Merging Triangles Quilt Block

I was inspired by a photo I saw on Pinterest and as usual it got me into some trouble .

It just looked like so much fun.  Here is a step by step photo journey.

Start by sewing two sheets of fabric with a hard visual line in the center.  I made the red and green sheet too tall and corrected for the blue and black sheet.

I used two sheets 20″ tall by 44″ wide. I then cut the biggest rectangles I could do that the hard contrast stripe was running caddy corner.

Be sure to offset the rectangles from one another as shown above so that you can rearrange them as shown below

Now the high contrast line creates the triangle that will merge.

Repeat for the other triangle 

Now set your Triangles so they are facing each other.

And cut them into strips.

I used 4″ wide strips.

Then arrange the strips so that the triangles are merged together.

Sew the strips together

And you are done!

Upcycled Tote

A couple years ago I made some quilted placemats.  I used scraps of linen and Japanese dragonfly cotton leftover from other projects and had just enough batting to make two.

I happily quilted dragon flies through all three layers intending to bind them when I was finished.  

But I never did. 

They languished in my UFO pile clogging the arteries of my workroom.  For years.

Until finally I got so disgusted with myself one day this week – for bringing my lunch to work in a grocery store plastic bag with a hole in it!  

I work at a fabric store for heavens sake. I mean srsly.  What is my problem?

Soooo.  While 2 year old Queen Bean took her 4 hour nap(!!!) yesterday, I got out my ginghers and started cutting.

I made sure the straps would be long enough to comfortably wear it over the shoulder since I plan on taking it to the new farmers market in my town as well.

Put the right sides together and sew around the three sides that make the bag part.  Then sew the right sides of the straps together so that the strap on the left side of one placemat is sewn to the half strap on the right side of the same placement.

Be sure to add some triangular tucks at the bottom seams to create volume.  Sew in the inside of the bag.

The last step is binding it. 

It took more binding than I thought it would. About 110″ all told.  I didn’t use bias because fabric is precious.  I used a quarter yard piece of quilt cotton and tore 3 strips each 3″ wide.  Applying it took a while but wasn’t hard.

Im pleased with they way it turned out.

 The batting makes it padded and soft and the linen lining makes it super strong so I can load it up with fresh produce and local honey and be comfortable and look stylish at the same time.

Building a teepee

My kids second birthday is coming up and I decided to make her a teepee so that she could have some space designated for her in my sewing room.  I remember how important having little nooks and hiding spots was to me when I was little.

There are advertisements all over for these things and they are usually $100 or more!

That was more money than I had to spend so I decided to make one myself.

My first stop was the lumber yard.  There is a great one close to where I live called Lafayette Lumber.  I went down there asking for dowels but their longest dowel wasn’t long enough or wide enough for my purposes.  They steered me to the wooden curtain rod which was priced at 99¢ a foot and cut me 5 lengths of 5 feet each.

I sanded down the ends on both sides to make everything nice and smooth.  Then I finished them all with some leftover stain we had in the garage.  I let them air dry outside for a few days and it snowed!

Once the smell had faded a little I drilled holes about 5″ from the end of one side of each rod.  Then I strung them together on some twine I usually keep in my kitchen drawer for cooking.  I used some Scotch tape to stiffen up the end of my twine to make it easier to thread through the holes.

It worked perfectly.

String them all on and gather them up.

Once my rods were tied At the top I spread out the bottoms evenly as best I could to make the pentagonal shape at the base.  Then I made a pattern piece shaped like a wedge.  In my case the pattern piece was 5.5″ across at the top, 39″ across at the bottom and 52″ tall at the center measured straight down.

I got some cotton linen blend canvas by Kokka, and some heavy weight linen from Elfriedes Fine Fabrics and cut my wedges.

I had some great chevron weave linen left over from another project that I used to make facings for the top of 4 of the wedges, turning them to the outside.  I used just a little math to make the doors overlap 3″ at the center with a self facing.

Then I sewed and served them together and tried to on the frame.

It’s too long because I need a wide hem to create the pockets that the rods will sit in once finished.

The kid tried it out for me.

I pulled the tent as taught as I could all be the rods and marked the spot that would be folded against the ground.

Then I turned up the hem leaving slots where the pieces come together for the rods.

I also put elasticated loops about 4″ from the top on the seam allowance.

Now I just have to find a big fluffy round rug for inside and some baubles to hang from the top and it will be finished.


Wendy Made Me Do It!


Our window display this month is really exciting!  Each of the garments on display has benefited from Wendy’s touch — her ability to see what will put each garment over the top (paired with her ability to talk us into it!) is unparalleled!  All of us have had so much fun working with her this year, we have put our garments on display, along with stories about how she helped us.

(In the window, left to right, Cathy’s Mother of the Bride outfit, Lauren’s Wedding Dress, and Melissa’s Reinvention/Embroidered Jacket)


Lauren’s Wedding Dress

Lauren says: Bob and I found that the perfect spot for our wedding had an opening in 6 months.  That’s not a lot of time to plan a wedding but we thought what the hay?  I needed a dress and tried one on – Candy by Monique Lhullier.  It. Was.  Gorgeous.  But cost $10,000.00 so way out of my price range. I let it guide the color and the silhouette but made my dress entirely from Elfriede’s Fine Fabrics for under $400.

And with a week to spare.

With two 10.5 yard hems to put in by hand, I was barely done in time!  When I tried it on just days before the wedding, Wendy said I needed some beads!  Beads?  I hadn’t thought of that!  But, no way I had time!  I trust Wendy totally, so I let her take my precious dress home and add some beads.  Wow!  It was exactly what my dress needed!  How did she know that?  How did she get it done so fast?

I’m so grateful that she has the strength to speak up at times like this!  To say nothing of speaking such wisdom!

Wendy says: The antique bronze ribbon that finished the hip seam was beautiful, but seemed like it was missing the sparkly beads that the lace had. Lauren gave me all the extra beads she had, and I randomly sewed them on, scattering them to reflect light. Since those hips are not very big, it didn’t take long! Elfriede said, “NOW she can get married!!”


Cathy’s Mother of the Bride Outfit


Burda pattern  #7183 (modified) for the jacket.  Burda pattern #6834 for the skirt.

Cathy says: Deadline sewing!  Life-changing events!  My daughter’s wedding!

Cathy’s challenge to Wendy:  my daughter is getting married in June and I want to look great while dancing at her wedding!  And, since I’m also making the wedding dress, this has to be something that I can complete well BEFORE the wedding!

Wendy loves weddings!  Her additional criteria were:

  • a two piece dress and jacket, so that Cathy would still look great if it got hot enough to need to remove the jacket
  • the same color dupioni silk for the skirt and blouse, to avoid cutting her in the middle, and would work with her coloring
  • a showcase for Cathy’s needlework skills
  • incorporating a gorgeous embroidery fabric that was gifted to Cathy just for this occasion

Mission accomplished!  It was an awesome wedding & the garments were completed in time!

Wendy says: See photo above for the full outfit, on the left.

Combining three simple pieces for the ensemble, made the most sense to me.  Placing the embroidered tulle on the jacket and blouse, balancing the amount and size of the flowers, while not making the pieces look too busy, or too overwhelming to Cathy, was the challenge. That’s all I did. She spent countless hours cutting away the tulle, turning under the edges, and hand sewing all the embroidery down!! Brava!


Reinventing a  Jacket with Embroidery



Jacket Pattern:  Vogue from long ago, no clues on the pattern number.

Skirt Pattern:  Marcy Tilton, Vogue #9060, current pattern, made with a narrower waistband.

Melissa says: When a student gifted me with a large piece of this gorgeous embroidery, I knew I had to do something special!  But, what?  Since Wendy had helped me reconstruct several of my elderly tailored jackets, I thought this might be a good idea.  I scooped up all my remaining still-need-to-be-brought-into-this-century jackets and brought them in for a consult.

The selection of this particular jacket was a very good combination with the embroidery!  I do love this jacket now!  And, the new buttons!  I am celebrating that I feel free nowadays to use the fanciest buttons possible!  The updated skirt moves this clearly out of the “business suit” category and into the “fun for winter” category!

Wendy helped again in the placement of the embroidery, which resulted in enough left over to pass along to Cathy for her Mother of the Bride outfit!

Note – we still have a little of it to gift to the next fortunate person, so contact us if you feel the need!

Wendy says: Melissa is such a beautiful sewer with fantastic tailoring skills. When she brought 3 or 4 of her suits from another life, another century, she was ready to dump them all, jackets with big shoulder pads, full skirts down past midi length. I howled, “No!!” Such beautifully made garments, in gorgeous wools, still have a life. We added the embroidered tulle to this one, another beaded and embroidered, scalloped edge lace to another, feather trim to another, (see “Frumpy…” below.)

The skirts got redesigned as well, one into kneelength shorts, one into a straight skirt with interesting seaming on the back….for another blog.


Blue Silk Dress With Stained Glass Window Shawl

Donna Karan, Vogue #1489

Wedding of a life-time coming up!  BFF’s daughter getting married!  Need something smashing!

Melissa says: My challenge to Wendy:  I’m a mountain woman!  I don’t have any party dresses!  I need to look good at this wedding!  Help!

Quite frankly, this pattern didn’t seem right to me.  Although I could see that it would be great fun to make, I wasn’t convinced.  I could hear what Wendy was saying…but I was worried.  Trusting in her good judgement and her artist’s eye, I took the plunge and bought a gorgeous silk – all in one color!!!  (No prints, only one fabric, yikes!  I’m already out of my comfort zone!)

Scared to death, I boldly plunged ahead and cut the silk.  That was the hardest part, up until the first try-on.  I was soooo not liking this!  First, I’d roll-hemmed the entire front to back ruffle by hand – ON THE WRONG SIDE!  Not a good start.  Then, I tried it on and felt like I was naked.  Everyone in our sewing group loved it, though, so I soldiered on.  I made the alterations in fit that Wendy suggested and re-hemmed the ruffle.  I still was not pleased.  Everyone in our sewing group loved it even more, so I gritted my teeth and sewed on.  When I looked again at the pattern, I noticed that it had a knit underdress, that fit snugly, and the drapey silk wrap dress just sat on top. Voila!  That really made it good for me!  It makes the dress stay in place, gives me a sense of security and I love the whole outfit!

The addition of the shawl was killer-good!  (Just buy 2.5 yards and seam it up the long way!)

Wendy says: I know that Melissa loves asymmetry, unusual patterns, and construction.The shapes of this dress pattern were confounding, flipping around from the front skirt ruffle to become the neckline ruffle, with lots of weird bits sewn together. In other words right up her alley! While she favors prints, this one required a solid, as the wrong side shows on alot of the dress. Add a purple underdress, and she looked spectacular!


Linda’s Rayon Blouse


Sometimes, it’s the smallest details that make everything come together!  Linda loved this rayon print, but couldn’t quite figure out if it was good for her, what she should make, why it was “stuck” in her stash.  As usual, Wendy put her finger on it – she suggested that Linda make it with the wrong side of the fabric on the right side of the garment.  This created a better colorway for Linda and a better match to everything else in her wardrobe.  Boom!  This piece jumped out of the stash and into a blouse.

But what blouse?  Wendy knew!  Linda had purchased a blouse that, oddly-enough, fit her perfectly!  Copying a pattern off the ready-made blouse (no blouses were harmed in this process) is something that Wendy excels in!  That pattern is now a main-stay for Linda and is perfect for this lovely rayon!

Note the gorgeous detail that is trademark for Linda’s style:  tiny hand stitches and a delicate bias facing with just a hint showing.  Beautifully done!

(Just to be clear, the hand stitching wasn’t Wendy’s idea!  She’s firmly in the machine-stitching crowd!)

Wendy says: Linda did such a beautiful job on this top!


Corduroy Jacket & Silk Pants


Vogue #1186, OOP, check on Ebay, as it is often available

Melissa Says: I love everything that Issey Miyake ever did, yes, even the really weird stuff.  This jacket, though, is a classic beauty.  With curvy seaming, and odd facings,  this jacket becomes three dimensional, with great shaping.  I have always loved it, so I was REALLY excited when Wendy suggested this pattern for my latest favorite fabric – corduroy with 10% CASHMERE!

The pattern is perfect for the cashmere, as it gives us ample opportunity to place the cords in every which direction, adding interest to the jacket as well as a challenge for the cutting process.

I found the perfect charmeuse lining in my stash (!) creating a stunning monochrome jacket, for once in my career.  But, alas, I could not leave well enough alone, so I inserted some Japanese cotton into the facing and made matching pants in a Marcy Tilton pattern (Vogue #8712 OOP).  And, the cotton gives the front of the jacket less bulk than two layers of corduroy.

See another of our blog posts (Cords gone Wild) for more on the construction of this jacket.

Wendy says: This jacket is rather tame for Melissa, but seemed the perfect way to use the corduroy wales in many different directions. Somehow if it were in a nice wool, it wouldn’t have the impact! Stitching those seams, however, was not a challenge for her skills!!


Vogue #1355 by Sandra Betzina (current pattern)

I love wearing silk pants!  They are soft, comfortable, gorgeous and decadent!  Throw away your jeans for everyday wear – bring in the silk pants!  My challenge for Wendy on this particular topic was to find me a new pants pattern that would bring a little more fun into my pants repertoire.  She found this Vogue Sandra Betzina pattern that I had completely passed over.  (Note to Vogue:  do we need to have everything made up in black?  One cannot see the details!)

This pattern is designed for knits, so if you want to make it up in a woven (highly recommended!), then you will want to make the following adjustments:

  • use a very soft and drape-y fabric
  • make a size bigger than you usually make
  • add vents to the bottom of the pant, so that you can get your feet in
  • eliminate the side darts so that you can more easily slip them over your hips
  • deleted the waistband and added enough to turn the top of the pant into a facing

I have a million versions (approximately) of this pant now!  Thank you Wendy!


Diane’s Perfect Summer Dress

Vogue #8983, current pattern

Diane says: I fell in love with a rayon batik and could see it made into a summer dress – but which one?  Enter Wendy. “Vogue #8983 would be perfect”, she said, “with a few modifications”.  Few indeed!

  • eliminate the high/low hem line
  • remove the front button closure and place the center front on the fold
  • insert a back zipper
  • make new neckline facings now that the front facings were gone
  • and finally, during a fitting, Wendy was feeling the heat of summer.  She was hot, so she cut down the backneck of my dress!

The end result is that I love wearing this dress, and wouldn’t have given this pattern a second look without her inspiration and alterations!

Wendy says: When Diane described her “perfect summer dress to me” as a fit and flare, slim but not tight silhouette, with a generous skirt for the dog days of summer, I knew the pattern to use. Eliminate all the fuss and nonsense details, this pattern is a cap-sleeved-fit-and-flare dress!

P.S. Sorry for the photo, this dress looks like nothing on the hanger, but on Diane’s adorable shape, there is a waist, and the skirt twirls!


Donna Karan Jacket with Issey Miyake Pants

Jacket is Vogue #1201, Donna Karan, usually available on Ebay

Pants are Issey Miyake, Vogue #1186, usually available on Ebay

Melissa says: OH! I have fallen in love with another fabric!  This is such a common occurrence, I’ve gotten to where I just figure that it’s for me to buy the fabric…it’s for Wendy to figure out what I’m going to make from it!

This is such a delicate piece of fabric, I had no idea what to make!  When Wendy suggested a jacket, I was goggle-eyed at first, then all charged up!  I could underline the whole thing with one of my other fabric-loves:  horsehair canvas (I know, that makes me really weird, huh?)!

Wendy picked this pattern and made such great suggestions on how to fussy cut it so that the stripes would flow around the bottom, with the flowers on top.  All good, so far, but oops!  Not enough fabric for that big gorgeous collar!  (One of the side effects of buying fabric without a plan!)

When Wendy picked a cashmere plaid, I was in heaven!  It doesn’t get any better!  Well, until you look at the lining!  That’s the final touch of genius!

Love, love, love the whole thing.  But, I have to admit, I loved the stripes too much and made the sleeves too long so that I could have a bit more of the purple stripes.  Sure enough, Wendy had a cure for that, too!  A little ruching and I get the best of both worlds!

The big pants are another favorite pattern!  (see pattern info above with the Corduroy Jacket).  These are made in a lovely wool gauze with a china silk lining.  Both are still available on

Wendy says: This amazing wool challis is printed as a border print with the stripes on the selvages, and a baroque paisley print in the center. Given the fabric restrictions, it was easy to see that the “peplums” of the jacket could be the stripe, so when I turned the fabric crosswise, it all made sense to Melissa. Since”plaid” is Melissa’s favorite fabric, it was a no-brainer for the collar….for me, I’d probably gone for a plushy velvet or something, but this is Melissa’s fabric, in her colors, not mine, or else she may have had a challenge on her hands!


Lia Lia Dress 

Lia Lia, Vogue #1402, current pattern

Melissa says: As so often happens to me, I fell in love with this fabric.  Knowing that the motifs were too big, knowing that it was a bold print, knowing that border prints are difficult to display to best advantage, still I just had to have it!  Even if all I ever did was drape it over my ironing board and look at it, I just had to have it!

My challenge to Wendy was – find a pattern for me!  And, she did!  With her trademark phrase, “just a few changes and this pattern will be perfect,” we went to work!  Here are the changes that we made:

  • eliminate the side seams on the skirt, leaving just one seam in the center back, to display the border print to best advantage
  • add a center back seam allowance to the bodice
  • move the zipper to the center back, since the side seam is no longer there
  • sew the darts as normal, on the inside, instead of on the outside, as the pattern instructs, so as to eliminate the “flippers” on the darts, the shoulder seams and the waist
  • raise the neckline in the front and in the back
  • eliminate the string at the back neck
  • add piping to the new neckline

I notice that I respond to patterns based on the color of the fabric that Vogue has selected!  Ooops!  This one totally passed me by, just because black-and-white is not my colorway!  So grateful that Wendy helped me with this one!  I ended up with a dress so good that I could wear it to Elfriede’s summer birthday party!

This silk charmeuse fabric is still available at

Wendy says: I have finally learned to look beyond the pattern photos, and just look at the pattern tech sketches on the back of the envelope, which show you what the actual garment seams are doing. With this great printed charmeuse, (she bought enough fabric,)  I knew the skirt seams weren’t needed, so the border wouldn’t be broken up. All the rest of the details on the pattern weren’t going to show in this abstract floral-ish print, and the print needed to be the showpiece. Again, the photo doesn’t show the fitted bodice with the graceful skirt. On Melissa it looks more like the pattern photo, with a slightly higher neckline.


Kathryn Brenne Skirt

Kathryn Brenne, Vogue #9114, current pattern

Melissa says: I’ve been comfy wearing pants, why would I want to make a skirt?  Well, because they are cool in the summer and great fun to wear!  To say nothing of being very feminine!  But, most skirt patterns are boring, quite frankly.

My challenge to Wendy was…find me a skirt that I want to make and love to wear!

This pattern is a winner!  Be sure to peek up the skirt and see how the draping is accomplished with a few ties.  Very fun!  If you decide to make this skirt for yourself, be sure to select a soft fabric with a lot of drape and be sure to measure the length.  I had to shorten mine quite a bit.

Wendy says: Melissa’s soft, drapey rayon print was perfect for this fun, swoopy hemmed skirt! If Melissa is going to wear a skirt, it had better be fun! When she saw it in the linen as photographed, it wasn’t for her.

“Trust me ” has become my mantra with her. Just sayin’…


From Frumpy to Feathered

Melissa says: Was this frumpy or what?  A perfect challenge for Wendy – can this 1980s suit be de-frumped?  It’s beautifully tailored from an exquisite fabric, but, but, but…a gathered (what was I thinking?) skirt, providing enough fabric to accommodate several months of pregnancy?   The jacket’s vast lapel and oversized buttons drew attention away from the football-player-sized shoulder pads, but the overall effect was a bit odd.

And, the answer is…feathers!  And, a new skirt (Vogue #2984).  I love both pieces now, together and separately!

Read more at our blog in the Feathered Fashions post.

Wendy says: Thank you Elfriede for finding unusual trims!! Melissa loved this feather trim, but didn’t see how to use it yet. When we added it to the large lapels, they found a home.

Cords Gone Wild

I just happen to love corduroy.  More than is sensible.  Lots of love.  Perhaps there is a therapy program to help nowadays…Cords Anonymous…

So, when I saw that Elfriede’s had corduroy made from 90% cotton and 10% CASHMERE, I was a gone-er.  No therapy program could save me from buying BOTH colorways!

With help from my friend Wendy, I chose one of my favorite (why haven’t I made this jacket yet?) Issey Miyake Vogue patterns (#1186).  I love everything that Issey Miyake ever did, yes, even the really weird stuff.  This jacket, though, is a classic beauty.  It has circular facings to give a three dimensional look, great shaping and front pockets, too!  I have always loved it, so I was REALLY excited when Wendy suggested this pattern!

The pattern is perfect for the cashmere, as it gives us ample opportunity to place the cords in every which direction, adding interest to the jacket as well as a challenge for the cutting process.


I found the perfect charmeuse lining in my stash (!) creating a stunning monochrome jacket, for once in my career.  But, alas, I could not leave well enough alone, so I inserted some Japanese cotton into the facing and made matching pants in a Marcy Tilton pattern (#8712 OOP).  And, the cotton gives the front of the jacket less bulk than two layers of corduroy.

The construction of this jacket is not for the faint of heart. The instructions are great, so you can just proceed as indicated.  However, that’s not my nature!  So, this is what I ended up doing:

  • All pieces were cut on the lengthwise grain, as indicated, except for the front, the back and the collar (pattern pieces 1, 3 & 12), which were cut on the cross grain.
  • The welt pocket was cut on the bias.
  • I did not interface the welt pocket, but I did interface the entire side piece, to support the insertion of the pocket.
  • The front facing, the inner collar, the pocket interior and the curve facing were cut from the Japanese cotton.
  • The sleeve interfacing needed to be cut at the seam and catch-stitched the edges to the seam, as in the traditional tailoring technique.
  • The underarm of the jacket needed additional interfacing, to support the entire sleeve

You can see the change in the sleeve interfacing above.  This gives me the opportunity to catch stitch the seam FLAT.  Otherwise, I’d have to press it strongly, which would leave a mar in the cords on the right side, even if I pressed against a velvet board or a plush towel.  Trying to do tailoring without pressing is a challenge, so I ended up doing a lot of hand stitching to hold seams flatter.

You can see the pieces cut out of the Japanese cotton here, along with the fully interfaced side piece, used to support the side of the pocket.

Here’s where the fun begins!  The upper & lower parts of the jacket are constructed separately and then sewn together in a serpentine seam.  Isn’t that crazy?  And, you can also see how that center back seam just stands up straight — before it is disciplined with some tiny hand stitches.

This has been one of my favorite jackets to construct.  And, this lovely mauve color goes with everything I own!  So, why did I feel the need to make 3 outfits to go with it!  Just because I can!  Love them all!

Now, on to the second colorway!



Quilt Scrap Busters

What do you do with your little scraps of quilt cotton after a project.  You know the ones- too small to really be useful but too pretty to *gasp* throw away?

For the longest time they just ran wild in my sewing room, getting messier and choking off my collection of actual yardage and the project pipeline.  The frustration built until I recognized that I had to tame the madness.  I decided to cut them into 3 different sizes of squares.  The different sizes were mainly to accommodate the prints and variable dimensions of my scraps.  I chose the square shape because it’s an easy pixel of color to grab for a project when I needed something quick.

Well, eventually my square pile started to overwhelm the drawer I was storing them in- and I had some time on my hands since Ashley was having a nice long nap.

I started arranging  the colors I liked into 9 patch squares.

I like their joyful color and it’s nice to have a project like this where you can accomplish one 9 patch in a spare 5 minutes here and there and feel good about yourself.  After a few weeks I had a nice pile.

I auditioned them on loads of different fabrics-  I liked solid white and grey but ultimately felt it had been “done” and then I saw Brocade Peony by the Kaffe Fassett Collective and I was intrigued by the way it let my 9 patches pop while keeping the eye moving around.

So I cut some more squares!  I focused on the blooms and cut squares that captured by as much of the petals as possible.

The sashing is a pale batik cut to be width wise the same as my 9 patch and lengthwise the same as the flower square.  I made these rows first.  Then the others.

I took care to arrange them just how I wanted them. Then put the rows together.

I wanted to border it because otherwise the dimensions of my outer 9 patches would be off if it wasn’t pieced at 1/4″ and was bound at 1/2″ instead.  I chose this neat digital print by Hoffman Fabics made in Brazil and put a 2″ border on.

I’ll back it in a blue grey velvet and bind it with something too and hang it in the shop til another baby rolls off the production line.

But that only took care of the smallest squares I had cut out of my scrap stash.  So here is another scrap buster project for you.  Patches the puppy is reborn!

These are from the large size squares I had cut.  5″ to a side.

You have to make 2 silhouettes and they have to be facing each other.  This is very important.

Now make a long strip of squares 1×27 and the two ears and  eyes.  Baste the ears to the top of your dogs head in the center and place the eyes wherever they seem right to you, and then sew the two sides together with the long strip. Flip inside out, stuff. Sew hole in strip closed by hand. All done!

A Comfort Quilt

Comfort Quilt


Quilts have a remarkable capability to provide more than warmth — they can wrap you up in love, support, comfort, solidarity, color, texture, hearts and your favorite fabrics.  So, when we heard that the son of one of our favorite sewing buddies was diagnosed with cancer, we knew we needed to spring in to action — just didn’t know which way to jump.

Soon after hearing about the severity of the situation, several of us were at Elfriede’s, serendipitously, at the same time.  (This is not an unusual coincidence…we spend a lot of time there!)  We were in serious danger of slipping into a deep funk when Wendy told us, with her usual panache and confidence, that The Young Son was going to be OK.  That it would be a hard year, but that he’s going to be OK.  And that it was our responsibility to hold ONLY that thought in our hearts and to support Our Dear Friend every step of the way.  Right.  OK.  Deep breath.  Let’s do that!

Lauren jumped up and said, “Let’s make her a comfort quilt!”  The thought lifted our spirits immediately!  We started brainstorming and a heart theme came forward.  We were in agreement, Our Dear Friend offers such an open and loving heart to all of her friends, we needed to mirror that back to her, with all of our love.  Nevermind that not one of us is a cutesy-heartsy type person!  Lauren went online and found a great pattern that showed a log-cabin-style heart that was really cool, utilizing a twist on the traditional log cabin quilting pattern.  When Wanda suggested that we use Liberty of London cottons, we knew we had a winner.  Liberties just happen to be one of our favorite fabrics, but more importantly, a big favorite of Our Dear Friend.  They provide just the right touch of softness, strength, quality and color.  With the traditional log cabin, we had all the elements that we were looking for.

Just then, Elfriede started frantically digging into an inner cabinet — we weren’t sure why!  Then, she came up with a big bag — holding a remarkable stash of Liberty cottons and told us to dig in!  Wow!  We were on a roll.  Needless to say, the rest of us were twitching with enthusiasm and couldn’t wait to get home to dive into our own stashes of Liberties!  We made a time to meet again soon, so that we could share fabrics and make a plan!

By the time we met up again, we had a pattern written up, a sample heart already sewn and a plan (sorta) in place.  We started tearing up our precious stashes of Liberty cottons!  Really?  Excuse me?  These are stashes that have taken a life time to gather and we are tearing them up?  YES!  According to the infamous comedian P.J. O’Rourke, you can take ten percent off the top of anything — he calls that his Circumcision Rule.  He was talking about government budgets, but nevermind that.  We tore two inch strips off each of the pieces and started to share.  It was such fun to see what fabrics we had in common, what fabrics we had missed out on, what fabrics we loved but, seriously, could never imagine wearing!  Since Liberty cottons all play well together, we knew we couldn’t make an ugly heart!

Well, after that lovely therapy session of ripping two inch strips of fabric, we had piles of strips.  We had a lovely palette of over fifty Liberties to choose from, many with little animals!  (This was a great bonus, since Our Dear Friend is a veterinarian, so animals can provide great strength for her.  Besides, we all love animal prints!)  But we needed something to keep our hearts similar enough so that they could cohabitate in one quilt.  Wanda came up with two gorgeous blue Liberty prints from her stash that she had decided were not appropriate for her to be wearing.  Sigh.  A moment of quiet in awe of someone who is willing and able to let go of TWO pieces of Liberty, each measuring more than two yards.  Oddly enough, these two pieces were EXACTLY what we needed to border the hearts and to border the quilt. And, in EXACTLY the right amounts. Amazed at how serendipity continued to move this quilt along, we began to wonder about the background fabric when Wendy felt a strong pull and went over to the collection of Italian cottons.  She grabbed out a lovely, soft, delicate light blue Italian cotton with ponies woven into it!  Perfect!  And, even more perfect when Elfriede told us that she would donate those six yards to the effort!

We were ready to sew!  Well, almost ready.  We still needed to count noses and to count hearts.  How many people were going to be sewing?  How big was our quilt going to be?  How would we get the word out?  How could we possibly coordinate the effort?  We guessed that we’d have six people sewing hearts and if we each sewed five hearts, we’d have enough to make a queen sized quilt.  Wanda, experienced in this sort of thing, quietly mentioned that making a queen sized quilt was a big project, that getting it quilted would be problematic, that we might never get it finished!  Lauren, our only other experienced quilter, agreed.  OK then.  Let’s see.  To make a queen sized quilt in a short period of time would take a miracle.  Great!  Isn’t that what we want?  Several miracles are needed here, so let’s go for it!  Let’s never give in to practical thinking, statistics on survival rates, or The Real World!  We’re making a quilt big enough to hold Our Dear Friend, her husband, her two (big) dogs and The Young Son, all wrapped up at once!

What we weren’t ready for was how much fun it was going to be, how addictive the hearts were to make and how many people we had to help.  People who had never sewn before made hearts.  People who had never quilted before made hearts.  People couldn’t stop making hearts.  Even people who didn’t want to come near a sewing machine donated money for a delightfully light silk batting.

We lit candles, we thought positive, healing thoughts and we sewed hearts.  We procrastinated on our careers, we carved time out of late nights and evenings and we sewed hearts.  We sent each other texts and photos and laughs and love and we sewed hearts.  We came closer together as a group as we sewed hearts.  We did everything except share this wonderful process with Our Dear Friend.  It began to feel selfish not to share with her!  She knew we were up to something, but we all kept our lips sealed.  With this chatty group, that was perhaps our biggest accomplishment!

It was time to pull it together.  Were all of our hearts finished yet?  No, of course not.  No matter!  I pushed two of my big tables together and invited Lisa to do her magic.  As a true artist, Lisa had selected colorways for all my hearts and now was going to put our hearts into proper order.  Wanda’s red heart had to be the centerpiece, of course.  We worked out from there, leaving a few holes for hearts not yet completed.  It was more gorgeous than we had envisioned.  We were delighted.  But, we needed a border.  And, we needed to get our Liberties back from Wendy.  She was unable to stop making hearts!  So, at our next meeting, with a brilliant suggestion from Wendy & Lauren, we set Wendy to work on making the borders for us.  Miles and miles of borders — all of our left over 2 inch strips in lovely combinations, all sewn together as the glorious culmination of our efforts.  We called a meeting to decide our backing (another beautiful Italian cotton in one of Our Dear Friend’s favorite designs) and our corner-border pieces (a Liberty cotton with HEARTS, of course!) and then we were ready to quilt.  We gave ourselves a big pat on the back for closing our last meeting, folding up the quilt and fabrics and removing all traces — about five minutes before Our Dear Friend just happened to walk in the door of Elfriede’s and ALMOST caught us in action!

Carole, Mary & Patty came over to help make the sandwich and pin it all together, in preparation for the quilting.  We had only one heart missing — from our Alaska friend, Page, who had just purchased a new plane and was off on adventures when our request came in for people to sew hearts.  No matter, I left one blank heart in the upper corner and figured that I could applique her heart in when it arrived.  After all of the love and emotion put into this quilt, I still wasn’t prepared for the beauty of her heart, when it came in the mail.  She had dressed it up in the only Liberty in her stash — the gorgeous cranberry.  And, she sewed in beads in the shape of the Big Dipper & the North Star.  What a stunning contribution.  It deserved its place of honor in the upper corner, where Our Dear Friend can trace the stars with her fingers when needing some special comfort from her quilt.

Wanda created a signature heart block for the back of the quilt before she left on vacation.  And, I started quilting.  I have to say, a queen sized quilt is very large.  It has the outlines of the hearts and lots of totem animals quilted in.  It has candles and bears and dogs and cats and birds and horses and more hearts.  It was great fun to quilt, although I have to say, a queen sized quilt is very large.

We presented the comfort quilt to Our Dear Friend in just a little over a month after we started it.  She has been curled up in it every day since.  She knows that we stand with her, no matter what.  She is not alone.  We all know for sure that her Young Son will be OK.


Anyone who would like the pattern for this quilt is welcome to a free download at  Go to Sewing Secrets and look for the download for the Comfort Quilt.

Anyone who would like to light a candle and send good thoughts to Our Dear Friend and her young son is welcome and encouraged to do so.