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Birfday Biffle Quilt DONE!

I never blogged about finishing the Jinny Beyer Palette Quilt that my Biffle and I started. That’s because I decided to surprise her by finishing it for her birthday.

I put on the binding and then I made the quilt sandwich. I decided to use spray glue to baste the backing, batting, and top, and this was a good idea. The quilt came out nice and even, with no bubbles or folds on the back. I considered putting it on my rack and hand basting it. But, I have found that when I rack large quilts (this one is 60″ x 60″), they tend to get distorted. The end result often is not very even. I really do like the spray basting technique.

Tonight, I gave the quilt to the Biffle. Her reaction was priceless! She was SO very happy and so excited to have the quilt. I also sent the photo to Jinny Beyer. Jinny always enjoys seeing the results of her quilts that folks make.

So this one is done! And I’m working on my no-sew quilt now. I have actually gotten quite distracted by knitting lately. Maybe I should rename my blog: Val Quilts, But Not Nearly Enough Because She Is Busy Knitting?

Houston International Quilt Festival

For the past few days, I and 60,000 of my closest quilting friends have been attending the International Quilt Festival in Houston. This is also the home of the Houston quilt market – known to the industry as “going to market.”

What an amazing show this is. If you quilt and have never been there, I urge you to go – just to experience it! The show floor is the largest I’ve ever seen. Half of it is vendors and booths. The other half is an amazing exhibition.

The booths are crowded and many of them sell the same stuff: lots of old fashioned dark brown and brick red fabric and patterns. But, there are a few gems hiding in the aisles.

My (new) favorite fabric designer has a booth there. Her name is Marcia Derse. Click here for a link to her website. I met Marcia last year. While my friend Deb and I were browsing her booth, her husband came up to us and said, “Please buy some fabric. I don’t want to have to schlep all of this stuff back to Ohio in my Prius.” Well, that was enough to get me looking!

And boy does Marcia make some gorgeous fabrics. Her grei goods (the actual fabric on which the patterns are printed) are of the highest quality. Her designs are inspiring. And her colors are what really trips my trigger. Take a look at her website and see what you think.

Another booth I enjoyed was the Bohin booth. Bohin is a French company and they make really nice needles. They also sell thimbles in a multitude of sizes. I bought one – but it is so small that I can’t find it in my hotel room at the moment.

I went a little crazy at the Aurifil booth. I purchase a set of brightly colored threads. They were on sale, but still cost me $100.  I bought a beautiful pair of shears at the Kai Scissor booth, too. All in all, I bought everything except a new sewing machine!

The exhibition was amazing. Here is one of my favorite quilts from the show.


Isn’t it unbelievable?? I vacillated between being terrifically inspired and so dejected that I wanted to break all of my fingers.

This was my second year at the show and I will definitely be back next year!


I made the borders for the quick Jinny Beyer palette quilt that the Biffle and I have been making. Unfortunately, I’ve been working on it alone, since the Biffle is in Brooklyn now.

I really prefer to quilt with a friend. I like the chatter, the catching up, the sharing. When I quilt alone, sometimes I let worries circle in my head. I replay conversations that I’ve had with people and think of all the things I could have said to them (but didn’t for one reason or another). Sometimes I listen to NPR. Sometimes I listen to Pandora. My current favorite “station” is the “Walking in Memphis” station. I love that song. The piano really gets me – it is so prominent. I rarely quilt in silence. What fun would that be?

Sometimes my son, Max, brings his computer into my sewing room and hangs out. He does his thing, I do mine. He usually interrupts me to look at his latest website or something else that he’s coded. I don’t mind. Sometimes my husband hangs out in the sewing room with me, too. If I had more space, I’d put a sofa or a recliner chair in there just for guests.

So, here is the quilt with the borders on it. One of the miters is PERFECT. I love it when a multi-border miter comes out perfectly. One is puckered, but I think I can fix that when I quilt it later. The other two are okay. If you notice, you’re looking too hard. :-)


A Break from the Farmer

So, it has been quite a while since I posted to this blog. And, I have to say, I didn’t go into my sewing room for quite a while. I was really frustrated with the way this “quilt-along” is really a quilt alone. I mean, this was my first quilt-along and I thought that it was extremely cool idea to be part of a worldwide group working on the same quilt.

But, no sooner did we start the quilt-along, did the instructions of what to work on abruptly end. I reached out repeatedly to the person running it (I actually don’t even remember who that is), but I never got a response. In the meantime, there are lots of people who are introducing themselves and chatting, which is nice, but it isn’t really what I was looking for. I really started to lose my interest in the quilt and I just didn’t feel like working on it.

Luckily, in the middle of everything, I started a different quilt! Every week, I get an email from Jinny Beyer’s shop. And one week the special sale item of the week was a quilt made with every single fabric from her pallet. Now, those of you who know me and who have seen my quilts know that I *love* Jinny Beyer’s fabric, designs, sense of color, border fabric, and person. She is so approachable – I recently sent her an email with a book I thought she’d like and she responded. I just love that.

Anyway, I ordered this quilt kit. The coolest thing is that all of the little pieces of border fabric came pre-cut. That was really a time saver. This is a pretty simple quilt, so I decided to see if my biffle, Viv, wanted to learn how to quilt using this kit. She did the sewing for many of the colorful blocks. We had a really good time working on it together. Then, she had to go back to Brooklyn (bummer!) and I decided to keep going.

It has stitched up pretty darn quickly. Most of the top is done – now all I have to do is put on the borders and binding, sandwich the bottom, batting, and top, and quilt it. That means, I’m just about half way done! What’s funny is that my friends who don’t quilt usually think that when the top is pieced, the quilt is almost finished. But that is really not the case. When the top is pieced, it is about at the half.

I’ll try to post more photos as I go along. It has been a nice change to just whip up a very easy quilt very quickly. So, who wants it? :-)

Nothing’s New…

So, I have to wonder how these quilt-alongs work. I thought that every week, the person leading the quilt-along tells the participants which block(s) to complete that week. Then, we all complete the block(s), post pictures, share tips, answer questions and basically act like we’re doing this “along”.

Well, I’m stil waiting to know what block(s) we were doing for last week. Yep. I look at the group email every day. And every day I look for the block of the week. And every day nothing.

I could just go on and work my way through the blocks. But, I might as well do that alone.

So much for quilting along.

Post-Frustration, Some Success

Part of me thinks I’m making this quilt way more complicated than it needs to be. Afterall, if I had just picked 6 or 7 straightforward fabrics, I wouldn’t be fussy cutting every other piece in the blocks. And, I wouldn’t be recutting and screwing up so often.

But, the results of my efforts are really interesting designs (in my very humble opinion). Check out my new blocks:

Block 2: Autumn Tint


Block 4: Basket Weave


Block 5: Bat Wing

If you are wondering what happened to block 4, I didn’t like it. So, I didn’t do it. I’m not going to do the blocks that are…how do I put it…kitchy. Like the ones that are May Baskets with curved handles. They just bug me.

In the mess I made cutting and recutting fabric, I realized (too late) that I pieced a fairly intricate square that was too large for the block I was working on. Trimming it down was just not going to look right. So, I thumbed through the book until I found a pattern that had a square approximately the same size. I ended up created Block 88:

Block 88: Star of Hope

If you look closely at the square, you’ll see why I just didn’t want to throw away this block.

Off to a Less Than Perfect Start!

I am back from Hawaii and I have started my Farmer’s Wife Sampler quilt. The first thing I did was print out all of the templates. I really hate templates, but if I am going to fussy-cut the border fabric as I intend, I will need to use some of them. I am trying to rotary cut the pieces, but that only works for certain shapes such as squares and half-square triangles.

Next, I moved onto fabric selection. I have decided to use a Jinny Beyer border fabric as my central motif and to select all of the fabrics in the palette from the border fabric. So, I pulled 8 border prints from my stash and asked my Facebook friends to vote on them:

Jinny Beyer Border Fabrics

Ultimately, fabric 8 was the most popular. So, I decided to pair it with fabric 5 and use them both. They look really good together. (hint – click on the image if you want it to display larger on your screen)

Next, I picked the rest of the palette. I ended up with 24 fabrics! You can never have too many fabrics in a quilt:

Palette for Val's Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt

Finally, I made my first block. And…unfortunately, I cannot get the seam allowances to line up. I ripped out a few pieces and resewed them. That helped, but ultimately, something is wrong here.

I have sent a post to the Yahoo! group and  I hope someone can set me straight. Straight, get it? ha ha.

In the meantime, I think I’ll move on to another block.

I See the Motion

I’m here in Maui on vacation with a number of families. We vacation together every summer. Last year, we went to Yosemite. The year before, Mendocino. This year, Maui.

I’m here with my husband and son, Max. My friends wanted to see my quilt blog, so I showed it to them this evening. I scrolled around my gallery wall (have you played with it? It’s awfully cool to get the photos to move around) and they were really impressed. I was flattered.


One friend is an artist. She paints the most beautiful pictures. I  particularly like her flowers. Just gorgeous. She was looking at one of my photos and was discussing the motion she sees in it. It really has her thinking about creating something with motion. I think she wants to design a quilt, perhaps by making a painting, and then she wants me to create a quilt from it.

Far more fun than that, though, would be to create the quilt with her. I much prefer to quilt with a friend. If it comes to something, I’ll let you know.

She Who Dies With The Most Fabric Wins

Lately, I’ve been spending at least 30 minutes every day curating a page on quilting, sewing, and textile arts. It’s called “She Who Dies With The Most Fabric Wins.”

Curating this page gives me the opportunity to see all kinds of quilts that people from all over the world are creating. You see, this site essentially crawls the internet (sometimes it is called “scraping”) and collects all of the blogs, news, videos, and more about my topic. Two or three times I day, I look to see what is new on the internet that I can scoop up and feature on my curated page.

People are doing interesting things. And they love to tell stories about their days or weeks, along with their quilts. It’s really nice to hear about every day people from all oer the world, what is important to them, what they are struggling with, and how they are making things work in their lives. We are all more alike than different. We all have similar dreams and aspirations. We want our children to be healthy, safe, and happy. We want our spouses to be happy and well taken care of. We want to be happy and well taken care of. And, at the end of the day, no one has enough time to work on their quilting projects.

Thanks, Max

Welcome to Val Quilts…But not nearly enough!

My son, Max, created this awesome website for me. Max is a cool kid. You should check out his blog, Good Morning Geek.

Thanks, Max!