Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Recipe

Happy Turkey Day To All!!

I hope you find your day filled with family, friends and great food. I know our table will be laden with all of our favorites and then some. I am thankful for many things in my life, one of them being the great friends I have made through the quilting world. The encouragement I receive from my quilting friends and students is a wonderful thing indeed! As a thank you for all that I have received I would like to pass along a recipe to you. If you are anything like me your fridge will be packed at the end of today with more food than you know what to do with. This recipe is a great way to use up some of the leftovers. What has this got to do with quilting you ask? Well, this recipe is so easy and quick it will leave more time for sewing!

Day After Thanksgiving Casserole

Spray casserole dish with non-stick spray. Build layers in the dish - amounts will vary with the size of the dish and the amount of leftovers. You can also substitute any ingredients, sweet potatoes for mashed, beans for corn, etc...

Layer 1 - 1 to 1-1/2" mashed potatoes
Layer 2 - stuffing
Layer 3 - turkey cut into bite size pieces
Layer 4 - corn

Press the layers together to eliminate any air pockets but not so much that the potatoes ooze out.

Layer 5 - gravy, pour over all

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly.

Enjoy your turkey day, count your blessings and know that you are counted as one of mine!
Terri Sontra
Purple Moose Designs

Monday, November 17, 2008

So How Many Sewing Machines Do You Have?

Gosh - I only have four machines. Is there something wrong with me (big grin)? I can’t even imagine having 10 or 15 or 20+ as Barbara mentions in her post below. Where on earth would I put them all?! As it is, I have one in use, one kept at my family’s summer place to use when I am there and two packed away in a back corner under my work table.

My newest sewing machine is a Viking Sapphire which I totally love (and bought on sale last spring). (See photo above with my latest project for my book.) It has a ten inch throat which is such a luxury after only having 6-7 inches to work with when quilting, though certainly not like having a mid arm, which I would love to have. But there again NO SPACE!

My second machine is a Viking Rose, which I was able to buy at cost from a dealer who was closing her business about 10-12 years ago. Such a deal! It is a very nice machine but I never used the embroidery features, so it was a bit like owning a computer when all you want to do is word processing.

My third machine is a New Home, which I have owned for more than 20 years. It is very noisy but reliable. After I bought my Rose I used the New Home for teaching – it was great for teaching kids because it is not a complicated machine and I also figured if it got ruined – Oh Well!

My fourth machine is my mother’s old Singer from the early '50's with all the attachments, cogs for fancy stitches, manual, etc. It still runs but I rarely use it and have it carefully packed away. This machine supplies me with wonderful memories of my mother who died when I was 25. She made most of her own clothes and mine when I was growing up, not to mention all the drapes, pillow covers, upholstered furniture and slip covers in every house we lived in. I especially remember a lovely prom dress she made for me when I was 16 that fit a young body about half the size of the body I have now! (I still have that dress. It is still beautiful and it is TINY. How did I ever fit into it?)

AND - I am on the lookout for an antique treadle sewing machine, preferably pre-1900 or at least pre 1910 - in good condition (not that I have a lot of $ right now, but I am dreaming). In the meantime, I collect miniatures of antique machines. They help brighten up my sewing room.

If anyone is interested in a great source of information about antique sewing machines of all makes and models made during the nineteenth century, get yourself a copy of The Encyclopedia of Early American Sewing Machines (Second Edition) by Carter Bays. The photos are wonderful and the information is very detailed and interesting.

Tell us about YOUR sewing machines!

Cary Flanagan

Something Sew Fine Quilt Design

Saturday, November 15, 2008

...and how many sewing machines do you have?

From reading the last post, it's clear Beth is sewing machine challenged. C'mon girlfriend, you can do better than that! It's time to join the ranks of the sewing machine crazies.

Last year my guild asked its members "How many of you have five or more sewing machines?" About 2/3 of the members raised their hands. Then they asked "ten or more"; the number dropped to about one third. "Twenty-five or more?" maybe ten members still had their hands up.

I'm in that first group, if you count my rarely-used serger. Sewing machine #1 is my circa 1975 Kenmore; not a fancy machine, but built like a tank. It was my only machine for over 20 years, and I still use it regularly. Number 2 is my Brother serger. Bought at the height of the serger fad, I never quite got the hang of serging, and it's been carefully packed away for over ten years. In 2003 I bought a Janome QC6125. I use this for most of my sewing and quilting. If I'm working on multiple projects requiring both sewing and quilting, I also fire up the old Kenmore so I'm not constantly changing threads or feet. My third machine is a mid-1960's Dressmaker. I paid $3 for it (in working condition) and a bag of sewing books at a yard sale on my way to work. It's obviously a low-end machine, but it will stitch a decent straight stitch, although its zig-zag stitch leaves something to be desired (I've never had it serviced or even cleaned). Then came my 1955 Singer Featherweight, my dream baby. I wanted a Featherweight for a while, and came across two nice ones in a local antiques consignment shop shortly before Christmas a couple years ago. I was 99.99% positive one of those little beauties would be under the tree. I was wrong. One day the following summer my husband went to a flea market, and I decided not to go with him- probably the only time I declined to go along. That's the day he came back with a little black case I immediately knew housed a Featherweight. After oohing and aahing over it for about 20 minutes (see photo), I realized something which was apparent the seller of the machine didn't know- my machine was a free arm model, worth several times what my husband paid for it. After a tune-up by Bob the Featherweight guy, it purrs like a kitten. I use it when I want to take my time and savor every moment of sewing, which is unfortunately not often enough.
My newest machine is also my oldest- a 1928 Singer Model 128. I bought it for $35 because it was just so doggoned pretty. Bob replaced the ratty old cord and cleaned and tweaked it, and it too runs like an absolute dream. I've never actually used it for more than a few minutes, as I only have one bobbin so far.

None of my machines are fancy ones, and quite honestly, they have more than enough features for me. Occasionally I think it would be nice to have a larger quilting machine though.

Barbara Chojnacki
Six Gables Designs

Friday, November 14, 2008

If I Had a Million Dollars, I'd buy a new sewing machine

A few weeks ago I posted a blog about the group quilt project I am hosting using my Syncopated Ribbons design (go right ahead and scroll down to read all about it if you missed it...I'll wait...). I was pleased with the response I got and was thrilled to be contacted by plenty of quilters who wanted to take part. And now the fun has truly begun as I am starting to get packages in the mail of quilt block and border portions. I feel like a little kid at Christmas tearing open these envelopes and ooooing over the beautiful fabrics and colors in these blocks made by quilters from all over the country, many of whom I have never met. I know that when I receive all of the promised blocks back and am able to put the whole project together, it is going to be breathtaking.

In less fabulous and infinitely more frustrating news, my sewing machine is on a mission to get me to quit quilting. Two weeks ago, DH gave me the gift of 3 uninterrupted hours of sewing while he fed, bathed, and bedded all three girls. At least that was the plan. Twenty seven minutes into my 3 hours, my machine decided to completely crump out. I actually had to drag out my old Elna 1010 and managed to use it to put a binding on, but given that it cost about $105 in 1997 and hasn't been in for a tuneup in 5 years, that is really all I could ask of it. After I finished paraphrasing Garth Brooks with "Damn this (machine), and damn this wasted day", I brought the machine to my trusty repair shop, where they fixed it in two days at a reasonable price.

Fast forward to the moment I tried to use it to free motion quilt the day after I picked it up. It worked beautifully for about 3 minutes then SNAP! the top thread shredded and broke. Changed needles. One minute of quilting and SNAP! the top thread shredded and broke. Rethreaded entire machine. Seventeen seconds of sewing and SNAP! the top thread shredded and broke. At which point I just about shredded and broke myself. Called the repair shop in a total snit, they told me to bring it right back in. Of course, I had a sick child home from school and couldn't just drop everything and run it to the shop, which have I mentioned is 18 miles away and not on the way to ANYWHERE I ever go? Ever? So I didn't get to bring it in til this morning. The repair guy was very nice, threaded it up and tried it out with my darning foot, and of course there is no evidence that there is anything wrong with it. Tension is great, worked like a charm. I very trepidatiously brought the thing back home, but am now terrified to try to use it for fear I will end up needing to throw it against the wall if it snaps thread on me again. And I just really don't have time to patch drywall.

Beth Helfter, who is reminding herself this is all supposed to be fun
EvaPaige Quilt Designs

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Excitement and Encouragement

Dear fellow quilters,
This past week has been filled with positive experiences for me.
I logged on to and found three of my patterns listed on the website. If you search "Chicken Soup Designs", you'll find me there. It's pretty exciting to know that my patterns are being published and distributed on a much wider basis now. In a future blog, I will offer a lesson on tulle applique, one of the the techniques I use in many of my patterns that makes the applique look hand done, even though it is accomplished entirely by machine.

I also attended A Quilter's Gathering in Nashua, NH. This was their 20th anniversary year. I have been going every year saying "I should put one of my quilts in this show." So I finally got the courage to submit three of my quilts and they were juried into the show.
Another NE Quilt Designers member, Beth Helfter, had quilts in the show as well. It pleases me to know such talented people as Beth! I heard lots of folks oohhing and aahhing as they looked at her work!

"Tropical Whimsy" (pictured above) is a brightly colored quilt that I made for my daughter Amy. It won a third place ribbon for Color Compatibility. I was very surprised and pleased to have been recognized. It was such a joy to work on this quilt because the colors made me happy. When I was quilting it I just let the creativity flow! I am currently working on writing the directions for this quilt, and the pattern is slated to be published by Quiltwoman in the future. I am looking for someone to be a pattern tester for this design. If you are interested, please e-mail me at
The other two quilts I entered were "Autumnal Equinox" and "Ti-Lung, the Chinese Dragon". (Also pictured above)
"Autumnal Equinox" is also an award winner, receiving the Founder's Choice award at the Southern New Hampshire Quilt Festival in 2007. I came up with the dragon design while I was working on a row robin for my guild. It is very different from anything I had ever done before, and I liked it so much I made a dragon for myself too!

It's been a great week! I look forward to blogging again soon!
Kristi Parker
Chicken Soup Designs

Monday, November 3, 2008

Welcome Visitors!

Greetings to all of you who have found your way to our blog. I am excited to see so many people from all over the USA and the world visiting a group of six quilt designers from New England! So far we have had visitors from 22 US states and 10 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Egypt, Estonia, Italy, New Zealand, Poland and the United Kingdom! You are in good company!

One of the things we are very interested in is hearing your comments about our blog site, our individual posts and, of course, our designs. We have recently improved our ability to accept comments and there is a place at the end of each post where you can leave a comment, if you wish.

For example, a few weeks ago, I wrote about the book of quilt designs I am working on (and will publish in February) and I asked for feedback about what kinds of quilting books you like, and what would make you choose one quilt book over another (assuming both interested you equally in content). I would really like to know what other quilters look for and value in the quilting books they choose to purchase. (Scroll down to see the oriiginal post.)

We would also like to hear about what kinds of quilt patterns you like best. Do you prefer small projects that are completed quickly, ones that teach you new skills, large projects, such as bed size quilts, simple designs or more complex and challenging designs? It would be really helpful to each of us in the NE Designer's Cooperative to know what quilters are looking for in patterns.

We want to hear from you! What kinds of quilting do you do, what are your favorite techniques, are you a beginner or experienced quilter - anything you wish to share with us. And don't forget to visit our individual websites to see more of our work. The links are listed on the right.

Soon we will be offering incentives of various kinds to our readers to come back and visit. There may be prizes! For now - we are glad you are here. Welcome!

Cary Flanagan
Something Sew Fine Quilt Design