Thursday, August 27, 2015

Canyons, Waterfalls, and Blossoms

Nestled off the beaten trail in western New York, Letchworth State Park seems to have it all! Natural history--the 600-foot canyons were formed by centuries of erosion from the flow of the Genesee River. History--a place of significance for the Seneca Nation. Beauty and recreation--well-maintained trails, campsites, top-rated dining.

Perhaps, the park is best known for it's three distinctly different waterfalls. Here the Upper Falls, are just visible in the background with the grand Middle Falls at the center. The iron railroad bridge, barely visible in the distance due to overcast weather conditions, has been rebuilt from it's original wooden construction.

Letchworth State Park, Overlook

Viewing the Lower falls is best from a stone bridge across the Genesee River (the river that formed the canyon in the first place).

Letchworth State Park, Lower Falls

Of the three, the Middle Falls are perhaps the best known. Water cascades over layers of rock at this point of the park. A perfect place for a selfie with my friend and 'hostess,' Janet Lutz of Calico Gals and Row by Row Experience fame. She's from this part of the state and has visited the park many times. Making her the perfect tour guide.

Letchworth State Park, Middle Falls, Janet and Joan

The path along the river is varies between stone steps, and well-trodden dirt paths, lush with deep green, late summer foliage.

Letchworth State Park, trails

Fragrant wild honeysuckle near the Upper Falls. (Complete with busy bee!)

Letchworth State Park, honeysuckle

Can it possibly be time for the New York Aster to be in bloom? Late summer seems to have snuck up on me somehow!
New York Aster

Joepie Weed also reserves its bloom for the August show.

Joepie Weed

The park would not exist but for the donation of land by Buffalo, NY businessman, William Pryor Letchworth. His rural home, Glen Iris, includes lodging, fine dining (sampled by Janet and me, of course!), shopping, and beautiful grounds.

Letchworth State Park, Glen Iris

Decor for lunch on the outdoor porch included these huge hydrangea blossoms.

Letchworth State Park, gardens

Like any good journey, it's always so sad to come to the 'end of the trail!' I tell myself, I'll be back and I feel a little better.

How about you? Any last minute Summer vacation-grabs on your radar? Some of the best treasures can be found within driving distance from your own backyard.

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pop, Twist, Furl, Twirl

A little technique review this week. This technique is called many things. I happen to call it 'furling,' a term I first heard and started using when I learned hand-piecing. So the technique isn't new, in fact it's tried and true. The technique is perhaps best known for four-patch blocks, especially pinwheel blocks.

Several seams coming together at a center point can make for bulky, lumpy seam intersections. With furling, pieced seams are pressed to one side, then pressed open and twirled at the block's seam intersection.

For this first part in a multi-part series, the focus is on furling a four-patch block.

One little given: I'm not a fan of pressing seams open in pieced blocks. There are lots of reasons for my position, which I'll save for another day (or you can find my reasoning in my books!). Now, I realize there are some exceptions, but in my mind, those exceptions are very rare. So, if you subscribe to pressing seams open, the whole furling process goes out the window.

The fabulous Four-Patch

A four-patch block typically starts with two two-patches. Each with a seam pressed (usually) to the darker of the two fabrics. The two-patches might be cross cut from strip-pieced units or could start with plain old squares. When the four-patch is made from four same-sized square, the two patch seams are short. The seam to connect the two two-patches is longer. Notice that the two-patch seams are opposing (red arrows) so the four-patch seam will nest and oppose (snap together) when sewn.

furl quilt block

Once the four-patch seam is sewn and before the block is pressed, with a seam ripper, pull out the last few stitches of the two-patch seam in between the longer four-patch seam and the edge of the fabric. Do that on both sides of the block. And in reality, you don't HAVE to use a seam ripper to pull out the stitches, sometimes the stitches will just 'pop' when you go to furl.

furl quilt block

Now place the block on the ironing board, right side down. Use the existing seams (dotted line arrows) to determine the rotation of the block seams. The remaining two seams (solid red arrows) should complete the rotation. Notice that the whole press-the-seam-to-the-dark-fabric goes bye-bye at this point. Half the seams will be pressed to the darker fabric (in this case, the green) and the other two seams will be pressed toward the lighter fabric (in this case, the cream print).

furl quilt block

As you push the seams to complete the rotation, notice how the removed stitches in the center allow the center to open up or 'bloom' . . . .

furl quilt block

At this point, with the tip of your iron, flatten the block seams. Then flip the block right side up and give the block one last sweep of the iron.

furl quilt block

While the seams don't necessarily follow the press-to-the-darker fabric rule, if all the blocks are sewn the same way, the bonus is that the blocks will 'nest' as they are sewn next to each other. A perfect example of this process is found in the very popular Bloomin' Steps quilt.

furl quilt block

You can see how the block seams will nest nicely from this back view. And guess what, when you sew the blocks together, the seam intersection between the blocks can be furled, too!

furl quilt block

Another furling bonus: it works on four-patch blocks of any size! Rectangular blocks, too, as long as the seams come together in one place.

furl quilt block

More on furling next time!

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Quilt Week! Quilt, Next?

What a crazy fun time I had at AQS Quilt Week last week! Sure, it's a lot of work, setting up a booth, making sure demos and product is set up and ready. I had a lot of good help--Barb and Debi helped in the booth. And even Dave (my hubby) got to play a part. Dave is very much a behind-the-scenes kinda guy. He helps a lot when it comes to preparing my trunk shows and packing the car for a trip. But he usually stays out of the picture.

Not so this time! Here he is at the All-Star Review at the Everson Museum on Wednesday night! Before my talk at this teacher's event, I snapped a quick pic with everyone waving! (Are YOU in the picture?) There's Dave (follow the white arrow) in the back. I don't think he appreciated the caliber of quilty training he got at the event. Some of the best in the industry made presentations that evening!

AQS Quilt Week, All Star Review

As I was doing my demos in the booth, some activity caught my eye in my peripheral vision. Robbie was quite enthralled with my button carpet. (I've never met Robbie before!) His dad would state a color name, and Robbie moved to the appropriate button . . . and he even got it right. . . sometimes! So CUTE!!

AQS Booth

Love, love, love Pam's scrappy bag. She received some of the Small Scrap Grid and Mini Scrap Grid interfacing at the Genesee Valley Quilt show earlier this summer and got right to work putting this creation together in time to show it off at the show in Syracuse. She used a little bit of all the interfacing products in her bag. Fabulous!

AQS booth

Have you ever met at Joyful Quilter? I certainly have. Bunches and bunches of them stopped by the booth on Friday. Here's Susan, their fearless leader and Joyful Quilter shop owner, stopping for a quick photo-op in the booth! Their website is currently under construction. The shop is located in Scotia, NY. Thanks, for stopping by and for inviting me to join you after the festivities of the day for dinner.

AQS booth

On Saturday, after the booth was packed up, boxes stowed in the basement work room, Dave and I went out to the Brasserie CNY for some Happy-tisers and dinner. By the way, the French onion soup is killer. Dave had the Bruschetta. *The glass of wine wasn't too bad either!*


My friend, Shelly says that when you wrap up big projects, it's important to take some time, step back and appreciate what you've done before jumping right in to the next thing.

I'm not very good at relaxing. Can you tell? But with all the fun quilty stuff lurking in my sewing studio, I can't help but consider all the possibilities!!


A while back, I experimented with a curved piecing tool and a very blended set of pre-cuts. The result is this lap-sized quilt. Only recently it was a quilt top. Quilted and bound, it's now ready for its next home. My neighbor works in the palliative care unit at one of the local hospitals. A tough job for sure. He is always so appreciative of quilts that I give him for his patients and their families. This one is headed his way this week!


Continuing to work on the sample for the Country Roads Shop Hop coming up this fall. The ten shops in the hop will be distributing my pattern. I'm making the sample for the (eventual) pattern cover.

shop hop quilt in progress

Having received my first set of swapped blocks from the Ribbon Star Swap, I'm itching to start making something. . . .you can still join in the fun. The swap is on-going. Blocks are due each month. More info here.

Ribbon Star Quilt Blocks

I don't know what possessed me to purchase this pattern from A Very Special Collection. (I do know what possessed me, the quilts on display were beautiful!) Their booth was across the aisle from me at the aforementioned AQS show. These fabrics have been sitting in my stash since my Alaska cruise last summer. Paper piecing isn't my thing, but once in a while every technique should be taken out for a spin. By the way, these blocks are about 4" square. The quilts on display in the booth were stunning. But tiny, itty-bitty pieces. Oy!

paper pieced quilt

Oooh! And what's this on the sewing table. . . . Can't tell! It's a secret!

quilt in progress

And I think I have finally found the perfect project for this citrus-y collection of batiks from Hoffman California Fabrics! Can't wait to dig in.

quilting fabrics

Can't forget about this UFO shelf in the sewing studio. The pink quilt (above) came from here, but the shelf *might* have gained a new occupant or two over the course of the summer. Does this kinda thing happen to you, too? One step forward. . .

Joan Ford
So many quilts, so little time! *Wink!*

Happy Stitching!