Hello! From here you can access your My Star Collection subscription (button on the left) and visit our bookstore (button on the left or top menu). Also, enjoy your favorite cartoon Mrs. Bobbins, read some fun blog posts, and get to know our authors. Enjoy!
For more quilty laughter from Mrs. Bobbins, get The Big Book of Bobbins by clicking here! Just $7.95!
Quilt Market is less than a week away, so it’s time to start thinking about the events you just can’t miss. We hope our Schoolhouse sessions and books signings make your list.
Here’s the schedule for our Schoolhouse sessions, Thursday, May 16:
Christina McCourt, Portrait of a Lady: Quilts for a Woman’s Journey Through Life, 10:20 a.m., B119
Donna di Natale, What’s New at Kansas City Star Quilts, 10:20 a.m., B118
Carolyn McCormick, A Flock of Feathered Stars: Paper Pieced for Perfection, 10:40 a.m., B118
Carolyn Nixon, Butterfly Fields: A Scrap Quilter’s Journey, 10:40 a.m., B119
Edie McGinnis, Tending the Garden: A Blooming Bouquet of Quilts, 1:55 p.m., B118
Betsy Chutchian, Lizzie’s Legacy: More Quilts from a Pioneer Woman’s Journal, 1:55 p.m., B119
Sharon Smith, Fresh from the Prairies: 12 Quilts that Capture the Spirit of the West, 2:15 p.m., B118
Amy McClellan, It’s a Circus!: A Parade of Colorful Quilts and More, 2:15 p.m., B119
All of our book signings will be in our booth, No. 1002. Here’s the schedule:
Friday, May 17:
Christina McCourt, Portrait of a Lady –10 a.m.
Carolyn Nixon, Butterfly Fields –2 p.m.
Amy McClellan, It’s a Circus! – 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 18:
Devon Lavigne and Sharon Smith, Fresh from the Prairies –10 a.m.
Betsy Chutchian, Lizzie’s Legacy – 2 p.m.
Carolyn McCormick, A Flock of Feathered Stars –3:30 p.m.
Sunday is Mother’s Day. There are plans afoot for going to breakfast with Joe, Clarissa and Jackson. Michael and Sarah will call, as will Casey and Courtney. I treasure those phone calls far more than any gift they could give me. And, if I’m very lucky, I will get face time with my grandkids over the computer.
This year, I have opened the bin of pieces I cut shortly after my mother died 16 years ago. I am revisiting those bits and pieces of fabric I cut from her collection of cotton Japanese kimonos. I wonder what I was planning to make when I sliced the fabric into two different sizes of triangles. A foggy memory of thinking that a “Birds in the Air” quilt would be perfect flits in and out of my mind.
Ah, yes, of course. I sift through the pieces, and I see the overwhelming number of pieces that have birds on them. Funny, I only cut a few of the white triangles I would need to make this quilt. I have also noticed that the white I chose was “too white.” I need a softer, creamier color.
The fabric feels oddly rough and coarse. It’s not at all what I am used to working with when I am making a quilt. Perhaps it will soften up when it is washed. Upon reflection, I should have laundered everything before I cut one patch. Now I wonder how much the indigo dyes will run. I see a large number of Color Catchers in my future.
I can’t look at any of the pieces I’ve cut without having memories of my mother flood my mind. Some of them are painful, some are funny and some are simply confusing. She was brilliant and a study in contradictions, and she should have been born in a time when women were not pressed to be wives and mothers. Those occupations were not as fulfilling to her as working.
I laugh when I think about her career. She spent many of her working years selling and writing advertising. She was a talented saleswoman who couldn’t spell. Trying to figure out exactly what she was trying to say as one wended through her atrociously misspelled words was a challenge, to say the least. I still recall the embarrassment I felt when I had to take an excuse to school that read, “Please excuse Edie as she had a sore throught.”
Ah, but I digress.
I recall dragging all of those kimonos out a few weeks after Mom’s funeral. I had been working on a quilt for my oldest son. He watched me as I ripped seams and cut triangles. I saw him looking askance at me as I cut piece after piece. I knew he was wondering why I was cutting out another quilt when I was in the midst of working on his.
I tried to explain my actions, but all I could come up with was, “I’m sorry, I just have to do this right now.” He nodded and walked away. I’m guessing he was thinking I had lost my mind. And maybe I had, just a little. More likely though, I wasn’t ready to let her go, and cutting pieces for a memory quilt seemed to be the best way for me to deal with her death.
As I cut pieces, I laughed and I cried and I started to deal with the finality of losing my mother. By the time I finished cutting all of those triangles, acceptance had arrived, and I knew the healing had begun.
My mom seems to be on my mind quite a bit lately. Maybe she is nudging me to finish that quilt. I’m not sure how pleased she would have been to see me take a rotary cutter to the kimonos she prized, but I’m sure she would have loved the quilt.
I expect the time has finally come to finish the quilt. My life has been rather stressful of late, and perhaps I need to experience the restorative power that making a quilt in a leisurely fashion provides me.
And as I make our Birds in the Air quilt, I will remember all the reasons she made me laugh. After all, it isn’t every parent who will put a sheep in the backseat of a Cutlass convertible and take you for the ride of your life.
And do yourself a favor: This Sunday, no matter what, call your momma.
I’ve been very busy making quilt blocks. In the process of making quilt blocks, I’ve also been accumulating the by-products.
Quilts, just like every other product made or packaged, has by-products. It doesn’t matter what business you are talking about – grain, animal, clothing, shoes, food – there is always something left over. I don’t want to discuss or think about all the by-products that have the stomach turning yuck factor. But still, one must recognize that they exist.
It’s good for our planet and our economy that enterprising people have found uses for the by-products industries have created. The chaff from grain is added to cattle and pet food. Walnut shells are crushed and become bedding for lizards. Paper is recycled and becomes newsprint or bath tissue. And the list goes on.
I have been making quilts for more than 35 years now. And during those years, I have been saving the by-product – fabric scraps. I started saving them with the idea of being able to repair a quilt, if necessary.
At first, my scraps fit into a small shoebox. My mother-in-law had given me old blocks so I could learn to put a quilt together. All I had to buy for the first quilt I made was fabric for the sashing, the cornerstones and the border. I clearly recall standing there at the counter of the quilt shop, laboriously trying to calculate the exact yardage I would need.
The first three quilts I made had very few scraps left. It’s no wonder, because each of those quilts was made using old blocks.
After I ran out of blocks, I decided I needed to learn to piece. And that’s when the trouble really started. Like many troubles, it started out as a small problem. The scraps were still going into a shoebox. Admittedly, the small shoebox had been replaced with a larger one, one that had previously held a pair of men’s shoes, size 13. After all, the box was sturdier than the child’s shoebox I had been using. And it was a bit roomier, as well.
Once I began writing quilt books, the quiltmaking accelerated and so did the accumulation of the by-product. There was no more dillydallying around, making a quilt here or a quilt there. I needed to make quilts for the books and to hang at quilt market.
I’m very fortunate in that I’ve had friends who would help me sew. I would write the patterns, and we would make the quilts from my written directions. Sometimes, I made a mistake. When I made a mistake, I ended up with far more scraps than usual. The shoebox was no longer large enough.
I started keeping the scraps in a large grocery bag. I liked the brown paper ones that had handles. The downside was that they tore easily. Maybe the problem wasn’t so much that they tore easily as that they were crammed full to bursting.
I traded the bags for cardboard boxes. Then I exchanged the cardboard boxes for plastic bins. Then I moved into the house I live in now. My house used to have an attached garage that the previous owner converted into a family room. She had built-in cabinets installed all along the back wall. Cabinets and a built-in desk occupy the space that must once have been a breezeway to the garage.
I made the family room into my sewing room. I emptied the plastic bins of scraps into the four built-in drawers at the end of my sewing room. All my fabric went on the shelves in the cabinets that are on either side of the drawers. Life was good.
But I keep on making quilts. And the scraps keep multiplying. I’ve dug all those plastic tubs out of the basement and filled them. Then I moved on to filling cloth bags I had picked up from merchants who had handed them out at quilt market. And now I have shoved a huge cardboard box of scraps under a little enamel table I have in my sewing room.
I have a pile of scraps on my cutting table, and I will soon be adding to it because I have more pieces to cut.
I worry about getting to the same point as a friend of mine did with her scraps. I noticed that she had a bag labeled, “Scraps too small to use.” I guess when I get to that point, there will be nothing left to do but buy a bigger house and move.