running a little low on it) in the fancy undies department - the kind you might buy at Victoria's Secret.

Wishing you all a great National Quilting that you know one way I've celebrated, how are you celebrating?

More on the results of the giveaway next week - as well as April's block of the month.

Talk soon


Thursday, March 14, 2013

And the winner is...

Hello!  Thank you all so much for the thoughtful responses (98 by the current count) to my question "What makes a quilt retreat special for you?".
It's been fun seeing them come in, and reading them. I heard from readers as close as New Hampshire (it's so nice to meet a new neighbor!) and as far away as Australia.  This is something I'll be doing again, and thanks to Quilting Gallery for inviting me.

I didn't pick Sue Pelland's book randomly - I've had the privilege of knowing Sue for a few years, and I'm very excited about her new book.  I love the detail and the work that she's put into this book, and it's going to give us more milage out of our sets.  She put a note on one of the posts asking for information as to where you bought her if you have them, if you can drop me (or Sue directly at a note as to where you picked them up, we'd both appreciate it.

The winner of the giveaway is SueAnnW (you should have an email from me) - her comment was that she tends to pack her whole sewing room. I always knew I had a doppleganger out there...I do too!.

There's a lot of information to digest in the various responses, and I'll have plenty of time to sift through that next week.  So hopefully, many of you who have come by once will come by again - and see what the consensus is.

Blogger is not cooperating with the rest of the stay tuned tomorrow to find out what your underwear drawer has to do with Fabric shopping. How else would one celebrate National Quilting Day?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Welcome, Quilter's Blog Hop Party!

Good morning,

I'm shaking things up a lot this year over at The Patchwork Pearl, and decided to join The Quilting Gallery's Blog Hop Party as one way of doing so!  I'm hoping to welcome new readers here - and on my Facebook page - to come along on the quilting adventure with me.

 My blog giveaway is a copy of Sue Pelland Designs new book on Rotary Cut Applique with the Leaves Galore Templates

Sue is a tremedously talented quilter, and I'm very excited about this newest book. I've played around with the templates a lot over the last couple of years, and so I've been waiting to see what she would come up with next.  I'll be keeping you posted on the progress...and yes, I will ship internationally if you win.

The Patchwork Pearl is online only - I don't have a shop, although I'm based here in beautiful (snowy) southern New Hampshire.  I help quilters connect with one another through retreats, trips and classes. I'm also working on a group of patterns designed around memories - whether they be weddings, birthdays, family reunioins or a event...I have some neat twists in the mix.
My pattern line is evolving slowly...but it is coming.

To enter the giveaway for the book, please leave a note telling me what makes a quilt retreat special for you. I have some ideas in the works - and some wonderful locations in mind.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A special Valentine for you all!

Happy Valentine's Day!  I decided to celebrate one of my favorite holidays with something special and new - just for you. Let me know if this is the kind of thing you'd like to see more of.  This will also get today's DaGMT challenge requirement taken care of for today.

Let's start with what it is - a mug-rug that I came up with using the bin of fusible scraps that I have - and that is growing way too fast. If it has any kind of fusible backing on it - it goes in the bin. I had the idea that if I made a fusible crazy quilt and sandwiched it with a heart, you'd have a holiday mug rug. So let's get started.

These were all the pink and purple scraps I pulled out with one hand.  I started making free form snips and placing them on the applique pressing sheet.

I found a pile of more when I moved my foot under the ironing board - which is probably more than you wanted to know - so I took the chance to add it to the pile (and move said pile to the bin).  Once I began to artistically arrange the scraps - and fuse them together, this is what it looked like.

Next, I took a 4 and a half inch square of red fabric (the back), a piece of batting, and a piece of white fabric for the front. Fold the white fabric in front and free form cut a heart from it. Before you sew the layers together, put the white 'frame' over the scraps and make sure that you have all the scraps covered - if you're missing any, now is the time to add. You now have all the pieces you need...

Layer the batting, the scrap (centered), and the red backing fabric (wrong side up) and sew around all 4 sides.  Cut a small slit in the back and turn all the sides out pillowcase style. Stay with me - this is what mine looked like -


A little time with the iron, and it should flatten out nicely. I took it to the Horizon and went around it with a decorative stitch, and then played with the free motion quilt foot a bit.  It fits your beverage of, tea or something else.

Enjoy!  And tell me what you think of this. I'm thinking of Lions and Lambs for March...